July 01, 2006
my canada includes balloon artists

1 p.m. AST. Fogarty’s Cove Stage.

Well, we made it through our first night at the ‘Fest. We rolled in at midnight local time, and though there was no one to take our tickets and issue our wristbands, security waved us through anyway. The Boy manfully, heroically, found our site in the pitch dark & set up Tenty while I stayed in the car, blew up the air mattress with our spanking new compressor, and held Blake when the eldrich scream of said compressor woke him from a restless sleep. And, of course, I fretted. I’m not good at rising to this kind of mental challenge, and I was awfully mean to the Boy for no good reason other than my anxiety. Sigh. He was, as I’ve mentioned, heroic and manly in establishing camp and did his best to brush off my cruel barbs & whining. Poor guy.

Blake, who’d slept fitfully and miserably for the last few hours of our journey (hello inconvenient head cold!), slept like an angel in my arms but woke like a monkey as soon as he got to the tent. It was the most thrillin’ experience of his life so far – here he was in a dome that was pitching like a boat on the sea thanks to the strong coastal winds; it was pitch dark and yet there was music and laughter coming from all sides, there were mommy & daddy & a heap of blankets & a bouncy sleeping place & a flashlight – it was too much for a 2 ½ year old to take in stride. His high spirits bordered on the criminally insane, and despite his midnight adventure, he woke at 5:30 EST and demanded breakfast. Plus ça change, etc.

By the time the workshops started, we were more than ready for some entertainment. We started with the Children’s Program: Valdy, Mortal Coil (stilt walkers) & Sean Rooney (balloon artist). Except that only Valdy showed up for most of it, but he’s always a classic, and he showed no distress at the prospect of carrying the whole 2 hour program. In Sean Rooney (when he arrived), the Boy felt the peculiar flush of recognition such as you feel when you find your heterosexual life partner in the personage of a balloon artist. Amazing act, especially the balloon bass which he could actually play about as well as a washtub. No Mortal Coil, but we saw them our first year and they do their best work wandering around anyway.

1-2 p.m., Fogarty’s Cove (Alt. Country, Atomic Bluegrass)

Blake, who had napped through ½ of Valdy’s set, demanded a return to Tenty. As the Boy wasn’t hungry, he took the young sir back to camp while I scampered off in search of some excellent jerk kabob & samosa, then settled in for this set. Mandolin & banjo face-offs & a washtub bass are all good things, but this was mostly a chance for me to catch up in here. Blake has developed a proprietary interest in this journal over the past year, and although he acknowledges that it’s mine, he often gets lost studying the many faces of “Didi” and refuses point blank to let me have it for actual, you know, writing.

5:35 AST, Hillside, Nathan Rogers & Irish Metheun (?)

I’m here to find out if he’ll play “Lunchlady Land” again. Nope.

I think we’re all coming down with a mild bug. Blake was coughing and sneezing when we left on Thursday, and there’s no point in quarantine when you spend 12+ hours in a car, not to mention the brief resurgence of the family bed that has come in so handy in our travels. I’ve never been much for quarantine anyhow, with Blake or with the Boy. Our lives are so intimately mingled that it seems meet for us to share the occasional virus.

It’s hitting us in different ways, and manifesting in our several temperaments: the Boy is spaced out, I’m irritable, and Blake seems largely unaffected other than the occasional coughing fit and continual need for tissues. He’s a holy terror no matter what might be hanging from his nose. He’s perhaps a mite more stubborn than usual, which is just perfect now that the Boy is orbiting Neptune and I’m ready to snap.

They’re sleeping in the tent now. Blake went down during the Africa Musica show (the Hillside Stage is like a narcotic to him), so I held him and knit Pixie’s birthday present while the Boy (and every other person in the audience) shook their groovethings to World Beats. As soon as we took Blake to Tenty, he crawled up to the air mattress and passed out again. The Boy was only minutes behind him (I guess all that dancing fair wore him out.)

I read some Lovecraft (a brand new thing for me) & knit a little, but my mood prizes fresh air over stuffy CO2, so I came out with my bag of tricks to sit in the sun & blow out the cobwebs.

This concert is the most fun I’ve had since Sean Rooney. Last song: Whiskey in the Jar, sung by a tiny Irish female firebrand. Good God. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to put down the knitting and dance with the Hippie Girls, but oh, the sheer joy of hearing Nathan and this wee spitfire trade verses like it’s the last thing they’ll ever sing! Dirk’s in love and he doesn’t even know it.

Tonight the Boy watched Blake exhaust himself on the playground while I watched the Main Stage & knit with increasingly numb fingers (next year: fingerless gloves! That say StanFest! Could I be more of a nerd?) I think the playground is Blake’s favourite part of the festival, even better than sleeping in a tent (which became second nature after the first night.) Not too excited by the Main Stage acts. Don’t know if it’s the sickness, the tension of the last month, or the continual running around after Hurricane Blakey, but I’m just not connecting with most of this year’s acts. And yet, a mediocre StanFest is better than a fantastic most-other-things.

We saw Sean Rooney again before the Main Stage act got underway. He was walking around with a gigantic balloon sculpture of a green fanged monster; hella impressive. He let Blake twang his balloon bass, tuning the string so that Blake was playing something simple like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – just an astounding moment, right up there with Luther Wright & the Wrongs playing “Waiting for the Worms” as Mortal Coil in fly costumes danced with the whirling hippies way back at our first StanFest. And then he made a poodle for Blake, the simplest of balloon tricks but Blake thought it was the most amazing thing ever. Thank heaven we didn’t pack toys for him; this poodle is the most fascinating thing he’s ever encountered. I was a little tense; I think I reacted to Sean as an artist and was trying to keep Blake from “wrecking” things, which makes no sense since the man was a clown and remains a children’s entertainer. I didn’t need to buffer him from my child, and yet there was a rare impulse to keep Blake under control. I think I came across as a real tight-ass.

We also say Kris & Sue on the playground. Same old stuff as ever; we seem to have less to talk about each year. They admired my pink spikèd sweater. “If we’d known that was you, we could have impressed or friends!” Maybe so.

When the Boys were asleep for the night, I took off to the Afra Musica set and tried to dance myself happy. Too many drunken statues, trying to have a conversation, and more crowding in every minute. I finally left when there was no more room to dance. It was a far cry from the first barefoot hippie melee we danced into the first year. (God, I sound crusty.) Then, tent sweet tent.

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- Rocketbride's adventure of 7/01/2006 10:54:00 a.m.

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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*