Hot tea and the rest of a package of Tuxedoes pseudo-Oreo cookies never tasted so good. What an incredible 48 hours I have had.
It started at 9:10 a.m. Friday, June 19th. I'm sitting at my kitchen table putting the finishing touches on a piece of foam core which has materials printed off the Clan Thompson web site. It's just for information purposes and to make the table look filled. I hear a siren. Now, I live very close to the College Avenue commuter train station in Wheaton and they have one of those lightning sirens. If lightning is in the area, that siren goes off. But as this siren was joined by 3 others, that's the tornado siren. I'm not dressed, mind you. I took the day off so I could go to the games and set up the tent without dragging everything from the parking lot so I haven't been up but an hour. I looked outside and the wind was blowing but I couldn't see anything that looked "tornado-ish". Hop on the Internet.
A tornado warning had, indeed been issued for Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake and points east of there. A tornado had been spotted heading for the ground up there, but that's a good 40 miles from me. Jon was on Yahoo Messenger and said no sirens went off at the office, a mere 2 miles from me. Curious. The warning expires but the heavy storms rumble through about an hour later. High winds and rain, but no hail. I debated on putting up the tent Friday night as the weather was to breed more.
The storms were passed by noon and I know they appreciate clans being around on Friday night. So, I set up my tent and sat back to wait for the few people I knew would come by.
The Oakbrook Polo Grounds are adjacent to Butler National Golf Course. At 6:10 p.m., their lightning sirens went off. It had grown cloudy, semi-ominous. The heat from the day was churning the clouds as I sat and watched. The polo grounds has a reasonable ability to slough off water, but it was still exceptionally muddy and soggy. I chose not to wear the kilt Friday night and wore tan pants. I may have to soak the hems to get out the mud and dirt. I decided to pack it in for the night with that warning as they will be quiet insistent that people get under grounded tents so no one is going to wander looking at clan tents.
At 6:35 p.m., the PA announcer issued a more ardent plea for people to move to a grounded tent. By now, in the southwest, brief flashes of lightning could be seen in the distance. It still didn't look that ominous. I lowered the tent to just above the table, put everything under the table, either in plastic bins or on top of the bins and took with me, anything I didn't want getting wet.
It was starting to sprinkle when I reached the car. It really appeared to be heading south of the event although the sky was streaked with spider web lightning. I headed home. Now, it's a good 15 minute drive from the Polo Grounds to my house. Part of the route takes me by my office. As I crested the hill adjacent to the office, heading west on Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn, I drove into the teeth of a gale. The sky and road and landscape went gray. I could see the taillights of the minivan in front of me, but nothing else, not even street lights. Fortunately, I know the road intimately. I put on 4-wheel drive, slowed to 20 and just moved west. I was never, ever scared, even though the wind driven rain is horizontal and my wipers cannot keep up with it. The only thing that crossed my mind was, would I see anything being blown by the storm before it hit me?
The nucleus of the storm was over in 5 minutes and then the sky to the west brightened. I drove onward, turning north off Roosevelt to go to the house. There were branches down all over the place which turned the drive into an obstacle course. I got home and on the front porch was the box full of items I'd ordered to sell at the tent on Saturday. It's a pretty good box. It has not disintegrated in spite of getting soaked last night and sitting on wet ground today.
I checked the radar and saw that the very bad stuff was north of me and I am, in turn, north of the festival. There was a band of yellow, which is not good, heading over the venue but maybe it won't be as bad as we think.
At 9:15 p.m., I received a call from one of the clan organizers saying he's not sure, but my tent might have been blown over. I thought about the few things I had left. Well, if the tent is gone but everything else is okay, I will be happy.
This morning, I arrived at 7 a.m. to this:
I had done a superb job of anchoring the tent into the ground. But 60 mph horizontal winds had come through, attempted to lift it off and then decided to flatten it instead. The table is wet. Those white chairs are wet. My green captain's chair was a bit wet but everything behind it, which was two plastic bins, was dry.
You should know, dear reader, that on Thursday night, I slept "wrong" on my right arm and the wrist bothered me all day Friday. Today, I wrapped the hand and wrist so as not to aggravate whatever it was I had injured. So, I'm already at a disadvantage when I arrive. They are refusing to allow people to bring cars onto the grounds as they were, if possible, more muddy than Friday. Some vendor tents had been uprooted and carried onto the golf course or turned into bowling balls, mowing down tents in their path. Volunteers had removed the twisted tents they could but weren't sure if mine was salvageable. I surveyed the tent and decided the only way to know was to get it up again. Enter Clan Young.
Now this clan is the epitome of a biker group. Their motto is "We Ride" and their members show up in Harley gear or black leather with Clan Young crests painted on the back. They give weapon demonstrations and are generally looked at over one's glasses. Their tents had withstood the onslaught with the exception of some ties tearing. They set everything back up and came over to my tent en masse. Four of them grabbed a leg and we righted the ship but two of the aluminum legs were bent. Some of the cross sides were snapped at the screws holding them together. Not to worry. One of them headed over to the pile of ruined tent frames and grabbed pieces. Using copious amounts of duct tape, we got the tent up and standing. Let it never be said that the Scots aren't resourceful.
I decided NOT to raise the tent to it's highest point. People would just have to duck. But it was up and functional and the fact that it was clear as a bell and would be 88° today meant I NEEDED a tent to stay cool.
The only problem was the wind. It was still windy today, although not nearly as windy as last night. What is it with large open areas? I have been in rock quarries in August where the surrounding area is still as a hunting cat but you drive out onto the face of a rock quarry and there's a 20 mph wind? Not a breeze, mind you, a wind to the point of not being able to talk, it's that strong. There was a wind today, about 15-20 mph. At 10:15 a.m., the tent started leaning a bit, to the left in this photo, where the sides had been damaged. A gust came through, the thing gave a shudder and down it came. I was standing to the left holding onto the closest leg. That's not one which was bent. That large framed item is the old map I was telling you about. I got it framed on Thursday night and it looks marvelous, really draws people in.
To say I was discouraged would be an understatement. People showed up from all over to help move the frame off my table. One of the bent legs snapped and another side snapped. It was clear there was no tent for me today. I wrapped up the top and a volunteer helped me bend the frame into a transportable piece. He then dragged it over to the pile of other frames which would be tossed. I started packing up my stuff. I know people here. Indeed to the right are clans Wallace and Young. I know the people in Clans Pollack, MacLeod and Douglas. Several Sinclairs, to my left, came running including their North American chief. Their clan chief was in attendance today, all the way from Scotland, for their annual meeting. Nice chap who played a mean bagpipe. But how could I ask any of these people to share a space with me? I just felt I would come home and consider the games a wash. I know a number of people within the Illinois St. Andrew Society, too. But they didn't have extra tents because what they had was being used.
I'm packing things up and Mary Ellen Ashton from Clan Wallace says, "Where do you think you're going?" "I'm going home. I can't sit outside on a day like this with no shade." Her husband Peter says, "You will do nothing of the sort. You will turn your table sideways and you'll share our space." So, after clearing away the damaged frame, he and Jim from his clan, turned my table sideways and we formed Thompson & Wallace.
That's Peter and Jim in the background. I was back in business. I actually sold a button, that's all, but I sold a button after being moved sideways.
Once again, it got hot and with all the water on the ground, steamy. I was fine until it came time for the parade of tartans. In the past, I've always had a bunch of people to walk with me, but several regulars didn't come this year. I'm sure the weather played a part. So, it was just me walking with the flag. I didn't mind. I happily represent my clan and if I walk alone, I walk alone. Mary Ellen said people will stop what they are doing and stand 5-6 deep to watch the parade of clans. So, if I'm alone, it just means I'm more visible. Here I am after the parade. That's when I got the sunburn because they tell you to start lining up at 12:10 intending for the the parade to step off at 12:30 and it never does so you're standing in the bright sun.
I started taking the tent down at 5:30 p.m. I hauled what I could to the car and then helped Clan Wallace pack up their stuff. Cars were not allowed onto the field until 7 although that wasn't enforced very well. They had people driving golf carts but trying to get one when you were ready was difficult. Peter managed to get his car so we could start packing and THEN a gal in a cart came by and could ferry me and my last two bins, which I could not carry, to the car. I came home and left everything in the car except for my purse. The cats were very, very happy to see me. The AC was on so the house was cool. I took a shower and am so ready, now, for bed.
I am always glad I go even though this year, I lost my tent frame and I really cannot afford to replace it right now. I need to watch end of season sales for a new tent. The top is in perfect condition so if I can get the same kind, I'd have a spare top.
So, that's been my last 48 hours. My wrist seems to be better. I am so looking forward to a long sleep. I think I will take some aspirin and not wake up until 10 a.m., except to feed the cats so they leave me alone.
Beverage: English Teatime