October 11 and 12, 1997

The banners around the field were whipping about as we drove up this morning. It was pretty obvious that no one was going to be going up, but we all went anyway. Earlier than all the other days because it was a Saturday again and we really didn't want to get caught in traffic.

So we got there early enough to drive right in front of the tower and join in on the pilot's briefing. The weather report was pretty funny as everyone had a few choice comments about the speed of the wind and the prediction that it would be up to 35 knots with gusts up to 50 pretty much had everyone shaking their heads. They finally ended up just closing the field down, so that no one could fly from it, but anyone that wanted to fly from outside the field could. No one did.

Some folks say that this was likely one of the worst Balloon Fiestas that they've had for some time, as they've rarely, if ever, had so many days of the Fiesta closed to flying.

So we wandered off earlier than usual, and went to Roadrunner Cafe for breakfast. We all piled out of the Volkswagon and into the cafe and had breakfast things in the cafe itself. Yum. I had the Roadrunner, which was a soft bun with a poached egg, bacon and white chedder cheese on it and a double mocha. The Rostykus boys were all sitting together with their red crew shirts on and it was really neat to take a picture of them all together.

Afterwards, Cathie, John, David and I started walking down the road back to their house. I thought Walt was going to take everyone else back to the house and then come and pick us up; but it turned out that they simply didn't want to all pile into the van with the police folks right there at the cafe. Walt just pulled over in front of us and we all piled back into the van with way, way too many people.

We all got back and I couldn't sleep, so I helped Walt cut stuff up for his green chili stew. Onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. Yummy stuff, and then helped with the setup for Rostyfest, including cleaning up our room and the bathroom that was mostly for guest use. That was pretty straightforward, and easy, all in all.

Most of the folks went to nap around 9:30, after we'd set up everything. Yes, getting up at quarter to 5pm makes for a really early morning. John and I went out shopping, to get some reprints of some really nice pictures that John had managed to take. One big reprint was of Big Bird during the glow all lit up with the Christmas lighted pick up tethering it. The balloon itself had shown up remarkably clearly, and when it was blown up to 11x14, it was just gorgeous. John and I also spent a lot of time looking for a metal version of the whizzzzing whistle that Richard had been supplying everyone with. We never really found one, but we did manage to find some balloon pins that hadn't been available on the field, including a pin of the pagoda that we saw going up the day before in the box conditions.

We went back, with the frame and picture, but realized we needed a few more things to make the presentation of the picture right. Jan and John and I then went out again to get a card, wrapping paper, a silver pen to write on the back of the picture and a few more pins.

It took a good twenty minutes for John and I to clean the glass covering the picture, but we managed it. Then I went back to our bedroom and did the calligraphy for the title of the photo, which was simply Balloon Fiesta 1997, October 5th Glow. Amusingly enough, as always, I forgot a letter, the 't' out of Fiesta. For some reason, when I do calligraphy I cannot spell. I normally cannot spell all that well, but when I do the lettering work, I always miss a letter unless I write them all on the actual work that I'm letting on. I even had a piece of paper right there that had everything written out correctly but still forgot the one letter. Urgh. So we scratched the 'a' off the end of 'fiesa' and I put a t and an a into the spot. Yeesh.

Then we got every Rostykus to sign it and then John boxed it, wrapped it, and carded it with a Glow pin to commemorate everything. Hee.

The party itself had everyone there from the whole week. It was a really great way to see everyone for one last time. The wind really picked up and all the weather reports said that there would simply be more of the same. The food was mainly the Rostyfest staple of various Costco sausages, smoked chicken and sun-dried tomato and apple or turkey with artichoke hearts and pesto or a nicely made brotweirst. There was Walt's green chili stew, a huge pile of tamales, lots of chips and salsa and guacamole. There were three kinds of Walt's homebrew beers, Red Line Ale, Mom's Good Stout, and a Big Bird Heffewitzen. I dipped more into the cooler full of pop, but finally succumbed to the stout, which was smooth and rich and dark as could be.

The picture presentation went well, and Richard and Merry loved it. Merry then asked me to do all the lettering for her Christmas cards and I laughed quietly. I dunno. If she wanted me to do the lettering that would be copied later, that would be fine, but to do all the cards? I know, I know, it was a joke, but...

Lynn also had a good time rapsodising over the blown up photo itself, as he really, really enjoyed it and had a good time pointing out the fact that all the people in the picture were blurred, out of focus, as if they weren't as important as the balloon and the festooned truck. Also that the ground and the central line of the sky was golden, deep orange, partially from the glow from the flame and from the last dregs of the sunset. So orange that the safty orange of the trash can just blended in. Just over that line of light was the deep cobalt blue of the sky gradually shading darker and darker into the night around the incandescent yellow of the lit up Big Bird. That was keen to listen to.

They all also had a great time going through all of John's shots. One that everyone was laughing over was one which had a shot of Kevin and Charles' butts and me waving to the camera which was taken when John was driving the chase vehicle while Walt was piloting the jump from the Reservation to the Gravel Pit. Everyone said that it would be titled, "But... but... Phyllis!" Hee.

It was a very busy, very crowded party. Lots and lots of people and lots and lots of food and lots and lots of conversations. It was very tiring for me to always try and be where I could either be in a conversation or start one or whatever. I have to admit that I was likely happiest when I was put in charge of cooking the last of the sausages, even though the gas BBQ's flames kept getting blown out by the gusts of wind. The wind even managed to pick up a heavy ceramic plate and smash it all over the brick. Ouch. I also filled up the green chili stew pot from the source pot and made sure that there were enough chips and things.

There was a group picture with all the folks, which was very keen, and several pictures of all the brothers together in silly glasses. Then all the good-byes were said, gradually. One thing that turned up was that during the first weekend in December the whole crew goes a few hundred miles away to what's essentially a convention of balloonists, where they fly and then parade through the main town throwing candy to kids, stay in a hotel all together, and have meals and banquets and the like together. We're invited. It sounds like a Con for balloonists.

I honestly think we'll go.



Sunday was mostly a day of waiting. Our bodies woke up around 7am, well rested, and I tried to get more sleep as John showered and puttered about. I woke up eventually and then the two of us packed after the usual coffee and bagel. It was a lot of stuff, and I was very glad that we'd packed an extra duffel that could handle a lot of soft stuff easily, as with all the things that we'd bought, there was quite a lot of overflow from the suitcase and the travel case.

What was bad about all the waiting around was that I started to think about work, about all the problems that we were going to be going through, about all the decisions that I had to make. It's when I realized just how much I'd laid aside to just enjoy the week, and how much I'd have to resume simply by going home. That was kinda rough.

We left about 10, even though our flight wasn't until 12:15, mostly because we wanted to go to Blake's, which is a local hamburger joint that served great green chili cheeseburgers, and only cooked things to order. We missed the first one, but found a second on the way to the airport and at 10:30 in the morning ate green chili cheeseburgers and fresh, crisp fries and pop. The burgers were hot, on toasted buns, with plenty of condiments and the green chili was more like a very spicy relish than hot. Very tasty without being upsetting. The fries were clearly from fresh potatoes and were lovely and hot, crisp with their skins still on. What was most amusing was that it felt good and right, as that was about the time that we were usually tailgating.

It was also a good idea because we were flying with America West, which does not serve food very often.

I mostly just read _A Plague of Angels_ on the way home. I like how Tepper does epic fantasy, in this case it's post-holocaust epic fantasy. In many ways it reminded me of her _Revenants_, which I loved dearly, it had the same taste and the same clear manipulation of archetypes and real people characters as well. I've always loved her griffins. It's also pretty clear, though, that her writing has improved since then, as the images are clearer, smoother, though I'm not at all sure if it is more or less powerful than the older book. I didn't think it was quite as powerful because I wasn't crying like a baby at the end of it, but that's okay, too, sometimes. It might also just be how I've changed.

We got in, and that's about when my worry burst out and I just talked with John a lot, especially when we were waiting for all our luggage to arrive. I talked through, long and hard, what our options were, what the choices looked like, what was possible, and realized that all he and I had been concentrating on, beforehand, was what wasn't possible, what might go wrong. What about what might go right?

Dinner was at Bai Tong, one of the best Thai restaurants I've ever been too. Tom Yum Gai soup to clear the sinuses and then a fat noodle dish and Thai iced coffee. John joked with me about having spicy food now that we're home after I'd been complaining, all week, about how so much of the New Mexican food is so spicy. But it was so good! For some reason hot food doesn't do endorphins for me, or something. I just can't seem to enjoy the stuff too much when it gets too hot for me. We talked some more and resolved a few things, and while it was going to be hard to say 'No' to all the recruiters and job possibilities, that would be easier than having all my attention split for the next month or so...

Sleep was easy after I finished the book, some herbal tea, and the conversations. It's always easier once things are resolved.

© 1997 by Liralen Li

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