Friday, August 29, 2008

Sheep to Shawl at New Mexico State Fair in the Ag Expo Grounds in Albuquerque!

Sheep to Shawl at New Mexico State Fair in the Ag Expo Grounds in Albuquerque!

Public Address systems are necessary when you have about 5 or 6 school classes and their attendant parents and teachers all piled up around the shearing pen which is 8 feet to the side. We always have the kids stacked just as deep as they can maybe see. I try hard to get the little ones to the front and have them sit in the grass, the next batch on knees and then the bit taller ones toward the back with adults at the outside ring. Have to out yell them so for me when I give the shearing talk, I just get some "mic feedback" to get their attention so I don't have to tell them to "HUSH, I am talking now!"

I have to spend the entire month of August getting my mind ready for these things. You cannot mention God or the Lord at all ever during these things. You cannot even say "damn" and darn just doesn't quite cut it either!! so I have to return to the curse language my son taught the little kids when he was a teacher's assistant. skiddlywhichatit or something like that. Any way something nonsensical!! It impresses the kids and they learn new language skills from adults, so why not give them a word they can use that gets smiles from their parents and teachers.

The demonstrations of shearing, spinning and weaving have been going on at the State Fair for about the past 40 years. I have been a part of it for 20 and co chair of the WoolGrowers committee for the past 15. Lloyd is the other co chair on the Shearing Demos and Mercedes Perez Cravens is the cochair and contact for the Weavers Guild. We are all WoolGrowers trying to interact with Las Aranas (the spiders) Spinning and Weaving Guild based in Albuquerque whose members are mostly town people 3 generations from the farms.

Nearly the whole month of September is devoted to the State Fair in New Mexico. The first half is the Youth Livestock Shows. There are only about 5000 4-H and FFA members dashing about with their feed buckets and show supplies. I know most of the 4-H agents and most of the FFA advisors from when my kids and they were all competing for the prizes at the fair. It is a huge hugg fest for me. I am the meeting place for anyone in these groups. It is called "Mrs Maness will take and pass messages and be responsible for any problems you may have no matter what they are!" "Meet me at the Shearing Pens at whatever hour" etc.

The second half of the fair is devoted to the Open Livestock Shows. There are some Junior peoples, under 18, who show Open Classes. But the frantic activity is gone this week. It is more the "professional" show people. And NO PIGS!!!! this part of the fair!

One of the more stupid questions I get during the second half of the fair is "Where are the Pigs?" Pig show is a Junior Livestock thing! It is not an Open Class thing. Pig show is terminal!! Meaning if the pig doesn't go home with the kid it is at the butcher or on the way there!

I serve as a double duty person at the Sheep to Shawl exhibit and demonstration! As a spinner or weaver I can sit at any wheel or loom on display and work and explain the workings of the machinery and how we get our clothing. I am also the WoolGrower on duty all day every day. I serve here as the "shop girl" who is knowlegable about the care and feeding of sheepskin pelts! I can also demonstrate the drop spindles and get people to buy them. Anything else anyone wants to know about the care of the woolen garments the demonstrators have for sale is known by me!! I do not ever touch the cash register! that thing is a booger, all computerized and messes up very easily!!

There must be a member of NM WoolGrowers on duty at all times that the shop is open. To be allowed to sell items in the shop a person must have made it themselves, spend at least 12 hours demonstrating the crafts, and be a member of either Las Aranas or NMWoolGrowers. Las Aranas chairman sets up the schedules and each shift is about 4 hours for the guild members. I really need more volunteers to be WoolGrower on duty, but cannot get people to commit to it. They will sign up then come saying "My child is showing in about half an hour, can you cover for me?" and they forget to come back and give me some relief.

Ok, Now back out to the Shearing Pens on the front lawn in front of the Livestock Pavilion or more familiarly known, the Dairy Barn!! We have people in Albuquerque area who have small flocks of sheep and don't mind having them shorn in the fall. Some of these sheep are the Churros who require shearing twice a year. We do one sheep every hour usually about a quarter till the hour. Pat Melendrez shears the sheep, Lloyd or someone talks about the shearing, history of sheep, history of sheep industry especially in New Mexico, and how the shearing is done on Ranches. We must get over the children who are on a field trip holiday from the classrooms, so the PA System works very well to out yell them.

Pat uses the new Heinigar Shearing motor which is a heck of a lot quieter than the old motors so it can actually be talked over! But is still much easier to use the microphone and be heard easily by the crowds. It also draws people when they hear the motor turn on and Lloyd say "Welcome to the Sheep to Shawl Shearing Demonstrations brought to you by Las Aranas Spinners and Weavers Guild and the New Mexico WoolGrowers Inc. Our shearer for today is Pat Melendrez from Las Vegas New Mexico, the sheep being shorn are Navajo Churro belonging to Dr.Barbara Miricle of Algodonez, New Mexico."

The shearing demo lasts about 5 minutes, then we have 10 minutes for questions then shoo all the kids in the building to Cody Lightfoot and the Milking Demonstration! When Cody gets through with his little 5 minutes of milking demonstration he has questions then heads the people across the hall to the Carding, Dying Spinning, Weaving, and Exotic Use demonstrations.

The dye pots are all Natural Plant material dyes. Some of the dyes are quite toxic to those with breathing problems, but we only use the most non toxic mordants and plants we can and still come up with some gorgeous yarns.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Are All Tech Supports Total Idiots

A couple of weeks ago I had a problem with my IP and called tech support. The person who answered the phone barely spoke English and I think assumed anyone calling Tech Support was an imbecile.

She spoke very slowly and told me to do all the things I had already done to try to get online. Ok, fine, this is the third time that morning I had tried to run this systems check. Then she said, Ok, now do it again, but first turn off your Virus Program, the firewall, and all other check services that protect your computer. I said HUH?? those are supposed to protect my computer from getting a nasty bug that causes it to fry it's gizzard!!

She repeated to turn off these services. Ok. I did it, then we ran through the systems check again, Unplug the DSL, UNplug the power line to the DSL. turn off the computer. Ok, I did all this. Then she said "I cannot see your computer on my computer, are you sure you turned off the virus check and the firewall? Of course, she couldn't see my computer!! It was unplugged from the DSL and the power to the DSL was also unplugged. What did she think was going to happen when I unplugged???

It turned out not to be a problem within my house on the DSL line. It was out on the phone line somewhere. A broken connection that was getting damp and shutting down. It is doing it again this month. So I am thinking there is another short in the cable somewhere and I will not be calling the Tech Support, I will be calling the phone company from my cell phone and complaining about a problem with my land line.

Today our Satelite went nutz! We have menu service and sound, but no video. So like a bunch of dummies, after we had run through the systems checks, and unplugged the system to allow it to reset its little computer brain, we called Tech Support! Again we get one of those peoples who can barely speak English but this one had a speed problem. She talked way too fast for anyone not speaking her accent to catch what she was saying.

We again went through the systems check with her telling us what to do. But we still have no video on the TV. She is Fed Exing something or other to us which will probably get here sometime after the first of September when we are gone from the ranch for around two months and could care less if we have video on the set or not.

I am not at all sure I will be calling either of those Tech Support locations again. If Tech Support wouldn't treat everyone as if they had the brain cells of an amoeba and the memory of a hydro, then maybe we could get some electronics working.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School Has Started

School has started here in my corner of the world. The small people get on the big yellow buses and we as parents and grandparents think they are safe going to and coming home from the school. But, and this is a huge BUT!, they are not safe at all.

My sister owns and drives an 18 passenger bus. On this size bus everyone is required to wear a seatbelt. My daughter drives for a huge city bus company. She drives an 80 passenger bus. Only the driver of these monstrosities is required to be seatbelted.

One of the buses in the line my daughter drives for got hit in the ribs last spring. Children were thrown all over the bus, mostly because they were not confined by the seatbelts. Their injuries and the ambulances required to haul them to the hospital for treatment of bruises and scrapes need not have happened. The driver of this bus, an older gentleman, suffered a heart attack and can no longer drive.

One of the reasons this accident happened is planting or failure to prune bushes planted too close to an intersection. The bus driver could not see the oncoming pickup truck. The truck driver slammed on his brakes but it was far too late to prevent him from hitting the bus in the middle. He, too, suffered a heart attack from the accident.

When you see these buses, they are big and yellow, think about safety of the small people in them. Slow down, if the caution lights are on, slow even more. If the stop lights are on, DO NOT PASS them. Stop until all the small people are across the road or street. There is a reason for having caution lights and stop lights on buses. It is the safety of our children.

Someone asked why the tops of most of the new buses are not yellow but white. There are numerous reasons including it absorbs less heat. But the main reason is the reflection of light off this huge yellow and white object might help people to slow down and not hit the big yellow school bus!

Use extreme caution when there is a school bus in the vicinity or you are in the vicinity of a school zone. We want our children to be safe traveling to and from school and while they are there.