…I got hijacked last Sunday.
There I was, minding my own business, heading down to the pet store to get cat litter. Next thing I knew, I was on the freeway south to, um, well, wherever.
“Uh, weren’t we supposed to get cat litter?”
“Yeah. So what? We can get it in Santa Cruz.”
“Um, where exactly are we going?”
“I have no idea. Where did you want to go?”
“I wanted to go to the pet store! For cat litter!”
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve been through all that, OK?”
So I figured what the hell, I had the California guidebook in the car, I could get wherever I was going and then figure out where to go from there.
Then I realized I didn’t have the California guidebook in the car.
But what the hell.
So I went down to Santa Cruz, which of course meant stopping by The Golden Fleece (yarn shop) and Donnelly Chocolates (sex toy, er, I mean chocolate shop). The Golden Fleece had Suri Elegance, a nice laceweight alpaca, on sale for 30% off, so I bought two skeins of a nice deep amber color.
And then it was back onto the freeway, taking the 1 South (aka the Pacific Coast Highway). It’s a beautiful freeway, as you’d imagine, running down the coast with terrific views. But I wasn’t thinking of much of anything, just heading south until I found something interesting (maybe Monterey) or got tired of driving. I had no idea where I was going, but figured there was probably something interesting going on somewhere.
Eventually, I noticed the signs saying “Monterey”, and then the sign saying “Monterey County Fairgrounds”. I figured, hmm, there’s usually something going on at the fairgrounds on any particular day, so I followed the signs to the fairgrounds.
It turned out there were two things going on at the fairgrounds that day: the local Fancy Fowl (or was that Fowl Fanciers?) club was having a show, and there was an “Indian Art” exhibition. I started off with the Fancy Fowl, since it was free, and man, there were some weird chickens there! There were furry chickens (“silkies”), stained-glass chickens (with a black border around each feather–very beautiful), poofy-headed chickens (“crested”), chickens with feather mops attached to their feet (“feathered feet”), and the crowning glory of the show, the poodle chicken.
At least, it looked like a poodle.
Head a poof of feathers, body a poof of feathers (like a feather-duster!), tail a powder-poof of feathers, and two big poofs of feathers that might or might not have contained feet and legs. There were so many feathers around the head I don’t think the poor thing could see at all…but dang, it was…umm…poodle-like!
I hereby christen it a poodle chicken.
Moving along, the other show was also pretty interesting. I ponied up $4.50 for the entry fee, and discovered, to my surprise, that it was not an India-Indian show, but a Native American/First Peoples art show. There were the inevitable rattlesnake heads, of course, and some rather nice beadwork, rugs, and basketweaving–all of which went over my head, since I don’t really like any of those–and then there were a few places that had obsidian knives. Which were really cool–chipped out of obsidian and then lashed to an antler haft, very primitive-looking but also very craftsmanlike. So I went for a closer look.
It turns out that not all obsidian knives are created equal. These days, people generally saw a flat piece off a chunk of obsidian, then knap it (take flakes off) by hand to make it look entirely hand-knapped. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I did notice that the lesser-quality knives tended to have flat blades–saw a thin slice, take off just enough to make it look hand-made, and you’re done. The lesser-quality knives also had big pieces taken off–like chips half an inch or more in width–where the better knives had much finer work, chips spaced 1/4″ or less apart. It was interesting to look at–I know virtually nothing about obsidian knives, but good craftsmanship always shows.
The tour de force of the obsidian knives, though, was this GORGEOUS piece of work about 3″ long, with a leaf-shaped blade. It was knapped very evenly, and shaped from edge to edge–thickest in the center and tapering on both sides (all the other knives I’d seen were flat-bladed, as they were sawn)–and that was nice. But, the genius of this blade was that there was a diamond-shaped inclusion (darker spot) in the obsidian, and the maker had seen this and carefully placed it so the diamond went precisely from edge to edge on the blade! so, if you held it up to the light, you saw a darker diamond in the center of the blade. It was stunning.
That said, it was also $325, and had what I considered to be an unpleasantly beaded antler handle (I really am not into Native American beading), so I passed on it, but asked the vendor to please let me know if he got any other knives of that quality but with a plain antler handle. I’m fond of knives, and those were truly beautifully done.
After that I wound up at the Monterey Aquarium, which was remarkable and amazing, but as plenty of other places have written about it, I won’t.
All of which got me in the mood to go on a road trip, so when I remembered that the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve was blooming, in one of the best blooms this century…well, that’s a later story.