31 MAY 2007

I'm a baaaaaaaad boy.  I just get busy and forget to sit down and do a write up until the end of the month.  But, at least it's the 31st, and I didn't wait until sometime in June.

We kicked off the month of May by saying goodbye.  The 5th was graduation.  Our main man, Tristen "T-Bone" Dean came back down from Idaho with his folks and walked the walk.  It was great to visit with him again for a few days.  He's working this summer as a mail carrier, and headed to Japan in August to spend at least a year teaching conversational English for the JET program.  Tristen is a first class fellow, and is going to go a long way in the world.  As long as he doesn't ask you to pass the salt.  Also graduating was our beloved Dr. Dodd.  Allyn got an internship in Minnesota for the summer, but should be back in the fall to play tenor for us, so she's not gone quite yet.  Haley Skinner also graduated.  She was part of the dance program over the last few years. She's getting married very soon, and we wish her much good fortune.  The band sat right up front, next to the platform party and defied requests not to applaud individuals.  All our graduates got cheers from their bandmates.

The following weekend Jimmy and I got into the Blue Bomber (a blue 1985 Mercury Marquis with a Glasgow Rangers plate on the front) and lit out for Houston TX.  We attended the Houston Highland Games.  I competed, and Jimmy did some spectating, some recruiting, and some assisting the Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums get set up for competition.  We very much enjoyed visiting with friends from several bands, including St.Thomas, Westminster, Bayou City, and of course Baton Rouge.  I got third in the Grade II Piobaireachd, and also in the March, but managed to get past one of those pesky St. Thomas kids for a second in the S/R.  Nancy also placed very well in the Grade IV Sr. Piobaireachd, and got an AGL mark.  Piping judges were Bob Worrall, Alasdair Gillies, Ed Neigh, and Doug MacRae.  It was great to see them all.  Jimmy also got a few minutes of face time with Mike Cusack.  It was about a 9 1/2 hour drive for us, but a good time.  There was a giant duck in the parking lot next door to the hotel, and that made it all worth the trip for me.

The weekend of the 19th we loaded up again, and drove just as far in nearly the opposite direction and went to Gatlinburg TN.  This time Jimmy was judging. We got to the turn-off from I-40 in about eight hours, but took over an hour getting through Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg.  It's like Branson with bigger mountains.  Something to do with Dolly Parton...  Oh, yeah,  Dollywood is there.  It's a big tourist attraction.  Beautiful area for sure.  I guess Gatlinburg is a ski area of sorts in the winter and looks a lot like a Swiss village with a LOT of shopping.  We had a nice hotel with a creek running through the parking lot.  Word is that black bears sometimes wander down that creek.  The games were quite nice.  Just a few miles from the hotel on the grounds of a local school. and park.  There were a lot of competitors.  Usually Grade II has five or six at the most.  There were more like twice that at Gatlinburg.  I was able to squeak out a second in the Piobaireachd, but I tanked in the 2/4.  I thought I played very well in the S/R, but the judge did not concur with my self-assessment.  We got to visit with Mike, Janet, and Karen from the Cincinnati Grade V band, and ran into our friends from Needfire again.  Always a pleasure there.  It was a great games with a real good band competition.  Saturday night saw us for dinner with Ed Neigh, Norman MacLeod, Sandy and Dorcas Jones, and Bob Worrall at a very nice restaurant called The Park.  It was tough, but Jimmy and I were able to find something on the menu that was appealing.  KILLER good salad bar, in case you're over that way.  We stopped at one of the many pancake houses on the way out of town Sunday morning, then snuck out of town the back way.  I think we'll go in that way if we do a return engagement next year.

While Jimmy and I were running around in Tennessee, our own Vincent Moore  won Piper of the Day at the games in Springfield IL.  He's back at home there for the summer, and playing with Chicago Midlothian who won the Grade II band contest there that weekend as well..  They put Vinny right up front, where they can keep an eye on him.  Vince turned right around the next weekend and won Piper of the Day at the US Championships in Alma, MI.  He is on a tear, and we are frightfully proud of him.  Midlothian won the Grade II there as well.  And our friend Bruce Robertson's Westminster band from OKC won the Grade III.

Cody Wagnon has been home for the last couple of weeks, but returned to campus this afternoon and will be driving over to Glasgow KY tomorrow with Jimmy and me.  Nancy is flying into Nashville and meeting up with us in Glasgow.  Jimmy is judging, Nancy and I are competing, and Cody will simply be entertaining us, as he's recovering from having his wisdom teeth extracted.  Should be a wicked fun weekend, and I'll report on it later.

Meanwhile, we continue to prepare for the solo contest in Galveston on the 23rd of June, sponsored by the MidSouth Piping Society, and with assistance from Stew Joslin, and Nancy Love, and also from Colleen Steblein and Michelle Belanger of te EUSPBA.  Thanks folks, for all the work.

For the band,