I haven't had the foggiest clue of how to even to start to write about it, so I'll just do it as I usually do best... chronologically.
Friday August 3This was to be the "Peter's Circus" or something like that. Around the room in the Valhalla he had set up a bunch of different games booths: Find Nessie, Name that Tartan, Bagpipe Ring Toss... etc...
I wish I had taken some cameras, it was unbelievable how it all looked when said and done. And it was packed as well. Lots of folk showed up and we chatted, discussed and got caught up in general. It was a great evening.
Mandy took Dean home early, and I was to get a ride with Deb. Then at one point in the evening Deb was gone, so I had to get a ride with Chris, which meant riding along with his new wolf! Heh.
Saturday August 4Set up for the hall/museum for the open house. It was damned impressive. Being in the band you get that sense of being something bigger than you can picture... but not until it was in its entirety in one room (and these were just the select pieces) that it can overwhelm you with the sense of what our organization has been and will continue to. Absolutely touching.
There was an amazing shot of Al, that was really moving. It's funny, looking at it I noticed that the pipes did have full combing on them, as when you look at them now it looks like they've been replaced with just a sheer piece of wood... but upon closer inspection you can just barely make out the combing. Al had just played them so much that they had worn away that one piece. Incredible.
It was about this time that the whole scene started to hit me. Getting ready to perform I was feeling a little overwhelmed. The first set we had envisioned a part where we'd play Amazing Grace, with a moment of solemn silence (we were thinking of prefacing the tune with a 'let us remember those who are not here' speech) and then after the silence start up with Big Don. A tune that would pay tribute to both Al (who wrote it) and Don (past chieftain). Thinking about it caused me to be reduced to tears.
As we got going and I was getting the band ready I didn't have much time to think as we were tuning and readying for the performance. I had changed the marching orders several times already, so I was distracted.
It wasn't until I was just about to make the command to march out that I had to pause as I felt that lump in my throat again. This time a true sense of pride as being 'that guy'. That guy who got to call together friends, friends who shared a common interest to pay tribute and homage to our art. Yeah, I'm over romanticizing it probably, but still... I was overcome by the privilege that was mine. I almost couldn't make that command. I had to bask in that moment. Take time to realize its importance.
When we came to the Amazing Grace, I had determined I was going to do it, but at the last second I had Rory play lead, as I was starting to feel wet behind the eyes again.
The second set we tuned up quickly and got out, leaving the group for massed bands to tune in our wake. It was great seeing the old members get their pipes out: Graham MacLennan, Nathan Rody, Mike Aldrich, Martin Aller. Awesome. The massed band was impressive. We had Tom (want to say Barclay) lead us out and we filled the one side of the hall.
The evening aside from playing was great. Hanging out with Nathan and Ben and chatting about old trips and hijinx... hilarious stuff. We "Pamela'd" Mike... though I think Susan answered.
Dean was the life of the party as he just danced and danced and danced. Not only that, he would only dance with the highland dancers. Would make sure they were all there on the floor, and if not, grab them by the hand and bring them on. And only the dancers... when Mandy tried to get on, he quickly led her by the hand back to me so it would be just him and them (I heard he gave the girls a thumbs up when he did that).
Jarron played a tribute video to Alister, and it's funny (I say funny, but not really, it was touching - and at the end of the video I was in tears again). The first thing in the video he talked about was going to compete. That the name of being in the band was to 'get better. Always." I think that's going to provide me some fuel for later.
By 130am, Dean was still running around and Mandy and I were pooped.
Sunday August 6Some met at Naxos for breakfast, everybody else went to the cairn, and we got ready for its dedication.
Again, another solemn moment. We had everybody there and Pete, Graham and I piped in for Don to make the announcement and dedicate the monument. It was great. As much as I believed the whole weekend was awesome, I have to say I was most impressed by this cairn. Not only did it cost us next to nothing (compared to the humongous amount of money the Valhalla was charging), but that it was a true group effort from several folk ... and all that aside. 40 years from now, I'll be able to still go and see that monument and remember what it stands for. I won't remember much of the dinner.
I still don't think that I'm doing this event any justice. There's some great photos on our facebook photo album.