I usually sleep in on Sunday, getting out of bed even later than my usual 8am-weekday routine. But for some reason, when I have planned to go to an old-tool swap meet, hunting, or to a woodcarving show I rise with the chickens. Well, we don't have chickens, but there are a couple of chuckar in the pen. Chuckar wait past dawn until the rocks start to warm up. And it rained off-and-on overnight, which always makes me tend to sleep later. So I caught a few more winks, and I rose with the chuckar. This particular morning, it was still overcast at my home in Riverside, California, courtesy of that pesky El Niño. I hate rain. That's why I live in the desert.
This was the weekend of the California Open Carving Competition, hosted by Pacific Southwest Wildfowl Arts (PSWA). It is always held in February, on the weekend of Presidents' Day. The location varies, and this time it is at the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero in San Diego, February 14-15, 1998.
The PSWA event was judged on Saturday, and the International Wildfowl Carvers' Association competiton followed on Sunday. Pictured at right, overall first and second place winners of the IWCA event, both by Paul Foytack.
This was the weekend of the California Open Carving Competition, hosted by Pacific Southwest Wildfowl Arts (PSWA). It is always held in February, on the weekend of Presidents' Day. The location varies, and this time it is at the Holiday Inn at the Embarcadero in San Diego, February 14-15, 1998. The PSWA event was judged on Saturday, and the International Wildfowl Carvers' Association competiton followed on Sunday. Pictured at right, overall first and second place winners of the IWCA event, both by Paul Foytack.
The Trip. . .
I always enjoy it when I go to San Diego. The weather is usually very nice. Not too hot or cold, sunshine, and a bare minimum of smog . . . in the summer it is just enough of a tint so you can see what you're breathing, but this time of year it is what pilots call CAVU (Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited) or Severe Clear. The people are friendly, and nobody is in a hurry. San Diego is probably the world's biggest small-town.
I performed the morning rituals, and gathered up my gear. Darn! No coffee! And we had run out of Diet Pepsi. Rats! I grabbed a bottle of Apple Juice out of the fridge and headed out to the car. Remembering that the cruise control was not working right, I decided to take the truck instead. The truck is fun to drive. It's a full-size pickup with upgraded interior. The seats are comfy and the view is great from up there. Oh, darn again! It's low on gas. Well, that's the penalty you pay for driving the big ones . . . some people say you don't need a speedometer, you can tell how fast you're going by how fast the gas gauge falls!
So I began the 100-mile-drive South to San Diego. I remembered to fill the gas tanks up at the corner Quickee-Mart, but forgot to get my cuppa java. The rain that fell for the next 98 miles dampened my caffeine-deprived spirits a bit more. Did I mention that I hate rain?
As I entered the Embarcadero area, the sun broke out of the clouds! I was finally able to turn off the windshield wipers! Yay! Did I tell you just how much I HATE the rain? Now all I have to do is find where they moved the Holiday Inn. I drove up and down Harbor Boulevard past the Westin and Hyatt and the rest of the big names... no Holiday! I know it's here somewhere... I asked a couple of tourists if they knew where it went to. Eventually, the doorman at the Hyatt got tired of watching me and my truck cruising by and told me the secret path to the Holiday Inn. It's not at the Embarcadero after all! It's the one on the bay across from Anthony's Seafood. About a mile further. Doh! I knew that! I got successfully parked after a couple of U-Turns across divided streets, and went into the South Tower.
By this time, I was beginning to want to part company with the half-gallon of apple juice that I had sipped on the drive down. I looked around for what they refer to down here as the "Quarto de Baño por los Caballeros" - try to imagine my shock and dismay when I found out that it was in the North Tower!
I danced across the parking lot to the appropriate destination, said "Thanks, and Good-bye" to the apple juice, and started wondering just where the show was being held in the hotel. Eureka! It was conveniently set up in the meeting room next to the Men's Restroom.
On with the Show!
I approached the show entrance and began to discreetly look at the nametags on several ladies' chests. I was looking for Thelma Jennings, publicist for the sponsors of the event, who had graciously held a press pass for me. Several ladies asked me, "What are you looking at?" I explained that I had forgotten my reading glasses and was trying to find Thelma. "Well, you won't find her by looking there," one woman snorted, and pushed me over to Thelma.
Thelma took time out from her busy activities to show me the layout of the event and gave me some background on the organization and the competition. After allowing me to wander about and get a gestalt for the event, she introduced me to Bob Sutton.
Bob is the president of the PSWA and is responsible for opening the competition up to Palm Frond Carvings. They are a relatively new division, this is their fourth year, and the rules are much more relaxed than for the more formal divisions. I had never heard of it until about six months ago, when Laurie (Laurie J. Lundell Gmyrek) mentioned that she had carved a bird from a palm frond. She e-mailed me a picture of her Peregrine Falcon, and it was fantastic. I had no idea that you could do such a thing with what I had previously thought was just a bunch of stringy punkwood. So this was my first chance to look at actual Palm Frond Carvings. "Where are the Palm Fronds," I asked Thelma, "in the back corner?"
"They're on the table right behind you," she laughed! I had been looking right at them and they looked every bit as good as the 'normal' carvings. OK, so I peered closer at them. Aha! I detected a bit of texture under the paint on a decoy. That may be a giveaway. But the others are as smooth as silk... the best way to tell must be to pick them up and feel the weight. Of course, I had my show manners on, and didn't handle the entries like some others did! Closer examination reveals the characteristic curve of a palm branch on parts of some. I decided to take a break and then come back to them.
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