Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yesterday was a “no-show”

We had heavy rains, off and on, and heavy, heavy, strong, nasty winds all day. Llama Man called to say the Play Day was postponed until next Saturday; llamas don’t like wind. Well, to tell you the truth, weavers and spinners don’t, either!

So instead of taking everything to the Play Day, Norm and I went over to Candy and Wayne’s so that I could help Candy start her weaving. Next Saturday, I will be in Albert Lea for our final event of the year and Candy will have to do the Play Day all by herself!

I got to playing with the little loom while Candy got comfortable working with hers. Candy is using yarns that she has spun herself on my spinning wheel out of llama. She hopes to do most of this tapestry with llama.

The boys were wandering around looking at some of Wayne’s projects, and then spent time swatting flies, mostly the ones that landed on us. Those flies are really thick … frost is coming!

After visiting with a neighbor who popped over, we all headed to the local café for lunch before heading home to our prospective houses for the afternoon.

Norm and I spent our freed-up time by working more on packing for Albert Lea. This is a four-day event so we need to make sure we have enough of everything, food, blankets, craft things, etc. as we will be there for five – set-up day, two days of school tours and two days of open-to-the-public days.

Today, Candy and I are heading to the Cities – I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and she is accompanying me for the fun of it. After seeing Dr. O tomorrow, we will stop at my favorite quilt shop (no, no quilt supplies on the docket – just to see my friends), then going up to see our favorite spinning wheel lady. Candy MIGHT be in the market for a spinning wheel.

Then home to finish packing for Albert Lea and heading out Wednesday morning.

On another, bright note today is my sweet baby’s ninth birthday. Jessica is growing up so wonderfully! Jessica is loving, sensitive and very bright. She loves everyone, all animals and the whole world. We feel that this sweet little girl will grow up to be a helper in some way or another. Happy Birthday, sweetie!!

It will be a beautiful day today (although very windy); you have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is it?

Okay, what is it?

Is it a work of art by sister Candy and brother-in-law Wayne?

Is it a hat rack?

Is it a mother and child?

Is it a wind harp?

What it is – is an idea based on the Earth Loom that we found mentioned on the Internet.

Candy, Norm and I are going to be demonstrating at a local Llama Play Day on Saturday and Candy wanted something different from the small loom she borrowed from me last year to make a wall hanging.

So between Candy and I, we came up with the idea; between Candy and Wayne, with a little bit of help from me today, they came up with two looms – a larger one for Candy and a smaller one for guests at the Play Day to try weaving on.

Kati, it is NOT a sled, as you can now see, but a good guess! It could have been made into one.

Dreamer, your second guess was correct! But it could have been a hanging rack, as well.

Laurie, I’m sure YOU were guessing a loom!

I will be taking pictures on Saturday so you can see Candy’s artistic work of art and what the other one looks like with several people working on it. The smaller one will be mine, the larger one for Candy – she has wanted to make larger wall hangings and tapestries – now she can go gun-ho on them!

I will be spinning (what else?) with llama fiber and will take a second wheel along for guests to try if they like.

Norm will be spooning – no, not THAT kind of spooning! He will be demonstrating his spoon carving!!!

We are hoping the weather will cooperate. Candy and I both will be taking Claritin before we go as the “no see-ums” are out in full force and we both are allergic to their bites.

More news to come after the event!
It is a full moon tonight and was a beautiful day. You have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No and Maybe!

Well, we didn’t get the project completed far enough this weekend to finish today, as planned. So the completed pictures will have to wait!

Dreamer, it is NOT a drying rack – try again!

Laurie, from the tone of your voice, I think you are correct! We’ll see, won’t we?

But I will post the completeness when it gets done, which MUST be done by Friday at the latest!

Is your egg still standing? I moved mine as I kept knocking it over, but in the safe place that it is, the egg is standing very well. Have you even tried?

Norm is home from South Dakota, one day later than planned. They had a family get-together on Sunday so he came home yesterday. He has two brothers and two sisters that live in the area, so it’s easy to get them together – sort-of! They are all busy in their own ways but managed to find an afternoon free to see Norm.

His brother was trying to get him to stay yet another day to go to an auction with him. However, we have to be in Albert Lea for an event in a week, so he needed to come home to help get ready!

The weather has changed, yet again! It was windy and 85º on Sunday, it rained yesterday and it’s overcast and will be 60º for the top temperature today! Ooofta!

Today is Brandy day! I have so many apples (many un-picked, as of yet) that I have too much juice. Norm said I can’t make any more jelly, so I am going to make some of the juice into Apple Brandy – I love the stuff (well, a sip now and then, can’t drink a whole lot, but it’s so yummy a sip a day or a sip a week or so)! I will probably make the rest into apple juice – the girls love apple juice and so does Norm – I like it, sort of.
It will be a beautifully cool day today, nice for baking. You have a beautiful day!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It’s that time of year again!

Time to put your eggs up and see how long they stand! I put mine up this morning and it’s standing, free and easy, proving that it’s the Equinox! And time that fall is here!

Our weather is not sure if it’s fall or not. We have 80º one day and lucky to hit 60º the next! Freeze warnings, then high winds and hot weather the next day! But it seems like fall, if you can forget the hot days! There seem to be more cool than hot.

So, I have a picture of my egg standing next to my lime tree, with my lemon tree in the foreground. What do you think of my citrus orchard?

And this next picture – what do YOU think it is? Answer will come in a few days when the project is done. I ain’t a tellin’ no-one what or where or who for this until it’s done, so guess away!

Here is another picture of the windmills, all in a row. I couldn’t get a good picture of them this evening, but most of them are flashing the red warning light for the airplanes and they are all flashing in unison. Really cool!

It was a beautiful day today – a lovely visit with my niece and grand niece in their new home with a yumm-scrumsious batch of chicken enchiladas for supper. You have a beautiful day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I've been tagged

Here are the rules: You have to post these rules on your blog.

Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you do not have a middle name, choose one you would like to have. When tagged, write your own blog post containing your middle name facts.

At the end, choose one person to tag for each letter of your middle name. Then leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged.

My middle name is Lee. Thank goodness for a short name but two "e" letters will be hard. Let me see!

L: Life! After nearly losing Norm to his broken neck and having a close call, myself, last year, I am grateful for life and all the good things that are provided.

E: Eels? No, hate them! Everything? That's not quite fair, is it! Let me go to a dictionary for help! Ah, I have it! E-mail! Very revalent. As a semi-hermit here on the farm, e-mail is very important to me! I even e-mail my sister, rather than calling her (a local call, by the way!) because it is less intrusive in her life to check e-mail once in a while rahter than having to run catch the phone. E-mail - the way to go in this modern world!

E: Another one? Back to the dictionary! Egg! I love eggs! I love chickens, baby and grown. I love to hear the roosters crow in the morning (noon and night). I love to feed the chickens; I love to collect the eggs; I love to wash and put them away in their little cartons. I love to look at, feel and fondle (wierd me) the eggs. They are so smooth, so colorful and so perfect in their oval-ness! But I don't like to eat them ... funny, huh?

Okay, there are the words! Now for the tagged people!

I tag Carla Lynne, Joy and Kati!!

It's 57º out, with overcast skies and wind. The furnace turned on for the second time this fall, but will probably shut off very soon as it is supposed to warm up to about 80º today. Have a beautiful day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Every day farm life

Now that things are slowing down somewhat, I can show you some of what has been going on around here.

We are getting some awesome sunrises right now and I’m actually able to see them because the sun rises about the same time as I do. I have been getting around 7:00 to go out to let the dogs out and feed the chickens .

We still have Tasha, Joy’s Cocker Spaniel and will have her for about a month more. However, if Joy doesn’t come collect Tasha soon, she may NOT get her back. Tasha is a sweetheart, lots of fun and gets along very well with Peanut and Scooter.

My orange cat, Lil, went to sister Candy’s. Lil was originally Candy’s cat but I got her when they were thinking about moving a couple of years ago. After spending 18 months at their Grove, Candy decided to stop looking for the perfect cat and take Lil home to her house. Lil IS the perfect cat! I have enjoyed having her here but I am sure that Lil will be happier with Candy; no competition, as our older cat, Lucky, has never liked her.

On the way from our home to Candy’s, we have been watching windmills going up. There will be about 20 of them in all, standing in their white glory, turning in the wind. The only down side, for Candy, is that she sees the red lights at night from some of them, which is something she’d rather not see. We can see them from our mailbox, but not from the house. However, we see lots of tower lights around so a few more red lights on the hori
zon wouldn’t bother me.

Roadside view

View from our mailbox

If the energy were going to OUR electric company, Candy wouldn’t complain, but it’s going up to the Cities and by-passing us, so we are not too happy about that. But I guess any energy by wind anywhere will help the earth, so we shouldn’t complain too much!

It’s amazing how big they are when you are close to them. Candy said she saw 5 men standing upright, without being crowded, inside one of the motors that runs the blades.

Close up of the door into the tower

Norm has been working on the barn. It was originally one barn but someone added on an east end, but not very well. The east end has been leaking and falling down since before we bought the place. This summer has been the time that Norm started working on the barn. He took the roof off the east end and will eventually take the sides down, as well. He used some of the roof boards to shore up the rest of the barn roof and shingled it with left over shingles from other roofs that we have done around here. It is finally finished and now he can go on to other projects, such as closing up the south and east sides of the barn which are very wind-leaky at the moment.

Our kitten from my sister-in-law in South Dakota is growing quite a bit. She is now playing with Tasha as well as Peanut. She has turned out to be quite a mouser! I have found dead mice (thank you very much) on the entryway step for two mornings in a row. Will I have another one tomorrow? I need to keep my eyes open when I walk out so I don’t step on one.

Norm has left me (sigh)!!! He headed out to South Dakota for a few days to spend time with his brother. He will be home before I have everything done, I know, and will ask me what I have done! Well, if he is taking a vacation, can’t I as well?
It was a beautiful day today – about 70º and rainy all day. Wish I could send some to those who are desperate! You have a beautiful day!

Pepin Update

If you are interested in the Pepin weekend next year, you need to go to their site. Like I said before, people come from all over to be there. If you are interested and need a motel, get your room early - there are not many motels. However, there ARE campgrounds all around.

Here are some pictures taken by several people this year.

See you next year???

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Beware the Ides of September!

The middle of September was yesterday – how can that be? It was just the other week that it was June!!!

Now that I’ve caught up with all of my running around, I need to get back to what’s going on here on the farm.

Yesterday morning it was 33º when I woke up. We had covered our tomatoes and peppers and herbs Friday night, knowing it was going to get cold. But it didn’t freeze the swiss chard. Anyone want any? Norm plants way too much each year and I don’t like it, so we can’t keep up. Wonder if I can freeze it? The only other one who likes it is Katie and she doesn’t come around often enough to suit me for cutting it. The temperature yesterday was a balmy 60º with clouds and a bitter wind.

This morning it was 44º and it’s gotten up to 79º. What a difference a day makes! It’s still windy but not so cold!

Norm picked all of the ripe tomatoes and the ripe-but-not-changed-color peppers yesterday. I can’t pick them. Every time I think, “Well, maybe I’m being a woose,” I see a few sweat bees in the vines and pull back. They have me more frightened than the bigger bees. They don’t seem to have any brains and you can’t talk to them like you can other bees!

Friday was the day for taking the last broilers of the season to the butcher. Hip, hip, hooray!! I cleaned the pen out on Monday and Friday morning it was impossible to walk in there from all of the poop. I have found that 65 broilers are too many. We will make sure that we have 50 as a maximum. Those extra 15 are just too much for our little pen and my little back, cleaning the poop up every few days! They were a week early for butchering, but if any one complains about the size, they can do the cleaning next time!

Now that we’ve found a good system for the chickens, we lose very few and they are plump, tender and big! It’s just at the end, when they poop so much and it’s so hard to clean that I object the most to doing the work.

The money part of the system is good for me, though. We have 4 families that share in the chickens. Everyone pays for their day-old chicks, then the 3 other families pay for the feed while we pay in electricity and energy to feed and clean the little buggers. Works for me!

Yesterday and today has been tomato sauce day, with tomato juice as an extra treat. Even with using mostly Romas, there is still a lot of juice, so I drain that off and cook it with onions, green pepper, garlic and salt. Norm really likes it a lot. My brother, Charles, also loves tomato juice, so I will have a lot to share with him, as well.

So, that’s catching up! We need to pick the apples, now that we’ve had a ‘legal’ frost; our apples ripen after the frost – well, except the yellow ones and we still have some on the top of the tree that need to be picked for applesauce.

Norm’s out mowing the lawn for (hopefully) the last time; I’m starting some tacos with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden. Yah gotta realize, kids – here in the far north in Minnesota, even though the zone has changed to a milder climate, it still is cold in the spring so you can’t put tomatoes and peppers out for a very long time. And with our weird weather, we have only had a few eating tomatoes until now, but no peppers. So everyone who has been enjoying tomatoes and peppers for months, feel sorry for us. But with covering the plants on colder nights, we should have a least 3 or 4 more weeks of enjoying them.

It was a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pepin Weekend

Well, now I’ve caught up to the Pepin Weekend, this past weekend. I need to clarify for those of you who do not know about Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Laura Ingalls was born in a cabin outside of Pepin, Wisconsin in 1867. With her family, she traveled to many different areas, settling, building a home, and then moving on. Most of her moving was done in a covered wagon. She was a true Pioneer Girl; her father never wanted to settle but her mother insisted that they stay in once place because of the girls and their educational needs. The family finally stopped at De Smet, South Dakota; they were one of the first families in that area.

Laura married Almanzo Wilder when she was 19 and eventually settled (after several moves) in Mansfield, Missouri. They raised their only surviving child, Rose, in Missouri. Rose went on to become famous as Rose Wilder Lane.

Laura, with the encouragement of her daughter, wrote the first book of what later became a very popular series, “Little House in the Big Woods.” This was about her early childhood in Pepin. To read a little bit more of Laura, you can
go here.

Norm and I have been to see the reproduction cabin near the site of the homestead and participate in the LIW days “Traditional Demonstrations” in the park in Pepin each fall. The people that come to demonstrate have become our family. In fact, I overheard one woodworker say, “I never go to family reunions because I have so little family. THIS is my family, THIS is my family reunion.”

Since I forgot my camera (sorry!), I need to describe what is there at Pepin. We arrived about 3:00 on Friday and started to set up. Tom Latené is the “main man” as he lives in Pepin with his wife and daughter and started the traditional crafts section years ago. He tells us where to camp, but most of the time we camp where we’ve always camped unless we request a move.

As we took things out of the van and started putting up the tent, Gary came by to help. He normally helps Tom L set up his blacksmith tent but Tom has injured his shoulder so could not do blacksmithing this weekend. It’s always nice to have help putting the tent up!

As we were putting up the tent, the dogs (we are babysitting our daughter’s Cocker Spaniel, Tasha) were staked out of the way and in the shade. For her first time at an event, Tasha did very well. She’s not used to being on a tether most of the time, but adjusted very quickly.

People started oozing in – some we’d seen during the Fair as they passed through the cabin during their visit to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together.” Others we had not seen for several months to a year.
Sheri and her husband Pete arrived to set up his blacksmith area and her spinning area – she is a great spinner and sits spinning all day while selling children’s sunbonnets and baby bunnies.

Tom L came to set up his tent (his wife makes and sells tin decorations and cookie cutters);

Molly came in her “Swan Boat” – camper – to start setting up the cooking area. She and another gal, Maureen, cook for their demonstrations and cook for the entire group. We bring food and things as well as donate to help pay for the meat. We brought a 22 pound watermelon and a dozen eggs. They cooked breakfast for Saturday and Sunday as well as lunch for Saturday and Sunday and a big meal for Saturday night. The big meal on Saturday night is the family get-together – we sit at long picnic tables and visit.

Tom D came – he does woodworking as well. His wife and daughter came later that night – she is a teacher and their 4 year old is a handful around setting up time.

Dave W (from the State Fair) came with his characters and his banjo, fiddle and guitar.

Dave J came (we see him in Decorah) – he does dove-tailed boxes.

Jasper the potter came – he normally sets up next to us so I can watch him work while I spin. I helped hold some of his poles as 2 bodies are better than 1 for setting up some systems.

Most of the others came on Saturday morning before opening at 10:00.

Friday night is supper at Latene’s – the group is getting bigger and bigger each year. We have beer or tea and supper of some kind and visiting before the weekend starts.

Now that we were “home” at the tent, after the fun get-together, we settled down for bed. I had the commode (period correct, all the way) surrounded by my privacy curtains (Gary was really impressed when he helped me put them up), the beds set up so our heads were close enough we could see each other, the candle lantern ready to blow out, Tasha under Norm’s bed and Peanut in mine. I LOVE the real beds and mattresses – much easer to get in and out of than cots, much more comfortable, too!

Morning came and I got up with the dogs for a short walk. Jasper is an early riser so he was up getting coffee at the Rendezvous tent up the hill. Molly SAID she would not make coffee and breakfast for the men, but less than 30 minutes after that statement, men were eating eggs and bacon and drinking her good coffee.

About that time, the “family” came – much depleted, sadly. I gave Cindy a big, long hug – this was the first time I’d seen her since news of Jamie’s death in November so it was hard to see her, but good to see her, if you understand how I felt. But, no surprise, there was evidence of a new little one coming this fall. Yup, Cindy will have a baby in November. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the baby is due on Jamie’s funeral anniversary!

Cindy had brought a large poster with pictures of Jamie and the family for a memorial (and probably to stop the many questions of “Where’s Jamie?”). Tom L had gotten a tree planted in Jamie’s name, as well. It had been suggested during the Decorah weekend so those who wanted to help with it donated money this weekend. It’s a small white oak (I had suggested an oak tree, as Jamie had seemed as strong as an oak to me) with a brass plaque on it with his name.

However, not only was Jamie missing but the other 3 adult children. I had visited with the boys when they came to the State Fair and discovered that they had moved out of the home and were working for a farmer down the road. I also discovered that the oldest girl had found a job and moved out, too. This must be hard on Cindy – not only losing Jamie but not having the other 3 around the home. She and her husband have the 3 younger ones – ages 9 to 3 – and the new one coming, but to “lose” the whole older family has got to be difficult!

Okay, meeting people was over – time for the event to happen. We had many visitors that came from all over the US and Canada to be at the LIW happening. There is a “look-alike” contest, a fiddler’s contest, a story-telling contest, a parade, a bus tour of the area and the reproduction cabin; there is also a quilt show at the cabin. We at the park are in our white canvas tents, our old-time costumes and are doing our old-time crafts. It’s quite a big event for a little town on the edge of Lake Pepin.

“Lake Pepin” is actually a very wide spot in the Mississippi. If you have read “Little House in the Big Woods,” Laura talks about crossing over the “lake” at thawing time and how they listened to the ice cracking while they rode the wagons from Wisconsin to Minnesota.

We began tearing down about 4:30 or 5:00 on Sunday. After tear-down, it was good-bye time for another long time. I ordered some of Cindy’s fantastic goat-milk soap and some votive beeswax candles. This year, for the first time, Norm said we could meet at Tom L’s for pizza and a final goodbye. I sat between Sherri and Cindy and enjoyed talking over (or under) the noise of the men before saying goodbye. Some we will see at Big Island in October, some we may see in July at Decorah and some we won’t see again until next September. Wish we lived closer than the 5 hours we have to travel from home.

Home about 12:30 midnight, take the cooler out and fall into bed. Unpacking will happen the next day.

So, now I’m caught up with my travels. Thank you for bearing with me. It was a beautiful weekend. You have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Doctors and a comedy of errors

Well, the day after the day after (if you are confused, it’s the second day after Labor Day, the day after tear-down day), I had a doctor’s appointment. That was the main reason I spent the night at Joy’s.

The appointment (annual physical, nothing seriously pending) was for 8 AM. I wandered out of the house, ready to head to the clinic, only to find that my van wouldn’t start! It has (well, had – it’s been replaced) a weak battery. I called Norm at home only to find that he had taken the battery charger home with him, so it wouldn’t do me any good.

Bill (Joy’s father-in-law) was asleep in the basement apartment. So I called Joy in Florida to borrow her car that had been left in Minnesota for use when they flew home. By the time I got my purse in, found the keys, figured out how to drive a Kia (first time), I was running late. AND had bad traffic, which I did not expect on the road I had chosen. I tried calling the clinic but couldn’t get an answer – too early for them to be on the phones!

I was “only” 10 minutes late, but that is a lot of time when the doctors are on such a tight schedule. But the sweet receptionist called the nurse and managed to allow me to fit in! I had to wait a bit for the doctor but not too long, in the general scheme of things.

Dr O (who’s name has been changed to protect ME from having all of you rush to see her, making it more difficult for ME to see her!) has been my doctor for over 10 years. Can’t remember the first time I saw her, but I won’t change for any other doctor (nope, nope, nope!). She knows me and my weirdness-es and how I think and react.

Once upon a time, I was in the hospital for minor surgery and woke up on the operating table, far too soon. There was some kind of tube in my throat and I couldn’t speak OR breathe. I panicked and struggled, which make my chest hurt from trying to breath. When I was in the recovery room, the nurse asked how I felt and I told her my chest hurt. She took my ‘vitals’ and called Dr. O.

Now, the clinic is in the hospital building, so when the nurse called Dr. O, she was put on hold, as Dr. O was with a patient. Before the receptionist talked to the nurse again, there was Dr. O in the recovery room to see me!!! Now, to me, THAT’s bedside manner to the nth degree! Because of that episode, I was put into a hospital bed for the night in case I had had a heart attack, but all soon agreed that it was a panic attack that caused everything to look haywire.

Anyway, that’s one of the reasons I won’t give up Dr. O, even though I now live 3 hours from her office! Although I promised her that I would find another doctor in this area for emergencies. And also promised to get a mammogram this fall (yes, Dr. O - cross my heart, I will!). She doesn’t say much, but she has a look that I try to avoid!

After a delightful (so to speak) visit with her, I headed to the lab to get stuck for blood by the vampires and was able to head home to Joy’s. I called Bill in the hopes that he had not left home yet to tell him I needed help getting the van charged up (not only did it need charging, but it takes two people to open the hood – one to pull the thingie inside and one to push and push to pop the hood up). Then I decided I’d better put gas into Joy’s Kia as it was getting low.

I got out of the car, closed the door (the beeper beeps when the door is open even if the key is out of the ignition!), went to open the gas door and it wouldn’t open! I opened the car door, got my phone and called Joy – “How do you open the gas door?” The open button is beside the front driver’s seat. I opened the door …..

I ATTEMPTED to open the door. I guess I had hit the “lock all the doors and devil may care” button. I was locked out of the Kia with nothing but my phone (thank goodness) and my credit card which I had put in my pocket.

Soooooooooooo, I called Bill, once again “Please bring the second Kia key to rescue me!” I had to wait about 45 minutes, so was lucky I had the credit card. I got a hot dog and a Dr Pepper for breakfast and sat on a picnic table outside to wait.

Okay, he arrives with the key – and then, I was able to get gas and get home to Joy’s. Bill followed me and got his jumper cables out so we could charge up the van.

And could we get the hood open? But NOOOOOO! Called Norm (for about the 4th time that morning) to tell him it wasn’t working. The pull-ie thingie that you pull to release the hood was not working – we had to use a claw hammer to grab hold and pull, then Bill had to push several times. FINALLY the hood opened. We connected the jumper cables and finally got the van to start after about 5 tries. Then it wouldn’t stay running, so Bill sat with his foot on the accelerator to keep it running.

By this time it was 12:00 noon and stinking hot and humid out. I was told not to run my air conditioner or radio for about 30 minutes. I did have to get gas, so was told not to turn the van off while getting gas (a definite no-no but what’s a girl to do?). After I got gas, I was allowed to run the air conditioner (thank goodness) and the radio.

I had pretzels in the car from the trip to the cities and had the remainder of my Dr. Pepper to drink, so was able to drive all the way home without shutting the engine off.
A planned trip of Dr, good breakfast, relaxing trip home and home by noon was out the window. I got home about 3:30, beat to pieces with emotion, but DID make it!

All thanks to Bill for his great help, thanks to Joy for her long distance help and thanks to Norm for his advice. Also, thanks to Dr. O for a pleasant and a not-too-grilling session with her so that I at least had ENERGY (sort of) to cope with the rest of the problems!

It was (eventually) a beautiful day. You have a beautiful day!
OH! One note – when Norm got home that evening, we unloaded my “pony” and he tried her out. Ain’t she a beauty?

Monday, September 10, 2007

The State Fair Experience

I thought, this year, that I’d take you through some of our daily experiences at the fair. There is no connection here in the campground, of course, and if I took the computer to the cabin, it wouldn’t work, because I don’t have electricity in the cabin!

We work in a small cabin that was built in 1900 in the far northwest corner of Minnesota. We set up the cabin to be mid-1870s and interpret it that way. The cabin is located in the Heritage Square area of the State Fairgrounds. This area is dedicated to “old time” crafts – no plastic balloons shaped like Bart Simpson, no fake feathered hats, no plastic bead necklaces. All the articles sold in the Heritage Square must have been made by the seller or members of the family. We have old windows with lovely painted scenes, painted gourds, painted ice skates and desks and chairs, hand made jewelry, canes, old-time photographs, kettle corn, a stage with “old-time” music. We have a blacksmith and a wood turner as well as the cabin. The cabin is surrounded by fenced yards and has a covered wagon, a buggy and a few carts as well as several different types of old farm machinery. The Square also houses the State Fair Museum that has many things pertaining to the history of the State Fair. There is a lot there from Dan Patch, the most famous Trotter in American history. I have seen and touched some articles that he wore – a harness, a bridle, etc.

Day 0: Set up day. Katie and Takara left on Tuesday to get to the fairgrounds and get the camper set up and start working early. But didn’t get the camper set up so spent the night at a motel. They unloaded their pickup and had everything of theirs set up by the time Norm and I got there on Wednesday.

Norm and Katie set up the camper while T and I got my stuff out of the van and set up in the cabin. We discovered that there was a lot that we had either forgotten or hadn’t been able to fit into our vehicles, but we can live without most of it. Amazing what little you can get along with if necessary!

Since our eating schedules were different that day, Katie and Takara went to supper while we continued to set up. We also met with Joe, our Heritage square supervisor to discuss parking. Norm and I came in separate vehicles because he is heading home on Sunday. I am able to park in the over-flow parking at the campground but Norm is parked in the Heritage Square parking lot with other entertainers. After talking to Joe, we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken for supper, then headed back to the parking lot next to the campground and started to settle in for the night. It was only about 8:00 but we were very tired, so were asleep by 9:30. And at 10:00, fireworks!!! Where did THEY come from? I know we suffer with the noise of fireworks during the fair. They shoot the blasted things off every night after the evening concert of loud, obnoxious bands (which we can hear from our cabin while trying to “be” in the 1800s). But why fireworks on Wednesday night???

Home away from home

Day 1: Awakened at 4:30 by some noise and got up to walk to the facilities. The camper is parked just about 4 spots from the main drive-in gate, which is right on the main drive into the fairgrounds. Also, just on the other corner is the main drive through this part of St. Paul. There are huge trucks, traffic all night and sirens. We also have jets taking off from the airport and flying over our heads; dump trucks coming in to empty the dumpsters and the porta-potty guys coming to not only empty the big vat in the campground, but they will empty your tanks in your gigantic motor homes so you don’t have to drive to the vat to empty, yourself! (There’s one right outside our camper as I write – at 6:30 am!) We also have helicopters flying over head – probably the traffic ones so that people know what kind if traffic to expect going to the fair!

At 4:30 this morning, there was fog thick enough to cut with a knife. Also, when I came back from the facilities, my eyes were open enough to notice that on the main drag were parked lines and lines of cars waiting to get into the fairgrounds – at 4:30 in the morning! People were out of their cars, talking in bunches. It was the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” before they reached the fairgrounds! The gates open at 5:00 and people couldn’t wait to get in. Now, admittedly, a lot of them were workers waiting to get in to open booths, but I have been told by several people who have lived the State Fair experience for all their lives that it’s a great thing to wander the fairgrounds even before any of the food booths open in the morning! Too early for me! I hit Andy’s Diner at 8:00, join others from the Heritage Square for breakfast and get to the cabin at 8:30 to open up, clean up and be ready for guests at 9:00.

Thick fog

Waiting to go into the fairgrouunds

Day 2 through Day 4: Norm worked the fair with us these 5 days. He is not much for fair going or sleeping in the camper. But he sits his table and shave horse outside the cabin and talks to people all day long, showing how he makes spoons. This year he sold several spoons, which is an additional treat for him AND the buyer.

David V (Bathen) watching a spoon being made

Norm left on Sunday night; he went over to Joy’s to spend the night with the girls before heading home on Monday.

Roger H – “Ole Oleson” - came to help open up on Sunday and spent several days doing so. Since he is Norwegian and portrays a Norwegian Immigrant and I portray a Swedish immigrant, there is tension in the air every time he is in the house. “Ole” has a homestead just west of our farm; he is a do-nothing that spends time visiting neighbors instead of helping his wife, “Lena,” and his 8 children grow and tend the crops and animals and improve his home. At least THIS year the family is living in a dugout rather than the wagon that they have lived in for several years. However, his son “Thor” managed to chase the brooding sow until she broke her leg; but we enjoyed some of their sorrow, as the Oleson’s shared pork with all the neighbors.

The story of a disaster to an animal in the summer is a great way of explaining why we are eating fresh pork (or beef), as butchering cannot be done until freezing weather!

David V showed up nearly every day about 11:00 to help in the cabin. He is a horner, but very rarely worked on the horn projects he had. He spent most of his time playing his Rebec (a predecessor of the violin) or Takara’s harp. He plays “Bathen” (pronounced “Bayen”), my hired hand. “Bathen” helps niece Amanda (Katie) in the summer kitchen, hauling heavy things for her, hauling water for laundry, but mostly playing sweet music to sooth Mrs. Peterson’s soul and pass the days away.

Day 5: My knee has been giving me grief for several years; this year it has been a trial to walk from the cabin to the campground every night, as normal. But it has also been giving me troubles walking to breakfast every morning as well. I found a guy in the campground who was willing to rent an electric scooter so that I didn’t have to walk the 1-½ mile distance to and from the cabin to the campground. I called the scooter my pony “Flicka” and had great times with her. I even saw more of the fair in the last 5 days of the fair than I have in the last 6 years!

Day 6: Things are going along smoothly; with Flicka, I can carry the meat down from the camper to the campground with ease in her basket. Katie and Takara sleep in a bit in the morning so I take the meat out of the brand new thermoelectric cooler that I purchased (mostly for the state fair). It plugs into a cigarette lighter to keep cool but also can be plugged into electricity. It holds about 30 quarts of stuff and is a great second refrigerator for the fair. Katie and I took all the meat for the meals from our own personal freezers (we both get beef and pork from local farmers and have chickens from those I raise) so that we didn’t have to buy any in the Cities.

Katie (as I said) sleeps in most mornings and either comes to the cabin just after 9:00 if Ole isn’t there or around 10:30 if Ole IS around to help open up. I can take a nap upstairs on the straw tick in the afternoon if I need or go home early if I chose. Our schedules work really well for both of us and neither of us has to work the entire 12 hours each day.

Passed out on a hot day

I enjoyed Flicka so much that I investigated purchasing an electric scooter of my own for long distance touring and for the State Fair next year.

Day 7 – 12: Our normal day consists of opening the cabin for guests at 9:00. There are generally 2 people staffed in the cabin at all times. Sometimes we have 3 or 4 or 5 there, visiting and talking to guests. I do spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidery and nagging Ole or encouraging Bathen to play another song. Katie cooks outside in the afternoon but sews or embroiders inside. Norm did his spoon work, mostly outside unless it rained. Ole talks (and talks and talks and talks and talks). Takara flits here and there, sometimes napping upstairs or reading, sometimes playing her harp (she is a beginner but is learning slowly). We had Dave W join us for a few days. He fiddles and carves cute characters. Roger the Bodger comes over nearly every night after his supper to play his banjo and give us good foot stomping music. Friend Sherry comes to the fair with her husband, Pete; he is a blacksmith and demonstrates for part of the fair. Sherry agreed to put on a costume and spend part of a day with us – perhaps next year, Sherry, you will spend MORE time? The Marshal (Tony) comes over for supper nearly every night. Since Amanda has discovered that her 3-year-missing husband is deceased (and even before that), Amanda has had her eye on the Marshal.


David V and Takara

David W and fiddle

David's characters

The bodger at work

Tony and Katie

We have sandwich meat and bread upstairs in the loft for lunches; Katie cooks a good old-fashioned meal nearly every night. The cooking out in the summer kitchen is a great demonstration and eating the food is also a good demonstration, as well as great tasting. Her “coupe de gras” this year was the cabbage pie. Most people (not I) had never had it and were leery of trying it. One taste and they were hooked. Steve and Lorna sometimes come over for supper; no one told Steve what he was eating until after he started raving about it. It is a simple meal – pie crust (top and bottom) with cabbage, onion, spices and slices of hard boiled egg, baked in the oven like a “normal” pie. Try it, you’ll like it!

Lorna runs the “Brothel” – she has “ladies of the night” and she sells the scents that these ladies use. She has wondrous soaps, body lotions, body butters, and bath salts – anything a woman (and man – there are manly scents, too) could possibly desire. Steve is the “Inspector” while Lorna is the “Madam.”

We also have John, who draws and paints train stations in Minnesota. He has recorded many that are now gone from life, but are there on paper and photographs.

Alec is our “hot water well man” – he works in the Steak and Turkey Leg booth and supplies us with hot water so we don’t have to take the time and effort to heat it for washing dishes or clothes.

Alec is in the center

Kathleen decoupages boxes that her husband makes – she has a lot of beautiful labels and pictures that she puts on boxes for many different kinds of storage. She sold Katie and I a lot of older labels (Katie has them SOMEWHERE and I need to find them so I can start using them).

During the last few days of the fair, I was in negotiation with Norm and with Ross, who makes and sells unique birdhouses for a new scooter.

Several people who did not get into my camera lens are: Jan – she is museum director and “owns” our cabin. She planted flowers and beans in a small plot to help hide the parking lot behind the cabin. Joe – he’s the main man for the cleaners, security guards and many other miscellaneous people who help keep the Heritage Square running smoothly. I also did NOT get a picture of Ole this year, but am looking for a copy of one from last year.

On Wednesday, day 7, I skipped out early and drove to Joy’s. The family had been in Minnesota for several weeks; Ken planned a surprise birthday party for her 36th birthday; he called to ask me if I could come surprise her. That was really a surprise, because I do NOT leave the fairgrounds the entire length of the fair, so it was new to me as well as to her.

By the end of the fair, I had decided to purchase an electric “pony” from Ross, a neighboring vendor in the Square. He offered me a 2000 model, brand new, for over half the price that they were being sold at retail. This “pony” will be called “Flash” as it is a little bit different from “Flicka” that I drove during the fair.

I returned Flicka to her owner the last night of the fair, and then drove my van up to the campground after we closed.

Next morning was teardown day. I packed all my things into my van from the camper then went to a grocery store to get breakfast and lunch (no venders were open to feed tear-down-ees), then went to the cabin to start packing up the van. However, Ross promised my pony that day, so I just put all my stuff on benches outside, then started washing the last of the dishes, packed up dishes and things that stay at the cabin all year, and started to sort through Katie’s things. Katie brought Takara over to start packing and then went to collect David V to help her tear the camper down. We have some broken parts that need to be repaired, so needed a big strong man to help with the tear down. Once the camper was down, they came over to the cabin.

By that time, Ross had brought the scooter, I was able to test it out and we loaded it into the van. I then got most of my stuff loaded by the time Katie and David got there to sit and have lunch. Loading and cleaning takes a LOT of time, but it finally gets done. I took David home; Katie dropped the key off to our boss and picked up the checks for our 12 days of work. I then headed to Joy’s for an overnight.

Joy and family had, by then, headed back to Florida (sigh) but Ken’s dad was there. Bill and I had pizza for supper, watched a movie and then I fell into bed. The State Fair was over – I had survived another year and was ready to head home!
We had a beautiful time – you have a beautiful day!

Home again (again)!

We got home from Pepin last night about midnight. I am working on catching up for the State Fair (I promise) with lots of neat pictures. I forgot to take the camera to Pepin (sorry) so will have to describe it rather than show it.

So, soon, I promise - State Fair and Laura Ingalls Wilder Days, in their full glories!!

It's drizzling here and we have had rain all weekend, so I'm told. Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I'm back!

It was a long, long day getting home today, so I will just say that I'm home and starting to write the post for the fair.

Also, I have to start getting ready for Laura Ingalls Wilder days on Friday, so I don't have much time.

It was great getting home. I thought Peanut was going to eat my face off, she was so happy (and so was I).

I will simply leave you with one picture of one of the demonstrations at the Fair. We really did have fun!

Have a beautiful day!