Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spirit of the West

This is a fun time in Sioux Falls, SD where like-minded people go to have a taste of the Old West. We went, last week, to join our dear friends, Patience and Harley. Between the two of them, they have over thirty characters! Patience says it’s a legal way to be a multi-personality! I did not take my camera (shame on me) but I did borrow Harley’s and took as many pictures as his camera allowed (not as many as I can take) and he then sent them to me.

The Spirit of the West has Dutch Oven cook-offs for all ages and all categories; it has a Chuck Wagon competition to see who has the best Chuck Wagon display. It has an arena that has horse competitions (didn’t make it there), pistol target competitions and also “scenarios.”

These scenarios are done by several different groups come from South Dakota and Minnesota. I don’t think any others were there. There was a group from Deadwood who have the Shooting of Wild Bill Hickok and the Trial of Jack McCall. There was a group from around Brookings that did some fun robberies (and murders).

The Old West Society is a group that we know pretty well. They used to go out to Murphy’s Landing and “play” with us. Patience and Harley are a part of that group The OWS does a much requested scenario based on the song “Seven Angels.” Harley portrays “Jesus” (pronounced “Heysoos”) and Patience is “Margarita.” Of all the scenarios, this one is my favorite. Patience told me that they were doing it “just for you” even though I knew that it had been requested by the organizers of the event.

There also are the Regulators - a small, beginning group that Patience and Harley are starting with friend Cody. The Regulators had a few fun ones, as well.

The Deadwood gang requested that Harley play Wild Bill (he does an excellent one) and asked that Patience be Calamity Jane (she is S*C*A*R*Y!!!! She looks so much like the pictures of Calamity!) During the trial, the judge would call up “witnesses” from the audience. Norm was selected to play “Harry.”

One of the many reasons that I love Patience and Harley is the way they greet Norm and I when we see them. We got to the event Sunday noon-ish and walked over to where Patience was sitting with some friends. She jumped up, said “THERE you are!” and gave me a great big hug. She also made sure that we went with her to where the scenarios were so that we could catch all of them. Harley, too, always gives me a great big hug! And what’s not to love about people who are glad to see you?

I have made a slide show about the event. 

Norm and I are nearly packed for Big Island in Albert Lea this next week. We are going to the cities to celebrate Bubba’s 12th birthday (gasp!) and then head down to Albert Lea. The normal route we take is under water so we will take a different route to the cities. The route to Albert Lea, I-35, did have a stretch under water, but it is open now, I understand.
We had over 7 inches of rain in 24 hours this last week; the whole southern part of the state suffered from like amounts of rain and there has been flooding everywhere. Our closest big town had a street closed through town and a basement collapsed in town. We are high enough and far enough from rivers and streams that we don’t have much flooding but our sump pump has been running nonstop since Wednesday night.

However, it is a beautiful day today and the week ahead promises to be warm and sunny all week long. You have a beautiful day.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another fun weekend

The Laura Ingalls Wilder weekend in Pepin, Wisconsin, was a very successful one. The weather was great and the people were wonderful, as always. Well, the weather isn’t always great but the people are! This is a very popular event for Laura fans - especially the little girls. Laura’s birthplace has a big draw, even though the actual spot of her home is not really known.

There is a replica cabin along the highway that is open to the public; this is copied from descriptions that Laura had in her book “Little House in the Big Woods.” I had a guide point out the approximate spot of the actual cabin but that was on private land and a quite a ways from the highway.

This weekend is our “family reunion.” We feel so close to the group that meet every year for the old style craft demonstrations that they are our second family.

We arrive, in bits and pieces, from Friday afternoon to late Friday night, all of us setting up our period tents and our demonstration items. It usually takes us about two hours to set up but took a little longer this time, as we had a new bed and needed to figure out the layout with a double bed instead of two twins. The layout worked good but I have a plan for a different one when we go to Big Island in about ten days.

I need to talk about our new bed. I have wanted a double (I guess it’s called a “full” now-a-days) bed for a long time - takes less room in the tent and gives us more room to move around if we are stuck there, like last year when it rained up to three inches a day every day. The headboard is a lovely “foot” that came with a beautiful antique headboard previously owned by my father. He had taken the headboard out to get repaired just before the infamous Rapid City Flood and it was swept down the creek and never found. Dad kept the foot ever since then and last year gave it to us. I figured it would make a beautiful headboard and it does. I love the bed!!!

A lot of us go to the Latene’s for a chili supper and get-together. Tom and Kitty live in Pepin and were the ones to start the craft demonstrations. They put several tables together and we all sat around, either talking to someone at the end of the table or to someone right next to us – noisy, fun with good food and lots of laughs.

Saturday morning we rolled out of our nice new double bed (Peanut loved sleeping between us with her own pillow - Norm’s decision - “she needs a pillow, too!”). We got dressed in period clothing, walked to the kitchen were there were eggs and toast cooking, thanks to the great cooks, as well as Norm’s necessary coffee (my caffeine is a Dr. Pepper or Cherry Coke). Visitors started arriving very early and there were a lot of them, all day long. It’s nice to talk to people who are interested in our crafts and either want to learn or just want to know more about them.

The kitchen staff served dinner and a huge supper as well as a great breakfast on Saturday. Sunday we had a humongous breakfast and a great dinner. Sunday night was order-in pizza from Pizza Hut as we were all tearing down.

Most of my good friends were there - some were not able to come so I hope I can see them next year or further on down the road this year. The “family” was there - all the youngsters are skilled in woodwork. Aaron, Bethany, Nathan and little Christopher belong to Cindy and Gary (didn’t get a picture of Gary this year). Jasper, the potter, was next door to us, as usual. I go, every year, and pick at least one item off his shelf, tell him I’m taking it and settle up at the end of the event. This year I got a bud vase because Norm had cut one of my last roses to bring along. I also got a small teapot to go in my collection. Tom and Kitty, of course. Tom is a blacksmith / woodworker / artist extraordinare. Kitty is a spinner, a weaver and a tinsmith. We also have Pete and Sherri. Pete is a blacksmith (lots of those around) and Sheri is a spinner. She also makes sunbonnets and mob caps to sell to those who want to feel more like Laura Ingalls and others in her time period. Let’s see... Gary who helps Tom L and brought me a bunch of kitty litter boxes to be washed out and use for storage. Tom D, who is a woodworker (lots of THOSE, too). Dave J who is a “joiner” - he makes lovely boxes. Dave W who carves characters and makes fiddles. Lydia is a basket maker. A man who makes points from flint (can’t remember his name), a man who makes brooms (can’t remember his, name, either) and one who builds chairs (gosh, my memory is lousy right now!) My new friends, Saga (broom maker, photographer, artist, blacksmith) and Dan (blacksmith, woodworker - making spoons this weekend). All of these and a few more were there - seems like every year someone new joins us; Tom L and I were talking about where he would put the next person who showed up.  Then there is the kitchen staff.  These gals cook period correct foods in period correct ways.  This is their demonstration and it also feeds the rest of us so we don't have to take time to cook, ourselves.  Lynn runs the kitchen, doing most of the planning; Maureen, Patience and Kathryn help plan and help cook.  It's hot work and hard, too, but the food they produce is heavenly.  Every year people bring "offerings" to add to the food that is already purchased (chicken, hamburger, bacon, etc).  This year we ended up with twenty dozen eggs but the clever gals finished the weekend with just two dozen left! 

All of these people are very dear friends - even my new friend, Saga, is dear to me. She and I bonded instantly and had lots of lovely talks. She is also a Reiki Master and worked on my back Sunday afternoon which made the trip home a lot easier (thanks, Saga!).

The time I spend with each and every one of them is too short. I have to demonstrate spinning or weaving for the general public and can’t leave the tent often to go wandering. Otherwise, I’d spend all two days sitting under someone else’s tent, visiting.

So, that was our weekend last weekend. It’s taken me longer to recover from the trip than normally, but I’m almost back up to full speed (which Norm claims is “turtle speed”). I have started a new project on the loom for a wedding present in October. Candy and I keep saying we need to make things in advance for sudden things like this wedding, but never get caught up. But THIS time I put more warp on and hope to make some other things on it.

It’s been chilly and damp around here .... it was in the high thirties this morning and I turned the heat on for the second time in a week, since the sun wasn’t warming the house up. But it’s a beautiful fall day (if you are dressed warm enough); you have a beautiful day.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Two Hundred Thirty-Four Thousand!!!

Two years ago today I was thanking the good gods that I had survived the State Fair once again. The Minnesota State Fair ends on Labor Day. It’s a grueling (although fun) 12 days (12 hours a day) demonstrating and “living” in the past for thousands of people who walked by the cabin.

Last year I retired and did not work at the Fair but my family decided to “DO” the Fair on the first day, when it would be less crowded. “Less crowded,” to me is a matter of importance. Living in the country, “crowded” means 100 people at a wedding reception (as this Saturday when we attended a local neighbor girl’s event). On the day that we attended, last year, the daily attendance was 114,439! Way, way too many people for me at that time and it was tough being around that many people, that much noise.

But on Saturday, the Fair (The Great Minnesota Get-Together) had an all-time high record daily attendance of 234,000 (two hundred thirty-four thousand)! THOUSAND, mind you! The mind boggles at that amount! Last year’s total attendance was 1,790,497 (that's over a million people, folks, in 12 days) and they expect it to be higher this year!

Now, I know that a lot of you live where there are thousands of people all of the time, but even you might admit that 234,000 (two hundred thirty-four thousand!) people in one area is pretty crowded. The Fairgrounds is 320 acres which is only one-half (1/2) square miles! That means that I can walk to my neighbor's house, then go south a half mile, walk back the half mile, directly across from my house and walk home. That’s not a lot of land!!! That’s not a lot of room! That’s a lot of PEOPLE! Whew! I’m glad I wasn’t there.

Yes, the State Fair is fun. Yes, the State Fair is entertaining. Yes, the State Fair is a great place to meet friends and spend time. But, YES!!! The State Fair is crowded and getting more so ... and I am not sure if I want to go there again. After all, 100 people this weekend was hard enough to deal with!

Today is a nice fall-ish type of day - a little bit of spitting rain, a little bit of overcast skies, a little bit of sun and not too hot and not very windy. A perfect day, in fact. Norm has taken LuLu's twin lambs back to the Farm (they were on loan) so it’s also a noisy day as LuLu is fretting for the lambs and Soot is backing her up. A beautiful day, in fact. You have a beautiful day.

Post note:  Labor Day's attendance this year was 120,226 - less than they expected.  Labor Day is usually the biggest!  But it was STILL a lot of people!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

For Nezzy

Nezzy, a reader, wanted to see a picture of the 4 of us as adults.  This picture just might be the last one of all four of us together.  It was taken about eighteen years ago at our folks'50th anniversary.  At that time, the folks owned some land in the Black Hills and had a lovely cabin that had been built in the 1880s. 

 Candy is on the left (from our view), then Charles, me and Cara.
We are in front of the side of the cabin, waiting for a new deck.

Now all that are left are Candy and I.  When someone says "two are gone," it doesn't sound like much except in our case, two makes half of the gang.  We grew up very close because we traveled so much; Dad was in the Air Force and it was rare to live anywhere more than a year.  Therefore we played together a lot because we didn't have many friends.

But, here we are - grown up and still close.