No Fair, Batty Sees the Light
I didn't go to the Minnesota State Fair this year. I tried to make it—twice! But it was not to be. The first attempt was at 8 AM at the Maple Grove Transit Station. I got there a little early, where three other were cars waiting, but no sign of a bus. I waited for quite a while. I was sure of the time and place, I had looked at the Fair's web site, goggle mapped it and wrote it all down. After a half an hour, it was apparent that nothing would be happening so I went home and checked the web site again. Perhaps there is another Maple Grove Transit Station. (I've gotten lost in Maple Grove so many times it isn't funny. The city has a perverse knack for making things impossible to find.)
So, I drank another cup of coffee, did a few chores, and then thought I'd try my luck at a different Park and Ride, this one close to the fairgrounds. The buses should make the trip in about 5 minutes, and I'd get to the fair about 10 AM. The ramp was nearly full, and there was quite a line of people waiting, so at least I knew I was in the right place this time. I got in line, about 200 people ahead of me, which is about what one of the big stretch buses can hold. I should have been be at the fair in no time.
Time has a peculiar habit of slowing down when one is surrounded by frustrated people. They had been waiting quite a while already, I lasted about twenty minutes before giving up. I got the hint and went home. As I was leaving, a small bus pulled in (capable of holding about 60 passengers), at that rate I would have had to wait another hour—and go through the same routine when I left the fair. I'm not saying I've turned into a cranky old man, but their are somethings I just won't do anymore. I figured that if I was going to be miserable, I might as well do it at home, where I could get something accomplished:
New under cabinet lights (new generation LEDs), to replace the dim old generation LEDS which had replaced the hot Xenon lights. The manufacturer insists on making these extremely fiddly to install: too-short cables, a complicated three stage mounting system which could have been replaced with two screws. I knew it would be a drag, so when it was complete (and worked!), my sense of frustration with the day's events was completely dissipated.
All work and no play makes Batty a happy boy.
Sean's Aunt Tina began gathering the dishes from their supper:
"I'm afraid I don't have anything for dessert. I've lost my touch for baking. Why don't we go into town and get some ice cream?" she said.
"The Whippy Dip!" said Sean excitedly, "Is it still there?"
"There's still a bit of the little boy left in you, Sean, isn't there? Yes it's there." said Tina. "Can you eat dairy, Mary? I know some people have trouble with it."
"It's my secret vice. I lived on ice cream when I was a teenager." Mary said. "Let me help you with the dishes. Sean, would you please unload the car."
"You two can use the back bedroom, that's the only one that has a bed with a decent mattress." said Tina. "There is clean linen in the dresser. "
"Mother's room." said Sean.
"And your grandmother's before that. Fitting room for a mother-to-be. You aren't troubled by ghosts, are you, Mary?"
"I'm sure it will be fine Tina. Nothing could be as bad as the first place I had when I left home."
After Sean went out, Tina and Mary began to wash the dishes.
"Mary, tell me, is Sean treating you right? I know that he was a bit wild when he was younger. He never could settle down." Tina was serious now.
"He's a good man. I don't think he's capable of lying to me. We've been through a lot together. He seems to be a man of his word. Of course I could be wrong."
"Of course. And what about work? Will Sean be able to support you and the baby?"
"We'll be fine Tina. I sold my business, and Sean and I both did very well. Some of the asset distributions are tied up for a while, but we did get a buyout package that should keep us for a while. It does complicate the marriage situation, but it's nothing that can't be dealt with."
"I didn't mean to put you on the spot, but Sean is a little slow when it comes to making important decisions, I think he'd be content to glide through life without making any, if it he didn't have to. He was always different that way, even as a child. He was such a sweet boy—he had a softness—that's what his mother called it: a softness."
"He still is a sweet boy, although I think that affair with Billy in Iceland hardened him somewhat. I have to give him credit in that he seems to have gotten over it… " Mary said, "… it was a very bad scene and it still hasn't been resolved fully. Assuming the pregnancy and childbirth goes well it's the only major problem I see in our immediate future."
"I see." said Tina. "Do your parents know?"
"I was adopted, I haven't spoken to my step father for many years." Mary paused. "My stepmother is in New Mexico. I call her at Christmas. We aren't close."
"That's too bad. Sometimes families are like that. Lord knows my 'family' has had its share of trouble. I don't think I've ever really gotten over my mother leaving us." Tina took off her glasses and dabbed her eyes with a corner of the dishcloth. "This is no time for such talk. I'm sure that you and Sean will find your way."
"Did you ever have a boyfriend?" asked Mary.
"Oh, no, heavens no. I was too shy to speak with a man, much less get involved with one. The reticence of Norwegian Bachelor Farmers didn't help any. When I was in my twenties I was busy raising Marilyn, Sean's mother. I never got 'that spark', as Emily used to call it."
"Sean called her 'The Artist', he said there were some paintings by her."
"She did do that in New York. I think she did modelling too. It was the roaring twenties then, when she first went out east. Personally, I think she had a Sugar Daddy, no way she could have made so much money on her own, but that's just my opinion. She did save the farm, though, Henry and Alice would never speak ill of her. The paintings are in her studio. You and Sean can check it out tomorrow. You might have to break down the door, though, the lock is frozen. No one has been in it for years."
Sean came back in the kitchen holding a paper bag. "I've got some trash from the car, where should I put it?"
"Give me that, its all burnable isn't it?" said Tina.
"You still burn your trash?" said Sean. "I used to love watch Henry load up the burning barrel. Oh, by the way, it's starting to cloud up in the west, it looks as if we might have a storm tonight"
"OK, let's get going. We should beat the rain if we leave now."
Mary was quiet in the car on the way into Decorah. Tina and Sean talked about some of the families who had lived in the area for years. When they got to the Whippy Dip, Tina asked for a small cherry dip cone, saying that she'd rather stay in the car.
"This place is the real deal, isn't? 50s Modern, do you think they've ever remodeled it?" said Mary ,as she looked at the building's exterior.
"They might have replaced some parts of it, but it looks the same to me." Sean spoke to the server: "A small cherry dip and a small chocolate, please."
" And I'll have a large vanilla." said Mary. When Sean's widened his eyes she said "I can't help it, Sean, I think I could eat two."
"You can have what ever you want." said Sean, smiling.
" I always get what I want." said Mary.
As the server returned with their cones a flash of lightning illuminated the clouds in the northwest.
"Com'on you two! I don't want to get wet!" said Tina from the car.
Back to School Fashions, 1971
Miniskirts were popular and the decoupage lunch box adds a funky, but fun, touch. No "funky butt fun" pun intended.
More butts and glittery belts on the gals with a wild striped trou for the guys.
Long hair and denim rules!
Note: I found these Kodachromes of street scenes of Seattle's University District in an antique store, the photographer is unknown.
I've got spotted dick, a state of physical matter which defies any medical diagnosis. I got it from my sister, lord knows where she picked it up (that would be too much information!) It's soft and spongy, riddled with brown spots, definitely not what I want in a dick. I suppose that if I put cream on it it might make it bearable. Fortunately, my amount of spotted dick is small. Imagine what it would be like if I had a full-blown case of spotted dick! Some people suggest boiling it, others say to put it in the microwave! OUCH!
As a fair warning to my readers, I've put up a picture of the offending item, the squeamish may click away to something more pleasant while the morbidly curious should scroll down:
“Com’in, sit down. Mary, do you take milk in your tea?” Tina said, motioning to the round oak table in the center of the kitchen. It was surrounded by a mismatched collection of appliances and cupboards, each from a different era. Utensils hung from nails in the wall in a pattern of apparent chaos. “There’s sugar in the bowl.”
“None for me, thank you.” said Mary. “This table cloth is beautiful, did you do the embroidery?”
“Me?, oh no, this is my Aunt Alice’s handwork. She was clever that way. She did it during the war.”
“Really! It looks new.” said Mary.
“Well it is new, in a way. It was in my hope chest. She made it for me, but I never married. I was saving it for a special occasion.”
Sean turned a deep red. Mary laughed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you blush, Sean.” Mary said as she stirred some sugar into her tea.
“Well, I… I…” stammered Sean.
“He’s never brought a girl home to meet his family so it is a very special occasion, I’d say!” Tina said. “Unless you count Suzie Johnson.”
“Who’s that?” said Mary.
“Suzie lived in the next farm over. We were playmates. Her mother would bring her over, almost every day in the summer.” said Sean. “We’d play, kids stuff, you know.”
“Once, when Suzie’s mother and I were having coffee, Sean came in and told us that he and Suzie were going to get married someday.” Tina said.
“You never told me you were engaged!” Mary said, with mock anger in her eyes.
“Well, we were four, besides, it could never have happened. She wanted a big wedding and I wanted to elope.”
“How about you two, what are your intentions?” asked Tina. “Or is this one of those ‘modern’ arrangements?” There was a moment of silence as Sean and Mary looked at each other. “Oh it is serious, then.” Tina continued, “I don’t mean to pry. Well, actually, I do. You’re the only thing I have left to worry about, Sean, and now that you two are here, I’d like to know what's going on.”
Mary looked at Sean, Sean looked at Mary. Mary nodded. Sean spoke:
“Aunt Tina, Mary is pregnant.”
“Oh. My. That’s good news, isn’t it?” said Tina. "When is the baby due?"
“It’s the best news, it really is.” said Mary. “I'm thinking it should be a New Years baby.”
“Not that marriage is a priority in our family history, but you are considering it, yes?"
"Well, it is a bit complicated." said Sean. "There are some legal complications."
"Nothing a good pre-nuptual agreement couldn't work out." Mary said, smiling at Sean.
Sean blushed again. "You two are ganging up on me!" he said.
"Really Sean, there's no point in extending your adolescence forever." said Tina. "I know some of the nice people at the Unitarian Fellowship, they can do marriages."
"… ." Sean sat open mouthed, at a loss for words.
The two women, who had only met a half hour ago, seemed to be of a like mind as they looked at Sean, waiting for his response. Finally he spoke:
"Mary, will you marry me?"
It was Mary's turn to sit in silence.
"My goodness. I didn't mean for you to decide today." said Tina. "Sleep on it, and then tell me tomorrow."
Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts 2014
Nothing like a little chainsaw sculpture to make one feel at home in the wilderness. The Weaver and I have been going to "our" place up North for many years now. We had thought about buying a lake place of our own, were even offered the chance to buy my father-in-law's old lake cabin, but the idea of maintaining another house three hundred miles away wasn't appealing. A few of neighbors are into this lifestyle, every weekend finds them fighting traffic for hours as they spend their days off mowing, painting and working on a house they live in less that a couple of months out of the year. More power to them, but I'm way too lazy for that.
We've returned to The Little Ollie Lake Cabin again and again. We find it to be just the right mix of comfort (sauna, washing machine) and wilderness (a stone's throw away from trails into the Boundary Waters) and, best of all, when our stay has ended we are free of obligations with only things we have to carry home are our memories. This year we were treated to an evening of food and stories, thanks to blog-pal Jono. He stopped in us at our cabin, which he remembered having
worked on years ago! He suggested we go to the Trail Center, a
lodge/restaurant a few miles away. It is the quintessential North Woods
establishment, with numerous artifacts adorning the ceilings and walls:
We were joined by "The Cooker" and "Stitch", Jono's partners in crime, as well as an animated server:
Everybody knew everybody, of course, both Jono and "The Cooker" had
worked at the Trail Center in years past. We shared a delightful meal, with several "sides" of stories from the north land. Afterwards came the "long goodbye" a hallowed Scandinavian tradition:
Even the parking lot was picturesque:
Thanks again to Jono and his "crew" who gave us a wonderful time.