Fairgoers’ Progress, or, Hot Dish on a Stick

Much like Chaucer’s storied pilgrims, my family (along with a not-insignificant percentage of other Minnesota families) makes a journey to the Minnesota State Fair pretty much every year. We thought work and other obligations might prevent us from attending this year, but luckily, at the last minute, schedules opened up and we all had free time yesterday afternoon. Typically we go in the morning, which is a wiser choice, I think. You’re hungrier, and the fair is less crowded. Still, we had a grand old time.

Follow me, will you, as I take you on a short photographic journey through the Great Minnesota Get-Together? (Click on the photos to see them bigger. Both WordPress and Flickr have changed some of their settings, and I can no longer as easily share Flickr photos on the blog).

Last year I won fame and glory through the Heavy Table’s photo contest. With that in mind, I was eager to take more food shots as we went along.

I think this is my best one:

The tag on it says, “Mildly spicy hot & sweet ‘big bombs.'” I have no idea what that means.

This big boy was in the same area. Obviously a blue-ribbon winner, but there were others there that were even bigger.

Doesn’t this look good for you? And comforting?

I think the honey display is so beautiful:

Then we got on to the real business at hand: actually eating the food. AG said, “What was it I had last year? I want one of those. I think it had a dog in it?”

No, turns out she was not talking about a corn dog. Rather, it was a fudge puppy. Basically a Belgium waffle, folded over, and stuffed with chocolate, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Kid gives it the thumbs up. I thought the chocolate was a bit waxy.

Luckily, they were near the garlic french fries, which I remembered from last year as delicious.

They still are! Paul got some mini-donut beer, which came in a glass with a sugared rim, and which he thought was pretty tasty, too.

We went on rides. AG loves the giant slide, and she went on it about 47 times.

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We took the sky ride to the other side of the fair,

where AG decided she wanted to participate in the giant sing along. So she joined in on “You are my Sunshine,” with several other fairgoers, some of whom were (intentionally?) butchering the song.

Then on to the Kidway, where we rode the Ferris Wheel and she rode the swings.

I know there are differing opinions on this, but, you guys, I love deep-fried cheese curds.

I’m not sure they’re all that photogenic, however.

AG loves horses, and she has a bunch of books about girls and horse competitions. Turns out, equitation is actually a real word, and a thing that happens at the fair. I didn’t get any good shots of it, though, because we were kind of far away. We did pick out a favorite horse, a paint horse with a lovely white mane and large black markings. AG called him/her “Oreo,” but turned out its name was “Intimidazzle.” S/he won something, too. Gorgeous horse.

We missed the llama dress-up competition, but we were able to take to the ring when it was over and take photos of the winning pair.

I think the llama is supposed to be a griffin, and the owner is a steampunk griffin driver? Not sure. Is it from Harry Potter?

By then, it was kind of getting late, and we decided to make our way back to the Kidway to use up our tickets. Along the way, I snapped shots of funny signs.

(As far as I could tell, neither was anywhere near this sign).

AG wanted to ride the bigger swings, but she was too small (to my relief, frankly).

On slow shutter speed:

So, she rode the long slide (a different one!) about 83 more times, instead.

Big Slide

My absolute favorite thing at the Minnesota State Fair (to eat, anyway) is the strawberry-rhubarb malts they have in the Dairy Barn. I maintain that you can get no better malt anywhere. So, even though it was quite late by 5-year-old time, we stopped there and stood in line one more time for one of those. Or rather, Paul stood in line for the malts while AG and I admired the butter heads.

I took a photo of my delicious malt, but, well, it looks rather macabre. And I don’t want anybody to think that the malts from the Dairy Barn are anything short of amazing creamy slices of Heaven, so I won’t post it. (If you can’t get enough of these photos, you can see more in my State Fair 2014 album on Flickr.)

Then we hopped on our bikes (did I mention we bike to the fair? Best way to do it, in my opinion. No muss, no fuss), clipped lights on ‘cuz it was late, and rode home. 

‘Til next year, when I think I’ll have to try the deep fried baklava.

 

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Jane Merwin: January 22, 1947 – November 10, 2013

My mother-in-law passed away early Sunday morning.

Carol, Naomi, Jane, 2004

She had had various forms of cancer over the last eight years, but seemed to keep beating it. I guess I started to think she was going to beat it forever, which of course is stupid, but even after the last diagnosis I wasn’t overly concerned.

Jane and Ralph, 2006

She passionately loved the Packers, her cottage up North, her numerous friends of all ages in Wausau, Green Bay, Eagle River … all over Wisconsin. She enjoyed Fantasy NASCAR (I didn’t even know that was a thing until I met her); well, actually, she enjoyed telling her husband which guys to pick for Fantasy NASCAR, and then ribbing him if he didn’t pick the way she told him to. She was a gracious, energetic, and extremely generous hostess. She and my father-in-law were never happier than when entertaining in the bar they had in their basement.

Merwins, 2007

Above all, she adored her family, and she was completely enchanted with Aria.

Hospital visit from Grandpa & ma Merwin

It is so unfair that Aria and she only got to have four-and-a-half years together.

With a new quilt from Aunt Lori

I asked Aria what I should write about Grandma Jane in this post.
Aria and Jane at Aria's first birthday party

She said, “You should say, ‘Grandma Jane: I wish you could have stayed longer. I love you.’

Grandma Jane smooches Aria

That’s what you should say.”

After dinner

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So do we all, Jane. So do we all.

Aria's 2nd birthday

Aria & Jane

Baba

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I cannot even express how heavy my heart is at loss of my friend Baba, who died in Nigeria Friday, suddenly and unexpectedly, apparently from malaria. Baba was truly the most unique and fascinating person I have ever known, and my life will be much less colorful without him.

Baba pretends he doesn't like Annie

He could be loud, exasperating, and stubborn, but he never once hesitated to run to our side during a crisis.

Junior's visit

And he loved Aria, to whom he was “Uncle Baba.”

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He was always there for us, and I am so sorry that we did not know that he needed us, so we could have shown him we were there for him, too.

Baba & Janelle

Routines

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I typically work out in the morning. And by “work out” I mean, “take a walk” (a 90-minute walk, though!) or some low-key elliptical in the basement (if it’s too cold, rainy, or what-have-you). Yesterday morning, though, my throat was a bit scratchy, and I just said, “Ugh. I’ma gonna stay in bed where it’s nice and cozy.” (I said it to myself, though, so as not to wake anybody up).

And the morning just went downhill from there. AG woke up late, and dawdled, and I snapped at her, and I was late to work, and I just was in a foul mood all day. So last night, I said to spouse, “Unless I’m sick tomorrow morning – like, really sick, I am exercising.” I think I need the extra time in the morning by myself, the getting the blood flowing, the reflection … whatever it is, I need it. This has happened before when I skipped a morning constitutional* for no good reason.

Of course, that promise was made before the 1:30 wake-up call occasioned by AG’s … ah, need to toss her cookies.** Poor kiddo. On top of that, I had forgotten that she had had pizza and raspberries for dinner the night before, so at 1:30 a.m. I thought she was dying or something. (Note – she appears fine now; we think the raspberries might have been to blame).

But! I did make it up this morning to get some exercise, so I’m in a better mood today.

Better, but more tired. Oh, so tired.

*Not meant in the euphemistic sense.
**Meant in the euphemistic sense.

Pinkie Pie Problems

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This is not Pinkie Pie. This is Minty.

When we asked our almost-four-year-old what she wanted for Christmas, she replied with a very serious, “I want a Pinkie Pie pony.”

A little back story is in order here. About a year ago, spouse stumbled upon a bag of My Pretty Little Ponies at a garage sale, for, like, two bucks. They’ve proven mighty adept at soothing the dread of dentist and doctor appointments, as well as forestalling potential tantrums at restaurants and photo shoots. He found another such treasure at a later garage sale, and thus our house has been happily overrun by pretty rainbow-sherbet-colored equines with rather raggedy, snarled hair (see above).

This was followed by the discovery of the MLP books at the library, and thus AG learned of the confectionery-like names given to the creatures (previously, she’d been giving them her own, and better, to my mind, names), as well as their wholesome adventures. Alas, however, we do not have a Pinkie Pie (who seems to feature prominently in said adventures, for some reason).

We didn’t know at the time that the Ponies have enjoyed a sort-of emergence of hipster-cool. Nor did we know – although spouse eventually discovered this through some admirably diligent research – that the Ponies have gone through several incarnations, and the ones we have are the somewhat old-school “Generation 3” versions (I love how the MLP Wikipedia page has the “this page is not unbiased” warning. Kids writing essays on My Little Ponies – take note!)

Have you seen the new ones? They’re hideous! The look like they were born too near Mr. Burns’ power plant or something, with their swollen foreheads, their too-big big eyes, and their shrunken noses. They completely creep me out.

So, I guess what I’m asking here is, (1) how horrible of me would it be to track down an older (probably used) version of Pinkie Pie on eBay and give it to the kid for Christmas?, and (2) can I do it in a way that avoids “vintage” pricing?

By the pond

By the pond

This was taken last Saturday. Or maybe it was last Sunday; either way, last weekend was gorgeous. Now it’s grey and blustery, and none of us are wearing short sleeves, nor have we taken off our shoes and socks to wade in the pond at the Como Pavilion.

I intend to try to get back into my Saturday Evening Posts, drawing your attention to things I’ve come across throughout the Interwebz and hope you will find as interesting as I did, but I have collected so many of them in the last several weeks that it’s going to take me some time to sort through them and figure out which ones are really worth passing along. ‘Til then, enjoy this photo of a sunny Saturday. (Or, more likely, Sunday).