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.


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.



Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

My hopes on Sundays are pretty basic: attempt to get all dirty laundry from the prior week washed, dried, folded, and put away.

Alas, ’twas not to be this week.


However, this Sunday started with some of this:


And included some of this,




and this:


So, you know, not all is lost.


(Not so) Wordless Wednesday

If you didn’t receive a card from us this year, don’t worry. Nobody did. We just didn’t feel up to it, for numerous reasons.

If we had, we might have sent you something like this:

2013 in Review

Only it most certainly would’ve contained a picture of Thomas. A cursory review of the roughly 2,426 photos that I took this year indicates I took none of him, poor guy.

Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Hanukkah, Happy (extremely belated) Ramadan, Joyous Solstice, Happy Festivus … Happy end of the year, everybody! I, for one, am eagerly awaiting 2014 and hope to see you all a lot more in the coming months.

Insert obligatory Thanksgiving post here


Although somewhat expected, it’s probably a good idea for me to do some kind of an inventory of things I’m thankful for this year; it’s frankly been kind of a crappy year.

So! To shift my mindset, here are (some of) the things I am thankful for:

  • my good health
  • the good health of my family
  • the health insurance we all enjoy to keep it that way
  • reconnecting with (and making new) friends, in virtual and physical worlds
  • a job that challenges me and keeps me on my toes, in addition to paying me a salary
  • a daughter who does the same thing (except for the salary part)


Hope you all had a safe, happy, and abundant Thanksgiving. May we all be fortunate enough to do it again next year.

Home again home again

Am only doing this quick note so that I technically complete all posts for NaBloPoMo this month.

Had an adventurous flight from Orlando. As we were getting ready to board, we were told that people in rows 37-42 had to wait for something to be attended to. I sort of assumed that there was a … vomit incident. Although one that wiped out six rows would be something else, I guess.

Well, we all boarded (even those in the errant rows), and had all settled in for about a half an hour. I was pleasantly dozing. Captain got on and said he had bad news: the thing that they had been trying to fix for the last hour was missing a part (I don’t know how it took an hour to notice that little problem), and they didn’t have any of said parts in the Orlando airport. So, everybody off the plane. Did I mention this was a full flight? And basically everyone (save me and the people behind me, who had been commenting on everyone else’s baggage the whole time) had stuffed all their belongings in “carry-ons”?

I dashed off and called Delta. They were able to get me on a couple of American Airline flights home, the initial flight left Orlando at 7:40. It was 7:00 at the time. The Orlando airport is very conveniently set up so that if you have to go between Delta to American, you have to jump on a tram, exit the concourse, enter a new concourse, go through security again, jump on another tram, and go to your gate. Also, I had to run to the AA counter and get a boarding pass, or I couldn’t get through security.

Long story short, I made it. Barely.

I have no idea what will happen to my luggage.

Tea Party

I’m leaving for a conference in Florida today, so yesterday after getting back from Wisconsin I was rather harried and preoccupied. AG gave me this note:


“Dear Mommy
I hope you come soon”

It’s an invitation to a tea party. Of course, what could I do but drop everything and attend?


She had thoughtfully set the table for three, complete with table cloth, cups and saucers, spoons, and a doll’s dress for added color.


For added “Awww,” these are baby’s breath from an arrangement from her grandmother’s funeral.


“World’s Biggest Tea Party”



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


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

Aria's 2nd birthday

Aria & Jane

Day 2 of NaBloPoMo

So, it’s only Day 2 of this thing and I feel like I don’t have anything to write today. Normally (and I guess by “normally,” I mean, that one time for a two-week-stretch-or-so that I was blogging regularly) I like to post my weekly update of blog posts that interested me this week. But lately my blog-post-marking has been with an eye toward, “I want to keep track of this,” rather than, “Ooh! Others might find this interesting.” See:

Let me know if you want to read any of these posts & I’ll send you a link. There’s also my Evernote notebook I’m creating on the recent flurry of (mostly) law professors either writing in favor of or dumping on law reviews:

which you may or may not (probably not) find interesting. So, instead, I’m going to leave you with some pretty pictures that I took this morning during my morning walk.


Golden leaves

See you tomorrow!