Last Day at the Midway

September 1, 2014 § 2 Comments

It’s the final hurrah for the 2014 Minnesota State Fair, and I hit it hard (and for the first time in several years).

I meandered through most of the major attractions — the Food, Agriculture, and Fine Arts Buildings (Minnesotans really are a talented tribe), West End Marketplace, the Midway, Machinery Hill. Listened to some music. I didn’t spend much time around the barns — I always feel bad for the animals, who are likely scared to death of those little hands grabbing at their fur and feathers, ears and tails. I would have liked to say hello to a lamb or goat, but they closed that barn down just as I arrived.

I ran this morning and came fasting, so that should have put me in champion eating form for the day. But I ate very little, which puts me in some sort of loser category. All my friends boast about the many foods they consume in one short afternoon or evening at the fair. Yet I couldn’t swallow more than a small sandwich from Manny’s Tortas and a cone of cookies from Sweet Martha’s, half of which I dropped at the WCCO Radio booth while watching a lame rendition of The Newlywed Game. I stopped eating hours ago and I’m still full.

Marathon food consumption is truly an American art, and it’s not for the meek and timid. But I would like to know the secret. Does it involve pacing, like for a race? Do winners only take a couple bites then throw the rest away? Do they offer leftovers to passersby or people waiting in line for the same food? Do they throw it to the barnyard animals? How did Templeton the Rat, a favorite character from Charlotte’s Web, manage it? All fat and happy rolling around the fairgrounds after rummaging through the waste tossed out by fairgoers, at the ready to hit the buffet again.

But my objective was not to overeat — it was to take photos. I even got on the SkyGlide to take pictures from above. However, I forgot to account for my severe fear of heights. The first half of the ride yielded nothing. But I finally relaxed and set into a rhythm.

Lesson learned, I still took more than 200 photos throughout the day. My favorites are below.

The Non-Velveteen Pig

July 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

My favorite dog toy doesn’t rock his world.

This perplexes me.

Small piglet in a big dog-toy sty

Small piglet in a big dog-toy sty

After all, it squeaks.

Wake up, Eddie. It squeaks!

Wake up, Eddie. It squeaks!

It comes in a rainbow of colors.

It's like a bag of Skittles

It’s like a bag of Skittles

It’s a pig with erratic snout stitching and a missing tail.

Why hasn’t it been ripped to shreds by now? I’m afraid it will remain unreal until it is loved.

But I have faith that eventually Eddie will come around to its greatness.

Finally showing the pig some love

Finally showing the pig some love

Short Story Long

June 25, 2014 § 6 Comments

Sometimes we (i.e., I) believe life’s daily disappointments and hassles foreshadow gloom and doom for the rest of our day, week, or life because the grocery store didn’t have our favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor on the first day of our period or no one liked the Glamour Shots photo we posted on Facebook. (Glamour Shots still exists, right? Or am I dating myself?)

I’m certainly guilty of overreacting to the tar-like goo life bubbles up my metaphorical drain, but I try like a happy bunny to make lemonade out of it.

Like the time I (accidentally) flushed every key I owned down a gas station toilet. Sure I panicked. Sure I couldn’t quite believe there wasn’t somebody the cashier could call to come on over to take the toilet apart and see if the keychain just might be stuck underneath the bowl rather than well on its way to a Duluth waste-water treatment plant. But when the realization that every last key was gone (gone!) along with my pride, I laughed, impressed I had a good tale to share for years to come.

Alas, I don’t have a colorful story to explain the nonexistence of the photos I wanted to shoot tonight — a night when the mighty Mississippi River is hours away from cresting and memorable shots throughout the Twin Cities are ripe for the taking.

My cupboard is bare because I forgot to turn off my camera last night and drained the battery. I didn’t know it until I arrived downtown to take my historic, sure-to-be-award-winning photos. I looked through my lens and was met with a sea of black rather than plants and buildings and street lights and bike paths and staircases being swallowed up by the river. I even said my first and middle name out loud, just like a parent who finds his or her daughter holding scissors in one meaty fist and a long ponytail that’s not her own in the other.

And, in a moment reminiscent of sending my keys down the sewer all those years ago, I dropped my car key on a platform edge mere centimeters from the murky depths of the Big Muddy, and I wasn’t in the mood to see the humor in it this time around. But the gods cut me a break, probably feeling awfully mean about the camera battery and all, because, miracle of miracles, I managed not to kick it into the rising river when bending down to retrieve it.

Luckily, my iPhone was at hand, but my photos of the flood are mediocre at best, and I leave it to you to do a search online for better pictures.

But if you’re in the market for a before-and-after photo of a jazzed-up thistle, then you’ve come to the right place:

Land of 10,000 Lakes (and One Bowling Ball)

June 20, 2014 § 4 Comments

Sigh. The Internet is down again. But at least I have my iPhone to take photos and do small blog posts. Here’s a gem from the North Woods where this morning a bowling ball sat alongside birches, milkweed, and tall grasses.

20140620-191149-69109585.jpg

Ramblings

May 4, 2014 § 8 Comments

Magnolias, my grandma’s favorite, are about to hit prime time. Blooms from two trees caught my attention yesterday:

* * *

I’m neither a Star Wars nor a sci-fi fan, but it’s plausible that many take “May the 4th be with you” day seriously, as noted by the swarm of little boys swinging foam light sabers at each other outside the neighborhood bookstore.

The costumed characters were likely brought in for (and subsequently ignored by) the kids, but the adults were certainly star struck, posing for selfies with people dressed in long robes or metal armor. I saw one character twirling his gold sword like a baton next to someone’s nice car. I wish my parents had been in town. Mom would have kept a close watch on those shenanigans. And in the event it would have been my parents’ car parked there, I guarantee she would have been on Dad’s case to move it before Luke Skywalker scratched the paint.

Then there was this dude cozying up to the ladies.

Storm Troopers need love, too

Storm Troopers need love too

* * *

Balloons, bark, bees, and buds:

* * *

What I’m looking forward to (and hoping for) this spring/summer:

Northern Spark, lilacs, Lowertown Farmer’s Market, writing more and better, advanced photography, traveling to the ends of the state and the country (perhaps the world), a post-injury 5k or 10k, an August wedding reception at a pizza joint, sandals, trail runs, the people I’ve yet to meet, a better serve, publication somewhere (anywhere), a new swimsuit and furniture, framed photographs and artwork, blonde highlights, a faster bike, Saint Dinette, Hopper Drawing and Open Field at the Walker, simplifying, giving up Facebook for a spell, Heyday, hosting a brunch with a DIY Bellini cocktail bar, writing my congresspeople on a range of issues, a break from my blog (or the implementation of an improved version), doing something no one expects of me

* * *

Other random photos from the weekend:

Helmets Required

February 22, 2014 § 10 Comments

It’s not an Olympic sport (yet), but downhill skating is all the rage, at least in St. Paul.

This is the start of the Crashed Ice course. Nope. Wouldn't do it.

This is the start (of the end of your life).

While our recent winter storm has made all downhill streets in the Twin Cities a Crashed Ice course, St. Paul actually spent major dollars to construct a gigantic frozen Slip ‘N Slide for adrenaline junkies.

This is the view from the back of the starting gate. Notice how the Cathedral is strategically placed at the beginning so the racers can pray they make it to the bottom in one piece.

This is the view from the back of the starting gate. Notice how the Cathedral is strategically placed at the beginning so the racers can pray they make it to the bottom in one piece.

I’m not quite sure how to explain the Crashed Ice race. It’s certainly not for the faint- or vertigo-hearted (i.e., me). Rather it’s the illegitimate child of ski cross and roller derby, all speed and rebellion with the requisite agony (i.e., broken fibulas and tibias and tarsals) of defeat.

I’ve never seen the race live. I simply enjoy checking out the scene beforehand, taking in the vibe of diehard fans, camera crews, and miserably cold police officers who just want to go home.

Nope. Wouldn't do this either, even if it was 80 degrees and sunny.

Get this guy an electric blanket and flask of bourbon.

The sponsor, Red Bull, is everywhere at this event. You can’t even buy any food or warm drinks. Just refreshment stands offering ice-cold Red Bull for sale. Which is all well and proper, for Minnesotans don’t need cocoa in sub-zero temps. We like our temperatures on the inside and outside to match.

The finish -- sponsored by Red Bull.

The finish. Which, actually, wouldn’t it be a better race if the athletes had to make it back to the top the same way they came down?

Post-Snowshoe Thai Feast

January 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

Starring Dog Mitten #1:

Dog mitten

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