|Sculpture in the Fine Art building (sorry I don't have the artist's name).|
Jon and I decided that the next day we'd go to the Minnesota State Fair. After all, we were missing the rainy Alaska State Fair. Why not melt in Minnesota? We packed a few things in Jon's backpack, Kara handed us a couple bottles of water (good call!) and we drove to the fair's Park and Ride where we caught a bus to the grounds. The Park and Ride was at a Ford assembly plant that had closed late last year. I had no idea there was a Ford plant in the Twin Cities. It was huge (136 acres) and had been in operation since the 1920s. It's hard to see a facility that large and not wonder about all the people who've lost their jobs (For the record, the closure was scheduled before this current recession began.) We climbed into the motor coach and in a few minutes the Ford plant was behind us as we rolled along the tree-lined streets with lawns browned by the summer's drought.
What can I say about the fair? Dairy building, Fine Arts, Agriculture, the Eco building, seed art, a surprise parade!
|Seed art can be a little political.|
|Seed art can be political and clever.|
|Seed art for art's sake.|
The food: breakfast burrito, yogurt, Zestar! apple, Pronto Pup (like a corn dog, but dipped in the batter right in front of you), meat balls, fried walleye, lemonade. Oh, and the IPA tasting! I found out later that we missed the ethnic food section and as we were getting ready to leave, we walked past places that smelled pretty delicious. (Note to self: we must visit Midwest during the fair again!) We talked with bee keepers, admired Christmas trees, looked at landscape competition entries and flower arrangements. As for the animals, we checked out the chickens and other birds, even saw a few horses, but the cows and hogs were already being loaded up late in the afternoon to be returned to their farms. Apparently, the 90-degree heat was rough on the animals as well as the humans.
|A flight of IPA at the craft beer aisle, so refreshing!|
|The second largest pumpkin (the winner had already split, literally).|
|A parade? At the fair!?|
We were pretty tired by the time we climbed aboard the bus for the ride back to the car, but our day wasn't done yet. There was something else we wanted to see: the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival! So we headed off with Dave and Kara for a light snack then walked with the flow of cat-loving humanity along Hennepin Avenue to the Walker Art Center. I tell you, the culture just does not stop! Thousands showed up for the outdoor fest and it was already getting dark when we arrived. We could barely see the screen from where we sat on a blanket on the grassy slope. The sound didn't always reach us over the murmur of the crowd, but the collective "oohs" and "awwws" brought us all together. Even Dave and Kara, who are admitted dog people, enjoyed the show, if not for the content then for the bragging rights to say they were there.
The next day, Jon and I packed up for the drive to Wisconsin. Before hitting the highways, we made a few stops: liquor store; a bike shop Dave had told us about; a bakery (awesome) and an eco-friendly renovation supply store Jon had learned about at the fair's eco building the day before. With our list of stops, it took us awhile to get on the road, but we were mighty happy to have those bakery sweets for our long drive to Wonewoc. We would see Dave and Kara the next day when they joined several of the siblings and some nieces and nephews for a family barbeque. Jon navigated with the few maps we had and soon we were off the interstate and on the back highways of western Wisconsin.
|Oh, yeah, do not forget the cheese!|
In the morning, we took another walk through the neighborhood with Dave and Kara. When we stopped to admire a garden, the homeowner came out and insisted on giving us a tour (and me without my camera!). We followed stepping stones, went through the torii (a torii marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine) and entered a peaceful Japanese-style garden cozied between the house and the detached garage. Mary (the homeowner) encouraged me to sit in a chair in the corner of the garden, telling us the space was designed to be enjoyed from a seated level. I watched a water feature and agreed. (Here's another link with an image of the garden.) We moved along to a bench with a stone table. The table top was mostly smooth, but of an irregular shape and was taller than a coffee table, but lower than a dinner table. She said she'd decided it would be the perfect height and as I sat on the bench and reached in front of me to an imaginary teacup, I had to agree; it was perfect. She then insisted on leading us inside to a daylight basement where we could look out at the view. I again wished I had my camera. She's inspired me to plan my yard carefully. We all think about what the view will be from the street. But it's also important to think about what we see from inside. And, with the daylight basement, it was like sitting almost in the garden. Food for thought for next summer.
After a final errand with Kara, Jon and I again sat on the deck drinking cold beverages one last time. Watching people coming and going to and from the stairs that lead to the greenway just down the hill. It would have been nice to stay around and enjoy more of the late-summer warmth, but we were ready to head home. To check in on wind damage from a storm the previous week; to be home with Kitty who is as charming as any internet cat video; and to get back to all the fall chores on our list.
After we were home for a few days, I went online in search of recipes for injera. I found one that turned out to be fairly simple and didn't require teff flour. We did add a little more liquid to thin the batter and experimented with cooking both sides. It went great with the beef stew seasoned with berbere and the carrots. I look forward to making it for friends. It will be perfect this winter.
|Injera with beef stew and carrots. By all means, use your hands!|