Mo Movin’

2015-07-24Woke up this morning to rain and thunder. Tired. I was awake in the middle of the night for a while and it left me feeling groggy when the alarm went off. I got up anyway. I had plans to go to the gym with Kacey this morning, so no going back to sleep for me. And it paid off. There are perks to being an early riser. I mean, besides feeling good about working out. This sky, as we were leaving the gym, for one thing.

I’m on vacation starting today. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until yesterday at work, when I found myself happily tying up loose ends and looking forward to a few days away from it all.

I thought things would slow down after we got my parents moved into their new house last week, but there’s been a steady to-do list ever since. We went over one night last week so that Mark could install a new kitchen faucet. On Monday this week, I brought dinner over and ended up running an errand and doing a few chores for Mom and Dad. There have been a few surprises with the new house, and this week a new refrigerator was delivered. So last night I was there moving food from the garage refrigerator into the new one in the kitchen.

My parents’ move wasn’t the only one happening this month. Kacey is making the transition from college apartment to a house off-campus for her final semester of school. She’s been moving things in stages while she’s home for the summer. Last week, she and Mark took care of the big stuff – the bed, desk, futon and such. Last weekend, she and I went to the apartment to clear out the last of her clothes and incidentals, and do the last bit of cleaning before fully vacating the apartment. We made a spontaneous stop at Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store along the way. We exercised restraint and only bought a small container of saltwater taffy. And maybe just a small bag of Sugar Babies for me. They’re not as good as I remember.

Since Kace was the last of the group of roommates to clear out of the apartment, we got to sort through abandoned kitchen stuff, and throw away all the things that everyone else had left behind with the thought that someone else might want it. She’d been instructed to throw away anything that wasn’t hers or she didn’t want, so we hauled bags of trash to the dumpster along with an abandoned night stand that we left next to the dumpster, in case someone else might want it. As a bonus, my daughter is now the proud owner of a full set of cookware, a full set of flatware, a brand new wireless router and a North Face jacket.

Kacey was excited for me to see her new digs. She’s moving in with a group of friends who have been living in the house already for the past school year. The apartment was nice, but the house is … well. The apartment was nice.

I was a bit taken aback at first sight of the house. The carpet was icky and there were a few holes in the walls. LED lights were strung around the ceiling in nearly every room, and the decor included Starbucks marketing posters and cutouts. But having a son who lived in a college house for a couple of years, I remembered what college houses are like. And remembered that I just have to not think about it too much. And the more things we hauled into the house, the more it grew on me. Here’s a snapshot of the kitchen. I resisted the urge to do the dishes.

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You keep a volleyball in your kitchen too, right?

Twice, Kacey told me I wasn’t allowed to come down the basement. So of course, I followed her down the stairs after the second warning. It wasn’t as shocking as she apparently thought it would be to me. I told her that her dad and I had a basement like that in the duplex where we lived when we were first married. Old houses have basements like that. Dirt floor. Stone walls. Dark, damp and musty.

Roommate A.J. had followed behind when I made the trek to the basement with Kacey, apparently wanting to see my reaction to the place she didn’t want me to see. As Kacey plunked a box of stuff on an office chair that was sitting randomly near the washer and dryer, he tried to warn her, “Wait! No! Oh, you put that on the haunted chair!”

I’m not sure why the chair is haunted. I’m sure I don’t want to know. Really, my biggest concern was the visible slant of the entire house. I told Kacey to make sure she positions her bed so that the blood won’t rush to her head at night when she goes to sleep.

I’m probably exaggerating just a little bit about the unlevelness of the house. And she’s excited about living in her new place. It’s really only new in the sense that she’ll be officially living there. Roommates Beth and Megan gave her an unofficial house key some months ago already. A.J. was moving out of the main floor bedroom that will now be Kacey’s and is relocating to the upper level with Austin, where the boys will have their own kitchen. Kacey assures me that the girls’ kitchen will be much cleaner once she and Megan return in the fall. And A.J. told Kacey he wanted to vacuum before she moved in to his old room.

He wanted to vacuum. I told her I liked him. All hope is not lost.

We left the house that day before Kacey had a chance to get her new room put together. We were hot, sweaty and tired after numerous trips to and from my car that was packed to the gills, and hauling belongings up a set of steps to the front door. But the hard part was done. And now, you can understand why I’m so happy to be on vacation for a few days!

July already. And busy. And happy. And gratitude.

There’s a little chalkboard in my kitchen. I originally bought it with the idea that it would be the place where we’d leave notes for each other; something to replace our habit of leaving sticky-notes on the kitchen door frame.

But… the sticky notes continue to be the method of communicating such things as, the dog’s been fed or If I’m not awake by 5, please get me up.

One day, not long after the kitchen became home to the chalkboard, I stumbled across an inspirational quote that I really wanted to remember. I wrote it on the chalkboard. And it remained until another quote struck my fancy and replaced it. Kacey joined the movement and periodically adds words of wisdom that she finds along her reading travels.

There’s almost always something on the chalkboard to remind me to have gratitude. Deep, down inside, gratefulness has not often been my focus. I’m focusing on it now, and sometimes it’s an effort. Passing by those dusty, white words each day, and stopping to think about them helps.

Hazy morning sun

Hazy morning sun

This time of year, it’s easier to have gratitude. My daughter is home for the summer and I’m just so thrilled to have her near me every day. Her bubbly attitude about life in general inspires me.

The longer hours of sunlight, warm weather, and the colorful, seasonal landscape give me frequent reasons to stop and feel appreciation. As summertime brings people outside, we often find ourselves spontaneously gathering with the neighbors. I sometimes forget how much good it does me to interact with others and just relax for a while.

The birds have moved out of the house on our deck. I thought I’d be thrilled, but was surprised to find myself feeling a little sad that they’d gone without saying goodbye. Shortly afterwards, I was checking out the growth in our vegetable garden down in the yard and realized as I heard their familiar song, that they were hanging out in the pine trees just outside the back fence. All is right in their world and I was relieved to know they are thriving.

Logan next door is growing up before our eyes. Having firsthand experience with the fact that kids grow up in the blink of an eye, I’m reminded what a privilege it is to be in Logan’s circle. Last night while putting away a few groceries after a visit to Sam’s Club, I heard his voice trailing behind Mark as he helped carry some things up the stairs to the kitchen.

“Here, Terri,” he said in that sweet, little boy voice, as he reached the upper level and handed me a package of lunch meat. While he still calls me “Tee” sometimes, that habit seems to be fading away.

“Thanks, Log,” I said. He proceeded to tell us about how he’d gone fishing earlier in the day. His arms and hands gestured wildly, and his story was sprinkled with lots of wells, as in “Well, I didn’t get any fish. They wouldn’t come out!”

He’s getting talkative, and his words are easier to understand. After the food was put away, he hauled me out to the driveway where we, of course, played chalk. Logan usually tells me what to draw, but now he’s creating more of the artwork himself. He was thrilled when I made one of his shapes into a fish. From this little boy who was previously very shy about expressing affection, I was rewarded with a full-frontal, tackle-hug! Then came a game of hide-and-seek, where Logan would tell me where to hide. He counted while I attempted to hide from his peeking eyes. He helped me water the pots of flowers, and then just before it was time for him to go home to bed, we played “bad guy.” Logan was the bad guy, and he said I was the fire truck. (?) I guess fire trucks chase bad guys until they capture the bad guy and pick him up, swinging him in a circle and make him giggle.

It’s been a busy summer, but mostly in a fun kind of way. We’ve been invited to several graduation parties this year, chances to gather with friends and family, and reasons for my oldest son to come home for a weekend visit. I love to see the way my grown-up kids now appreciate each other so much more than they did when they were younger. They have so much fun together, and truly seem to have become friends. Makes my heart just want to burst.

Last weekend, I tried something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Cheers Pablo. Have you heard of this? It’s a sort of painting class. You pick a session in which you’ll get to create a specific painting, show up, and everything you need is ready and waiting for you. And if you like, you can purchase drinks to sip on while you paint. Hence the cheers. My niece invited her mom, (my sister,) and Kacey and me to go. We each painted our own barn scene, following the instruction of a fun, young twenty-something girl who kept getting paint in her long dark hair! And while my first impression was that the result was rather elementary, I had so much fun painting it! The more I look at mine, the more I think I’ll hang it up somewhere in the house. And I totally want to do it again. Maybe in another class. Maybe on my own.

Today I’m enjoying a holiday from work. There’s a long weekend ahead in celebration of our country’s independence and nothing too spectacular in my next few days. The kids all have fun plans of their own and Mark has to work on the fourth. So I’ll do a few things around the house, spend a little time with extended family and just savor these summer days before Monday rolls back around again.

Dang Birds

The days are gone when our bird family would share the deck in harmony with us, serenading us with their beautiful melodies.

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Since the babies arrived, there is no more music. No more happy songs. And definitely no more living harmoniously with us, the ones who graciously provided them a home for their family! We’re no longer welcome to sit outside under the canopy while the birds are around. Now that the babies are here, everything’s changed. Honeymoon’s over.

Feeding the babies seems to be a 24/7 job. And the parents don’t want us people anywhere nearby when the feeding is happening, which, as I mentioned, is an all day, every day thing. When we do dare to sit outside and enjoy the summer weather, we just get yelled at. Lucy too. They don’t want her sitting anywhere near their house while it’s feeding time. Which, as I mentioned, is always!

I’ve begun to think of their scolding as “chittering.” Every time I set foot on my deck. Chitter-chitter-chitter-chitter! Every time I even open the door to let Lucy outside. Chitter-chitter-chitter-chitter! 

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One day, Papa Bird (I’m just going to say it was Papa Bird because I don’t really know if it was Papa or Mama. But the behavior seemed very father-like, so I’m going with Papa.) One day, Papa Bird sat on the hanging feeder across the deck from his house full of babies. He had a spider in his mouth and refused to carry it across to the babies as long as Kacey and I were sitting there. With his body lunged in our direction, he began to scold again.

Chitter-chitter-chitter-chitter! Chitter-chitter-chitter-chitter! 

This went on until he scolded just a bit too intensely. The spider dropped from his mouth and escaped to safety for another day. We could feel the scorn Papa Bird’s glare as his bird shoulders slumped and he went off to find something else to feed the kids.

He soon returned with something that to me, seemed much more likely to fill the bellies of his obviously large family. We were tired of getting yelled at. And besides, we didn’t want the babies going hungry simply because their parents don’t trust us, so we conceded and went inside.

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We’ve since completely given up on any attempts to relax out on the deck. Last night, Kacey was trying to read and enjoy a beautiful summer evening. The birds made it impossible to focus on the words, so she gave up.

I hope those babies grow up soon!

What’s important. What’s not.

I’m really trying not to let this summer just slip by. It feels like it just got here, but already we’re seeing preparations for the Fourth of July. I would like to just stop and enjoy what’s here right now, thank you. As soon as the Fourth comes along, my mindset shifts to the idea that summer’s half over. Which is ridiculous because it truly has barely begun at that point. I need to have a talk with my mindset.

The weather has been a perfect balance of sun and warmth, and just the right amount of rain. I feel so fortunate to be getting just what we need, especially while recognizing that so many other places around the country are seeing extremes.

Summer gets me into my really happy place. I love dressing for warmer weather, and not having to wear a bulky jacket. I love taking a break in the middle of my workday to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise while walking around the pond and simultaneously feeling the sun soaking into my skin. I love wearing sunglasses and a soft breeze blowing my hair. And dinners taste better when cooked on the grill and eaten out on the deck under the shade of the canopy.

And having Kacey home for the summer is such a blessing. No offense to the menfolk of the household, but it’s nice to have another female around for a change. We can gab for hours about things the boys just don’t get. And she’s such a great storyteller. I feel like I know her coworkers and friends through the tales she tells, and there’s no shortage of humor in the way she describes her world.

Also, she’s an awesome gym buddy. My usual gym buddy, Erin and I only meet twice a week, so normally, it’s up to me to be self-motivating on the off-days. And sometimes, it can be too easy to allow myself to be a slacker. So I was pleasantly surprised when Kacey said she planned to get on the 5 am gym bandwagon while she’s home for the summer. And she’s held to it. Between the three of us, we’re expanding beyond cardio, and I’m tackling my fear of the machines and free-weights. And both my body and mind are thankful for it. I feel good!

2015-06-20Out in the bird house, the wrens have had their babies. We haven’t seen the little ones yet, but we can hear their tiny chorus of chirping as they beg to be fed. Mama and Daddy wren have been busy flying back and forth, making their way in and out of the house trying to keep their brood fed while Lucy keeps watch.

At work this week, there was a someone-dropped-the-ball situation. Nothing earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things, but it brewed into an ugly finger-pointing and it looked like I was going to take the fall for it. There was a meeting in which  I was surrounded by a group of people who were senior to me and after a few attempts to backtrack to what had actually transpired, one person kept tossing the blame back on me. I felt about this big and was certain everyone had reduced me to a moron in their minds. Since we couldn’t go back in time to rectify the situation (which, again, was a fairly minor hurdle,) the conversation ended with everyone choosing to believe what they believed. My boss left the meeting early, I guessed seeing the pointlessness of it all and having other important things to do.

I went back to my desk afterwards, wracking my brain in an attempt to call up the details of past events, and for the life of me, could not recall a situation where I should have done things differently. Believe me, I would have owned up to it if I’d honestly felt it was my fault. I have a good track record at work and would be willing to admit that I’d made a mistake if I’d thought I actually had. But based on my documentation, I really couldn’t confidently claim ownership of this one. I honestly think it was a matter of several parties just getting their wires crossed, and as so often happens, lack of proper communication.

While I was back at my desk, working and stewing over the situation, I received an email from my boss asking if I was interested in taking a walk around the pond. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna get chewed out.

But, no. As we headed outside toward the pond and walking path, my boss asked, Did you feel like you were getting thrown under the bus?

Oh, yeah. I said. Completely. I told her I’d be willing to take the blame if I honestly thought the mistake was mine, but I just couldn’t find a scrap of memory in my mind where I now thought I should have done something I didn’t.

Stop, she told me. I know you, and I know you’re making yourself crazy trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and thanked her. Why had I thought she would chew me out? She has never once dealt with anyone that way.

You know I trust you, right? She asked. I assured her that I’ve always felt trusted and supported by her.

Then stop killing yourself over this. This is not on you. It was [the blaming person] who failed to check facts with the rest of the team before finalizing the project. Considering the length of time this has been in the works, all the people involved and all of the moving parts, it was [the blaming person]’s responsibility to make sure this didn’t happen.

She went on to tell me that she had left the meeting early because she was “so pissed” on my behalf that she couldn’t respond to [the blaming person] in any semblance of a professional manner. She said that [the blaming person] has a long-standing and well-known attitude of it’s business, not personal, which seems to allow her to act and speak in unthinkable ways and it’s getting old. My boss assured me that there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t see through [the blaming person]’s smokescreen. No one else there thought I should be taking the fall for this, and she informed me that the VP was livid on my behalf. And ultimately, it was [the blaming person] who was directed to rectify the situation.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my boss? Afterwards, it was tempting to hold a grudge against [the blaming person], but I was just so relieved to know that my boss had my back that I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And ultimately, I feel sorry for [the blaming person]. She has a brilliant mind, but she’s an island. It must be awfully lonely being her at times. And based on her approach with me after all was said and done, I can tell that she truly didn’t think she’d done anything hurtful. She was leaning on me for support in her efforts, asking my opinion, letting me know she values my capabilities, just like she typically does.

The longer I’m in the corporate world, the more I’m reminded, this is not who I am. It’s just what I do. I’m fortunate to be passionate about many aspects of it, but I can see that if it were one day gone from me… there’d be something else to take its place and I’d get by. So I’ll do it for as long as I’m allowed and as long as it serves my family’s needs.

And at any rate, I am just so happy it’s summer and it’s the weekend! Moving on!

Rolling into Summer

I’m off work today. Weeks ago, I’d scheduled this as a vacation day because Mark and I were planning to go out of town for the weekend. Those plans fell through, but I kept the time off and I’m glad. I have nothing in particular in mind for this day, but it’s shaping up to be a beautiful one. We’ll see what it brings, and if that’s nothing more than getting a jump-start on the weekly chores so I’m free to enjoy Saturday and Sunday, I’ll take it.

Summer seems to be well on its way and I’m loving it! There has been a good balance of rain and sun lately. We’ve had several days with temperatures in the eighties and one day reached up into the nineties already! On weekdays, I’ll take a break from work to walk around the pond outside of the office. It’s good to get away from the computer screens and corporate environment to stretch my legs. The turtles have already returned to their sunning spot on a particular log. And this time of year, I’ll often notice the sweet scent of various plants and flowers blooming along the path. One day, a couple of guys dressed in business casual were traipsing around in the trees between the walking path and the water. They were both bent over, closely scrutinizing the ground. I asked what they were looking for. One held out his hand to show me the Morel mushrooms they’d discovered and were busy collecting.

At home lately, we’ll often enjoy dinner out on the deck under the canopy, or just relax there in the evening while watching the sky for storms rolling in.

Storms Coming

2015-04-25Our deck is becoming somewhat of a wildlife sanctuary lately. Remember the chickadees that had taken up residence in the bird house not long ago? Remember how we were saddened to see that some other creature had destroyed the nest, smashed the eggs, and chased the chickadees away? Remember how Mark suspected the sparrows? Well, there’s a new bird family in there now. Wrens. They seem pretty relaxed with the frequent human and canine presence in their neighborhood. And in the mornings, they sing beautifully (and loudly!) For weeks, every time I’d hear them, I’d think, “So pretty!” Until one day I found myself thinking, “Enough already!” Still, the wrens are pretty cute, even though I was mildly disturbed to learn that it was likely they who evicted the chickadees. (Sorry for blaming you, sparrows!)

Birds aren’t the only creatures getting comfortable on our deck. Lucy spends a great deal of time snapping at and chasing flies and various other winged insects. And one day, I almost stepped on what I first thought was a little wood chip. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a tree frog. He wasn’t the least bit bothered by me putting my phone up close to his face to snap a photo.

Tree FrogUnder the deck, the rain has been good for the hostas. They’re getting out of hand early this year!

Hostas

In packing news, we continue to sort through my parents’ accumulation of fifty plus years together, in preparation for their move to the town house they’re purchasing. We’re getting better at throwing and donating things, but plenty of stuff is still finding its way to my house, at least temporarily. Kacey is now the proud owner of a GPS, and Jake, a small cooler to keep his pop and water cold while he’s out on a job site.

Earlier this week, we came across the bowling balls. My parents, of course wanted to know if I, the family bowler, would want them. I didn’t. I have two of my own bowling balls and the main one is weighted so I can throw a hook. These were your standard spare balls for throwing a straight shot. And although Mom’s is a pretty, swirly, green one, it’s not heavy enough for me. Dad’s is too heavy.

Dads bowling ball

The bowling bags were water damaged, so they’re getting thrown away. Mom’s bowling shoes are long gone and Dad’s are curled up and dried with age, so they can be thrown away too. But I wasn’t sure what to do with the balls. I’m sure I could just drop them off at the Goodwill, but was hoping I could put them to better use. I asked at the bowling alley when I was there on Wednesday, but was told they wouldn’t take them.

In a last-ditch effort to figure out the best thing to do with old bowling balls, I stumbled across a Pinterest page. Now I know what to do with the balls!

Mom and Dad’s new place has a few small garden areas. Maybe they’ll get their bowling balls back as a housewarming gift. :-)

Dancing in the Grass

Labor Day weekend … a time to celebrate the culmination of days of hot sun and rain showers, t-shirts and shorts, barefooting and cooling off in the lake. Yeah, we still have a few weeks to enjoy full leafy trees and colorful flower gardens, ice cream and cold drinks outside on the deck, but it will all soon come to an end. School days have begun. The sun goes down earlier in the evening. The skies stay dark until later in the morning and the sun sinks below the horizon earlier in the evening.

Summer is winding down. I’ll surely miss it, but I took the chance to throw it a party this weekend and tell it to hurry back soon!

Actually, I didn’t throw the party. My sister and brother-in-law did. I just contributed some food and helped bid the passing season a bon voyage.

My brother-in-law, Kevin is a talented bass player. At 23 years old, he picked up a bass and said to himself, “I think I’ll learn to play this thing.” And then he did. Not too many years later, he found himself in a band, called Unsung Heroes. They were good. (You might think I’m prejudiced in that statement, being related to Kevin and all, but they really were good!) My sister, Cori took notice of them while out with some coworkers after work one day and that’s how she met Kevin. Eventually, she married him and the rest is history!

I’m sorry to say that Unsung Heroes are no longer together. Marriage, growing families, and life took precedence over playing in bars every weekend. But Kevin continued to play his bass. His passion for music didn’t fade away. He and Cori passed on their appreciation and talents to their two boys. Over the past few years, as their kids grew older, Kevin got back in the band scene. He plays at church. He plays in a rock cover band. He plays in a Christian rock band and he plays in an Elvis tribute band. His music keeps him very busy, but it’s what he loves to do.

Kevin’s musical connections made for a great party this weekend. He invited all of his musician friends along with all of his non-musician friends and family for an afternoon of fun and food in the back yard. The various bands played their own stuff and also mixed it up and played with each other for a great afternoon and evening of tunes.

Here’s Tom, a talented lead singer, with his Unsung Heroes drummer, Gordy, Kevin on bass and Mike of Millie and the Misfits on guitar.

And here’s Art a.k.a. Elvis with some of his band mates and Tom.

As the sun (and a few more drinks) went down, the guests began to dance. Neighbors strolled over and joined the party in the back yard. A bunch of us ‘girls’ formed a circle on the ‘dance floor’ and shook our groove thangs! The lawn was taking a beating in ways that my husband would never allow to happen in his yard. But no one seemed to mind here. The condition of the grass was the furthest thing from anyone’s thoughts.

I requested My Sharonaa throwback to the Unsung Heroes days and the band belted it out loud and proud. As happy energy flowed through my veins, I could feel the dewy grass beneath my bare feet and the cool, damp brush of the nighttime air on my skin. I had that rare sense of throwing caution to the wind and just living in the moment. My niece, sister and I laughed at and with each other as we danced and jumped around until we were breathless, not caring what we looked like. We were having so.much.fun! 

We’d given summer a proper send-off and the party ended with promises to do it again soon.

 

Farm Fashion, Belly Fat and Food on a Stick

Yesterday Mark and I made our umpteenth annual visit to the Minnesota State Fair.

Most years, we set aside an entire day and begin our journey to the fairgrounds first thing in the morning. Not so this year. The fair days just seemed to slip on by and here we were this week, heading into the final fair weekend without having yet paid a visit. So I took half a day off from work, extending my long Labor Day weekend by a few more hours.

We quickly learned that the first difference between being early-in-the-day fair visitors and later-in-the-day fair visitor is the parking challenge. All of the good parking lots are full by noon. And even though there are many free park-and-ride lots available, most of those were full too. After driving for miles around the fairgrounds, seeing nothing but Lot Full signs, we began to feel defeated. We then cruised the residential streets near the fairgrounds in desperation, now willing to pay some homeowner an exorbitant fee to park on his front lawn and walk to the fair, but we had no luck with that plan either. Finally, as we sat in Mark’s truck at a red light, waiting to make a right turn in busy fair traffic, with no idea where to go next, we noticed all of the park-and-ride buses zooming to and from the fair entrance. As Mark was finally able to make his turn, a bus moved ahead of us; one that had just emptied of a group of arriving passengers and filled with a group of departing passengers.

“I’m going to follow that bus,” Mark said. “It must be headed back to a place to pick up more passengers. When those people get off the bus, there should be room for more people to ride to the fair. We’ll see if we can park and ride from wherever that place is.”

I don’t often credit my husband with genius ideas, but I have to admit now, this was a genius idea. We followed the bus for several miles to a large church with a large parking lot. As departing fair-goers drove out of the parking lot, we were allowed in. We hopped on the bus and were delivered right to the main entrance of the fair.

Yes! We’d finally made it! The sky was overcast, but rain didn’t appear imminent and that made for really comfortable temperatures for an afternoon of walking around for hours with thousands of other people.

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The Minnesota State Fair was originally a celebration of the state’s agriculture industry. It was fun to see that we haven’t lost the agricultural draw. I could tell because of the farm fashion.

The state fair is also a celebration of food! There is SO. MUCH. FOOD! And as you might imagine, the abundance of food attracts people of all shapes and sizes.It seemed to me that there were way more rental scooters scooting around the fairgrounds than I’ve seen before. There are some whose health legitimately prevents them from walking at the fair. But it also seems that there were so many who rode scooters simply because their weight was too much to carry on their own two feet. We stood in the ice cream line in the dairy building behind a family of severely overweight people, both parents trying to squeeze through the crowds on scooters, their kids with chubby cheeks and protruding tummies waiting their turn for another state fair goody. And it made me feel bad about the kind of life that lies ahead for those kids. The state fair can be fun, but it can also be a sad testament to our tendency toward overindulgence in this country.

But the food is delicious! Of that there is no doubt. In the past, we’ve visited the fair with friends, or with our kids. And that makes it easy to try a variety of foods because when there are several of us, we can all try a bite or two of some food, and still have room to try a bite or two of some others. With it being just Mark and me this time, we found ourselves having to eat more of each thing than we’d like to, or throwing some of it away. Still, we managed to down a few favorites as well as taste some new (to us) foods.

There is so much to see at the state fair! In the Grandstand, you can buy kitchen gadgets and cookware, fitness equipment and clothing, purses and footwear, bird feeders and outdoor furniture. The vendors are skilled at convincing you that you simply cannot live one day more without this amazing stove top grill or smoothie mix. One vendor called me out as a runner, which I found amusing since I can only be considered a runner in the loosest sense of the word. She handed me a brochure and insisted I stand on one of her machines. It looked like a form of fitness equipment, but upon placing my feet on the platform and holding on to the handles, all I felt was vibration running through my body. She said that as a runner, my joints were being abused each time I pound the pavement with my feet. For a mere thirteen hundred bucks, (normally twenty-two hundred,) I could have this preventative health device right in my own home. Just fifteen minutes a day of standing on the vibrating platform would provide daily healing to my joints and improve my workouts by some percentage I can’t remember. I accepted her brochure and told her I’d give it some thought.

I think people watching is our favorite pastime at the fair, though. People are such interesting creatures. There were young and old alike visiting the fair, babies in strollers to the elderly. There were people dressed appropriately for trekking the miles of fairgrounds in comfortable clothing and footwear. And there were those who wanted to make some type of fashion statement. We saw crazy patterned leggings on legs, high boots and high heels. We saw drastically fashioned hair cuts and colors. And it struck me sadly that little girls stop being little girls at a much younger age than they used to.

And it also occurred to me, as we noticed babies in strollers and who was pushing those strollers, that parents seem to get younger every year. Or maybe I’m just feeling the effects of my age!

Even though we traveled among thousands upon thousands of people who had come from all over the state, we still managed to run into people we knew from close to home. Mark saw a coworker and we ran into friends from Kacey’s softball days. Of course, technology played a part in bringing us together with friends. My check-in on Faceb00k alerted my good friend, Rosie that we were in the area. After seeing it, Rosie texted me and said, “Where are you? Let’s meet!” We agreed to connect in 45 minutes. And in the meantime, Mark and I just took in the sites and enjoyed what the fair has to offer.

Soon it was time to go find our meeting spot and meet Rosie. The sky had grown darker and I felt a few drops of rain on my skin. And then a few more. And then it was coming down! Mark and I took shelter under the awning of one of the food vendors and tried to wait it out.

It let up for a few minutes and we took our chance to travel once again toward our destination, but the skies let loose again. I had thought to bring a light rain jacket – but had forgotten to take it with me when we parked the truck. We ended up trying to wait out the rain again a few blocks later, but this time it didn’t appear to be letting up. And we did finally connect with Rosie, hiding out under an awning at the agreed upon meeting place. We chatted for a few minutes, but the intensity of the rain was only growing and we’d had enough. Mark and I stopped even trying to protect ourselves from getting wet and made a break for the bus stop to catch a ride back to our parking spot.

We weren’t the only ones with that idea. By the time our bus arrived and we were able to get inside of it, we were drenched! And I mean seriously waterlogged! I felt as if I’d just stood in my shower fully clothed. I sat uncomfortably as Mark drove us home over a partially flooded highway. As soon as we were back and in the house, I stripped out of my wet clothes as soon as humanly possible. It felt great to get into something dry and comfy again!

So, it wasn’t our most successful state fair trip ever, but we can say once again that we did it!