Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Great Randolph Fair

As luck would have it, the day I went to the fair, Senior Citizens Day, was hot and muggy, so I didn't get around to all the animal exhibits, like the really fairish kinds of  animals, like the sheep and the hogs and the cattle, the ones that smell  like farm barns. I did check out the goats, of course, and there were vary few Toggenbergs like Finbar. They are now breeding strange looking critters with no ears and lots of the pygmy ones and varied color Nubians. Nothing spectacular there. I spotted this senior citizen in one of the buildings. I'm not sure whether she was wearing her boyfriend's pajama top or plays for an unusual baseball team. I didn't want to use my camera, but I can vouch for the accuracy of this sketch.

I decided to have a look at the domestic exhibits: sewing, baking, and quilting. One of the women in my water aerobics class had entered a passel of cakes and pies, but I couldn't see the names on the entries. She told me later that her chocolate zucchini cake had won a blue ribbon. Good way to get rid of t all that zucchini, I guess. 

In the arts and crafts building I came across the usual unusual
offerings like this wooden cow (?). Several years ago, 
perhaps the very same woodworker, had made a sort of Rube Goldberg potty chair, all gaily painted with pretty pink flowers, complete with its own attached toilet paper holder. I reckon the recipient of that potty chair has grown and now has her own home in which to put this lovely cow (?).  

The needlework building was full of embroidered pillow cases and crocheted doilies as usual, but now there seem to be many more quilters than ever before. There were some really beautiful quilts, a few stunning antique quilts and a live quilting bee, which was fun to watch. 

I decided to have lunch at the dining hall before the crowd started pouring. Typical fair fare: chicken or meat loaf, with mashed potatoes and green beans with pie for dessert. Since I don't drive on a heavy stomach, I settled for a hot dog and the best French fries ever. I rarely eat fries, but these are so good, loaded with catsup, that they complete the fair experience. 

My last stop was the vegetable building to see the vegetable creations some of the 4-H kids 
make, like veggie villages and people. Some clever kid had his squash and bell pepper man wired for sound. The main attraction here are the giant pumpkins.
The winner weighed 675 pounds and the top three were all raised by the same family. They said they had an 800 pounder at home but didn't say why they didn't show it. Transport problems?

Since it was so hot, I didn't bother hanging around until the Ferris wheel got started up. It's  great place to take pictures from, and many years ago one of mine made it onto a calendar and also into a newspaper ad. Since nothing much has changed, I didn't need to take another one. 

The fair's over, and the neighborhood kids started school yesterday. There's still good corn and the tomatoes are perfect for BLTs, so summer's not over yet.

Monday, August 25, 2008

August Events

It's been a busy month since my last post. I had a birthday in the middle of the month which began with a 6 a.m. phone call from Australia, where Emily and her family are visiting Chris' family. That was fun, and as an extra I was serenaded with the Happy Birthday song from down under, courtesy of Chris' sister Ann. Emily reports that they are having the coldest winter there in years. They should be heading back to Germany in the next week or so, stopping in Dubai for a few days where it is 110 degrees in the shade - except that there isn't much shade.
Polly sent me one of her sculptures and a Beatrix Potter plate she got at a yard sale from the NPR Paris correspondent Alice Furlow - a perfect obscure connection to fame. Polly's sculptures are fascinating small pieces that you can keep looking at and finding new things. The photograph does not do this one justice. There are stories in them. I love having this treasure. If you want to see more of Polly's work, you can find it here.
We had a jolly birthday dinner at the Pufferbelly, after which there was a concert in
 the square featuring my friend Helen, the Brit songbird. She had a fine jazz quartet behind her. She did a special number for me, her lovely version of "Over the Rainbow". When she was singing the words, "Birds fly over the rainbow",  way up high above the stage a group of birds went flying over - a little bit of unplanned magic. All, in all, a fine day to be a year older. 

Lat week I went on another geezer tour, this time to Put-in-Bay up on lake Erie. I hadn't been there for at least 20 years and it was another one of those perfect August days, with a clear blue sky and a gentle breeze. I was happy to find that old friends Pat and John Balazs, were also along which made it more fun, especially since I didn't know anyone else on the bus. When our children were young we spent a lot of time together, but as they got older and Pat and I both started working, we hardly saw each other over the years. We still have a lot to talk and laugh about. Pat 
still remembers shopping trip we took to Akron years ago and my amazement at what an intense and persistent shopper she can be. I remembered exactly how many pumpkin colored sweaters she looked at before deciding on one - and she still has it. It was the first time I had driven to Akron - I had just gotten my license a few months before, and all I could think of was that I had the trip back to Kent ahead of me. Put-in Bay is a beautiful place and we toured the entire island in our own touristy tram with a guide narrating the hot spots. One of these spots was a winery and I was the lucky winner of a gift basket. When I got home I unwrapped the cellophane covering and discovered three outrageously scented candles, which I had to dispose of before my house smelled like a bordello (not that I've ever been in one), some made-in-Ohio foodstuffs and a bottle of sweet Catawba wine which I'll have to be pretty desperate to drink. But it was, as we used to say, a pretty fun day.

I have more to say, but I have laundry to hang out and a sick cat (he had some shots and flea medication yesterday and it's made him a tad puny), so I"ll write abut the great Randolph Fair later.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Abundance of August

August has always gotten a bad rap - the dog days, the hottest month of summer. Just myths. Since it's my birthday month, I have always been aware of what August is really like. It's cool nights and blue sky days. It's when the gardens give up the best foods of the year: corn, tomatoes, green beans, and the orchards are laden with that most beautiful of all fruit, the pink, yellow, light orange, juicy peach. For those who care for squash and zucchini, there's more than a person could possibly eat in a lifetime. The farmer's markets which have been rather sparsely stocked are now a brilliant mosaic of all this produce from local farms and gardens. The zinnias are out in all their many colors and country fields are full of goldenrod and purple asters. August is a feast for the eyes and the belly.

Speaking of bellies, the county fairs are starting and they are great places for people-watching. Our local county fair is a very popular one, since it is small enough that one can see everything without falling down with exhaustion. Back when Polly had her goats, we really got into it ourselves, even entering some of the exhibits. I think Polly even won a ribbon for her apple pie. We loved to watch the goat judging and were very proud of Polly and Finbar, the beautiful, enormous Toggenberg wether, who won a number of huge, vulgar trophies. Polly won the showmanship award on her very first show, much to our surprise, and the disappointment of some veteran goat people who gave us dirty looks as we marveled at the trophy with a golden goat on top.

There are sewing, quilting, baking, vegetable, flower (with tallest sunflower, e.g.), antique and art exhibits. There are the usual rides and corn dog stands. The tractor pull and the demolition derby are usually sold out by the morning of the first day. There will be a fair queen and king selected, some healthy teen agers who are in 4-H. There is always a senior citizens' day when geezers get in free, and will be entertained by a kitchen band playing songs that our great grandparents liked. (It does not seem to occur to whoever plans these things that there will eventually be geezers whose music of choice will run to the Stones, or even worse, Britney Spears. There will be doddering old ladies with names like Madison or Miley, with tattoos and nose rings.) There are hogs, sheep, goats, rabbits and fancy chickens with topknots. Folks from the big city (i.e., Cleveland) come to show their kiddos where McNuggets come from. There are also semi-sleazy hawkers of vinyl siding, replacement windows, hot tubs, vitamin supplements, garden tools like the ones you might see on late-night TV, magic cleaning liquids, and other goods that will improve your health and household.

This fair has been going on for 150 years and one of the early founders was the man who developed the Hubbard squash, right here in Portage County. I have personally never seen a Hubbard squash and try not to eat or even look at squash in general. But folks here in Portage County are mighty proud of Mr. Bela Hubbard, his squash and the Portage County Fair. And the fair is one of the things I like about August. I shall go on Senior Citizens' Day and see how the goats are doing these days.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not Your TV ER

So, Friday night I had an episode of choking on something and John gave me the Heimlich maneuver. Eventually, I was okay but my ribs were very sore, very very sore. I had a big week-end ahead: a friend's 80th birthday party on Saturday, a Sunday morning breakfast with the Quilting Addict, Nancy and her husband Joe, at their friends the O'Keefe's house, and a Sunday night concert at Blossom Music Center with friends and the Monday morning arrival of my friend Susan, who just got back from an amazing trip to Egypt and Petra.
I made it to the birthday party without too much pain and had a grand time. Sunday morning I woke up in a lot of pain but I was not about to miss seeing old friends, especially the Quilting Addict who lives Near Philadelphia and does not get to Kent very often. I popped a (product placement) Tylenol, which worked well enough to keep me from gasping every time I moved. I decided after a delightful breakfast with delightful people that I would run over to the emergency room at the local hospital to get an Xray to see if anything was broken. When I got there, the waiting room was empty and I got right into the part where they take care of you. A doctor (aged 12) showed up immediately, poked around a bit (to my muffled screams) and ordered an Xray. Right on, I thought, I"ll be out of here in a jiffy. Then I waited and waited to be taken to Xray. Finally I was wheeled through a series of wide corriders and arrived at the icy cold Radiology Department and was given a nice warm blanker. The Xray lady admired my shoes, which were exactly like her (product placement) Easy Spirits, for which she gave a sincere endorsement and let me know that she has 2 pairs of same, which she bought, as did I, at (product placement) Macy's. She took a number of pix of my sore ribs and sent me back to my cubicle, where I did some more waiting.

After a while, the kid doctor returned and said that he wanted an ultra sound to make sure my liver wasn't lacerated. A lacerated liver??!! I don't even like sauteed liver. I hadn't even thought about that possibility. So I waited and waited until the ultra sound lady showed up, which took over an hour. She apologized, saying that she had had an inpatient who had taken a lot of time. ....probably one of the many obese Portage county people I had watched being wheeled past my cubicle. (One of the local fire departments has just purchased a stretcher that can hold 800 pounds. Seriously.) She informed me that my bladder was full, which I already knew. As soon as she left I scooted to a nearby restroom and returned to wait again. And wait. And wait.

Finally the kid doc came back and said the ultrasound was inconclusive and he was ordering a cat scan. He explained that one's liver could be damaged and one would never know until something exploded, or words to that effect. By this time I realized that there was a TV in my cubicle with which I could pass the time. The offerings were: an LPGA tournament, a Tiger-less PGA tournament, a replay of the Football Hall of Fame Parade from Canton, an Indians game, and those awful Law and Order episodes that always seem to be on when you can't sleep at 3 in the morning, the ones with that weird Vincent D'Onofrio, who tilts his heard and bends over suspects and uses psychobabble from an abnormal psych text book. I lucked out around 3 o'clock when (product placement)PBS reran the "La Boheme" I had seen in a theater live last winter. It made the time go a little faster to watch that cute, chubby little Mexican tenor and the beautiful Romanian soprano do that wonderful Puccini music. (Their lovemaking to music was so passionate that I swear I heard Schaunard sing "Get a room" in Italian.)

As soon as Mimi coughed her last, I was taken down for the cat scan, which didn't take too long, but I had already been in the ER for 6 hours. Six hours! So I waited some more. Used the restroom a few more times. Watched other people come in, get treated and leave. Finally, finally the kid doc said everything was okay, gave me a prescription for a pain killer (product placement) Vicodan, which I won't take anyway because it's too strong. Fortunately I had called John to have him call my friend with whom I was supposed to go the Blossom concert, so I did miss one of the planned activities of the weekend. I had spent seven and a half hours in the ER to find out that nothing was seriously wrong and that there's nothing much I can do about the pain but take (product placement) Tylenol until the pain goes away. All because my son tried to save my life. Is there some irony there?