Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thank goodness for window screens

The Spider and the Fly

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly,

"'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there."
"Oh no, no," said the Fly, "to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, "Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature," said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead."

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, -
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head - poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne'er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

The Rocky Ground

When we took the old steps off the deck I asked Spark to pull the now uncovered weeds.  Among the weeds were these two radishes.  I imagine they were seeds that got dropped as we deployed for the garden.  The radishes aren't dirty because they weren't growing in dirt, just rocks over plastic.  That will give an idea of how wet our summer has been.  Growing in rocks made these French breakfast radishes a funky shape.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Deck Steps

The steps on our deck have been falling apart more and more the last month.  We all pulled off the old stairs on Saturday.  As rickety they looked it took a lot of sweat to get them off.

The old steps removed. 

Assembling the tools.

Getting all the pieces together. 

"Have Gun Will Travel".   Dancer loves to use the nail gun.  Actually she likes shooting guns in general.  Rifle, BB gun, .22, pneumatic fastening tools, well that's a story for another blog.

The finished product.

The end of the food shelf

This December it would be seven years since I started to volunteer at the food shelf the Monday before the fourth Tuesday of the month.  I have only missed a handful of times. 

When I first started going I took the kids, and a little girl I took care of during the day, with me because Dad was in school. Spark would have just turned three and Dancer would have been just about to turn seven.  After Dad started working, if he was able to be home with the kids on the food shelf day, I went alone.  When they got old enough to stay home alone with him sleeping in the house I always went alone.  This was my one day out a month for just me.  I saw friends and would go out to lunch afterwards.  Oh, how I looked forward to that once a month.   Last year, or maybe it was two years ago, Dancer started going with me.  Together we enjoyed the day volunteering and going to lunch with friends. 

The church where the food shelf is held has had some staff changes.  Just as we were wrapping things up the coordinator told us with tears in her eyes that she was quiting her job and didn't know if the church would be continuing the food shelf after the new pastor came or not. 

Those of us who go out to lunch every month of course vowed that we would still get together for lunch on these Mondays since we have been doing it for so long.  I hope so, but you know how things go.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Arts Festival

We went to an Arts Festival this afternoon and had such an enjoyable time.  No pictures as no one wanted to carry the camera.  I love our camera but if you carry for the whole day your neck hurts.  We should maybe get a little point and shoot one for days like today. 

Our house is located in an area where there is a lot of down to earth farmers.  Farmers who are on century farms working hard to make their living off their land.   They grow gardens and hang their clothes on clothes lines, not because it is green, but because that is just the way it is done.

Not that far from our house there is a private university and college.  That area of the community is full of artsy people.  The kind that put a tomato in a pot and all of the sudden they are an organic farmer.  They don't knit or crochet, they are fiber artists.  They don't take pictures, they take photographs and then want to slap a frame around it and sell it for $55.00.  There are also lots of potters, painters, people who do stained glass, make jewelry and all the other things you see at an Arts Festival.

It is easy to pick these people out of a crowd because they all wear the same thing.  First, they start with clothes the colors of seeds.  Shades of browns, blacks, grays and once in a while they will throw in something dark green or brick red.  Flannel shirts are okay as long as they look like they are almost ready for the ragbag.  I am not sure who wore the shirt when it was new, but that would be a no-no for an art person.  A long scarf is a must.  A Rastafarian hat or a stocking hat, preferably felted, if you are a serious art person.  Men can wear hats that are a throw back from the 1950's or what you imagine you may find on the head of a man in Ireland.  Dreadlocks are a definite plus.  Women also need to have long ear rings and either long, flowing, messy hair or short cropped hair.  A messenger bag or some other long bag is a nice touch.  I know they all think they are dressing very individual but it looks like a uniform to an outsider.  

The community puts on a really nice arts festival every fall.  Often it gets rained out but this year the weather was picture perfect.  We feasted on some melt in your mouth almond croissants.  Dancer wanted cheese curds but at $5.00 for about five tiny little curds I promised her a better treat later if she would pass on them.  Smart girl, she got a peanut butter shake on the way home.  We perused the art vendors and I decided that my kids are spectacular artists and I would rather have their work hanging on my wall any day over the things that were being sold there.  We watched a juggler who was so entertaining we would have paid to see his show but he was performing for free on the street.  When we got home I looked him up and he is a graduate of the Ringling Bros. clown college and  he teaches performing arts at a university.  We watched a group of local cloggers and Dancer was sad that she isn't  dancing.  We looked them up because they were looking for more members and they practice on Wednesdays when we have another obligation.  Maybe next year.  There was a woman in the group that had to be in her 70's and she could really move!  There was also horse drawn trolley rides and good music.  We also reaped the benefits of living a smaller community in that we saw lots of friends to visit with.

We didn't buy any craft goods, nor did most of the "locals".  The dynamic there reminds me of the quizzical looks the townfolks give the more affluent vacationers on shows like "Green Acres" or "What about Bob?"  Thanks for dropping some cash in our town, now go home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This didn't make me feel any better

Dad and Spark are heading out the door for Spark's Saturday morning flag football game.  It is flag football but they are 4th graders.  Fourth grade boys love to tackle and so it is more of tackle, or pile on whoever has the ball, football.  I yell out to Spark, "Be careful when you are playing!"  I want my little cherub to come home in one piece to me.  Spark yells back, "Don't worry Mom, I will come home with all my teeth."

Our tropical vacation - sort of

Dad took these pictures at the conservatory at Como Zoo and then joked that he will tell the kids years from now that we were on a tropical vacation.  This is as close as we will ever get to going anywhere tropical.

The amazing plants numbered in the hundreds if not thousands.  The ones we like the best were the ones with the gigantic leaves.


Dancer by the annatto tree.  This is was an exciting find.  Many foods that are orange, such as Cheez-Its, are colored with annatto which Dancer can have as it is only the synthetic food dyes that she is allergic too.  The use of the seeds from the annatto tree in the food industry really expands her food choices.

Spark and Mom

Spark by the Koi pond.

Como Zoo

Since we were in the Twin Cities, and were done at Fort Snelling by 2:00 p.m., we wanted to make the most out of the trip and added a quick jaunt over to Como Zoo since it had been a few years since we had been there.  This is a free zoo that has quite a good variety of animals.   The other  nice thing about this zoo is that it is open 365 days year so you can go there any time you have a little extra time.  In the off season, when it isn't packed with families, there are no extras like food booths or the amusement rides.

Although this looks like a duck exhibit, it is really the flamingo area.  There had a to be a few hundred ducks swimming in their pond.  But who can blame them, while migrating south you can find free food and no hunting.  Almost like a resort for ducks.

Spark sat on the big turtle.  It seemed a lot bigger when the kids were little and we had to help them get on him. 

There wasn't more than probably 30 - 40 people in the whole zoo so the shows that go on in the summer when the place is busy were all closed.  This little sea lion though must not have gotten the memo because he was ready to do a show.  He did this move where he made a big wake behind him like a motor boat.

He did flips in and out of the water as he swam back and forth in front of the few of us who were standing around his house.  He would only swim as far as the people were and then turn around.  When some one would leave he would quit swimming down and far as they were and then when someone else would come he would start swimming down there again.

After he had done a trick he could stop in front of us as if to wait for a snack.  Not being the kind of people who carry raw, dead fish in their pockets, all we could do is clap for him.  He seemed to enjoy that too and then he would be off to do another trick.

Then it was off to the primate exhibit and the Dad's obligatory comment "Oh look, the Monkey House.  Isn't that where we bought Spark?" and since he has gotten older, the reply "No, and you can't sell me back either."

The monkey house was very quiet and all the monkeys seemed like they were wondering where everyone was.  This little guy was so bored he was yawning.  A very big yawn.

The Thinker

When we would walk by they would all run to the front of their houses and sit by the glass.  Like I said, it was a slow day in the monkey house.  Maybe they think of the zoo goers as entertainment and on this day there wasn't much on.

At the polar bear exhibit Spark compared the size of his hand with that of a polar bear paw.

The kids by the giraffes.  I think everyone I know takes their kids picture by these giraffes.

They have grown a bit since the last time we were there.  I think they were probably about seven and three years old here.  We have these pictures hanging on our fridge.

This is what the zebras do when everyone is watching, slowly and methodically munch on grass.

But the Lesser Kudo, who shares a house with them, knows better.

The second time we came around to the zebras they were showing their true stripes.

They were running around and around chasing the Lesser Kudo and bucking their back feet at them.

It seemed like they were enjoying the game of annoying the Lesser Kudo.

Then to really show off, they would stop and get down

and roll over

and scratch their backs in the dirt.  They did this several times.

The Lesser Kudo, trying to save some dignity, seems to be saying, "If I was the Greater Kudo those zebras would be in the lion pen!"

Fort Snelling Civil War Days

We were fortunate to be able to go to Fort Snelling on homeschool day.  Fort Snelling is a Minnesota historical sight from the civil war and before.  Dad had been there as a kid but I had never been before and of course, neither had the kids.  There were a lot of reenactments set up.  A few of the things we learned was about how the Indians were involved in the war, doing laundry and other domestic jobs at the fort, what the soldiers and civilians wore, how flimsy a tent soldiers slept in when they were on the battle field, manners of the 1800's for women and gentlemen callers, shooting cannons and muskets, how a trading  post worked and lots, lots more.

The fort was built in 1820 and is located on bluffs that overlook the point where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet.  It has tall limestone walls and a tower from which cannons could fire towards the rivers.

On the way into the fort the sides of all the roads are all limestone.  It reminded us of Grandma's house in Arkansas.

In the jail we had a shirker and a malingerer

It was so, so windy.  This is on top of the oldest building in Minnesota.

 This is the inside of the Magazine, where up to 20,000 pounds of gunpowder was stored.  The building was pretty big but after an inner and outer stone wall (each four feet thick) and two separate roofs, one on top of the other (for cooling), all that's left is this little room.  It was built this way so that if the gunpowder exploded it wouldn't blow up the whole fort .

The sleeping areas.  There were two soldiers to a bed.  They must have slept on different shifts.  The beds were insanely short, did they curl up or were people just that much shorter then?

The old glass in the windows had fallen making everything look wavy.

Soldiers would put metal rivets and heel shoes on their boots to make the soles last longer.  Ouch, you could feel them on the inside of the boot.

Shooting off muskets. 

Teaching the kids how to march in formation.

We stood and watched this for quite awhile.  This is where planes come into the Mpls/St. Paul International airport.  A little dot would show up like it dropped out a cloud and then get bigger and bigger along this highway as the jets were descending to land.  There was usually about three in view all the time.  The fort is right by the airport and on the way to the fort there were big signs along the freeway that the security level was orange.  That was a little unnerving to be so close to airport when terrorist activity could be going on.  Makes us remember how real the threat is.    

Spark in the watch tower.

Spark looking out the other side of the watch tower.

The flag flying above the fort.  It must have seemed really desolate when the only thing there was the fort and miles and miles of wilderness.

This was housing during WWII.  Very impressive building that are now fenced off and falling down.  What a shame to let them go, they are beautiful brick and stone with slate and tile roofs.