A day in the country

I love a drive in the country, it’s something that we sometimes did when I was a child, just to escape the city. And on this day me and my girlfriends were on a mission, and of course this mission involved shopping.

It’s really not that far to go, just drive south to the next city, then follow the river, and there you are among the fields. This was a giant field of pumpkins, across the road from a popular farm store. It’s not really an old-time farm stand, it’s more of big business, so it’s an interesting place to shop.

They had added quite a bit of stuff, since my last visit, like the imported Italian pasta (there were lots of Italians who came to the area to work in the steel mill, and their descendants are still here). There were plenty of baked goods and even tourist souvenirs to be had. And they were roasting green chile in front, so the place smelled great.

As this antique tractor has steel wheels, it is probably from the mid 1920’s or possibly early 1930’s. I’m leaning towards the earlier date, because it has a starter crank instead of an electric starter, and the overall primitiveness of design. (I know way more about tractors than I should).

Here’s another farm store, this one also had a cafe, which was quite good. (sorry, I don’t take pictures of my food anymore).

Quaint old stuff sets the stage for selling locally made products. It’s a guarantee that we’re out of the city.

And why had we gone south? (aside from the obvious need to shop at the farm stands). Oh yeah, I had won a red ribbon (2nd place) at the state fair, so well done me. After a quick ride on a Ferris Wheel, it was back to town.

New artist

So now you might be wondering, what was the recent gallery opening about? And why did I feel impelled to go?

This piece was the first one created by this artist for the local “art on the street” project , and it has always been my favorite (I actively hate some of the work of other artists). It has been here for a couple of years and I am amazed by the number of my friends who have never noticed this and don’t know what I’m talking about. Anyway, the statue was vandalized by some jerk last year, and this is actually the second version. The artist came to town to fix this, and decided that he liked the place so well, that he and his family moved here from Korea. So now I guess that makes him a local artist.

This is this years’ selection for “art on the streets”. And because one does not have to put any money in the parking meters on Sunday morning, I was out and about to take this new photo of these amazing steel Betas. It was rather breezy and they were moving in the wind, as is proper for fighting fish.
So besides making massive sculptures, he also does smaller pieces, like this tiny tree (it did not have a tiny price tag). This tiny gallery is the perfect sort of place to show small art. (Not sure if it is the perfect sort of place to sell art). But there we all were, seeing and being seen, drinking cheap wine and admiring the art.
I did love this piece, and after a glass of wine I had a few fangirl words with the artist (and I hope that he understands English, or maybe it’s better if he doesn’t).

I had found out about the gallery show from an article in the local newspaper, and this mentioned that the missus of the artist did fiber art. Well, so do I, so I wished to meet her. But we do very different sorts of things, and I guess I am not a fangirl, but I definitely approve of following one’s muse. I hope that she and the family like this town, and that they continue to be local artists, because we need great art for the streets (wait a minute, that brings tourists, so maybe not).

More signs

I do love the whimsy of signs, just a brief announcement of something, anything that gives one a snippet of information or direction. Now that proper gallery openings are allowed, I had popped in to see the show of a new resident (more later). By proper gallery opening, I mean there were nibbles, cheap wine and no masks, just what one expects. And signs.

This was the entrance to the gallery, referencing a rap song from the past, so I would guess the gallerists to be in their 40’s.

Rather useful information, and I am sure the persons inside got tired of repeating this to passersby.

This looks to have been posted by a trout, or perhaps a friend. I am unaware of any fish actually living in the creek. And like many signs, it appears to have been ignored.

This sign was the best of the lot, as well as being the most cryptic. Walking on the sidewalk is what one does, I suppose this indicates to walk one’s bicycle, the other two images were more mysterious, but I eventually decided that they referred to skateboards and rollerblades. I doubt if this is legible or obvious as one rolls along, but it’s an interesting graphic. Nice try, city.

More Mountain

I love living here, and I love to look at the mountain everyday. I will just be driving along and see a picture perfect view that I want to capture. It is always slightly different and always beautiful (someone even wrote a song about this after climbing to the top).

I had just come out of a building, looked up, and there was this valley visible because of the misty rainy weather. The mountain usually appears as a solid mass, it’s no wonder that the first European explorer couldn’t figure out how to climb to the top. (Also he was arrested for trespassing by the government of Spain and carted away).

This day was a patriotic holiday, and I had noticed the flag waving about in the breezy weather. So I drove up to get a closer look and the wind promptly stopped. But as there has been this rainy weather pattern, the wind did eventually pick up after a bit.

Here’s a different view of a lovely rainy day. The mountain is an obstacle to the clouds, and funnels precipitation so that there is often a very localized effect of rain or snow. On this day it was raining up the pass, and dry where I stood.

I had gone to the northern suburb to visit a friend, and this is the view from her house, the mountain just peeks over the top of the foothills, and doesn’t look very majestic. The white things in the middle are pillars of rock, just sitting there for no apparent reason. I think it is part of the military academy, that’s why it’s not surrounded by housing.

But, from whichever angle one approaches the mountain, it always makes me happy just to see it, towering over the town.

Lizards

There was recently a spell of hot weather, perfect for basking.

These two were enjoying the heat on my front steps after emerging from the oregano jungle.

I’ve seen this one before, perhaps I am getting the side-eye because this is probably not a lizard, it’s a skink (but, nobody cares what a skink is, they are all lizards to everyone not a biologist).

This one, however, could clearly be described as a lizard, most likely the dreaded roof lizard.

This one is possibly not a lizard, it could be some sort of dragon (maybe?). And heedless of the danger to life and limb, these tourists are casually strolling by. It must have already eaten, as it never moved. As I said, it was perfect weather for basking, so I found myself wishing for some air conditioning and a very cold beer.

My Local

I know that I have posted about the genuine imported English pub across town. I only go there for very special ($$) occasions. And I remember posting something about fancy beer taps two years ago. None of that applies to this place, the local saloon. What they do offer is friendly service. I’m not a regular, but after not being able to come in for a year, she still remembered my favorite bevvy, and what I liked to eat. So what sort of place is this?

It was originally a somewhat fancy pub, but that was a number of years ago. It has gotten a bit shabby over time.

It is an interesting place, there is an outside patio extension for smokers, but a certain type of smoke is prohibited.

I don’t know why this sign is necessary in the ladies, and I am not sure that I want to know.

There are no fancy beers on tap here, and please notice the fine wine selection in the cooler. The decor is the standard sort of sports bar thing: lots of televisions showing various sporting events, which no one appeared to be watching, signed athletic memorabilia, and neon signs advertising various kinds of beer. What is not visible, is that they offer great bar food. Among other things they serve green chile covered hamburgers (my favorite), beefy quesadillas, and something called “pork wings” (perhaps this is why pigs no longer fly). “Pork wings” (whatever they might be) were so popular that they were sold out on this day, perhaps I shall find out what they are on my next visit, when my political drinking group meets again next month.

Men about town (Part 2)

Years ago I wrote some little posts about statues of men that could be found around town. Now that the town has grown, there are new statues of men. I found these rather interesting because the previous lot were mostly erected by the city as a point of civic pride. But these new ones are all on private property and I presume that they reflect the interests of the company that put them there.

I hope that this one is recognizable to all Americans, why it’s George Washington holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence. And of course his picture is on the one dollar bill (see your wallet for details).

Less easily recognized is Thomas Jefferson, a frumpy picture of him can be found on the two dollar bill (which is hardly ever used, except by eccentrics). He was a natty dresser and is shown holding a copy of the Bill of Rights.

I was quite surprised by this statue of Ronald Reagan, his informal dress and pose made him quite popular for selfies (also his face is not on any money) (yet).

Lincoln is another president who is easily recognized (after all, he does appear on the five dollar bill). He is sitting here contemplating the Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech. Because he has such a friendly pose, it was also popular to sit on his lap for selfies. But this is not the only Lincoln statue on site.

I’m sure by now that you’re wondering what these statues are in aid of. Why it’s part of an enormous sporting goods store. On this end the animatronic Lincoln is endlessly reciting the Gettysburg Address, while on the other side an animatronic John Elway (an American football player from the past), is going on about something. And in between these two is the Ferris Wheel and taxidermied animals of every sort, just what one expects in a shopping experience. I did go in to purchase new swim gloves, but in spite of having a vast inventory, they had never heard of such a thing. Oh well, perhaps I shall need something sporty from them in the future (I don’t need any selfies).

Alley Cat

I suppose that I should have realized that when I saw the perfect parking space, open right in front of the door of the shop, that the store would be closed. But, I had parked, and plunked my hard-earned money into the parking meter, so I had better find something else to do. And a quick look around took me down the alley.

There aren’t any alleys in my neighborhood, the developer did not want to waste any space for trash cans and such, but our tiny downtown was laid out when such amenities were popular.

Who could resist such a sign (except those like myself who are against tattoos, however artistic). There is also the painted blue brick border that shows that this is no ordinary alleyway.

I suspect that these two buildings were originally stables, converted to garages at a later date. They are both currently art galleries, and of course they have been shuttered for months. I have occasionally been to art events in the past (cheap box wine and a few nibbles) at the one gallery, before it was all done up.

And where did I end up? Why here of course. Because they had opened up at the same time as the other shop closed. It’s styled as a speakeasy of old, and is quite popular with the millennial set late at night (when the parking meters are turned off). So I enjoyed a quick bevvy (I didn’t want my parking meter to run out) in solitary splendor, then it was off to home, lest I ended up regretting something (like a parking ticket).

New Dumpties

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again

There are a variety of explanations offered up as to the meaning of this rhyme, it’s a drink of brandy boiled with ale (sounds awful), a short and clumsy figure, or various persons, but the true origins are unknown. The real mystery is how the King’s horses were expected to do the job.

There is some mad artist in town who is enamored of these anthropomorphic eggs, and I assume that Mr. Humpty Dumpty was his inspiration.

This nattily dressed figure is in fact, sitting on a wall, but it seems unlikely that he might be seriously injured from falling off of it. So, he’s pretty safe sitting here and it’s just a short ride to the nearest hospital (but quite a bit farther to the nearest stable should the need arise).

Located nearby, again sitting on the walls are the newest of his fellow Dumpties. Careful Pizza Man, you might drop that pie on some unsuspecting tourist.

This Dumpty seems to have been out fishing before settling in to his perch high above the street. Be careful Mr. Fisher-Dumpty, I’m not sure if it is legal to keep a fish that small, and where are your shoes?

I’m not sure about this fellow. Because he’s wearing breeches, waistcoat and a wig, perhaps he is a time-travelling barrister (we don’t get too many of these here).

This is from a book I read as a child, and it supposes that the rhyme is a riddle, and one is meant to guess that HD is an egg (and a rather old-fashioned egg at that). But whatever, I just enjoy seeing the various iterations of this figure and I hope that the artist never gets tired of him.

What’s cooking pt.2

So I previously mentioned that I learned to cook from the back of the package, newspapers and magazines so here are a few samples from my repertoire.

Food companies have used the back of their package (pretty much ever since they invented packaging) to give one a recipe that uses their product. So you don’t really need to keep a copy of the recipe, it will always be there when you need it (you hope). And hopefully the recipe will be adjusted for the constantly shrinking package size.

This recipe has proved to be quite popular every time I have made it (interesting that this and the previous recipe use butterscotch). This recipe came from the Jamestown Sun (in North Dakota), and it looked unusual, so I tore it out and tried it. Definitely a keeper, I think it might have been in an article about Christmas cookies or possibly not. I’ve been making this recipe for years, but only for special occasions. (It’s so good I don’t really want to share the recipe with just anyone.)

Here’s a nice example of a recipe that I kept from a magazine, again the recipes are from a food company. Although I saved the entire page, I have only tried the pumpkin bread, but I also use this recipe for banana bread, it’s a pretty basic sort of thing. This recipe has been floating around the house since sometime in the late 70’s (maybe it needs a touch of butterscotch).

I did learn how to cook some things from my mom (honestly, not just sweets), I think I asked her for this recipe to put in one of those local cookbooks. This is something that Mom made often, because it didn’t require eggs or butter, and us kids were not exactly gourmets. She probably learned to make this when she was a young woman during WWII (before invention of butterscotch morsels).

As you can see I still know how to make lots of sweets, but these things require a crowd to gobble them up, and I seldom have one. ( I made a half recipe of the cookies for my group, and I still ended up eating a number of them. Oh well that’s the danger.) Food is meant to be shared and most everyone will take at least a nibble of a freshly baked sweet.

random bits of life