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May 15, 1999
a year ago

Erie Town Fair

I managed to sleep in late this morning. John got up fairly early, and I could hear him banging around kitchen, making coffee, feeding Fezzik, and doing all the little things that he does Saturday mornings. It was nearly comforting, all the more so when he went out with Fezzik to get the newspaper. I fell back asleep, and didn't get up until around 10:30.

We each had two of the English muffins that we had bought from Costco the night before and a mug of coffee. After that we loaded Fezzik into the Land Rover, and went into the little town of Erie with him. It turns out that Erie is 125 years old, not something I knew before. Today was the Erie Fair, a celebration of the anniversary. The one main street was filled with people and booths. There were all kinds of people hawking wares, and all kinds of people wandering through looking at everything. We wandered through ourselves, with Fezzik in tow, panting at the heat.

Both the Longmont and Boulder Humane Societies were out. The Boulder one had dishes of water for all the dogs that were at the fair. Fezzik, however, didn't drink much, because there are too many other dogs to meet. He was so excited by everything that was going around him that he didn't really stop to drink. There were people all over who stopped to pet him and ask if he was a Newfoundland. There seem to be quite a number of people who understood what a Newfoundland was, and there were far more people who asked if he was one than at any fair we'd ever been to in Seattle. That was very interesting. Along with the fact that almost everyone we met was of European descent. I saw no Asians, no blacks, and only a few Hispanics. There was even one man who stopped me simply because he thought I looked Hawaiian.

Given that even native Hawaiians think I'm Hawaiian, this wasn't surprising; but it was interesting to note just how different I was in this general population.

One booth we stopped at was the Erie Food Bank booth, which was selling baked goods in order to make money to pay off their energy bills. They ran entire bank of refrigerators and freezers to keep the perishables that they were given. It turned out that they did most of their work on Wednesday afternoons, so wasn't likely that John or I could help them with their regular tasks. They did, however, need help tearing down the booth at 5 this afternoon, so we promised that we would be back by then.

There was one booth called Lost Lake, that sold an assortment of light dresses, skirts, and blouses. I saw an entire rack of broomstick skirts in all different colors. There is one gorgeous black skirt of black velvet with a drawstring at the waist, and everything on the rack was only $20. I haven't seen velvet skirts with that much material to them for anything less than $40, so it seemed quite the bargain. I went into the tiny dressing room and tried it on, and the waist was quite adequate for my size. So, I bought it. Then I made the mistake of looking again at the rack. There was another broomstick skirt all in a medley of jewel colors, deep, rich reds, blues, and greens. I thought about trading the one ahead bought for this one, but the proprietor said that if I bought the second one it would only be $15 if I kept the first. So, I bought the second one as well. A good salesman, but it was also a lot of very nice skirt for a very good price.

After that we went through the park, and took Fezzik to the stream that ran along the east side of the park. The park was filled with kids, a donkey ride, and about a dozen kids' booths filled with arts and crafts for them to do. Fezzik immediately went into the water, swam around drinking, came out, shook off, and then went back into the water for another round of drinking and swimming. Some small mammal plopped into the water, and its dark, brown head could be seen against the silver reflection of the water as it swam upstream. Fezzik never noticed it, which is probably a good thing.

We walked through the park with Fezzik, watching all the things that were happening. It turns out to the National Center for Ceramic Arts is making its home in Erie. They didn't want to be associated with any major university or college, so picked a small town that was right off the major freeway, and fairly close to an international airport. So people could have access to the Center, but it would be independent of both governments and education. They had clay at two different booths, and let people make what they liked of it. I can think of at least two different people that we know that would be happy to visit the center, when it is built.

Once home again, I decided that now was the time to bite the bullet, and I got out the Zip wax and started to work on my legs. Usually, through the winter, I grow my winter pelt. In the spring, whenever I actually get bothered enough by my hairy legs, I do something to strip it off. It is quick, but I won't say it is painless. It is, however, very thorough, and a means I don't have to do anything again for another month in half, at least. Basically, I am lazy.

Afterwards, I sat down, and read a magazine. Saveur is a magazine that is devoted solely to the recreation of authentic dishes from various portions of the world. It is a magazine all about food, and how to make it the way it is made in its native environment. In this issue, there was everything from the cooking techniques of French chefs in French restaurants to how Argentine gauchos roasted their grass-fed beef on camp fires. It is an amazing blend of authenticity in cooking and of the study of foreign cultures through their food. I really enjoy it.

By then it was time to leave the house again. John and I got on our mountain bikes, and peddled our way towards town. There is a bridge that is torn up still, the surfaces all rock and dirt, so the road leading to it is closed to traffic. On our mountain bikes, however, we were able to go past the closure, and make it, quite easily, across that bridge. I was bounced around the well by my Cannondale frame. The aluminum makes for a very stiff ride, and I could feel just about every rock I went over. We made it to town very quickly, possibly just a 10 or 15 minute ride. As the enters town, it was clear that all the booths were being taken down. There were pickup trucks wandering all the back streets, most of them loaded with booth material or the things that were in the booths.

The Food Bank booth was shutting down when we arrived, but most of the food booths were lagging the tear down of the rest of the fair because people would come by when their booths had been torn down to find something to eat. They did a brisk business of half priced cookies, cakes, and brownies. When they had down to nothing, we helped fold up the tables, load things into their pickup, and then take the tent down. They asked us to meet them at the Food Bank in order to help them unload, so we rode our bikes through the crowded streets, and met them at their front door. They told us their story as we unloaded things one by one, about how they started about 11 years ago, who worked there, when they were there, and what it was they did. It really looks like were only going to be able to help through donation, and the odd special function, but that seems to be something they could use as well.

The right back was all uphill and some of it was into the teeth of the new wind that rose with the black sky. There were thunderheads from the West, rolling in with the wind. I wondered if we would beat them home, but once home, they held off. John hopped on to the John Deere, and started mowing the lawn, only to stop to talk to neighbor to the West for a while. John then knocked on the front door, and when I opened it, he handed me a box of MirAcid, which is an acidic version of MiracleGro that is especially for azaleas and evergreens. A few of the small pine trees were getting brown on one side, and we had thought that it was because of either wind burn or because they were simply too dry. It turns out that all the evergreens need a more acidic soil, and they turn brown when they don't have enough acid. It was really cool of the neighbor to tell us that.

So, I mixed up the plant food in a giant two gallon watering can, and went to all the evergreens and fed them with the stuff. I then started hauling around five gallon buckets of water to water every single tree. I even got a shoulder strap off of another piece of gardening equipment in order to haul the buckets around without destroying my hands. Eventually though, my back got tired and I asked John to finish the watering job. He said sure, so long as I finished off the lawn. So, I hopped onto the John Deere myself, this time without the bagging equipment attached, as the shorter cut would compost quite nicely on the lawn itself. The cut grass would also hold moisture to the earth, and with the oncoming rain that would probably be very useful in keeping the grass alive for just a little bit longer.

The neighbor also told John that in a month there would be little enough rain that most of the grass go dormant again. That there would only be this month of time or the grass would grow like crazy. That was good to know because we could almost see the grass growing as we watched.

When we finished, we went inside, and as I sat to the rest a little while, the phone rang. It was Jonah inviting us to dinner. I was very glad of the invitation, and accepted gladly after asking John if it would be okay; but had to tell Jonah that I had to have the time to shower before we met them. I really enjoyed slipping on the black, velvet skirt for dinner; and the four of us went to an Outback restaurant because most of us wanted steak.

Dinner with Jonah and Tracy was wonderful. They are funny, intelligent, and really interesting to talk with. John had a lot of fun bouncing Monte Python lines off of both of them. It was really cool to be able to go out with cool people on short notice. We went back to their house, and listened to The Trenchcoats and talked for a while, we also got introduced to their ferrets, Miss Mischief and Me Too. The ferrets are really cool, and it was fun to watch them twine about each other and get attention. It was, however, too late for us to start a video, as all of us were pretty tired from the day.

Going to sleep was interesting, because, about an hour after we went to bed, the thunder started. Fezzik has a habit of barking at thunder. It's something we never really trained him out of in Seattle because thunder was so rare. Here, however, there was peal after peal of thunder after bright sparks of lightning, and after each set Fezzik would lend his voice to the concaphony. Both John and I yelled at Fezzik to stop, and after about half a dozen tries he finally did. Perhaps, as much because the thunder stopped as because we were try to get him to be quiet. It didn't make for a restful sleep.

Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.

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