Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 109-115; August 29-September 4

Adventures in Minnesota

By Al

On August 29, I went to the Minnesota State Fair.  It was fun and interesting as usual.  I had my usual foot long hot dog, Kiwanis Malt, and three glasses of milk.  I saw all sorts of strange and interesting things for sale.  I love the State Fair.

This evening we had a family dinner.  We should have more, but I guess it is our fault for moving to New York City. 

On August 30, I had a doctor's appointment to have my knee checked out.  Of course, it started with x-rays.  I did fracture my knee cap.  The doctor said that if I had come in when it first happened, he would have done surgery and put in a pin to hold the two pieces together.  However, as he looks at it now he thinks that would have been unnecessary.  It looks good for recovery, as long as I stop using my left leg to go up and down stairs for three weeks.  So, I now have to just us my right leg on stairs.  Also, no more bending to do taiko.  I can practice rhythms, but I cannot take the stance that we usually use to play Japanese drums. 

If I do this for three weeks, he thinks my knee cap will mend. 

Amy and I also sold her car.  It was close to dying and we got an acceptable offer from a recycler.  So, one more thing she doesn't have to worry about.  We celebrated with lunch at the Hmong Marketplace.  If you haven't been there, it s a fascinating place.  It is at Como and Marion in St. Paul. 

That evening we went out to dinner with Drew's parents.  Drew is our daughter Amy's boyfriend.  We enjoyed the dinner very much.  They are nice people.  We also enjoyed the "Strip Club".  This is the restaurant were we had dinner.  And, it is a reference to steaks, not strippers.

On August 31, I went to an interfaith discussion at the Easter Buddhist League meeting.  My taiko group is closely associated with Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, also known as Shin Buddhism.  They have an annual convention for the congregations in the eastern part of the United States.  This year it was held in Minnesota.  Friday night they had this discussion.  It was very interesting.  Todd Tsuchiya from our taiko group lead the discussion.  He did a very good job of asking the right questions. 

On September1, I went back to the State Fair with Amy and Drew.  The highlight was seeing Amy's bench.  For a certain level of contribution to the State Fair Foundation, one can name a bench to be put out at the State Fair.  We did that and put our daughter's name on the bench.  It was fun to see it at the Fair.

Later in the afternoon, I returned to the Eastern Buddhist League convention.  Our taiko group was leading a taiko performance on Sunday.  We invited other people at the convention to learn the song with us on Saturday so that they could perform with us on Sunday.  About 30 people took us up on the offer.  Todd again was our leader and did a good job of helping people learn the song. 

On September 2, I returned to EBL and we did the taiko performance.  It went very well.  That evening we had dinner with some friends, Ken and Jane.  It was fun to see them.

On September 3, I went back to the State Fair for one more quick look.  Sally wanted me to take pictures of the crop art.  Here they are.

I also went to see the butter sculptures.  Each year the Midwest Dairy Association selects a Princess Kay of the Milky Way from 12 regional winner.  The winner is selected at the State Fair.  Each regional winner and the state winner have their bust sculpted in a block of butter.  They are on display at the State Fair in, you guessed it, the Dairy Building.

That evening we had dinner with two other friends, Gregg and Suzie. Fun.

September 4, we returned from Minnesota.  The flight was uneventful.  It was good to be home.  I think it is interesting that I now think of this apartment as home.  In Minnesota, we are visiting.  I assume that will change when we move back to Minnesota.  That night I listened to the Democratic covention.   Anyway, I wanted to listen to Julian Castro and Michelle Obama.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep shortly into Castro's speech.  It was not a reflection on his speech but on how tired I was from the travel.

Sally's Days in MN

In New York, we have the beauty of Matisse and VanGogh, and the music of the Philharmonic.  In Minnesota, it's the beauty of produce and the music of the auctioneer's voice  . 

 I enjoy Amish auctions- my favorite is the Cedar Valley Produce Auction in Elma, Iowa, about 30 miles south of the MN-IA border.  Auctions are very popular in the Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities to sell produce, plants, hay, animals, household items- pretty much anything.   I typically go to this auction twice a year.


Cases of peppers.  They sold for $10 a case.
This is a tractor with steel wheels or  lugs, which was used to pull a hay rack of produce to the auction.  Some Amish and Old Order Mennonite folks use tractors with lugs. Each community makes its own rules about aspects of daily living- perhaps you have heard of that some communities use reflectors on the back of their buggies. Others do not.  Some years ago, a case from Southeast Minnesota went to the MN Supreme Court about the refusal of a community to use reflectors on the back of their buggies.  The Court ruled in favor of the Amish community.
In 2010, an Old Order Mennonite man from this conference (the Groffdale Conference) was charged with illegally driving a tractor of this type on county roads.  Mitchell County had adopted an ordinance prohibiting their use to protect the roads. The case was appealed to the Iowa Supeme Court, which ruled in February, that the ordinanace was illegal.  The community based its prohibition on a verse in Romans.  The prohibition was to assure that tractors are used only for work and not in place of a horse and buggy.  

Fifteen hundred watermelon.  Another trailer had 1000 cantalope.  Buyer 826 purchased these plus lots of other produce. I assume that he worked for a grocery chain. 

Here's kohlrabi, a vegetable you don't see a lot of.
 For those of us who don't need  20 cases of tomatoes, a farmer across the road has a stand with sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, cantalope, and zuchhini.

He leaves a coffee can in the stand where you deposit your money for what you buy. 

Farmers no longer build barns (at least in northern Iowa and southern MN).  Instead, they build buildings like this for their $100,000 combines and tractors, and long sheds for their animals.  One farmer is working on a 100 feet by 400 feet shed for his cattle.

In southern MN, the tallest things are the wind mills and silos.  This is the tallest silo I have seen- 120 feet tall.  Amazing!

My brother and I inherited our parents' farm. Our cousin farms the land.  With all of the news about the drought and poor crops I wanted to see the condition of the crops on our land.  Here is an ear of corn on the south 80 acres.   We will have a good crop, although some years have been better.  Our soil has some clay in it, which holds the water better than the sandy soil south of us.  I learned that in his first years of farming, my dad picked corn by hand.

Here are the soybeans on the north 80 acres.  They should produce 35-40 bushels an acre.  When I stopped there, I remembered that I know every inch of this land- when I was growing up, I  chopped thistles out of the crops and picked rocks from the ground every year. 
A wonderful day.

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