Category Archives: Gatherings

Taking My Show On The Road

The following is an excerpt from an article in our local paper, The Dickinson Press, for September 17, 2019, written by reporter Josiah Cuellar.

“An 18-wheeler loaded with a massive, four-ton potato, on its annual tour of the country, stopped by The Hub at West Dakota Oils which was having their grand reopening Tuesday, Sept. 17.  The Big Idaho Potato crew filled up and welcomed the public to get photos and ask questions to the truck driver, Melissa Bradford, and the “Tater Twins,” Kaylee Wells and Jessica Coulthard.  “No two potatoes look alike, neither do the Tater Twins,” Wells said.  “It’s just a really fun campaign,” Coulthard added. The annual tour began in 2012, and the popularity of it keeps bringing the colossal spud back. “They built the potato truck to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Potato Commission,” Coulthard said,  “It was originally supposed to be one-year tour, but it got so popular they just kept it going.”  While every trip in the giant, potato-shaped truck is unique, this year’s tour is extra special because it features the first all-female group. “We are the first all-female team that they had on tour,” Wells said. “We get to show other women that you can do anything that you put your mind to, that you can succeed in a man’s world; you can do whatever you want.””

Ok. I think this is pretty silly and weirdly wonderful.  No matter what happens in the next few weeks in Washington, I think it is important to remember that this is what makes us a great nation.

What would you like to load up on a big truck and take on tour? Where would you take it?

On the Wall

As I was turning the corner after leaving the library, I saw a man walking his big dog. Only the big dog was walking up on the retaining wall along the sidewalk.  He was walking very steadily on the wall, which was about 2 feet high, negotiating the corner with ease.

I slowed down and called out my car window to the man, asking if his dog likes all retaining walls or just this one. He laughed and said “all walls, but this is his favorite”.  He said to have a good day and I drove off.

Tell me about your favorite circus memory!

Serial Bliss

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve.

There aren’t many things better than discovering a great book, a book so good you hate to turn the last pages because you never want it to end. One thing that is better is discovering that the great book you just finished is one in a series written by the same author. The pleasure you are feeling is repeatable.

One afternoon when I was about ten I discovered a book of stories by Arthur Conan Doyle in the Ames Public Library. The first of them, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” introduced me to the complicated figure of Sherlock Holmes and to the thrill of reading mysteries. When I understood there were more Holmes stories, I couldn’t believe my good fortune.

There is a lot to like about book series. You can start subsequent books in the series knowing you like that author’s style. You often go into subsequent books already knowing some of the characters and the setting. Series offer writers the chance to develop themes in depth and do a better job of telling stories. When I begin a book by a new author I don’t know if I will eventually feel the time I spent with the book will be rewarded. When you are chewing your way through a good series, that isn’t an issue.

I’ve just begun exploring a new series. Following exhortations from my daughter, I just read the first novel in Louise Penny’s beloved Three Pines series. Penny’s crime novels feature charming Canadian locales and the comforting presence of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Louise Penny has a warm and whimsical view of life and people. While her novels are driven by the need to explain a murder, the people who fill her books are human and mostly likable. Penny’s vision is deeply rooted in community. My daughter enjoys Penny’s humor. I was surprised to find so many “Easter eggs” in the form of unexpected observations about life and people. The series currently includes 15 books. Penny adds about a book a year. When my daughter met Louise Penny last year at a Detroit book signing event, she was not surprised to find Penny is modest, witty and gracious . . . just the sort of person who would write such appealing novels.

I’ll have more to say about good book series in the Comments section.

What book series have you enjoyed? What did you like about them?

OH, sIT cLOSE!

At my mother’s residence (and nursing home) several weeks ago, she and I attended a concert in the Main Dining Room, where there is a baby grand piano. A collection of string quartets (and one trio) were performed by students from St. Mary’s University String Festival – a 10-day music camp for middle and high school musicians. 

The campers attended concerts of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, whose dates coincided with the camp dates, and a concert performed by the St. Mary’s faculty – aka the Lark Quartet. The students also gave two concerts, one as community outreach that acted as their dress rehearsal, which is what Mom and I saw.

I wasn’t sure if Mom would last the entire concert, and in order to position us with an “escape path”, we sat to the far left, but ended up quite close to the First Violin. Now that I think of it, I doubt if she had ever sat so close to a performer before. The first few offerings by the young musicians went well enough. Just when I thought she might be falling asleep, she sat up a little straighter and looked at me out of the corner of her eye – she was REALLY enjoying this, and was enthralled with watching whomever was in the first chair position. Not only did she last the entire hour-long concert, she talked to the students as they came around to greet us afterward, and said over and over how she had never seen anything like it before. She was charmed, and so were they.

I remember at the end of my first summer in San Francisco, I got to see the traveling Broadway show Hair, twice in one week. The first time was with tickets acquired in the usual way, and we were in the second balcony so got to see, essentially, an overview. Two days later my roommate and I were offered tickets by her friend who could not attend – these were in the Third Row Center… I will never forget this experience as long as I live.

When have you seen a performance “up close and personal”?

Which do you generally prefer – an overview, or a close-up experience?

Full Moon Dream

I’m driving down the interstate and am drowsy. I jerk awake and it seems as if I am on a different road.  It is still two lanes in my direction (I feel like I’m going south) but there aren’t many street lights.  Seems more like a more rural highway.  I’m not sure how I could have gotten onto this road.  I see flashing lights in the distance and as I come to a stop, I see a grisly accident on my right.  It’s two mangled cars, but up on the hillside along the road, as if the intensity of the crash flipped them up onto the hill.

There are several cops and also mechanics at the stop. One of them uses a catapult-type contraption and shoots a spherical object up into the sky.  I’m not sure what it is.  While I sit in my car, I suddenly here a bang and feel something drop behind my head and catch in my hair.  I look up and there is a small hole in the ceiling of my car, about ¾ of an inch.  I get out of my car and show the hole to the cops and mechanics.

Suddenly I’m in a car repair shop and there are two mechanics telling me that it will take 30 days for them to get to the car and they’ll call me when it’s repaired. I tell them that they should call me when they are ready to work on it because I’m not leaving the car with them for 30 days.  They consult a bit and then say “well, if you can wait, we’ll do it right now.”   Then I’m rolling over and hitting the alarm.

As I’ve mentioned before, I subscribe to the “detritus swirling around in your subconscious” theory of dream interpretation, however for this particular dream, I’ve got nothing.

What do you think my dream means?

Strawberry Fields Forever

In the news today, Strawberry Fields, the spot that sparked John Lennon’s imagination and led to their great song will be opening to the public soon. You will be able to walk the gardens and grounds and there is a visitor center with interactive exhibits that highlight Lennon’s early life.

According to the story, about 60,000 visitors gather at the gates to Strawberry Fields every year.

What spot inspired by song would YOU like to visit?

Staying Connected

Day Three of the Fair — first day for YA and I together. As we were sitting on the bus at the Park n Ride, YA says “I left my phone in the car”.  The bus driver had already announced that as soon as the bus was full, he was taking off even it was a little early.  When I asked YA if she wanted to go retrieve her phone, the driver made another announcement; YA didn’t want to wait for the next bus so said she didn’t need her phone.

I almost laughed out loud. I shoved her off the bus and we sprinted back to the car, grabbed her phone and made it back to the bus before it left, although we had to stand at that point.  I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending 8 hours with a young person who didn’t have their phone, even if it meant waiting for the next bus.  A couple of hours later, while she was taking pictures of bunnies, she thanked me for going back for the phone.

Any essential items you need to take if you’re spending a day out and about?