Category Archives: Gatherings

Rock Bend 2021

Today’s post comes to us from tim.

this years rock bend was a solo trip for me

it had been mentioned earlier that maybe a group effort would be fun and i responded with a yes but as groups sometimes do it got lost in the shuffle

i am not as good as i could be at putting x on my calendar when i’m doing something so without a reference i signed up to do my delivery ditty on saturday night. i get dibs early because those spots tend to disappear quickly and friday and saturday nights are prime time so i had committed for 5-7 & 7-9 on saturday which would mean leaving rock bend about 4.

i looked up when it started and who was playing and discovered that the family who does a nice foot stomping version of old timey and appalachian banjo kind of stuff started things off at 12 and city mouse which is mike pengra’s band was at 1 with special guest pat donahue and then pat was to play on the little stage where krista used to work at 3.

the first group was good city mouse was great and pat donahue was a treat as an addition and pats solo performance on the songwriters symposium on the little stage was fantastic

i really like him and his songwriting talent is something i really admire

i went in packed light. i had a thermos of tea and a tea cup that’s it. i walked in 15-20 minutes early and looked to see if vs or linda might be there and not seeing them plunked down in a similar front row position to what we usually achieved. this was easy with one butt and a thermos as the required space criteria. after i got steeled in i noticed i recognized that many of the surrounding faces were familiar from years gone by.unfortunately the way these memories were tweaked was by the fact that after i was seated a bunch of folks showed up and set their folding chairs up in front of the front with no regard for the views they were blocking out who had gotten their prime spot by showing up on time and choosing unobstructed site lines.

i have a problem with the people who are so self important that they just do it and never think about what a crappy thing that is to do to someone else. bad enough on the freeway to line butters who go up to the front and cut in line in front of all us minnesota nice wimps who let them in but at a concert to block someone view is unforgivable . this was followed by an observation that maybe had been going on previously but i hadn’t noticed because of being there with a group but all around me people were in conversation while the music was playing. if the music got loud they had to raise their voices to be heard over the music. this combined with folks who stood and chatted with someone who they knew in front of a group they blocked the view of.

i felt like an old curmudgeon who was spoiling my own fun but it really bothered me

at the final ditty where pat donahue was on stage with two other songwriters i had front row seats and had talkers laughing and exclaiming and paying no attention on either side of me.  there was empty turf between me and the stage and so me and my thermos went and laid down in the grass and a couple little kids cam and the their moms and sat down closely with me ans i thoroughly enjoyed the show glad i letting the talkers back there as they continued to expound

sunday i have scheduled a football bar b que get together at my house carte blanche this year an hour before kick off so my mom at age 92 has somewhere to celebrate her football enthusiasm, she had to leave at halftime to go to another meeting called by someone who is not football sensitive. it was a good gathering and i thought about heading over to bbc afterwards but as sometimes happens these things drag on and it was 430by the time things wrapped up

too late for bbc

too late to go catch the end of rock bend

i’ll probably put an x on next year and tri it again now that i know it’s the weekend after labor day but i may be

setting myself up for misery

it was easier with friends and wine but isn’t everything

what kind of calendar are you using these days to keep yourself on track?

Rome, Prague, or Sioux Falls

We are planning a Christmas holiday in Brookings, South Dakota this year. Son and Daughter in Law will host in their new home. We will drive from western North Dakota, and daughter will fly to Sioux Falls from Tacoma.

Daughter texted me in exasperation last week to inform me that she could fly much cheaper to Prague or Rome than she can to Sioux Falls. That is the sad state of airfare costs in the Dakotas. where flights cost an arm and a leg if you fly out of the secondary hubs of Sioux Falls, Bismarck, Fargo, or Rapid City.

Well, I would rather be in Prague, too, but family is in Brookings, and that is where we will be. We will help daughter with her airfare so she won’t be out so much money. This made me think of what Christmas in Rome or Prague would be like, and something for us to think about in the next couple of years.

Where was the farthest from home you ever spent the holidays ? Ever been to Prague or Rome? If you planned a trip over the holidays, where would you go? Got any good stories about Sioux Falls?

Eating Our Way Through the Fair

My stomach is just now starting to feel “normal” after four days at the Fair.  I don’t go to the fair just to eat but I will say that a lot of eating gets done anyway.

YA and I always purchase two of the fair coupon books and we go through them carefully.  This year YA put post-it stickers on the things she didn’t want to miss.  And we both spent time on the fair website on the “New Fair Foods” page.  YA takes this much more seriously than I do; on the last day we went together we had a map with all the places she wanted to make sure we got to marked in red!

Here are some of the things we consumed:

  • Hawaiian Shave Ice (they took the competitor’s coupon!)
  • French Toast Bites (with pop rocks – better than you’re thinking)
  • Cheese & Potato Pierogies with horseradish sauce (for breakfast)
  • Waffle with Ice Cream Sandwich center, kettle corn, whipped cream & sprinkles
  • Siracha Cheese Funnel Cake Bites
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookies (of course)
  • Roasted Corn
  • Mac & Cheese Bites (better the first day I had them)
  • Cheese Curds (of course)
  • Tipsy Pies (yummy by not very boozy)
  • Sota Sandwich (almond butter & blueberry jam on toasted sourdough)
  • Pretzel with Cheese Sauce
  • Chocolate Malt
  • Potato Cheese Crepe (this is YA’s hands’ down favorite every year)
  • Mocktails (our favorite new food this year – over 4 days we tried 4 of them)
  • Paneer Pakora (OK but could have been so much better)
  • Cream Cheese Wontons (also could have been better)
  • Mac & Cheese (absolutely could have been better)

I know this seems excessive, but remember it was over four days.  And two of us.  But while I love the fair, I don’t think my digestive system could handle too many more visits!

Any guilty favorites when you’re out and about?


One Trick Pony

Both YA and I love to spend time at the Pet Pavilion and Dog Meet/Greet booths at the Fair.  The other place we always hit is the Stunt Dog Show that features dog dock diving as well as some trick dog demonstrations.  It’s amazing to me what they have taught these dogs to do.

I’ve had dogs my entire life but for most of that time, I didn’t think much about tricks.  All my dogs went to basic obedience but the basics for me have always been sit, down, come and off.  Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience.  YA’s dog, Guinevere (who has issues) has been to a LOT of obedience, mostly just to have her around other dogs and people.  Because of this we’ve managed to teach her some tricks (roll over, double dance, shake, high five, bark) along with the basics.

Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience with any of our dogs so “tricks” is outside of my experience, although one of my dogs as a kid was really smart.  Princess (named by me when I was 5) was a shepherd collie mix who came to us as a small puppy.  My mom and sisters and I started to call her Princess the Wonder Dog after she was gone because my father’s stories about her just got wilder and more inventive.  He used to tell folks that she was so intelligent that when he told her to go get his slippers, she would run upstairs and come down with them.  Of course the only problem with that story was that my dad never wore slippers in his life!

Princess did actually know one trick.  If you had her sit and stay, you could put a treat on her nose; she would sit patiently until you said “OK” and then she would deftly toss the treat up a bit and then catch it.  We didn’t ask her to do this much, but she could do it – no exaggeration from my dad needed.  So when the elementary school that my middle sister and I were attending had a family fair with a pet contest, Sally (said sister) really wanted to enter Princess and have her do her one trick.

Sally, who was in the 3rd grade, practiced with Princess for several days before the fair.  She packed up bologna, a really high value treat; she was convinced that Princess would win hands down.  When the time came for Princess to strut her stuff, there were a lot of people, a lot of other dogs and she was nervous.  Sally dutifully had her sit, stay and then put the bologna on her nose.  Sally stepped back and it didn’t take long for Princess to jump back, drop the bologna on the ground and then promptly scoop it up and chow it down.  Sally was absolutely mortified.  I can still hear her say in her trembling angry voice “bad dog, bad dog”.  Princess hung her head in shame.  Sally never volunteered her to do that trick every again.

Have you ever had a pet with a good trick?

Fair Joy

I know we talked about joy the other day, but… I want to talk about it again.

At the State Fair yesterday, a woman with two kids sat down next to me on the curb, waiting for the parade to begin.  The son was about 8 or so, the daughter was maybe 3.  She was adorable with bright blonde hair that curled around her face and the back of her neck.  She also had quite a dirty face – a combination of what looked like chocolate and something berry-ish. The berry stain had found a home on the front of her shirt as well.

The most interesting thing about this little girl was the fact that she was completely suffused with joy.  Everything about the parade was fascinating to her.  She couldn’t sit down, swaying and dancing as each band went by.  She ooh’ed and aaah’ed over the stilt walkers, the art cars, the waving princesses and especially the big bovines.  As each attraction reached us, she would turn to her mother, her face alight with pleasure, pointing out this newest discovery.

No matter how you measure it, nobody enjoyed the fair more yesterday than this toddler. 

When was the last time you got dirty (and enjoyed the process)?


Last week, someone at work referred to me as a “glass half-empty” kind of person.  I was a little surprised, as I don’t think of myself as a gloomy Gus.  I do work hard to keep my expectations low sometimes – especially for events or big occasions.  That way, if something tanks, I’m not terribly disappointed.  But if it goes well, then I am very happy – probably happier than if I had high expectations.  So maybe I am “glass half-empty”.

Next week is the opening of the State Fair.  I don’t need to bore you all (again) with my love of the State Fair but I am telling you, it is HARD to keep my expectations in line.  YA and I did the mini (pretend) fair experience over Memorial Day and it was a good idea to not go into it with a lot of excitement. But even with that very blah experience under our belts, we’ve spent a lot of time in the last week figuring out which days, how many tickets, what new foods, when will the golden retrievers be there, where parking is this year.  We bought our tickets and have even combed through the coupon booklets already.  I have taken opening day off of work as well as a few other days.  YA has also requested a couple of days off.

Considering the current state of affairs, it seems dangerous to get my hopes up.  The Fair could just be a disaster this year.

But with all this activity and still a few days before opening, how do I keep my expectations low?  Are you a half-full or half-empty type?

Rhonda’s Fry Bread

Our friends at the Twin Buttes Powwow last weekend were very excited to serve us fresh fry bread made by a relative named Rhonda. She seems to be well known as one of the best fry bread makers around the MHA Nation on the Fort Berthold Reservation.

Fry bread, for those who don’t know, is a dough made with flour and lard or fat and then fried in oil. It was developed by Native Americans as a substitute for their traditional foods after they were relocated to areas that wouldn’t support the growing of their traditional crops of corn and beans. It is a bread of poverty and hunger, and was first made from US Government commodities doled out to the tribes. Despite its painful history, it is a favorite of many Native Americans, and considered a real treat. I have eaten my fill of fry bread over the years, and Rhonda’s was excellent, light and puffy and chewy, with a hint of sweetness and not too oily.

For years, Rhonda has jealously guarded her recipe and refused to let anyone know her fry bread secret. Last month at a Sundance at Pine Ridge she was there with other family members preparing food for the Sundance participants, got a migraine and, for some reason, started sharing her recipe with all sorts of people, except not with family and tribal members who have always wanted it! My, were they miffed!

What food is essential to your family gatherings? What food do you have trouble understanding why people bother to eat? Have you or someone you knew tried to keep a recipe a secret?


Unlike my mother, whose best friend is someone she has known since kindergarten, I don’t have any friends from childhood.  We moved many times before I was in high school, never in one place long enough to make any relationships last.  I had friends in high school but going away to college in Minnesota and basically never coming back stretched and broke those ties.  

I left college after two years and started my life (as I used to say) in Northfield, so I could be near my boyfriend.  My second job in Northfield was at the brand new Ole Piper Inn and that’s where I met Dee (names changed to protect the innocent).  Although the job only lasted about 10 months before the Inn closed down, it was long enough to cement our friendship.  When Dee moved to the Ole Store, I went with her: she was the manager and short-order cook, I was the baker and occasional waitress. 

Dee is originally from the southern part of the country and hates the cold weather.  Most mornings I would pick her up on the way to the store (I had a car by then) and even with a short ride, she would come out of her house bundled up as if she was expecting to trek across Antarctica.  She always said she was waiting for her youngest two kids (she has five) to graduate so she could flee the frozen tundra.  Of course she is still here 45 years later.

We had a great time at the Ole Store.  The Ole Store was part of a grocery store/butcher shop and sometimes we’d come in to find various chunks of meat in the restaurant fridge that needed to be used up.  Once the owner left moose meat.  We were joking around, trying to figure out what to do with it and I said (without thinking), “what about spaghetti and moose balls?”  Dee laughed so hard that her side hurt and she had to sit down.  Do this day, I can reduce her to a puddle just by saying “moose balls”.

When I married my wasband and moved to Milwaukee, Dee used to be startled into silence whenever he answered the phone, since he had never picked up the phone in my Northfield apartment.  Once he answered the phone, said nothing for a minute and then handed me the phone…. “It’s Dee.”   It was indeed, although she hadn’t identified herself.  He told me later than whenever there was silence, he knew it was her.  When we were first friends, she referred to wasband as the Greg-Person.  Later she shortened that to GP.

For many years Dee and her youngest son worked at the Renaissance Festival every fall and it was always fun to see them.  She did a wonderful costume for Child with lots of petticoats and ribbons.  And or course, she knew everybody so we always got good food at a great discount.  I made the wedding cake for this son when he got married.

Her family has a timeshare in Florida that they visit every summer and Dee’s favorite way to travel is to fill up the van with kids and grandkids and drive straight through.  When YA was younger, she was included a couple of times. 

Dee reminds me a lot of my mother.  She is extraordinarily caring and she “collects” people.  Once you fall into her orbit, her gravity holds you there.  For example, one of her daughters was married for a few years and had a step-daughter.  When the daughter split up with the husband, the step-daughter came to live with Dee.  Now that step-daughter has kids of her own and they all happily refer to Dee as Grandma.  Dee’s life is filled with stories like this.  I am one of her collect-tees and she has always been there for me.

She’s going through a very rough time right now with a diagnosis that will most likely shorten her life so I’ve been thinking about our long friendship and how much I treasure her.

Who is the friend you’ve had the longest?

Buy Me Some Peanuts & Cracker Jacks

You all know I am not a big sports fan.  In fact, I think I’ve probably only been to 10 baseball games in my life.  Maybe 15.  I do enjoy the games when I’m there, but like Monday night, I come away with more questions than answers.

    • Why so many huddles? Visiting team did this six times.  Six!
    • Why don’t the outfielders get to huddle?  Don’t they feel left out?
    • Why is Hansel Robles called Caballo Blanco?
    • How many times can you actually hit a foul before you’re out? Seems like way more for some than others.
    • What’s with all the fidgeting on the pitcher’s mound and on the plate?
    • Why don’t relief pitchers get much of a chance? Four relief pitchers for home team, each only pitched 1 inning each.  Visiting team sent in one relief – but at least he didn’t mess around on the pitcher’s mound and just threw the ball!
    • Why do much spitting?
    • Why do they need to replace the bases halfway through the game?
    • If the game is tied at the bottom of the 9th and the bases are full when you come to bat, why do you keep swinging? Why not just hunker down and let the pitcher walk you?  Especially if you’re not all that tall?
    • Why do people go wild when they see themselves on the big screen?
    • Why, after paying so much to get in and then paying a boatload more for food, drink and merchandise galore, do so many people depart before the game is over?

Obviously none of these are burning, social-issue kinds of questions (well, maybe the spitting), but clearly not everything makes sense to me.  However, questions aside YA and I had a great time even when it went into overtime.

What is the meaning of life?



The following link will take you to a fascinating photography event that happened just 90 miles east of us, in Bismarck. It involves a collaboration of many people to recreate, with some twists, a painting by Peter Breughel the Elder, and is influenced by the pandemic. A friend of ours, a costumer and retired drama coach and choir director, sewed a costume for the collaboration, and participated in the event. It involved using wet plate photography, something I don’t quite understand, but seems to be an old technique.

What painting would you like to recreate in real life? What would you like to set out to photograph? What are your favorite paintings?