The newest members of our family

I hope to finish the intriguing tale of our day at the county fair, but it’s been interrupted by some new developments.

This is part of what has been keeping me busy and away from the blog:

(The new kittens.  August 2007.  Photo by Robin)

Getting a photo wasn’t easy.  They are bundles of massive amounts of energy.

I’m not sure about names just yet, but the thinking right now is the one on the bottom will be Izzy and the one on the top will be Belle or Bella.

I promise not to make this the next cat blog.  I just wanted to let everyone know what’s keeping me busy as well as introduce you to the newest characters in this comedy of life.

Swine and other animals

Before we go back to the county fair, I’m going to move ahead in time a bit.

The county fair ended on Sunday. The animals that were auctioned/sold were to be picked up at 9:00pm last night. All of the other animals, there for show/competition only, went back to their homes.

The reason I mention this at all is that I think someone nearby bought a cow or two at the fair. All throughout the night last night a cow mooed in the most plaintive, mournful way I’ve ever heard a cow moo. It sounded lost in the night. It also kept me awake throughout the night. I do hope it sleeps better tonight. Or if it doesn’t sleep, it’s quiet about it.  Poor cow.

Back to the fair…

From cows we moved on to pigs. I have to say that I was surprised that the smell of the animals (swine or otherwise) wasn’t all that bad considering the heat of the day. They had plenty of fans set up in the enclosed animal areas. I’m sure the breeze helped too.

(This little piggy. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

(More piggies. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

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The County Fair

Back in the days of long ago,
When Indian gents marched to and fro;
Back in the happy, dear old days,
When the sun through forests cast its rays;
When Hiawatha was not a dream,
And we hadn’t the smell of gasoline;
Back to the time when maidens were real,
And not artificial from head to heel;
Back when roads of autos were bare,
They started the good old Randolph Fair;
God bless them all, they knew no fears,
Those sturdy old Randolph pioneers.
‘Twas back in eighteen fifty-eight,
They tackled the job, and it’s here to date.
Others have fallen, ‘gainst faction or weather,
But the Randolph fair lives on forever.
It’s a grand old fair, whith ne’er a peer,
And all the people are glad to be here.

(Poem written in 1958 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Portage County Randolph Fair)

We had a wonderful visit (as usual) with Emma & Co. this weekend. One of the highlights of the weekend was a day at the county fair which was taking place this week. Yesterday morning, after a hearty pancake breakfast cooked by the talented M, we climbed into the car and set off for the fair. The day was sunny, very hot, and very humid. The one weather blessing was that it was also windy. The heat and humidity don’t seem so bad when there’s a good breeze blowing.

(Fair entrance. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

The Portage County Randolph Fair is a big deal in these parts. People come from all over to spend a day or two at the fair. I’m not sure what the big draw is, whether it’s the animal competitions and auctions, the tractor pulls, the demolition derbies, or the food and rides. Perhaps it’s a combination of them all. It’s also a social event where friends meet up and spend the day together eating some of the unhealthiest food in the world, sweating it out in the August heat, and generally having a good time.

(Food vendors at the fair in the early morning before the crowds arrived. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

Where else but at a county fair can you buy steak on a stick? Or deep-fried swiss cheese?

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(Farmland under water. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve had some flooding here in the Bogs. Our home is on a hill so flooding isn’t something we have to worry about unless the apocalypse comes or something of that magnitude occurs.

But towns and cities nearby, and throughout the midwest, were drastically affected by the 6+ inches of rain we received courtesy of tropical storm Erin.

The creek pictured above is usually only a few feet wide during the best of times. To the left of the photograph, in the water, is the electric fence that keeps the cows (not seen) on the property. I hope the farmer turned off the electricity to that thing or that creek water could be quite shocking.

The creek at the back of our property is running high and wide. The Greedy Neighbors who live behind us are now the proud of owners of about 21 acres of land that is covered by water. The mosquito population is thriving. I don’t think Greedy Neighbors will be spending much time on their deck while the weather is still warm.

Since the rain stopped, the weather has been hot and STEAMY. Two seconds outside is enough to drench one in sweat and humidity. It’s amazing how much like a sauna it is. My glasses steam up the second I hit the outside air.

We’re supposed to get some more storms this weekend which will move in, wet us down again, and take the heat and humidity with them as they move east. The cool down and drier air will be much appreciated.

Even with the heat and humidity and the other clear signs that this is still August and still summer, there are little things happening that are hinting at autumn and cooler days. Birds are starting to flock together in huge groups, sitting high up in the trees chattering (perhaps about where they’re headed for the winter). Leaves are starting to take on some of their fall colors. The goldenrod is blooming while the other wildflowers are dying off.

Emma & Co. are coming for a visit this weekend. I’m very much looking forward to that.  We’re planning to take her to the county fair (which is a big damn deal in these parts).  I think she’ll enjoy looking at all the farm animals.

I’ve been scrambling around trying to get the house into some kind of order for their visit. I’ve spent so much time on veggies lately, letting the unpacking and cleaning wait. Their visit is a good excuse to get some of this other work done. I’ll get back to the veggies next week (and have a relatively clean house while I’m at it).

It doesn’t rain every single day…

The sun made an appearance today. My only proof is a sunset photo:

(This evening’s sunset. Photo by Robin)

It was foggy until sometime after noon. Then the sun burned off the clouds and fog, and the real steaminess of summer returned. The local weather around 2:00pm stated the temperature as 84 degrees with a heat index (“feels like”) of 92.

It felt like a sauna to me. Nonetheless, I went outside for a little while to soak up some rays and let my body manufacture some vitamin D. We haven’t seen the sun since Saturday.

Given the high number of cloudy days here in the Bogs, I wonder what the depression and suicide rates might be. Probably not as high as one would think. People seem to get used to it, even if they are cranky about it.

M and I went to a new restaurant today. New to us. It used to be Rudy’s, a German restaurant with a beer garden. The food was heavy (typically German), but excellent. The main attraction was the beer garden when the weather was nice. It closed about a year or so ago and that left us no place nearby for a beer or dinner where we could sit outside. Sitting outside used to be fairly important. Now that Ohio has gone smoke-free (yay!) it’s not quite as important. In fact, sometimes it’s better to sit inside, in the air conditioning, because the smokers are all sitting outside.

Rudy’s is now Rico’s Restaurant & Lounge, an Italian restaurant. They’ve cleaned the place up a bit, but the patio is basically the same. The beer selection is not great. Some of it looks leftover from Rudy’s (Warsteiner, for instance, is still on draft but you find that just about everywhere in this area). M and I both had the Warsteiner which is usually a decent beer, but it had a strongly bitter aftertaste. I suspect it’s soap on the beer glasses as we split a Bass Ale for our second round and it had the same bitter aftertaste.

The food selection was okay. Typical of Italian restaurants circa 1960 or so. You see a lot of that around here. My theory is that the people in this area prefer that sort of food as any restaurant which serves food circa 1960-1980 seems to do well. All the appetizers were deep fried, and ranged from chicken wings to the weirdly fusion (in the sense that this is an Italian restaurant) choices of jalapeno poppers and mini-tacos.

M ordered the eggplant parmesan. I ordered the Italian sausage with peppers. Both dishes were baked and served over rigatoni with provolone cheese on top. Both dishes were good. Not excellent. Not outstanding. But good. The tomato sauce was a little on the salty side. It could have used some herbs and seasonings other than salt. The peppers on the Italian sausage dish were sweet, pickled peppers. It seemed an unusual choice to me, but a good one as it did liven up the dish. The sausage was typical of what I could buy at the local grocery store. I was disappointed with that because there are a couple of Italian restaurants around here that make their own sausage and it’s much better than the store bought stuff.

The salad was poor. Very poor. Iceburg lettuce with a few measly shreds of carrots and purple cabbage. That’s just sad this time of year when the local produce is coming in hot, heavy, and cheap. The restaurant is practically right next door to several local farms. When we talked with the son of the owner (who came by our table), instead of taking our suggestion that they include some of the cheap local produce in their salads (at least), he told us we should have upgraded to the antipasto salad which includes tomatoes. It also includes meat and cheese, something we didn’t need since the entrees included one or both.

The main reason for going was to check it out for the weekly get-together with friends/co-workers. We usually end up in Kent for the social hour, but it’s a bit of a drive to get there. Rico’s is much closer to home and work. It’ll do for a bit of happy hour and chatting. The beer selection isn’t nearly as good as at Ray’s in Kent, but it’ll be okay for a quick get-together when the weather is nice enough to sit outside.

Cloudy with rainy spells

There’s a slight change in the weather today. It’s cloudy, gloomy, and gray, but the rain has let up somewhat. We’ve had a few spells of misty to light rainfall throughout the morning and afternoon.

(The pond at sunrise. I’m sure the sun must have been above the clouds somewhere. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

According to one of our local weather people, we’ve had about 6 inches of rain over the past three days. The pond is now up beyond normal levels and draining into the creek.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t snow, eh?

Today’s challenge has been to get caught up on laundry, cleaning, and unpacking. I put the veggies aside for now because I need to get the house ready for Emma & Co. to visit this weekend. It might still be something of a mess when they get here Friday night, but I’m hoping it won’t be quite as chaotic.

Another rainy day

(Rainy Monday. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

Looks almost the same as yesterday, doesn’t it?

I’m not here to complain about the rain. After all, it was only two weeks ago that we moved home to find ourselves in a drought situation. It wouldn’t be right to complain about something I was doing a dance for not long ago.

That said, I’m wondering if I should be spending my computer time looking up plans for an ark. The rain continues to come down in sheets, buckets, torrents, deluges, and whatever other words you can come up with for heavy, heavy rain.

The good thing about it being another rainy day is that it’s given me a chance to process and can more tomatoes. I’ve come to the conclusion that a 1/2 bushel of roma tomatoes will result in about 8 quarts of canned tomatoes. That’s not enough to get us through the winter. We eat a lot of tomatoes around here (in sauces, chili, stews, soups, with pasta, etc.). I’m going to need more tomatoes. And more jars.

Here’s the after photo of my first three quarts of tomatoes:

(Photo by Robin. August 2007)

Aren’t they pretty? 🙂

Since I took some photos for some other inquiring minds that wanted to know, here’s the basement kitchen where I’m doing the canning:

(Close-up with flash. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

(Wider angle without flash. Photo by Robin. August 2007)

Pardon the mess. It’s a working kitchen.