So we spent time in traffic. Lots of it. We also go to drive through a stretch of construction the likes of which I've never seen. Thanks to this little bit of joy, I discovered that Twan's '95 Mustang was not meant to hold anybody larger than a midget in the back seat with anything resembling comfort. I banged my head, I got leg cramps (I'm 6'1" and that was a hell of a lot of folding I had to do to fit back there) and the lack of space made me feel the effects of Twan's stop-go-jerk-brake-accelerate driving habits ten times worse. I arrived at Jen's house with a headache and mild nausea. Thankfully a flat Pepsi helped make the stomach problems go away, and the fact that the day was cool and dry helped my head clear fairly quickly.
We'd arrived about 30 minutes after Aureth, who was also stuck in traffic and bitchy about the amount of vehicles on the road that day. Ah, kindred spirit!
It wasn't very long after we'd arrived that Jen got frustrated with us all standing around in the kitchen, and banished us to go sit in the living room and chat while she finished cooking. Lemon chicken, salad, lasagna and garlic bread were the main parts of this meal, and I have to say it was really, really good. I haven't had lasagna in ages, and Aureth had the extra-cool idea to bring some sweet corn from his parents' farm, so I also got to have an ear or two of that. Sweet corn is something I've really been missing since I moved here from Minnesota, I've been without it for about five years. I am a damned heathen for not going out and at least buying some from Jewel Osco during the summer!
After finishing the meal, Jen tried to shoo us out of the house down to the state fair (she lives only a few blocks from one of the main entrances to the fairgrounds) so that she could do the dishes and tidy things up. We'd hear nothing of it, told her to let the dishes wait, and coaxed her to escort us through the fair (Aureth and I also had ulterior motives for going down to the fairgrounds -- for one, we wanted BEER). It was really refreshing to be able to walk outside, breath fresh air and not be sweating buckets. Once inside Aureth and I procured MGD, since it was the first type of beer we found anybody selling. Foolish, impetuous youths! If only we'd held out and walked another 15 yards down the avenue we could have had something from the good folks at Leinenkugels. Ah well! I was raised on MGD swill, so I was content to walk around and sip from it and admire the scenery. Which there was plenty of! Wisconsin's state fair is just as big as Minnesota's, and I have to say it's better organized! The exhibit halls were neat, air conditioned and had a wide variety of things bizarre, useless and intriguing. The livestock barns were also pretty well laid out and maintained. While walking we had the chance to see some of the most exquisite Percherons I've ever had the chance to lay eyes upon. I'd forgotten how majestic and large these draft horses really are. Being in the stable really made me miss home, and my own horses there. Ah well, that is the price I pay to be a computer geek in a big city, I guess.
The one thing that Aureth and I did miss, though, was a "machinery hill." Most state fairs in farming-oriented states have a small section of the fairgrounds set aside to display the latest and greatest farm technology from various big name vendors such as Agco, who makes farm implements and equipment under such brands as Massey Ferguson, as well as other big names such as John Deere. These displays typically have everything from swatters and plows to the biggest combines and tractors that the company makes. Surprisingly, Wisconsin doesn't really have anything like that ... just a few small tractors (obviously brand-new) parked here and there around the livestock displays to catch the eyes (and presumably the interest) of farm folk such as myself and Aureth.
The one thing that really sticks in my mind about walking through the crowds, though, was something that I saw when we'd stopped at the Bell Ambulance station near the grounds entrance. As we were perusing a 1938 Bell ambulance that was on display there, both Aureth and Jen pointed out a gentleman to me who had just walked in from the crowd. I couldn't see why, at first, they felt I should look at this fellow, until I noticed something on his shoulder. Small, green and fluffy, it was shaped like a bird. I thought for a moment it was stuffed bird he'd won from one of the many "games of skill" booths that line the avenues -- until it turned its head and blinked at me, then yawned and resettled itself upon his shoulder! I couldn't get over it and had to ask the man what sort of bird it was, since I couldn't remember what species it was. Turns out the guy had a small (and amazingly calm, given the colossal hubbub around us!) Peach-Faced Lovebird with him. I was pretty surprised, to say the least. I thought it was extraordinarily cool that this guy could bring his pet with him, and that it was handling the environment so well, but to be honest it is not a risk I would have taken with any of my birds. I cared about them all too much to put them in an environment that could be that dangerous. I certainly hope that he was able to get through the night without anything bad happening -- it certainly did liven up my night to see that!
We left the fair around ten o'clock, which means we spent something like two hours wandering around in there. Not terribly long, but since I'm not a big fan of crowds and noise that really worked out fine for me. Returning to Jen's we spent some time talking and reading various magazines that were there before crashing for the night. Most everyone was asleep when Jen handed me a wrapped package, which turned out to be part one of several she'd conspired to acquire for me. I won't tell you what it was, though, since it'd take away all the fun Jen can have teasing me about it. ;)
The next morning I was awoken by one of Jen's cats biting quite hard upon my toes. I guess they looked rather tasty beneath the sheets. There's nothing that wakes me up quite as fast as having a cat that is pointy on all five ends tearing into the weak, defenseless pieces of meat that are my toes. After I managed to drag myself out of the bed, Jen took a few minutes on the computer to show me some of the other gifts she'd gotten for me. I can't believe it, but she went to several different artists and commissioned pictures of us together, usually in some sort of snuggly pose. Remarkably cool, and really something I never expected... I'm alternating right now between going "Wow, that's so cool!" and "Awww, I don't deserve this, you must have burned favors left and right to have these done." Regardless, the scans I've seen so far have been really, really well done and very touching. Jen's a sweetie, and far too good for the likes of me. I'm really anxious, in a way, to see these pictures in person. Scans rarely do justice to the pictures my artist friends (like Micah, Koz and Jen) do.
After we roused the rest of the household we trooped down to a local restaurant, had a quick brunch, then came back to Jen's place. We shot the breeze for a while, sitting around outside her porch before declaring it a day and heading for home (We of course hit more traffic, much to my total annoyance because I tried to sleep through it and never could in the back of Twan's damned circus-clown car). Once I got home I dashed off a quick e-mail to Jen to thank her for the dinner and presents and one to Aureth for bringing the sweet corn before I fell into bed to sleep off my upset stomach. I must make a mental note to start taking Dramamine before riding with Twan. It's not really his fault that I feel ill after riding with him, but I need to take measures to make sure it doesn't continue to happen.
So, that was the vast majority of my weekend! Currently I'm sitting back, considering what I should do for dinner (even though Jen offered I turned down the leftovers because I knew I'd wolf them all down as soon as I got home) and planning for the upcoming week, since my boss will be returning and I'll pretty much be left to fend for myself since my supervisor will be on vacation and one of my buddies at work will be out for training.
That old white line is a friend of mine