Tuesday, August 25, 2009
On Sunday, we paid our annual visit to the Westmoreland County Fair. This year was extra special because our friends, who also have a four-year old daughter named Lauren, joined us for the fun. Until we can come up with a more clever way to differentiate the two, we refer to her as "The Other Lauren."
The animals on exhibition, of course, are the main event of the fair.
Does it get any sweeter than this?
This llama was on high alert. I was thankful that he didn't spit on me for taking his photo. Or, wait, maybe that's the Amish who do that? Well, at least that's what my grandma used to say. Moving along...
Ever wonder what happens to all the manure produced by the animals at the county fair? Now you know.
The balloon guy was a big hit among the small set, but not so much the adult set. While he was a bit too eager to discuss his pro-wrestling connections with us, he wouldn't actually name any names. What's the point of mentioning that you know famous people if you're not going to name drop? Oh and then there's the fact that many tears were shed when his oh-so-cute balloon ponies popped an hour later.
Every county fair has a freak show...
...but this one had "The World's One and Only Touring Live Giant Bat Show." Check out the girl in the cut-offs holding a giant bat! Every man dreams of finding a woman who can cook and handle a giant bat. Maybe even simultaneously! Unfortunately for Mark, he was unable to confirm that that the lovely lady to the right was present at the show.
And then there's the gambling, I mean games.
Yes, that wholesome tradition where for $2 your child can look at a duck's behind and win a gold plastic necklace with matching ring AND a snack sized(?!) Fun Dip all of which has a total net worth of approximately $.07. The duck pond must not be regulated by the state gambling commission because when the guy who ran the booth checked Lauren's ducks he stammered, "Oh yeah, okay, you won a NECKLACE! And....uh...RING. Oh...and SOME FUN DIP!" I just know that she actually won a new Cadillac or something.
But most of all, I think the girls liked the rides the best.
I think Mark did too. Maybe second after the giant bat exhibition.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Grandma gave Lauren some Post-it notes to play with. She's been using them to let me know her desires. She hands it to me, explains what it says and then walks away. It would be a very efficient means of communication...if I was her secretary.
This one means she wants a drink.
This one means she wants a drink and a meatball sandwich.
And this one means she has to go potty.
It could be worse. At least she didn't draw a car.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I have a love / hate relationship with Sundays. On one hand, any day off is a good day off. On the other hand, a perfectly good day off is ruined by the fact that I have to go to work the next day.
Today we had the 90 degree weather than we have been missing (NOT!) this summer. The weather has been so mild, that this is only the third time that we filled the pool for Lauren.
And it was just the right weather to have a squirt gun battle with Daddy.
Yesterday, Lauren begged us to get her this stuffed shark at the dollar store. Although you can't see him too well here, he is super cute, so I couldn't resist. I told her that she had to pay me back by posing for a photo with him. She begrudgingly gave me her best toothy shark smile.
While that was going on, I was inside doing my daily work-out with EA Sports Active. Mark gave it to me as a birthday gift, but due to my mysterious leg issue, I only tried it out recently. It's much more demanding and structured than Wii Fit which I really like. Since the game comes with a resistance band and is compatible with the Wii balance board, the exercises are also extremely varied. There's everything from traditional exercises like running, squats, and shoulder presses to sports such as boxing, tennis, and basketball to some unexpected exercises like in-line skating and aerobic dancing. One of the downsides of the game is that you have to wear this blood pressure-like cuff on your leg while you play, which is a bit of a drag. If I'm able to keep at it though, I think that I'm going to see some results.
When she came in from swimming, Lauren wanted to practice her letters. After she writes the word, then she draws what is says. She struggles a little bit with getting some of the letters like "D" and "C" facing the right direction, but otherwise, her writing is amazingly legible.
After lunch, Lauren then had the idea of making paper boats. I had never made a paper boat in my life, but thanks to the miracle of video on the internet, I am now quite the master shipbuilder. While I was skeptical about their sea worthiness, they made it out to sea just fine. Speaking of our fish, after having such a rough time earlier this year with the pond draining and all, I'm happy to report that we spotted several babies this week. Life carries on for them just as it does for us.
Except they don't have to go to work on Monday.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
My goodness, I'm starting to sound like the Zoar, Ohio Chamber of Commerce! Although I'm struggling to come up with creative titles for these posts, here it is anyway - the last installment in our travelogue. From the looks of it, one would think we were there for three days and not three hours!
In the center of town, there is an incredible garden, where every flower and vegetable imaginable grows.
The impressive Garden House features the gorgeous blue arched doorways seen at the top of the post.
Next to the garden is the #1 House, named so because it was the former residence of the town's founder. Inside, there are at least a dozen rooms to explore, all filled with period furniture. In my opinion, these displays rivaled the ones that we saw on our Washington DC / Alexandria trip. In hindsight, I really wish I would have taken more photos of this amazing house, but I was too striken by the enormity of it.
Here is one of my favorite rooms. Check out that awesome trundle bed! That would have really come in handy when Lauren used to sleep with us.
Each room had a hole in the outside wall so that firewood could be passed through without disturbing the inhabitants.
This is a view of the Town Hall from the second floor of the #1 House.
Some of the town's buildings have been converted into businesses, like bed and breakfasts and antique shops, but they still maintain their old charm. This is the entrance to The Cider House, one of the antique shops.
Lauren poses with a bicycle outside of another antique shop.
The shop's owner also had an old Ford parked in the driveway.
And here's a kid who has had quite enough of antiques and historical preservation. However, if you're like me and can't get enough of this stuff, you can still see more photos on Flickr. Otherwise, we shall now take our leave of Zoar.
Until next year...
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Where were we...oh, yes, Zoar. Besides the antique show, there were other fun and interesting things to do and see during the Harvest Festival. A lot of activity was centralized around the Schoolhouse pictured above.
The Folk Art Show featured many types of vendors, selling wares such as furniture, braided rugs, jewelry and paintings. One booth was covered entirely with dried flowers.
What's a festival without music? In the Schoolhouse yard, there was a tent were various musicians were scheduled to play. Play that funky music, grandma!
And inside the Zoar United Church of Christ, you could sit in the pews and enjoy organ music.
This is the bakery. Silly me thought that there would be cookies, pies and cakes to be had, so I was in for a shock when we walked into a sparsely decorated room with not a crumb in sight. We learned that you had to reserve in advance freshly baked bread and pretzels, which they made to order in an authentic brick oven. There's always next year!
We also took time to watch the sheepdog herding demonstration, just like in the movie Babe. When the trainer brought out the sheep, I tried to lead the crowd in a "Baa, ram, ewe!" chant, but no one joined in.
Many of the residents got into the spirit of things by donning period dress. Here are some of the Civil War reinactors at the encampment. Zoar also hosts a Civil War event in September.
Next we checked out the tinsmith shop.
The two tinsmiths were very enthusiastic about their craft and insisted that Mark to give it a try. They showed him how to twist ribbons of tin to make the tinsel that decorate the trees during the Christmas festival. We got to keep two of them as souvenirs. I noticed that "Zoar, OH" is embossed in very small print on the end of each strip. How cool is that?
A few more photos can be see on Flickr. Next, we'll wrap up our visit with a walk through the Zoar Gardens and tour some of the other historical buildings.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Yesterday, we took a day trip to Zoar, Ohio. Zoar was founded in the early 1800's by a group of religious separatists from Germany. Several of the original buildings remain intact and restored, thanks to its current residents. Each August, they hold a Harvest Festival and Antique Fair. Since this was our first visit to Zoar, we were unsure what to expect, but in the end, it far exceeded any expectations we may have had. In fact, I regret that I didn't bring my SLR camera with me because there were so many wonderful things to see, and I would have liked to have been more creative with my photos (And boy - did I take A LOT of photos, as you will see!). Still, I'm grateful that I had a working camera at all, unlike during our trip to Kennywood two weeks ago when I lost my Nikon Coolpix fifteen minutes after our arrival. That being said, I was also looking forward to giving my new Canon Powershot a test drive anyway.
Our trip began uneventful enough. Lauren is a great traveler who will ride in the car for a good long while with very little to entertain her. As soon as we left our driveway, she started drawing with the crayons and notepad that I had brought. She continued happily drawing until we got about half way to Zoar. I had turned around to ask her a question when she opened her mouth and proceeded to throw up all over herself. Of course, I had forgotten to pack her a change of clothes. After we exited off the freeway twice to ask for directions to the nearest Wal-mart / Target / K-mart, a half hour later we had her cleaned up and good as new, complete with fresh clothes and underwear. Luckily for us, at that point in the morning she only had drank some milk, otherwise, it may have been enough for us to turn back. I also have to take this opportunity to brag about my kid because she didn't cry, whine or complain during the whole ordeal. She is such a trooper!
Once we arrived our first order of business was the antique fair. Above all, Mark's interest lies in primitive antiques. Unfortunately, all of the shows that we attend during the year feature more collectibles than antiques. However, the Zoar show is entirely made up of dealers selling primitives. There wasn't a piece of Fiestaware or a Star Wars lunchbox in sight. The upside of this was that there were many different and interesting items. The downside was that much of it was very expensive, so we left empty handed. That didn't stop me from taking photos of the items that I liked best - those were for free!
I adored this department store sign, but where would I put him?
Lauren took some photos too - mostly of animal objects. Here are some figural banks.
And a toy horse.
There were lots of primitive housewares, like these giant ladles.
Everyone had wooden bowls.
But only one seller had a collection of old laundry items.
I'm in the market for a primitive game board, so while I intended to include this Parcheesi board, I did not intend to include the unidentified man bending over in the photo.
But of everything that we saw, this was the item that I really wanted, but not for $1,800.
A few more photos from the antique show can be seen on Flickr, but many more photos of the rest of our visit to Zoar are still to come this week, including a pictorial of Mark participating in a tinsmithing demonstration - you won't want to miss it!