Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All treats, no tricks.

Tell the Parrot to stock up on haystacks, tell the Jade Garden to fire up the vat of sweet & sour sauce, and find out if the Tour Train can be outfitted with some snow tires, 'cuz yes, that's right, Mary's coming to Helena.

Christmas 2001.

(November 29th - December 5th)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tears of a Clown.

Tears of a Clown.

Halloween, 1988. Quite possibly the lamest clown costume ever, I think we can all agree. And check out that half-assed wig that didn't even cover my huge, huge head.

(You'd be amazed how many photographs from my childhood feature my mom's thumb. It's astounding.)

More painful photographs from the distant (or not-so-distant) past to come in the next few days...because guess who hooked up her scanner and dug through a box of pictures from high school the other day?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006


As I was digging down between the front seats of my car today, grasping to retrieve one of my ice-scrapers (you know you're back in Wisconsin when you need multiple ice-scrapers just to get your windshield cleaned off in the mornings), my hand brushed against something...paper-y. I grabbed hold of it and pulled out...this.


Uh, looks like my last long distance phone bill from when I lived in Helena never quite made it in the mail.


Looks like I didn't "round up" that month, either. Bad karma, Mary, bad karma.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Canned dog, special sauce, and that finishing touch.

Weekend getaway.

I went up to Superior/Duluth for a quick overnight getaway on Saturday...nothing of major note happened, just took a lot of random pictures as we wandered around.

Sunset on my way out of town.

Sunset on my way out of town...as the sun went down, it made this weird flare-looking thing off in the distance...it had me really confused for a minute, until I came to the top of a hill and I could see the sun resting on the horizon.

Freaky flare.

On Saturday night, Shannon, Joe & I wandered around Duluth/Superior...we saw a very poorly-worded sign at the grocery store (at least, we think it was poorly worded), bought some provisions (Ruffles, Top-the-Tater dip and Booberry), and spotted the greatest Sudoku book ever at Barnes & Noble.

Misleading sign.
I love Booberry season.
Product placement.

The next day, I met up with my family over in Duluth (my parents drove up for the day), where we wandered around the mall for a while. I'm not a huge "mall" person, but this one does have a dollar store in it that I get quite the kick out of.

An attractive display can really draw customers inside.

An attractive front window can really draw the customers in, don't you think? (Reminds me of the ball pit at Hardee's when I was a kid.)

This dollar store at the mall in Duluth was one of the funniest I've ever been to. I LOVE dollar stores with a kind of morbid fascination--the knock-off brands, the random products/names, the semi-useful mixed with the semi-ludicrous. Ripe with humor. And bargains.

If you break-a my glassware, I break-a your face.

"If you break-a my glassware, I break-a your face."

As opposed to a man-dress bag.

As opposed to a man-dress bag.

This reminded me of the old "Johnny Human Torch" and "Bag O'Glass!" Halloween costumes they had on SNL back in the 70s...

Telling it like it is.

Telling it like it is. It ain't no "roach hotel," it's a freakin' roach prison. Don't gild the lily.

I'm not really sure these should be in the children's section.

I'm not really sure these should be in the children's section.

Don't forget to add that finishing touch.

Whatever you do, don't forget to add that finishing touch.

Most. Disturbing. Thing. EVER.

Yes, that's a bag of cat treats called..."SEDUCTION." ???


I spotted this on the food court.

I wanna run away and join the circus...

I wanna run away and join the circus when I see the clothes at Lane Bryant. This looks like what they'd wear at a clown college graduation ceremony, for pete's sake.

We trundled off to Sam's Club, where Whitey's "Guitar Hero" prowess actually managed to draw a small crowd of gawkers. (If you define "crowd" as two or three teenaged boys lurking behind you, which in this case, I do.)

Who's the biggest dork of all?

Neopolitical ice cream.

Neopolitical ice cream.

It defies logic and taste.

This thing is seriously big enough for people to stand inside...ginormous!

Tacky cupcakes.

I'll bet the frosting is that kind that turns your mouth all blue/yellow/orange/etc.

Enough with the butter already!

My parents, eyeing up some butter. This is only funny to me, I think, because the day before they made a run over to the Washburn IGA for a "big butter sale!" over there--so our freezer's already packed with enough butter to roughly last them through the next 2-3 years. And yet, here they are, looking at acquiring still more...their butter lust knows no bounds.

It's also funny because as they were buying their cartload of butter in Washburn, some lady they know came up to them and started telling them about her brother who had a heart attack earlier this year & is now forbidden from eating butter. Instead of blaming his heart condition on his chain smoking, his alcoholism, his morbid obesity or his utter lack of physical activity...nope, it was the butter. Butter, the silent killer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Guess what (pt. 2)?

Remember what I said yesterday about the snow?

To paraphase Crocodile Dundee: "That's not snow. THIS is snow."

Front yard.

Snowing in the backyard.

Snow on 3rd Ave.

And courtesy of Stephanie down in Oklahoma (don't know where it came from, so I can't link to it):

Ready in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, the season's first snowfall only drew laughs at a nightspot in the heart of the Lake Superior snow belt. By Wednesday night, a few inches had fallen at Saxon in Iron County, although everyone knew the forecast showed another half a foot or more could be on the way.

"Oh yeah, it's snowing," Doug Anderson said from the Bear Trap Inn. "Summer up here is just three weeks of bad sledding."

Anderson, 45, a logger, said the bar and restaurant is about five miles from the shore of Lake Superior, so people are used to big snows.

"We're going to have snow probably right until July," he joked. "I work in the woods so I don't care."

Heavy snow was predicted for the snow-belt areas near the Lake Superior shore — the region where cold air from the northwest goes over the warmer lake water and picks up moisture, then deposits it as snow when it reaches the colder land surface. Dean Melde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, Minn., said the forecast called for 6 to 9 inches of snow to accumulate in Ashland and Iron counties and 3 to 7 inches in Bayfield County through Thursday.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Guess what?

It snowed today.

Snow on the roof.

Snow on chair.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Apple Fest.

This past weekend, over 60,000 tourists from southern Wisconsin and Minnesota (and, to a lesser degree, crowd-braving northern locals) descended upon the little San Francisco of northern Wisconsin, Bayfield, for the 45th annual Apple Festival.
Busy street.

The festival, which started out as a little something-something to sell apples from the local orchards, has swelled into a gargantuan happening (apparently voted one of the "Top Ten Autumn Festivals in North America") that goes way beyond apples but still offers plenty of tasty vittles for those willing to stand in line long enough to have at 'em.
Apple bratwurst!

Apple pie! Apple sundaes! Caramel apples! Random crap like apple pizza and apple gumbo! And my favorite, the simple but elegant apple bratwurst!

I went up to Bayfield on both Saturday & Sunday this year, which generally went against my better judgment. It's not that I have anything against the Apple Festival, per se--it's fun, and it brings a lot of money into the area, which is good since we're all freakin' poor--but I won't deny feeling ambivalent toward it.

In a lot of ways, the festival represents the strange precipice my town/county/place is teetering on--there's a riptide between the old timers and the "new money" moving in, buying old shacks in Bayfield, ripping them apart and then re-selling them for millions of dollars so weekenders can come "up nort," stare at the lake for a day or two, then leave. It's pricing the locals right out of the market, and it's having a trickle-down effect on the rest of our area--so we're caught in the middle, between our place as we know it (localized, rural, isolated) and our place as it might become (gentrified, inflated property values, congestion, etc.).
View back up the hill from the dock, from a different angle.

We're not the only place in the country feeling this sort of pinch, no doubt--for example, whenever I was in Whitefish, Montana, it reminded me of how things were playing out around here, only the economic disparities were even more extreme--and I'm not one to inherently fear change. I like change. But I don't necessarily think this sort of change could be for the best, not for here, anyway.

Anyway--having said all that, it is fun to get out and enjoy autumn while it lasts around here, and I'm a sucker for carnie food. So on Saturday, I headed over with my parents, brother Whitey (and his girlfriend Emily), and a few of our relatives from the Twin Cities. On Sunday, I went back with my friends Sarah & Shannon. I figure now I'm done with Apple Fest for a few years.
Shannon with turkey on a stick.
Shannon with lemonade, Sarah's arm with turkey-on-a-stick.

Sundae in the car.
Sarah with apple sundae.

Old Salties.

View back up the hill from the dock.
Fancy boats along the dock, looking back toward downtown.

Mrs.  Hulmer!
The Ashland High School Band (my alma mater).

Amy, kickin' it into high.
Shannon's sister Amy, majoretting the hell outta that band.

Dolphin bike.
Dolphin bike.

Big wolf puppet.
Wolf puppet, from the local puppet farm. (Yes, there is a local puppet farm.)

Big deer puppet.
Big deer again.
Giant deer, from the same farm.

Sarah's cheesecurds.
Cheese curds! (Deep-fried, of course.)

Sarah by what we have affectionately dubbed the "stinky fish stand."

I've always really liked this IGA sign.

Extolling the wonders of the cheapo pop machine.
Me showing people where the cheap pop machine is. (Sometimes it's good to be a meter reader's daughter. You learn all these sorts of secrets.)

Further enraging the rooster.
Emily & the rooster.
Whitey and his girlfriend Emily, enraging a rooster we saw at a farm outside of town.

Rooster mad! Rooster smash!

I kinda hoped the rooster would be hiding inside, waiting to get him.
I was half-expecting the rooster to be hiding in the portapotty, lying in wait for Whitey.

Barn at Blue Vista Farm.
Barn at the orchard we stopped at.

Whitey with giant pumpkin.
They grow some tough pumpkins there, too, in addition to the roosters.

Peanut oil, for your heart.
Shannon with corndog.
"Cooked in peanut oil, for your heart!"

Obnoxious band.
Middle-schoolers or no, this band was obnoxious. American flags, some girl singing "God Bless America," shooting off guns & explosions & balloons, what a bunch of downstate grandstanders.

Mullet sighting.
Fabulous mullet sighting.

A ferry heading over to Madeline Island.

Sarah on the windy dock.
Sarah on the windy dock.

Windy dock.
Mary on the windy dock.

Booze in the portapotty.
A bottle of booze in a portapotty.

The Mayor.
The Mayor, riding in a station wagon worthy of an episode of "Pimp My Ride."

Gathering of the mass band.
The gathering of the Mass Band--all the kids who march are welcome to run back up the hill, don a red t-shirt, and go down the hill together playing "On Wisconsin."

Carnival pods.
Carnival pods.

Flinging things.
Flinging things!

Hills are tiring.
Taking a breather at the top of the hill.
Taking a breather at the top of the hill, on our way back to the car. (It's steep!)

And what else would cap off a day of eating deep-fried and sugar-soaked carnie food like a trip to Country Kitchen, for...more deep-fried treats and sharing a milkshake with the old guy in the birthday promo picture?
Being nice to the old guy.
Nothing, that's what!

(Thanks to Shannon & Sarah for some of the pictures, by the way.)