My sister is one of those women you see near the State Fair horse barns, all dressed up in custom leather chaps and a pretty shirt, western jeans and a dazzling silver belt buckle the size of a salad plate. She’ll be in full makeup with her hair done just-so under her hat, all pretty on the outside and kick-your-ass confidence on the inside. She’s a cowgirl. She rides cutting horses.
We took a shortcut across the fairgrounds on the Sky Ride today. It was so hot and humid with wall-to-wall people below us. Slow going. We stuffed ourselves into our gondola with cameras, backpacks, hats and water bottles. Fair tourists. We slid through air thick with smoked meat smells, beer smells, the smells of fried sugar, and the sounds of children screaming and laughing. My husband turned to me with a big little kid smile and said, “I love the Fair.”
The 4-H kids were at the fair on Friday. A young girl wore a t-shirt that said, “Whatever Floats Your Goat”.
It’s hot. It’s muggy. It’s…? Fair time!!
Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, which is not exactly true, we have about 14,000 lakes, but let’s not quibble. Alabama’s state slogan is Stars Fell on Alabama, which I’m sure we could prove. Colorado’s slogan is Enter A Higher State and if that isn’t downright prophetic, I don’t know what is. New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment. Unlike number of lakes, pot smokers or fallen stars, enchantment is kind of hard to prove. Last weekend we were with some friends in Albuquerque and one night after a couple beers, we began theorizing about why New Mexico is allegedly enchanted. Theories:
It’s on a dragon line or Ley Line, a mystical and ancient pathway in the geography of the land.
There’s no such thing as enchantment. It’s just marketing to suck in tourists (like us.)
There’s an energy grid in the mountains that causes, among other things, the atmosphere to be tinted a faintly pink hue; clouds to be bigger and puffier; the sky to be bluer; aliens to crash-land; motorcyclists to muster in large numbers; artists to be artier, and crystal-loving New Age pilgrims to flock.
Maybe New Mexico is full of Ley Lines or maybe it does have a special geologic energy. You could go down either of those paths (or 100 others.) Or you could just believe in an unscientific, unprovable, highly subjective, possible exploitive concept called enchantment.
All of a sudden it’s June. It’s summer. Green stuff is shooting up out of the ground. Pink blossoms are popping open everywhere. The trees in our yard went from timid buds to jungle canopy in a week.
The crabapple trees were in their full glory for two or three days before wind and rain stripped them of their flowers. For a few hours it snowed crabapple blossoms and we had a pretty pink carpet on our steps and driveway.
We went from brown-gray-nothing-happening dirt to instant ferns. Just add rain. Ferns love torrential rain.
The white and lavender lilacs came and went while we were in San Diego last week. The pink ones always bloom a little later. They’re bent over and soggy from Saturday’s rain-a-thon. The peonies are still tight-fisted little round buds. I have a lot of pink things blooming all at once.
The clematis survived the winter and is showing off its fine self.
This surprises me every year because every year Snow Plow Man buries the clematis under a mountain of cement-like snow when he plows.
The hostas always return, too. It seems nothing can kill a hosta, not even Snow Plow Man.
We have lots of Jack-in-the-Pulpit. I don’t remember having this many in years past, but they’re all over our woods and yard this year. I love the name Jack-in-the-Pulpit. I can remember it. I can’t remember Arisaema Triphyllum. I have to look it up. Thank you, Google.
Last night my mother-in-law showed me how to take apart a Bleeding Heart flower and get two pink bunnies and a pair of ice skates. That is not something you can learn on Google.
Lit and I went to San Diego last weekend for some R-n-R with our dear friends Muffy, David and their daughter Quincy. R-n-R = rest and relaxation for the menfolk and the Rock-n-Roll San Diego Half Marathon for the women. David doesn’t run and neither does Lit. I’ve seen my husband run only once in the 16 years we’ve been together and that was a 20-yard dash to get out of a hail storm. But every runner needs a crew so while the girls ran the boys found us on the course, waited for us at the finish and, most importantly, made dinner reservations.
San Diego is beautiful and has some funk to it. I always thought it was the more staid and uptight of the California cities but it’s pretty cool. We carbo-loaded at C Level, Cucina Urbana and Café 222, ate our recovery dinner at Island Prime, and did some touristy things, like touring the aircraft carrier USS Midway (highly recommend.)
There were boats everywhere. San Diegans love their boats. I love the idea of boats. I love to photograph them. I think taking a ship out to sea is romantic and ancient. I love boats most of all when I am on dry land. I am a devoted landlubber.
And now, some photos from race day. If you’re my Facebook friend, you’ve already seen this fellow. I nearly tripped over him when I came out of our hotel room on race day at 4:00 a.m. I was only half awake but the sight of him definitely jarred me to full awake status. Doesn’t he look dead? He looks totally crime scene dead. After I figured out he wasn’t dead but rather passed out and snoring, I took his photo and called security.
Now fully awake, Muffy and I got on the shuttle to the start line. If you get to the start line at 4:30 a.m., it is very dark. Muffy lamented that we didn’t have a flashlight. “What for?” I said. “To see what we’re doing in the Port-a-Potties”, she said. She was right. They were pitch black inside, but they were also fresh and clean! So fresh and clean we had to unwrap brand new rolls of toilet paper! If you’re a runner and you’ve ever used a race day bathroom, you know how exciting and rare a clean bathroom with toilet paper is. It’s one of life’s little gifts. I did not take a photo. You’re welcome. But just so you know how dark it was (like you don’t already know how dark it is at 4:30), this was the start line.
Next to the start corrals was St. Paul’s Cathedral and this thoughtful banner.
And then we were off for a 13.1-mile jog, all 35,000 of us, to Petco Park where the Padres play.
We ran mostly through neighborhoods but also some business districts, most notably past a row of strip clubs with a transvestite band playing across the street. So confusing. It was hot and sunny. Some neighbors offered orange slices and showered us with garden hoses, some offered tiny shots of tequila. One guy had a full bar set up in his driveway — for runners and neighbors alike — and he had plenty of takers. There were bands, DJs and cheer squads. A Big 10 alumni club was passing out water just before mile 10. I high-fived a guy wearing a Michigan shirt and said, “I’m a Gopher!” His response was remarkably unenthusiastic which I thought was stingy. After all, I had just run 9.5 miles and at that point one Big 10 team is as good as the next for a little support, in my mind anyway, but next time I’ll make sure to high-five the guy in a Minnesota shirt. Spectators held up funny signs like, “Run, random stranger, run!”, and my favorite, “Half marathons are hard. If they were easy they’d be called your mother.” A your-mama joke! You never hear those any more. It made me laugh. So did the burly guys dressed in women’s wigs, sparkly jewelry, short skirts and skimpy tops stuffed with balloon boobs who wanted you to “TOUCH ‘EM!! YAH BABY!! TOUCH THE BOOBS!” They were having a grand old time making runners laugh. I think alcohol may have been involved.
End result: we all finished. Muffy and Quincy had PRs. Everyone was hot, sweaty and gratefully gulped down water and Gatorade Endurance which on any other day I call swill (or worse.) It is so disgusting but after a race it’s the greatest drink on earth. A volunteer gave me an icy cold wet towel. I told the guy he was my favorite person in the whole wide world.
We shambled back to the hotel to clean up and eat (the best thing about race weekend: the meals after you run. You can justify anything.) We toured the Midway and I didn’t take any photos but it was so awesome and if you’re ever in San Diego you should go. GO THERE! They have retired Navy guys as docents who give talks on various parts of the ship. The pilots who told us about catapulting and catching the fighter jets were the best. I sat on the tarmac listening to these guys, getting sunburned and not caring. They were so great Muffy said they inspired her to watch Top Gun again. I said I would only watch it if Tom Cruise was no longer in it.
And then…it was over! We went home. We flew over the Grand Canyon. There were some wildfires we could see from the air.