Monthly Archives: September 2011

Feast of the Hunter’s Moon

Each year many of the Fiddlers opt to travel the 5.5 hours to West Lafayette, Indiana to perform at Feast of the Hunter’s Moon. We didn’t go last year, but this year I made reservations at a campground far in advance. I figured we’d just make a fun weekend of it.

It took us closer to 6 hours to get there, owing to a Very Slow Couple of Broads With a Horse Trailer at a truck stop. I don’t know what was wrong with the women in the truck, but I had time to go into the truck stop, wait in line, use the restroom, and come back out before Greg was up at the pump. In fact, I think we waited at least another 5 minutes until they moved. Maybe they couldn’t figure out how to operate the pumps? Maybe they’re just a gaggle of bitches who don’t care someone else is waiting for the pump? Who knows.

Anyway, we finally got on the way and then….

…missed our exit.


Fortunately, in that part of Indiana the state saw fit to employ a grid design for its roads, so we just took the next exit and got to the same place, albeit later that we’d hoped. We were SO ready to GET THERE, but upon reflection I realize we had it easy. I know people who didn’t make it there until midnight Eastern. Wow.

Naturally, it rained. What else is new? In fact, t rained a lot, which made for a  very muddy experience the rest of the weekend.

The next day we headed to the Feast. It didn’t seem like Laurel had to be there early (10:45) but we are slower getting around when we’re camping and just had time to stop at a donut shop for breakfast before heading to the Feast grounds. But oh, the donuts! They were so good! And the lady at the counter was so bitchy!

Is this bitchiness an Indiana thing? We encountered it a lot this weekend. At the Feast, at the campground, the donut shop, the truck stop. What the heck? Did they know we’re from St. Louis and make fun of hoosiers? I don’t know.

We got to the Feast grounds without further incident and parked in a field that was, until very recently, occupied by horses. I have been accustomed to watching where I walk in a field since I was a kid, but my children are not. As luck would have it, they made it out of the field unscathed by manure. It was not long after entering the grounds that Laurel accused us of being Totally Unreasonable because we wouldn’t allow her to purchase weaponry (even with her own money, which amounted to $170 in cash she was carrying around with her, but that’s another story). I think my response was completely appropriate: I got mad and deposited her with her group early. I imagine that is a story with which parents of all almost-but-not-quite-yet-teenagers are familiar.

We couldn’t drop Ethan off, though. Who knows what people would have done with him running around unaccompanied. And it’s a good thing — he needed supervision, considering how enamored he was by the coyote asses hanging around. No, really. The asses. He couldn’t have cared less about the rest of the beast. He is a six-year-old boy, after all. So we humored him and I took photos of him with his head in the coyote’s ass. Because I’m an awesome parent.

Under the coyote tailAlso under the coyote tail

Other than sticking his head in the coyote’s ass, the other thing he dearly wanted was to make a candle. I have to tell you, the Feast people are genius with this if you’re looking for something that will occupy your kids for a LONG time. The candle station consists of a rectangular track with vats of hot wax at either end. The attendants give you a stick with a wick tied to the end, and then you walk around and around (and around) the rectangle, dipping it in each vat in turn. Over and over and over, until the candle is as thick as it should be.

dipping candles

Really. It takes a long, long time.

He was happy to do it, though, and kept at it for a good long while. Meanwhile, I watched the re-enactors march around without having any clue as to why they were doing it.

 marchingmore marching

Then the blacksmith happened. Blacksmiths put some kind of kiddie crack into their anvils. No, really, it’s true. Ethan sat down in front of the blacksmith and flatly refused to go ANYWHERE for perhaps a half-hour. I abandoned Greg after a few minutes, and still had time to saunter around and peruse all the nearby booths, check out the food for sale, and return. Even then, Greg and I had to do some pretty hard convincing to get him off the bench.


By this time, tempers had cooled and Laurel was ready to play. Almost. Her hands were freezing, she said, and she needed some fingerless gloves. Okay, there are about four trillion vendors at the grounds, but one of her friends in the group had found some. She tried playing part of one of her songs and couldn’t because of her cold, cold fingers. Greg was unsympathetic, but off I trekked to find these gloves. In a hurry. ‘Cause, you know, it was about 10 minutes until her pe

When I finally found some gloves, they were FIFTEEN BUCKS.

<insert the vapors here>

I can only assume they were spun from gold.

But I paid it because I knew what it was like to try to play with cold fingers, remembered it wasn’t pleasant, and felt bad for her.

I returned with the golden gloves, delivered them to Laurel, and she said she didn’t want them.

<insert rage here>

So yeah. Fifteen bucks for ugly gloves she didn’t end up using.

But she looked cute and played and sang well:

warming up

I suppose that’s a redeeming factor.

We spent a few hours at the Feast, ate forfar bridies and sauerkraut stew, and then bailed back to camp for a few hours before the nursing home performance and visit to a local pizzeria. While still at camp we visited the Historic Prophetstown working farm, where the kids ran around with chickens, made nice with draft horses, and we bought some local bratwurst.

I don’t have much else to say about that evening, except the kids played well and the pizzeria’s pizza tasted entirely like Totino’s frozen pizza. How about that?

And then it rained all night. All night! And it rained the next morning at the Feast! Parents had to hold umbrellas over the instruments to keep them dry!

So yes, the moment the last note was no longer ringing through the damp air, we hightailed it out of there and got home. We couldn’t wait.

All in all, though, I’d have to say we’re getting pretty used to the rain on these camping trips. Might as well, right?

Plus, it WAS a nice campsite:

Nice campsite even if we didn't spend much time there

Now That’s a Potato.

Today as I was walking past the garden I stopped to check in on our sweet potatoes. My vines have fallen victim to deer in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on them just in case they start to die off. You can see how they’ve overtaken our garden, and how the deer have been sneaking bites at the far end of the bed:

pole beans that didn't produce shit and sweet potatoes

As I inspected the plants, I noticed a real, live sweet potato sticking out of the soil. After some deliberation I decided I had better just go ahead and pull it. Little did I know how much digging it would entail. I rooted around with my hands until I determined there was no chance of bringing it up that way without destroying it. As usual, I had no luck finding my trowel so I resorted to a shovel. In retrospect that is probably a good thing. I’d still be out there otherwise.

sweet tater

This potato is going to feed all four of us tonight. I don’t remember how much I paid for the 12 little sweet potato slips I ordered last spring, but if the rest of the crop is anything akin to this tuber, I’ve no doubt we’ll make up the cost and then some.

Happy Big 6, Ethan!

Yesterday Ethan turned 6.

The past year has been a whirlwind. Ethan still loves his bike and pizza above all else, so not much has changed…only t his year he took it easy on me and rather than requesting an elaborate cake, he simply asked for ‘chocolate cake with chocolate icing’ which we will be enjoying Sunday. Whew.

The thing about weekday birthdays is that there isn’t enough time to have a big to-do, what with it being a school night and all, so we have to wait until this weekend.


We certainly had time for a household celebration.

Before we could manage all that, I had to collect myself. I nearly broke down in happy tears when Ethan arrived home from school on the bus. I could see through the bus windows that he was proudly wearing a birthday crown (which he wore much of the evening, you’ll see) and grinning ear to ear while he told me how all his friends in class sang happy birthday to him and he got to eat not one – no – but two of the birthday cookies he had taken to school to share with the class. Everyone made a big deal over him. Even some of the older girls at the bus stop wished him a happy birthday. Aww. As adults, we forget just how important birthdays are.

After walking in the door at home it could not possibly have been more than 5 minutes before the first ‘Can I open presents now?’

‘Not until Dad gets home.’

‘Can we call Dad to see where he is?’

Fortunately, Dad was only about 10 minutes away so the agony was cut short and we hurriedly opened presents, a few of which are represented here.

having funModel RocketsRC Car

He has wanted that RC Car for the longest time. It’s made in Asia of course (just like everything) as you can tell from the box:

Hot Crazy Cross-country!

That’s not all the box says. It also says:

“Avoid various misuses,such as throwing or bumping. Do not bend the antenna.the antenna is broken,the sharp ends may become various dangerous.Do not control the car to run at peoples.exact R/C car any way from the pictures on the packing”

Okay. I was with them up until that last almost-sentence. After reading and re-reading that sentence, I’m still not sure of the significance of pictures on the packing. As far as I can tell, it’s not explosive so we should be okay.

We wrapped up the evening with chili dogs, a DVR episode of Survivor, and more of the birthday cookies. What more could a six-year-old want? Heck, that sounds like my kind of birthday.

Happy birthday, Ethan. I can’t believe it’s been six years since that rainy day in 2005 when we welcomed you into the world. We couldn’t ask for a better little boy. May you have many, many more birthdays!

The End is Near.

Summer’s end, that is. Naturally, that means I enter almost-panic mode, thinking of all the stuff I want to do outdoors before it gets cold.

Plus, the candy corn is out. If that’s not a sure sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is. We go through pounds of it every year. Its siren song lures me from faraway aisles in the grocery store.

But back to summer.

We spent the weekend at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. The kids and I had never been there. Greg last visited before the breach of Ameren’s reservoir destroyed everything in its path. It is what it is, but after viewing the restoration, Greg determined that Ameren should rebuild all our state parks. The glossy brochures! The campground with 100A pedestals! The fancy faucets in the showerhouses that allow you to change the water temperature by waving your hands on either side!

Friday night we attended a camp naturalist talk. I think this is the first we’ve attended this summer. It was a spider sniff, and the kids eagerly searched for spiders around the amphitheater. Laurel gave a mini-lecture to the naturalist and others about how Daddy Longlegs are not  spiders but harvestmen.

This summer – the fourth hottest on record for us – revisited us with a vengeance on Saturday with temperatures in the upper 90s. It wasn’t bad in the morning though, so we went for a morning hike along the scour caused by the reservoir breach. It was very interesting – we were particularly enamored with the warning signs telling us that if a siren sounded we should immediately proceed uphill 200 steps. Gulp. The walls of the reservoir loomed above us.

climbing the rocksevolution spiralin the boulder field


The hike was nice – we followed a trail to an overlook of the scour caused when the reservoir broke, then we walked along the scour to the visitor’s center. There the kids checked out backpacks with lots of interpretive material in them to occupy them back at camp.

Ethan was more interested in biking of course, until his tire blew out. Yes, folks, that would be the THIRD tire he has blown this summer. I don’t understand it, except that they really must not make bike tires the way they used to. Greg and I rode our bikes a lot as kids and never blew a tire. So whatever. Here’s a big middle finger to the bike tire manufacturers we’ve encountered.

No trip to Johnson’s Shut-Ins would be complete without, well, a trip to the Shut-Ins themselves, so we went down there in the afternoon on Saturday. So did everyone else. The difference is that because we were campers, we got special parking privileges. We endured plenty of nasty looks as we drove past those walking really far and those waiting in line to park with the proletariat.


Seriously, this is exactly what the park should do, so kudos to them. If I’d paid for a campsite and then couldn’t visit one of the main features of the park, I would be pissed.


more of the shut-insoverlooking the shut-insnavigatingThe breach scour

So yes, it was crowded, and Greg and I are not fond of crowds at all, but we stayed as long as possible before bailing for ice cream in Lesterville.

We were tired after all this and the kids were bickering so we determined we would NOT be attending that evening’s camp naturalist program about frogs…until the naturalist came by and told us that she had told her boss about Laurel (uh-oh) and her boss suggested Laurel play the part of the frog’s mother in the mock frog funeral planned for that evening’s program.

So that was that. I took the kids to the program while Greg built a fire. Ethan was a pallbearer, Laurel sang and played that part. It was a cute program, but Ethan was so exhausted. The idea of a frog funeral absolutely traumatized him, even though the fake eulogies read were really quite humorous. As soon as we piled into the truck to go back to our campsite, the dam burst (Ethan’s, not Ameren’s) and though he knew none of the funeral was real, he cried heartbreakingly all the way back in mourning for Freddie the Frog. No amount of cajoling could work him out of this crying jag. Trust me. I tried.


It was clearly time to come home on Sunday morning, and after sleeping in until almost 9 a.m. (!) we ate breakfast, packed up, and headed back to St. Louis.

All in all a great time. Here’s to a long and glorious Fall. After all, I’ve got fall crops in the garden. No early freezes!