Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's State Fair Time!

On Friday, September 10, my sister Lori and I went to the Puyallup Fair (formerly called the Western Washington Fair).  We went on opening day, a mistake we will not repeat, as it was a mob scene, with throngs of people packed into the 169 acres like sardines.  Eventually the crowds thinned out, however.

The Puyallup Fair is the 8th largest fair in the world, and is over a century old, having begun in 1900.  It runs for 17 days and attendance always tops 1 million.  It's so huge that you can't see it all in one day.  It starts off with an old fashioned cattle drive right down the main street of Puyallup, with the cattle being driven to the fairgrounds by cowboys mounted on cowhorses. The cattle don't always go where they're supposed to.  Last year, one steer did his imitation of a bull in a china closet by taking a detour through a drug store, with the amiable steer going in one door and startled patrons erupting out the other door.

This year, I tried to talk my sister into going on some rides with me, but she declined.  So the only ride I went on was the Giant Slide.  That's me on the far left.  I screamed all the way down.  It was a blast, but climbing the five million steps to the top just about did me in.  The stairs are on the right of the slide, behind the orange barrier.
Everyone is so friendly at the fair. Complete strangers will laugh and joke with you as you wait in line for rides or share inadvertent elbow bumps and toe stomps. I love being totally immersed in the whole experience. It’s a sensory overload of the best kind—crowds of people, food smells, calliope music from the carousel, screams from the fairway rides, cheers from the rodeo grandstand, mooing cows, baaing sheep and goats, crowing roosters, the thunder on the pavement as 6-horse hitches of Clydesdales rumble by, hucksters hawking their wares, the diesel smell from the farm tractors/agricultural equipment demos, the bright and twinkling lights from the brilliantly gaudy fairway . . . Lord, how I love state fairs!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Summer That Wasn't

For the first time in many years I had a large veggie garden this year.  Below is a picture of part of the terraced garden in front of the basement.  I was diligent, starting my seeds indoors and transplanting them early.  They started off promisingly.  In April we were blessed with unseasonably hot weather, and the garden took off.  And then summer came.

At least the calendar said it was summer.  You couldn't tell it by the weather.  We'd have a few hot days, and then the clouds would move in and the skies would turn gray.  So my garden's been growing in fits and starts.  Once, we had almost two weeks of hot weather, but then it turned cold again and everything quit growing.

And so it's been, all summer.  My corn is 5' tall, but has only begun to tassel.  I probably won't get any corn this year.  My tomatoes, on the left side of the picture, are tall and vigorous and loaded with tomatoes--all of them green.  I have 6 large tomato plants, and so far, have harvested less about a dozen ripe tomatoes, most of them cherry tomatoes.  My summer squash is barely producing, and my acorn squash is so late that it hasn't even begun to blossom yet.  My sugar snap peas are a joke.  You can see them lying anemic on the ground in front of the tomatoes My green beans, however, are doing great and I've been eating beans for weeks.  The broccoli is just starting to form heads, and my cabbage and Brussels sprouts are iffy. 

The only thing that grew immediately, and fast, was my radish crop.  I had to pull them up and toss them, as they were all wormy.  I'm never growing radishes again.  My carrots are still infants.  My Walla Walla sweets aren't even adolescents, though the jalapeno pepper plant--the only one I planted because I bought it by mistake at the nursery--is growing like crazy.  When I bought it, I thought it was a green pepper plant.  My other green peppers are sickly.  My cucumbers haven't a single blossom yet.  My parsley, on the other hand, is growing like gangbusters.

All in all, we've had an absolutely lousy growing season for veggie gardens.  I'd bought a canning and freezing book this year, anticipating canning and freezing all my produce.  Guess I'll put the book away.   I certainly won't have anything to preserve this year!