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We are Familia FIG. We are a bi- lingual, blended family. Belalu was diagnosed at 9 months with hypochondroplasia.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Minnesota State Fair

Juan and I finally attended this 10-day long event that spans from the last weekend in August to Labor Day. This is the biggest state fair I have ever been to and some strange things were seen by all (And I don't mean just the people watching, though that was an education unto itself). Here are some of the highlights:

The first place we went was the Miracle of Life Tent, where pregnant animals could give birth at any moment. We didn't catch a live birth, but we saw some pretty new little animals.Mama and lambsBrand-new piglets. They were so new, their umbilical cord was still hanging from their little tummies. They are a couple hours old, and have to be in this contraption for a while so mom doesn't roll over and kill them all. Some actually fell asleep while nursing.

There were tons of people there, as you can see from the scene behind Juan. A big thing about the MN State Fair is all the unusual food you can find, much of which is on the end of a stick. The hot food items this year were chocolate dipped bacon and something involving pickle juice, though I never saw where one could obtain either. Not that I was searching too hard. Any hoo, he had to try a stick food, hence a corn dog. By the end of the day, though, he had graduated on to more serious fair food: an even bigger corn dog!I had a fabulous sparkling apple cider float with cinnamon ice cream, as well as vanilla John Deere ice cream made from those machines there.We also had cheese curds, which were amazingly tasty. I must have had something else, but I don't remember. I know I wanted roasted corn on the cob, but the line was too long and we were tired by then.

Another odd state fair tradition is the practice of carving the beauty contest winners' heads from a block of butter and then keeping them on display in a rotating cooler thing. Minnesotans are weird.

There were lots of the traditional state fair displays with perfect produce and such.
The pumpkin sign reads: "Do not dig your nails into it. It IS real."

We had a great time at the fair, and I hope to go back next year. They had an art tent, crafts, food, local yarn (I resisted!), tons of displays on any subject you can imagine, and the dog tent even had little puppies to pet, including a sleepy Boston Terrier. A couple of other late-summer activties we've been up to: I've been baking and cooking when I can. Here is a berry tart I made after a trip to the farmer's market last month:
And here's Juan with one of his most recent catches. He caught a bass the other day, too, that made for a really good dinner.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busting the Stash

One of the many Internet knitting terms that is popular these days is "stash busting." In other words, using the yarn in your stash to make a project. You can either decide to use a yarn and then find a project for it (how I often work), or the more common method is wanting to knit something and then finding yarn in your collection that you can use. Many people have an appropriate angst about their stash, because they often compulsively buy yarn just because they like it, without any plan at the time for its use (ultimate consumer ill, in my opinion). Although I only buy yarn with a project in mind, I nevertheless have a small stash. Most of my stash is leftover yarn from projects or yarn people have given me.

When I saw this pattern in Interweave Knits, I realized I could use some black cotton that I had gotten free with a Rowan subscription. I had done the bottom part of both and the fingers of one side before realizing that they were going to be waaaaay too big for me. So, I had to frog it all and fiddle around with them until I figured out the right number of stitches to fit me. And I'm still not thrilled with the results, but I was sick of them at that point and decided that was enough time spent on them. They'll do for riding around in the vino in fall and spring, which was the intention anyway.Cute button detail.
I finally found a project for the mercerized cotton I've been playing with for three years now. It's been so many potential projects, but finally came to be a tank top, also from Interweave Knits.I modified the pattern a bit so that the lace panel is much smaller and therefore doesn't require something under it. I also knit the front and back smaller and then inserted a lace panel up both sides, which I think is cute. Here's a close-up of the lace insert on the side.I still have three skeins of this yarn left. I used up some of the leftovers from the tank and the gloves to make these booties. I had bought two sets of black buttons for the gloves, and used the other ones for these here.The booties are more like shoes in terms of size, and they are not for anyone in particular, I had just seen so many on Ravelry and loved the design, and had the extra yarn, so made them.My other stash-busting project featured here tonight is the sweater I had planned to bring to Latin America before I decided to bring something old, just in case.I bought the grey yarns, but the rest are from leftovers from gift projects. It's Helga from Rowan 36. I can't wait to be able to wear it. Wait, yes I can- there'll be plenty of winter for that!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


So, it all went well. It was a pretty packed room, but mostly students as Margaret had her whole class go and students from other classes came for extra credit, many of whom I knew. So I felt better with such a high student/adult ratio. Though then I was worried they were bored to tears. The recording turned out to only be audio, so the wardrobe issue was nil (I ended up wearing my green polo-style sweater, one of my first handknits- in case you were wondering). I guess the president had wanted to hear the talk and couldn't go, so I think she'll be the only one to hear it, which also made me feel better.

I later asked Juan if it was obvious that I was nervous, and he said it was, because I read straight from the paper, which is true. By the middle-end I completely forgot to look up, and the irony is, by then I wasn't nervous anymore! I think my knee was shaking a bit at first (of course I was wearing a skirt, and they had me stand at a podium), but I think in general it was fine. A few people came up and asked more questions, and one man asked me to send him a copy of it because it was so interesting.

Thank you to you all who wished me luck and sent positive vibes- it worked! I was surprised to have so many readers after being gone so long. I promise I'll be better about updating from now on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


As it has been almost a month, I figure I'd better provide an explanation as to my absence. These past four weeks of classes have been intense. Not so much for the classes, since I only have two different topics between the four classes I'm teaching, and I've taught both before, but because of the other work I have on top of them.

First, there's a little matter of a dissertation. I've given myself the goal of "finishing" a chapter a month this semester, to use next semester to revise and hopefully defend by the end. (I'm ambitious, but at this point, the tunnel needs some light somewhere).

But in addition to the dissertation writing, I have also been working on a presentation I am giving tomorrow at school. It's on teachers from our university, back at the end of the 19th century, who went to Argentina to help start/develop Normal Schools there. It's at one in the afternoon, so this lecture series is not usually super packed, but people have been telling me all week that they saw in the paper that I'm speaking tomorrow (it's just a basic write-up with the topic, place, and time- they do it for each one of the series, but STILL, that means people might actually come to this thing!) And it's been a looooooooong time since I've spoken in public in this way- reading a paper I wrote. I've never been particularly bothered by speaking in public, especially if I have everything written out, but I've never done so in a "professor" capacity. Juan tells me I do it everyday, but I don't- I never read lectures to my classes, and anyway it's not to my peers. I'm not a historian, so I guess I'm a little more concerned about the post-talk questions and someone asking something that completely throws me for a loop.

Last night I dreamt that I got there 10 minutes before I was scheduled to speak and realized that I was missing some pages. So, I went back to my office to get them, and by the time I got back five minutes past the hour, everyone had left. So, all that hard work I've been putting in for the past month was all for naught. Needless to say, I didn't really sleep the rest of the night. THEN I get to my office this morning, and there's an email saying that the president of the university wants them to record my talk, but that it's up to me, and they won't if I don't want to. But, what non-tenured faculty is going to say no to the president's request? So, now I've really had to give some thought to what I'm going to wear, because it's going to be taped for all posterity.

If you happen to read this before 1 pm (central time) on Wednesday, send some positive thoughts my way. And if it's after, hope that I am finally going to get some decent sleep.