Thursday, October 16, 2014

Late Summer at the Fair

    This summer, I visited the Washington State Fair for a day of traditional summertime fun. 

  It seems like every born-and-bred Washingtonian I know raves about the fair scones. The first time I heard about it, I thought it seemed weird because I have never associated scones with the fair. I associate scones with tea parties or brunch. But, the Washingtonians all seem to claim they are the best thing in the world. So of course I had to try these amazing fair scones! While I was in line (a rather long line for the fair just opening moments earlier) I saw at least two people leave with huge bags of the sconces. It was like they came to the fair just to have the scones. As you can imagine, I was quite excited to try one. Upon finally tasting the scone fair, I thought they were good..... but I was a little let down after all the hype. For Parks and Rec fans, I think the fair scones might be Washington's version of Li'l Sebastian

    The Animals are obviously a highlight of the fair! Although, walking through the barn with all the cows was depressing because I had a sneaking suspicion that these cows were not dairy cows, especially because I noticed no udders heavy with milk swinging below them. They all had sad eyes, as if they could sense their fate. A happier portion of the animal section was the Piglet Palace, where there were several adorable piglets relaxing on hay.

Not a real animal, but still really cool! 

  Other things we did at the fair were wander around the rides and game area, explore the hobby hall, eat more gross yet delicious fair food, and pay too much money to go to something called 'The Vision Dome' that would have been really cool in 1988.

Deep fried butter????

One of my favorite rides ever is The Swinger! It feels like flying and is so much fun! Plus, it is a very beautiful ride.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Reluctant Ode to the Zoo

   The Zoo, a wonderfully horrible place or a horribly wonderful place that always leaves me delighted and unsettled. I can never feel completely care-free at the zoo, with the animals stirring in their cages around me. But to experience so many different animals up close is amazing. A flat picture of an elephant is not the same thing as really seeing an elephant. With his rough, creased skin and his lumbering walk. The way he swings or curls his trunk, or wiggles his floppy ears. For a while when I was younger I vowed to never go to a zoo again, not wanting to encourage animal exploitation. But time wore me down and I'm back to visiting them, lured in by curiosity, fascination and the same love of animals that use to keep me away. But I never enter the zoo without feeling ambivalent or leave the zoo without a tinge of sadness.
   Like most things, zoos can't fit neatly into a moral category. I've been to the zoo and seen the tiger nervously pacing in her cage. Even if she had never seen the wild herself, there was an inherited genetic memory that was tugging at her heart, making her anxious to be away from the world where she belonged. But most good zoos aren't just about showing off animals, they are about education and conservation. They show us that the world we live in isn't small, and that the world we live in is full of everyone, from humans to bats to bears to zebras. So even though I leave the zoo with that swell of sadness, I mostly leave filled with wonderment and admiration for animals and this place we all live.

David by a Bird

Me by Some Painted Birds

  When David and I first met, we went to a little zoo in a small town near the smaller town where we lived. It was a free zoo, known for an old baboon named Bill who everyone loved despite his reputation for throwing his poo at zoo-goers. On this first trip to a zoo together, we met an orange tabby who wandered around the zoo. He wasn't the zoo cat, but a curious neighborhood cat who had found his way into the zoo premises. The orange tabby followed us around the zoo for a while. When we got to the otter habitat, the orange cat became fascinated with the otter and the otter likewise with the cat. They looked at each other with bafflement and curiosity, stretching toward each other, trying to make out who was this fuzzy creature they were looking at. Sometimes I feel like I made this up, but David remembers the cat and the otter too, except he remembers the cat as a gray tabby. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Postcards from All Around the World

 When I open my mail box and all I find are cobwebs, advertisements and sinister looking envelopes I don't even want to open, it is quite disappointing. I love both writing and receiving letters and this is why I was so excited about Postcrossing! I found out about Postcrossing from my friend Lara, who is a similar letter enthusiast. The concept is that after signing up, Postcrossing gives you a random address belonging to a stranger somewhere in the world. Your mission is to send this person a postcard with a short letter on the back of it. You are given a registration number that must also be written on the card. Once the person receives the card, they register it and soon you will be receiving a letter on a postcard from a different stranger from some other place in the world. It makes opening the mail box very exciting. Who knows who is going to say 'hello' to me on any given day? A school teacher from Finland? A sailor from Japan? A little kid, still learning about what the world is from Brazil? You never know! Postcrossing is a really good way to be connected to other people in the world. It is a good reminder that even though their are seven-billion people in the world, each one of those seven-billion people are individuals, with their own personal story and their own links to our world.
   The letters are fun, but so are the postcards as beautiful objects. Whenever I get a new postcard I hang it on my fridge. Until all the magnets are all used up. Then I slowly put them in my 'letter-box' to make room for more cards. Here are some of the postcards I have received:


Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland

France, Finland

China, Russia

Belgium, Russia

Russia (and my first postcrossing card... ever!)

Australia, Finland, Netherlands

Taiwan, Czech Republic 

Russia and France

Netherlands, Russia

United States