“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yay, Fargo! Further updates on my visit home

Ok, this photo is actually taken in Minnesota. It's close anyway, and prettier than North Dakota. My sister Teresa (on the left) and I made a cardboard cutout and put a photo of our sister Barb on the head, so Barb could be virtually at our parents 50th wedding anniversary party. Barb also lives in Auckland, and wasn't able to be in Fargo because she'd been back less than a year ago. Our brother Bill is in the front, looking really good- training for some triathalons. Way to go, bro. He also saved my dad's life when he had a heart attack awhile ago, so he's my hero (even if we don't agree on politics).
Ribfest was happening while I was in Fargo. Of course I had to go. That's my niece Stephanie in the photo above. We stood in line for a long time to get some lunch, and it was really good. Too bad a cold wind was blowing. It was just wrong, eating ribs in the cold. I associate ribs with sweat, humidity, and cold beer. We had an awesome rib lunch on another afternoon at Famous Dave's. Darin and I ate buffalo wings as often as we could stand it.
Oh, so much food! We ate so much, we regularly felt bad afterward. I became a new Pepcid user.
That's Teresa at Ribfest- can you believe they deep fry s'mores? No, I didn't try one. Can you believe, Kiwis don't know what a s'more is??? The reason is you can't get graham crackers here.
On the subject of weird food, I just HAD to get a picture of these bars that someone made for the Justesen family reunion. They are made I guess like Rice Crispy bars, only using Fruit Loops cereal instead. They pretty much distilled the essence of the midwest.
Ok enough about food.
We enjoyed a visit out to Darin's cousin's home on a lake in MN, not far from Fargo. I loved the long twilight in June. We went out for a pontoon boat ride after dinner and watched the loons. One of the boys caught a largemouth bass right from the shore. I haven't seen one of those in years, but we used to fish for them every summer. They are pretty good to eat. So what did I read on my holiday? A few people had recommended Freakonomics, and I had a paperback copy of it, so I read that. It was pretty enjoyable, and I really liked the argument that the legalisation of abortion explains the drop in crime rates. I also started reading the graphic novel version of Studs Terkel's Working, and found that very good. I read The Ten Cent Plague when I returned home, and that was good too. It's about the history of comic books and censorship. Now I'm reading Escape, written by a woman who left the FLDS. It is SHOCKING and I can't wait to finish it.
Darin and I had a 9 hour layover in Los Angeles, so we hopped on a bus to a shopping area north of LAX. We saw the movie Drag Me To Hell, which I really liked, directed by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame. After the movie, we ate burritos at Rubio's, our old favorite taco shop in So Cal, then wandered into one of the many Ralphs grocery stores. I took this photo of the CHEAP black beans, because I fell in love with them when I lived in San Diego. I can get them here in Auckland, but I pay about $3.80 a can (NZD)- that's sad. But worth it. We also paid about $9 for a big can of green enchilada sauce. Also worth it. So if you come to visit us in New Zealand, pack your suitcase with green enchilada sauce and black beans. Actually, just email me, because I have a list. Heh heh. But really, I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yes I'm from Fargo, ND

The interior of an old house at Bonanzaville in West Fargo, above, and my husband Darin with my brother-in-law Richard, the deputy Sheriff (and his dog Lucky).
Darin and I are Fargo natives. We recently returned to visit our families, because my parents had their 50th wedding anniversary, and Darin's mom's family had a reunion. My siblings and I hosted a party for our parents at the refurbished Hotel Donaldson. It was supposed to be on the roof, but the weather was cold, so we moved it inside. We had relatives come from Florida (former Montanans), Montana, and Washington state. I was really pleased that everyone seemed to have a good time at the party. Mom and Dad got lots of cards.
The city has done a nice job of restoring the old buildings downtown. The Fargo theatre is one of my favorites. No, make that my #1 favorite. The old Fargo train depot is below. I cannot comprehend why this lovely building is not being used. The train office that's in use is in a boring square building next door. Darin and I departed Fargo by train to Minneapolis to catch our morning flight at 3 am. Amtrak train was really quite roomy and comfortable; affordable even. They just don't make bells like this anymore. Maybe that's a good thing, I just don't know.The above photo was taken at Bonanzaville. I talked my old friend (from Longfellow grade school in North Fargo!) Sonja into going out there for a bit of old-timey, dusty entertainment with her two kids. Don't try to tell me Bison are uncool! Bison rule and that's final. Bonanzaville is a bit of a relic, in need of a big monetary infusion, but it's comforting how it hasn't changed at all. There's still the creepy jar of teeth in the old dentist office.

Yeah that's gross, but what parent doesn't save their kids' baby teeth? How is this any different? I guess the worst part is that you can see the roots still attached on these teeth. Ouch! Makes me glad I live in a time of anaesthesia and antibiotics.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I love Minneapolis, MN

Darin and I had a two week holiday in the United States. Flights were mainly uneventful, but we decided we prefer Air New Zealand to Qantas. We flew Qantas this time, and the service just wasn't as good, and the entertainment system was having problems. The trans-pacific film festival was cancelled, but I managed to see part of Grand Torino and most of Milk. Milk was really good. Oh yes and part of He's Just Not That In To You, which was... meh, who cares. We flew out of John Wayne airport in Orange County, and the security there SUCKED! I got pulled aside for extra searching because I had a nearly empty but full size tube of toothpaste in my bag, and I didn't take off my shoes before going through the metal detector. When I went to board the plane, they wouldn't let me on because the security hadn't stamped my boarding pass after their search. They had to have someone come and do it all over again, at the very last gate in the terminal. I was afraid the plane was going to leave without me and I'd be trapped in the freaky OC. Fortunately, the woman who did the second search was very nice, so she escaped my wrath.
Our flight landed late in the evening in Minneapolis, so we stayed at a hotel near the airport and Mall of America. We met our friend Rob and went for breakfast at a restaurant in the mall. It was pretty empty for a Saturday afternoon. After a bit of shopping, we moved into our hotel in the city. I like downtown Minneapolis. Too bad the streets were all torn up with construction.
Another old friend, John, was playing with the White Iron Band at an event called Beerfest. The band plays beer drinkin' party music. That's John on the fiddle.
Beerfest was uncomfortably crowded, and the servers would only fill your glass to a line on it, about 1/3 cup at most. I was happy to see Rogue Brewery there, from Oregon, serving Dead Guy Ale. So we headed back to the hotel for a change of clothes and a few swigs of Darin's homemade whiskey, before heading over to the original Buca di Beppo restaurant for some tasty Italian food.The following day, we met John and his family for lunch, then a bit of shopping at Penzey's spices and Big Brain Comics. Big Brain is a totally awesome shop, and I could have spent all day in there. I bought a few books, including Studs Terkel Working, a Graphic Adaptation, which is really wonderful. I also got Acme Novelty Library Nineteen by Chris Ware- I adore his work! and also Palestine by Joe Sacco, which I've heard good things about.
That's John again. Too bad we don't live closer, I'd love to hang out. It was great to see other friends from Fargo. We lived there for 21 years, and made some great friends. Next post: Fargo.