Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oregon State Fair (Ovine Photo Special)

I worked too hard this summer past; it's the kind of silly thing you do when you're new to a job. In fact I even missed my sister's wedding, which is one of those sins for which there is no forgiveness, and indeed left me feeling bluer than I imagined it might. Let that be a lesson to me. On the positive side, there was the State Fair - and a good time was had by all. Ethan very much enjoyed the snake exhibition and the crepes with whipped cream, strawberries and 'nanas.

One of us is worth a decent prize (allegedly). Bet you can't guess which!

Ethan selects a slimy "cool duck" from the flock. His prize - a set of three giant cuddly crayons in red, blue and orange.

This sheep is in the Klan. No, of course he isn't, he's black.

This sheep is being pampered ahead of the showtime.

This is just a fuzzy little lambkin.

These gigantic sheep are being judged. There's a lot more to animal judging than townies could even imagine; the heirloom pig judge spoke faster than an auctioneer and said things like, "I want to commend the young lady on raising a mighty fine pig right there; she has a real nice feminine bone structure to her face," and yes, he was talking about the pig.

I might have missed the big boy's rodeo, but the children riding sheep was very nearly as cool. Just a few years until Ethan can start wrangling one of those beasts!

And she's off!

That's mighty fine riding there, partner!

Where have all the cowboys gone? Well, here's two for a start. Though perhaps one of them is more of a farmer.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Clark County Fair

As many of you are aware, I have become enchanted with the bucolic joys of the country fair. Oft contemplated with mild derision by Saab-driving europhile urbanites and hipsters with their ironic polyester shirts, gigantic graduated shades and thin handlebar moustaches, the fair is of course the culmination of the agrarian calendar, a celebration of the craft, vigour and tenacity of those unafraid to actually work for a living, and a chance to step back, relax and take pleasure in nature's rich bounty - symbolically represented by "elephant's ear" doughnuts dipped in cinnamon sugar, fry bricks, QVC style demonstrations of wonder gadgets, miscellaneous competitions, a fun fair, displays, attractions, stalls and an infectious sense of bonhomie.

This sheep is a member of Al-Qaeda. No, she's just being blinkered for a spot of pre-competition grooming.

A llama in harness.


I'm sure you are all highly familiar with duck-racing. No explanation necessary.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Duck hunting and peculiar flowers

Ethan is fond of ducks and partly as a consequence of this, and partly because I love the place, we take a fortnightly trip down to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens. It is maybe three miles to the south of us, free of charge after six in the evening, tranquil and beautiful, ridiculously so. I enjoy the scenery and contemplative air; Ethan enjoys chasing the ducks, of which there are many, across a variety of subspecies. As a bonus I get to stop off at Trader Joe's on the way home - an idiosyncratic supermarket which has absurdly good deals on imported cheese. Plus Ethan gets a free balloon.

The volcanic soil and temperate climate mean almost everything grows well in Portland; indeed the challenge appears to be to kill something of rather than sustain it. Despite three years of benign neglect our own garden flourishes despite us; and beyond this, every stroll through the neighborhood reveals a panoply of new and delightful flora, some illustrated below.

Any plans for the weekend, sir? Yes, on Saturday I shall be crayoning the sofa. I will spend Sunday hunting ducks at Laurelhurst Park, prior to collapsing in front of the TV and catching up on Elmo's latest adventures.

Somewhere around here are some ducks...

..lovely duckies...

...and baby duckies...

The ducks have no sense of my presence; I am invisible, a shadow.

Heh Heh Heh!

Behold this remarkable seed pod type thing.

Ditto this, half-way to a dandelion.

Apparently most, if not all, of these things have names.

Not Mars, SE Yamhill Street in fact.