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Lincoln’s Birthday, Indie bookstore window photographed with Canon Powershot & edited with PhotoShop Elements, Wayzata, Minnesota, February 16th, 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A few years ago, Liz and I went to see Ronald C. White, Jr. at the Bookcase of Wayzata, an independent bookstore on Lake Minnetonka. He was there to discuss his new book, A. Lincoln: A Biography. I had heard him interviewed earlier in the morning on MPR; Liz and I decided to be spontaneous and go hear him speak. The little Indie bookstore was packed.

White talked about how Lincoln loved words. And because of that, his words were like poetry. White wrote his book for those who might be reading a Lincoln biography for the first time, or to introduce Lincoln to a younger generation. He also spoke about how Obama started to shine a light on Lincoln, and how he (White) was booked for speaking engagements in Mississippi and Alabama, and also in Europe where many think Abe Lincoln personifies the American Dream.

More than 16,000 books have been written about Abraham Lincoln. Yet not all of his story has been told. At the end of the Civil War, between March and April 1865, Lincoln went to Northern Virginia to meet with his generals. He shook hands with thousands of Union soldiers and visited the former Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia. But little is known about the last week of his life before his assassination on April 14, 1865.

Historian Noah Andre Trudeau thinks that in their rush to get to Ford’s Theater, historians have overlooked this important part of Lincoln’s life. After the Civil War, the President of the United States met Generals Grant and Sherman in Virginia to talk about the surrender of the South and its impact on our country. Lincoln visited Richmond, then considered enemy territory, as an observer. He was looking for ways a torn nation could begin to heal.

Having spent my childhood in the South, and most of my adult years in the North, I am compelled to follow literature about the Civil War. One of my ancestors was a courier for Robert E. Lee. When we moved to the North, one of the first places we visited was the Gettysburg battlefield. I am fascinated by the work of photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan who took this photo, one half of a stereo view of Alfred R. Waud, artist of Harper’s Weekly, while he sketched on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July of 1863. (See links below for the rest of the Atlantic series on photographs of the Civil War.)

Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Trudeau is known for uncovering its secrets. His previous books, Bloody Roads South and Gettysburg, have unveiled information about General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march to the sea in 1864, and the legacy of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Now, in preparation for the book about a largely unexamined period of President Abraham Lincoln’s life, Trudeau is in search of witnesses.

He is seeking diary entries, letters or stories of people who encountered Lincoln at the time. During the NPR story, I was surprised to hear several people call in with leads to family scrapbooks and letters relating to Lincoln. (To share information, contact him at lincoln65@earthlink.net.) About his quest for truth, Trudeau states: “My one nightmare is that I’m going to do a very good job of discrediting all the good stories.” I think it’s quite the contrary. The more stories revealed, the closer we are to weaving together the textured layers of the past, and unraveling the sometimes painful chapters in American history.


Resources:

Historian Seeks Artifacts From Lincoln’s Last Days : NPR Talk Of The Nation (LINK)

A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr. at his Official Website (LINK)

Abraham Lincoln and Slavery | Minnesota Public Radio News (LINK) – historian Eric Foner examines Abraham Lincoln’s complex ideas about slavery and African Americans, casting fresh light on an American icon.

The Civil War, Part 1: The Places, the Atlantic – February 8th, 2012 (LINK) – First installment of amazing b&w photographs of important places in the Civil War. (Some images in the three Series are graphic.)

The Civil War, Part 2: The People, the Atlantic – February 9th, 2012 (LINK) – Second installment of b&w photographs of the Civil War. Includes a photo portrait of Abraham Lincoln taken by photographer Alexander Gardner on February 5, 1865.

Traditionally called “last photograph of Lincoln from life”, this final photo in Lincoln’s last photo session was long thought to have been made on April 10, 1865, but more recent research has indicated the earlier date in February. The crack comes from the original negative, which was broken and discarded back in 1865. The entirety of the American Civil War took place while Lincoln was in office, starting a month after he was elected, and ending just days before his assassination in April of 1865.

The Civil War, Part 3: The Stereographs, the Atlantic – February 10th, 2012 (LINK) – Third installment of the Stereographs of the Civil War with the work of photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, February 12th, 2012, birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Related to posts: Abraham Lincoln & Nikki Giovanni (On Poets & Presidents), Presidential Poetics — Elizabeth Alexander, President Barack Obama, Book Talk — Do You Let Yourself Read?

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Wisdom Ways Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Wisdom Ways Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s the first Saturday in May. Happy May Day weekend! Hope you got out and enjoyed World Labyrinth Day, “a global event intended to bring people from all over the planet together in celebration of the labyrinth as a symbol, a tool, a passion or a practice.” A few weeks ago, two of our friends began building a labyrinth in their front yard. I told them to be sure and document the process and to register their labyrinth at World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.

World Labyrinth Day is designed to inform and educate the public, host walks, build labyrinths, make labyrinth art and more. Part of the celebration is to invite others to “Walk as One at 1,” setting off a rolling wave of labyrinth walking as the Earth turns by walking at 1:00 p.m. in your local time zone. In Minneapolis, Central Lutheran Church had their doors open to walk their labyrinth from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The labyrinth in the photograph is the Wisdom Ways Labyrinth near the Carondelet Center at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Carondelet Center, built in 1912, is a stately brick Beaux Art landmark that originally served as the Novitiate for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. A few years ago, I walked the labyrinth there over the course of a year, a practice in all seasons, rain or shine. In April, I returned to walk after a long absence. It felt like coming home.

Here’s what the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality says about the Wisdom Ways Labyrinth:

You are invited to experience an ancient walking meditation by walking our outdoor 77-foot diameter replica of the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France. Walking the labyrinth is an ancient spiritual act and a physical meditation that has been rediscovered in our time. Anyone from any tradition or spiritual path can walk into the labyrinth and, through reflecting in the present moment, benefit.

The pattern of this labyrinth is a replica of the great 42-foot labyrinth embedded in stone within the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, southwest of Paris. There is evidence that the Chartres labyrinth was first installed between 1194 and 1220. It was used in sacred devotion to take the place of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for those unable to make the actual trip. The center is the goal and is shaped like a six petal flower.

A labyrinth is an ancient circular pattern found in many cultures around the world. In its classical form, this sacred path has one concentric circular path with no possibility of going astray – unlike a maze, there are no dead-ends or false trails in a labyrinth. Labyrinths have been found in almost every spiritual tradition in the past 4000-5000 years in such areas as Egypt, Greece, Italy, France, England, Sweden, Peru and North America.

Red Converse All-Star Walks Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Carondelet Center In Saint Paul, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Labyrinth Bench Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Circle Bench, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Red Converse All-Star Walks Labyrinth, Carondelet Center, Labyrinth Bench Press, Circle Bench, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Labyrinths on red Ravine


-posted on red Ravine, World Labyrinth Day, May 2nd, 2009 with gratitude to Lesley for alerting us to World Labyrinth Day

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By Bob Chrisman



Mom, October 1927 (age 12), all rights reserved

Mom (1927), author Bob Chrisman’s mother in October 1927 at age 12, all images (unless otherwise noted) © 2008 by Bob Chrisman. All rights reserved.





On November 30, 2008 my mother would have observed the 93rd anniversary of her birth. In her life she witnessed many things. Sometimes we lose ourselves in the muddle and mire of our everyday lives. We rarely step back to see the sweep of history that has unfolded during our lifetimes. Here are some of the things my mother experienced.



Mom, circa 1919, all rights reservedMy mother came into the world in a little rented house in rural northwestern Missouri. Most women didn’t have babies in hospitals. Her family lived in a three-room house heated by a coal stove. They had no indoor plumbing. The outhouse sat out back. The water pump stood in the side yard. They heated water for baths and bathed in a washtub placed next to the stove. In the fall, they dug a hole in the backyard, lined it with hay, and stored vegetables and fruits. They lived off that storehouse during the winter.

Mom, 1944, all rights reservedShe and my father bought and paid for a house in the 1940s, only four rooms, but they owned it and it had indoor plumbing. She kept the refrigerator-freezer packed with food bought at grocers, then markets, then supermarkets, and finally at SUPER marts.

She rode a horse to the one-room school house. She quit school in the 8th grade to work at the local switchboard with her sister, Faye. Her parents needed help. She made sure that both of her children attended high school and college.

The wall-mounted box phones of the 1920s turned into heavy black things, like the one she had for 57 years. She never liked portable phones or cell phones. They belonged in science fiction movies or the Dick Tracy cartoon strip. Not everyone owned a phone. When more people did, they had party lines, not private ones. She had the last party line in St. Joseph.

Her first radio sat in a huge cabinet filled with tubes. Only one person could listen to it through a headset. Radios shrank to portables and then transformed into transistor radios until they virtually disappeared into matchbox-sized squares.

Mom, 1954, all rights reservedShe bought a black-and white TV in 1957 “for the kids.” The colors on the first color television hurt her eyes so she didn’t buy one until the late 1970s.

Music progressed from popular music, played by ear by her youngest sister, to records shared by friends. Records changed from brittle 78 rpm platters played on hand-cranked machines to thin, plastic 45s and LPs played on systems. She listened in high fidelity and then stereo. Records became 8-track tapes, then cassette tapes, and finally compact discs.

She used a wringer washer, which was a great improvement over the washboard and wash tub. She never owned an automatic washing machine. When a wringer broke in the early 1990s she tried to buy a new machine. “Bob, they told me they stopped making those about 20 years ago.” She never bought another washing machine. She discovered the laundry mat.

Mom, mid-1960s, all rights reservedShe line-dried clothes, outside in nice weather and inside in the kitchen during inclement weather. She bought a clothes dryer in 1969 when the amount of laundry generated by my invalid father required quickly dried clothes.

She went from Lou Levin’s “Happy Days Are Here Again” to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” She endured “Scotch and Soda” by the Kingston Trio, a favorite of my sister, to Aretha Franklin screaming “Think,” my favorite. She never stopped loving Bing Crosby and Big Band music.

The first time she saw a car and an airplane, she thought how odd they looked. She never learned to drive. She flew for the first time in the early 1960s. She watched animals go into space, followed by humans, and then Americans who landed and walked on the Moon.


Mom, Christmas 1973, all rights reservedShe lived through the numerous conflicts in which America engaged: World Wars I & II, Korea, and Vietnam. Her life ended with the nation at war in Afghanistan and Iraq (the sequel). She saw enemy nations become friends and then enemies and sometimes friends again.

She didn’t worry about who became president. She survived the administrations of 16 presidents: Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, FDR (three times), Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. She never missed an election. Besides, she couldn’t complain if she hadn’t voted.

Women won the right to vote during her early years, but she never saw the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Despite her lack of equality, she ran the household. She joined other women who ran their households, churches, and school and civic organizations. She knew that women ruled the world. She lived to see women lead nations and corporations and go to Congress.

Mom, early 1980s, all rights reservedShe saw Blacks fight for their rights as citizens and she supported them. She believed that ALL Americans were created equal and should be treated equally by the law. She supported the equal rights of homosexuals. During “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” she wrote letters to her Congressional representatives. “I told them that ho-ma-sex-yalls and lespians should be able to serve their country. If we had more of them in the service, we wouldn’t have all those illegitimate children running around overseas.” An argument I have never heard expressed by anyone else.

She survived the flu epidemic of 1918 that killed millions of Americans. She protected her children from polio during the 1950s. She watched advances in medicine that eliminated so many diseases, yet never cured cancer or AIDS.


momapril2002-200She made it through the Great Depression, the Red Scare, and the anti-war movement. She saw the assassinations of JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Bobby Kennedy.

Hemlines rose and fell, the same with empires, nations, religious leaders, and the stock market. She outlived her parents, her sisters, her cousins, and some of their children. She experienced a lot of life in those 92, going on 93, years.



Take some time and reflect on your life. What have you seen change in your lifetime? For 10 minutes, go.





Mom, 1999, taken by the author's friend, photographer Sandra McGuire, photo © 1999-2008 by Sandra McGuire, all rights reserved

Mom (1999), taken by the author’s friend, Sandra McGuire,
photo © 1999-2008 by Sandra McGuire. All rights reserved.






Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer who frequently writes memoir about his mother and his childhood. The first piece he published on red Ravine, Hands, talked about his mother’s final days and her death.

His other red Ravine posts include Growing Older, Goat Ranch, Stephenie Bit Me, Too, and The Law Of Threes.

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Minnesota State Fair -- Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair – Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Let’s Talk History

Summer is winding down; it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! After 4 years of territorial fairs, the first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 near downtown Minneapolis, one year after Minnesota was granted statehood (2008 is the Minnesota Sesquicentennial). The Minnesota State Fair found a permanent home midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul when Ramsey County donated its 210-acre poor farm to the governing body of the State Fair, the State Agricultural Society.

The Fairgrounds now cover 320 acres and contain a number of architecturally and historically significant structures. And this year, there are Sesquicentennial Celebration events taking place under the Big Top at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, including a 150th birthday cake and Minnesota Memories, conversations with some of Minnesota’s most colorful residents.

Many famous people have walked through these gates. It’s hard to believe it’s been 80 years since F. Scott Fitzgerald reminisced about the Minnesota State Fair in his book, A Night at the Fair. Since 1859, rain or shine, the Minnesota State Fair has been held every year except five:


  • 1861 — the Civil War
  • 1862 — the Dakota Indian Conflict
  • 1893 — scheduling conflicts with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • 1945 — war-time fuel shortages
  • 1946 — polio epidemic


Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


Classic rides grace the Mighty Midway; a couple of new ones, too, like the Heartbreaker and the Wind Surf.  I’m not much of ride person (I get too seasick!). I attend the State Fair for the tradition, the food, and the music (Alabama has performed 18 times in 13 years). This year, Liz and I have tickets to see Gnarls Barkley at the Grandstand. We plan to make a day of it. And if you’re into history, the Minnesota State Fair is full of odd and choice moments in time:

  • 1887, 1888, 1889, 1898 – Battle Reenactments of Minnesota at Gettysburg
  • 1906 – St. Paul Growers Association built a model of the new State Capitol out of onions
  • 1915 – a Baby Contest pitted city babies vs. country babies, Minneapolis babies vs. St. Paul babies
  • 1927 – John Phillip Sousa was the Fair’s first big name entertainer. He performed in the Plaza Park outside the Grandstand.
  • 1938 – the last year the Fair started on the Saturday before Labor Day
  • 1949 – the last year of horse races
  • 2002 – the last year of Grandstand auto racing


Close Up Nightshot - Carousel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Close Up Nightshot – Carousel, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I’m particularly fond of the carousel, and the tradition of outdoor sculptures at the Fair. Over the years, there have been many: the 36-foot-tall Pioneer Woman made of gold fiberglass erected in 1958 to commemorate the State’s Centennial (she’s 50 years old this year); the 1959 statue of Neptune (a tribute to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway); and my personal favorite, Fairchild the Gopher, a 24-foot fiberglass statue dressed as a Midway barker, complete with striped jacket and straw skimmer.


Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


In 1966, Fairchild the gopher became the official mascot of the State Fair and was joined by his nephew, Fairborne, in 1983. Fairchild (a play on the institution’s title) got his name after a state-wide naming contest. It is also a tribute to Henry S. Fairchild, the man who suggested the Ramsey County Poor Farm become the permanent site of the State Fair (more Fair photographs in my Flickr set Minnesota State Fair.)

You can learn more by visiting The State Fair History Museum in Heritage Square. The museum, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., showcases memorabilia and artifacts from the Fair’s past and admission is free. Or, for little known Minnesota State Fair trivia, visit the comment section of last year’s MN State Fair On-A-Stick where our friend Teri (who works at the Fair) knocks our socks off with her bounty of State Fair knowledge.


Worlds Greatest, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

World’s Greatest, Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



What’s New In Food at the Minnesota State Fair?

I’m going to wrap up with my favorite subject — FOOD! Corn fritters, fried green tomatoes, and blooming onions debuted 15 years ago (1993); nearly 500,000 corndogs are consumed at the Fair each year. This video of Minnesota State Fair food lovers snarfing Fair food on-a-stick is a must see. And there’s a breakdown below of all of this year’s foods on-a-stick, as well as what’s new in food at the Fair in 2008 (check out the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder).

I’ll come back after next week to give you a rundown on all the foods on-a-stick I ate (and let you know how Gnarls Barkley turned out). Oh, one more thing — if you want to save a little money, look for the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book Bonus Coupon. Liz just came home from Cub Foods with groceries, State Fair tickets for $8 each (Admission is $11 at the door), and our Blue Ribbon Bargain Book ($4 before August 20th). She’s a big Minnesota State Fair fan and early bird bargain shopper!



Ways To Save $$$ At The Minnesota State Fair

(BRBB) BONUS COUPON –

  • The State Fair Blue Ribbon Bargain Book has 100 coupons worth over $500 in savings on food, merchandise and attractions. New this year, the book contains a bonus coupon good for a free ride or admission at one of the five favorite fair attractions, including the Butterfly House, Pirate Island Shootout, Space Tower, Sky Ride and Ye Old Mill.
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are available through August 20th for only $4 wherever pre-Fair discount admission tickets are sold. During the Fair, books may be purchased at State FairWear Gift Shops on the Fairgrounds for just $5.

SUNSET SUNDAY SAVINGS –

  • On Sundays, August 24th and August 31st, this evening promotion will feature a minimum of 20% off at participating vendors from 8 p.m. until close.



Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Chocolate Chip Cookies on-a-stick
  18. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  19. Corndogs on-a-stick
  20. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  21. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  22. Dessert Dumplings on-a-stick
  23. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  24. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  28. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  31. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  32. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  33. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  34. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  35. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  37. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  38. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  39. Pickles on-a-stick
  40. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  41. Pizza on-a-stick
  42. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  43. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  44. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  45. Rueben on-a-stick
  46. Sausage on-a-stick
  47. Scones on-a-stick
  48. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  49. Shrimp on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  51. S’mores on-a-stick
  52. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  53. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  54. Spudsters on-a-stick
  55. Steak on-a-stick
  56. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  57. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  58. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  59. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  60. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  61. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  62. Walleye on-a-stick
  63. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick


Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 63


Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2008

    Chicken Bites on-a-stick (blackened chicken breast meat served with horseradish sauce)
    @Axel’s, located on the outside southeast corner of the Food Building
    Deep-Fried Ice-Cream
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Deep-Fried S’mores on-a-stick (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker, battered and deep-fried)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    Deep Fried Tater Tots on-a-stick (tater tots made with hashbrowns, cheese, bacon, onions and sour cream deep-fried)
    @Axel’s, located on the southeast corner of the Food Building
    Dessert Chocolate Pizza
    @Pizza Shoppe, located inside the Food Building
    Fish Tacos (southern California-style fish tacos)
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Fried Bacon on-a-stick (Big Fat Bacon) (1/3 lb. slice of bacon fried and caramelized with maple syrup and served with dipping sauces)
    @Big Fat Bacon, located on Carnes Avenue near Nelson Street in front of the DNR Building
    Grilled Shrimp on-a-stick
    @Grilled Shrimp, located on Underwood Street near the Ye Old Mill
    Italian Breakfast Strata (layers of Italian sausage and cheese with Italian bread)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    • Italian Ice (frozen non-dairy confections with up to 20 different flavors)
    @Isabella’s Italian Ice, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    •Leprechaun Legs (lightly battered, deep-fried green beans with dipping sauce)
    @O’Garas, located inside the Food Building
    Neapolitan Cream Puffs
    @Cream Puffs, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    Norwegian Style Cheese Curds (cheese curds battered in a Scandinavian batter, deep-fried and served with Lingonberry-flavored dipping sauce)
    @Ole and Lena’s, located on Liggett near Carnes
    Pickle Pop (pickle juice frozen in a plastic push-up sleeve)
    @Preferred Pickle, located inside the Food Building
    Pig Lickers (chocolate-covered crisp-fried bacon pieces)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue near Liggett Street
    Walking Taco (taco ingredients served neatly in a Dorito bag)
    @Church of the Epiphany, located on Underwood Street between Carnes Avenue and Judson Avenue
    Yaki-Soba Noodles (buckwheat style noodles, wok-fried with spices and vegetables)
    @Island Noodles, located inside the International Bazaar



MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

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Savannah River Near Augusta, June 8th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 

Savannah River from the Bridge, Augusta, Georgia, June 8th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


“It seems I have always lived near rivers and trains.”


The day we went to Eve Street, I remembered I hadn’t taken any photographs of the Savannah. I had zipped off a couple of shots of the 5th Street Bridge, a landmark in disrepair. My grandfather helped build that bridge. It was strange to go back to a place where my family had so much history. I’m used to living in towns and cities where I have no immediate blood kin.

It stands to follow that in those places, I have to forge my own bits of history. But spending time in a city where family members are woven through architecture, church, field, and stream, made me feel connected. Close. The water there plays a big part in my childhood.

The Savannah River is about 350 miles long and its source is in eastern Georgia at a confluence of the Seneca and Tugaloo Rivers. The headwaters originate in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia near Ellicott Rock, the point where the borders of those three states meet. The river flows from a cool, clear stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains and empties through tidal plains into the Atlantic.

Savannah and Augusta are the largest cities on the Savannah River and most of their history evolved from commerce and trade on her waters. Savannah is on the Atlantic, Augusta on the fall line.

Lake Hartwell is a 56,000 acre manmade lake built in 1963 by the Army Corp of Engineers on the headwaters of the Savannah. The 71,535 acre Clarks Hill Reservoir was built by the Corp in 1954 and is 22 miles north of Augusta. Clarks Hill is where my mother wants her ashes to be scattered. She says she spent some of the happiest times of her life waterskiing and swimming in Clarks Hill.

The Savannah River’s history goes back some 12,000 years to the Ice Age. That makes my 400-year-old family history look paltry. Human history along her banks includes Hernando de Soto, James Edward Oglethorpe, the Westo Indians, and a wandering tribe called the Savannah Indians, armed by a group of Carolinians, who drove out the Westos in the Westo War of 1680 and gave their name to the river.

Part of my ancestry can be traced back to Oglethorpe. But the memories I have are of Grandmama Elise picking me up from Belvedere Circle in her black, 40’s Pontiac and singing The Good Ship Lollipop to me as we crossed the 5th Street Bridge. (My great grandfather told them they would run into quicksand when they built it, but they didn’t listen.) When we drove across the river border between South Carolina and Georgia, the wind from the rolled down passenger window roared through my hair; the smell of the paper mill on the river is something a child never forgets.

The memories I have are of rolling over the river to Reynolds Street and my Granddaddy’s shop where my step-dad worked part-time as a mechanic (in addition to his full-time job). I remember the girly calendar on the wall, the smell of grease and Gojo, and pulling an ice cold Coke out of a shiny, red vending machine that gripped the blue-glass bottles like a vice. Then we’d drop salted peanuts from a bag of Planter’s into the lip and alternate swigs of Coke with the soggy crunch of peanuts between our teeth.

My memories are from four years ago, scooting along the Riverwalk in Augusta with my sister and her family when we drove down to visit relatives. We were fresh and tan after body surfing in the Atlantic at Ocean City, Maryland, and spent the day ambling around the Riverwalk museum where we stuffed ourselves into a photo booth for a couple of crazy, animated snapshots. 

My memories are from a week ago, driving back and forth across the Savannah River, photographing landmarks, recording conversations, creating new memories with my step-dad and mother, laughing and conjuring up times long past. My memories are of breaking and mending, of leaving and of coming home.

Here they are, details on the page, the beginning of something much bigger, a creative force spawned from the bowels of rivers and oceans and mountains and trees. Bones. Here are the memories of last week’s water wings, and the flowing, dry humidity of the Savannah.

But I sit on a gray deck near the banks of the wide and rambling Mississippi whose mouth bubbles out not far from the Canadian border in a lake called Itasca.


Sunday, June 17th, 2007

-from Topic post, Water Wings

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 Edges, Thursday, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-Edges, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, all photos © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It was 96 degrees at 5pm. Mom and I did a quick geocache in Martinez, Georgia, right off of Columbia Road and Buckboard Drive. Geobrother, who has logged more than 1000 caches, gave us a few tips. I have barely learned to use a GPSr. Mostly I depend on Liz who easily navigates geocache land with stealth and grace.

When we got to the cache site, Church of Our Savior stood in the middle of a drive around circle. Cars were parked on theLabyrinth, center detail, Martinez, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. grass, edging their front bumpers up to the hedge. We spotted a cool resting place next to the path and grabbed a pen, handwritten directions, GPSr, and Canon gear. When we turned the corner past the hedge, there it was, a beautiful brick paved labyrinth. Mom knew it was there because she had been talking to my brother earlier. But I had not been clued in. I was gleefully surprised.

I told Mom about walking the labyrinth at Carondelet as part of my practice during the writing Intensive last year. The pattern at Church of Our Savior drew a familiar map – a medieval replica of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral. I couldn’t have been happier. Mom immediately spotted the high resting cache, Inward Peace, from the edge of the labyrinth. Liz will be ecstatic. It’s our first cache in Georgia.

Geobrother’s map of found caches goes all the way up and down the East Coast. Liz’s goes from East to West – Maryland all the way out to Wyoming. And now we can add Georgia. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll grab a cache in South Carolina before we leave for the far north on Saturday.

Oleander, Augusta, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.For those who love labyrinths, there is a great tool out there called World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. You can type in a zip code, city, country, or state and up pops a list of addresses and descriptions of labyrinths in the area. Some have photographs and there are details of the architect and model, and whether the labyrinth is grass, brick, dirt, concrete, painted, mowed, or buffed.

We didn’t have a chance to walk the whole labyrinth this afternoon. Though I did take a few photographs of Mom winding toward center. The brick red against summer green created high-contrast beauty. The surrounding inner path was lined in oleander. Only the evergreen leaves were present but I was taken by their shape and beauty. Oleanders are also poisonous and loaded with myth and history. My mother knows all the plants down here, most which bloom in stunning and fragrant color. I have spent much of the trip asking her detail names of plants and trees.

Magnolias, miniature gardenias , crepe myrtle, mimosa, yucca, and lantana to attract the butterflies and bees, are only a Lantana, Augusta, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.few. We saw a brilliant lantana yesterday when we stopped to see a home that had been in my family. The same woman Mom met last year when she brought my youngest brother down was standing outside the house, tending her plants.

“Remember me,” Mom laughed. And the woman said, “Yes, sure I do,” as she walked toward the car for a chat. She said she used to visit her own grandmother in the same house.

I asked her if I could take a photograph and she graciously agreed. When I stepped behind the chain-link fence, the squat, bushy lantana was to the left, covered in dipping butterflies and darting, fat bees. And that’s when my step-dad and mom piped up about the nickname, Ham and Eggs. I kept being amazed at their knowledge of the plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers surrounding them. It reminded me of what Natalie said about knowing the trees in her neighborhood, about paying attention to the details of our environment. It’s important to know what surrounds us in earth, sky, and water.

I felt glad my parents were in tune with the history of the land around them. And I knew they had passed that down to me. I felt joy at spending that kind of time with them. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the unpredictable and solid makings of a family. For the hundreds of times in my youth when I wanted to run the other way, there are only moments left to discover what I might have missed.

Brick by Brick, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Brick by Brick, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Friday, June 8th, 2007

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Cassi’e’s Porch 1876, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Great, Great Grandfather & Grandmother on Cassie’s Porch 1876, copy shot June 5th, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Cassie's House 1876, Augusta, Georgia, June 5, 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s House 1876, copy shot June 5, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We spent the day driving around Augusta, looking for landmarks, visiting cemeteries and churches. The synchronicities continue to happen, right down to the prime parking spaces on Broad Street. When we arrived at the 150-year-old St. James church where my mother had gone as a child, there just happened to be a woman there who had attended Sunday School with my Aunt Evelyn. She knew the whole history of St. James church and gave us a long tour.

Then we travelled out to a cemetery where my great grandmother Elizabeth is buried. Three of us scoured nearly every row on foot in the heat and humidity and could not find the gravestone. We were sweaty and tired and about to give up. But not until after one more pass. The last time was the winner. My step-dad stopped the truck on a hunch, stepped out and walked over to the exact spot where my great grandmother is buried, then pointed down, and smiled. It was one of those Kodak moments.

I wonder if it was the blue moon last week or the stars aligning in Taurus? Wait, are we still in Taurus? Maybe the tide has turned.

But what I want to say is that in the photos above my great, great grandfather Moses is in the foreground and my great, great grandmother Martha stands behind him on the porch of their 1876 home. My great Aunt Cassie was probably one of the children in the photograph. We used to visit her when I was a child. I have memories of her there, greeting us at the door.

The photos below were taken of the house yesterday. I stepped along the same brick sidewalk my ancestors walked a century ago on hot and dusty summer days. Details like this urge me on down into the deeper family history.

I scoured the photos to see what had changed, what had stayed the same. I remember the gray picket fence was there when I was a child in the 60’s. It’s not there now. I imagine the post in front of the tree might have been for hitching a horse. It was gone but we did see quite few cement hitching posts as we drove around downtown Augusta. That’s got to be a different tree growing in front of the house. But I find the overall structure to be generally unchanged.

How all this will play out in the memoir, I don’t yet know. I’m in the thick of it now. Full scale gathering. I need time to sit with all the pieces. What about place makes it home? The history here in the South is rich and controversial. But it’s simplistic and naive to think history is anything but gray.  You can’t lump everyone into broad, polarized categories. History is about individual people’s lives.

There was cactus growing on some of the cemetery plots, rooted deep in the sandy, dry soil. The thunderstorms of the last few days were greatly needed. Later, all of this will flow through me like rain and sink down on to the page. Living twice. Through writing I can experience everything twice. Each time I come here, I leave with more details. And a few more pieces of how place becomes home.
Cassie’s House 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s House 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s Porch, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     

-Cassie’s Porch 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Thursday, June 7th, 2007

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