Well, my laptop is terminal. I found a computer service center in Minot, ND that diagnosed it and gave me the bad news. Fortunately, I have a smart son who made me back up the whole thing before we left on the tour, so my files will eventually be available to me again, but not until after I get home from tour.
It reminds me of moving. You drag boxes and boxes of stuff with you from the old place, store it in the new place until you've got the time to unpack and find new official places to store it.
"It" being stuff you probably don't really need. Or even really want. But certainly can't part with.
Just in case.
So I'll probably get a new computer, load it up with all the backed-up files and wind up with a completely cluttered computer that I need to sort through and clean up.
When I have more time.
All this to say that I'm sorry to not have been more conversant over the tour, but I will do a little catch up here...
As of tonight, we are at the 'tag' spot. You know when you're a kid and you have to run relays and you get to the turnaround point, tag the wall or post or whatever, then charge back? Well, that's where we are. We have tagged the post. Or, in this case, an Irish inn in Milwaukee, which is located across the street from Lake Michigan. Pretty nice turn around point, especially after about 7 hours of driving today.
Working backwards, it was a beautiful drive through Wisconsin. The trees are in full fall regalia, and the farms with their red barns and silos are so picturesque. We did an event in Spring Green, WI at a small but delightful store (Arcadia Books) where the stew was delicious and the people attending were great. I gave away a lot of Sammy shoelaces! Wisconsin is known for its cheese, so we asked for a recommendation and were told to get Carr Valley cheese. So afterward on the drive to Milwaukee, we skidded into a roadside store that had that name on the building.
Cheese curds were both something I'd heard of and something that didn't sound too appealing, but when in Wisconsin... We didn't really want to buy a full pound, though, (which was size they were selling), so the woman broke up a bag for us and sold us a quarter pound. I commented that we didn't have a refrigerator, and she informed us that cheese curds need to be at room temp when eaten. "You want them to squeak!"
Well, guess what? Cheese curds squeak when chewed. They sound like someone cleaning a window.
Guess what else? They're delicious! They taste like mozzarella sticks, only...with better texture and...saltier and...just better!
Good thing we only got a quarter pound.
Backing up to Minneapolis, we had a wild time at Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, where the store is a sort of hybrid between bookstore and pet shop. Or, maybe, zoo. They had ferrets, chickens, cats, a tarantula, cockatiels, chinchillas, fish and...well creatures I can't recall right now, but the place was bouncing with people, there to shop for books and check out the critters.
And my big visual impression of the past week (actually, almost two, sorry) is corn. Miles and miles of corn. I cannot believe the massive volume of corn that is grown in Illinois, North Dakota, Montana and Missouri. Wisconsin's got it, too. It stands 6 feet tall and is visible for miles, dried to blonde stalks. I first noticed it from the air when we flew to Illinois, pre-Puyallup. I couldn't figure out what it was until we were on the ground, driving miles and miles through it. Apparently it's not table corn. I was told it was used for other things--like oil and corn meal--and that the harvesting combine separates the ears from the stalks and strips the kernels right off. Incredible.
Randomly: We're up to three "stars" in the windshield. There's the one we picked up in Texas that looks like someone hit us with a baseball bat. Despite its size, it's minding itself quite nicely. The other two are little, and one has inferiority issues, as it's spreading across the glass, expanding its territory a little each day. Other than that, it's been pretty smooth sailing through the cornfields of the northern USA.
I've met a few people "from the blog" these past two weeks, which has been excellent and really fun. One crocheted a Penny-the-Pig for me, and now I have a little black pig on the dash, reminding me to "follow the pig!" (Something I've been known to advise aspiring writers to do.) Another made a paper flower out of the pages of a Sammy Keyes book (that had already been thrashed). And others delivered warm hugs, which has been so nice!
We have an early morning with a gym full of sixth graders tomorrow, so I'm wrapping this up here. Thank you for checking in and for keeping us company on this journey! Have a good week, and remember: follow the pig!