Still in the Midwest

We’re still here in the Midwest. Time expands here and is full of nostalgia and goes on and on. But despite this, our trip is not quite half over, and we’re still having a good time.

On the 14th we arrived at our friends’ house in the Minneapolis ‘hood. We definitely need to build ourselves a deck so that we can sit on it and grill bratwurst sausages and enjoy evenings. Karmi and Matt work in the arena and convention center business and know a thing or two about how they work. Random fact: It takes about 1000 people-hours to clean a stadium after a baseball game.

Before the evening game on the 15th we took in the sights of the Twin Cities — okay, we didn’t go into Saint Paul. Over breakfast I finished my “secret project.” Next up, the Mall of America. We had been there before, but who can miss this pantheon of American commerce? Lisa loves Calder mobiles, so we took a tour of the excellent Minneapolis Art Institute to see the Surreal Calder. (It was, in fact, surreal, especially in the contexts of disparate objects and automatic writing.) Last stop before the game, the Mill City Museum. I never knew that Minneapolis was a flour milling mecca. Nor did I know how flour was milled. And I didn’t know that much about wheat for that matter. The quirky museum in a burned out flour mill was a lot of fun. More thoughts on farming (or agribusiness or yeomanry or whatever) to come.

Then the Red Sox lost. Boo.

We had to backtrack to make the schedule work. It was nice to have an unapologetically good experience in this brewing town. The time in 1993 involved sleeping in the bus station, and the one in 2000 had me talking (via the blood sugar) to a postcard of Sitting Bull, and then in 2004 I was merely bored.

We didn’t intend to spend so much time there, but we couldn’t find the enormous volcano along I-94 in the Wisconsin Dells that would have been our mini-golf adventure. So we went to the zoo on Saturday morning instead. The Milwaukee County Zoo is a bit like the city itself: working class and kind of run down and not as nice as other cities’ offerings and quite possibly dull unless you work at having fun . . . and we did. Man, was it hot. Not India hot, but hot nonetheless. So the aminals were all taking it easy. So it says something about Midwesterners that several people said the critters were “lazy.” I’ve missed the upper-Midwest’s condescension and quickness to judge.

The Brewers beat the Indians Sunday night — I’ve already written about that — and the wrong sausage won the race around the outfield, but the park was great under the cool evening skies.

We’ve been in Iowa for a couple of days now. We left Milwaukee in a torrential downpour, which had stopped by the time we recrossed the Mississippi River into Dubuque. It’s a cute town; we will have to stop in sometime (perhaps on a Mississippi River-themed trip). A short bit down the road, we looked at all sorts of 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64 scale farm toys in Dyersville’s National Farm Toy Museum. Lisa and I had different experiences — I liked it more than she did — but we thought many of the same things. First, who collects five different versions of the same toy just because the boxes are different? And there’s a ton bushel of ego in this musem, far more than I had ever expected from Iowa.

We had a nice time with my mom, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins yesterday. And this morning we headed to Grinnell to see my prints in the All-Alumni Art Show. It was gratifying to see my work in a gallery, even way in the back. We toured the many new parts of campus (more differences of opinion on the new dorms). Grinnell the town is even smaller than we remebered it. Over lunch we wondered how much different our time there would have been if we’d come from the East instead of the West. Tonight we spent a couple of hours with my father. How did I become who I am? I have no idea. Tomorrow, on to see another grandmother and thence to Kansas.

Stay tuned. . .

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One Response to Still in the Midwest

  1. mary says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY LISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (by the way, jeff, your nat’l farm toy museum link is broken….)

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