Saturday, May 31, 2014

Curling. On the Ice with Friends

OK, I didn't go on the ice.  I know better.   I banged my head on the ice when I was about 8 and I still suffer the effects of it.  Just ask my mother!

Meet Claude and Angie!

Carefully studying the next thrower and rock.

And, getting ready to pounce on the rock as it goes by.  

I learned that you can only sweep to speed up the rock as it travels down the ice.  So, if your team throws, you can sweep.  The opposing team can't interfere. 

I did suggest a rule change, of course, so that you could play defense while sweeping.   But, it was quickly rejected as likely leading to something like hockey without any protective equipment.  Now, I still think that would be interesting. 

Thanks Angie and Claude!

Friday, May 30, 2014


I was graciously invited to tag along with friends as they went curling.  Since I had only watched curling on television (about as often as golf, actually), I was very grateful for the invitation to join them, learn about the game, and get a few photos.

First....the rocks!

As near as I can tell, every team has about 100 rocks.   And they fling them down the ice.....And, this is no mean feat considering they weigh about 40 lbs each!

OK....I will do better.  First, each team has 4 players and each player gets to throw 2 rocks.  So, each team really only has 8 rocks.  But,  that's a lot of rocks (16) at each end of the sheet!   Yes...the players throw both directions!

toward this:

where the objective is to place your rock in the center.   And, that includes knocking other people's rocks OUT.  I rather like that part the best.  Offense!!

And, you keep score!

It took a while to figure out the scoring from looking at the score board.  I kept interpreting it as if I were 90 degrees off.  It didn't make sense.  But, I think this is something like a baseball inning.  And, only one team gets to score in each "inning" or end.  That is what was throwing me.  You didn't see any score, not even a zero, on the team that didn't get any points in an end....I think. 

It was all too confusing for an old guy like me.  

But, it was FUN to watch.   And, I was made to feel most welcome by a delightful and charming group!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Wrapping Up.

One of the cool things I saw as I left was a wooden framework with ribbons of cloth hanging down.  As people walked out, they walked through the ribbons and returned to the 21st Century and their lives, cars, and jobs.

It occurred to me that this isn't difficult (even for a man) to create. And, this could be the perfect boundary from one world to another for a child.  

So, I am going to create something like this for the Sash awarding ceremony for the grandkids.  Walk through this and enter the new world where you receive your "Sash of Manhood" (or, Womanhood" as the case may be). 


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Birthday Wish for my Son.

Today is my sons birthday.

He has done well and I am very proud of him.

Well done, Big D.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Attire!

I saw several people sporting hats similar to this.  I actually liked it a lot and could see the benefit in the cold!

And, the very cool had Hudson Bay jackets.  Very warm.  And, I loved the hood.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day, 2014

I always have a hard time visiting Bob.  I mean, it is good to go.  I need to go.  We talk.

But, it is still difficult.  I am overcome with intense grief and a sense of meaningless loss.

But, he rests quietly.   He gets the shade of the afternoon sun.  And, he helps keep my perspective.  He often did.

Take care Bob.  I will be back more often.  I promise.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

Typically I don't post on Sunday morning.  I try to find an interesting post for Saturday and then let it ride until Monday morning.

But, this is Memorial Day weekend.  So, I want to post today and tomorrow.

I went to Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Thursday.  It is a deeply solemn place.  And, as some readers know, I go to visit Bob.   I will talk about Bob tomorrow.

For now, just a bit of information:  The first burial in the "National Cemetery" was July 5th, 1939.  It was Capt. George H. Mallon, "whose acts of heroism at Meuse-Argonne in France were recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Besides Capt. Mallon, seven other medal of honor recipients are buried there.  Following the dedication of the new cemetery, arrangements were made for the exhumation of the remains of those buried at the older (Fort Snelling) post cemetery and the reinterment of the 680 soldiers who served from 1820-1939 buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery." 

Today, we remember those that lie here.

Each fall, before the ground freezes, roughly 1,000 more graves are prepared.

Seemingly endless rows of white stones.

And, the center drive for funeral processions, registrations, etc.

It is hard to not go there and be moved.

I went on Thursday for a couple of reasons.  First, I was close.   Second, I wanted to spend more quiet time.  Memorial Day is always very crowded.  I may be there again, though.  I think Bob enjoyed my visit.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Frozen Maple Syrup Taffy: The Sugar Shack!

I was very curious about the sweet treat that everyone was enjoying.  So, I stood in line for a while to see how it was made.

First, a thin layer of snow with a little trough in it.   The trough holds the warm maple syrup.

Add the tongue depressor stick.  Roll up the ever freezing maple syrup.

Finally, stick it in a small dish of sugar for the final coating.  NUMMY!!! 

And, all healthy, too.  It is all natural (if you assume it all comes from plants and the frozen rain!)
It was actually quite good.  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Inside a Teepee and Food!

There were three large teepee's near the front of the Festival grounds.   Inside, I found a few voyageurs relaxing and gathering around a pot of very good smelling stew!

The teepee was quite comfortable.   A little snow piled up around the base helped keep the cold from blowing in.  And, it didn't take much of a fire to provide warmth.

And the smell was....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!


Festival du Voyageur: Inside the NorthWest Company's Trading Post: Characters! The Blacksmith

During the winter, the Blacksmith's is COZY and WARM.  In fact, they were working up quite a sweat!

One person entertains the crowd and explains various tools, processes, etc. 
The other is busy doing all the work!!

The fire was nice and warm, wrapped in a rock hearth.

You can just make out the red metal in the photo.  


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Inside the NorthWest Company's Trading Post: More Characters!

Another Voyageur in the NW Co. Trading post.

I really did enjoy the beards, red hats, sashes, etc.   And, listening to the French language was very cool.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Inside the NorthWest Company's Trading Post: The Carver

I really liked the look of this gentleman.  He was very busy carving something with some rather sharp knives.  And, he was entirely focused on his work.

When you are dealing with sharp knives, it is a good thing to remain focused. 

My sincere thanks!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Inside the NorthWest Company's Trading Post: Characters!

A customer waxing eloquently about something.

If memory serves me correctly, the gentleman below was the shop keeper. I suspect the shopkeeper did not agree with the customer's position!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Inside the NorthWest Company's Trading Post

It was very fun to walk into the NWCo store and see artifacts and people re-living the past....a past many of us studied in grade school.  

If you are curious, "gun worms" are a tool to remove unspent cartridges from a musket barrel. 

And, you definitely need tobacco!

This was one of the Voyageurs having a bit of cracker with jam. 

This week, more re-enactors from the NW Company's post.  If you want to know more about the North West Company, check it out here!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort 6

I really liked this gentleman.  He was marvelously authentic and he was thoroughly enjoying his role at another trading post within the fort.  This one was sponsored by the Hudson Bay Company. 

S'occuper d'un jeu de hazard?


Friday, May 16, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: Snow on the Roof

OK...I just liked this photo.  Once in a while I get to try and be artistic.

What you are seeing is the roof of a building.  That's not the sky around the wood.  That's snow on the roof that wraps around the dormer.

The sun was very bright so some of the depth of the snow is lost.   But, you can see the bright sunlight just at the peak and to the right.   The drifts on the roof were pretty deep!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort 4: Food!

It was interesting to see people preparing food, soups, etc. in large pots in open fires.   It smelled amazing!

Below I see carrots and possibly potatoes (Dan Quayle, did I spell that right?)

And pork!

The photos of the pot and the fire didn't turn out well.  But, these ingredients were soon added and people could purchase a cup of soup.   No one really minded the food being out in the open.  Remember, it was about 25F at this time!  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort 3

This gentleman appeared to be an attendee rather than a re-enactor.  But, he was clearly taking the heritage seriously with the hat, sash, and Hudson's Bay jacket.

I liked the look!  It was most authentic and fitting!

Well done!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort 2 MUSIC!

Within the same room, we were entertained with music.  The violin player was very good!

And, it was very fun to see someone playing the spoons!  After all, every music style that I know of needs someone that can keep the rhythm!

Again, note the sash!  And yes, it was a little weird getting that close for that spoons photo!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort 1

Once I was inside the fort, I found several smaller buildings with artisans, re-enactors, artifacts, etc appropriate to the time period.

These gentlemen were having a wonderful conversation, all in French, of course.

And, as you can see, the facial expressions were wonderful!   The gentleman below was quite animated. 

I believe this photo was taken as he watched one of the other re-enactors fall through the rope mattress in the top bunk!

It was pretty funny.  And, they never broke character!

Well done!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 Happy Mother's Day

This is my mother.  She really does not like having her photo taken.  But, she graciously sat still long enough for a shot!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

I am sorry for the times I tied you to the clothesline pole and piled sticks around you and played burn her at the stake with the neighbor kids.   And, I am sorry for the times I hung you upside down over the stair rail and swung you back and forth like a pendulum on a clock.   And, yes, I am sorry for the times I carried you out of church because I wanted to get home to watch Laurel and Hardy. 

It is a good thing you were tough!

Thanks Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort's Trading Post

Trading furs for goods.  The Northwest Company Fur Post was doing a brisk business.

It was one of the first companies in the area, competing with the Hudson Bay Company.

It was also a place where the "winterers" (the Voyageurs who stayed inland during the harsh winters to trap) could come to in the spring and see what amounted to civilization and reconnect with friends.   They would trade furs for supplies.  Spend a fair amount of the summer in camp.  And, then, back into the woods for the winters work.

It was a harsh life. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Festival du Voyageur: In the Fort: In a nice, warm cabin

Certainly the ladies of the day were busy preparing food and ordering the men about!

But, they did seem to enjoy the role.

My sincere thanks!