Fun

The Dog House on Route 66 in Albuquerque sells hot dogs, photo by author
The Dog House on Route 66 in Albuquerque sells hot dogs, photo by author

Fun

The hot month of August is a good time to escape  the dog days by getting out of the house and let someone else do the cooking. Most likely, this New Mexico dog house sells a lot of hot dogs during the summer months.

Fun!

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Some Thoughts On Turkey Day

"Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor," by William Halsall
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, oil painting by William Halsall, from Wikipedia

Thanksgiving Day

The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop in Santa Fe, NM, when I overheard two men discussing the upcoming holiday in Spanish. To them it was a secular “Anglo” holiday, which could be enjoyed by anybody, who appreciated a well-cooked turkey and a day off. In fact, a little research into the popular national day of rest revealed that Thanksgiving is only widely celebrated in the United States and Canada with the Canadian holiday coming in early October instead of late November. Fixings are about the  same for both nations, but in Canada, Thanksgiving is a three-day (Sat., Sun., Mon.) holiday instead of the normal four in the U.S. Furthermore, in Canada, the popular feast is not tied to any narrative history, like it is in the United States.

Thanksgiving grace in Pennsylvania
Thanksgiving prayer before the meal, Pennsylvania 1942, photo from Farm Security Administration

The Spanish Main
Some historians and cultural commentators are quick to point out that similar feasts or expressions of thanksgiving exist in other parts of North America that predate the 1621 celebration in Massachusetts. Harvest type celebration are cited as having occurred in Florida, Virginia and Texas, years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Despite these observations, the New England meeting of European colonists and Massachusetts Native still remains the common told tale of Thanksgiving and thus serves as the philosophical background for the holiday.

Roast Turkey
Roast turkey is the most common meat served at a Thanksgiving dinner, Photo by M. Rehemtulla, from Wikipedia

About the Food
Though the original feast is reportedly to have had many types of wild game (i.e. fish, lobster, eels, goose and deer), the turkey has become the dominant meat symbol for the November get-together. Although wild turkeys were found in many parts of North America, they were quite abundant in Colonial New England, and so became an important part of the diet for the new arrivals from the Old World. Also important to the American colonists were the Native grown foods of corn, squash, beans and pumpkins. Originally developed in Mexico and Central America over several thousand years ago, these agricultural staples were readily adopted by the early explorers and those who followed after them.

Squanto teaching
Squanto (Tisquantum in the Native tongue) was one of the local Indians, who taught the Pilgrims how to survive, from Wikipedia

The Mayflower and the Massachusetts Indians

The travelers aboard the Mayflower were headed for Virginia, but forced to land at Cape Cod because of bad weather. Many of those on board were enraged at having to spend the winter in snowy Massachusetts. Between the November landing and March, when the local Indians first visited the outpost about half of the Pilgrims died. However, because of contact with previous explorers some of the local Indians could understand English and were glad to teach the new colonists how to survive. This was an event that was always repeated in other parts of the New World.

Coming Soon

Movie theater in australia
Movie theater in Australia, photo by Fernando de Sousa courtesy of Wikipedia

Description

Sometime in the next week I am going to be publishing a collection of some of my travel essays about traveling in Europe. The way things go for me the actual collection won’t be available till the beginning of next week and then the writing will only be available as an e-book on Smashwords and Amazon. Even though most of the material has already been published on the internet, I am spending more time editing and collating the articles than I originally planned. I have yet to put together a cover, for the book, so that will probably happen at the last minute. Nonetheless, putting together the old material has required more work than imagined, mainly because I can’t run through an old essay without making at least a few editorial changes.

Old and new towers in Berlin
Old and new towers in Berlin, including the bombed William Kaiser church

Title

The title for this collection  goes back to President John Kennedy’s famous speech inside Berlin during his term of office. While speaking to the German audience he made the wonderfully comical statement, “Ich bin ein Berliner”, which can be translated to mean, – you guessed it, “I am a jelly doughnut”. This is just one of the many interesting things, readers will discover, while digesting these traveler’s tales.

The shore of the Mediterranean Sea at Finale Marina, Italy
The shore of the Mediterranean Sea as scene from the youth hostel/castle at Finale Marina, Italy

Inspiration

The inspiration comes from two journeys I made to Europe in the new century. My first overseas voyage took place during October 2003, when I visited  Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. Three years later, I made a six week journey that included repeat visits to Denmark, Germany and Austria, as well as new explorations into Slovenia, Italy, France and Switzerland. Who knows when I will return again (hopefully soon), but my initial experience did open me up as a writer.

Rainbow over Lake Geneva on the French-Swiss border
Rainbow over Lake Geneva on the French-Swiss border

Minnesota State Fair

Giant Slide at the Minnesota Fair
Giant Slide at the Minnesota Fair

First Time Visitor

The Minnesota State Fair, one of the largest in the nation, just ended this week. I had the pleasure of attending the popular event. Unfortunately, it was just for one afternoon and evening, but I enjoyed the whole show very much. Following are a few snapshots I got off from my cell phone camera. Enjoy!

Cotton Candy at the Minnesota State Fair
Cotton Candy at the Minnesota State Fair

The Expected

What would a state fair be without cotton candy? This fair from this large mid-western agricultural state had everything you would expect and more. Here, is a cotton candy booth. Other treats included corn on the cob, corn dogs, bratwurst, foot-long hot dogs, homemade root beer and flannel cakes. Sometimes, it’s nice to enjoy the simple things in life.

Booth for Deep Fried Twinkies
Booth for Deep Fried Twinkies

The Unexpected

Then there was the oddball assortment of food like the deep-fried Twinkies pictured here. Actually, they weren’t too bad – and next door another vendor sold a dessert that appeared and looked like dirt. In fact, it was called just that, “dirt”. I didn’t try any, but many did and everyone seemed to come away quite pleased. Each dish even came with a few simulated corn-syrup worms.

Cakes for judging at the Minnesota state fair
Cakes for judging at the Minnesota state fair

Contests

What would a state fair be without judged contests. These events were everywhere and included livestock, food items, art work and many other agendas.

Prize winning corn at the Minnesota State Fair
Prize winning corn at the Minnesota State Fair

Hope you enjoyed these pictures. So if you are even in the Twin Cities area in late August or early September be sure to check this event out. It is enormous, fun, immense and only cost around $10 to $12. Best way to get there though is by local bus.