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Wednesday, July 24, 2002

I've had my fill of the fair. The Sonoma County Fair opened yesterday and will drag on for the next two weeks, but in about two hours this afternoon I saw everything I wanted to see. It always seems like a better idea than it actually turns out to be. Then I get there and get reeducated.

Some things I have to relearn every year. The most important of these is that since no one else is paying attention to where they're going, I have to do it for everyone. I have to identify all the people who might bump into me and steer myself in a different direction. That makes it a little hard to see the exhibits, but it's a small price to pay for not having my personal space invaded.

I was glad to have Mom with me today, and not just for her company (although it goes without saying that was the main reason). First, there was the parking situation. Not only did we get to park close, because of her handicap placard, but we didn't even have to pay! We were within a few feet of the entrance, and all for free. What a bonanza.

Not only that, she has to sit every so often because of whatever problem it is that makes her have to sit every so often. The doctors don't know; they tell her she's in perfect health (which is true, and wonderful, except for the sitting thing). It's just that her foot goes to sleep after she's on it for too long.

So I didn't have to rush from place to place. I could go at her pace, which was the pace I would choose for myself if I could. If I tried it by myself, I'd get sour stares and jostled a lot. With Mom, we were a slow-moving procession, and people either gave way or ignored us. It was much better that way.

She wanted to see the flowers while they're still fresh, so that's where we headed first. This fair is famous for its flower show, and I guess it was okay. This year's theme was bad undersea puns. The individual exhibits inside the Hall of Flowers had names like "With a Little Kelp From My Friends," and "Salmon Chanted Evening," and my personal favorite, "Mahi's Making Eyes At Me." ("This Scampi Love" was pretty good, too.)

Someone more interested in flowers than I will have to evaluate the show itself. The best I can say is that it wasn't as unbearably humid inside the building as it has been every other year. And there were some keen tropical fish (which I guess shouldn't be the main selling point of a flower exhibit).

After the flowers, we made the usual tour. The craft building, where we looked for paintings by people we knew, and the junior building, which we kind of breezed through because we realized we don't know anyone in that age group any more. We made sure to see my personal favorite, the baby animals. I love those little dairy goats. Mom thinks I should have a few of them to keep the brush down in my yard.

I think we spent the most time in any one place watching a little guy about five years old riding the mechanical bull. Despite his age, he was obviously a veteran. When it was his turn he ran up to the bull and tried to jump in the saddle. He jumped and jumped until the guy running the ride noticed and went to help him up.

As soon as the junior cowboy was in the saddle, he grabbed it with one hand and raised his free hand over his head, as if he has one of these machines in his rumpus room. He had a deadly serious expression on his face until the concessionaire asked if he wanted to go faster. Then he broke out in the biggest grin, and for all I know he might still be riding.

Somehow we avoided my least favorite part of the fair. We didn't have to eat at a filthy picnic table while trying not to let anything stuck to it come off on our skin and clothes. It kills the appetite when you realize what you're sitting in. This time we found a place where we could sit in an enclosed area at a table with a cloth over it that looked as if it had actually been wiped off a couple of times during the day. That was pleasant.

Finally we walked through the main exhibit building, with all the hawkers trying to get us to listen to their spiels for ingenious kitchen gadgets and miracle cleaning products. We didn't buy anything, even the overpriced fudge we love so much. And we were parked right outside the door, so all we had to do was walk out and come home and start waiting for next year's fair, because I can't think of any reason to go back this year.

Shasta Lake

Eric, Cynthia and Krystyna on party night on the houseboat.

Am I stupid or what? I stayed up until almost three in the morning last night, watching a movie I didn't especially like. For the second time! The commentary track by the director of Training Day is as deadly serious as the movie itself. It's a deadly serious subject, natch, but there's not a speck of lightness or humor anywhere to be found. Denzel was great, of course. He made me want to kill his character, so he must have been great.

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