Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cow Country

Which is where I'm from originally. "Cow Country" is not a pejorative term, or it shouldn't be; it's just an accurate one. I also sometimes refer to it as "Big Butt Country" which is more pejorative I suppose, but it's also, well, pretty accurate.

The point is, Wisconsin is the place where I was born and raised, and I love it a lot, although I'm very happy in my choice not to live there currently. Cory and I flew out there last week for a kind of a reunion with my family/birthday party for Grandma. So to get things rolling, here's a photo of Grandma.

There's the guest of honor with my newest cousin, Jacob. One of my aunts is only a few years older than I am, and she and her husband adopted this little guy at the end of last year. He was getting over a cold last weekend, which made Grandpa not want to have anything to do with him, but Grandma was uncowed.

Irrespective of his fear of baby-borne illness, Grandpa was in pretty good spirits. Ornery to the last, of course, but doing just fine. He walked Cory and me around his squash garden and apple trees - including challenging me to throw a blemished apple over the fence into the pasture beyond the lawn that he, at 92 years old, still mows twice a week. I made it (barely), thank God.

The little ones were having a great time, of course. The big party was at my cousin Kari's farm.

There's Cory pushing Anna on the swing with Alex, who is her, what, second cousin once removed I guess.

Here's Alex focused on his driving. This little John Deere is like a kiddie golf cart: brakes automatically when you take your foot off the "gas" pedal, so it doesn't require all that much in the way of coordination, but it zips all over the place. 2 years old this kid is, driving around a farm...

And here's his big brother Jack concentrating on his task at hand. This one is 4, and he has better focus than plenty of grown-ups I know.

They are all children of the corn, of course.

This is my dad and Kari's husband Chad overseeing Alex as he gives Annie a driving lesson.

And last but not least, here's Anna trying to figure out what the hell to do with that larger-than-life creature before her. If you click on the photo, you can make out the dreadlock-ish thing Lady has going on behind her ear.

And then there was the food... For Grandma's birthday party, Mom made spiral ham with all the fixins and then some, and Grandma herself provided brownies, carrot cake, apple pie and ice cream. And beer. The night before, we had pizza at the old family favorite in Madison. With sangria and beer. Then the night after, we stayed in what has to be the most Norwegian town in America and had breakfast there (I had a scrambled egg concoction wrapped in lefse, which is actually one of the few things that it's hard to track down a good version of in New York.) We had another family gathering at Chad & Kari's place again the next day - Anna had gotten sick, so Lori had to take her back to our aunt Jane's place in Madison, and she entrusted me with her Secret Lasagna Recipe. It was a big hit! Good going Lori. We also had mom's skillet zucchini dish. And beer. Then it was back to Madison to meet some of my old high school friends at The Old Fashioned, which has a fantastic selection of Wisconsin foods and cheeses. And beer. Finally, we had a gathering of the other side of the family on Labor Day: Burgers, Brats, Beans, Potato Salad and Cole Slaw, etc. And beer.

Because that's what it's all about.

Did I mention that this is sometimes known as Big Butt Country?

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