Thursday, September 28, 2017

Duel or Duet?

Daddy Steve: Our young rocker Bowie has been spending a lot of time lately practicing and writing music.

Bowie: Maybe I need to try a different chord.

As always, he looks to his beautiful muse, Rebel, for inspiration.

Bowie: Even though we're thousands of miles apart, our hearts are one.

Although the separation is difficult, Bowie believes that it actually improves his music.

Bowie: Every artist needs some angst and torment to produce great work.
Tyler, rolling his eyes:  Yeah, whatever, dude.

Of course Bowie is not the only musical member of the family.  Sebastian is quite a musician as well.  His style is much more folky, in the vein of John Denver.  We think he even looks a bit like a young John Denver; we just need to find him some wire-rimmed glasses!

Sebastian: Take me home, country roads...

Could the boys' vastly different styles lead to a musical showdown?  Beatland vs. Ballad Isle?

Fortunately, Bowie and Sebastian are the best of friends.

They have frequent jam sessions together.

Bowie: All right, mate.  Just no Donovan songs.
Sebastian: Deal.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

International Day of Peace

Today, September 21, has been declared International Day of Peace by the UN General Assembly.  It's a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace; both within and among all nations and peoples.   The boys of Gregoropolis invite you to join them in observing it.

This year's focus is on the acceptance, support, and non-discrimination of refugees and migrants.  As UN Secretary-General António Guterres observed:

In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats.  We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbors as 'the other.'  Discrimination diminishes us all.  It prevents people-and societies-from achieving their full potential.  Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights.  Together, let us build bridges.  Together, let us transform fear into hope.

In preparing for this post, we searched the internet for quotes on peace.  This is one of the more striking ones that we found:

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one another.   

I must admit that at first the sentiment struck us as a bit unambitious.  What about mutual respect and finding common ground?  However, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that every journey must begin with a first, tentative step.  If we can just all show each other the kindness and respect that we all deserve, then that's a tremendously big step.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Meeting Of The Minds

Daddy Steve:  It's difficult being a brainy kid, and sometimes a bit lonely.  Patrick's brothers are certainly fond of him, but often they just don't 'get' him.

Patrick: Frank, there's an episode of Cosmos on TV right now.  Do you want to watch it with me?
Frank: Cosmos...isn't that a candy bar?  Like Milky Way or Mars Bar?
Patrick:, it's a...oh, never mind.

Patrick: Hey guys, what are you up to?
Tyler: We're playing robot dinosaurs!
Patrick: I'm reading a book of poems by Emily Dickinson.  Would you like to hear one?

Mikko: We already know lots of poems!  >Ahem<

There once was a farmer from Leeds,
Who ate six packets of seeds.
It soon came to pass,
He was covered with grass,
And couldn't sit down for the weeds.

Mikko & Tyler: Hahahahahahahahaha!
Patrick: >sigh<

Ravi: Hello Patrick.  What's that you are reading?
Patrick: Oh, nothing.  Just a book about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ravi: Ah, the famous architect.  Did you know that he was greatly influenced by Japanese art and design?
Patrick: Yes, I did!  How did you know that?
Ravi: Oh, I'm interested in a great many things.
Patrick: Would you like to look at this book with me?
Ravi: Absolutely.

Looks like the start of a great friendship!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stephen At The Fair (Part 3)

Daddy John: Of course, one of the biggest draws of the Minnesota State Fair is the food!  Just about anything and everything you can imagine to eat.  On a stick.  Food on stick is a big thing at the Fair.  Why?  Sorry, you're not allowed to question the stick.

Stephen: Hmmmm.  Now, what are these again?
Daddy John: Deep-fried cheese curds.  They're my very favorite.

Stephen: I think I'll just have one of Daddy Steve's corn fritters.
Daddy John:  More for me, then!  Yum.

Thus nourished, we wandered around some more and stopped in at the Dairy Building.  This accomplished two goals:  First, to try one of this year's new foods: the Pie In The Sky Sundae.  Vanilla ice cream with a dark chocolate drizzle, mixed with lemon curd and "airplane" cookies.

And secondly, to check out the Princess Kay Butter Heads (yes, really).  We even got to see one being sculptured! Princess Kay of the Milky Way is a title awarded to the winner of the state-wide Minnesota Dairy Princess program; an annual competition sponsorted by the Midwest Dairy Association.  During her one-year term, Princess Kay serves as official good-will ambassador for the Minnesota dairy industry. Princess Kay is always a high-school student and she and her 'court' have their heads carved in blocks of butter at the Fair.   

It's been a busy visit to the Fair, and our feet are tired.  As we made our way towards the exit, we had to stop and do one last activity: Spin Art!

Stephen:  Daddy Steve, your design looks familiar!

Daddy Steve's painting after being spun, dried, and framed.

Daddy John:  What are you doing now, Stephen?
Stephen: I want to record all my thoughts about the Fair in my diary...

Stephen: ...and write a quick postcard to our friends in England 

Another year's Fair adventures for our diaries.  What will we see (and eat) next year?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stephen At The Fair (Part 2)

Daddy John:  Time for going on a few rides!  I didn't think Stephen Orange would like some of the more...energetic...rides (like The Scrambler, which Daddy John does enjoy), so we chose a couple of the more sedate ones.

First up is the Space Tower!  A large carousel slowly revolves and raises up about 300 feet; riders get a wonderful panoramic view of the fairgrounds and both downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Stephen Orange: Wow!  We can really see a far way.  Can we see our house?
Daddy John: Sorry, bud, I don't think we'd be able to make it out from here.

After climbing out of the Space Tower, Stephen happened to look up.

Stephen: What are those?
Daddy John: Those gondolas are the Sky Ride.  It goes across the fairgrounds.
Stephen: Can we go on that one?
Daddy John: You bet.  Let's go!

Stephen: Hey, this was made in Switzerland!  I wonder if Sasha M ever rode in it?

Stephen: Everything looks so small from up here.

As our gondola approached the Giant Slide, Stephen watched it rather intently as we passed over.  He didn't say anything about it once we landed, so maybe next year?

Our last ride was Ye Old Mill, Daddy Steve's favorite.  It's the oldest ride at the Fair.

A large paddle wheel powers the small river that propels the riders' little wooden boat through the dark tunnels and past comical vignettes.

Of course, the original thrill of the Old Mill would have been meandering down the 'river' in the dark with your sweetie all alone.  These days, it's still a fun, quiet little ride.

Stephen: We're going into the tunnel now, Daddy John.  If you get scared of the dark, you can hold my hand.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Stephen At The Fair (Part 1)

Daddy John: It's the last few days of August and first few days of September, and that can only mean one thing--The Great Minnesota Get Together a.k.a. the Minnesota State Fair!

This was where Daddy Steve and I had our third date, and we've been coming back every year. None of the boys seemed too excited about coming along, but Stephen Orange expressed interest and so we brought him along.

Living in the 'big city' as we do, it's easy to forget that the Fair was started by the Minnesota Agricultural Society back in 1859.  Minnesota is still an agricultural state, so we decided to enjoy some of that side of things, as well as the other popular sights and sounds (more on that later).

First up, the ever-popular Miracle of Birth Center.  Or, after watching several monitors running live births from earlier in the week, as Daddy John referred to it, the Slimy & Disgusting Miracle of Birth Center.

Stephen: Chickens.

Stephen: A lamb being watched over by its mother.

Stephen: The piglets are all trying to 'hog' the heat lamp to stay warm.
Daddy John: Excellent, pun, Stephen.  That's my boy.

Stephen: Baby chicks!  I suppose they'll grow up to look like those chickens we saw earlier.

A special area of the Fair is called Machinery Hill and back in the day it presented all of the latest farm equipment and technology.  Machinery Hill was my grandfather's favorite place at the Fair.  These days, however, it's a much smaller spot and now only antique equipment is on display.

Stephen: What kind of tractor is that, Daddy John?
Daddy John: It's a 1908 Hart-Parr.  If Grandpa were still here, I know he could tell us all about it and probably a story about someone he knew who had one.

No agricultural tour of the Fair would be complete without a stop in the actual Agricultural Building to see...Seed Art!  Creative types from all over the state arrange amazing pictures using nothing but native seeds and grasses.  There's always a line in front of this display; pictures range from celebrities to local culture to politics.  Here are two of our favorites from this year.

Stephen: Who is that?
Daddy John: That's the musician Prince.  He was from Minnesota and passed away last year.

Stephen: I know this one!  That's David Bowie!  I'll bet our Bowie's friend Rebel would like this.

Stephen: What shall we do next?
Daddy John: Why don't we go on a couple of rides?
Stephen: Yeah!  Yay!

To read more about the Great Minnesota Get Together, go here: Minnesota State Fair

Friday, September 1, 2017

School Boy

Daddy Steve:  You may recall that when Rolf came to live with us, the only clothing he had was his original schoolboy felt jacket.  Frankly, the jacket was filthy and we thought it beyond saving.  However, Dr. Pat is a miracle worker!  She was able to clean it up like new; it really encouraged me to try to assemble the rest of the missing outfit.

Pat suggested I contact Marti Murphy.  Marti is a very talented Sasha shoemaker and tailor.  She was happy to take on the challenge and we recently received the finished product.

It's a beautiful recreation of the original Götz schoolboy outfit, complete with ankle-strap shoes.  I was thrilled with it!

I called Rolf in and presented his handsome new outfit.  He examined the clothes carefully (rather suspiciously, actually), and then...


He burst into tears and ran from the room!  What on earth could have gotten into him?

Sebastian:  Rolf's afraid that if he wears pants without shoulder straps, they'll fall down in public.

Kids don't always act the way you want, or even expect, them to.  It's important to remember, though, that their worries are real to them.  I asked Kaveh, our resident counselor, if he could have a little talk with Rolf.

Kaveh:  Rolf, your pants won't fall down because they have a belt.  All big boys wear belts.
Rolf:  >sniff, sniff<  Th-they do?

With Kaveh and Emile providing encouragement, Rolf eventually agreed to try the outfit on.

Kaveh:  Oh yes, very stylish and debonair!
Emile:  You look très parisien; and zat, mon ami, is ze 'ighest compliment one can ever get.

Rolf:  Ja, I do look good, do I not.
Daddy Steve:  So, Rolf, what do you think of your new schoolboy outfit now?

Rolf:  >WAAAAAAAHHH!  I do not vant to go to school!

Oh dear.  Better get Kaveh to come back...