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An Upper Midwestern Spring

We have so much to do around here in Spring. There are lambs being born, meat chickens to take care of, plants to start indoors and transplant, mowing, weeding, planting, end of school stuff, planning for summer stuff, 4-h events, registering for the fair, getting all of our ducks in a row for summer camps and classes for the Zanimal. Other people say, with a smile, “Wow, it’s spring!” and we who live on farms laugh nervously and say, “Yes, Wow.” But we mean wow in a different way. Add to that all, for me, a book release. It’s a bit overwhelming. So, I’m just going to jump around here a bit, ready?

Part 1: Lambing Season

We’ve got lambs! Four lambs, now. We may have four more by the end. Professor Batty came to visit between two lambs and four lambs.  I’m happy to say Viola finally had her lambs! Two of them, both black, one male, one female. The morning before last, I went out to check on her, and they were just born- still gooey. She was licking them off. She seems proud of herself, as she should be.

The following day, I was going to castrate the male (in case we want to keep him- I hate the logistics of separating a male all of the time, so I just castrate them) and Zanimal was super excited for me to show her how to do it! So, I did. I used the “*teeth” method. Joking. I used the band method. She hugged the lamb and I — well, you can imagine. She hugged the girl lamb, too, and I docked her tail. Zanimal is now “Official Lamb and Sheep Hugger.” Whenever I need a sheep to hold still for me, I am to call on her, and we will do a Good Cop/ Bad Cop deal: she will hug them and I will hurt them (albeit for their own good, of course).

  • Some shepherds bite off the rams’ balls with their teeth to castrate them. It’s effective. Yep. Not crazy at all.

    Part 2: The Self Portrait

Speaking of the Zanimal, at the end of the year, she just brings home backpacks full of trash. Among all of the crap, I found this gem:

A self portrait, clearly. I really like a few things about it.

  1. It’s not symmetrical. The one thing I’ve learned from doing lots of portraits is that people are not nearly as symmetrical as I thought they were. She seems to know that instinctively.
  2. She didn’t show it to me. She doesn’t care about this portrait. She’s modest, maybe. I don’t know. I’m just glad she didn’t put me on the spot about it.
  3. It looks like her- which is an important aspect of a portrait, you have to admit.

Part 3: Summertime

So, today I was mowing and weeding and putting a tarp up for Viola and her lambs to lie under (it’s hot). And tomorrow, I’ll do more of the same. And next week, more of the same, plus the Zanimal is home from school.

Things speed up over the summer. Wisconsinites wake up one day and come out of their holes and there are parties! Parades! Beer Festivals! Art Fairs! Brats! Bands! And on and on, all summer long, and then we’ll look back and wonder where it all went? And every year, I think What the heck am I going to do with this kid all summer? Because I like her, I really do, but I feel a bit of pressure to be entertaining or educational. Creative. I’m a creative type, you know. It’s expected of me. But I also, at heart, feel that children do better when they entertain themselves. So there’s the constant, “Let’s do this fun thing! (After this list of chores.)” But also the, “Do your own thing, I’m busy!” kinds of days. And also, of course, the “Let’s go to the lake. It’s hot” kinds of days.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, I may not be blogging much. We’ll see.

Part 4: The Mystery of the Runners

When we first moved here from Colorado, we lived on the Isthmus in Madison, and we noticed all of these nearly naked people running by. Just running by, all summer long. Always, they looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge that we were there. Fast people, wearing shorts and shoes or shorts and sports bra and shoes, and that was all. And we wondered where they all came from, and where were they all going? After living here a few years, I *discovered that they just wake up one morning and say, “It’s time.” They take off their clothes, put on their shoes, and they start running around the lakes. And they run all summer. They never stop running. Day and night, they run, until the nights get cold again. And then they stop. They put away their shoes. And they sleep until next summer.

Of course, there are outliers- there always are, with any group. There’s the lady who runs up Gammon, all the way to Woodman’s West, at any time of day. What is her deal? Sometimes you’ll see her on PD, too. I mean, she only runs on the busiest roads. And long distances. You can be in town all day and see her twice, seven hours apart, running, still running. So strange. Lately, she’s been carrying a cell phone and talking on it constantly while she runs.

I, too, have taken up running- indoors. On a treadmill. After injuring my ankle a few years ago during a mud run, it took a year to heal, so I am very wary of uneven terrain. Baby steps. I’m starting again on a treadmill. I listen to The Gist while I run. The Gist is the perfect time: about 27 minutes. Two miles, plus a cool down lap. A nice jog. I imagine Mike Pesca running beside me, never getting out of breath, interviewing famous people, right there in my basement. This is not strange. This is where I belong.

Part 5: Too Much Sun

Is it just me, or is this the most rambling thing I’ve ever written on here? I’ll blame it on the sun.

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The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh

The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is definitely worth going to, if you like Andy Warhol at all.

We were very into it.

One floor of the Andy Warhol Museum is devoted to a different artist each month, I think. Or, anyway, it rotates who it is. When we went, the artist was Firelei Báez, and I found her work inspiring and excellent in every way.

Firelei Báez,

Firelei Báez, again. We noticed my daughter’s name in this picture. Can you find it?
Here we are posing in front of some of her faceless portraits. I was trying to look cool. It doesn’t come naturally to me.

You start on the sixth floor, and go down through Warhol’s life. On one of the floors is a room where they are playing several of the Andy Warhol movies at once, with the Velvet Underground playing in the background. This was my favorite part of the museum. I took a little movie. Zanimal went around and tapped all of the eyeballs:

The room of Warhol films on loop, with the Velvet Underground playing was my favorite part of the museum.

There were no other children there. I found out later that Pennsylvania doesn’t do Spring Break. I guess everyone just thought she was playing hooky? Or perhaps they thought we home schooled her.
When you finally get to the basement, they have “The Factory,” where you make your own Warhol-Style art. I drew my left paw.

Shoshanah’s paw, twice.
Zanimal drew “Cat Wolf”:

Cat Wolf by Zanimal
I don’t remember what Dennis made, he he said afterwards that he wanted to leave it in the gift shop– reverse shop lifting. Instead of taking something, you leave something. What do you think? A good idea? I think it’s genius. Performance art at its most subtle.

I did buy a print at the gift shop. It’s called, “One Blue Pussy.”

One Blue Pussy, by Andy Warhol.
It reminds me of Grenix.