Friday, September 25, 2009

Where Laura was born

When your hometown is known as the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, you hang onto that with both hands. And here in the Land of Laura, there are at least a dozen places where Laura lived at some point during her pioneer life... and all of them hold some sort of claim to shaping a few little tales on the prairie.

One Sunday my friend Alyssa and I drove a few hours over to Pepin, Wisconsin which is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls. There are a few Ingalls in the cemetery here.

It was Laura days, so we hung out for the afternoon watching the 1800s village and then the festival vendors. It was a nice way to spend a beautiful fall afternoon. We even stuck around for the hometown parade, which included tractors, marching bands, 4-H kids, and even a few wagonloads of Lauras. I was waiting for the Marching Lauras, but none of those.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Digs

The new and improved Channel 12 studio is only two weeks away from completion. With monitors galore, new lights, and a big's something any station would be envious of. Today I got to have my turn sitting in the seat and listening to the explanation about the state-of-the-art lights that are different from the old school TV lights.
I was exhausted and it was a pony-tail kinda day... but did my best to pay attention to the explanation of chin lighting... we actually have a chin light. The explanation could've been summed up simply with "don't touch this."

The guy sitting next to me is my news director and our anchor, Mike. He's entralled about chin lighting too. What you can't see is my chair actually rests a mere inch or less from the edge of that stage. Some newscast in the future one of the reporters will wheel themselves right off the edge of it, I'm sure. No amount of chin lighting will change that, but I'm sure our production crew will keep that tape around to torment us about it. It will happen, I'm sure of it.

See how the light underneath the nest changes colors? It's blue there... red below?
More to come.... (Hey Karlyn... recognize the necklace?) Someone was snapping lots of pictures here, so I thought I'd share.
No, really, all sarcasm aside we are very excited about the new set. Chin lighting and all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meeting Hermann

The best day trip we made when my grandparents were in town was by far the drive to New Ulm. They got to see farmland and crops ready to be harvested. We visited Hermann the German, which overlooks the Minnesota River Valley.

We checked out Schell's brewery, apple orchards, and gift shops. And then headed home, where I served up a Minnesota-themed meal: Hot Dish which consisted of wild rice and chicken, sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, homemade pickles, raspberry cupcakes, and a few other items.

All in all, it was a very good visit with my grandparents. I am so lucky to be 30 and still have my grandparents be able to travel to visit. Not many of my friends have that luxury, and I hit the grandparent lottery anyway because they are two of the best.

I think it's worthwhile to note I took Grandmother to the 1880s temperance rally at the Landing and she actually saddled up with the town drunk and took a swig. It caused quite a commotion and was a hit with the crowd, but I don't have any pictures of this because my camera wasn't working. I never saw my grandmother drink in my life until I took her to a Temperance Rally... she's getting fiesty in her old age.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

State Fair-on-a-stick

As you can see from the above picture, Minnesotans love, love, love their State Fair. The Minnesota State Fair claims to be the largest 12-day event in North America that attracts nearly 2 million visitors every year. This year, the Fair broke attendance records nearly every day. It also claims to be the second largest State Fair in the country. I've been to State Fairs in Arkansas, Louisiana, and New York and I wholeheartedly admit, this one takes the cake.

One of the reasons why is the food. More than 450 foods are available at 300 food concessions, and a majority of them are served up on a stick. I know people who go to the fair to eat and just keep walking around. With so many people there, there's nowhere to sit, so I guess it makes sense. Still, the range of things on a stick can be quite baffling. Above, you'll see bacon on a stick. Here's several of the pictures I took of items on a stick. Trust me, I could've come up with dozens more.

If something on a stick wasn't your speed, there are french fry shacks, cookie shacks, cheese curds galore, and even pot roast sundae. You can get a malt at the dairy barn, all-you-can-drink milk at another dairy barn.... and then, there are church kitchens that serve up meatloaf and Sunday suppers. One girl I know did a blog entry on nothing but the food she ate at the Fair.

Besides the food, everyone who is anyone is there. Of course, there are dairy cows, beef cows, horses, goats, pigs, cowboys, cotton candy, carnies, and normal fair stuff. But then, there's much more on the 300 plus acre campus that has its own water tower. The Dept of Natural Resources has a large fish exhibit. There's Robotics compeitions. Art Galleries. Heritage Square with log cabins. Princess Kay of the Milky Way (State Fair queens) have their pictures carved in butter. Cheese competitions. Wineries. All the TV Stations have permanent areas with studios that people pack to see at news time. Politicans have front porches to sit out and listen to their public. All the radio stations are there. Trust me, when it's State Fair time in Minnesota, you know because everyone is talking about it.

Several people wondered how in the world I existed in this State for two plus years without visiting the State Fair. This year, I couldn't let the third State Fair pass without a visit. Since my grandparents were visiting, they tagged along too.

Shuttles transport people from as far as 50 miles away to the Fair, but we decided to go early to beat the rush. We caught the shuttle at the University of Minnesota and arrived in record time--why? Because there's a straight road with bus-only access and no red lights.

We started shortly after 9 am. By 1pm and the time we were looking for food, the place had gotten so crowded that it became too uncomfortable. We'd hardly seen half of the place. But I knew it was time to go when we went through the Horticulture building and Pop said, "those vegetables look good. I wish we could eat some."
So, we left the Fair and went to a restaurant to sit down and eat in peace, quiet, and air conditioning. That's when we became the first people in the history of the Minnesota State Fair to actually leave without eating anything.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Summer at the Landing

Slow summer days at the Landing have dwindled away.

I worked on and off out at the historic site all summer. Working both weekend days really made the summer go by quickly. For the most part, it was pretty slow as we fell into the same low attendance trend as other museums all across the country. The slow days gave me the perfect chance to catch up with friends and read a few good books. Honestly, it gives me a chance to get away, be outdoors, and sometimes, relax.

My camera died, so the only picture I have to show for the summer is this one, of Rich sitting behind the Berger cabin whittling. Rich is a fun character who has been doing this thing for a long time. He plays a Southern sympathizer sometimes, and told me I could even come out with the militia and play Scarlett.

I told him I would think about that tomorrow...

Friday, September 11, 2009


As of yesterday, my brother and one of my favorite friends are engaged. Congratulations to Luke and Brianne! We are all thrilled.

Brianne and I became friends while at Syracuse. She later was a bridesmaid at my wedding.... where she met my brother.

And the rest is history.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If you have time....

Got an extra 45 minutes to spare?

Check out this article from the New Yorker. A man was executed in Texas in 2004 for setting a fire that resulted in the deaths of his three young daughters in Corsicana. At first, it seems like an open and shut case. New evidence has surfaced, leading many to believe an innocent man was put to death. Check out this article. It's fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Studio in Flux

For the past several weeks, my workplace has been in transition. A major studio overhaul is underway.

A new set was definitely needed, and we are excited to see the finished product in October. But until then, we've had construction noise, paint smells, hallways cluttered with equipment, and a few creative endeavors to get the news on the air.

Our production crew created a makeshift set in the lobby, and it looks pretty good. However, this setup means more work everyday to make the show happen. The crew has to run cables, run mics, draw curtains, and put up signs to keep people out of the lobby. We can't make copies, page people, or even use the restroom between 4:00-4:30.

Then everyday, the crew has to take it all back down and lock it up before they go home. They will certainly be glad when things get back to normal.... only it'll be a shinier, more glitzy kind of normal.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Football has begun...

It's a good thing, truly it is.

But football season means life in the Schwartz household takes on a new level of crazy. One of the reasons for the lack of blog posts here has been a different kind of crazy, and that will be posted later. While the busiest month for Dave's station is generally March with prep hockey and other championships, football season starts a whirlwind between prep football (that's high school to everyone else) and pro football. College football up here really gets downright deserted except for the random highlight. Maybe the new Gopher stadium will change that.

However, I came by the station for dinner recently (I do that when I haven't seen my husband in awhile) and happened to snap Dave coming off the desk in his sportscaster attire. This is what they look like off the desk. Busy times, folks.

Corn Feed

Who says there aren't rednecks in Minnesota? I guarantee it took a few rednecks to come up with this scheme. It's worthy of making people down South jealous.
Minnesotans are crazy about their sweet corn, and for good reason. It's good stuff. There are roadside stands galore and several "corn feed" fundraisers by local charitable groups, like the Lions who sponsored this corn feed.

Hundreds of people waited on hot blacktop for sometimes up to an hour to get a plate of fresh, hot corn made in this contraption. The club claims it's their own invention.

Each can will cook up 7-dozen ears. There's a rack at the bottom. The can is filled up with corn still in their husks. Then, a pressure washer with the pressure valve removed is inserted in the top of the can. The other end is located below the rack. So, the hot steam cooks a can of corn in about 20 minutes.
The hot corn is taken over to a group of people who shuck it and dip it into a big vat of melted butter. I wished I'd gotten a picture of the guys who were shucking--they had to wear gloves because the corn was so hot. They were pouring out sweat, as you can imagine. It's a hot job, and I think I'd much rather be serving up the beer on the other end.
I wouldn't try this one at home, folks, but I laughed about it a great deal. The corn must've been good because people came out and ate it for about three hours straight.