In the time that I haven’t been writing in this space, Sarah and I have been busy both in Madison, and elsewhere.

Last weekend, we left Ira in my sister’s care and headed out for South Dakota by way of Minneapolis. We left Friday morning and in a quick four and one-half hours we were in Chaska at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. We’ve been to the Renaissance festival a number of times over the past five years, so this year we decided to change things up and bring Dalla with us. I won’t go so far as to say that she enjoyed the Festival, but she did enjoy all the food that people left on the ground. All the time I wasn’t actively engaged in keeping her away from food I spent pulling food out of her mouth. She didn’t need to eat turkey skin that had been sitting on the ground for at least a week. Nor did she need to eat turkey leg bones that could perforate her digestive tract. Despite her single-minded interest in scavenging morsels of yuck off the ground, she was a people magnet. More than a few people asked if she was a Norwegian Elkhound and wanted to greet her. As Sarah noted, we met many more people there because of Dalla. As usual, we went to see the shows as much as the arts, crafts, and food. My favorite is the Dew Drop Jugglers. This year, they had a new line-up and we saw their Danger Show. In the past, the line-up was three high-quality jugglers. This year, there were two jugglers and one professional knife thrower. This changed up the act quite a bit. Perhaps the most amazing trick they did was when the knife thrower hurled knives at a wall and the jugglers caught them in mid-air before they hit the wall. That was an amazing trick.

After we left the festival, we spent the night at our friends’ house in St. Paul before heading out for South Dakota. We were a couple of hours out of the Cities on a two-lane highway when a dump truck came roaring down the highway in the opposite direction. Just before it passed us, a stone slightly bigger than a golf-ball came off the back of the truck and right at our car. It hit the windshield with a loud CRACK and placed a bullseye pattern about four inches in diameter right in the middle of the windshield. The crack was mostly hidden from the driver by the mirror, but it was obvious that we would have to get the windshield replaced.

Fortunately, we made it to Watertown without any further car-related mishaps. Once there, we helped my parents pick the apples off their apple tree, which yielded about five grocery bags full of apples.

On Sunday, we went out to the Dakota Sioux Casino for breakfast. It was supposed to be brunch, but I figure that if you eat brunch early enough in the morning, and follow it with a meal around lunchtime, that you can call it breakfast.

My father, Sarah, and I went out to a Game Fish and Parks shooting range in the early afternoon to give our .22 rifles some exercise. We brought along all the accoutrements you might expect: tin cans, paper targets, and (Sarah’s good idea) rotten apples. For an hour or so we happily plinked away at those makeshift targets and a good time was had by all. The apples were especially fun to shoot as they often exploded quite satisfactorily if you shot them just right.

Today we dropped almost $400 to get the windshield of the Avalon replaced. Our auto insurance deductible is conveniently $500, so we got to eat the entire cost ourselves. We’ve owned the car a bit over 18 months and it has been rear-ended twice and now has a new windshield. I like the car but I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t snakebitten.

Sarah made applesauce yesterday from the bag of apples that we brought back from my parents’ house. She didn’t process the whole bag, but maybe two-thirds of it. In the end, she ended up with three jars of very attractive looking pink apple sauce.

A couple of weeks ago Dalla was swarmed by bees while she and I were out for a walk. She ended up with multiple stings that bothered her for a day or so. For two weeks after that I didn’t take her near the area where the attack started because I didn’t want it to happen again. Since then, however, we’ve walked by the area, on the other side of the street, and everything appears to be normal.