Last weekend, I headed off to Wisconsin for our annual family reunion. This is usually something of an endurance test, as I visit cousins in Milwaukee (eastern Wisconsin) before we drive to the reunion in western Wisconsin, meaning I take four six-hour trips over five days. Let’s just say I get a lot of knitting and reading done.
This year, it was different. Hours after I got to Milwaukee, we learned that a family member was having a medical emergency. It had a happy ending, but the reunion was canceled, leaving me in Milwaukee for the duration. I don’t wish emergency surgery on anyone and I’m sorry I missed seeing a whole passel of relatives, but I did not miss that twelve hours to and from western Wisconsin. Anyway, my Milwaukee cousins rose to the occasion, and kept me happily hosted for the weekend.
Thursday: I arrived in Milwaukee in the early afternoon, and after lunch, we went out for frozen custard and ran a few errands. Basically, I took a photo of these eggs because some of them are blue. I haven’t seen (naturally) blue chicken eggs since I was in Great Britain in the 1980’s, and I didn’t know we had the breeds that lay them. These eggs came from a farm that lies in the Cudahy city limits, I think, so you can just stop by on your way to somewhere else in the metro area and pick up fresh eggs (laid that morning!) or put an order in for one of their turkeys for Thanksgiving, or whatever. Yeah, I’m impressed as all get out that it’s so close at hand. It was just up the street from another farm where we bought freshly picked corn from the corn fields that were right there behind the tables they were selling the corn on.
Friday: the Wisconsin State Fair. We spent the day in animal barns and buying Wisconsin products. Horror of horrors: the cream for the cream puffs came from Illinois dairies because Wisconsin farms couldn’t produce enough to meet the demands of the fair (Minnesotans: the cream puff is as cherished at the Wisconsin State Fair as the Pronto Pup and cheese curds are here, hence the weeping and wailing about the cream. That the cream came from Illinois was just another little twist of the knife.).
Saturday: We set out in search of a farmers’ market, but hit detours (some sort of race). We ended up at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I thought the building itself was impressive as all get out, once I stopped being distracted by the sculpture of a large orange asterisk out front. I’m sure it’s not really an asterisk; I’m sure it has some sort of context that Milwaukeeans know well. But just seeing it there, I thought there should be a large orange word for it to sit at the end of.
We went in the museum and looked around a bit, although we didn’t go to any of the exhibits. The building itself was exciting enough for a first visit. The “wings” open and close depending on the weather, but we weren’t there during any of the scheduled movements, and the threatening rain might have thrown the schedule off anyway. It looked as if it should just set sail off into the lake.
But oh, the hallways!
(And the ceiling!)
We passed the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center as we left, and I admired the mosaic on its front.
We had originally planned to go to the Morning Glory Fine Art Fair after the farmers’ market, and we had better luck finding it. I did not buy either of the gorgeous $525 quilts I fell in love with. Nor did I try to haul ceramics home in my suitcase (as my suitcase ended up under a pile of luggage on the ride home, this was a wise decision). I also resisted a statue of Daphne, portrayed after her transformation into a laurel tree, her hair made of the bay leaves I know from cooking. I enjoyed wandering through the fair, but it reaffirmed my reluctance to ever try to rely on my crafts for income. Someone must be buying these items, enough for the MGFAF to be in its 39th year, enough for it to be worth their time for vendors to come from as far away as the Twin Cities and Illinois. But how many people really decide on impulse, just after seeing an item on display at a crafts fair, to put down hundreds or even thousands of dollars for it? Although I suppose you only need to sell one such item to clear a profit for the day.
Sunday: Cousin C. and I tackled the Milwaukee Public Museum. Like the Milwaukee Art Museum, this merits future visits. We really only able to give one display the attention it deserved (“Streets of Old Milwaukee”), made a good faith effort at the third floor (world cultures, and we think we accidentally overlooked the Middle East—oops), practically ran through the second floor (North America, focusing on Wisconsin), and never got to see the dinosaur exhibit or the butterfly room (closed for renovation). I’ve just missed the special exhibit opening in September: “The Scoop on Poop.” Darn.
And back on the bus first thing Monday morning for the uneventful six-hour trip home. The end.