Monday, September 13, 2021

Our Trip To The New Jersey Sheep and Fiber Festival September 11, 2021

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Today was the NJ Sheep and Fiber festival Hunterdon County 4H Fairgrounds in Ringoes NJ on the usual 1st weekend after Labor Day Sep. 11-12, 2021.

The Sheep & Fiber Festival is presented annually to showcase the beauty of sheep and other fiber animals, as well as to offer a variety of products for sale by breeders, vendors and artisans.

This is the fourth time we've been to this one. They didn't have it last year because of Covid-19.

The weather forecast was sunny and for temperatures to be in the low 80's.

We left after breakfast at around 9:30. We had two stops to make before we could begin the actual trip. First we picked up a prescription at CVS and then filled the gas tank at WA-WA.

According to GPS - Seri - the trip to Ringoes, NJ would take us about 90 minutes.

The first hour of the route was very familiar. It's the way we go to my daughter's house.
The road, Route 539 is a two lane county highway.
There are many traffic light intersections along the way. This breaks up the traffic pattern into strings of about 4 - 10 cars steadily moving, caravan style.
Much of the route passes through isolated areas of the Pine Barrens and the eastern end of the Fort Dix entity of Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst. In these stretches, the route has a speed limit of 55mph, one of the few two-lane roads in the state to carry a 55 mph limit. Along much of the road, there are passing and no-passing zones.

Now I am a strict observer of the speed limit. In the sections of the road where passing is allowed, it's annoyingly obvious to me that most drivers do not obey the speed limit because I always get passed. I never understand why these impatient people feel that those perhaps five minutes they may save by passing me is so urgent. I must admit I gleefully love it when I catch up to them at the next traffic light.
Even at my steady, obeying the speed limit speed, we arrived at the fair grounds in the 90 minutes that Siri predicted.

As we pulled into the entrance, there were people directing cars into the various parking areas. I think I was supposed to stop and pay an entrance fee. But I thought they were waving me on, not waving me to stop.
Oh well. Sorry, Sheep Breeders. I'll catch you next time.

Compared to other fiber festivals we have been to, this one is fairly small. There are four barns. Two of the barns are where the animals are being shown. The other two barns are filled with vendor booths. There are various types of vendors all having to do with fiber, and fiber crafting. I would say the majority of the vendors are selling yarn that they have hand dyed.

There were not a lot of people in the first two barns. They were the ones where the sheep and goats were being judged and shown.

The vendor barns were quite crowded. This posed a dilemma for me. Mask or no mask. I would say 2/3 of the people were not wearing masks. As we entered the vendor barn, I told Ross we should mask up.

Once we started through, Ross took his mask off. I kept mine on.

These festivals are typically tough to navigate through. Most of the vendors have single booths and they are small. Once the booths are filled with product displays, there isn't must room for customers to comfortably browse.

I was a little concerned about how Ross would do today. There is a lot of walking. Also, it can get quite warm in the barns. He is now a slow mover. He also gets distracted easily. In times past, I would usually be walking ahead of him, not worrying about whether he was in sight because I knew we would eventually catch up to each other.
Today, we walked side by side. Since he is somewhat unsteady on his feet, I suggested that he bring his cane and it did help.

Because customers were elbow to elbow in the booths, I wasn't comfortable being that close to others. I was constantly making sure I kept track of where Ross was which made browsing and shopping nearly impossible.

I personally know four of the vendors. I had another couple of favorite vendors that I wanted to visit.
I found the way the layout of the booths were described in the brochure difficult to understand.
For instance one of the booths I wanted to visit was listed as being located "4 SE Wall'.
Huh? I assume the 4 meant barn 4 and SE was the South East Wall? Again it was probably just me, but I couldn't even find where the barns were labeled as being 1, 2 3 or 4.
Even though we walked through the entire two vendor barns, I never found the booth at "4 SE Wall".

We did find Helen and Mary Beth of the "Crafty Toads" but they and their booth were so busy we just waved, said hello and then moved along.

We were able to chat a little with Christina the owner of Chelsea Yarns. Christina is also one of Ross' favorites. He enjoys exchanging quips with her. She helped me pick out yarn for a sweater pattern that she and a designer collaborated on.

The yarn is gorgeous! That turned out to be the only purchase I made today.

Normally, at these affairs, I would buy single skeins of yarn from various sellers. I have quite a stash of those singletons without a specific idea for their use.
I am quite happy with my one purchase this time because I bought enough yarn for a planned project.

After completing the tour of the two vendor barns, both of us had had enough.
I started out tired from 1-1/2 hour drive to get the fair. Knowing that I had another 1-1/2 hour drive back, I knew it was time to go.

There's a diner right near the fairgrounds. We decided to stop for lunch. We both had grilled cheese sandwiches and pink lemonades. It was a good break to be able to sit and relax before the drive home.

We got home around 3:30. We turned on the Navy game and chilled out the rest of the evening.

Yarn haul from Chelsea Yarns
Even though these fairs are hectic and sometimes impossible to navigate, I still love going. It's yarn. Yarn for for the hobby I love. Yarn and the hobby I love both keep me sane and giddily happy.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Sun, The Water, Loud Jet Skis, Ice Cream and Angry Bees

Friday, September 10, 2021 This afternoon we drove over to Ship Bottom.   There is a fishing dock and boat launch just over the last bridge         onto the island.  I wanted to have Ross take pictures of me in my new shawl, which I had just finished knitting. I like to post photos of my latest completed projects on instagram. I also thought it would be nice to sit by the water and soak up some sun. It was very breezy.

There was a man and woman in the parking lot with two jet skis loaded in the back of their pickup. They were trying to fix one of them. They kept revving the motor which produced a lot of smoke and loud engine noises.

It was a gorgeous day. Puffy white clouds floated around in the blue blue sky. The sun light played on the water creating sparkling bouncing jewels.
Even though it wasn't very peaceful, because of the loud noises coming from the broken jet ski, I could have stayed a little longer.  But Ross had had enough and i t was time to go. 

A new ice cream store/stand opened up near us in Barnegat on Route 9 north. It's across the street from the local animal hospital, which is my point of reference for finding the new ice cream store.

We went there after we left the island.

They have an outside terrace with umbrellaed picnic tables. We usually sit and eat our ice cream right there.

Since it's right on a busy highway, it's not very scenic or quiet but they have really good soft serve. We like the vanilla in a plain old fashioned sugar cone. It's delicious.

Today, though, the terrace was loaded with bees. Yellow jackets. This is the time of year for those bees to become aggressive.

According to the google machine, "Yellow jackets are hand-to-mouth feeders for existence, particularly in the fall after the queen stops laying eggs and there's no young to feed. When the weather turns colder, food sources disappear and they begin to starve. Starvation makes them angry and aggressive as they work hard to seek food."

Because of those hungry, angry bees, we had to get our ice cream to go. Since it was a fairly warm afternoon, we couldn't get the soft serve. It would have melted before we got home. We got the hand dipped hard ice cream in a cup instead. Two scoops of bing cherry for me and two scoops of butter pecan for Ross.

I told Ross that the ice cream was dinner for tonight. I really didn't feel like preparing anything. He seemed okay with that until later in the evening. I heard him foraging in the refrigerator and cabinets. I heated up a portion of eggplant parm for him and a piece of chicken for me. I guess it wound up to be that we switched it up and just had our desert before dinner. The benefit of adulthood, right?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Caregiver's Dance.

September 9, 2021

A dreary rainy Thursday.  I'm tired.  I don't admit that often.  Perhaps it's the weather.  Perhaps it's the anticipation of seasonal change going from long summer days to short winter ones. 

Regarding my caregiver situation, many of the comments I receive from friends, family, and internet buddies are some variation of this one, "I don't know how you do it".  

My answer, said with a wry smile, is usually some form of this one, "I don't think about it, I just do. " 

Sort of like Nike, you know, I "Just do it!" 

To be honest, there are woeful thoughts which lay low in the recesses of a dark and smokey tango parlor that is my mind.  Like seductive dancers bumping up against each other they spin and twirl until I am dizzy with dread. 

I instinctively know I would not survive if I surrendered my emotions to lamenting lyrics which tell tales of the nostalgic musings of unfulfilled dreams.  

So like a simple six step Waltz, 

I Step back with my right foot. ... 
Move to my left. ... 
Close my right foot to my left foot. ... 
Step forward with my left foot. ... 
Move back and to my right. ... 
Close my left foot to my right foot...
and just keep moving.