Hats off to the fair

We all have our dreams when we go to the fair.

For my oldest daughter, Abby (who is so freshly 13 she was 12 when she walked through the gate), that dream was ditching her mother in favor of her friends. Apparently they’re “not embarrassing” and “don’t throw up” when they go on fast rides like the merry-go-round.

My youngest, Johanna (who is 7), had a different dream: Fedora ownership. When Abby took off with her friends to go ride something of dubious origin that I didn’t really want to witness anyway, Johanna’s first question was, “Can we go look for my fedora now?”

So that’s what we did. We went looking for Johanna’s dream fedora. We passed by the rides, the food carts and the business displays, and found our way to the booths overflowing with all sorts of wares: Squirt guns that shoot bubbles, T-shirts, area rugs, glow sticks and hats. Including a pile of fedoras!

The guy running the booth was thrilled when we stopped. Apparently fedoras aren’t high on everyone’s wish list. He clued-in pretty quickly that Johanna was the one running the show, and announced that, while the hats sold for $10 and he only makes 75¢ profit on each, he would give it to us for $8 because he could tell the little girl loved his hats.

Is there a fake straw equivalent of pleather? Because that’s what these were made of. Hot pink, leopard print, striped and plain, Johanna had quite the selection to choose from. She noticed fairly quickly that the hats were made in China — yes, I am one of those consumers — and I couldn’t decide if I felt more guilty about the sweatshop labor, the chemicals I was most likely exposing my baby to or the fact that my values are so easily compromised where cheap fedoras and life dreams are concerned.

Eventually Johanna decided that the plain “straw” fedora with the black band was THE fedora she’d always been looking for (for the last week and a half, anyway), and I paid the guy his $8.

Johanna was thrilled. I got a lot of hugs and kisses, as did the hat. I’m not sure how long this particular fedora is going to last — as I write, there are already “strings” coming loose, and Johanna isn’t known in our family for her carefulness — but I do know this:

Best $8 I’ve ever spent.

P.S. My dream was to see the exhibits this year — not something high on either of the girls’ lists — and for 10 lovely, ride-free minutes, I did get to peruse the quilts and the art. So yes, everyone’s fair dreams came true in my little family this year. My dream for next year’s fair? To get to see the baked goods, too…

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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