I bet you thought I was going to leave you hanging. It's been over a month. No, it's just that I keep trying to get different things accomplished during the day (say find a job) that this gets pushed off. Here it is - the last day of Laurapolooza. Now there will be one more post after this talking about going home and wrapping up my impressions.
The first speaker of the day was Wendy Corsi Staub. Evidently, she's a best selling author. Unfortunately, I've never read any of her books, so maybe I've missed something. Her talk was about how the Little House books affected her writing. Except, I wasn't sure how they did that. It felt like she was a fan, but that there wasn't much she added that any one of us in attendance couldn't have given the same talk.
Next up was a second talk by Ann Weller Dahl. I don't remember much. Something about her tone or her take on the topic just struck me as very dry. I, also, had the impression that she believes that since she is a teacher, her job is more important to the world than any other job and she's not shy about letting us know that.
The last item was a panel discussion, "Loving Laura in a Lindsay Lohan World." Lindsay had obliged to make that reference very, very current. It was great. Everyone sharing how the books affected their lives. I found out the woman who had a book coming out, who recognized me from Twitter, was actually Twittering as Halfpint Ingalls. This is going to sound wierd, but I like the LiveJournal community, 1Bruce1, that mocks the Sweet Valley series. The publisher of the new book is courting them for publicity. I mainly lurk. But the authors excitedly follow Halfpint Ingalls who may follow me. Small world and kinda fun. Does any of that previous paragraph make sense to you?
It was time for the spelling bee and tin pail lunch. Mom and I had made a period costume for me, after the blog suggested we dress up for this and the ice cream social (but I was to late for that) I dressed in the morning since I doubted I would have time to go back. Waiting for my suitemates to go to breakfast, I heard one of the attendees say to her husband, "I'll never understand the compulsion to dress like Laura." First, if you knew me, you'd know that dressing up like that isn't something I do. Or that the new outfit may have doubled the number of dresses in my closet. Second, read the blog. You were asked to dress up. I managed to spell apropos correctly after four people missed it. Go Me!!! But I lost my place on the second word, grammactical. Oh well. We started the meal. The buffet was quite good. However the meal was marred by the attack of the helicopter parent next to our table. I'm not going to dish on the details, but suffice to say it was Exhibit A on the problems with helicopter parenting: failure to realize your adult child exists apart from you. I, also, found out that Laura and her husband Jim wouldn't be going on to Walnut Grove. I so enjoyed meeting them and having an official photographer when any of us wanted our picture taken. ;)
I changed into modern clothing and met down in the lobby to see if anyone wanted ot car pool with me to Walnut Grove. It's over a two hour drive. We'd be returning late, and we might as well save on the gas. I ended up riding with Melanie. She's from New Hampshire and is developing a first person portrayal of Laura. She was dressed in a very authentic costume all week. We had fun driving. She found a notepad, in a thrift shop, from the 1915 PanPacific World's Fair in San Francisco that Laura attended (See West from Home and tell me if you don't wish that 1. the tower of jewels was still standing and 2. if you don't want a scone.) I am soo jealous. We arrived and toured the gift shop. Yes, I had personally assured that they could pay the staff for that day. Then I hurried down to meet the bus. I stopped to hear the end of Dean Butler's talk. Things learned 1. I'm not sure one of the attendees understood the difference between the real people and actors. I sort of think she thought he had dated Laura Ingalls. Evidently, he married the actress that played Donna's mother on 90210 in real life. Never knew that. 2. The kiss at the end of Sweet Sixteen was Melissa's first kiss. Her Mom's crying ruined the first two takes. I guess it's good she wasn't Danica McKeller's mother on the Wonder Years when Winnie and Kevin had their first kiss at 12. So many people were waiting in line for autographs. I walked onto the bus with another conference attendee, and we commented on the access we had all week. There was never 250 waiting in line in front of us. She was Australia. This is the power of Laura - would Walnut Grove and Mankato be your first choice of vacation locations? Would you fly for twenty-four hours to reach there? She was excited to find out the tour was on school buses as they don't have those in Australia. Those of us who are Americans were shocked that this could be a good adventure to someone. The tour was good. Pretty much the same as the one we took in 1986. It was a little off in that the tour guide pointed out some things that are conventional wisdom, like Laura simply didn't remember that it was Nellie Owens not Nellie Oleson. When most agree that it was a conscious choice to have the less favorable characters with disguised names (ie. Bouchie become Brewster, Powers became Pryor) and that Nellie was actually a combination of three girls. We saw the pageant site and other highlights of the town. We went out to Plum Creek where most people went wading. I did that a couple years ago. I knew I was going to be doing a lot of walking, so I had worn gym shoes and socks. Since I didn't want to walk around with wet socks, I skipped it.
We came back and went into the community center for dinner. It was a nice barbeque dinner. I highly recommend it if you are going to Walnut Grove for the pageant. I was lucky enough to be sitting near some Wilder insiders. It was interesting. I found it interesting that at least one said they would be a lot more comfortable if Alison Angrim's book was titled "Confessions of a Prairie Brat" instead of "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch." I made sure my ride was going to wait for me to head out to the pageant site, and I went SHOPPING. There's an antique store that had some fantastic Little House on the Prairie scrapbooking supplies. Then I went to the Oleson's Merchantile to buy an Italian link bracelet for my aunt's birthday. I may have picked up a charm for myself to go with the bracelet I bought two years ago. I then wandered around town for awhile taking photos of Main Street, Highway 14 (the Wilder Memorial Highway) and myself by the Ingalls St. sign (the flash reflected so you can't tell why I'm standing by a street sign :( ). The forecasted rain was starting while we headed out to the pageant site. We got there to the news that we should wait in the car for half an hour. Melanie and I proceeded to watch one of the scarier thunderstoms I've ever seen. We watched it move in. We watched lightening go over 180 degrees around us. After two hours, they started letting us in. It was 10:30 pm and still lightening. We decided to start the two and a half hour drive back to Mankato. It went, well, the ligtening was still happening, in fact it stayed with us all the way back to Mankato. I don't know if it's because it's the flat prairie, but I've never seen a storm last for four hours! One cloud kept lighting up and in the flashing light looked like a funnel cloud. Luckily, it wasn't. We stopped in a Sleepy Eye gas station to pick up drinks. Remember how they were always hauling things to Sleepy Eye? We pulled out talking about how quiet the Prius was which was wierd. We had went about a block when we saw flashing lights, lights flashing at us. Turns out we didn't have the headlights on, but we got off with a warning. We were both exhausted by the time we got back to the dorm. I started packing up what I could so that I wouldn't have to get up quite so early in the morning. I was going to type up this blog after that, however I was just so tired that I fell asleep.