After last year's second-place finish in the county fair apple jelly competition, I've been plotting for a year.
And truly, it has been plotting. Instead of rushing around burning my fingers and making a huge mess with the jelly-making, I made the jelly weeks in advance. The bubbles had plenty of time to work themselves out. It settled nicely and has been sitting on the microwave as a testament to my forethought.
Jolene Koski would see my jelly and weep.
Jolene Koski is not her real name, but it's close enough. As I mentioned last year, Jolene Koski's jelly took first over mine. She also just happens to oversee the entire open class competition.
Not that the deck is stacked, or anything.
This year, there would be no question. My apple jelly would so obviously deserve the blue ribbon, Jolene Koski would see the verdict of the judges and practically genuflect her assent. And she would never make apple jelly again.
And not only that, this year I plotted about being one of Those Competitors. I was going to enter a ton of stuff and take up all sorts of time at the entry table. And the kids were going to enter a bunch of stuff too. And as far as that all went, that's what we did.
When I brought our haul on entry night, I checked out what I was up against. Jolene Koski's hateful little half-pint was there already -- of course it was, she runs the joint. I inspected it carefully and found -- what was it? A particle? A piece of apple pulp? Could it really be? What was that blemish? Did it matter? The color was better, but perhaps a little cloudier than mine? Was I perhaps obsessing?
John and Maia both entered the coloring contest, and John entered a crayon self-portrait and a K'Nex model. I entered baking powder biscuits, an apple pie, fudge, spice cake, raspberries, apples, marigolds, and the apple jelly. I took two days off work and baked and harvested and prepared.
We went over this afternoon to get the verdict.
• First place in her age group in the coloring contest. If this keeps happening, they'll mark her down for a ringer.
• Maia unexpectedly won a bike in a drawing. She was thunderstruck.
• Third place in his age group in the coloring contest. The picture had some ducks in it, and he pulled out the Peterson's Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America to accurately color them as Canada geese. "I hope the judges have a Peterson guide," he said as he put the finishing touches on the picture.
• Third place in the K'Nex model competition. I do have to say that his model was his own creation, while the two other winners were from guides.
• First place in the drawing competition for his self-portrait. He jumped in place when he saw the blue ribbon.
• Raspberries: Third
• Apples: First
• Marigolds: First
• Biscuits: Second
• Fudge: First
• Apple pie: First
• Spice cake: First
And the apple jelly? Second. First place: Jolene Koski.
She is so going down next year.