Well, the results are in.
A couple of days ago, I wrote about my (and my daughter's) entries in The Fair. This is our second year. And I have to say, it's becoming important for me. As a cancer patient, I feel like I need things to look forward to -- a road race, a guitar recital (years ago), an agricultural fair. Things that challenge me. That drive me, even for a little while. I think it's important. It's too easy to get down sometimes, to get too down to try hard things. Or worse -- to convince yourself that, hey, you have cancer, so you earned the right to sit on your butt and not try anymore.
I can't not try.
So here are the results:
My cherry tomatoes won a blue ribbon.
I was unsuccessful in defending my plum tomato title from last year; I came in second this year. Oh, well.
My other attempts were pretty good, too: 2nd place for my cucumbers and my eggplant; third place for my green tomatoes.
I would say this cements my status as an award-winning gardener.
Maybe most important to me is that my chocolate cupcakes with ganache icing won third place. This is very cool for several reasons: first, unlike with the veggies, baking was something I had more or less complete control over. Bad weather doesn't get in the way of melting chocolate. Second, I was tempted to enter the "For Men Only" category for this, but I decided instead to test myself against the women who make up most of the bakers in this contest. So third place was satisfying.
No awards for my bar cookies, my bread and butter pickles, or another tomato category, but overall, I'm pleased with the way things turned out.
The night, however, belonged to my daughter.
Last year, while I won a first- and a second-place ribbon, she came home with a second place for a sketch and thirds for a clay sculpture and for her decorated cupcakes.
This year, she had fire in her eyes.
She worked on these things all summer -- planning, practicing, and executing.
Like last year, a third place for her decorated cupcakes. And another third for her frosted brownies.
Which was fine. Neither were really her big categories.
Her chocolate cupcakes? Blue ribbon.
Her decorated cake? Blue ribbon.
Her clay sculpture? Blue ribbon, baby.
(Looking at those pictures, can you detect a theme about what matters to my girl?)
I'm pleased because she won, but I'm more pleased because of the way she won.
She was a little sad last year. There's no denying it. But her response wasn't to quit. It was to light a fire under herself.
Now, there's a big difference between cancer and decorated cupcakes, obviously. But the important lesson is one that I've always wanted my kids to learn. Everyone has setbacks. Your response should not be top go back to bed, because lying in bed isn't going to help. The only way your problems get solved is if you get up and start solving them.
The only way to beat cancer is to get up and figure out what you can do about it.
The only way to win a ribbon is to get up and start baking.
As I said last year, it's hard to be judged. It's harder still for a 12 year old girl. The proper response isn't to quit. It's not even to figure out what makes the judges happy and work hard all year to make sure they get it.
It's to figure out what makes YOU happy, and to work to make that happen.
For my daughter, what makes her happy is....baked goods.
And I couldn't be more proud of her.