Friday, July 31, 2009

Blogging from Chicago

7-31-09 Left working brain

Intense day and a half of training held here at the American College of Surgeons offices in downtown Chicago. “Nice digs”….. very upscale….what should I expect when I’m dealing with a physicians’ organization? View from top floor where our meeting is being held.

I managed to stay alert all day yesterday. Today I only need to survive until 1:00PM and then I head to the car parked in a $35 a day ramp and drive back to Iowa.

I’m learning about the changes and additions to the Collaborative Staging Manual we use to code information about the extent of cancer disease. Version 2 of this manual comes out in 2010. I’ll be responsible then to take this information back to the Iowa staff and teach them in the coming months, prior to the changes taking affect.

I won’t begin to be able to explain the details contained in this manual to non-cancer research people. A snap shot: if you have a breast cancer I will be looking for the size of tumor, spread of tumor, involvement of axillary nodes, number of nodes examined, number of nodes positive, test done on nodes to find isolated tumor cells, metastatic disease, what type of metastatic sites, ERA and PRA assay tests results, what type of test was done to get the ERA and PRA values (IHC, FISH, CISH or other?)… and some other new genetic tests now being coded…….And all that just describes the stage. We also collect information on cell type and grading and which grading system is used…. Treatment information of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy…. And more.

Oh how I long for the good old days when cancer was just described as local, regional or distant!
PS: Picture of my former boss Shannon, now working for NAACCR and living in Ohio.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Art and Science mix

7-29-09 balanced brain

I’m up early this morning, almost ready to take off for Chicago. I’m stopping in Iowa City to pick up my co-worker who will be attending the “Train the Trainers” Workshop with me. We learn and then come back to pass on the training to our staff.

I slept well last night and feel much better today. Having acupuncture yesterday after work has helped rejuvenate me. I had an uneventful evening working some more on my church art project.

I like my concept for this project, but at this point I’m not too happy with my execution. But I have to remember that art is all about “experimenting”….. I guess that’s why I enjoy both science and art. Right brain and Left brain come together nicely at times!

Here is my art business card where I stress the "experimenting" part.

Here is my work Bio I had to submit for this Chicago training.

Ms. Sebern Beachy has been keenly interested in science, health, and the natural world since childhood. Although she was interested in medicine and wanted to be a doctor, she was encouraged to attend nursing school. Judy completed 75% of the nursing program in Rochester MN, connected with the Mayo Clinic, but then transferred to the University of Iowa (U of I), after realizing patient care was not her forte. Judy completed her B.S. in General Sciences in 1978 and went on to graduate school with focus on nutrition research and food science, achieving her M.S. in 1982 also at the U of I. During this time, Judy also was a teaching assistant and research assistant for the University. She then joined the State Health Registry of Iowa (Iowa SEER Cancer Registry) in 1983. Over the years Judy has gained a great deal of experience in data collection and cancer programs by working with small rural hospitals as well as the large urban Medical Centers. Judy has been involved with training at the Iowa Registry since 1989. Her current responsibilities include work on quality control studies, planning educational workshops for Iowa registrars, teaching, and assisting the Field Staff Director in managing staff. Judy earned her CTR in 1987 and has been very active in the Iowa Cancer Registrar’s Association, holding several offices and serving as President three times. In 2009, Judy became a co-instructor for the U of I, College of Public Health class which provides graduate students with a cancer registry practicum experience.

PS: I went to bed on a positive note- I think I have an idea on how to improve my church art project. I’ll be working more on that this weekend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Still in the FUN fast lane

7-28-09 racing off to nowhere brain

July has been a FUN month..... BUT....I am worn out by all my July activities! Sunday, I should have listened to my body, which told me to relax and nap in the hammock. However, I am finding it hard to turn down the volume of busyness, although I know if I don’t do this soon, voluntarily- I will hit the wall and collapse in August. I know I’ve said that before… and I still can’t seem to listen to myself.

I hope I can push on just a few more days in July. I have to travel to Chicago for work this week to attend training. I also am working on a church art project for the Fall Beaverdale Neighborhood Festival. Deadline for that is September 1st. I was working on it this Sunday- below you will see the start of this project.... I'm trying something I've never done before. Who knows if it will work out?

Last night we had a street Root Beer Float night from 7:00 to 8:30PM. Not a big deal, but of course I was in charge of the arrangements. We had a great crowd with perfect weather. The kids always have fun playing together and we were treated with some fun music by neighbor Steve and his accordion playing friend Sheryl.

If there is gap in my blog this week, it will be that I am too busy in Chicago to write.

Monday, July 27, 2009

For the LOVE of curves

7-27-09 Monday slow brain

Our Saturday, two hour drive down to the new Honey Creek State Lodge was enjoyable and pleasant. Our trip had perfect, wonderful warm (not hot) summer weather with nice sunny skies and cool breeze. There was 24 cars total with 6 Mini’s. This was a gentle, leisurely trip since we had many older cars in the group and our speeds were around 50 mph.

Greg has an issue with curved roads….(or is it my issue?)……. He can’t take a curve slow. He has been trying to teach me the proper way to “power through” a curve. Now, if my father had taught me to drive as a teenager instead of my mother, well then I would probably already know not to slow down or brake going around a curve. This of course is with a manual transmission. So our leisurely drive had Greg accelerating through the windy roads and as usual, I’m hanging on for dear life.

Greg has always been an aggressive driver ever since I met him when he was 26 years of age. Luckily he has mellowed a tiny bit, and no longer gets speeding tickets, however riding with him can still be a challenge for me at times. Over the years we’ve learned to communicate better over these driving trips together. In the past, you’d hear words such as these coming out of my mouth: ….. “We are going to die!”.... “Please slow down!”... “Watch out!” ....” Be careful!” .... “Oh S**T” … “OH NO!”..... “Lord help me!”

I hated being a nagging wife in the passenger seat, so finely we developed a code, so he knew when I was pleading for him to slow down. The code words are: “I’m frightened” …. And when I use this, he is good about listening to my feelings and he does slow down.

Happily on Saturday’s trip I didn’t have to use the code word at all. I actually enjoyed the ride, roller coaster-like a few times- as you can see in the picture, but a very fun time together, along with some of our Mini friends.

PS: Honey Creek is very NICE!

AND...I got to drive us home going the short, fast, and straight way.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Driving our Mini.... again

7-25-09 driving me crazy brain

Our trip through the Iowa country side was fun today. Here are a few pictures.

At one point I started singing…. To the tune of America the Beautiful…… “O beautiful for spacious skies, for emerald waves of corn”……”for purple flowers in the ditch above are fruited trees”…… “Oh Iowa, oh Iowa, God shed his grace on thee”…… And Greg pipes in ……. “shed his grace on thee- and gay marriage”… his timing was perfect and I was LMAO…… probably one of those things where you just had to be there ?? What can I say... I'm easily amused and I'm a cheap date all wrapped up together. Lunch at Honey Creek for me was only $7.99.

We stopped and took this barn picture for my Mom! It's outside of Milo, Iowa.
More on the trip Monday....

One more from the 4th of July

7-25-09 weekend brain

Off on another day adventure with Greg this morning. Doing a day trip down to southern Iowa to check out the new State Park Lodge on Lake Rathbun called Honey Creek. We will be traveling down with the British Car Club of Central Iowa, so there will be some old classic cars as well as Mini Coopers.

One of these days I just need to stay home! I guess that won't be until winter when I like to hibernate.

I may report more on this trip later since there are some very interesting characters in this group of people!

For now I want to share another 4th of July holiday picture, one that Karin just emailed me. It's not often we get a shot with Karin, Me and my sister Jan!
Thanks Karin!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Old traditions with a surprise

7-24-09 more reminiscing vacation brain
This year on our 4th of July holiday, things played out pretty much as they usually do:

- We attended the parade in the morning.

- We met friends in the city park after the parade and ran into others we only see once a year.

- We walked across the street to the old Carnegie Library building which is now the art center and took in the current show- usually a local artist. There we also run into others we know from the past.

- Eat lunch with Robin, Tom, Taylor, Steve and Vanni, either in the city park or at the Moose Lodge’s BBQ, corn on cob, bake beans lunch.

- If we are lucky, we get a short nap in before our traditional evening dinner on my parent’s back screened in porch.

- Dinner this year, we were a group of 14. We did our flag pledge and we did sing 3 songs, America, America the Beautiful, and the Marine’s Hymn (for my Dad). We did a great job singing this year, since Vanni remembered to print off the words for us. Steve and Vanni also presented my Dad with a special Iwo Jima silver dollar. That was so special!

- For dessert we ate homemade ice cream along with Sarah’s traditional flag cake.

- Then we usually attend the band concert followed by the fireworks. This year I skipped the band concert, since they moved the location from downtown to the old College Grounds. The fireworks were also different this year, which changed our traditions a bit. We ended up watching the fireworks from Jefferson School yard close to my parent’s house. We only saw them from a distant this year.

The special surprise this year was that my Dad was in the parade! Someone had talked him into riding on the float honoring the Marines…. And we all were glad that he agreed. Turns out he had great fun too. Since Dad was a teacher for years and also served on the City Counsel, many people in town know him and all were waving at him. This picture came from Sarah’s camera.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Character development part III: Karin

7-23-09 reminiscing vacation brain

Karin was our “little” neighbor girl, and either my sister or I would babysit her and her brother Brad. Karin would drive us nuts by her slow motion routine of drinking her chocolate milk prior to bedtime. I’ve never seen any kid use so many stalling tactics. Don’t get me wrong, Karin WAS and IS a sweet soul but she moves at her own pace….. usually much slower than mine.

Karin in many ways is just like her wonderful mother Bunny, pictured here along with my Mom. Bunny still lives across the street from my parents and she looks out for my parents, and in return my parents look out for her. We became like family over the years!

Karin now lives in Arizona and fairly recently, over the last few years, has talked her husband Michael into returning to Iowa over the 4th of July. Actually, Karin and Michael haven’t been married all that long (less than 7 years?). I can’t quite put my finger on the year, which is surprising since Greg and I took a wonderful trip out to Arizona on the train to take part in the wedding.

Sadly, at the day of the ceremony, I was held up in the hotel bathroom suffering from food poisoning. I missed the whole thing! I’ve never been that sick in my life. Greg was OK and was able to proceed with the reading of scripture during the wedding. I was so disappointed to miss the whole thing. Karin was such a beautiful bride in the pictures I saw later.

During our 4th of July hometown holiday, Karin and Michael participate in the tradition of “game night” with the rest of us “big kids” from the neighborhood. Michael is especially competitive. We all have been hooked on the board game “Sequence” for a number of years. The joke is that Karin gets lost in her thoughts and doesn’t realize it’s her turn. We sit there waiting and finally she says…. “is it my turn?” and we say….. “do you need to ask?” Game night contains much laughter and teasing. No one is spared a good ribbing.

This year, Vanni and Steve introduced us all to a new board game called “Blokus”. We enjoyed it very much and although our time together was shorter this year, we managed to squeeze in two evenings of game night this year. Greg and Michael seemed to excel in Blokus. I really enjoyed it too, but struggled learning the best strategy to use. I don’t think I ever won a game.
Check out:

Here is a picture of me with Karin and Michael this year. I love Michael's "evil-eye"... he uses this during game night to intimidate us all.

UPDATE: Greg figured out that Karin and Michael's wedding was November 2004. Greg is a great "fact-checker" and lover of "google"!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Character development part II: Robin

7-22-09 reminiscing vacation brain

Whenever I hear the Michael Jackson song, "Rockin Robin", I always think of my friend Robin.

Robin is another neighborhood friend who was in school with me all grades K-12. Robin now lives in Chicago with her husband Tom (also from Charles City, but lived on a farm and didn’t go to our elementary school), and they have a wonderful daughter Taylor, now age 15.

I’m so mad that our camera had a technical glitch this year, and Greg and I lost all of the pictures taken on July 4th day. I’m sad to be without current pictures of Robin, Tom and Taylor.

Although we spent time together over the years growing up, Robin and I really didn’t become best friends until 9th grade Latin Class, along with another gal Jean Ann. We didn’t know of Jean Ann prior to that, since she attended the Catholic School grades K-8. For some reason, Robin, Jean Ann and I became a mighty threesome all through high school.

Of the three of us, Robin was known as the brains, not that I wasn’t smart too, but Robin had the long time reputation of being an avid reader, and since elementary school- she was bookish. I was not. Robin also was an avid pianist. I guess I was the clown of the group and my mission was to be silly and to make others laugh, where as Jean Ann, was the boy magnet, outgoing, and our social organizer which Robin and I needed at the time(and still do)!

We still tease Robin about her reputation of being “Little Miss Perfect” in elementary school. Here in this picture you probably can see what I mean.

We were in 4-H, a newly formed city club- thanks to my Mom and another neighborhood mother, Marge, who agreed to be our 4-H leaders. Here we are being judged for the clothes we had sewn and were modeling. Robin is on the far LEFT. Her outfit had matching purse and shoes and gloves! The other girls in our group never understood how Robin could have sewn the bottom scallop of her dress without her mother’s help. We were suspicious! In later years Robin did confess to getting help from her Mom!

I am next to Robin in this photo, going through my ugly-awkward phase of puberty! For some reason my straight hair went through a kinky-wavy 3 year period from grade 6th through 8th, which I hated... I guess it was the hormones!

Here is another funny picture from 7th grade. Four of us neighborhood girls who were in tap dance classes together, performed for a Junior High variety show. Look how cute Robin is in her bunny outfit. I’m just a plain old black cat. (But of course being the cat lover that I am, that was the choice I made).

So THIS year over the 4th of July, I was happy that I did get to spend time with Robin, Tom and Taylor, however sadly this year, Jean Ann was out of town helping her son, Eric, move into his first house. Eric will be married next month, so I’m looking forward to that.

Here is a picture of us all together last year over the 4th, taken just after the parade while we were all hanging out in the city park. This is Robin, Taylor, Jean Ann and I.

We all say that Robin's daughter Taylor reminds us so much of Robin when she was that age. We love passing on our old stories of her mother to Taylor. Taylor is polite and listens better than any teenager I know, but she is probably bored to tears!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Character development: Steve and Vanni

7-20-09 evening reminiscing vacation brain

Before I describe in more detail the events of the five day portion of my vacation in my hometown over the 4th of July, I probably need to introduce the cast of characters that are central to my visit. This same group of people has been gathering for years in Charles City, our hometown, which at some point along the way, became a strong tradition for us all.

Last week I talked about Judy C, she lives in Mason City which is only 30 miles from Charles City. Her brother Steve, my childhood friend is at the extreme end in regards to distance away from our hometown. Steve is a teacher in Barrow Alaska, which is north of the Arctic Circle. Steve has been in Alaska since the late 70’s and has become very knowledgeable about the native people of Alaska, thus everyone (well most people anyway)in Charles City finds him fascinating to talk to. And Steve loves to talk. He is a natural teacher.

Steve and I attend school together for all grades K-12. He remembers throwing kisses at me during nap time on our rugs in Kindergarten. He and his friend Daryl, also a neighborhood boy had a crush on me. I however wanted nothing to do with boys, except for my across-the-street neighbor boys Bob and Jim, who were really like my brothers. I loved only cats back then! The love of boys would not happen to me until age 16.

Here is picture of Daryl, Steve and I last summer.

Steve and I really didn’t interact much after elementary school, except we were in some classes together, and I was a cheerleader for him while he played basketball. Steve was the tallest guy in our class at nearly 6 ft 8, (I think I have that number correct). All I know is when I hug Steve, my head is in his arm pit.

Steve got reconnect with me, and met Greg in 1994, when he finally came back to a high school class reunion- Class of 1974. He had stayed away from Iowa for several years. My father, who was Steve’s Social Studies teacher in Jr. High, was one of Steve’s favorite teachers and thus on his trips back to Iowa he would spend time with my father and they would have great discussions about the world, geography, WWII, and Steve loved learning about my Dad’s war experiences. I'm hoping Steve writes a book about my father someday.

Steve was a bachelor until age 50, so we all were holding judgment of the girl he brought back to Iowa with him about 5 summers ago. Her name was Vanni, she also worked in education up in Barrow and she seemed to fit right in with our motley group, since she was originally from Missouri, and was just a down to earth Midwestern gal. Steve and Vanni married one year later. I love spending time with Vanni. She has a good sense of humor, makes me laugh, and keeps us hometown kids in check. I'm so glad Steve married her and made her apart of our Charles City family!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Let the GOOD times roll

7-19-09 Sunday night relaxing brain
I have so much to blog about from my two week vacation, but can’t take the time this evening…. I have other priorities, and I am worn out from my fun weekend.

After our vacation, arriving home last Monday, I had four nights back in my own bed in Des Moines before I was off again to my next summer adventure….. A Girls Weekend in KC, planned by my friend Molly. What a perfectly delightful few days full of friends, food, and much folly!

Many blog posts to write about from just this ONE weekend, but it will have to come AFTER I finish talking about my two week vacation, so be patient…… I’m having such an eventful, entertaining, and enjoyable July, which could fill my blog for weeks to come.

For all my girlfriend “peeps”, old and new…. Here is a five minute toenail sketch done this evening with sidewalk chalk in honor of our weekend together. The rest of you will just have wait for the “rest of the story” to learn how this real-life peacock named Peeps was a part of our silly weekend.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Judy

7-18-09 reminiscing vacation brain

Are you like me and enjoy meeting people with your same first name?

When we joined the church across the street in 1998, I met at least 4 different Judy’s. The church is large, so I suppose out of 1,400 people there might be a few Judy’s. However, I remember at one women’s retreat with only 35 women attending, 3 other Judy’s were present besides me. I got to be called “Judy Jr.” since I was the youngest among the group.

Over our 4th of July, five day stay, in my hometown, I got to hang out with another Judy. This Judy I will call “Judy C”, she is the younger sister of my friend Steve. We all grew up together in the same neighborhood, but “Judy C” was at least 4 years or so younger than I, so I don’t remember much about her growing up, except that she was Steve’s sister.

I am happy that over the last several summer visits, I’ve started to get acquainted with “July C”. I get such a kick out her since she is as goofy as me! I really do think it has something to do with our name. Most other Judy’s I’ve known are a bit weird. "Judy C" is tall, thin, funny and into healthy eating and natural living as much as possible. She did give in, only once, to the lure of homemade ice cream at our 4th of July dinner celebration. All the other times she turned it down, as the rest of us indulged.

Here is picture of some of the neighborhood kids. I'm not sure what they were up to at the time of this snapshot..... Judy is the youngest here, Steve is the clown boy. I'm not in the picture.

Life was sure wonderful and fun back in the late 50's and 60's in my small corner of the world. During our vacation back to my hometown this year, we were able to recapture some of that magic...... to be continued. More vacation escapades to follow next week.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I am in love!

7-17-09 happy brain

I am in love…. STILL…. After 18.5 years of knowing Greg. Our first conversation was on Dec 7th 1990 (Pearl Harbor Day), we were engaged exactly a year later.

Greg has his serious business side. He’s intelligent and logical. I love and appreciate that side of him….. but Greg also has a creative, humorous, and silly side of him, that only a few people get to see.

When he and I are together, alone….. what can I say- we have fun together, even on a two week driving vacation. Here was a quick shopping stop in Ohio to buy water and shaving cream…. We got distracted.

Self photo's don't always work out well..... but this picture makes me happy. Elton John eat your heart out!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two weeks on the road

7-16-09 reminiscing brain
How to pack a Mini Cooper for a two week driving vacation?

I wanted to take my medium sized suitcase, but Greg suggested that using smaller bags would be easier since we had three distinct designations on our trip. The Mini Cooper Rally in Winona “Mini-sota”; 4th of July in my hometown; and the Beachy Reunion in Pennsylvania.

Some how it all worked out, and Violet the plant also went along for the ride. She spend most of the time in the back cup holder, or on the dash with Greg's new purchased toy for the trip- a Garmin GPS system.

The GPS was fun to play with and Greg set the voice appropriately with a female British accent. Garmin summarized our trip at the end: We drove 2,893.9 miles; we spent $206.91 on gas; we had 46 hours of driving time; we averaged 30 MPG; and our maximum speed was 96 MPH. Neither Greg nor I remember ever going that fast…. Unless it was Greg driving while I was sleeping?? Not that I doubt him….. BUT, I know he has gone that fast before. Yet, it could have been me.... I do remember passing a few times fast.... but I didn't think THAT fast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New morning routine

7-15-09 strolling brain

I took a slow walk down the street and back this morning before work….not for exercise, but just to enjoy the outside world before I’d be cooped up in the 4 walls of my home office. It rained during the night and this morning it was actually chilly out- I grabbed a jacket. Glad that oppressive humidly from yesterday was removed and replaced by a refreshing breeze. My windows can now be open wide today.

My garden has changed from yellow lilies to red-orange, accented by the violet color of the hostas in bloom. On the west side of the house, these two do battle as they close in on the stepping stone walkway.

I would like a new routine of taking just a few minutes in the morning to gaze upon nature to help reconnect me to God’s lovely creation. Today, I would have loved to linger in the garden and weed, but other tasks demand my attention at this time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Returning to routine

7-14-09 rat race brain

I’ve decided I will NOT be returning back to my normal routine after my two week vacation.

During the time away, I realized I was starting to spin out of control with my schedule, which seems to happen periodically. Thus from time to time I need to stop and make an adjustment. The two week break was a perfect time to come back and re-create a new and better routine.

Lately I had been feeling so unfocused and rushed, so now I have taken some time to reflect on how I had been spending my time. What activities were wasting my time and what activities are beneficial? On our car trip back to Iowa, Greg and I listened to podcast sermons by Andy Stanley. One sermon dealt with how we spend our time and speaks about the “power of accumulated effect”.

For instance, if you only give a small time each day to exercise, say 20 minutes, each 20 minute time is fairly insignificant by itself. One 20 minute period won’t get you in shape or missing one period won’t get you out of shape, but it’s the accumulation of each 20 minute period that shows the effect. If you do this small amount over a long period of time, you will have the benefits.

So what we do in our 20’s and 30’s will effect how our life is in our 40’s. What we do in our 50’s will effect how we will live in our 60’s….. etc.

I was pondering about why I haven’t made much progress at cleaning out the Des Moines house, or why I haven’t framed the 5 paintings from last year….. why my art room is chaos…… what have I been doing with my time? (blogging too much?)

Anyway, I am starting out fresh from vacation trying to pay more attention to how I spend my time and what I could actually accomplished if I did small activities each day towards a longer goal. So far I’m considering giving up my TV viewing time and considering canceling cable TV.

On a positive note, tonight I am spending some time with my “Peace Sisters” neighbor girlfriends at dinner. Time building relationships is time well spent!

PS: no routine daily blog posts..... I am just going to post when I feel like it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brennan, Mini and me

7-12-09 resting brain

This is the last night on the road, heading home to Iowa- I'm finally getting my hands on a computer at the hotel near South Bend Indiana. We enjoyed a wonderful long weekend at the Beachy Reunion, which was part III of our vacation, now coming to an end. Once I get back on a normal routine later this week, I'll be posting more about my two week vacation trip.

For now, this is a picture of nephew Brennan... most of the pictures I took at the reunion of Brennan are a blur, he doesn't stand still for long! Brennan liked my car. At dinner the first night we saw him he said "Judy... do you have a Mini Cooper?".... "Yes" I said, "have you seen a picture of it?"... wondering how he knew this.

It seems Brennan is taking after uncle Greg by having an appreciation of cars. He has learned all the car logos and identifies cars.... for example we were standing out front and he said "there goes a Ford"..... I must say Brennan has a large vocabulary for a 3 year old. But then again his mother, Heather, works a lot with him and does read to him everyday.

It's going to be interesting to see how this kid turns out. We are saving for his college education, since he appears to be intelligent.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Toenail Sketch #4

7-11-09 still on vacation brain

Inspired by the iris in my garden in early June.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

cute nephew

7-9-09 gaga brain
When you are reading this post, I will be spending time with my youngest nephew in Pennsylvania at a family reunion on my husband's side of the family.
I will be going gaga over Brenden, age 3. I haven't seen him since Thanksgiving, so I hope he remembers me. This picture was sent to us- from about a month ago.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Toenail Sketch #3

7-7-09 silent vacation brain

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Sweet land of liberty"

7-3-09 singing brain
Day four of our vacation, we head south back into Iowa, driving two hours to my hometown of Charles City. We will spend five days here.

The 4th of July over the years has evolved into a big celebration for our family, partly to honor my Dad's service in the Marines during WWII and also because we are thankful for our freedoms and blessed to live in America.

My niece Sarah makes the traditional flag cake every year since she was about 10 years of age. This is lasts years cake, when she was age 20.

At our traditional 4th of July dinner celebration with family and friends at my parents house, before dinner we start with the Pledge of Allegiance and then "try" to sing.... and every year we say- "next year we need to bring the words".... since most of use only know the first verse.
So here it is!

by Samuel F. Smith - 1832

My country, 'tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountain side
Let Freedom ring.

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills,
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet Freedom's song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of Liberty,
To thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright
With Freedom's holy light,
Protect us by thy might
Great God, our King.

Our glorious Land to-day,
'Neath Education's sway,
Soars upward still.
Its hills of learning fair,
Whose bounties all may share,
behold them everywhere
On vale and hill!

Thy safeguard, Liberty,
The school shall ever be,
Our Nation's pride!
No tyrant hand shall smite,
While with encircling might
All here are taught the Right
With Truth allied.

Beneath Heaven's gracious will
The stars of progress still
Our course do sway;
In unity sublime
To broader heights we climb,
Triumphant over Time,
God speeds our way!

Grand birthright of our sires,
Our altars and our fires
Keep we still pure!
Our starry flag unfurled,
The hope of all the world,
In peace and light impearled,
God hold secure!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Favorite pictures from the Lakeview Drive-in in Winona: They had the best root beer!
The car rally today was fun.... like being on the TV show "The Amazing Race".... we had a set of instructions containing questions about things we had to spot along a route we drove through the country side. We didn't win a prize, but we had fun and we didn't even yell at each other. We work well together.

Two week vacation

7-2-08 relaxing brain
Day one: Up at 5:00AM, leave Des Moines at 7:00AM, drive 3.5 hours to Winona “Mini-sota” for the Mini Cooper East Meets West Car Rally ….. The Mini is mine (front car in picture: British racing-green with white top and white wheels)..... BUT the love of car events is Greg’s. We will spend the next 3 days here.

I got off to a bad start with food. Lunch provided was hamburger or hot dog, I choose poorly. I ate hot dog, large quantity of potato salad, potato chips, watermelon, and a big brownie. I felt terrible the rest of the day. I know better, so this tired-terrible feeling was a lesson to eat right for the next 13 days of our vacation. Oh, and there was a cupcake in the evening to celebrate the Mini’s 50th anniversary at the free concert. It was a fun group which played music from the British 60’s invasion.

Day one had car show, and group panoramic picture and evening concert. Day two had motor cross racing and “funkahna”- which was a miniature “Italian Job” obstacle course of sorts and an evening cruise in at a local drive-in diner. Day three has a road Rally- a fun drive through the gorgeous countryside along the Mississippi river, ending with an evening Banquet.

The weather surprised us a bit.... it was only in the 60's, overcast skies with a cool breeze. It felt like October. I guess that was better than the hot and humid weather we have experienced last week.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What's in your closet?

7-1-08 memory-lane brain

The oldest thing that has been hanging in my closet is this "red-white-blue vote" tank top from 1971. Yes, you heard me correctly… from the 70’s! See the date is even on the top. This might be worth something as a collector's item from the 70's?!

I have bought some vintage clothes from time to time, which I enjoy wearing on occasion, but this tank top has been mine since around 9th grade. Just to prove I’ve had this tank top for at least 35+ years, here is a picture of me wearing this.

I remember this occasion since it was on a summer trip to Chicago with my mom, sister and my “aunt” Vivian and her two kids, Melinda and JJ. It was in June 1972 and I had recently received a “going steady” ring to wear from my first boyfriend…. The infamous “Bruce”. In the picture, my sister is on the couch- far right, then me- the blond in the middle, and I don’t know who the other two kids are on the left. Melinda and JJ are sitting on the floor. We had stopped to visit some people Vivian knew. I’ll have to see if Vivian remembers this trip.

I haven’t really worn this tank top much except in college, but I never could bring myself to get rid of it. It’s in good shape, so I think I will run it through the laundry and wear it over the 4th of July. We have a “big-deal” 4th of July celebration back in my hometown. Many class reunions and family reunions are held then. I will be spending time with family and several high school friends who I only get to see this time of year. I’ll have to see if my friends from high school remember this tank top….. I can’t wait!

Silly self-portrait picture, but Greg was not here to take the picture for me.

Here is a blog challenge to others, if you want to play along….. What is the oldest thing hanging in your closet?