Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer chores

8-31-09 waning summer brain

You know its August when: you finally get your SPRING yard work done.

Chores that have been on our “to do list” since spring were finally completed in August.

These included trimming the bushes at the KC house, getting a flag hung at the KC house, and sanding and painting another hand-me-down chair for the KC house.

These chores were done under some difficult conditions…. In August, the mosquitoes have been relentless in KC.

PS: Update on the "stray" cat we named Little B..... we found out that Little B is NOT a stray cat. His name is Kojo and he lives 5 houses up the street with owner Kevin and another friendly cat name Pixel.

Kojo still comes to visit Greg quite regularly.

I like getting kisses from Little B.... oh I mean Kojo!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Special Sunday Edition: I'm in LOVE again

8-30-09 feline brain

Friday I left work an hour early to drive 2 hours north to my hometown to have dinner with my Mom and Dad. I hadn’t seen them since July 4th visit and since Greg in heading to Ohio this weekend for a football visit, I decided I would make a quick trip home.

I didn’t really need a trip up north at this time, since I was busy enough already this weekend with annual neighborhood block party potluck on Saturday night, and a trip down to KC on Sunday to attend the American Idol concert with some girlfriends…… but I had the urge…….. the kitten urge.

So I spent a total of 24 hours back home, of which 4 were on the road coming and going, and 9 were in bed sleeping. In between, I had a great visit, and well worth my time.

About a month ago, my Mom and Dad were given a kitten to care for. They really didn’t want one since their beloved cat Tiger had died in 1995. But the same person (friend Roger), who gave then Tiger all those years ago, also gave them this new kitten.

Dad says Mom’s attached to him now, and I say Dad seems to be enjoying the new kitten quite a lot too. This kitten is all play, play, play! He is sweet though and has a nice purrrrr.

His name is Trey for (3rd cat)… and I call him Tre-kit…. for (Trey- kitten)……. Of course I fell in love with him on my first visit home…. AND Mom and Dad were quite aware that I really came home to see the kitten, and was just using them as an excuse.

They raised a cat lover in me!

BUT I returned home to Des Moines ALONE, proving to me that Trey will be their cat for for the time being. I figured if they really didn’t want the kitten, he would have ended up in my car.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer car show fun

8-29-09 waning summer brain

You know it's August when: I can be talked into ANOTHER car show.

Since last Sunday was such a gorgeous day, I wanted to spend as much time outside as possible. Taking advantage of that, Greg found it easy to talk me into attending yet another car show. This one in Des Moines at Union Park.

What I liked about this show, beside a lot of cars for Greg to look at, Union Park had other activities for all ages, so this really was a family friendly car show. There was the water park, a very cool slide, AND the CAROUSEL- which was giving free rides due to the car show.

I started to look at a few cars, but soon found myself wandering over to the carousel. I of course did not hesitate to get my free ride and chose "Kaptain Kat" to ride on and took this self-portrait.

Eventually Greg came looking for me and I was able to talk him also into a ride with me. The nice man running the carousel volunteered to take our picture.

I can safely say this was and is the best car show ever!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer garden visitors

8-28-09 waning summer brain

You know its August when: you get excited about unexpected visitors in your garden!

This last Sunday was such a beautiful day, mild with refreshing breeze. I decided I wanted to spend some time outdoors early evening, so I started to give some attention to the front flower garden, pulling a few weeds.

To my surprise, I came across TWO Monarch butterfly "caterpillars".... I knew what they looked like from my experience last August. I had one attach to the back house siding, making a crystal-cocoon and become a butterfly!

Pictures from last year:

Also this last weekend I spotted my first hummingbird. My feeder has been out since spring, and maybe I've had hummingbirds before, but I never seem to spot them until late August. I believe I get the hummingbirds who are migrating south this time of year.

Another surprise I had last year was my favorite so far. A wonderful Praying Mantis.

Our Des Moines yard and gardens are small, so I find it amazing that they attract so many wonderful visitors!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer weeds and vines

8-27-09 waning summer brain

You know its August when: the garden is mature, wild and neglected.

When I returned back to Des Moines after my last trip to KC mid August, I couldn't believe my eyes. The weeds had taken over the brick patio and a volunteer pumpkin had taken over the back of the house and started to take over the patio table and chairs and it is now climbing the house!

I had let this pumpkin vine grow hoping to get a pumpkin, but so far I haven't seen anything too promising. At this point in the year, I pretty much let the garden do whatever it wants. Like these volunteer flowers. I like surprises in my garden!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer wedding 2009

8-26-09 waning summer brain

You know its August when: that special wedding date finally arrives

This last weekend we attended the much anticipated wedding of Eric and Kate, held in Ames, Iowa. Eric is the son of my long-time high school friend Jean Ann.

I believe this is the first wedding of any of my close friends. Now that we are in our 50's, I guess the timing is prime for the next generation to start getting married off.

This was a lovely, enjoyable wedding and from my perspective everything seemed to run smooth. Good times!

My biggest observation about myself was.... that it is getting harder and harder to make myself look presentable in public. Working at home and leading a very causal life, I found it challenging to find something decent to wear, and then try to get my hair and makeup to look good, all at the same time.

I'm getting discouraged working with the wrinkles on top of the oily summer skin. Greg on the other hand, looked dashing as usual, and he just wore his usual work clothes. Men make everything easier than women... well, most of the time!

PS: I did enjoy wearing my new "tiger" shoes! Jean Ann and I posed with our shoes. I guess at our age at least SHOES are something we still can get excited about. Our feet still look good!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August is here and almost gone: part 2

8-25-09 waning summer brain

You know its August when: You plan to splurge on State Fair food!

A big part of the State Fair is eating. Our usual lunch spot is the Pork Tent. Greg loves the Iowa Pork Chop dinner.

The other pigs in this picture are one of the largest boars on display in the pork barn, and the other is Floyd of Rosedale pig which is the trophy passed to the winner between the University of Iowa and Minnesota football teams each year. It’s a big rivalry. We took this picture especially for my sister and my dad, since they like Iowa football.

The other State Fair food Greg and I are experimenting with each year is ….. what type of fried food is the best. This year Greg tried the fried Ho Ho, and I stuck with the fired Oreo’s. We decided the Ho Ho is better. Next year we will try the fried Twinkie.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August is here and almost gone: part 1

8-24-09 waning summer brain

I still have more to write about on July topics; especially the Beachy Family Reunion, which we attended during our two week driving trip, but August is slipping away, so I’ll need to move on for a few days.

You know its August when...... the Iowa State Fair time arrives. Friday, Greg and I took off work to attend on a beautiful cool August day. We needed jackets! I don’t remember attending the State Fair before wearing a jacket.

We spent about 5 hours seeing some of our favorite sites.

We started out in the Cultural Center to view the photos and art work. Peace-Sister Carolyn had entered a few of her china painting pieces, so we also looked for those.

The Cultural Center is a good place to start since they have my new favorite fair food: an apple stick pastry. So I went off to get one and then starting looking at the photography section.

Then also in the Cultural Center, special this year, they had the “Freedom Rock” guy. The Freedom Rock is a big rock in rural Iowa near Greenfield.

This guy, Ray Sorensen II, started painting it every year with a new veteran’s theme, back around 1999. This year they invited him to create something special on a big rock they placed in the middle of the Cultural Center.

A few other favorite sights this year were there Largest Pumpkin Contest and the Ugliest Cake Contest.

To be continued…..

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Prequel to yesterday's blog

8-22-09 putting the cart before the horse brain

Molly was confused by my post.... I guess my point was IF we can laugh together at the absurdity of politics, maybe we can start to work together.

Greg commented yesterday that my blog seemed to take a big leap from feel-good stories of summer girlfriend fun one day, and onto hard-hitting political issues the next day. He was hoping for a transition.

We’ll there was a common thread between the two posts, but it had remained in my head, so I suppose I should correct that today.

During the KC Girls Weekend retreat, we were a mixed group. Probably split 50/50 between more progressive verses more conservative. We managed to stay away from discussing politics 99% of the time.

Only once someone brought up Sarah Palin quitting as Governor of Alaska. This caused a bit of a short, but spirited exchange where the topic of Goldman Sachs and AIG bailouts also came up into the conversation. I wanted to say “Bush started it…. not Obama”… but I kept my mouth shut. So I started thinking about this conversation from the girl’s weekend when I saw Stephen Colbert a few days ago.

I started thinking how the politicians, lobbyists, and other powerful people probably just love having the liberals and conservatives go after each other. They love this great divide. If corporations and news media such as Fox News can keep us fighting between ourselves…. their ratings go up, AND NOTHING GETS CHANGED.

The system of corruption and greed and politics as usual is allowed to continue.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could start to bridge the perceived gap and come together to get something good done for the American people, instead of helping only the 1% wealthiest corporate ruling-class.

Last weekend Greg and I saw the movie Food, inc. This movie will blow off the doors of your refrigerator! Only a handful of companies control our food supply. We are at their mercy. Of course former employees are now in government policy making positions, like the FDA, or former politicians now sit on company boards. Of course there is a direct link between what we eat and health care dollars spent.

This movie was alarming to me, but the good news is that every time I shop for food, I am casting MY vote on who and what I support. I’m encouraged to shop at Farmer’s Markets and buy local as much as possible. AND grow my own garden.

Well enough on politics for a few days….. Although I’ll warn you, I am building up some steam to talk about health care at some point.

OK one last picture back at the pond to calm us down again!.... as we sing "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down".... "in the most delightful way!"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Laughter is the best medicine!

8-21-09 befuddled brain
I’ve been outspoken and pissed off about “corporate welfare” for years. I was especially intrigued by a book I read back in 2007 called, “Free LunchHow the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense, and Stick You with the Billby David Cay Johnston.

Today I’m fascinated by my Republican friends who are NOW getting on the band-wagon of outrage at Goldman Sachs, AIG, City Group, and the government bailouts.

I guess better late then never.

Big corporations have been taking the American people for a ride for a very long time. It's call "business as usual in Washington D.C." Both Democrats and Republicans practice this, and we the people have let the system continue.

Finally something WE- my Democrat AND Republican friends, can agree upon….. so now I’m sure if I post this clip ALL will enjoy this from Stephen Colbert. Remember “laughter is the best medicine”….

And those of you who DON'T have insurance need all the “laughter” you can get! Try some of the Colbert Report, or a Girls Weekend.... it might add a year to your life.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Platinum - Urbane Nomads, Gigayacht & Michael Jackson Diamond
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorHealth Care Protests

PS: There is already “socialism” for the wealthy…. Then they make the rest of us live by capitalism… working, scrapping and fighting for every penny we get. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a free handout, (like the lobbyist)…. I want a system that works for everyone. And not a system of government owning everything.

How to stop business as usual in Washington, DC? I good place to start would be campaign reform and term limits…. Easier said then done. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

The top 1% own most of the money in our country, not because they worked harder, but because they worked the system that they created…. But the rest of us still have power if we come together in our outrage.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

KC Girls Weekend: saying good-bye

8-20-09 in conclusion brain
After yoga class, most of the gals went down to the barn area or out into the field to get a tour of the animals. Since I have been on the farm many times before, I snuck off for a quick shower before brunch. Then more good food.

Afterwards we all drifted back down to the pond to sit and let our food digest... ignoring the fact that our weekend together would soon have to end.

The pond, picnic tables, and hammock create such a relaxing setting that we all just wanted to linger for as long as we could.

The thing I like most about a weekend like this is- that time is meaningless. Time did not exist. It's letting yourself go back into a child-like frame of mind where one does not know or care about telling time. We did what we wanted to, when we wanted to. For the most part, the weekend events just unfolded as they were meant to, sometimes planned, sometimes unpredictable.

The timelessness of it all was the true sign of a good retreat. Friendship, fellowship, food, laughter, and play, all happening remote from the rest of the world.

So finally I come to the end of this "too long" narrative (I'm getting bored with this blog, are you?) with one last closing picture. A bit of "unpredictability" here..... How did this end?

Well as Ann says...."What happens in KC, stays in KC".

PEACE OUT girls! ...until the next time we gather at Aggie Acres.

PS: A million THANKS to Molly for hosting this wonderful weekend retreat.
AND Thanks to our husbands for understanding the need to "girl bond" from time to time. I hope we showed our gratitude fully when we all arrived home- a bit tired... but refreshed and inspired, all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

KC Girls Weekend: morning yoga

8-19-09 stretching brain

For Sunday morning, Molly had lined up her yoga instructor to come out to the farm to give us a basic class. In planning, Molly and I had discussed the time. I suggested later in the morning, since I knew we would be up late in the night, as a usual Girls Weekend goes. Molly was thinking earlier. So we set it in the middle and agreed at 9:00AM.

This was actually a perfect time, since any later the sun would have been getting too intense. It was a warm morning, but not unbearably hot yet.

Beside the 5 of us who spent the night, at least 3 more of Molly's friends came out for the yoga class and stayed for breakfast afterwards.

Look close and you will see Peeps the peacock is in most of these pictures. He walked from person to person, either wanting to be petted or wanted to see what we were doing. We were a bit distracted my Peeps, but his presences made the morning even more special.

The funniest moment that I remember was when the instructor, being ever so flexible, quickly bent over from her waist, touching her head between her legs.... and Ann let out a loud gasp. I first I thought Ann had let out a *queef when she tried this move, but then I realized it was a gasp of unbelief and shock at our instructors abilities to bend..... Prior to that we all were trying to be serious students, but after Ann's gasp, we all had the giggles.

Footnote: *queef: female fart like sound (I dare you to google the word)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

KC Girls Weekend: Peeps the peacock

8-18-09 missing Peeps brain
The long story- short, of Peeps the Peacock:

Peeps was hand raised by a women who could no longer take care of him, and thus Peeps was adopted by Molly and Jeff. These two, especially Jeff, are always taking in stray animals, giving them a lovely home on Aggie Acers. They have created a real animal menagerie out on their hobby farm.

I’ve written about Molly before, see:

I love these pictures which Ann took of Peeps.

Peeps is an outgoing people loving bird. When the other peacocks on the farm are off doing the usual natural bird things, Peeps is usually hanging out where the human action is going on.

Peeps joined us during our pond floating fun, he joined us on our porch sitting, and the funniest part was when he joined us in our Sunday morning Yoga on the front lawn. Peeps went from person to person checking out each of our postures, and at one point even laid down in his own relaxed pose, which Molly said she had never seen a peacock laid that way before.

Our yoga instructor Nicole got a big kick out of Peeps’ participation.
More on yoga tomorrow-

Monday, August 17, 2009

KC Girls Weekend: the food

8-17-09 bon apetite brain
Dinner time finally arrives about 9:00PM!
This meal is one of the best meals I have EVER had!

The menu was:
Roasted Pear Salad
Turkey Roulade Stuffed with Cranberries and Sausage Stuffing
Sweet Potato Sticks
Green Beans with Pine Nuts (that never left the microwave)...darn!
Berries and Cream with Shortbread- Berries were soaked in Grand Marnier

The salad alone was enough to fill me up, but I kept eating like it was Thanksgiving!

The stuffing is to die for!

I'm only sorry I don't have a picture of dessert.... I watched Molly make it earlier, but by the time dessert was served- around midnight, I had put my camera way. I was too tired and my stomach was too stuffed to truly enjoy it.... But it was wonderful from what I remember.

I was happy to see Kelley enjoying herself. Kelley is a wife and mother of three, and is the type (like my sister), who puts herself last. I know it was a struggle for Kelley to even get away from home for 28 hours.... but I know it was good for her!

I was first to head to bed about 1:00AM... after all, I needed my beauty sleep and we had an appointment for a yoga class at 9:00AM!

too be continued......

Saturday, August 15, 2009

KC Girls Weekend: Time in the kitchen

8-15-09 Julia Child's brain

Molly has a wonderful kitchen! She designed this herself with cooking and entertaining in mind as they built the new house about 4 years ago. The living room, dinning room and kitchen are all together with vaulted ceiling, making it a wonderful place to hang out together as dinner and breakfast were prepared.

Annette at work- this was the sweet potatoes.

Molly loves being in the kitchen as you can tell from these pictures!

Molly use to give cooking lessons at the local community college in her spare evenings back in the 1990's.... but now she is married and taking care of Aggie Acres along with working her full time job. I believe she has a good retirement career lined up. Aggie Acres could be a wonderful Bed and Breakfast someday!!