Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial weekend pictures

5-31-10 memorial brain

Here are pictures.... narration might come later this week. For today, I need to relax and catch my breath before the start of June.

Friday evening in Charles City, 1st "Party in the Park" of the season.

Visited the cemetery with Mom. Paid respect and praying for peace.

Helping Mom and Dad with work around their house. AND playing with the cat.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Is this a WEED?

5-29-10 nature brain

In my the back part of my garden, I found this new plant. I think I need to assume this is a weed, since I don't remember planting anything new in this location.

Does anyone know if this is worth keeping? Look close, there is a flower starting to bloom.... looks purplish.

It could be one of those weeds I allow in for awhile, then I regret it, since it begins to spread!

PS: I was so excited Friday to see at least 6 Waxwings in my neighbor's Service berry tree, eating the berries which are just starting to turn red and ripe. I looked again later and a Robin had taken over. I look forward to this every year, and have noted the berries ripen usually the first part or mid June. I have a great viewing point on the 2nd floor from the bathroom window as I sit on the pot.

It's a Holiday weekend, so will try to break away from the blog for a few days.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My garden

5-28-10 TGIF brain
Now for pictures of my garden.

Front area.

Back area.

Back area, every garden needs a rain gauge.... I like this one since I can see from inside the house.

New addition to back garden.... I found Greg's old bowling ball in basement last weekend. It was just going to waste there, so I decided to put it to use. Too weird? or does it count as "whimsical" ?

The weeding and mulching project will continue I hope, since this is a 3 day holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Morning walk

5-27-10 relaxing brain
I really love this time of year for the fact that I actually wake up before my alarm, and often I get up to enjoy the mornings outdoors. With hot summer weather, this is often the best time of the day.

Yesterday I was walking down my street and observing how nice my neighbors’ yards were looking. Not the “grass” part, since my neighborhood does not strive for the perfect grass, but I loved seeing all flowers, shrubs, and little touches which many of my neighbors do to make their homes unique.

I went back for my camera and re-walked my route taking photos so I’d have a recording for my scrapbook. This street is special and I feel grateful to have lived here for the last 17 years.

Even my friend Sue, who has a busy single parent's life with a teenage daughter... found time along the way to make her front porch welcoming.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Iowa weather report

5-26-10 broiled brain

Iowa has had four days of hot weather, especially on Monday & Tuesday, the humidity was very high and one would think it was “State Fair” weather, like in August.

Monday, I resisted turning on the air conditioner... May is just too early, or maybe I was just in denial that it could be this hot already….. As I was melting away Monday afternoon, working in my home office, to found myself stuck to my leather chair (or maybe it’s just vinyl)…

It was time to get out the summer work clothes…

I know I’m too old to be wearing this type of sundress in public, but it is the coolest thing I have, next to working in the nude.

Tuesday I wised up and turned on the AC. Tuesday night the storms rolled through Iowa, but Des Moines only got a shower, just close to 1/4 inch of rain....enough to give my new grass seed some moisture.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


5-25-10 reflecting brain
My father retired from teaching and coaching in 1987, and since he was in his early 60's at that time, he has enjoyed several decades of life post "9 to 5 daily grind"... However, he didn't just sit back and veg out. Mom and Dad have been able to travel some, spend time with grand kids, and volunteering in their community and church.

Recently Dad "retired" again.... this time from his volunteer work at the museum. Here he received a plaque for his years of service.

I had to laugh when I saw this plaque..... I wondered where Dad would hang this in his office (my sister's old bedroom, which is also a current guest room).

Crazy as Dad's office is, with every inch covered.... his office walls reflect a life well lived, full of memories and valued friendships.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun and productive

5-24-10 worn out brain

Summer came to Iowa this weekend with temps in the 80’s and high humidity. Two weeks ago I was wearing a coat and now I was sweating in shorts and tank top. Thank goodness it was overcast most of the weekend and there was a strong breeze which actually made it pleasant for gardening. The ground was a perfect moisture which allowed the weeds to give way easily to my pull.

It was that time of the year, late May, when I get serious about my garden. Although it is pretty much a garden of perennials, I like to give it a good weeding then fresh mulch once the falling whirly-bird Maple seeds have all dropped. There is nothing more frustrating than putting fresh mulch down and then have it covered with whirly-birds. Over the years, I’ve learn to be patient with the gardening and not fight the whirly-birds. Then after the first part of June, my garden is on it’s own.

Neighbor cat Max also kept me company this weekend out in the yard.

So that was part of the productive weekend, now for the fun part... Friday evening we went to our usual favorite Des Moines restaurant, the Flying Mango, but this time we took an old friend along, Jeff. I only see Jeff about once a year, usually in June to celebrate his birthday, so we took him out for dinner and celebrated early.

Saturday evening we got to spend time with our friends Ann and Roy…. Dinner out, then sitting on the back patio with a bottle of sweet peach wine enjoying the beautiful night and getting caught up with each other’s lives.

Gardening and yard work on Saturday really wore me out, so Sunday was spend with a much needed rest for most of the day and Greg and I enjoyed being lazy together.

Friday, May 21, 2010


5-21-10 fatigued brain
I have been a little bit "off the grid" Wednesday and Thursday. I've only been able to check email and blog and Facebook briefly in the last few evenings. I've been busy giving more training in Iowa City and thus not have the time for easy Internet access. (picture is my new training buddy, who is happy to share anatomy with my four students)

Here is all the organs spilled out on the table.... it is quite a puzzle getting these back into the body.... but after working this job for 27 years, I do know my anatomy! Human Anatomy is ONE thing that hasn't changed over the years.

I am enjoying my evenings here, either walking on Wednesday to enjoy the beautiful weather, or Thursday (rain showers) I went out to dinner with Connie, my old friend from graduate school. It just so happens Connie is now working in the same department that I do, so I get to see her a few times a year when I am in town.

I do know a few other friends who live in Iowa City and feel bad that I didn't get to connect with any of them this trip. But it is hard when I have to talk all day in training, I don't feel like socializing much at night. I need to give my voice a rest.

Funny though, I did run into my 2nd cousin David Thursday over my lunch hour. He was walking down the street going in the opposite direction than I. We did see each other, so paused for a brief conversation. We hope to connect over the 4th of July up in our hometown. His mother is my mother's cousin.

Otherwise, not much exciting to report on this particular trip to Iowa City.
I am glad it's Friday, I'll drive home this afternoon and meet up with Greg in Des Moines.

Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite University buildings on campus.
This is McBride where I spent most of my graduate time.

And next door is the "Old Capital"... a very cool building, which was Iowa's first state capital before it moved to Des Moines.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More old stuff

5-20-10 purging brain
Cleaning project continues.... what to do with all this old stuff?
At least when I run into an old picture, I can scan it, yet that doesn't mean I want to throw out the original.

Can you tell which one is me?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cleaning project... one of many

5-19-10 purging brain
Monday night I started a cleaning project of the guest bedroom. My art had taken over the room and it was in total chaos. Since I am expecting some company this summer, this cleaning project, among others, is on my to do list.

Under the bed.... is a good storage space, but after years it is easy to forget what the heck is even under there.

I found my old wooden play box, which at some point over the last 17 years, Mom had transferred down to my house from hers.

This is where my dolls have been stored: Chatty Cathy, a "kissing doll, baby dolls, and Barbies. Sadly, Chatty Cathy's voice is a bit garbled now.

I also found a bag labeled "HAIR" and sure enough was a wad of my blond hair from some childhood hair cut..... and my two troll dolls.

What do I do with this stuff..... pack it back in the box and shove under the bed again? At this rate, I can tell this cleaning project is going to take some time!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Garden blooms

5-18-10 happy brain
After a rainy week, both in KC and DM, the sun finally came out on Monday afternoon.

My garden is blooming, and creating a wonderful aroma, from lilacs, peonies and iris.

I celebrated spring's return of warm weather by hanging out the new flag.

First thing when I drove in last night, Max, my neighbor cat was there to greet me back to DM. Today he was out and about enjoying the nice weather too. He tracked me down for some catnip, every time I walked outside.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where am I, What day is it?

confused brain
OK.... it's May 17th.... Monday... Back in Des Moines for a few days until I have to be in Iowa City for work.

Sunday, was the usual drive on I-35 north. However, road construction is adding about 20 to 30 minutes onto my drive, depending on the traffic. Here is a view of my world.... driving the Prius these days... I like getting the good gas mileage.

Here is normal view of the monitor: see I'm averaging 41.1 miles/gallon...

Blow pictured here, you can see the 5 minute intervals show higher than normal miles/gallon.... this indicates I'm driving slower.... i.e. I'm in the road construction area and the car is using more battery power.

The blank 5 minutes, is not a good sign... that means I didn't even travel 1 mile in that 5 minute period of time. For some reason people have a hard time merging down from two lanes into one lane... and it takes forever!

I love my Mini Cooper and it's gas mileage is in the 30's.... but when it comes to real great gas millage, the hybrids are great technology, and I also love my Toyota Prius... at least until they come up with a total electric car that I can afford.

This picture above shows the screen which you can look at to see where the power is coming from, either the engine, battery, or both.

Another thing the Prius has, which my 2002 Mini does not, is the "blue tooth" technology which allows me to connect to my cell phone and I can talk without using my hands.... keeping in compliance with the "Oprah's no texting and talking while driving campaign"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A special type of Sunshine

5-15-10 glowing brain
I've been working in KC this past week and the weird thing is that Greg was traveling for work most of that time. I decided to stay in KC, since I was tired of being on the road so much lately, and I just wanted to stay "put".... in which ever house I was at... and this time it happened to be in KC.

I survived alone for the first time here.... but it turned out to be a challenge about mid week. It was a cold and gloomy/rainy/stormy week and I was starting to feel cabin fever- like I did during the winter months.

Finally on Thursday, I got out of the house and had lunch with an old friend Kimby, who was like a ray of sunshine for me! I'm posting this for the rest of you who knew Kimby. I swear, she hasn't changed a bit.... I think she's looking younger..... or maybe it's me looking older.

I love how old friendships can brighten a gloomy day/week! ... of course I insisted on a picture...

Friday, May 14, 2010

My extended family

5-14-10 reminiscing brain

Just for the fun of it.... here is a picture of my sister and I ( Jan on the left, I on the right) and in between us are the neighborhood kids who we spent the first 13 to 14 years of our lives with. (Picture is when I was around age 10, I believe)

Cathy, Jim and Bob lived across the street from us and they were our extended family, along with their parents Alice and Mil. I am thinking of them today, probably because tomorrow is "Tornado Day' in my hometown. When I was 12 years old a deadly tornado wiped out half our hometown. Once you live through an experience like that, anniversary dates are often remembered.... AND I do still tend to freak out a bit when storms are in my area, like this past week.

Back when I was a kid, I remember spending the hours after the tornado down in our neighbor's basement. I think our parents put us down there, all together, to feel safe. That night I also got to sleep with my sister in her room. I remember listening to ambulance sirens head out to the hospital. Thirteen people died that afternoon and we felt lucky to still have our houses left standing in our neighborhood.

When I see pictures on the TV of recent tornado's, I feel compassion... but not all that much sadness or emotion. I usually catch myself saying "been there, done that".... and I know from my experience, life does go on, and things can and do return to normal.... eventually. Yet, I also know that an imprint has been left on me: "Tornado Survivor"... which only those who have had this experience can understand. Probably like "Cancer Survivors" or Holocaust Survivors".

Tornado Post from last year HERE

Thursday, May 13, 2010


5-13-10 pondering brain
Does anyone have time to think anymore?… Does anyone MAKE time to think anymore? Greg sent me this article about leadership and solitude. This got me thinking about our children and the busy lives everyone seems to be leading now-a-days.

Do we give ourselves, and do we give our kids time to be reflective, time to think, time to day-dream. It seems we only value activity, productivity, cramming to passing a test, verses time to “think about things”… time to really learn things... and time to remember things!

A quote for the above article:
Here’s the other problem with Facebook and Twitter and even The New York Times. When you expose yourself to those things, especially in the constant way that people do now—older people as well as younger people—you are continuously bombarding yourself with a stream of other people’s thoughts. You are marinating yourself in the conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality: for others, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it’s yourself you’re thinking about or anything else."

Some of my best memories in college were when I would go out alone to a hiking trail by the lake. I’d walk some, but often I would sit on a rock and look out over the water. I would take in nature’s beauty and just think… and listen to the ideas which entered by brain. I did gather wisdom then, I did gather inspiration, and often I would write some poetry which helped me figure out adolescence angst.

I’ll admit I need to do more of that in my life now…. I suppose I do get to do some of that now, during my 3 hour drives from DM to KC…. But often it is so easy to let myself be distracted with the iPod in my ear, talk radio, Facebook, email, TV….. and blogging?

Maybe blogging is different, and surprisingly blogging seems that it might be helpful to me. Often blogging makes me take time to think and reflect on a topic, (like now).

Anyway, no real point to this blog…. I was just “thinking out loud” about life in 2010 and thinking about my need and my enjoyment of solitude. My “split in two” life does provide for more solitude than most people get…… AND I do need to use my solitude time more wisely and not waste it away on all the distractions that our culture has created.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chalk Art

5-12-10 playful brain
I have been reading about techniques for successful sidewalk chalk art which has fascinated me for years. I read about how to create some 3-D chalk art by using the computer to "stretch" your photo which should produce a pattern to work off from. Then by putting a grid on your photo and on the sidewalk, you can just start drawing within the grid lines.

Here are a few examples of 3-D from the Internet.

I was not up to doing a large piece, so just wanted to experiment with a small picture. I picked one of a flower and butterfly, which I believe is a photo from my friend Lori which I had in my computer files.

Here is my process..... looks like I have a lot more practicing to do!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday with friends

5-11-10 goofy brain
Since Ann came down to the Art Show Friday evening, she stayed with Greg and I Friday night. We had Saturday morning plans to pick Molly up at 10:15 AM at the Volvo dealership where her car was to get serviced…. So a typical late Saturday morning breakfast at First Watch restaurant occurred, with Ann and Molly joining us. Of course Ann had been up early (but not her usual early)…. But early enough to have been scouting out garage sales in our area.

Ann came back with some good stuff, so after breakfast, the four of us went to two estate sales which Ann had spotted. At the first house, we had fun goofing around and looking over some vintage clothing. Some were very cool, but even too small for me. At the second house, Molly enjoyed diving into the walk in closet and picking out things for me! I spent $20 and bought a next to new lime green spring coat, two classic blouses, Ralph Lauren…. And another blouse which still had the sales tag attached.

Here we are trying on some old hats!

Ann bought some wine glasses, and Greg found some old car license plates which he likes to collect and an old folding measuring stick, which brought back memories for me, as I played with one of these in my childhood., and I hadn’t see one in ages.

Saturday late afternoon, Molly went home to have a date night with Jeff, and Ann was off to her next adventure visiting other KC friends, so Greg and I went out for dinner to great new Mexican restaurant we recently discovered called Los Cabos. When we returned home, Greg started a project to sand and refinish some teak deck chairs, and I decided to practice some chalk art. (more pictures tomorrow)