Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween is coming...

10-29-10 stormy brain
Halloween is coming.... are you afraid yet?

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor, and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley recently wrote THIS..... the article starts like this.... A Perfect Storm.

It’s a perfect storm. And I’m not talking about the impending dangers facing Democrats. I’m talking about the dangers facing our democracy.

First, income in America is now more concentrated in fewer hands than it’s been in 80 years. Almost a quarter of total income generated in the United States is going to the top 1 percent of Americans.

The top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now earn as much as the bottom 120 million of us.

Who are these people? With the exception of a few entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, they’re top executives of big corporations and Wall Street, hedge-fund managers, and private equity managers. They include the Koch brothers, whose wealth increased by billions last year, and who are now funding tea party candidates across the nation.

Which gets us to the second part of the perfect storm. A relatively few Americans are buying our democracy as never before. And they’re doing it completely in secret.... Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into advertisements for and against candidates — without a trace of where the dollars are coming from.

I fear, none of this can be good for our country.... what do you think? Maybe you think I am just overly paranoid?

In a few days the American public gets a chance to vote our opinion.... but even that privilege doesn't feel very satisfying this year. There is so much misinformation out there, so many lies, so much manipulation of the whole system, by both parties... by rich corporations... by secret groups. They want to "own us". But what happens when most Americans can no longer afford to buy products produced by these corporations?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Charles City's new bridge

10-28-10 new icon brain

While spending time in my hometown this past weekend, Greg and I walked down to check out the new "suspension walking bridge", which was finally completed recently and open for walkers.

It's nothing like the old 100+ year old bridge, that was washed away in the floods of 2008, but the new bridge is pretty cool in its own way... and will become an icon in its own right.

Ann, you are going to have to put this on "your list" of things to visit in Iowa.

The bridge seems wide enough to drive a Mini Cooper across, but I'm sure this would NOT be a good thing to try.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday TV

10-27-10 dancing brain
This past Monday, the Beaverdale gals, along with Ann, got together again to watch Dancing With the Stars. This time we hung out in Carolyn's basement and she served us a delicious soup for dinner and we had a mini Birthday party celebration for me.

We didn't quite get the timing right on having Steve take our picture..... we got a commercial in the background, instead of the dancing. I feel so blessed to have a group of women I can act silly with, and laugh.

Bristol Palin went from "chimp to champ" and had her best dance so far...

...and sadly Kurt Warner didn't score so well this time around.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weekend update

10-26-10 family brain
Greg and I headed to northern Iowa this weekend to visit my parents... my sister Jan has been visiting also. We did some chores to help get them ready for winter, and to celebrate my birthday (a week early)....

Saturday night Greg was in charge of grilling steaks, I steamed the broccoli, Mom made the orange salad and Jan served and was on clean up duty. Neighbor Bunny also came over for dinner. Oh ya, Dad decorated the cake..... OK... just kidding, but he "paid for dinner".

Here is me with a ceramic "peace vase" painted and given to me by my Jan and Sarah. Pretty cool... now which house do I put this in?

Saturday afternoon we all watched the Iowa Hawk football game. Dad was swearing, Jan was yelling.... "See why I avoid watching TV sports with my family all these years?"... I commented to Greg. The Hawks lost by ONE point... Exciting game, but with a disappointing ending.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Details of an October week

10-25-10 accomplished brain
A cup of hot chi, a big sigh, and a smile……. That’s how I ended this last week, which felt very productive:

I cleaned my office due to the fact I had misplaced my camera. The camera ended up being in the back seat of the car…. It had fallen out of my purse.

I cleaned my bedroom, which meant finally putting away two baskets of clean laundry and changing the sheets on the bed.

I updated training materials for work which I will need in November when I give my next training.

I mowed the lawn, which took care of some leaves which had fallen…. Still many leaves left on the trees.

I went for 1 hour and 15 minute walk with neighbor friend Sue one evening after work… it was mild and beautiful… and I saw the full moon rise in the eastern sky.

I renewed my driver’s license, AND got my updated insurance cards put in both cars. Usually they float around in several piles of papers for months before they get rediscovered.

I got my hair cut…. This was weeks over due.

I avoided picking up the phone whenever I saw a caller ID I did not recognize. I easily avoided 5 political calls per day. Oh ya, this week I also voted absentee, so no need to waste your phone calls on me.

AND I seem to have gotten my energy back this last week, probably in part to a wonderful acupuncture treatment I had last Tuesday.

Weekend update tomorrow……

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

10-22-10 hungry brain
Sunday evening when my sister Jan arrived earlier than I thought, I felt I needed to make us a healthy dinner. Since I was sick last month, I made the decision to try to eat healthier and have started to seek out, collect and alter recipes which will work for me.

Here is one recipe I like.
MY criteria: Simple, fast, healthy and not too many ingredients

Pumpkin Soup
15 oz canned pumpkin (not pumpkin mix)
1 Cup Chicken broth
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 Cups Fat Free Half & Half
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, add as much to your taste)

Whisk/stir this all together, then heat up.

I served this soup with homemade corn bread and a chicken breast which I bought from my grocery store's Deli.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday monkey business

10-21-10 busy brain
I took Monday afternoon off to hang out with my sister, and rather than try to make more progress in cleaning the basement or art room, we headed off to start our Christmas shopping!

Then Monday night I had a speaking engagement. Neighbor Carolyn had asked me to speak at her PEO Women's group in October and talk about cancer, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This was an pretty easy request to full fill, since basically I just spoke about my job at the State Cancer Registry for about 15 to 20 minutes. Carolyn sent me these pictures afterwards.

Carolyn then served some delicious cake to the women.

Afterwards I headed home to watch Dancing with the Stars and ate pizza with my sister Jan... friends Ann and Sue had come over also and we had fun laughing and critiquing the dancing… AND critiquing the judges. Ann felt Len was being too much of a H_ _ D A_ _

We were not totally sold on the monkey suit dance either.... Ann accused me of just being prejudice of the Palins. (?)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekend update

10-20-10 joyful brain
Sunday was a wonderful day in many ways. At church we welcomed and elected a new head pastor. There was so much joy and celebration as we started a new adventure of growing our faith and building our church mission with our new pastor Dr. Scott Paczkowski and his family. I am glad that I drove back to DM Saturday evening so I could attend.

Sunday afternoon, my friend Ann got me out into a corn field. Ann has an BIG birthday coming up in November and she has created a type of “bucket list” of things to do before December 1st. One of those “things” on her list was to visit a Corn Maze.

This time of year, there are many farms in the area which host fun events like this, sell pumpkins and have hay rack rides. We visited the Geisler Farm just east of Ankeny for the corn maze. I had also never been in a corn maze before, so I was glad to also have a new experience.

The maze was more than just walking around inside a corn field. We were given a map and various places in the maze where numbered pole stations with a paper punch attached. The goal was to walk the maze and try to find every station to get your map punched. Since I’m a great map reader, thanks to my Dad, and the fact that I am a visual person, I took the lead and we were able to complete the maze in 36 minutes…. And that was without “rushing”. I wanted to race through the maze, but Ann said we were not trying out for the TV show “the Amazing Race”.

Next year we decided we wanted to do this corn maze in the dark, since they had evening hours on Saturday until 8:00PM. We'd have flashlights of course.

Sunday early evening my sister arrived in Des Moines for the start of her Iowa visit. To be continued.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Autumn Weather

10-19-10 amazed brain
Autumn has been spectacular this year.... (except for that ONE weekend in September when I had to walk in a parade and then it was cold and rainy)..... otherwise the weather has been warm and sunny for so many weeks now, it is just hard to believe it could change on us.

So I want to take a minute to record this, and enjoy the sights on my street in Des Moines. The down side is that I still have to mow my grass which is still green and growing strong.

Monday, October 18, 2010

silly "out-takes"

10-18-10 fun-loving brain

Here are a few more pictures to end my tale of the 2010 Mini Cooper Fall Drive.

The morning of the drive, just for the fun of it, Greg and I put on some Mini tattoos.

During out drive, it became obvious to me that I might need some bifocal sunglasses for map reading in the car. Here I did the best I could.

Tuesday of last week I have my annual follow up exam since my lens replacement eye surgery in January 2009. My eyes are going great! No change.... I still have 20/20 vision now, compared to my legally bind eyes prior to surgery! Dr. S Ejaz Husain, is "the man"!!

Here is my testimonial which played on the radio!

Friday, October 15, 2010


10-15-10 anniversary brain

Our Saturday Mini Cooper drive ended at the Honey Creek Lodge on Lake Rathbun. Our group had dinner together and then all departed for home, except for Greg and I. We splurged and spent the night in a fairly pricey room to celebrate our 18th anniversary which was Sunday (October 10, 2010)

Sunday morning we had breakfast in the Lodge's restaurant, then went for a wonderful hike on one of the trails. The "prairie" was beautiful in autumn colors.

We hiked between 9:00 AM and 10:00AM, so when the clock hit 10:10 AM, Greg was in the shower and I of course didn't take a picture, even though he was willing to pose for me. My friend Ann was telling me to get a 10-10-10 picture at 10:10AM... Here was our unofficial 10-10-10 picture. We were sitting in a bird watching shed along the trail just before 10:00AM.

Here were pretty trees we encountered on our drive home.

AND we passed the same round barn we saw the summer of 2009. This is south of Milo on highway S23 going towards Lacona. So now we have a picture of Greg's car in front of this spot too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More American Gothic

10-14-10 Grant Wood brain

Grant Wood is probably the most famous Iowa Artist. In the Welcome Center at the Gothic House in Eldon Iowa it was fun to see all the various creations the American Gothic painting has evolved into.

Here is Roger's car posing with the pitch fork.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mini Cooper Fall Drive part III

10-13-10 Gothic brain

You all probably are familiar with the Grant Wood painting "American Gothic"... and the house depicted in this famous painting is located in the very small town of Eldon Iowa.

They have recently opened a wonderful visitor center next to this house and it is now a interesting tourist place. We had fun taking pictures.

Here is another picture from Daryl's camera of the group

.... then we got special permission to move our cars in front of the house for a group photo-op.

As it turns out, there is a lady (Beth Howard) that is currently renting the Gothic House, and she is writing a book about pies.... AND she owns a Mini Cooper.

For a tour of the inside of the house, check out this video.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mini Cooper Fall Drive part II

10-12-10 motoring brain

From Fairfield our band of merry Minis headed to the Villages of VanBuren County: Bonaparte and Bentonsport… these small river towns were holding their fall Octoberfest celebrations.

Historic Bonaparte restaurant

Bonaparte house

At Bentonsport we stopped for photo-op with historic church.

Here was also this cool historic house close to the church

From there we headed to Keosauqua State Park were we happened upon a “Buck-skinners” event where we stopped to look around a bit. Here Daryl got out his tri-pod for us to take a group picture, and this one Buck-skinner guy let us touch is knives and guns. The real Buck-skinner is on the far right in this picture.

Then we headed NW into Wapello County for our big stop at the famous Gothic House as depicted in the Grant Wood painting… continued tomorrow

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend update: Mini part I

10-11-10 road-trip brain

Saturday was a fun day exploring south central Iowa with 18 other Mini Cooper owners. I’ve come to realize the average Mini Cooper owner is NOT average/normal at all…. Just a little on the eccentric, yet charming side of weird.

(Take ME for instance.... then multiply by 18 others)..My hat is a tradition from several years ago from our Mini trip to the Danish Villages out in western Iowa)

Just to name a few other interesting people… Dave and Ladonna (Dave is British); Daryl, Roger #1; Gary and Penny; Chris and Roger #2;… and some from Easter Iowa that were new to me. Oh and yes, this year a KC couple joined us, Kay and Tillie. Our group was smaller this year than last year, only 11 Mini’s…. but with the perfect weather, and FUN stops along the way, this will be a year to remember!

Dave and Ladonna with matching Mini shirts.

Gary and Penny with matching shirts which matches their Mini Cooper yellow car.

Six Mini's from Des Moines meet up for breakfast, then drove together to our starting point this year in Fairfield where we meet with 5 other cars.

Sunny skys.... very warm temperatures!

More pictures to be posted all week! The Iowa country side was beautiful this time of year....

Hey! .... Who's steering this thing? PS: We rode in Greg's red Mini this year. Mine had to stay home in the garage.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Autumn sunshine

10-8-10 autumn brain

Weather report: Sunny with high near 80, lows in the 40s.
I must report that the weather over the last two weeks has been glorious, although sadly, I feel like I have not been able to really fully enjoy it, due to being sick and then being busy at work. I hope that all changes this weekend.

It’s that time of year again when a dozen or so Mini Coopers will be driving together through the Iowa country side…. Just for the fun of it. Last year was cloudy, cold with some rain…. This year sounds perfect and we will be exploring SE Iowa. I’ll be posting pictures on Monday.

Greg and I will also be celebrating our 18th Anniversary. It’s been 3 years already that we have been living this split in two life between Des Moines and Kansas City. WOW…. “time flies”!!

I had my astrological chart done once back in the mid 80's, by a friend of my sister's down in Florida. I was still single then in my early 30's.... what I remember the most from that assessment of "JUDY" was that there was a good chance that I would not marry, but if I did, it would be an "unconventional marriage"..... I guess according to "the stars"....Greg and I were meant to have this weird life together (he being 9 years younger than I for one thing.....and us now living in two cities. And we have always said, that we seem to be one of the happiest couples that we know... even with this current strange stage of life; together and apart or apart and together....

Happy Anniversary to my best friend, my partner, and my great love!