Friday, December 31, 2010

Welcoming a NEW year

12-31-10 recuperating brain

Greg read an article in the paper to me this week which said that 2010 was "the year of the tiger". This is reference to the Chinese Calendar. This article explained that "the tiger" is not kind to humans. Maybe this could explain some of the weird events in 2010? I'm wondering if I can blame "the tiger" for me being sick most of this week? Either that, or the germs I picked up spending time with the family... several who were coughing the sneezing.

Today, I'm feeling a bit better, but still not full speed.
The good news for today is that 2011 is "the year of the rabbit".... and the rabbit is always kind to humans!!

I'll close this year with a new more pictures from Christmas vacation... as I gladly welcome in the rabbit!

Christopher, Sarah, and I worked on "ginger bread houses" one afternoon.

We went sledding. I went down twice before I remembered that I'm not suppose to engage in activities which might cause my retina to detach. Thank goodness I didn't receive any blows to my head this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day

12-29-10 family brain
We attended Christmas Eve service in spite of the new 10 inches of snow on Friday. Then Saturday, Christmas Day, we started the morning off with our usual breakfast... Greg cooked scrambled eggs and we had really good sweet rolls made by a neighbor friend.

Then the "ELFs" showed up to distribute the gifts from under the tree, and we all took our positions. We open up gifts one by one... and really take our time.

Somehow the cat always ends up in the middle of the room playing with the discarded pieces of string. Over the years, we have tried hard to move away from wrapping paper and now use recycled wrappings, especially cloth bags.

One of my favorite gifts... the box set of Bruce Springsteen's "The Promise Land" which comes with CDs and DVD. Since no one showers prior to opening our gifts, the Santa hat comes in handy to cover my messy bed-head.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iowa Christmas

12-28-10 amazed brain
I took a million pictures of the frost.... I just couldn't put the camera down, even though most of these pictures were taken from the car window. I was in such awe of the beauty of nature. This made me appreciate winter in a whole new way. That's easy for me to say THIS year. Des Moines has only received a fraction of the snow we had last year, AND in KC this week, there is no snow and temperatures will be in the 40's, 50's and reaching 60 by late week. Finally an early January thaw we never had last year. This picture as we left my parent's house yesterday.

Above, Dad's Marine flag surrounded by white background. Below the new Charles City Suspension Bridge.

Pictures from our family Christmas will follow all this week.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday report

12-27-10 vacation brain
Charles City in northern Iowa today was visited by hoar-frost. Temperature 7 degrees.

View from our wonderful B&B in Charles City, "the Sherman House"... probably only B&B in town for all I know.

This picture was taken by my nephew Christopher's cell phone camera, shows the side view of the Sherman House. Greg and I got to spend 4 days here, since my parents house was full enough with Jan's family.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowy Christmas

12-26-10 snowy brain
We have had a very snowy Christmas up in northern Iowa in my hometown.
Luckily we have Christopher, a strong 26 year old, with us to help keep the drive way shoveled. I believe we had at least 10 inches.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Click on picture to enlarge. I'm going "paper-less" for the most part this year, with our Christmas cards!

Friday, December 24, 2010

MORE lights

12-24-10 xmas brain
Back in Des Moines and Ann wanted to visit the house in Grimes decorated for Christmas again this year. I was game.

We did stop by Kelley's house to deliver a package to my God son, Ben. We got to see Kelley's new living room windows which looked very nice! Kelley's house was wonderfully decorated for Christmas, dang wish I would have taken a picture.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Golden birthday

12-23-10 birthday brain
Sarah is celebrating her "golden birthday" today and I hope we all make it up to northern Iowa in time to celebrate with her today. A GOLDEN birthday, I have been told, is when you are the age of the day you were born. Thus Sarah turns 23 today.

Here is Sarah and I around her first birthday....I think she was born pouting.... she works it to her advantage. Growing up she would pout until she got her way.

Sarah should be happy this birthday.... she got her wish... a bull dog puppy, thanks to her father.... lord help my sister!.... OK, I agree the puppy is cute at this stage.

Recent picture of Christopher, Sarah and Hunt:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Staying current

12-22-10 slow brain
Friday evening, Greg tried to drag a dinosaur, (me)...into the future... or at least he is trying to help me keep current. We visited the AT&T store. He wanted an iphone for Christmas. I wasn't interested... but Santa bought me one anyway.

OK, I'm starting to get use to it, AND I am starting to enjoy it somewhat. Here I'm taking a picture of myself with my iphone, then I figured out how to email it to myself.

Just when I was thinking I needed to spend LESS time on the Internet... this tool makes it easier to stay connected. But I still feel the urge to resist. I'm ready to step off this 24/7 life, and rediscovery some peace.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mini Christmas drive

12-21-10 motoring Christmas brain
Saturday night we were in KC to participate in a Mini Cooper drive to view Christmas lights. We met up with other Mini's at the KC Mini dealer and created our caravan. I guess we had about 8 to 10 cars. There were several very cool light displays, at least three of them had a radio signal which we could tune into our car radio and hear the synchronized music which went with the lights.

Last stop was at a Starbucks for hot chocolate.

Below was a very impressive house..... "The Ultimate Tree". The owner has a lighting company I was told. Here is one of their songs on Youtube. Also visit website HERE to learn all about this display.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More old pictures

12-20-10 discovery brain
More old pictures which were found in the box in the hall closet during my cleaning adventure last weekend:

Summer 1972 I believe. Mom, Jan and I were taking off on a trip to Chicago with Vivian, Melinda and JJ.

Jan and I in our cheerleader outfits. She is in 9th grade, I am in 8th grade.

I'm guessing 1981.... Mom, Dad and I visit Jan and Hunt in Florida over Christmas. Jan and Hunt were in one room apartment. The girls got the bed, and Dad and Hunt were in the living room. Hunt moved into the bedroom floor when Dad kept him awake with his snoring. (now Hunt has the snoring problem)

My high school graduation 1974 with my Grandpa. This Grandpa H. was a farmer in Charles City and paid for my college.

Me with my other Grandpa and Grandma S. in Oregon, I'm guessing 1980.... by my hair.
Gee, my hair was kind of cool.... and I didn't even realize it at the time. I think I was using electric rollers at the time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The rewards of cleaning closets

12-17-10 happy brain

Other "treasures" I found during my closet cleaning project... was in a box in the hall closet. It contained stuff which came from a drawer in my apartment. It appears this drawer was emptied into this box when I moved into this house in 1993, and I haven't opened it since.

Now my friend Jean Ann (cleaning extraordinaire) would say, if I haven't used anything in that time... I don't really need this box.... BUT I was missing things which I found in this box... and never knew what happened to them, until now.

Like, my Marine Band Harmonica made by Hohner from Germany. I bought this in college, and I didn't learn to play it well, but here in my new chance... all the hours I drive in the car between KC and DM... I now can play to my hearts content!

I also found old pictures which had not been put into a photo album. Here are a few:

These two from the early 80's when I was working on my Rat Research on Fructose and me typing my Thesis.

My sister and brother in law at Christmas 1979 when they got engaged.

My high school friend Robin's 1974 graduation picture... we always teased her about her "floppy hat"... I'm so glad I found this picture... I'm posting it on Facebook AND will TAG her! heee heee hee.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Found treasures

12-16-10 discovery brain
The refinished hardwood floors in the guest room forced me to clean out three closets, which was a good thing in the long run... it's a nice feeling to have them organized for the first time since we moved, in 1993.

I did come upon a few interesting discoveries in this process. In the bedroom closet was a bag which was filled with stuff which came out of my Honda CXR when we sold it in 2002. The usual coins/change, pens, matches, silly putty (every car needs a "toy")... and the big prize...... I found our first cell phone!

Funny, I was thinking about this phone recently and wishing I had kept it, since it already seems like such an ancient relic. I didn't remember that it was in this bag, in this closet..... for the last 8 years.

more found treasures tomorrow.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weekend part II

12-15-10 singing brain
Sunday was a fun day. At church we had special music with special choirs created for this. I enjoyed it so much at the first service that I stayed for second service as well.

Then I had the job of shoveling the snow in my drive-way. Early afternoon, the sun was out bright, but it was cold. Luckily we had only gotten 3 to 3.5 inches….. so parts of the drive way were blown clean, other parts had a 12 inch drift.

After shoveling, I actually let myself take a nap…. Then a few more hours of cleaning up the living room and dinning room. In the evening I went over to church again for pizza and the annual trip to the neighborhood nursing home for caroling. We had a good turn out this year, in spite of the cold..

Here is a short video of some Christmas music at Westminster. Thanks Ann for helping me post this.

Westminster Christmas Music from Ann Anhalt on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekend update

12-14-10 Holiday brain

My office chair never looked so good Monday morning….. I was really looking forward to sitting after my busy and physically demanding weekend.

Friday was warm in Des Moines, 50 degrees, so my neighbor Sue talked me into going for a walk around the neighborhood, to look at the Christmas lights. We walked for about an hour!

Greg ended up not driving to Des Moines this weekend, due to the forecast of bad weather, and he is still trying to get his strength back after being sick.

Saturday I woke to rain, but it soon turned to snow. There was a break in the snow during the afternoon, but by 5:00PM the Blizzard hit and the wind was roaring! Sadly, I was not able to attend Ann's "Ugly Christmas Sweater Party".

So my Saturday was spent on moving all the furniture back into the guest room, after the hardwood floors were finally finished last week. They do look beautiful, but the varnish smell and a light coating of dust everywhere, did not make for a pleasant three days last week. I was forced to clean out three closets as part of this hardwood floor project, since they also refinished the hallway to blend in the floors.

The mess left in the living room, dining room:

Guest room floor:

During my cleaning, I finally broke down and turned on the Christmas Carols and with the snow, I started getting in the Christmas mood.

Monday I also broke down and had my first glass of eggnog.

I purposely have condensed Christmas this year down into a two week period. I thought I would enjoy it more this way. I’m still not promising to get our annual Christmas letter sent out prior to Christmas. Maybe Valentines Day?

PS: The guest room is still not ready for company… the cleaning project has now moved into the art room… That large closet in there, I hope, will hold some of the stuff I don’t want to put back under my bed.

I did come upon some fun discoveries…. More to come on this….

Monday, December 13, 2010

Old Elm Tree

12-13-10 "tim-bbbber".... brain

This big old elm tree in our neighbors backyard in KC has been pretty much been dead since we moved in 18 months ago. Finally it was taken down the first week in December. This was a day and a half project.

Only large pieces of wood were left at the very end.

Busy weekend, winter blizzard, much to report on later this week......

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time in KC

12-10-10 feline brain
I LOVE cats, so when I'm in KC, I enjoy my time with our new adopted cat Clover. She loves to sit on my lap while I work, and she loves to go under the covers during the night and curls up next to me.

With Greg sick, I was hiding out in the guest room to sleep. Turns out Clover joined me most of the nights. I believe she favors me a bit.... but it makes sense since she was raised in a shelter with mostly female volunteers.

I took this photo of her, since I was intrigued by her curled tail as she sat looking out the front window.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

This and that: December remembrances

12-9-10 December brain

I was privileged to have met Elizabeth Edwards back in Dec 2007. We shook hands and I had the opportunity to visit with her for a few minutes (thanks to Heather, the campaign worker who stayed in our guest room) ….and I gave her some of my art note cards. I’ve always wondered if Elizabeth had used my note cards and wondered who might have received these… who actually has laid eyes on my art work through these cards?

I have Elizabeth’s autograph on a campaign sign… I found this recently while cleaning out my guest room….under the bed…. I came close to throwing it out, but still holding onto it. (Sadly as you can see, not much “cleaning” progress is being made)

Nice quote by Elizabeth Edwards:
Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.”
This week I have been reflecting on “December”…. Two of the hardest days of my life occurred in December…. Then in turn the most joyous days also happened during December. (Met Greg, got engaged a year later, the births of my nephew and niece, my parents wedding anniversary; started my dream job in cancer research 12-5-83 .... to name some big joys)

These memories had me thinking about living with the hand you have been dealt….(usually a mix of good and bad)… Even when it’s a bad hand, living through it has purpose I believe….to learn and grow…. To learn to “bloom through adversity”. We all forget this at times. Struggles can have their sweetness, if you are open to the lessons.

I'm thinking of my church friend Terry who was just diagnosed with brain cancer this month... the worst type of brain cancer, a glioblastoma multiforme. His wife died suddenly in 2007 of a brain aneurysm. They are both in their 50's.

I’m missing John Lennon this month…. I know he wouldn’t support extending the tax cuts for the wealthy 1%...... even if he was among that group. Too bad most of our Congress/Senate people don’t have the spirit and soul of John Lennon…. Maybe only “artist” have that type of vision.

Nice quotes by John Lennon: simple truth...
“All I am saying is give PEACE a chance”

"Love is all you need"

(Warning: the song below has the F bomb a few times)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Last weekend update

12-8-10 fun brain

Last weekend, Greg and I had big plans, big FUN plans: the annual luminary walk at the KC Arboretum on Friday night- we had a double date lined up with Molly and Jeff; and on Saturday night was the Miata Club holiday dinner and top-down drive on the KC Plaza to view the lights.

Unfortunately, Greg has been sick. He came home early Wednesday afternoon and was sick in bed Thursday and Friday. He still was feeling bad Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.... I guess it’s the respiratory type flu or a sinus head cold. This has me concern, since Greg is rarely sick, and this has been the 2nd time this autumn he has had this type of illness. This time, so far I’ve stayed well… I’ve only been around him part of this time.

So to rescue my weekend, Molly and I went out to the Arboretum without the guys and we also did a bit of shopping. We didn't get any good pictures at the Arboretum.

On Saturday, I went to lunch with my old college friend Teresa and her daughter Chelsea, my God-daughter. They both looked so cute in their white jackets, I insisted on a picture. It was a cold day in KC... but no snow, so I won't complain.

Teresa and Chelsea had been baking cupcakes and brought several to me. My favorite were the Eggnog cupcakes! SO GOOD! Teresa’s favorite website is “Annie’s Eats” were she found the recipe for this.