Monday, January 31, 2011

Hunkering down

1-31-11 snow brain
Snow is predicted in Iowa this week, starting today. Tuesday sounds like when we will get the heaviest snow, then some on Wednesday with the wind blowing snow around.

I went to the store on Sunday, so I’m all set to hunker down this week. I put my crock pot on last night with the start of some chili soup. My own recipe of a milder form of chili. Hamburger, vegetable broth, rice and barley, and beans with some curry powder instead of chili powder. I’ll be eating on this all week, so if you are in the neighborhood and are hungry, come on down…. Served with cornbread.

I found I have a new interest in crock pot cooking, since in its own way…. This slow cooking can make a fast meal. I found this cook book and "slow cooking blog", on my friend Lori’s blog and bought one for my Mom and also got one for myself.  SEE HERE

Sounds like Kansas City might actually get more snow than Des Moines this time around. Sorry I won’t be there to help Greg shovel this time. I’ll be handling my own driveway…. But hope to be hiring the neighborhood boys down the street, whose father is currently unemployed, to help me this time. A win-win for both of us!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday: this and that

1-28-11 reflection brain
I'm going to miss Jack Lalanne, who died at age 96 this week. I remember watching him on his TV exercise show when I was a little girl. Jack says "People don't die of old age, they die of inactivity".

Tom Brokaw was on Oprah talking about the soldiers fighting the longest war in US history. Yes, the Iraq/Afghanistan war has surpassed WWII and the Vietnam War…. And currently only 1% of the population is shouldering the burden of this battle. The rest of us go about our lives hardly noticing the new soldier's deaths or injury statistics. I had tears in my eye through most of the show.

Professor Robert Reich will be speaking at the University of Iowa on Feb 1st. I wish I could attend that, but have no plans to be in Iowa City that day. Reich speaks of a different 1% of the US population…. the richest 1% of the population which receives 23 % of wealth, up from 9% back in the late 1970’s. You can read his blogs at

I wonder how many of these two 1 percents'  people are in both groups..... not many I bet.

I watched the State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. I actually liked the idea of Democrats and Republicans sitting together. I think it got rid of the “pack” mentality… and there was no crazy shouting out this year. A tragedy, the shooting in Arizona, produced some positive energy… it's wonderful when love overcomes hate, at least for awhile.

I hope US politicians are watching closely the protests in Egypt and other countries over there....When the laws only favor the rich and corporations rather than the people, the breaking point comes and things can erupt.

I see on TV that the NE is being hit by more snow... glad we here in Iowa are having a few days of January thaw. (which we never had last year).... I was able to get my Christmas lights down yesterday. It was a perfect day to make a snowman, but I didn't have enough time or energy for that.... I had a cooking project-

Last night it was my mission to make mashed potatoes for the special church neighborhood dinner we will be having tonight. This dinner is in honor of our (Westminster's) new minister and his wife.

I have been assigned to make "party" mashed potatoes for 11 people. Yes, they gave me the "easy" dish.... so why then  am I stressing a bit? Well, because I have actually failed at making mash potatoes before... and ended up with paste! Darn, I should of been taking notes at Thanksgiving and Christmas when my Mom made these.... and to think I studied food science/nutrition in grad school. Guess I can't cook unless I am in a food lab with pots, pans and test tubes... and lab rats.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More cleaning progress

1-27-11 clean brain
A friend recently asked me why, every time we get together- every two or three months.... I'm always still talking about cleaning projects....."was I a hoarder?".... 

No I don't think so, but Yes, it's true.... these projects seem to never get finished!

My seemingly ongoing cleaning project this week was to refocused back down in the guest room. I’m expecting my former boss, Mary Ellen, as an overnight guest for a night in mid March. This provides motivation.

The newly refinished floors look so wonderful!

I made progress, but sad to say.... I still have a few more boxes to go through. They are hiding behind the bed in this photo.  I did condense two boxes and two baskets down to just one basket. My paper recycling bin is now overflowing.

I decide this wall was the best place to hang my newer large artwork for now.

Next.... I need to move my energies into the adjoining art room and art closet!
How do I get myself into this mess?? Maybe I need to answer that questions as I work on my continual cleaning projects!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time with Clover

Last week I had time not only to spend with Greg, but also have time with Clover our KC cat!
She is a funny cat in many ways, but a sweetheart.

Clover seems to like to watch TV. Here she was watching Austin City Limits.

Clover likes to drink water from the bath tub.

Clover likes to sleep under the covers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fortune Cookie

Yesterday I was talking about my fortune cookie, and the date- 3 months forward landed on Good Friday. I also found out that on THAT date, it is also EARTH DAY!  For those of you who know me.... that too, like Good Friday is an important date for me to celebrate.... and WOW- this year they both land on the same day!

What does it all mean?...... I will now ponder this for a few months! :)

Maybe it is time for have another Earth Day Art show? Or Maybe it is time to dress up again?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend report

1-23-11 weekend brain
It seems like our weekends, this time of year, revolve around eating and sleeping... although I also have been reading a lot since I'm into a good novel called, "Freedom" by  Jonathan Franzen. On Friday night we had dinner with Molly at Avenues Bistro in the Mission Farms area. This use to be the old “Zest” restaurant. Avenues has a very nice atmosphere and a little more pricey than our usual places we eat, BUT the food was wonderful and interesting.

Then Saturday evening, we went out to eat with KC neighbors Kim and Terry, who we are starting to get to know. They are about my age and have no kids. They are fun people and down to earth. We were going to go bowling, but there where no lanes opened until 10:00 PM, so we started out with an early dinner, then decided on a movie. In between dinner and the movie we hung out at a Christian Coffee House (Homers) near the old Rio Theater in Downtown Overland Park where we were seeing the movie. We saw the movie “Kings Speech”. It’s great how a movie can make learning about history so easy and entertaining.

I should report that we ate at a local Chinese Restaurant, “Dragon Inn”. It was a very nice place with good food at a reasonable price. It’s nice learning about local favorites from our neighbors who have been in the area for decades. I was happy with the fortune cookie I received. See below picture.

As it turns out, I looked up the date, which will be 3 months from Saturday, and this day is Good Friday! Which is a very important day for a Christian person such as myself... dealing with "the good news of Jesus dying for our sins".

I was intrigued with my fortune cookie, since I recently discovered a blog written by a guy here in KC who is opening one fortune each day, and then blogging about how he sees the fortune playing out in his life. I think it is an interesting idea for a blog. HERE is the link to My Daily Fortune.

I'll add this blog to my list of favorites on the right side panel, then if I don't blog for a day, you can look over there for something to read.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Work week review

1-21-11 working brain
Due to holiday on Monday and vacation day on Tuesday; I'm left with a three day work week! Wow it is Friday already. I sure could get use to a three day work week. I seem to get more accomplished because I'm rested and refreshed. I learned this week that it appears that I may be speaking at a national conference this May. Not sure of the details yet.

I've spent this three day work week in KC. Since I have been cleaning my DM home office, we decided to move one of our two desks down to KC, so I don't have to use Greg's desk in his dressing room. I have my "own" room in KC, (decorated with my Peace Art) and which has the hand-me-down Day Bed for guests, and a chair.... so now added a desk and this has been wonderful place to work this week.

I enjoy the sun coming into the east window, and the north window where I can see the back yard, so this is much better than Greg's small dressing room with only one window. Sometimes I'd work on the dinning room table which was nice, but then I would have to pick up my stuff before dinner.

Snow hit KC on Wednesday. By Thursday I believe we shoveled 8 to 10 inches Wednesday night. I decided to help in order to stay in shape for my DM shoveling duties.... which I might have to do again when I return to Iowa on Sunday.

PS: Since it's Friday, I do allow myself to listen to one NPR radio show, otherwise I'm holding strong on my resolution to stay away from talk radio.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sights at Big Cedar

1-20-11 cabin retreat brain
We enjoyed two days in a Big Cedar cabin. No snow there! Temperatures were in low 40's which allowed us to go for several walks.

These were some of the sights:

Greg building a fire each night. We didn't watch TV at all.

Walking on the path which leads to some of the cabins

Our cabin 540, across the Devils Pool area.

Me telling a big fish story, which is part of the putt-putt golf.

Waterfalls looking up on the big Lodge

On our walk we saw an armadillo! (bottom center of picture) The highlight of my trip!

PS: Greg said our first trip to Big Cedar was in 2002. We've been almost every year since, missing only a few years here and there. This was the earliest time we've gone. Usually it's in mid to late February or early March.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who we are

1-19-11 email brain
I am passing on an email a recieved from my friend Karin in Arizona.

On the Jim Lehrer News Hour, one of the contributors, Mark Shields, shared this observation about the tragedy in Tucson:

"There was one observation that was made this week I just have to pass on to you by a friend of mine, Allen Ginsberg, who is an historian up in Maine. And he said, this week, we saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon. And then it was all eulogized and explained by an African-American president. In a tragic event, that's a remarkable statement about our country."

In his eulogy, one of the things the President Obama said was that this tragedy reminds us who we are and how we depend on one another.

My only comment is that people keep forgetting that Obama is only half African-American... he is mixed,  which makes him even more interesting to me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Retreat and unload

1-17-11 holiday brain
Today, "God willing.... and the snow don't fly" Greg and I will be spending some vacation time sitting in a cabin, next to a roaring fireplace... relaxing. We are returning to our favorite Big Cedar Lodge in southern Missouri. We haven't had the time to go there for three years now, so this will be a welcomed retreat for us. I'll be off the grid; reading, resting, rejuvenating!

This picture was taken on our first visit there in 2003. I still am wearing this blue fleece jacket today!

Friday, January 14, 2011

My old friends

1-14-11 memorial brain

This week my thoughts have been with my first, second family. This family was a part of my life from my very first memory to about age 14. They lived across the street from my family and their kids; Bob, Jim, and Cathy, were some of my sister’s and my first playmates…. During that time, I really always thought of them as siblings.

Here we all are:

Next to my cat and my sister, Bobby was my first best friend. He had fun boy toys which I loved playing with like Tinker Toys and Lego's.

Their parents, Millard and Alice, were great friends of my Mom and Dad.
Sadly Mil passed on last week, after poor health for several years.

A smile comes to my face whenever I think about these memories I share with this former neighbor family- they will forever be in my heart.

Here are pictures from Cathy's wedding in the mid 80's. The last time I was with them all together.

Mil and I:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Endless Cleaning

1-13-11 surprised brain

I am still cleaning out drawers and shelves in my office this week. Here is picture of me in 1974, my first year of nursing school in Rochester Minnesota. Maybe I've blogged this before?

I also have one of my first nursing text books. The price in the side cover is $15.75... I know it's out of date, but I kept it all these years since it had some good anatomy pictures. I guess it is time to toss this. Google and the Internet make it easier coming up with educational medical information and pictures.....

However, it is going to be hard letting this one go. Because it's a big heavy book and is good for pressing leaves. I hate to throw out something useful! These leaves are from 1974 also.... that Autumn the maple trees were especially gorgeous.

Yes, at this rate, my cleaning project is going to take years to accomplish.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words on Wednesday

1-12-11  rhetoric brain
Winter snow……

Makes me want to remember warmers days .

This picture from last year's Mini Cooper Fall Drive (taken by friend Roger) when we came upon a Buccaneers group meet. Here Penny and I are ready to “reload”….

Yes, the words we use matter….

Jon Stewart said it best….. the whole segment is worth watching but if you are in a hurry, forward to 5:00 through 6:00 minute mark.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona Shootings Reaction
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow fun

1-11-11 uno brain
Des Moines finally got some substantial snow on Monday and I was glad to have gotten a new pushing shovel, so I actually enjoyed clearing off my drive way, since the snow was so light and fluffy this time.

My friend Ann ended up staying overnight at my house after work, since it would make it easier for her to get to work on Tuesday downtown. We walked over to Chef’s restaurant and got take out pizza. Before bedtime we went out one last time to shovel and decided to play around a bit in the snow.

Ann was reading my blog from Monday and we got into a discussion of why insurance rates seemed so low for me in 1988. It’s true, at that time the University only offered Blue Cross to everyone, and we probably got a good group rate. Now we have several choices, and thus the “buying power” we use to get at Blue Cross has changed. I also got on the Internet and found an inflation calculator. In 1988 I had noted the price of my insurance was $90. In 2010, that calculated out to $166.

I was interested to see what the calculator would say if I used my salary from 1988 to compare it to now. Turns out what I made back then, now equals to what I make now.

That is kind of sad; I have only been able to keep up with inflation. Gee, and I actually did get two promotions during that time… but I don’t really have any more buying power it seems to me than I did in 1988. Thus is the tragedy of the American working class!

I knew I was never going to make a lot of money working in research for the University, and they use to say the advantage was that we received a good benefits package. Now we’ll see how long that lasts.

 PS: I "punked" Ann.... I made her some hot chocolate using soy milk... she didn't know until after she drank it, and I told her. Ann has a fit when I try to get tofu or soy into her.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Home Office

1-10-11 cleaning brain
I’ve been working for the University for 27 years now, and all during this time I have been required to have a home office. Years ago I would only have to spend 1 day per week in my home office, the other days I would be out collecting cancer data in hospitals and pathology offices.

Now, thanks to technology, I spend 99% of my time in my home office. This has its perks, but also has some burdens. One is trying to keep a clean well organized office. From time to time I make an effort to clean out some old stuff. Last week I decided it was time to throw more old papers out.

The oldest paper I found was from December 1983, a schedule of my orientation, when I was first hired. I also shredded several years of pay slips. It was fun to remember what I was making back in the 80’s and 90’s, but what was the most interesting was to compare the cost of Health Insurance.

1988: $90
1990: $106
1992: $132
1999: $136
2000: $171
2003: $249
2005: $256
2007: $364
2009: $456
2010: $593

Something strange seemed to happen in the first decade of the 2000's!

Well, I still have a ways to go with my cleaning, but I have made progress.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011

My resolutions are working

1-7-11 happy brain

This first week in the New Year has been pretty darn good, I must say. I think largely in part because I have been putting into practice my few New Years resolutions.

1. Listen to more music, and less talk radio.
All week I have not turned on the radio once. Maybe I’m less informed now, but I have been much happier this week and more relaxed. Surprisingly my brain does not feel so hyperactive, since I have not been making it multi-task.

2. Spend less time in front of the computer.
As you can tell my blogs this week have been short. I have found over the last month or two I am getting bored with talking about myself… so you must be getting bored reading about me.

I started my blog two years ago; the purpose of it was to help me deal with my “spilt in two” life. Now this split life is just normal for us. I realized my blog has evolved into more of a scrape book of activities which are common to my life.

I’m not going to give up blogging totally, but you might find that I will be cutting back a bit, at least until I get inspired again.

This week I have been doing some “doodling type” artwork, and spending an hour a day in cleaning projects.

3. Start riding the exercise bike again.
I’ve been taking a few 5 minute breaks throughout the day and get my heart rate up. This is easy to do and doesn’t seem like exercise.

I am almost over my cold, just in time to have Greg’s visit to Des Moines this weekend, although yesterday he was complaining that he might be getting another cold. I’m wondering if we are passing our germs back and forth.

Here is a picture especially for Greg, my car guy…… a silly old picture of me and my 1979 Camaro. I had this used car in the early 1980’s and didn’t appreciate that this was such a “man-magnet” at the time. My Dad picked it out for me. I believe this picture was in 1983, the year Greg graduated from High School. I believe he would of been attracted to me even then... be we didn't meet for another 7 years.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Family photo

1-6-11 family brain
The last day we all were together over Christmas break, we forced ourselves to get presentable and have our family picture taken. We are a small family, but it still is a struggle getting everyone looking the same direction! This was our best shot.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More holiday pictures

1-5-11 family brain

After their play, Christopher and Sarah get cleaned up.... Here posing with Grandma. Adult acting for the moment.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter play

1-4-11 winter brain

For kids who grew up in the south, a trip north for Christmas to "grandma's house" is what they ask for.

Conditions were favorable for them this year, and they enjoyed some time outside. You can tell these are my nephew and niece, since they are just as "playful" (i.e. silly) as I am!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let the new year start... please

1-3-11 forward-looking brain
It appears we will have to wait until Feb. 2nd or 3rd for a "kinder" year to start with the "year of the rabbit". This year, the Chinese New Year's begins the first part of February.

I guess that makes sense... the "tiger" is still having his way with us. I learned Sunday that Dad went into the hospital. He had the same cold I got, and Mother also had this week. Dad probably has pneumonia. I'm giving credit to Tennessee (bulldog?)germs. So far Greg is well, but then maybe he was immune since he had been sick earlier in December.

I had incorrectly named the Ginger Bread House creators in my last blog.
Here we are holding our creations of graham crackers and frosting. Mine was the Christmas Manger.

Here is a link to the Chinese New Year information. It's about being grateful in the new year.