Friday, April 29, 2011

My lesson

4-29-11 thinking out loud brain
I have a lesson to learn, and I'm not doing well with it. It's about learning to pace myself, its about living a sustainable life. Me- on the other hand, I'm either moving high speed, eventually hitting the crash and burn stage.... that is where I am now.

I want to blame it on my split-in-two life of the past 3 years, but I know I've had this problem even before now. I can't seem to say no to activities, and I can't seem to learn to schedule in my own priorities into my schedule.

Oprah this week, gave me a wake up call on the show about "Feeling 20 Years Younger"...a new book by Bob  Green...... exercise, healthy eating, sleep and skin care. I've been neglecting all of these lately.

Also Greg pointed me in the direction of a good sermon series from Andy Stanley's church; "North Point Ministries".  BELOW is from their study materials found here: on Part Four on REST.


Can resting be a spiritual exercise? Can taking a nap be one of the most spiritual things you do today?

1. What kind of person do you become when you are lacking rest? Are you more or less productive?
2. What are the most important things that come to mind when you think of spiritual disciplines? Where does rest fall on that list?
3. Read 1 Kings 19:1-9. God incorporates a pattern of activity and rest in Elijah’s life. Where else do you see a natural pattern of activity and rest?
4. Read Matthew 14:22-23. What steps can you take to incorporate rest into the rhythm of your life?
5. Is your ability (or inability) to rest an indication of your trust in God? Are you living at a sustainable pace?

Wishing myself a slow paced weekend.....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

In the garden

4-28-11 dull brain
I’m longing to be out in the garden…a warm sunny garden where the birds are singing..... but instead I'm inside the house looking out.  Iowa has been cool and wet this month, which I suppose is the best thing for April.  However, the corn planting is way behind the average planting year this spring. All the heat has been south of us and really causing some bad storms and tornadoes.

My nephew was in a "epic" tornado yesterday in Alabama- Tuscaloosa, where he attends college. Thank God..... Word from my sister was that he was OK, but one block from his apartment was total destruction. Surviving a tornado is an experience that will stay with a person for a life-time, as I know first hand from when an F5 tornado hit my home town back in 1968.

Last Friday, when Greg and I were walking around the neighborhood, I spotted a throw-away item on the curb….. and a recent garden blog came to mind.

This link shows a creative garden using a metal bed frame and other stuff:

So when I saw a black metal daybed frame curbside, I thought “someone” could get creative with this. I thought of Kelley, since she has a nice big garden out the back of her house. So when Kelley and I had coffee together on Saturday, I remembered to tell her about this and we drove by to see if it was still there.

I talked her into taking part of it…. and I got the other parts. I believe Kelley really needs more than one piece of this bed for her yard, so I’m willing to hold them for her. I think the two side pieces would make a good corner garden piece.

In the mean time, I decided to replace my white fence out back with this black “fence”…. This is the corner where my morning glory flowers need something to climb upon. So I have challenged Kelley to see what interesting thing she can come up with in her garden. AND Kelley, let me know if you want all the pieces... or anyone else?

In other “news” this week, I’m content to report that there has not been any exciting activities for me this week, since I’ve been feeling fatigued, I have just been lying low and trying to get my energy back. For work, I’ve mostly been polishing my presentation for the National Meeting in mid-May. At night ,I’m watching a little TV and going to bed early...... AND WAITING until the sun and my energy return.

My other creativity in my garden on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog

4-27-11 amazed brain
I've known Ann since the Spring of 2005, and as our friendship slowly grew, she kept surprising me along the way. Reading her guest blog this week was another of those moments where Ann's thoughts surprised me.... in a happy way! I was glad to be apart of her experiences last week as she moves forward.- Judy

Feeding the Soul and Mending the Heart

In more than one way, I live a complicated life which was born out of a complicated upbringing. With that said, I make no excuses or use it as a crutch not to succeed. So when my Dad died suddenly, I proceeded with the many tasks that needed to get done: check this, call them, clean this, do that, have a service, all while grieving and working. While I did this without skipping a beat, I knew the mechanics of my tasks would catch up with me if I didn’t feed my soul. Thank goodness two events occurred last week that not only fed my soul but allowed my heart to mend.

In February, peace sisters Judy, Sue and I agreed to attend the Broadway show Rock of Ages which was coming to the Civic Center on April 20th. We all love music, love the 80’s and love to hang out together. Here’s a synopsis of the show from their website:

In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small town girl met a big city rocker and in LA’s most famous rock club, they fell in love to the greatest songs of the 80s. It’s ROCK OF AGES, an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of JOURNEY, NIGHT RANGER, STYX, REO SPEEDWAGON, PAT BENATAR, TWISTED SISTER, POISON, ASIA, WHITESNAKE, BON JOVI and many more.

I’m not sure what I expected but after talking to an insider, the show was more of a rock concert. I pulled out the songs from the website as I knew we would be asking each other “what song is this and who sings it”? You know me, always prepared. Also, to get into the spirit of the 80’s and big hair, I got my hair done “big 60’s style”. The picture speaks for itself.   (Wax Lips from Judy's Halloween)

The show was great and the lead actor Constantine Maroulis, an American Idol alum, was outstanding. The evening lifted my spirit, began the mending of my heart with the love from Judy and Sue.

I stumbled upon the other event, Walking The Way Of The Cross, while reading the paper last Wednesday. I’ve heard about it, seen in the news but never understood why one would participate, other than a personal service to their religion. What hooked me to attend was the title “Way of the Cross procession relates Christ's pain to today”.

That’s when I had my “aha” moment, thinking this is a productive and symbolic way to release my pain. I had no preconception of how I would feel, maybe just go and observe but carry the cross, not sure. After reading up on the meaning of the Way of the Cross, I made the decision to carry the cross. Judy had an interest so I was comforted by her company.

Prior to the walk, I wrote this as my status on FB:

On this Holy Friday I will release my pain, honor my Dad, remember the pain suffered by the Lord Jesus and all who have suffered and suffering by Walking The Cross, the walk Jesus walked as he traveled to his crucifixion.

The weather was gloomy and a small crowd of 40 or so attended, young and aged. The walk took two hours and was divided in eight stops representing 15 stations. Jesus ….

#1 Prays in the Garden of Olives
#2 Is betrayed by Judas
#3 Condemned to death by the Sanhedrin
#4 Is denied by Peter
#5 Is judged by Pilate
#6 Is flogged and crowned with thorns
#7 Carries his cross
#8 Is helped by Cimon of Cyrene
#9 Encounters the women of Jerusalem
#10 Is crucified
#11 Promises to share his reign with the good thief
#12 Is on the cross with his mother and disciple below
#13 Dies on the Cross
#14 Is placed in the tomb
#15 The Resurrection

I walked the Cross representing stations seven and eight, from Elsie Manor, a downtown senior apartment complex, to Nolen Plaza. The walk left me speechless and I did my share of weeping. As I carried the cross, I reflected on my Dad’s complicated life, the pain he never shared, the courage he had to start a new life at age 65, the horrific chain of events that led to his death. As I ended the walk, my tears were for the joy of his life, the honor to be each other’s keeper and the resting of his body and soul.

After the walk, I wrote this as my status on FB:

Inspiring, meaningful, emotional, I walked the cross to honor my Dad who is watching over me as I watched over him.

Both events lifted my spirit, fed my soul and began mending my heart. I know my Dad would have been very proud of me. This picture speaks volumes of how I felt.

Chat Later, That Girl

Ann Marie

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This and That Tuesday

4-26-11 exhausted brain
Sunday night, I was in bed by 9:00 PM and fell asleep fast and stayed in bed until 7:00 AM. However, after eating breakfast on Monday, I still felt worn out, so I headed back to bed again until late morning.

Sometimes I just have to give into the exhaustion, and take time to revive in order to continue forward.... while telling myself.... "I told you so".... I should have rested on Sunday.  By Monday afternoon, I was back working, but still looking forward to getting back in bed after watching with Dancing With the Stars.

We are having a few rainy days here in Iowa, which I suppose doesn't help my energy.

Last week, when I was looking through my boxes of pictures trying to locate pictures of my retiring co-worker..... I ran into a few of my nephew Christopher when he was about age 2 or 3. This put a smile on my face. Back then I was single, and had plenty of time to spend vacation time visiting Christopher.... and we had fun playing together.... from building forts under the couch, to playing outside with any type of ball.... he loved them all. Back then he also showed signs of taking after his father, a Golf-Pro.

Today, Christopher is in graduate school in Alabama, studying history. We are so happy to hear that for his second year, next year- he received a Teaching Assistant position, which will help with the cost of his education. Now it looks like he is taking after me, his "aunt Soopy", since I too, in graduate school, was a Teaching Assistant.... I'm proud of you CJ!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weekend highlights

4-25-11 Fun and Eventful brain
I enjoyed my Easter weekend here in Des Moines…. Greg and I seemed to keep busy. Darn, when am I going to learn to relax and let myself be lazy?

Friday night we ate at our usual favorite place, The Flying Mango. Then we walked up to another new sports bar/restaurant up in Beaverdale to meet up with Ann and Roy about 7:30 PM. It turned out to be really crowded and noisy, so we ended up walking over to Ann and Roy’s house- just to sit and visit. Here you can see Greg was giving some tips on fun Apps for Ann and Roy’s new smart phones. Greg and I walked home about 9:30 and it was very foggy, which turned the neighborhood into a mysterious place.

Saturday morning, I helped with setting up the flowers at church; I met Kelley for a cup of tea at the local coffee shop; later Greg and I did take up nap, since I was feeling exhausted- and then we went to a movie “Source Code”. Sunday, I woke up before the alarm, and actually decided to get up and watch the sunrise, since there were no clouds in the sky Easter morning.

My morning was spent at church, first helping in the church office from 7:30 to 9:30. I had some excitement on my shift…. I had to call 911, since a lady was having chest pains. Then Greg and I attended the middle service and sat with Vivian and Clyde.

After lunch, Greg left for KC, I should have relaxed and I even tried to sit out on the balcony to read….

But I was over come with the spirit to create, so I got out my paints and starting making a mess. I was trying some new paint, which I think I don’t like. This seemed too runny, or maybe I just was using too much paint….

My project had paint running over the sides, so my work station was full of paint…. Which I decided to turn into a piece of art itself.

Here is the bird’s eye view.

I did manage to go for a short walk, since the sun shinning bright again later in the afternoon. I even picked my first rhubarb and started to make a rhubarb crisp, but found I was missing an ingredient, so this will have to be baked Monday morning after I run over to the store. I then forced myself to clean up my mess(s)  before bed, and after Face-timing Greg for awhile on our iPhones, I'm off to bed early..... looking forward to sitting in my office chair tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A GOOD TGIF to you

4-22-11 Good Friday brain
Wednesday evening I had the pleasure of attending the Broadway Show, Rock of Ages, here in Des Moines. Ann and Sue were my dates for the evening out: dinner first, then the show. Ann asked to blog about this event next week, so I won't give any details now, but  let her expound in her Wednesday Guest Blog.

For today, my brain is thinking about the weekend, so not much time to blog. Usually I'd be saying..... It's Easter already? But this year, Easter is late.... just the way I like it- falling later in April. I love celebrating Easter with the spring flowers blooming. Tomorrow morning I will be helping once again with turning the church into a garden , in which to behold God's beauty, as we rejoice it our blessings.

Today, since I don't have much to blog about ....... I will share this blog written by my co-worker, friend, fellow blogger, and fellow Christian- Lori.

Lori's blog post from April 20th is called "The GAP", check it out HERE.

But, since I didn't get any Easter cards sent out this year, (unlike my Mom and Dad, and Jean Ann, who are always faithful and punctual with their cards)..... I will send Happy Easter Greeting out to everyone via my blog!
AND..... Happy EARTH Day today..... remembering to care for God's Creation today and everyday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Work week update

4-21-11 successful brain
Well, I survived the State Cancer Meetings on Monday and Tuesday. The Lymphoma presentation which I gave with my co-worker Lori was very successful. We recieved much positive feedback.

During the meeting on Tuesday, we presented our retiring co-worker, Jean, with a gift. This was a framed piece of one of my "one small daily "peace" of art".... and we all signed the mat around the art work.

Jean appeared to be excited about being the first person to own one of my PEACE artwork series.
Her Peace was from April 5th, see HERE

I'd like to say I NOW can relax a bit this week, since these meetings are over.... but this is NOT the case.
Now I have to re-focus on my Colon presentation for the National Meetings in May, held in Florida... plus other work stuff is also going on the next few weeks.... boy I sure will be looking forward to when that week will be over and I fly home May 20th.

I can't wait to finely find some real PEACE on May 21st!   I HOPE!   ;)   wink, wink

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog by Ann

4-20-11 absence brain
I'm was off the last two days attending State meetings for work, so Thanks to Ann for doing another Guest Blog. - Judy

A Girl Can Learn A Lot From Two Chicks:
News hound I am, I ran across an article in the paper this March about Two Iowa ladies writing a cookbook. What intrigued me was the name of their blog/business “Two Chicks From the Sticks”. It’s not all about location, location, location … uniqueness is just as important.

What hooked me was the story behind their blog, which is more than a blog. A story about two friends and it reminded me of Judy and her many friends, me included.

Jill and Jamie are the “Two Chicks” and they grew up in the “Sticks” of Southern Iowa. They are also best friends otherwise called BFF. They have a wonderful story of baking and cooking on the farm. To them, homemade does not come in a box or in a tube, but from ingredients you cut, chop, measure, mix, form, bake and frost. Jill lives in Des Moines and Jamie lives in Atlanta, and while they live hundreds of miles apart, they have kept their friendship alive. And in the age of facebook, twitter and blogs, they have developed a business using all three. To boot, they landed a contract to write a cookbook. I say … sweet!

Their book and blog is about baking, baking the way mom and grandma baked. They take turns writing the blog and they sign off with “Jill from the North or Jamie from the South”.
Way cool and very cute.

So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, they were cooking Beef Braised in Stout and baking Irish Soda Bread at a local kitchen store, Kitchen Collage. I’ve never been to a cooking demonstration on purpose, so I went to learn and taste the Irish Soda Bread as the recipe reminded me of a bread from Trinidad.

I arrived at 11 am with a cup of McCafe (my treat on the weekend) and bowl of oatmeal (save your money, oatmeal from a package) to keep me company while watching the Chicks cook and bake. Jamie (from the South) was making the Irish Soda Bread and Jill (from the North) was making the Beef Braised in Stout. And as a way to support “Buy Fresh Buy Local” all ingredients for the beef dish was from Central Iowa. Kudos to the Chicks and Kitchen Collage.

As the Chicks were cutting and mixing, I had a ton of questions (Judy knows I am full of questions) like ….

Is buttermilk important in the recipe? (I have never cooked with buttermilk).

Can you use golden raisin instead of regular and can you substitute chocolate chips?

Is it important to use eggs and milk at room temperature?

Why can’t you find sugar crystals in the grocery store?

If it’s a bread, why do you make it in a cake pan and not a loaf pan?

For the Beef dish, stove top/oven or crockpot?

Convection setting, when to use and what foods are best to use it with?

Surprise, they answered all the questions and were quite chatty with the group. I left the demo with an admiration of their friendship, love of cooking and anticipation for their upcoming cookbook (due out August, 2011) which led me to make both dishes the next day. The Beef dish took a bit of work and the Guinness Stout made the dish. It so reminded me of the dish I had in Dublin last year. Yummy for sure!

The Irish Soda Bread was a breeze to make: measure, add, mix, combine and pour. But as I was mixing the dry ingredients, I wondered what was I suppose to do with the butter? I read and re-read the recipe and no mention of the butter. That’s when I had an “Aha” moment. I remembered Jamie cutting the butter in the flour and saying “if I was home, I’d be cutting with my hands”. See, going to the demonstration did pay off. Both dishes came out perfect and the bread did remind me of the bread I had at home.

Then I thought ….. I wonder if the Chicks were aware of the error, was it in the book too? I sent them a message and they thanked me for noticing the missing sentence. Sweet on both ends, they teach me something and I give something back. What more can a chick ask for!

Chat Later,

That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday follow up

Tuesday brief thoughts

4-19-11 pondering brain
I haven’t been very political these days, mostly because I’ve been tuning it out a bit and just watching the Decorah Eagle Cam instead of listening to NPR. The eagles really relax me. Boy they are getting so big, I can’t wait to see what happens when they start to fly.

I did listen to some radio on my drive to and from KC over the weekend trip. There was a lot of the discussion about the budget and deficit. One expert talked about the US budget like loosing weight; there are two sides of the coin….. Eating less (spending less) and Exercise (revenue collected). This made some sense to me…. With the Bush tax cuts in 2000’s this was like going from exercising 1 hour per day, down the 5 minutes a day (less revenue is being collected)…. Then the eating less part is needed also for a successful weight management (like a good fiscal healthy plan for the nation); however there is caution about cutting eating down too much, too fast (spending by government), this tends to slow down the metabolism (economy)…. So really to be successful; both exercise and eating less are needed.

Way don't conservatives like exercise? Especially when it's only the top 1% who need to add some exercise and share the prosperity!

Now about "eating less".... who was the biggest glutton?

This isn't rocket science people.... just weight loss...... OH Yeah.... I forgot, the majority of Americans ARE OVERWEIGHT, guess we just don't understand the concept of exercise and eating less.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend update

4-18-11 historical brain
Greg and I were up early on Saturday to meet with the KC Miata Car Club, for a drive over to Leavenworth, Kansas. In the morning our group went on the base at Fort Leavenworth and participated in a Home Tour they have one day a year…. The public is invited in to see some of the historic homes where officers live. Many of these were built in the early 1900’s. A few we went through dated back to 1880’s. There is also a museum on the base which had a lot of Fort history back from the 1800’s before Kansas was a state.

Then our group had lunch at an old restaurant in town down by the river. We finished up with the group about 2:00PM, and Greg and I decided to explore the town a bit on our own. The sun had come out and it was turning out to be a nice day, except for that strong breeze. Note we did not drive with the top down on the convertible.

Recently Greg and I had read a book about Fred Harvey and his business of creating hospitality and restaurants along the Santa Fe railroad line. This book was part business and part history and also part about the Harvey family. We had read about the Harvey home in Leavenworth, and were hoping to tour this site. Unfortunately, it was closed and being remodel…. But it was interesting to view from the outside.

Sorry my finger got into the picture on this one.

My butt seemed to be dragging this weekend, maybe it was the 2 hour walk around Ft Leavenworth and fighting the windy conditions, but Sunday morning I just rested and headed back to Des Moines to do my last minutes preparations for my State meetings Monday and Tuesday. Hot bath and to bed early…. Hope I'm not coming down with a cold!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday "checking in"

4-15-11 traveling brain
I was so excited when I learned, a few months ago, that one of my favorite authors was coming to Des Moines in April; sponsored by the Public Library. The day finally arrived and Wednesday evening, Peace Sister-neighbor Carolyn and I attended. Peace Sister Sue was getting her hair cut and colored, a spring makeover of sorts, so she couldn't come with us. The event was held at Hoyt Sherman, my favorite old auditorium in town, so we arrived in plenty of time to get seats up front.

My favorite author and HERO, is Anne Lamott. I’m sure she would not approve of me calling her my hero, since she is a questionable hero at best…. But that is why I like her some much. Anne is imperfect, a broken-recovering soul, brutally funny, and strives to see God’s grace daily. In person, she talks just like the conversations in her books. Carolyn and I very much enjoyed this even.

I had order her newest book, “Imperfect Birds”, and it has arrived just in time for me to start reading it last night. Oh by the way, I’m in KC now. I took a few hours off work on Thursday to drive down, then still put in 6 hours of work. Then Molly came over after work and we did a nice 30 minute walk from 6:30 to 7:00 PM. The weather was warm and sunny on Thursday, although breezy. Spring is showing its beauty here in full strength. Grass is green, the redbuds are out, the tulips are open and even the lilac’s out back are in bloom and smell so wonderful.

After our walk, Molly took me to a Greek Restaurant, which I really enjoyed. It’s not too far from our KC house, so I will want to make this another favorite spot to eat. Seems we are surrounded with good restaurants here in KC. It started to rain last night about 8:30, just when I got back from eating, no storms, just some nice rain throughout the night..... and we are still currently getting a gentle rain this morning.

This will only be a quick trip in KC this time, since Monday I’ll be back in Iowa for two days of meetings first thing in the week. But Greg does have some fun plans for us on Saturday, which involves the Miata car club. Last evening he attended a Mini Cooper “drive-in” with 18 other Mini friends, but I choose time with Molly, knowing I’d get my “car fill” on Saturday.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This and That on Thursday

4-14-11 work brain
I’ve been lucky to have TWO guest blogs this week helping me out, since I haven’t had much to write about lately. The last few weeks have been intense at work, so in the evening not much going on. However, Wednesday night I did have an interesting outing which I will write about Friday.

Otherwise this week, I’ve been enjoying some nice sunny weather from my office window. I was worn out from the weekend yard work, but Tuesday night got up enough energy to mow the front lawn. This seemed early to me, but parts in the front were really long and thick. I do hope we get some predicted rain-(maybe snow?) for the weekend. That’s April in Iowa…. Anything can happen!

This week I’m celebrating National Cancer Registrars Week. Well, actually I’m not celebrating much at all, but maybe next week when I’m with my co-workers at our State Meeting we will have some fun together.

At the meeting we will be honoring a co-worker who retired last month. We put together a pretty cool gift for her using some of my art-work. I’ll display this next week… I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

News on the DM street is that neighbors Chris and Paul are getting a new driveway. I've been hearing some noise from this, but not too distracting. Also a house down the street (Aljets old house) just put a "For Sale" sign out this week. This couple, with two cute kids, had only moved in about 2 years ago at the most.... I guess they are moving to Atlanta in search of warmer weather!

Oh and not to forget, I'm excited my 10 frames came in the mail and I worked on getting them laid out. The sunroom became a MESS again! Do you think someone will ever want to buy any of my Peace Art?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog

4-13-11 memorial brain
Ann came over Monday night and we watched Dancing with the Stars together, helping her to get her life back in balance and routine after her 10 day ordeal of caring for her Father, while he was in and out of the hospital. Ann showed she was a dedicated daughter during this time, but that was nothing new.... she has watched over her Dad since the mid-1990's when he moved to Des Moines. Her loyalty and big heart, are reasons I was open to becoming her friend. Below are the words Ann spoke at her Father's funeral.- Judy

Prior to March 27th, my Dad lived a near-healthy active life. He was able to care for himself, drove his red Jeep, and even got his taxes done 2 days prior. On March 27th, Dad was hospitalized with pneumonia, he was discharged on March 29th and readmitted to CCU on March 30th with heart/lung symptoms and a high fever that just would not get better. On April 3nd, his condition got worse which necessitated intubation. Shortly after intubation, my Dad suffered a massive stroke and passed away on April 6th.

My tribute to my Dad will be centered around six words, Dad was a : RiskTaker. Keeper. Worker. Sports-fan. Traveler. Keeper.

RiskTaker- My Dad took a big risk, leaving Trinidad in 1968 so he and my mom could provide a better life for us. I’ve always said, we came to this country with a suitcase in our hands and $5 in our pockets. What a life Dad had. We honored our parents by working hard and getting as much education as we could. His risk paid off.

Keeper- The first 17 years of my life, my Dad was our keeper. He did the best job he could with the tools he had. I have no regrets of how he raised us.

Worker- Dad was a shoe salesman. He was proud of selling women’s shoes. After retiring from Nieman Marcus, he moved to Iowa and began working at Younkers (age 65). He loved working at the downtown Younkers store and made many suggestions on the art of selling shoes. If you asked for a size 6 in a particular size, and the shoe was not available, he would come back with 1 or 2 shoes similar to the one you wanted or a size bigger. He said it was not good customer service to say to the customer “sorry, we do not have that shoe”.

At age 74, he helped established the shoe department at Dillard’s at Jordan Creek. I recall he was asked by a 20’something HR person “Matthew, can you tell me who you admire”. I said really …ask that of a 74 year man, but dad was polite and said, he admired Ronald Regan for moving to politics from acting and for his love of this country. That’s why I have a picture of Ronald Regan here.

SportsFan- Dad loved sports, be it college sports, boxing, track n field or his beloved Redskins. If he wasn’t watching it on TV, he listened to it on the radio. He loved the radio. At age 65, Dad went to his first Redskins game in St Louis and then many more games.

Traveler- Over the last 10 years, Dad became my running buddy and travel partner. He loved to travel, just coming back from Trinidad on March 16th. Over the years, Dad traveled with me to Toronto, Florida, Atlanta with a side trip to “Lady and Son’s Restaurant”, Palm Springs and Los Angeles, not to mention all over Iowa, Chicago and Kansas City. He loved riding in the car, admiring the landscape and buildings. During the last days of his life, he may have known his time was short, saying this was his final trip back to Trinidad. He had seen and done all at his beloved birthplace, Sande Grande-Chee You Junction.

Keeper- The last 15 years, I’ve been privileged to be my Dad’s keeper. While I fussed over the years about taking him here and there, I truly was honored to be his keeper. He always said “Talk to Sandra (my nickname) she see’s about me”.

Most of you know I did a lot with my Dad besides traveling. Every weekend, Dad and I would go to breakfast. Our ritual was a pick up at 9 am, drive to McDonalds for coffee which he recently called “I want a cup of modern coffee” to go along with a local radio station tag line. Then we would head off to Hy-Vee on East Euclid to have pancakes n’ sausage or for a treat, a full breakfast. In the summer, we added the farmers market, which he dearly loved.

Dad also enjoyed the Iowa State Fair. He loved to people watch and see the Bill Riley Talent Show. In 2008, we attended the Van n’ Bonnie Corn Dog Chomp, whereby Dad became a Guinness Record Holder for the largest crowd eating a corn dog at one time (9,000).

When I took his picture, he asked me why and I said …. "Dad when you pass, I’m going to say that you were a Guinness Record Holder" . He didn’t understand it at the time, but I’m sure Dad understands it now.

Wow what an accomplishment and what a great life. Dad, I will miss you and I will always be my Father’s keeper.
Ann Marie
That Girl

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Surprise Guest Blog: my Mom

4-12-11 cluttered brain
Over the weekend, I was thinking about all the activities that often get crammed into a week.... no wonder I can't remember what I do from day to day.... it's often all just a blur for me. Then Saturday, I had a letter in my mail box, snail mail, from my Dad. He's good about writing people and sending cards since he doesn't use the computer. This letter contained a surprise guest blog my mother had included, see below.

Scripture: "A man's life consist not in the abundance of the things which he possesses"
-Luke 12:15

On our first trip to the Florida beach, our pockets bulged with wet shells. The beach was covered with beautiful shells and we could not let one go by. Even the broken ones held beautiful bits of color.

After our second year's trip, we had boxes, jars and shelves filled with our collection.

The third year we began to realize we could collect only a few specimens and they would become more precious as a few. Now we would have time to look out to the sea, enjoy the mist on our faces, listen to the rhythmic roar, watch the tides as they recede and return eternally. The ocean teaches us a lesson in simplicity. The material things we accumulate in our lives sometimes keep us so occupied, we miss a visit with a friend, the song of a bird, or the budding of a flower.

Prayer: Lord, help us to keep our lives un-cluttered, so that we have time to enjoy the wonders of your universe.
-Jean Sebern
March 12, 1987

I do remember when Mom wrote this as a Lenten Devotion back in 1987 and I understood her message well then, as I do now- probably more than ever! The need to "un-clutter" my life in all aspects is a noble goal! ....and an ongoing goal, since I still have a jar filled with those shells on my bedroom dresser to this day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Report

4-11-11 balanced brain

This weekend turn out to be a surprise for much of it. Warm weather was expected, along with rain and storms for Saturday and Sunday…. But as it turned out, we got no rain at all. We did have windy days, but the temperatures ranged in the 70’s on Saturday and 80’s on Sunday. Time to get out my shorts AND sleep with the windows opened!

I was also surprised that this weekend seemed more balanced than usual. A variety of activities, satisfying all aspects of my spirit, in no particular order these were: Time with Greg; dinner with friends; time with girlfriends supporting Ann after her father’s funeral; an evening movie; some eagle cam watching; dinner at a new Beaverdale restaurant; church music concert; lunch with some church friends, Vivian and Clyde plus others from the GLBT group; work in the garden…. in fact, I had only intended to buy some mulch to have on hand, but ended up making two trips to the store and laid down 20 bags. Greg helped blow the leaves out of the fence line. Now both the front and back gardens are prepared for the spring! This seems like the earliest I have been this complete with most of my outdoor chores. This was such a big surprise to me that I found energy to do all that. Now I could start work in the basement (perhaps), …except my schedule gets very busy with work over the next month.

Vivian has a neighbor gal she hired to organize and clear their basement, and she was recommending this to me. I might just consider that!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Caution: work zone

4-8-11 creative brain
Things are really flowing for me this week at the Des Moines house…. Creatively speaking (mostly). I’ve been engrossed in work for the last two weeks as I prepare two presentations. This is a creative progress and I enjoy it, for the most part. The first presentation will be at our state meeting in a few weeks at the Ames, Mary Greeley Hospital. My coworker Lori and I are doing it together and we are putting together an interesting “out of the box” presentation on Lymphoma.

The second presentation will be at the National Conference in May, held in Florida. For this one, I also have a co-speaker but I’m putting most of the PowerPoint together. This covers results for two Reliability Studies on Colon, and then we give further training, in hopes that we educate Cancer Registrars across the country, on the proper coding of Colon cases.

The creative juices have been flowing with my Peace Art also this week. As Judy "mess-maker", I spread my paints out on the sun room table for the week. Greg’s not here, so I don’t have to pick up until today by the time he comes to town. (Sadly, my art room is still a mess- I've made no progress on cleaning that yet)

 Many days this week I created more than one Peace painting for my “One small daily “Peace” of Art” blog. I was so inspired and loved the process I was experimenting with. I ordered some frames and mats online, so will be easy to get some of theses finally framed. I decided to spend some money and have it all shipped to me, rather than spend my time going out shopping and time cutting mats myself.

Here is all the "Peace" are I created this week, now spread on the guest room bed. Oh dear, I must resist messing up this room, since I have company expected again next week.

For a close up of these; check out my Peace Art blog at :

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day one

4-7-11 sad brain
For my friend Ann who said goodbye to her father yesterday and for anyone who is missing a loved one today. The process of grief is different for each of us, but the process begins with a first step on day one.
We have to learn to live without, but I believe we are really never alone.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday Guest Blog

Below, Ann asks a question in her guest blog. Knowing Ann for about 6 year now, I'd say the answer is "it's talent" and it's in her genes!  PS: my middle name is "mess-maker"-Judy

Is A Great Deal, an Art, or an Obsession?

My middle name should be “deal finder” as I love finding deals. Be it at the local discount store or department store. It stems from a poor upbringing and my parents making every dollar stretch. Everything we had was either handmade, home cooked and if it was bought, it was at the local discount store. I did not have my first pair of name brand jeans or get my hair cut at a salon until I was in 12th grade.

As an adult, I’ve continued to live frugally. There was a time, it needed to be done, but now it’s become a way of life. My golden rule, never pay full price, be it a dress, pants, shirt, undergarments or shoes. That’s why I love TJ Maxx, a store where you can find great stuff at discount prices and it it’s on sale, Sweet!

Living frugally does not mean one can’t have nice things or splurge. Case in point, my $140 bottomless coffee/tea/soda club card at Bruggers Bagels. Ask me three years ago about spending $140 dollars, I would of said “get real.” But like a deal monger, I did the math:

$2 per cup x 2/day = $4/day = $20/week = $80/month = $160 purchase in 2 mths
$2 per cup x3/day = $6/day = $30/week = $120/month
$2 per cup x 4/day = $8/day = $40/week = $160/month

After the shock of the purchase price, my fuzzy math led me to say what a deal. My day consists of coffee at 7 & 9, ice tea at 12 & 2 and if I want a treat, diet coke at 4 pm. I average 3 refills per day, so my deal is a deal plus.

My other obsession is “end cap or sale shopping”. On a Saturday night, my son and I would go to Target and Walmart to check out the reduced items at the end of the isle or “end cap”. To this day, I am drawn to the end caps or the sale rack.

I’ll write later about other deals via Craigslist and garage sales. It’s that season for garage sales.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Early Easter moment

4-5-11 rejoicing brain
I enjoyed time spent in the garden this weekend. It felt great being outside, hearing the birds sing, feeling the sun, and moving my stiff body. I didn’t rush at all doing the initial raking of my front garden, and I broke the work down into two smaller tasks, so it seemed more manageable.

As I observed the daffodils with their yellow tips, showing signs of blooming amid the dried up leaves, I had an early “Easter moment". It seemed appropriate that the new life, reflected in the bright yellow color, was there along side the dark brown dead leaves from last season. Soon the vibrate yellow will begin to take over, and out shine the dark- bleak site, replacing death with new life.

The death of Good Friday- the death of the body is not final... Let us remember Easter and rejoice in the resurrection.... The promise that our lives do continue. My garden is a Real Estate of Hope!

PS: My rhubarb is popping up also! Can you see the green leaves?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Some fun, some self-loathing

4-4-11 weekend brain
This was to be a KC weekend, since I was down there working last week, but Greg thought we should come back to Des Moines to support the first event of the season for the Mini Cooper Club of Central Iowa. All I cared about was finding some sunshine, since the last 8 days in KC were cloudy.

Saturday was sunny and most of day we hung out with our Mini friends from Iowa, although I did spend 1 hour in the morning raking the leaves out of the front garden. I filled 4 lawn bags and an 1 hour was about all the energy I had for that.

Greg did some honey-do list chores in the basement for me. He connected up a new dryer vent, and washer water lines. I got ambitious and decided to clean out the refrigerator….. This lead to moments of self loathing. I don’t know how I let my frig get to such a disgraceful state. There wasn’t that much wasted food, expect some yogurt with fascinating mold, and there was also drill relish and dressing which expired in 2008, but what made me mad was the vitamins which were expired… I really wasted some money here. Due to the dates on things, I’d say I hadn’t cleaned the frig in about 4 years.

I did end up forgiving myself when I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could fit into 5 year old capri pants. I had to find something cooler to wear than jeans, since Sunday, it hit 80 degrees and I spent a little more time out in the yard. I continued my raking and filled two more lawn bags. In-between all these events I was keeping an eye on the Decorah eagle’s web cam. The first hatch was on Saturday, and the second on Sunday. I was fascinated at the rabbit, black bird and fish that were brought to the nest to feed the eagle family.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Eagle Watching

4-2-11 bird brain

We are still Eagle Watching!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday: This and That

4-1-11 foolish brain?
Today is the first day of April, and if the counter on my blog is correct, this is my 700th blog posting! WOW! Today has me wondering if I am a fool for spending so much time over the last 2.25 years on this?
Overall, I think this has been positive for me and I will continue as best I can, as time allows me.

Today I'm also feeling a bit foolish.... with my new addiction. I've fallen in love the the eagles in Decorah, Iowa. Have you heard about them and the web camera that is monitoring them as they nest? There currently are three eggs which are about to hatch. Check this out at:
And you can read about the project and watch.

Clover the cat and I have been sitting watching the eagles together early this morning. When the female eagle moved this morning, I could see one of the eggs looks like it was starting to have a crack being made. The eagle's nest itself is amazing! 5 to 6 feet in size and they said it weighed over a ton? WOW, how can that be?

Also today, being Aprils Fool's day, I'm remembering my Dad's habit of always trying to pull one over on my sister and I. The one I remember the most, which he used for several years was: him watching us up in the morning telling us that it snowed and school was canceled for the day..... just as were getting excited to hear that, he would say "April Fools".

My Dad's birthday is April 2nd, but he often tells people his birthday is April Fools Day. I suppose just like I tell people my birthday is Halloween, instead of in reality it is the day before.

Dad had several good friends who shared his April birthday; Mil and Dan, who lived in our old neighbor and often they would share a cake and have a party together. Now Dad is turning 86 and the only one still alive.

I'm wondering if one of the eagle chicks will be born tomorrow on Dad's birthday! Maybe they can name it John?

Happy Birthday to all the old and new "birds" out there celebrating April Fools!
Dad- I hope you received our card in the mail!