Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things I would tell young people

6-30-11 advising brain
Even at my age, I’m still learning many things about life and some things I wish I would have learned sooner.

Part I
Wednesday I had an early morning Dermatology appointment. This was a result of an itchy back, and while Greg was scratching it for me, he noted a mole that could be “suspicious”…. Since the mole was in the middle of my back, he took a picture of it and then I could make an assessment myself.

Signs of abnormal moles are:
A- lack of asymmetry
B- boarders are irregular
C- color variations
Also any mole that changes over time you might what to get checked.

The Dermatology assistant took 5 seconds to look at my back and said it was normal, then spent maybe another 30 seconds looking at my face, arms and chest…. All normal- and I swear I was out the door in less than a minute!

It will be interesting to see what this doctor’s appointment will cost me!

Any guesses? We could make it a contest and I’ll report on it after I get the insurance paper work. This appointment will cost me money out of my own pocket since I have a $1,200 deductible on my insurance.

Young People: please use sunscreen NOW…. not only to avoid cancer, but to avoid doctor bills, and avoid wrinkles which will start to bother you when you get to be my age!

Part II
Today I was curious to look at my paycheck. I get paid monthly and feel after working for 27 years for the University I actually make a decent salary. Well, actually it’s about “median” income for people living in Des Moines, I recently learned from a news article.

My gross pay looked adequate…. Surely I should be able to live off that. BUT the interesting number to note is the NET pay, the amount which actually gets deposited the bank account.

Young people: Know your NET pay, and calculate out your daily pay, and your hourly pay. This knowledge will help you make choices when buying things. For example, it will take me 10 minutes of work to buy this Chi Tea Latte. Is it worth it?

Since I was up at 5:30 AM on Wednesday morning, the answer was Yes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

6-29-11 vacation brain
Here is Ann's take on the Des Moines Art Fest.

Gettin’ My Artzy Fartzy On
I love the phrase “artzy fartzy” and if my memory serves me right, Archie Bunker would use that phrase when talking about well-do-do people. I use that phrase to describe my art loving friends such as Judy. So when I see the phrase “artzy fartzy” I always think of Judy and Archie Bunker. Haha Judy. Here’s a picture I took in Galena for Ms. Judy.

Unlike Judy and much like Archie, I do not have an eye for art. When traveling to Europe, I look at the paintings and after 100 or so, I’ll say something like “if you’ve seen one painting, you’ve seen them all”. However, I do indulge once a year in the art world by attending the Des Moines Arts Festival which gives me the opportunity to support Drake University. Judy and I have been helping out at the alumni water n’ soda booth since 2006 (Sue joined us in 2010).

We have a routine that allows us to work on Friday, man the booth from 5-8 pm, have a bite to eat and then listen to some music till 10 pm. Like good teammates, we have a set routine on how to stock the cooler, wipe the bottles and make change. Judy prefers to stock the cooler and while I usually help her, I made change this year ($2.50 per drink). The weather was absolutely beautiful, sunny and 75 degrees, a perfect day for an outdoor event. Before the evening show, we had a quick bite at Jimmy Johns, that too was a first for me. Frankly, I don’t see what everyone raves about. Oh yeah, the bread is good.
Now for the show, The Smithereens. Okay, call me crazy but I’ve never heard of this group and come to find out, Greg and Judy are big fans. Judy was in fine form for the evening, here she is sporting a vintage t-shirt and yes, she was “rockin’ the mosh pit”. It was really fun to see Judy get her groove on.

On Sunday, I went back to the Art Festival to hear one of my favorite local bands, Bonnie Finken and Collective Soul. She’s a great singer/performer and when she has the full band, they can rock an event. Last year she had the Friday late afternoon slot and this year, she had the Sunday 10 am slot. I really had to talk myself into getting there at 10 am, but I’m glad I did. Bonnie and the band really rocked the stage with her originals and cover songs. To my surprise, she sang “Forget You” along with “Bad Romance”. Here’s a picture of the band.

Back to artsy fartzy, the show had a variety of art, from paintings, pottery, jewelry, sculptures and a lot of this n’ that. This is one great show set in a great location, nestled between the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden.

Cheers to Summer and me getting my “artzy fartzy on”.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weekend Part II

6-28-11 weekend brain
On Saturday morning I had intended to go on the Beaverdale Garden Tour on my bike, since the gardens would be within a mile or two of our DM house. However, the weather didn't cooperate and with some steady rainfall for several hours, I scrapped the whole idea and just headed to KC a bit earlier than planned.

Saturday evening in KC was a planned Mini Cooper Club event at the ballpark. No, not the KC Royals, but the T-Bones. This is an independent league with a nice small stadium over on the west side near the race track. The evening was "Redneck night" at the ball park, so some of the Mini people dressed the part, and I am happy to say some of these Mini people are even more silly acting than I am.

Sunday, I was really feeling pooped since we were out late Saturday, but finally dragging myself out of bed and agreeing to attend a car show with Greg for an hour or so. It was hot and humid, but thankfully when we were at the show it became overcast with a breeze. But I was still getting a bit over heated.

This KC car show is special!  It was the "Art of the Car Concours" a benefit for the KC Art Institute and held on the beautiful tree filled lawn of the Institute. This is down by the Plaza by our old apartment building. This show had "vintage" and expensive cars from all around the world. Here are some of my favorites. After looking at the cars, I spent time people watching, then bird watching while Greg took his time.

Look at Greg, he is so happy when he is walking among cars!

The winner of the show was this 1936 Scarab pictured below; I guess only 10 were ever made. That's the limit of my knowledge. It was very unique.

After the show we were able to meet up with Molly for a quick bite to eat. We delivered a "care package" from her Des Moines friends. Molly's husband Jeff had 5 hour bladder surgery on Monday, and the report on him is that the surgery went well. Here's hoping Jeff has a fast recovery by taking it slow for a few days. It's hard to keep him down..... Molly will have her hands full this week.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Report Part I

6-27-11 blown to smithereens brain
Another busy weekend....  I realize many of my weekends are spent acting like I"m 30 years younger than I am, and due to all that activity I often find myself pooped out...... feeling "blown to smithereens".  I was so worn out by Sunday, not only did I have to take a late afternoon nap, but I also went to bed early. I seem to be feeling better now, Monday morning, but getting this blog posted later than normal.

Friday evening was spent down at the Art Festival in Des Moines.... a very cool event... rated one of the top 10 Art Festivals in the nation (by someone)... Ann, Sue and I started out first with our 2.5 hour shift selling water and  pop at the Drake University booth. Actually this is more physical than you would think dealing with the big tubs of ice. Notice I am wearing a long glove on one hand which allows for retrieving the cold beverages at the bottom of the tub.

Afterwards, we did get to walk through the art tents for awhile, but then were center stage to listen to the music.....

 which was one of Greg's favorite bands from the 80's.... The Smithereens. Since Greg wasn't able to attend, I felt moved to fill in for him and stand stage front dancing and cheering on the band. I was the only one wearing an old Smithereens Concert shirt, which I found in Greg's closet... and this got me noticed by the lead singer-  Pat..... so I got my picture take with him prior to the concert. This was about the third time I had seen this group live, the first time was in 1991 when Greg took me to concert in Omaha. Another concert was in KC back in the late 90's with Greg and Molly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Life as we know it....

6-24-11 evolving brain
Life as we know it…. will change.

It’s Friday and I don’t want to get all political on you today…. But dang,  As I was on a walk last night, I ran into this sign.

This sign had me wanting to ask for one of “Ann’s do-overs” … to cover the last 10 years.
If our country had all the surplus of money we had back in 2000, we could now deal with all the changes and challenges that are upon us…. Flooding, tornadoes, wildfires …. All the weirdness that Mother Nature is throwing at us.

What made me think of wanting a “do over” was listening to the podcast on NPR with author and Australian environmentalist, Paul Gilding- (Wild Weather and Global Warming):….

Gilding warns on what he calls “The Great Disruption”…our current way of life will be forced to change… it’s just a matter of time, and he feels the “crisis” is starting.  Humans only change when a crisis demands it. The earth is hitting its limits of growth, and global warming is real. An economy of growth can’t be sustained. Shopping and accumulation of material goods will no longer be a form of entertainment.

Change won’t be all bad. Change can be an opportunity for rebirth… to refocus on the real meaningful activities of living.

I was thinking about 20 years ago, when Greg and I were first dating, and he moved to Omaha which started our long distance love affair. We spent every night on the phone and our phone bills often were $100 per month.

Today, as we live apart half the time, we now can use wonderful technology to stay connected. Skype at first, but that is so 2010… This year we have “facetime” using our iPhones.

Even Clover gets into our nightly visits some of the time. She likes looking at me as much as I like seeing her and Greg!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer This and That

6-23-11 slow brain
Yesterday, I was sitting in my office with my winter slippers on my feet. Crazy for the 2nd day of summer when the temps were only mid 60’s with gusty winds. Sue and I were going to play tennis in the evening…. Just to keep me in the rhythm when in DM, so I can continue to play with Molly during my times in KC, BUT the weather just didn’t cooperate… we had drizzly rain after work. This was perfect weather for a hot soak in the tub prior to bed!

Here is my front garden this week.

Tuesday evening, I attended a Pamper Chef Party, only because Greg wanted a few items for the KC house. Ice Cream scoop and a good scraper. Since I don’t spend too much quality time in the kitchen…. I just couldn’t get too excited about all the gadgets.

Otherwise, there is not much going on in my life this week. Working at cancer abstracting by day, creating peace art at night.

The main person who organizes the art displays over at Westminster church is interested in hanging my Peace Art on the first floor gallery.... maybe this fall. That is exciting, much more framing to get done prior to that.

Friday night I will be volunteering again down at the Des Moines Art Festival. Art and music together classic cars, so Greg won't be coming back to DM for this. This will be at least the 4th or 5th year I have been helping at the Drake University beverage booth. Ann got me into this in 2006, I believe, and Sue has joined in also the last few years. After our 3 hour shift, we hang out and look at the art and listen to the bands. This year the Smithereens! One of Greg's favorites back in the 80's.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

6-22-11 no-brainer
Ann's filling in for me again. Thanks!

Guilty Pleasure

Several months ago I was talking to Judy about “what’s your guilty pleasure”? I forgot what our responses were but from time to time I do ask myself this same question.

First let’s define what I mean by “guilty pleasure”. For me, it’s something that I don’t often do and when done, satisfies my body and soul. My answer would be traveling and more specifically, traveling to Europe. One of these days, I’ll write more but the short and long, I’ve gone eight times to Europe, 2003-2010, with Drake University MPA program aka “drakesmart”. And if you’re been reading Judy’s blog for a while, that’s where I met Judy and Greg (2005).

Of the many countries, cities and “vistas” I’ve seen, Paris is on the top of my list. My guilty pleasure has taken me to Paris in 2005, 2007 and 2010. Each time, I see something different and always wanting more. Last weekend, I went to the movie “Midnight In Paris” two times in two days. See what I mean, my guilty pleasure is

I love Paris. Here’s a picture of Sacre’ Coeur at night.

On full disclosure, I’m not a Woody Allen fan and any movie with Woody Allen usually stops me. But insert Paris and I had to go. The first 5 minutes of the movie shows the sights of Paris, one after another, after another. Simply breathtaking and I’ll share with you a few of my memories of Paris. Here’s a picture of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

In 2005, Paris was our last stop, Dublin to Paris, which was a treat as we were there for 4 days. From the minute we rolled in on the “green machine” (Friday night) we were on the go, from the Eiffel Tower to The Palace of Versailles. My running buddies on this leg of the trip were Nat and Lexi Clark, twin MBA students who I love to pieces. Here’s a picture of the Palace of Versailles.

In 2007, Paris was our second stop, London to Madrid, with only 2 days in the city. And as usual, it was cold and I missed my running buddies Nat, Lexi and Judy.

In 2010, Paris was on the tail end of the trip, Copenhagen to London and wow, what a trip for so many reasons, mostly for the friends I traveled with (which I will write about later). I made the most of this trip with a lot of walking from sun-up to sundown. And much like the movie “Midnight in Paris” the city is busy in the day and vibrant and full of life in the evening. One of the things on my to-do list was to sit and watch the lights of the Eiffel Tower twinkle at midnight. So a group of us brought some treats, beverages and music and sat on the grassy knoll across the river and watched the spectacular light show listening to Lady Gaga. Here’s a picture of the evening. Did I tell say, best time of my life?

Words cannot describe how magical that evening was, made possible by running buddies Sara, Mike and Jake. And like Owen Wilson, I too would love to go back in time and live in Paris. So if you have not seen the movie, what are you waiting for?

Judy and I give “Midnight In Paris” two thumbs up. So, what’s your guilty pleasure?

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend Report II

6-21-11 happy brain
Sunday, like Saturday..... was a fun day also. (No wonder we never get any house chores done.... we are just out having fun). Greg and I attended church in the morning and after being absent from Des Moines for the last 6 weekends..... going to church is a fun "homecoming".... We are blessed to be warmly greeted by many people at Westminster who miss our presence.

Finally too, we had the opportunity to see Vivian and Clyde and after church we ate lunch with them. Here is Vivian and I.... and me with my vintage summer dress.

Sunday afternoon, after Greg headed back to KC... I framed some of my larger peace art. Here is the progress for my "Peace Wall"...

Then since it was too warm out to weed the garden, AND I needed to relax and rest anyway.... I ended up going to a movie with Ann. The movie was "Midnight in Paris"..... Ann and I both have been in Paris several times, so the footage of Paris was wonderful to see... and the Woody Allen story was interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed the movie very much.

Then my "guilty pleasure" on Sunday evening was watching the Daytime Emmy Awards. I still do use my old VCR recorder and tape the Bold and the Beautiful soap opera everyday. Hey!... they won the top award!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weekend Report I

6-20-11 happy brain
At the end of the day, Saturday..... Greg and I said to each other.... that was a "heavenly day". Greg was happy that we hung out at a car show in the afternoon and I was happy that we spend some time with nature and had a good 2 to 3 mile walk.

Our day started out with breakfast over at Chefs, this time with a special guest.... my coworker Lori who drove into town to pick up some work folders from me. We treated Lori to the Sweet Potato pancakes we love so much at Chefs.

Since the weather ended up being cooler, thanks to overcast sky, Greg and I were able to hang out for several hours with some British Car Club friends at the "Brit-Euro" show which was held in connection with Johnston's Green Day Festival. THIS show I love since there are so many cool cars. I got in the spirit and tried taking some "art-sy-fart-sy" pictures to make this car collage.

Here is picture for my Dad.... he owned a Triumph back in the late 60's. I took this to remind him of what this car looked like on the inside.

Saturday early evening, Greg and I drove between Madrid and Woodward Iowa to hunt down the "old" train bridge made into a "new" bike bridge over the Des Moines river.  We parked on a gravel road and walked about a mile to see the bridge. It's so cool, we must go back with our bikes or our roller blades next time.

This was the most interesting "wild nature" we spotted on our walk!

Friday, June 17, 2011


5-17-11 blank brain
Last night I spent time with my peace sisters- Sue and Carolyn, relaxing outside in the neighborhood. They both LOVE wine.... me not so much. So when I'm with them, they have a special wine glass for me to use. They call it "the thimble".

I'm just not in the mood to write anything today. Worn out a bit, going to get some acupuncture later this afternoon, which I hope will recharge me. Greg arrives back in Des Moines for this weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Arriving late, but present again

6-16-11 fast train brain  (say that three times!)
My life is moving along at the speed of a fast train..... so much so, that I don't have time to get it all written down. I still have to report on last weekend while the upcoming weekending in almost here.

My training trip to Iowa City this week went just fine. Seems we have hired two pretty good people who were fun and easy to work with, which made my job easier. Thanks Ann for filling in with your two blogs this week.

I've been struggling to keep my Peace Blog updated. I have no trouble creating daily Peace Art, but I haven't been good about always posting each day. Last night I was excited to try a new technique which I picked up from a 17 year old artist on Saturday.

In the late afternoon, Greg and I were up in north Kansas City with some Mini Cooper friends hanging out at their favorite local pub.... then we headed for a festival being held in north KC which included some Art, some Music, and of course a CAR SHOW. I great combination to keep both Greg and I entertained for a time.

I spent time in front of this young artist and watched him create.... so it was like "performance art".... He had a fun personality and chatted up people who stopped by to look. I did like his style and his use of spray paint and knew for his asking price of $10, I would buy something from him. What I didn't know is that this week I tried one of his techniques to wipe off some of the paint to reveal a layer below. Here are pictures of him at work, and here is my Peace Art done last night.

This young arist was a wonderful "mess-maker" and had paint flying everywhere! Just like me.
His art were abstract views of space and the solar system.

Thanks to Ruxton back in the Iowa City office for giving me two weeks worth of used CD's to paint on. Also Thanks to Renee for sending me her care package of used CD's. My "adiction" is satisfied for a while!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

usual WED GUEST Blog

6-15-11 absent, but not forgotten brain

Father’s Day 2011, The First of Many Without My Dad

To all the Dad’s out there, happy happy Fathers’s Day! I hope you are doing something grand and if not grand, at least something you enjoy. Marine dude John, have a great Father’s Day!

My Sunday with my Dad would have been preceded by Saturday’s breakfast at HyVee (my treat) and a walk through the market, then to the Mexican or Chinese grocery store. Then I’d say what are you going to watch today on TV, and he’d say something like this “basketball is over, no horse racing", so unless there was a soccer game on, he’d be watching a movie or two. Then on Sunday, back to HyVee for a grand breakfast, reading the Sunday newspaper and a trip to Walgreens. Yep, we know how to live it up and nope, no gifts, we were too practical for gifts, but if something was needed, I would of sure gotten it for him. He probably would of reminded me of the TV I should of bought by now.

Oh wait, he was to have moved in with us after his hospital stay. So in addition to the running around, we would be watching something together on this sweet gift gotten from my husband’s friend.

Here’s the TV that Dad would of loved and I love at the bargain price, FREE. It’s a Sony 60 inch grand TV with an awesome speakers. It’s sitting in the garage right now and for some reason, I love watching TV out here and hope to use it for my next karaoke party.

I’ll close with a few pictures of my Dad in the last few years. Gosh, I miss him dearly. Love you Dad!

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Surprise Guest Blog!

6-14-11 flag waving brain
My weekend report will have to wait, I'm struggling with time issues this week. I'm out of town giving training. Thanks to Ann for agreeing to report on her weekend. I wish I was with Ann on Sunday, hanging out with some of my church friends.... waving a rainbow flag. Today waving US flag!

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Of the many things on my Summer checklist, attending a gay parade has never made it on my list. I’ll chalk it up to my conservative views and leave it there.

I have a minor rule on Sunday, if I don’t have a reason to leave the house, I don’t. That means unless I need gas or groceries, there will be no McDonalds coffee, no free Sunday paper. Last Sunday, I needed to pick up an item left at a friend’s house, so I decided to attend the Pridefest Parade. Yippie, I get to leave the house, attend a parade and get a cup of coffee.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is easier when you have a running buddy, but I could not convince anyone to go with me. Yikes, here I go and here’s what I observed.

There was a decent crowd along the paraded route, from the Capitol down Grand Ave and down East Fourth to Locust. I enjoyed seeing singles, couples and families, both straight and gay. I loved seeing the many ways you can display the colors of the rainbow, be it on yourself or your dog. Yes, there were a few inappropriate sightings and I’ll leave that too.

As the parade came down Fourth Street, I was amazed at the community support, the local churches and major company sponsors. Kudos to these companies and churches for their support, Wells Fargo and who is that here, President Obama!

In the booth area, I was to look-up Ted from Judy’s church and so I did. To my surprise, I found the famous “Cylde and Vivian” that Judy writes about. Nice to put a name to a face. The Gay Men’s Chorus was celebrating their 10th Anniversary and served cake at their booth. The chocolate cake was yummy and filled my sweet tooth.

I caught a few acts on the talent stage, and boy was I in for a treat. A mini drag show featuring a dude and a dudette, they were both good. Then came the Pride Idol winner and darn, I did not get a picture of him. Not only was he nice on the eyes, he sang and danced really well. The Gay Men’s Chorus sang two songs, one being my favorite karaoke song by Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline.

As I close my Sunday, I’m reflecting on my three days of fun as I stepped out of the box. It wasn’t as hard as I thought and something I should do more often.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Monday, June 13, 2011

Life is Good

6-13-11 happy brain
During my drive back to Des Moines from KC, I am often filled with intense feelings of gratitude…. For the wonderful time spent with Greg, and for the upcoming week when I’ll have some alone time. I feel like I have a nice balance going on in my life and I feel so blessed.

When I arrived back in Des Moines Sunday late afternoon, I was so happy to see that my lawn got mowed, in spite of all the rain… Blessings to my neighbors who take good care of me. My rain gauge showed 4.5 inches of rain and my sump pump was working, so I also was feeling blessed to have a dry basement.

Over my last 10 days in KC, I played tennis with Molly three times! I’m thankful to Molly that she got me out there…. Trying to get physical again…. And it feels good. When Molly lived in Des Moines back in the 80’s and we were single… our lives were full of activity such as aerobic classes, rollerblading, walking, and biking. As I got busy being married and having more work responsibilities…. It was easy to get lazy and distracted by other things. I am now inspired by Molly to get more active. Molly has lost 50 pounds over the last year and I’m so proud of her. I’m wondering if Kelley and her weight loss two years ago inspirited Molly? Weight isn’t my problem, although I could loose 5 pounds…. I just want to get more strength and stamina back.

Other things I was happy about on Sunday:

Before I left KC, I stopped to get some Chi Tea and I ran into the shoe store which is close to the KC house. I was looking for a comfortable pair of walking sandals. I think I tried every pair on and decided the Teva’s were the most comfortable. Now I can go walking with Sue and keep up with her and her dog Winnie.

I learned Saturday morning that my Mom took my Dad to the local hospital after he complained of sharp pain in his left arm. Mom was smart and gave him some baby aspirin and talked him into going. Turns out Dad had a blood clot in his arm and they were able to dissolve it OK. He only spent one night in the hospital and sounded good on the phone Sunday night. I think Dad enjoys visiting with the nurses from time to time. They tease him that he comes in for a "vacation". Dad has had most of the nurses in school, so they all know him as their former teacher.

Greg kept me busy on Saturday and we had a fun afternoon and evening..... more on that tomorrow.