Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday GUEST blog

8-31-11 celebrating brain
Happy Birthday Molly! More from Ann today ~judy

Love Me Some Iowa State Fair – Part Two
So what’s the draw to the fair? Food, livestock, competitions, vendors, talent show, gadgets and drum roll please ….. entertainment!

The highlight for me, Maroon 5 with frontman Adam Levine and Train with frontman Pat Monahan. Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with Adam, but dang, he had me with “Moves Like Jagger”. He’s a bit quirky but a fantastic singer and dancer. He termed his Friday night shows as “Friday Night Whitey’s”, the band dressed in white. As a groupie, I got decked in white with purple lashes, sportin’ black and white western boots. (I got the boots from Larry the shoe guy that I wrote about in April). Extra special for the evening, I’ve been Tweeting to Maroon 5 daily to win VIP tickets and wow, won tickets the day of the show. I passed them on to Paige, daughter of my concert buddy Sue. Did I say great show, best ever!

Train was equally as good and I became a Train “angel” overnight. Their current song “Marry Me” is fantastic with a pre-arranged live proposal, which was awesome! Their tour is insane, and he was under the weather last week. Here’s a shout out to Train and hope Pat is feeling better.

Then there’s Ms. Jackson. What a great show and awesome seats. Judy can attest that I was on my feet the whole show. She was fantastic!


Done gushing, the free shows were dyno-mite as well. With three stages, I was able to see Tonic Sol Fa (acappella group), Hairball (hair band), The Oak Ridge Boys (Opry inductees), The Band Perry (excellent), Ying Yang Twins (rap) and to close out the fair, Paul Revere and the Raiders. And one can’t leave the fair without see the one-man band Bandaloni . He’s awesome, sings and plays at least 5 instruments at the same time.

For some, the fair means beer beer beer. I just don’t understand how one can drink so much beer just to be drinking. Well, I’d rather waste my calories on something sweet, peppermint ice cream and pineapple whip. I did have 2 corndogs, 1 gyro and with the ice cream, my belly was full. Wow, I do have some control.

Lastly, I enjoy going to the fair with my friends. Sue and Judy went with me to the concerts. Thanks for going with me guys!

Then there’s Nat and Lexi, Drake travel buddies, from Kansas City. We have a tradition of a full day at the fair, and that we did. We go out for breakfast, then to the Market, then quick shopping (this time at the spice store) and got to the Fair at noon. Yep, we got our list done by 7 pm, rode around in the tram then sat outside the grandstand to hear a little Reba and people watch outside the Depot, staying until midnight. Yep, 12 hours at the fair and reloaded for 3 hours on Sunday. I love these girls to pieces.

I report, you decide if “you love me some fair too”.

Chat Later

That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday GUEST Blog

8-30-11 resting brain
Ann's had a more active life than I have had lately, so I'll let her fill you in for a few days. ~ Judy

Love Me Some Iowa State Fair – Part One
Taking a break to chat about the Iowa State Fair and yes, I’ll report, you can decide, if you too “love me some fair”. So what’s the draw to the fair? I’ve been pondering this and the only answer I can come up with is that it’s a sample of the best and worst of people in one area. I’ll be positive and chat about the best and since I have a few more words n’ pics to share, I’m splitting this post in two.

I’ve been a faithful “fair-goer” for the last five years. I go more for the entertainment (free stage) and less for the food (cheapskate). I try to go 5-7 of the 11 days to catch the acts on the free stage. This year I got there 6 of the 11 days and other than the weekend, most of the days was after work, 6-10 pm when the admission is $5 ($10 on Friday-Sunday).  

Like a good planner, I scout out the Grandstand acts in March to see if there’s a show or two that will get me to pay $50. Last year was the first time in 20 or so years that I forked out the cash, buying tickets for Kris Allen (American Idol) who was touring with Keith Urban (HOT!). Let me say, this was a great show. Keith Urban is one great singer and guitar player and love Kris Allen for being himself.
This year, double headliner Maroon 5 and Train caught my eye as well as Janet Jackson. Then there’s the “free stage”, hometown acts, oldies but goodies and up and coming acts. Once the acts are announced, I plan my days at the fair to see most of them. Most years, the acts are very good, if not great. Then there’s the occasional “record breaker”, the largest “Drop-Stop n’ Roll” sponsored by the State Fire Marshall. Darn it, I did not make it out for this one. Yes, the record was broken and what an awesome photo.

The must see’s include Jack’s Cookbook stand in the Varied Industry Building, the array of vendors selling the “latest gadgets”, the Butter Cow, the Cakes in the Elwell building, the Bill Riley Talent show, the big “pumpkin” as well as the big animals. Lastly, the food mmmmmmm must have a corndog, gyro, apple dessert and pineapple whip. I’m not into fried foods that much so I limit myself to just the corndog.  Here’s a compilation of pictures and let’s see what I got done in 6 days. Yikes, do I love the fair or what!

Chat Later

That Girl, Ann Marie

Monday, August 29, 2011

Balanced Weekend

8-29-11 satisfied brain
I had a great weekend which felt full, yet balanced with the right amount of some fun, some productivity, some physical activity, and some relaxation. Friday night we went to the movie “The Help”. It was a good movie, but darn- I had just finished reading the book, which I liked very much….. so when it came to watching the movie, half of my brain was busy comparing the two, so I felt like I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as everyone else. I never know if one should even bother going to a movie if you have read a book, or do you read the book after seeing a moving? I will say, the movie “The Help” did a great job at covering the book.

I did some work further on my “Fudge” artwork piece for my KC neighbors. It’s a pixel project which is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, but not knowing what the puzzle is a picture of yet. I’m making it up as I go along.

Had some “girlfriend” time this weekend- lunch at a wonderful Greek restaurant called “Never on Sunday”…. Really best Greek food I have ever had, at a reasonable price. Then we did a little shopping. We discovered the Halloween decorations were already out at Von Maur. One of the little independent local shops we were at is interested in selling my peace art!
We didn't buy the witch hats, but 3 out of the 4 of us bought new jeans!
Greg and I did a 2.5 hour outdoor house project, trimming more bushes….. that pretty much wore me out, so the rest of Sunday was resting and relaxing.

Today is the first day of Kindergarten for my nephew Brennan out in Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Short and sweet for Friday

8-26-11 autumn brain
This week, I found this on the ground beneath my front yard maple tree.
There is no sign of any  other leaves turning on the tree. I guess this one was the early bird- trend setter, and the other leaves kicked him off the tree. I know I'm ready to enjoy some nice autumn weather.... bring it on!

Thinking of everyone out on the East Coast preparing for the hurricane. Be safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Drunk Blogging

8-25-11 pondering brain
Two non-drinkers meet at a bar, one a progressive, the other a conservative. One had just been at the mall after work, the other just got out of an acupuncture treatment. Each had one drink. Which one was drunk?

It sounds like a joke, but in reality it was my life Wednesday night. Ann and I met for dinner at Saints in Beaverdale. We did talk politics since I was in the news yesterday with my Letter to the Editor.

I had three phone calls during the day: two from church friends giving me a thumbs up, one from a total stranger from Clarion Iowa, an elderly man, just wanted to “tell me thanks” for my Letter to the Editor.

Ok, I don’t claim the understand politics and I don’t have the answers to how the government should be run….. But two things I know for sure:
1.  I know Jesus, and I know of his love, compassion and forgiveness, and I don’t see that in most GOP politician’s policies, even when they feverishly wave the banner of Christianity.

2.  AND I know our Government is not perfect, but which other country do you want to live in? Everyone needs to pay for all the benefits you get from living in our US society. Security, roads, clean air, safe foods to eat, and we have to pay for the two wars (some of us didn’t agree with); and we have to pay for health and drugs of the elderly (some of us didn’t agree with)…… WHAT do you want to do without?
 Everyone says they want a smaller (limited) government which doesn’t interfere with individual freedoms and happiness (except those who what to control who we love and what we do with our bodies). But, no one wants to pay for it..... shouldn't everyone pay the piper, if you want to dance along in this wonderful country of the USA?

Sure, I agree,  let’s make people work for their welfare check…. I’m for that. The CCC and WPA back in the 1930’s put people to work and our country got some wonderful National Parks because of it.

I learned about one such National Park in Colorado at Grand Junction during our vacation, where the 23 miles of road around the rim of this awesome mesa and canyons were build thanks to US putting unemployed people to work during the 1930’s. . Unemployment in the 30’s was more like 25%, during Reagan in 1982 it was 10.2% now it’s 9.4%, ....  so what is so historic about today? What's all the fuss about?

We had deficit 10 trillion during GW's years and not a peep from my GOP friends then. Even Dick Cheney told Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill  "deficits don't matter" when O'Neill warned of a looming fiscal crisis. If it didn't matter in 2004, why does it matter now?..... Why now all the fuss when Obama is President and not when GW was President?

I'm just asking?
I don’t understand the irony or hypocrisy of it all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

8-24-11 amused brain
Put more paper in your printer Dad..... Ann has a lot of pictures in this blog! 
Who needs Europe, when you can travel to NY! ~Judy

Concrete Jungle – New York City (NYC) or Bust!

So why travel to NYC, well, why not? To be honest, NYC was only 3 hours from Hartford and since I planned on seeing my Dad’s brother, why not get both done in one trip. And when I found out that one of our favorite singers was performing at the FOX Studios, that alone sealed the deal. My sister and her daughter agreed to join me, taking the train from Washington, DC. Our timing was near perfect, they took a cab from Penn Station and I drove through the Lincoln Tunnel to the heart of Manhattan/Times Square to the Residence Inn. My car was in a sea of yellow cabs and bikes, yikes. Thank you Lord and Mr. Garmin for getting me here safe and sound, 1200 miles later.

We were in NYC from 1 pm on Thursday – 1 pm Sunday. And yes, it was the hottest week, like most of the country, 100 plus in the shade, but that did not stop us, okay, did not stop ME. We made a laundry list of things to do and by golly, got most of it accomplished.

Times Square, Fox Studios, Today Show/Rockefeller Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Museum of Modern Art, Boat Cruise, Air Craft Carrier, Flat Iron Building, Chinatown, Little Italy, Ground Zero, Financial District, Central Park, Trump Tower to name a few. Here’s a pic of Times Square, pedestrian friendly and “café” like, much like Paris.

Friday, walked to the Fox Studios (six blocks) at 7 am for good seating, and wow, scored great seating. Fox does not have the draw like The Today Show (Cee lo Green was performing) but what a great stage, picnic tables, and best of all Famous Dave’s BBQ. Michael Franti was on stage and wowser, what a great time we had, heat and all. He sang, chatted, danced and goofed around with the crowd. Yes, I got myself right up in his “grill”. Man, Dad would of loved this show! To boot, I got to see some of the Fox n’ Friends newscasters. Joy Joy, that made my day.

One should not go to NYC without “getting your art on” and when it’s free (Friday afternoon) we got our “artsy fartzy”. After googling what I must see, we did just that: Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Water Lilies by Claude Monet, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí, Dance by Henri Matisse, Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol, One by Jackson Pollock, Map by Jasper Johns.

We got the MOMA done in 2 hours (reminds me of the Louvre) then headed for a 2 hour Sunset cruise, sailing down the Hudson, around Battery Park (ground zero area), up the East River, under the Brooklyn-Manhattan-Williamsburg Bridges and back. It was a great evening, beautiful sights capped off by a nice view of the Intrepid Museum. Friday was a long, long day.

Saturday was check-off day: Chinatown for some goodies, Little Italy for food and a walkabout at ground zero. We were able to sneak in a festival in SoHo and I got to the Flat Iron Building. I love this building.

Up till now, we were cabbing our trips but to see Ground Zero, best to get on the subway. Other than reading the instructions re: ticket purchase, the subway is the most efficient and cheapest way to get around. Do you remember where you were on 9-11-2001? Yep I sure do and one month prior, I was in NYC, right at the Twin Towers. What a darn shame. Glad we were able to see the area and the hundreds of admires remembering the victims of this horrific event.

Sunday was a day to pack up, but not before tackling Central Park. I was willing to do walk the park but was convinced to take the “human rickshaw” around the park. What a park, and how can you not love this park, Strawberry Fields and all.

NYC my favorite city in the USA, for the diversity and so many things to see and do. Walking through Times Square can put a traveler like me in London, Paris, Moscow, Rome with the lights and hoards of people. Our hotel was fantastic, convenient and the free hot breakfast was de-lish. The best part of my trip was spending time with my sister and niece. It’s been too long and Dad would have been proud of us.

Next leg, NYC to Hartford to see my Uncle Mickey and get my Dad’s life story. Yes, I’ll be back to the “Big Apple”!

Chat later!

That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Weekend Report: Sunday

8-23-11 mojo-less brain
Sunday started off as a type of normal day, Greg and I went to church and then headed off to do something fun together. I know after the Mini in the Mountains Rally in Colorado I was ready to say.... "I've had enough car activities for the summer", but Sunday I changed my mind when I heard the British Car Club was meeting at a Lake Ahquabi State Park area, which I had never been to..... just south of Indaniola, about 30 miles from our house.

It was a pretty place with a nice Education Center with a room people can rent out. There were trails for hiking and a lookout tower. You can seen the tower just above my head, at about 1:00, sadly I didn't get to hike there, cause my injured toe is still not up to a lot of walking.

The park had this incredible buffalo sculpture made of wire.

Then mid afternoon, Greg headed for KC and I finally got to go out to the State Fair for the evening with Ann. She had an extra ticket to the Janet Jackson Concert. It was a great show and I was very happy that I made the effort to attend, and grateful Ann asked me to go with her.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Weekend Report: Saturday

8-22-11 slow Monday brain
Saturday was a laid back sort of day normal day, and it really felt good. Greg and I started the day off at our usual neighborhood breakfast place, then we worked on an house project together and for a brief time it felt like I was back living a normal (non-split-in-two) life.

Since we’ve been living in two places now for 4 years, our priorities have not been on caretaking of a house. Instead, our weekends are spent having fun together as a couple….kind of like we are dating again. So it does seem a bit crazy that we own two homes. It seemed to make sense as an investment at the time, but I do struggle a bit with how to care for two homes, when I only live part-time at each place.

Then Saturday late afternoon, we enjoyed time with neighbors at the first ever Allison Avenue Talent Show, which was organized by two neighborhood girls, Anne and Maddie. I was asked to be a judge, and to my surprise I was THE judge…. But it was fun. We had 5 acts ranging from music, dance, hula hooping and bubble blowing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Iowa Straw Poll, Another GUEST blog

8-19-11 lazy brain
OK I'm lazy this week as far as blogging goes, so this is a perfect timing for another guest blog from Ann, my one GOP friend who I can humorously joust with; since we both know we both are "a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll"..... although neither wants to admit it. Here is Ann's experience at the Iowa Straw Poll. Man, this girlfriend of mine was really "working the room"  I hope my Dad won't get too nauseated over this ....enjoy! ~Judy
FYI: Ron Paul and I agree on some things.

Iowans Are Great Americans

Iowans are hearty people, feeding the world and paving the road to the White House. The turnout at the Iowa Straw Poll was more than awesome, spectacular I would say and with 17,000 voters, hundreds of others, and 700 plus members of the “gotcha media”, we showed the world, why Iowa is important.

So what exactly goes on at the Iowa Straw Poll and what’s the relevance? Cut to the chase, a republican sponsored event held in August the year before a general election (since 1979) that gives the first solid indicator of viable candidates for the republican nomination for president. Prior to Poll day, the candidates set up shop in Des Moines to stage their presence. Their people work tirelessly to get voters to rallies and then to Ames, busing them in from every corner of the state. With that said, a good turnout could be 10,000 voters.

The voter arrives, signs in at their candidates’ tent “camp”, get a pre-paid ticket ($30), and if the candidate is smart, marches the voter right to the booth to vote. While at the Poll, voters have the opportunity to hear all the candidates give a stump speech and some actually meet the candidates. The stump speech alone can sway a voter if they are undecided. Some camps have live music, games for the kiddies, swag and food. The Poll is for Iowa voters only, and to prevent fraudulent voting, you have to show a ticket (yes pay to vote, remember fundraiser) and your Iowa picture ID, scandalous, I say! After voting, your thumb is stamped “Iraqi” style to prevent duplicate voting. The event runs 9-4. Here is a picture of the ballot.

We got to the event at 9:30, checked-in and yes, marched right over to the arena to vote. Since I did not need any swaying, I waited 30 minutes to vote. After voting, I took a walkabout to all of the candidates camp. Signage wise, Ron Paul was the winner then Rick Santorum. Space wise, Ron Paul won hands down with Tim Pawlenty then Michele Bachmann. Entertainment/Set-up, Ron Paul again then Pawlenty (I would say Bachmann but her tent was button down to keep the riff raffs out with Randy Travis as the headliner). Food, no contest, Pawlenty had the best food, Famous Dave’s and Dairy Queen Blizzards. Here’s a picture of the Pawlenty’s camp/food tent, Ron Paul on the golf cart (many were on golf carts with the exception of Cain) , Ron Paul’s “encampment”, Rand Paul (son of Paul).

While camp hopping, I was able to see all the candidates and heard Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty give passionate speeches, heard Herman Cain sing with back-up on base by Mike Huckabee, listened to the Nadas with Mike Huckabee on base and he also played at Rick Santorum’s tent. Here is a picture of Bachmann n’ husband, Huckabee n’ Pawlenty, Cain singing w/ Hucakabee, Santorum giving a stump speech.

I took time to listen to the array of speakers and what I was more impressed with was the number of people in the arena, listening attentively and supporting their candidate. And once more, Ron Paul was the winner with the largest and loudest crowd. Here is a picture of Santorum, Paul, Bachmann and Pawlenty in the arena.

So why is this one Poll, that is a fundraiser, so important? It gets your committed voters out and if they can come out to one single location on a given day, they will more than likely show up on caucus day and like caucus day, if your candidate does not have enough supporters, the voter will have to move to one that is viable.

The outcome was somewhat predicable. Pawlenty was slated to come in the middle of the pack, Bachmann was on fire and Paul’s voters showed up. What was unpredictable, Pawlenty coming in third and then dropping out and those at the bottom, did not. I guess he has an insight that we don’t have and if you are not “on fire” in August, you probably won’t be on fire in February. Does the winner of the Poll go on to win the nomination or the general election, more times than not, NO. With the exception of “W”, Judy’s favorite president.

In all it was a great day, great day to be in Ames, great day to be among like-minded people, watching the press and the candidates “press the flesh” and being in awe of being “an American”. Humor me with these pictures: Senator Grassley, Sean Hannity (Fox News), Bret Bair (Fox News) and of course, Uncle Sam.

On a side-bar note, I went home and came back at 6 pm for the live taping of Mike Hucakbee’s and Sean Hannity’s Poll results show. Wow, I had a lot of fun, Huckabee was straight forward with the winner (Bachamann) and the runners-up on his set. Then Hannity, what a super nice guy, loves his politics to the right, and so very passionate and personal. Sean Hannity, you are a “great American”.

Since my candidate dropped out, I’ll be shopping around, maybe Santorum or Perry but NOT Bachamann.

I too am a “great American”, chat later!
That Girl, Ann Marie

PS from Judy: I think we need to have a "dress poll" and see how people vote this question:
Was Ann's dress a little too sexy for this "family values" crowd?   I'm just saying..... :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday This and That

8-18-11 creative brain
A framing marathon is doing on over here. I’m getting more Peace Art framed to replace those sold at the show at the Iowa Acupuncture Clinic, AND to get stocked up for my future show at Westminster this fall. I’m selling the small 8 x8 inch ones for $35 a piece or 3 for $100. I won't get rich on this creative venture, but it's all about sharing the "peace out into the world".

Iowa is still deep into politics this week:
I know some of you don’t like when I get all “political on you”, but I couldn’t help post this video…. Since many of you know my lack of love for GW. Now I can have Rick Perry glued to my wall dart board. :)

Someone described Rick Perry as George Bush on steroids. I know Ann will say he is very good looking, and that is true, but so is Adam Levine and you wouldn’t want him running the country now, would you?

When is the GOP going to find me a sane conservative I could vote for? Mitt Romey might be close, if he would just stand up and be proud of what he did as Governor. He didn't destroy Massachusetts did he?

PS: Thanks girlfriends for getting me out of the house last night for dinner. I was starting to go a little stir crazy here. Ann and Carolyn pose here wtih Ann's new boyfriend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday GUEST blog

8-17-11 mid-week brain
I'm at a loss of words today .....  but luckily my friend Ann is not! She can accomplish so much in 24 hours! ~Judy

Unfinished Business

I live the saying “the fastest way to get from point A to point B = a straight line”. Thus the only detours I take on a road trip is for gas, food/restroom breaks. With 1200 miles on the first leg of my trip, I planned on driving 1000 miles, minimal breaks and stopping on the Jersey side of NYC. I left before the crack of dawn and planned on resting shortly before midnight.

The first 400 miles was on I-80 then I got on the Ohio Turnpike outside Hammond, IN. I’ve never understood toll roads, but do appreciate the ones with auto plazas to eat, rest and gas-up. As I was motoring along, I enjoyed the change of scenery from farmland to winding hills going into PA, looking at this and that, thinking dad would be saying something odd or cracking a joke.

At about 8 pm, I passed the sign for Punxsutawney, PA and immediately teared up. Over the years, dad would chuckle about Phil on Groundhogs day and when driving out East, he would point out the sign and I would say, too far of a detour. So I decided to take the detour, gas up and see how far this town was. At the gas station I asked someone how far and was it worth the drive. The young guy said “20 miles and not much there but a lot of people go there”. Okay, 20 miles is not that far, should only take me 1 hour out of my way, so there I went. Let me tell you, this was the longest 20 mile detour.

As I got to the city square, it reminded me of any town in Iowa, a square with a bandshell. It did not take me long to find Phil the groundhog. Yes there is a Phil and he was asleep. I took a couple of pictures and then asked myself “where is Gobblers Knobb”. I stopped at the hotel on the square and after chatting with the clerk, I decided to stay the night ($55), take in the sights and get some food.

Here’s what was meaningful. I found Gobblers Knobb (3 miles outside town) and as I was taking a few pictures, a car drove up. Longstory short, this man was showing his friend around and he turned out to be one of the masters of ceremony at the annual Groundhog’s day festival, they call him “Ice Man” (the one with the red hat).

As I was chatting with him, he asked me why I came. I told him that dad always talked about Phil, Punxsutawney and I just wanted to see it for dad. Boy, did I tear up and he said, believe it or not, many people come here for like reasons. Wow, I believe dad was really with me on this trip. The Ice Man gave me the lowdown on the ceremony, the people and told me the movie was not shot here (shot in Woolstock, IL) it just premiered in Punxsutawney. He was really kind and coming to the Knobb released a bit of my pain.

To round out my stay, I asked the hotel clerk if Bill Murray stayed here and he said YES and gave me his room, room 304, I said SWEET. I also asked about wi-fi and after looking at his reaction, he said no.

Sad to say, the hotel was nothing special but I felt special just being there. I ate dinner at subway and caught wi-fi at McDonalds. As I left the hotel the following morning, with my McD’s coffee in hand, I smiled and said, hope you enjoyed the visit dad, off we go to NYC!

Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Slow start to the week

8-16-10 working brain
Not much going on here in Iowa, with me anyway….. just getting back into the swing of work, and eating a half dozen ears of sweet corn.

Iowa, on the other hand, has been a happenin place. The President was visiting our state…… and the Iowa State Fair is going great guns with the mild summer weather and all the GOP candidates have been hanging out shaking hands. Governor Perry was there on Monday, a little late, but at least he came. I wonder if Ann got to met him. She was working at the fair Monday afternoon.

Monday night, bored of being inside and still unable to walk well due to my toe injury, I decided to ride my bike. This was only my 2nd time on my bike this year, sad to say… in my single days, I’d ride my bike nightly, just to get outside for awhile. Note to self- I need to do more of this, it felt good!

I can't help but still be thinking about our trip to Colorado and missing time with Greg.... I finally downloaded the pictures off the camera. Here are a few of my favorite.