Monday, October 31, 2011

My life isn't complete with out my ART!

10-31-11 artistic brain
Last week I didn't take the time to blog much, sorry.... there are just so many hours in the day- and I need my beauty sleep, unlike some people I know. My excuse was that I was working on several ART projects- one being, getting a good start on my entry in the Winter Fine Arts Show at church (Westminster Presbyterian here in Des Moines). The project is due January 1st.

Well there is much to do in December, just to keep up with all the Christmas preparations, so I knew I needed to get started on the art project as soon as possible. I'm excited to do this large piece: 3 by 4 foot, since I've had the idea in my brain for a few years..... now it is coming together.

Here are some pictures to show my steps to far. Later I will tell you what it is all about- if it comes together as I am hoping it will.

I've been cutting "pixels" (one inch squares of paper I've painted) for several months now.
I hope I have enough to fill the canvas!

This will be an abstract piece- I hope will look a bit like a sunrise. (Not a rainbow)
Although the idea of a rainbow could work too.
I'll have to see how this creativity evolves!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Birthday Weekend

10-28-11 grateful brain
Ann is off on a 5 day trip, but she sent me this blog to post this weekend...... what a wonderful birthday gift-  Thank you crazy, wonderful, fascinating friend Ann! I'll cherish your words always! ~Judy

PS: OK the secret is out, I am the type of person who gets excited, and jumps with joy when I see a rainbow. One afternoon Ann caught me with her camera.

Hoot n’ Howl, Happy Happy Birthday Judy!

Where do I begin chatting about Ms. Independent … Judy.

The beginning: Drake University, January 2005. The big Drake Europe Trip, Dublin to Paris. I remember Judy coming to class with Greg, sitting attentively in the back row. I’m sure we exchanged a few words but that was the extent of it. This was the year that I also met my good buddies Lexi and Nat Clark (more about them later).

Then the trip: my third with Drake University. Having gone on eight trips, the 19 day journey is a study of not only public policy but of human nature. First, the make-up of the travelers are from all walks of life. Then where they sit on the bus may tell a little about them: the front passengers are normally to themselves with nose to grindstone with an occasional chatter. The back of the bus, party central travelers, singing and drinking their way through Europe, the middle of the bus, those who want to be serious while living vicariously through the chatter of the back. I like sitting in the middle, Greg and Judy sat in front of me most of the way. I can’t say we did anything memorable, but somehow, I kept running into Judy here and there. This is the beginning of a great friendship.

After the trip, we chatted every now and then and got started with the Drake Alum booth at the Art Fair. Then on occasion, we would do something together and then I got to share in Judy’s world.

There’s the Peace sisters, Sue and Carolyn. They are a hoot and when we are all together, we do our own hootin’ and howlin”. Then I met Molly, just as fun lovin’ as Judy, and might I say, a wonderful hostess, cook, wife and animal lover. I love going over to Molly’s, she a great in more ways than one.

Then the family, her dad John, mom Jean, sister Jan and her kids Sarah and Christopher. What a great family and something I’m a tad bit envious of. In 2009, Judy took me see her parents and I instantly fell in love with marine dude John and his lovely wife. I get a kick out of his home made “stampin’ cards” and for John calling me on my birthday. Here’s what he said … in the middle of my big party … he called and said “this is the Charles City police department, I have a report of noise at your house”. It took me a few seconds to realize it was him .. haha … funny funny.

It’s not all “whine and roses” with Judy. While we are like “peas and carrots” we look at social and political issues with two different lenses. At times, I shake my head and bite my tongue and on a rare occasion, I do let loose, respectfully of course.

So on Miss Judy’s birthday, I want to let her know that she has colored in the lines of my life more than she will ever know. Have a great birthday friend, hoot and howl it up this weekend. I love this picture of you!

Chat Later

That Girl, Ann Marie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Visualize this?

10-27-11 dreaming brain
When I saw this video below, the words of the John Lennon song "Imagine" came to mine.

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

I know some of my friends will think these ideas are totally silly, but I already have friends who live like this. They have chosen to given up some income.... in order to spend more time with their kids,..... to have more time to cook home meals.......... to have time to enjoy nature. They are some of the happiest people I know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guest Halloween Blog

10-26-11 spooked brain
After spending time with Ann over these last 6 years, it is revealing to learn more and more about her challenging childhood. I'm so glad she can enjoy life now, in ways she was not able to in her younger days. We both do enjoy dressing up and acting silly! ~Judy

Happy Halloween

Oh my … Halloween time again or as I call it “merchant’s holiday”. Halloween comes with mixed feelings for me. See we did not celebrate Halloween in Trinidad so on our first trick or treat in ’68, I’m sure I was puzzled on what to do. Other than knocking on doors for candy, our costumes consisted of mask only or paper bags decorated. If my memory serves me correctly, I only tricked or treated for five years. Darn, no pictures of me as a young trickster.

Fast forward 40 plus years, Dad mentioned something to me in 2008 that I will remember for a longtime. He told me one time with brother Glen, they stopped at a store and he wanted a pumpkin. Dad did not have any money for a pumpkin and he felt guilty all these years. So when we went to Washington in 2008, he specifically bought a pumpkin for Glen. I know that cleared him of his guilt. Whew, misty right now. Here’s a pumpkin for my brother from Dad and me!

On the bright side, I attended my first Zombie Walk and boy was it a hoot. To think, 1000 people got made up in the middle of a Saturday to walk a mile. Well I can say, it was well worth it. Here are a few pics of the Zombie Walk. Next year, I’m walking. As I’m writing this, thinking of Jan’s daughter Sarah and her work as a makeup artist. Wow, Sarah and Judy in the art business.

Brush your teeth after eating all the sweet treats.

Chat Later
Ann Marie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In my world-

10-25-11 gratitude brain
In my world today- things are starting out warm, sunny and peaceful!

We planted this tree- well... maybe 10 years ago or so, and it has grown nicely. It is now the only "big" tree in our front yard. Each year I have noted that it is the most beautiful the last week in October. It is an "Autumn Blaze", rightly named maple.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend report

10-24-11 blogging brain
Fortunately, Greg and I discovered before we were married that our tastes, our likes and dislikes, lined up most of the time. However, when we got married and finally lived together, we discovered one area of tension- our weekend schedule. Greg liked to sleep in on Saturday and have the day to relax- by Sunday afternoon then he was ready to do the house chores. I however, wanted to get our house work done and out of the way on Saturday, then have all day Sunday to relax and play.

So rather than choose a “his” or “her” way, we found a 3rd way- we decided to hire a cleaning gal. My point in telling this story is that often there are more than black and white answers to life’s challenges. Look for a 3rd option.

This last weekend, it turned out that we did managed a “her” schedule. Saturday we got our work done and Saturday evening we played. Sunday, of course I relaxed on my 3 hour drive back to Des Moines and Greg relaxed while watching his football team.

The fun evening started down at the Plaza with the Water Fire show. I met up with William Shakespeare……

……then we headed over to the KC Mini Cooper Dealer’s big Halloween Party. This was our first time attending, but I believe this event has been around for a number of years- and growing- as more and more people now own Mini Coopers.

There was a contest for best Mini costume. Here are a few of my favorites. The “Gaga” car won this year.

Besides free food and drink, there was entertainment consisting of some aerialist and some amazing dancers (B-boys, I think you would call them). We meet up of several KC Mini Club members which we know and had fun.

The next week in DM will be a Mini Halloween Party; however I don’t believe the event will be on the same level as the KC dealer. I do plan to dress up this time around.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What's new?

10-21-11 nose to the grind stone brain

What's new with me? .....NOT MUCH, how about you?
This week Greg has been out of town for work, and thus I have been spending most of my week in KC alone with the cat. This was suppose to be my week to re-connect with Greg.... so I was feeling a bit lonely the first part of the week. It was cold and gloomy outside and I didn't leave the house for 3 and a half days...... just was getting a lot of work done... and reading.

Wednesday night, Molly came to the house for awhile and we did some Zumba exercise together. This is kind of a Latin dance music type of exercise. I have a DVD.  It was a good work out for us. Molly and I realized we didn't move like we use to move back in the mid-80's when we took aerobic exercise dance classes together, back when Molly lived in DM.

I am also a bit bummed that I didn't get to see my sister and niece during their Iowa visit this week, so I will just have to look forward to our time together over Xmas break.

This week I did finish a book I had started a few weeks ago.... I really got into it, and several nights was awake past my bed time reading this fascinating story. Book called "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan". This was a story set in the past in China and showed how the women lived..... back when foot binding was the culture for women. Google "foot binding" to learn more about this and see pictures! Wow- so bizzare to think this was highly valued.... but women were not highly valued except when they gave birth to a son...... we've come a long way baby..... but I think we still have a ways to go.

Not much else exciting to report here- my blog's are getting boring it seems, so unless I have something exciting to write about, I won't be posting every day.

I should have a blog on Monday to report on some fun Greg and I hope to have this weekend. The weather is suppose to warm up in KC to 68 degrees this weekend. I'll be thinking of my sister and niece at the Iowa Game on Saturday!

Peace Out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

10-19-11 slow brain
The temperatures have finally dropped to normal autumn weather (low 30's this morning), which means my blood is thickening up and I'm moving slow this week. However, Ann is as busy as ever and keeping me informed while I am at the southern "estate". ~Judy

Occupation ….. GO FOR IT!
For those supporting the occupation movement, I say “Go For It”. You have the right to protest and if you follow the law/ordinances, I see no problem. That’s something Judy and I can agree on and for the most part, I think we can all agree on. If the “Occupiers” can translate their passion to reforming the political system, I’ll be the first one to cheer them on.

I made a point to walk by the Capitol last week and was impressed with the protesters. They appeared committed to their cause and I’ll give them credit for that. So what if they got off to a bad start (no permit for overnight campout) and a few got arrested. On day two, they got smart and got their permit = no one got arrested. Then the permit was not renewed on Friday and walla … the mayor granted them “occupation rights” to a park up the street (14th and Grand). This is a win-win for both the City and the Occupiers. Here’s a pic of the park with at least 20 tents on a wet, cold and gloom Monday.

Here’s where the saying “one bad apple ruins the barrel” …. While I was taking in the festivities of the Food Prize at the Capitol last week, one lone protester thought it was his right to come up to the area where “heads of states” and onlookers were waiting for the guests to arrive. The protester started shouting, holding up his sign only to be booted away by a state trooper. While he had a right to be there, he did not have the right to protest in that spot but really, protesting in the middle of a dignified ceremony, that’s where the movement lost my respect. Note to management, if you want to be taken seriously, fire those who discredit your cause.

On a brighter note, I felt compelled to reclaim my kitchen last week. See, my junk was occupying it and if only for a few days, I’ve claimed victory!  

Lastly, while I dream being part of the 1%, I’m proud of being part of the 53% of those paying taxes.

Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I've been Miss represented

10-18-11 tuned out brain

This is part of the reason I gave up cable and don't watch TV these days. It's 99% sickening.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend report

10-17-11 worn out brain (and body)

Greg and I had a busy and productive weekend down at the KC house. Last weekend we dug hosta plants from the DM house, and so we had to plant these this weekend at the KC house.

Greg dug about 20 holes along the front bushes. Our landscape design for the front will be evolving over the next few years. I believe at some point these "too high" bushes will be gone and we will have filled in with other plants.

I also did some bush trimming, and Greg finished painting the shutters. It was nice having good weather the last few weekends to get some of this house work taken care of before the snow flies.

Ann should have been down here this weekend- there was a great garage sale in the neighborhood and I scored a draft's man type of table I can use for my art (48 x 36 inch size). Greg looked up the original price which was close to $200 and I paid only $13. This will be perfect for me to set up for my next BIG art project for Westminster which is due Jan 1st. I need to get moving on this soon.

The neighbor across the street, who is a renter, is also moving and thus he put out a lot of good stuff by the curb for "free". Greg took some good lawn chairs and a hose.

Sunday was a more relaxing day: we had lunch with Molly and then I did some shopping errands while Greg watched football. Good news Dad, I now have a new printer, so I can create your Xmas letter. Please get working on that for me so I can print and have to you by Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Iowa

10-14-11 curious brain
I've had a busy week at work, traveling some- so no time to take part in the Occupy Iowa, like I would have liked to do. Some are questioning what this is all about. Really, it is not so different from the tea party who took to the streets to get attention, and voice concerns.
This video gives you an idea of some of the thoughts coming from Occupy Iowa.... but each person comes with their own reasons.

Here you can see pictures of a few more who make up 99%. It's more than just the young people.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Smart Women can change the world

10-13-11 delighted brain

This smart women- I'm so glad she is speaking out!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

11-12-11 working brain
I'm off in Iowa City today getting an update to my laptop software for work, so thanks Ann for filling in ~Judy

Feeding The World – World Food Prize

Happy 25th Anniversary

Des Moines might sit in the middle of the country, but you wouldn’t know that with the many national and international conventions that come and go. I see this first hand weekly as most of them are hosted either at the Marriott Hotel or the Polk County Convention Center. This week, The World Food Prize will be handed out along with a symposium and a weekend food festival. Here’s a pic of the many flags of the 30 plus countries at the Prize Symposium.

First, some background. The Food Prize is an international Prize (somewhat like the Nobel Prize) created by Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug (1914-2009). Borlaug, a native of Cresco, Iowa is known as the “father of the Green Revolution” for his work in increasing agriculture production around the world. He was a plant breeder who developed a high yielding wheat plant while he was in Mexico (1944-1963) that saved millions around the world. For his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Fast forward to 1986, Borlaug created the World Food Prize to recognize those who significantly contribute to the world’s food supply. The prize is worth $250,000 and some years, two Laureates are chosen. Like this year, the two are past Presidents of their country, Ghana and Brazil.

Second, The Prize is kicked off with a weekend “world food festival” in the East Village. On Friday, as part of “Walk America” I trotted down to the village to scout out the vendors. Boy, what a surprise, a vendor selling “Trinidad” food. Seriously, this is so wicked to find roti (type of flat bread) chicken and to boot, the family lives in Ankeny. Okay, I got my fill, roti chicken x 3.

Lastly, the Prize has a new home, the former Des Moines Central Library (circa 1903) with a $30 million dollar face lift. What’s more fitting for home of The World Prize to be located in the “heartland of America”. I can’t wait to see the building next week, open house set for October 15th and 16th. I’ll report later on the beauty of this building and the grounds.

Thank you Norman Borlaug for feeding the world ......
“Food is the moral right of who were born into this world.”

Chat Later

That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

19 years happy in love!

10-11-11 celebrating brain

Greg and I celebrated our 19th anniversary yesterday (and over the weekend).... the highlight being a night at the newly opened, newly restored Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel in Mason City, Iowa. The only Wright designed hotel still standing... and it is right here in Iowa!

I was so cool! There are 27 rooms to choose from, ranging from $100 to $250. We took the modest queen bed room for $100 and it was awesome! The hotel is on the south side of the downtown central park.

Here is some of the exterior detail.

Greg and I both love the style of Wright's designs in buildings and furniture too.

Our neighbor friend here in Des Moines, Carolyn- her brother Randy Cram, who lives in Clear Lake,  was part of the foundation who worked on this project-he is an architect.  
There is soon to be a restaurant opened, and there also is a ballroom. Great for a wedding reception!

I can't rave enough about this place! Treat yourself sometime and spend the night. Mason City also has the Music Man Museum, a most wonderful art museum, and also a few other Wright houses in town.
Well worth a trip to north central Iowa!

PS: Since Mason City is only 30 miles from my hometown, we did drive over there first to have lunch with Mom and Dad. What a gorgeous day with temperatures in the low 80's. Mom and I went for a nice walk by the river enjoying the trees and sunshine.

Monday, October 10, 2011


10-10-11 celebrating brain

My friend Ann likes FOX news (among other news channels) and she informed me that Fox is celebrating 15 year anniversary, while Greg and I are celebrating our 19th anniversary.

So this video goes out to Fox news, and to the 99% of us our there. Many of us who are scratching our heads over Fox news.
A shout of to Columbus too!

Friday, October 7, 2011

September Vacation Ends, GEE- it's October already!

10-7-11 sister 's birthday..... happy brain

After 5 days with the Beachy family out east, Greg and I started the trip back home on Thursday last week...... BUT the fun was not over, since we had plans to visit friends in Columbus OH.

We had dinner with Pastor Amy and Julia Thursday night, which meant we would have to drive 11 to 12 hours on Friday….. but that was the price to pay to have an enjoyable fun evening catching up with old friends.

Julia introduced us to a fun card/board game called “Apples to Apples”. I can recommend this for everyone, probably age 7 and up, since it is educational as well as fun, and a good way for kids to learn the meaning of words. AND it is fun for adults as well.

Since we had time to spare on Thursday, we took the long way from Pennsylvania to Columbus and explored an area of Ohio which I had never been, but heard about from fellow blogger Susan. Hocking Hills was this very cool place just SE of Columbus.

We took the time to do some hiking and saw some incredible rock formations.


This one area called “Rock House” was so cool…. Kind of like caves in the rocks, but with several opening. People over the years have carved their names in the soft rocks. We found several names from the 1880's and 1890's like this one.

We finally made it back to the KC house Friday evening and Clover was very happy to see us.

Saturday night we had a fun evening eating dinner down on the Plaza with neighbors Kim and Terry. Kim was Clover's loving baby-sitter while we were away. Sunday, as Greg watched football, I played tennis with Molly late morning, then headed home to Des Moines for the work week.

Boy the weather here in the midwest has been awesome, warm and sunny. Des Moines currently is very, very dry which hasn't help allergies.... but the trees are changing colors with great beauty this year.

October is a special month for me, my sister's birthday, my birthday later in the month, along with Halloween and this coming week will be Greg and my 19th wedding anniversary. Thanks Mom and Dad for the card and money for a special dinner "out on the town"  for us this weekend.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pennsylvania Day: part two

10-6-11 continuing brain
So after our visit to Flight 93 Memorial in the morning, we drove south in Pennsylvania to almost the Maryland boarder near a small town called Spring. Here we were tracking down an old Amish Beachy cemetery plot. Greg's brother Tim had been researching this.

Turns out a dirt road ended at a farmstead which had once belonged to the Beachy's (Peter) and the small cemetery was out in the back pasture. We asked permission of  two Amish women who were out in their garden and they pointed out the way.

We parked the cars and walked carefully through some turkey's just hanging out in the yard, and walked past a young Amish man cutting wood.

The site was just beautiful from this hillside. The stones however were all illegible  except for one.

Next we went to an historic Castleman's bridge in the area, which Tim's research indicated this Peter Beachy helped build. I'm not sure if I got the whole story correct, something about laying the cornerstone.

This bridge was awesome and the Spruce Forest Artisan Village sits on the river bank now next to the bridge. I worthwhile place to visit and I am so glad we did.