Monday, February 28, 2011

Busy, porductive and fun weekend

This weekend Greg was in Des Moines and we started to celebrate his birthday, which is Tuesday. We ate out for breakfast Saturday morning and were joined by Sue and Carolyn. Carolyn and I then worked an hour on church sign project. The church is raising money for a new electronic sign out in front. So our sign was about the FUNdRaiser.

Then Greg and I relaxed a bit part of the afternoon, AND also worked for about hour and half in basement to prepare room for workers which will be doing tiling along the inside the outer walls and putting in sump pump. We should have dry basement after that. This happens in mid March, but this weekend was are only time to work in the basement.

We noted that we have way too much junk in our basement. Almost everything could go, and I would not miss most of it at all! Jean Ann would cry if she could see the status of our basement now. She helped me clean and organize it maybe 5 to 8 years ago? Now it is total pile of crap.

Saturday evening we ate out and Greg had his free dessert at our local neighborhood restaurant, "Chefs". Delicious berry cake! Our favorite.

We then met up with Ann and Roy downtown at Ritual Cafe, a coffee spot which was having local musicians play.

Sunday after church, Vivian and Clyde took us out for lunch and it was nice to spend time with them.

Then we stopped down to the Women's Club Art Show and saw some of my old art friends who I haven't seen in at least a year. My art teacher Mary was there, and said she liked my painting..... But she always finds something positive to say about all her students paintings.... that's why she is such  a good teacher since she is always inspiring and positive.

Greg and I are off to Iowa City together today.... more on that later in the week. Don't expect a blog post tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spreading Peace

2-25-11 focusing on peace brain
Speaking of "peace brain" on Wednesday.... have you all noticed my new 2nd blog I started this year?
I have it over on my right hand side's called:

One small daily "Peace" of art

I know I'm crazy trying to keep up another blog, but this year I wanted to focus not only on my daily faith/prayers/spiritual side but also get back into practicing and focusing on art/creativity.

This Peace Art isn't about creating grand, beautiful art, but about fostering creativity and viewing the world through peaceful eyes. It reminds me of advice I read years ago in the book "The Artist Way" by Julia Cameron. 

I paraphrase here: Create daily, without judgement.... and the creative spirit will visit and become a habit...

I don't always post daily on my Peace Blog, but I do a summary of the week, usually posting on Saturdays.

Here are some my weekly summaries since January 1st
I'm also noting that it's been two months since Christmas... I can't believe that!

PS: A few friends were engaging me in email and Facebook conversations last night after my blog on Thursday... So I guess I'd better just stick to what I know best.... ART and PEACE!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

From Egypt, to Wisconsin, to Iowa

2-24-11 freedom brain
I don’t really want to write about this topic, but it’s darn interesting! … it is so wonderful that people are empowered to gather together and let their voices be heard!

There were rallies at the Iowa Capital on Wednesday. Pro Labor on one side and Pro non-labor? (I don’t know what to call them…. I don’t think Anti-labor is correct)… I guess they are Pro Business, Pro low over head... Pro Profits?

What group do you identify with?
Do you feel under attack?
Are the prices of food, gas, and education rising while your family income stagnates?
Does it take two incomes now to support your family?

If you answer YES, then you are part of the middle class who are under attack….

It seems the Republicans in office and Tea Party supporters are trying to brain wash us into thinking the US deficit is all because of big government, too many government workers and too much entitlement programs…. But can I remind you, back not so long ago in the 90’s we had all of the above and we also had a surplus, not a deficit.

Now what changed all that? The 2000’s came and went which brought along a large tax cut for the wealthiest, and two wars which were not paid for, but instead this all was put on the US credit card….. i.e. the deficit was created.

Why aren’t we looking to change those things which got us into debt, rather than taking more and more away from the poor and middle class- hard working people like you and me?

Thanks to the gamblers on Wall Street, our houses and our retirements are worth less, not more….and the stability of the whole system is in question. Now is not the time to lay off more workers and make big cuts…. We need to get things growing first, like in spring planting season…. First you plant and grow, then you weed things out, once everything is growing and you can see clearly what needs to be pulled.

Here is my first daffidils appearing this year in February.

Don’t just dump a bunch of Round-up on the ground…. This will kill everything, BUT the wealthiest 5%.

It is sad that many people pit worker against worker, (public and private) and use comparisons falsely. Due to lower wage jobs now being contracted out by the government to the public sector, only the higher paying jobs in the government are left, and falsely compared to all workers in general. This is comparing apples to oranges…. It is not fair to compare fast-food workers and retail employees with university professors and managers in government offices.

A new study released Tuesday by Iowa Policy Project  (as reported in in the DM Register Newspaper) shows even if benefits packages are accounted for, Iowa’s public workers are still compensated LESS than private sector counterparts.

Unions have helped create the middle class, and without them your children will have less and less voice against Business, who only think about short-term profits and don’t seem to care about their affects on families and their ability to buy products Business’s produce and sell.

This is a crazy world we live in…. and I suppose it always has been for much of US history. AND I’ve been reading some interesting history books about life in late 1800’s and early 1900’s…. These have shown me how really blessed I was to grow up in the good-old days of a strong middle class. (This period in history has been unique) Your kids and grandkids won’t be as fortunate as we were, if things continue the way they are heading.

HERE is an interesting article about Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sewing before bed

2-12-11 peace brain
Over the last week, I've started to do a little clothes shopping, after all this is a good time for sales. I've been looking for a few new pieces to go with some of the pants I already own. I found this cute jacket in Iowa City last week. I decided I wasn't totally loving the larger buttons which were maybe too much of a military look for me. (It's probably in style this season?)

Anyway, for awhile I have had some "peace buttons" given to me by Carolyn and wanted to use them in some way. These buttons were from way back.... still in original wrapper, with cost at 33 cents. Probably from the 1960's... and made of metal not plastic.

I decided to do a button exchange sewing project last night before bedtime. It was relaxing to have a needle and thread in my hands again..... but I struggled getting that dang needle threaded- just like I use to see my Mom struggle in middle age.

I wonder what the original desiger of the jacket would think of me changing the look. Would it be like someone buying one of my paintings and then adding something to it? The artists "vision" would be lost?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


2-22-11 dizzy brain

This week my head is spinning from the feeling like I am juggling, and I am afraid I’ll forget to do something and a ball or balls will be dropped.

Several projects at work are pulling me in different directions this week, and a list of personal projects… from art, to preparing the basement for that sump pump in March, to sending out a birthday card…. Just to name a few…. Oh yea and blogging.

Sunday, I worked on finishing up a painting I had started a year ago. It was to be for Greg’s 45th birthday to hang in the KC bedroom…. Now it’s done and framed in time as possible entry into the Des Moines Women’s Day Art Show which is due this Thursday.

This picture is hard to photograph with light reflections.... is countryside landscape with sky.

I also worked on taxes on Sunday, rather than take a nap, which I guess explained my dull brain on Monday. I was up early for church on Sunday and really should have listened to my body and napped that afternoon.

Other issues weighing on my mind this week….. I found out Sunday at church that a friend had collapsed at the Chicago airport, coming back from a cruise vacation Saturday night, and died. She was only in her early 60’s. I was comforted that I had seen her a month ago at church and I had greeter her with a hug. Another mutual friend of ours was not so fortunate and now she is beating herself up. She had not spoken to this friend in a year (they had a small spat)…. And they kept playing phone tag and never connected in person to resolve their feelings.

This life’s lesson is about how fast change can enter, effecting things in unexpected ways…. Appreciate today, and don’t leave relationships unfinished. Make that call today!

PS: Winter has returned to Iowa this week. Temps only in 20’s and 30’s. There is flooding in some areas of Iowa due to ice jams as the rivers had begun to melt last week.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend report

2-21-11 summarizing brain Saturday, Greg jumped the train in KC and rode to Chicago…. His weekend plans were to meet up with his high school BFF- Tom at the Chicago Car Show. This allowed me to have a weekend to plan all on my own and I decided if weather permitting I would go visit my folks up in northern Iowa.

My friend Ann, jumped at the chance to join me in my trip….. and she posted on Facebook that she was off on a trip of “mayhem & mystery".... I had to scratch my head on that one, but after it was all said and done, Ann believes she found what she was looking for.

Our safe arrival on Friday evening seemed routine to me, but after a good visit with my Mom and Dad, we had a real “hoot” playing with the cat (well, I did- and Ann watched)…. I had the cat jumping and he was on his usual rampage and mayhem with his evening running through the house. I thought maybe I had given him too much catnip. Then the cat started playing/attacking, his stuffed cat toy…. In a rather aggressive way I had not seen before. I Googled “cat mating” and read a description to Ann, (which solved a mystery for her)…. And had her LOLand ROTF….maybe even peeing her pants? ....and we agreed this cat was attempting to mate…. I guess spring is in the air.

Saturday morning Mom, Dad and I called an old friend and sung Happy Birthday to Alice! It was fun talking to her and hearing her voice! Alice said she didn't feel 80, and that is nice to know, since when I think of her, I still see her at age 35 to 40 in my mind. (Hi Alice!)   :)

After that Mom, Ann and I we did some shopping around Charles City…. Mom was showing us the work being done down town as they create a kayak run down the river. This looks interesting and I believe I will be learning to kayak this summer when I visit over the 4th of July. Here the old Beauty Dam has been removed.

Since northern Iowa was expecting to get freezing rain and snow on Sunday, we left for Des Moines Saturday afternoon and arrived in time to utilize free tickets Ann had for the Des Moines ballet performance of Alice in Wonderland. We picked up friend Sue along the way. It turned out to be a great performance, and afterwards we headed over to the East Village and Sue recommended we eat at the new Lebanese restaurant called “Open Sesime” …. Basically Middle Eastern food, and I LOVED the hummus and pita!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring for a day

2-18-11 happy brain
Yesterday, the temperatures around Iowa set some new records.... the good kind- it was well above normal temps! I don't know the official high, but I recorded it as 68 degrees on FEB 17th in Des Moines, as I was driving back into town from being in Iowa City for a day and a half. Iowa City was also warm.

It did really feel like spring in the air.. of course that can't last and we may be in for some snow again on Monday. But for now, all the snow has melted in the yard, and we are left with the wonderful mud of spring.... HEY, I'll take it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quoting Tom Brokaw

2-17-11 listening brain
When I was in the art room Monday night, I found an 4 inch slip of newspaper clipping, which had fallen behind a shelf. There is no year one this, but I can see why I saved this quote from Tom Brokaw.

"The long lesson? It is not enough to wire the world if you short-circuit the soul. It is not enough to identify the gene that predetermines the prospect of Alzheimer's disease if we go through the prime of life with a closed mind. No piece of software, no server or search engine will offer you the irreplaceable rewards of a living; personal relationship, the strengths and comfort of a real community of shared values and common dreams, and moral underpinning of a life lived well, regardless of financial scorecard."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Slow progress

2-16-11 organizing brain

Monday night I spent one hour in my guest room and art room..... not really cleaning, but rather organizing and rearranging, in order for me to continue my art room cleaning project.

I took the advice of Ann, and moved the exercise bike out of the art room into the guest room. AND I took the advice of Molly who said I needed to get a long table for the art room in order to have a lot of flat surface area to work on my art.

For now the table will help create a space I can use as I clean out the art closet. So for now, the guest room is looking pretty good, and can accommodate an over night visitor.... but currently the art room is a total disaster!

Greg and I bit the bullet and decided to schedule the sump pump work in the basement. I had an estimate last summer for the work, but we just didn't have the money to spend on that last year. March 16th, pending a snow storm, the two day project will happen in the basement, causing more chaos down there. But once that is done.... then back to really getting the basement cleaning project back to full speed this summer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Part II: Humor is my aphrodisiac

2-15-11 giggling brain
Over the years I’ve come to realize that I’m really not so much of the romantic type, but what turns me on is humor, and the “funny-silly” type of guy. Some one like Steve Martin was my leading man, when other friends had eyes for Brad Pitt, or George Clooney.

So for our Valentines weekend together, Greg made sure I had plenty of laughs. Friday night we attended the Oscar nominated Animated Short Films, which was showing down at the Trivoli Theater in Westport. Molly went along with us. It was hard for us to pick our favorite, but the one called “Madagascar” had the most incredible artwork that I have ever seen in a animation. Guess that could me my favorite one.

On Saturday night, Greg took me to see the one man show of Martin Short, held at the theater at the Johnson County Community College. Short has many memorable characters from this time on SNL, and movies. My favorite for sure is Jiminy Glick and I was ecstatic when Jiminy Glick made an appearance in the show.

Back in Des Moines Sunday evening- Sue, Carolyn and Ann came over to watch the Grammys with me. We all brought some food together and it was fabulous. I made an Indian dish, Carolyn brought a healthy salad, Sue brought dessert, and Ann also brought another Indian dish (not trusting that mine would be good?) and she agreed to make us some home-made naan bread, since she is half Indian… she knew what she was doing!

 Watch out! HOT bread!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekend report part I

2-14-11 loving brain
I left a Valentine for my sweetheart on my desk in KC.... I hope he finds it today.

We had a wonderful weekend together. Ahhhhhhhh..... the weather was so wonderful- sunny and 50's on Saturday and even close to 60 on Sunday when I left yesterday afternoon.

Spring was in the air and I loved the country side with patches of grass pushing back against the  melting snow.

Saturday I did make a trip to the fabric store. The pattern I talked about on Friday was sold out, so I picked one close to that. I'm wondering if I am "retro" or being just old fashion? This was a Simplicity Pattern 3833.

The fabric I picked might be too thin, so I believe I will need to use lining. I did get the pattern cut out, but left it in KC and will sew the next time I am down there in March, since that is where my sewing machine has landed.

Friday, February 11, 2011


2-11-11 tardy brain
FIRST of all:  WAY TO GO People of EGYPT!

Today I am tiring of my winter wardrobe. But let’s face it, my wardrobe is redundant. Since I work at home, mostly I’m layered up in some type of sweats and hoodie. I put jeans on if it is going to be a special day :)
Yesterday, I actually had a hat and scarf on all day, just to stay warm in the drafty KC house. But then KC is suppose to have highs in the 40’s this time of year, not wind chill of minus 0.

I’ve learn that this spring that I will be attending a National Conference in Florida in May. My biggest concern is what am I going to wear!? I do have a few more choices in my closet for warmer weather, but still feel so unprepared to “look professional” these days.

I was out shopping last weekend, but still find myself drawn to athletic wear. I’m finding it hard to know how to dress and not look like I’m trying to look too young for my age. Either I find dresses that are to sexy/causal, or to formal/prom looking. Where is the in between stuff?

I’ve been thinking about sewing, and recently found some sewing blogs which have inspired me to try again… just keep it basic with a simple dress or two, or a skirt. I think I’ll plan a trip to the fabric store this weekend and see what types of material are out there. Maybe I can get inspired.

Check this blog out: (Built by Wendy)
HERE is a pattern I like, but I think this material maybe too young for me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This and that

2-10-11 amazed brain
I’m blown away by the people of Egypt: protesting, risking their lives, standing strong, demanding change from their government. And here I sit at my computer today, late afternoon, watching the action on live video feed. The power of technology also blows my mind. Egyptian people were able to come together via social networks such as Facebook and twitter and I am able to see this with my own eyes.

I am reminded of an article I saw this last week by Robert Reich, the former US secretary of labor, which he spoke of the federal budget: Past, Present and Future.

“In the global economy, the only asset that’s unique to any nation- and that determines its living standards- is the people who comprise it. Everything else- money, equipment, factories, supplies--moves across global boundaries at the flick of a computer key”

Reich has a blog HERE

Also interesting to note in this week’s news, an article about Taxes. I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about taxes THIS year! Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13% lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Taxes will be the lowest since 1950. I guess it is still more important to stimulate the economy than pay down the national debt. (?)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cool Cats

No it's not Tony the Tiger, this is my soon to be 5 year old nephew Brenan. I only get to see him once a year, so pictures of him are special.

My other cat, Clover, is my office mate when I'm in KC working. I'm lucky when she is sleeping on the day bed in my office room.

Other times she  hovers over me. Sometimes it is difficult to work. She likes looking at TV and videos. Here she has taken over the computer and watching a tiger on YouTube. Yesterday I turned on the TV in the living room to distract her- she was watching Sesame Street for quite some time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Framing project

2-8-11 completion brain
Last week I finally finished a framing project from last summer. I usually don't procrastinate, but I couldn't decide how best to frame these three pieces of art (pixel art). This is a wedding gift for church friends Erin and Brad.

I ended up putting together in vertical style and hoping they have a wall to hang it this way.
The colors were picked to match their dining room rung of browns and blues. Here it is hanging by my back door, so I can see how it looks.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Weekend report

2-7-11 fun brain
Saturday Greg and I met up with Molly at the mall, along with every teenager in the KC area. Our purpose was to walk-exercise; the teenagers' purpose... I still am trying to figure out.

We then went to a movie, the "Company Men".... I like Ben Affleck. Mixed reviews: Molly said she got bored, Greg said he wasn't bored by it,  I thought it had some good points about our economy and business culture, but it did move slow... And we all felt like it lack some emotion.

While we were at the mall, we ran into my college friend Teresa and my god-daughter Chelsea- a nice surprise. So we made plans to met them for lunch on Sunday. Here is Chelsea and I with the designer cupcakes those two are so famous for baking! Greg and I ate them for our Superbowl dessert.... good!

Sunday was above freezing in KC, so Greg and I made a snow cat in the front yard.
We watched the game, and I watch Glee afterwards. Oh yes, I forgot to mention watching SNL Saturday night and was amused to see some old favorites, "The Church Lady" and "Wayne's World"..... made us laugh, and made us miss the good old days of Saturday Night Live 1986 to 1993!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday special edition

2-5-11 admiration brain

This kid makes me proud!

Friday, February 4, 2011

TGIF snow report

2-4-11 drifting brain
Compared to what my driveway looked like at this time last year.... I can't really complain about the snow drifts brought to me during this week's storm.

Usually I'd be excited about traveling to KC, but they too have snow.... so I will not get to see any lovely brown grass at this time.

Well- after all, it is still only the first part of February, so I get my comfort through good old fashion childhood comfort food. Not too healthy I know, but I have been riding the exercise bike and lighting weights.
There is good news: I heard the Ground Hog did not see his shadow! Early Spring?

PS: My drive was cleared Thursday afternoon by the neighbor boys and their father Sam! They did an awesome job, done all by hand shoveling! They are earning money for a summer trip to Japan.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wear RED today!

2-3-11 happy new year brain
Finally the start of the Chinese New Year. I was excited when I reported earlier this year in my blog that 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.... well that is until I found out this is a "metal" year Rabbit. Things this year might not be as "kind" as I thought it would be, BUT still hopeful things to work towards.
Below information was posted my my acupuncturists Facebook wall:  (Thanks to the Iowa Acupuncture Clinic).... my life line since 1997!

Year of the Metal Rabbit!

The tiger year has been a particular and prosperous year full of drama and adventure, the Rabbit will continue this tread, with creativity replacing passion! Fear replacing fortitude! “Bling” accentuating a well manicured coat! Imagine a cat with a brand-new rabbit fur coat, top-hat & cane! Maybe a tad too cocky, but likely to have more money in the bank than you need!

The metal element is the element of money, laws and precision!

Most of us have seen our economy slowly recover like a cat waking from a long nap! Tidy up your finances today, and prepare for another metal year! The rabbit will bring out the “bling” in our lives, but be cautious of too much indulgences! Metal years are excellent for saving and investing. Check the details of your investments and lock in great rates! Watch out for the legal loop-holes and fine-print on documents!

If you have been struggling this last year, re-evaluate your assets and liabilities. Seek out structured advice on your finances, resume, education and career & retirement goals. Metal is an excellent year to pursue higher education!

Our clinic has seen many people who started reorganizing their health and lives in the year of the metal tiger. This will continue in the metal rabbit year! Take an inventory of your health and life! You will want to continue the positive changes in the next year! Structured diets and exercise routines will produce measurable results!

However, be wary of too much order constraining your creativity and spontaneity! Metal can over control your freedom, restrict your movement and lead to possessiveness! Use humor and creativity to mold your routine into a functional part of your life!

Let us hope the democratic movements in the world (Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt, etc...) continue! Let us all focus on softening the hard edged criticism and conflict of this last year! Our common American experience has always overcome the sharp divides of politics and principles. Peace!

The weather and agriculture should continue the dramatic nature of the last year: prosperity and abundance for most, dramatic weather and strong sharp natural disasters. Hold on to your center and build a solid foundation!

In order to maintain your integrity and prosperity, do not throw anything away on the last day of the year! Remember to focus your mind and heart on a healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year!

Wear Red on the first day of the Metal Rabbit Year, February 3, 2011!

The staff of iowa acupuncture clinic wishes all of you a prosperous and peaceful New Year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Weather

2-2-11 wind blown brain
When I went to bed last night, the TV news reported that we had received 7 inches of snow in Des Moines so far (that was good news). However, as I was curled up in bed, the wind roared outside my window, sounding like a freight train speeding through the back yard. Wind gusts of 45mph! .... Which means drifts in my driveway!

What would have been a lonely night in front of the TV, turned into a impromptu party at my house. Ann came to spend the night so she could more easily get to work downtown, and Sue and Carolyn (neighborhood friends) joined us for wine and cheese prior to dinner. Even Sue’s teenage daughter, Paige, braved the cold wind and walked down to my house. Yes, Paige is the young one with short orange hair. I think it's cute!

About 6:30 we all walked over to Chef’s for dinner. The place only had about 7 tables of people, but the service and food were as good as usual. The walk home into the wind was brutal, but it’s actually fun to make yourself face the fierce elements of nature from time to time. I can’t complain really this year, cause I have only to think about last winter, the endless winter, and note that it is already February- and Ground Hogs Day!, and this year hasn’t been as bad as last for me here in Iowa.

Now Greg in KC, they got hit with more snow this time. Greg said he was out shoveling 5 times today trying to keep his driveway cleared, as he worked from home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Weekend Report

2-1-11 grateful brain
Friday’s dinner was a success. Nine of us in the neighborhood friends got more acquainted with our new minister and his lovely wife. Sue was a wonderful hostess as usual, the food was delicious- even my mash potatoes turned out just fine…. And we had a good time laughing. We are kind of a silly bunch, as the picture shows, Amy and Steve hamming it up at the table... and Jill and Scott probably wondering what they are in for. Luckily our minister also has a good sense of humor. At least Greg was serious as he delivered a nice prayer prior to eating.

Sue has a comfortable house for entertaining with her new living room furniture.

Saturday, Greg and I did a few errands, then when to matinee movie. We saw the “Social Network”, which is about the guy who created Facebook. I found it to be a fascinating story.

Sunday after church Greg left to KC, and I was able to have lunch with friends Vivian and Clyde. Then an afternoon nap for me lasted way longer than I would have expected. Guess I needed the rest.