31 December, 2010

That's a wrap!

It's snowing - our first "real snowfall" of the season - looks like an all day event.  We'll see.

Christmas in Iowa went well.  I left my camera at home, and my library book at my MIL's, but otherwise had a good visit.  They had lots of snow, which made Charlie a very happy dog.  The weather played a small role in travel plans but we were all there and that's a good thing.

We returned home Monday afternoon full of plans and ambition to get started with the house.  Laundry was started, mail sorted, naps were taken...

I got sick in the night.
Other than yesterday's laundry, there's not much to show for these last three days at home.  I've been nibbling saltines, sipping coke and hoping for the best, but yesterday I felt well enough to be irritated by the situation, so that was an improvement.

If you were expecting a year's end retrospective - well - let's just acknowledge that this one is in the books. Events that could never have been predicted have occurred.  Lives and people change.  Continuity, revolution, time and circumstances, all hold our attention until the next thing pushes them to the periphery. 

Tim received word yesterday that he'll need to be in place in Iowa Falls on January 10.  Finish in North Platte the 7th and start on the 10th.   We're looking at a crazy week ahead.

Happy New Year.

22 December, 2010

Joyeux Noel

 Tim left this morning for Iowa. 

Charlie and I will leave in the morning - after a 7am breakfast at the library.  Charlie has had his bath, the last load of laundry is in the washer, things are packed and ready to go, so this is it for me until next week.  We're looking forward to a couple days with Jacob, Naphtali, et al, and trust they will have good weather for their travels.

Special greetings to the girls in Merida - hope you have a great time together. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

21 December, 2010


Google images
We feel the moon's cycle very strongly at our public library.  The flow of customers confirms that, yes, it's another full moon.  Can you imagine how things went yesterday with the convergent influence of the solstice and eclipse?  Yikes!

17 December, 2010

Rhapsody in blue

I love writing - not just the manipulation of words and ideas, but the actual act of putting pen to paper.  I have several fountain pens that I enjoy using but I'm not above snagging a free pen with an insurance agent's name emblazoned across it...Roller balls, gels, stick bics, you name it, it's probably tucked away somewhere in the house.  Which explains this pile taken from my desk:
This doesn't include the pens from the kitchen.  Or my work area.

I've begun the process of sorting/tossing and, honestly, how many pens does a person need?!  Have you ever read (in Real Simple, e.g.) how much sense it makes to label your miscellaneous, but vital, cords?  You can see that I've also begun labeling a few cords - that one is for my camera - but the thought occurred to me that there are a lot of very similar cords floating around the house, and here, in context, I know which is which, but once they're packed and unpacked and my context no longer exists.....And it may seem  an insignificant start but I have started, and it makes sense to tackle whatever area I happen to be using.  That way I can do 5 minute attacks all over rather than facing a 10 hour just-slog-through-it-session, which will no doubt happen eventually, but right now this is working for me.

But we were talking about writing utensils. And this semester I rediscovered the delights of mechanical pencils. They flow. They glide.  They make a satisfying scritch.  They makes taking notes (almost) effortless.  This little blue model set me back about $1.25 - and I'd be lost without it!  I'm on the lookout for another model - an upgrade. 

Wednesday night I came home from work and did all my wrapping.  Partly to see what shopping was left to be done, but the ultimate goal was to get this finished so I could clean my sewing room and work area the next morning before going to work.  And I did.  Another round of sorting/tossing.  (There will be a lot of s/t in the near future).

I need to find a few stocking stuffers, but was pleased (relieved) to find that I was, otherwise, done (done being a relative term this time of year).    A CLEP in American Government is scheduled for Tuesday, work Monday and Wednesday, 7:00 breakfast at the library on Thursday, then hit the road for Iowa.  Charlie needs a bath sometime before we leave.  There will be errands on Tuesday after I test.  And lots of s/t worked in around everything else.  I really should get off the computer....

15 December, 2010

drum roll....

The semester has ended.  Today I can clear my desk and start on a new round of activities:
wrapping Christmas presents
ordering books for next semester
schedule CLEP
returns from online shopping
mail hold for Christmas travels
realtor appointment
packing to move
hair cut
Charlie's tags
transfer/delete files

08 December, 2010


This time of year we are surrounded by tradition.  I think my kids would agree that Christmas at our house was celebrated as a holiday of traditions, rather than a religious holiday.

Many magazines or TV programs are dedicated to helping you observe, or replicate, a variety of traditional Christmas traditions:  decorations, foods, colors, activities, songs, aromas, movies, and more.  They will also give you pointers on bound-to-be-new traditions (check here for a lovely example of Christmas colors).

Families tweak these traditional traditions, creating their own particular traditions:  foods (lefse, spritz, prime rib, oysters), locations (Grandma's house), activities (poker), songs (guitar singalongs), how gifts are exchanged or opened, ornaments, tree selection....

In our little corner of the world, billed as the Pony Express capital of Nebraska, a new tradition was begun last year.  The local pony express club finished the looong process of paperwork required by the USPS to create and use a commemorative cancellation stamp.  This Saturday members will gather the deposited mail, sling it across the horse and ride it down the line, before affixing the special stamp.  Those of you (most of you) who receive our Christmas card will find that stamp on your envelope, so look it over - enjoy a new spin on an old tradition.

There was a deadline, (aargh!I could do an entire post on deadlines) of course, so a few stragglers will miss the cut...


03 December, 2010


This year's entry for the gingerbread display at the library:

For me this was a cheat - I used a kit - but by the time I added roof details, a chimney, landscaping and a cinammon bear snowball fight, it feels like a custom job. 
Now I just have to deliver it safely.....

01 December, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

May your days be merry and bright....

18 November, 2010


All the catching up is done.  I am officially caught up and have only my current workload for classes!  The travel was great, but it does get complicated when juggling deadlines. 
Registration for spring semester started this week.

Thanksgiving is next week.

Charlie won't step on manhole covers when we walk.

I was hoping to see meteoroids this morning.  I didn't.

Thanksgiving is next week.

Family wedding in October 2011.

I've started wearing long pants to walk to the gym in the mornings.  CCCCold at 5:00.

Also ccccold at bedtime - I've added another layer of light-ish blankets.

Thanksgiving is next week.

Yoga pants and hoodies. Turtlenecks.

I need color.

I need stronger light.

Dishwashers are wonderful!  Or maybe I'm just in that honeymoon stage - but why has it taken me 5 years to discover the delights of dishwashers!?

For whatever reason, I started using my dishwasher for storage when we moved into this house 5 years ago During a recent marathon weekend of kitchen work I was looking for options.  General strike, paper plates, something!  While we were at Jacob and Kate's, watching them load their dishwasher,  I had the classic enlightened moment - I have a dishwasher!  On our return home, school work and laundry shared that first day's busyness with finding a spot for the things stashed in my dishwasher. If I move this stuff here, then that stuff has to go.... Where is the soap the previous owner left behind?  (honestly, who keeps 1/2 a bottle of cascade for 5 years?)  But there it was...
For my birthday, Tim found a pretty little red-bound French English dictionary at the Goodwill.  I keep it at my desk and you'd be surprised how many times I've used it!

07 November, 2010

Where to start?!

We are back from the east coast - maritime New England or midatlantic.  It was great.  Thanks to Jacob and Kate for putting us up, putting up with us, and showing us a great time!

We decided to do NYC, as this is probably our last visit. Thursday it rained, (and it was raining hard when we first arrived) so a few adjustments were necessary. It was a good day but I have very few pictures due to the rain....We stopped at the Riverside branch of the NY public library for a minute after we parked the car.

This sign made me laugh - and we saw them everywhere!

Made our way to the subway station and headed for the harbor.  The rain let up long enough to enjoy the sight of the Statue of Liberty and a quick visit to Ellis Island.


On our return we ducked into a museum for some warmth and culture.  It was the Smithsonian's exhibit of American Indians and included a section on MesoAmerica which we had just studied in my WldCiv class! 

We dealt with some light rain as we walked around Times Square and the surrounding area.  Saw Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller and Lincoln Centers, ate a slice of pizza at a local joint, saw lots of suits and boots and umbrellas.

Friday we headed to Rhode Isalnd to satisfy our ocean cravings and ended up at Charleston Beach where we saw the ocean wild and tall and green and booming.  It was majestic and awesome.  There was a storm brewing in the Atlantic and this was the result.  Stopped at Mystic on the way back and browsed in a favorite shop.  (funny to think we've done this often enough to have a favorite shop)

We also visited Waterford beach which is a couple minutes from Jacob and Kate, right there in New London.  We walked and clambered over rocks, speculated about an amazing piece of driftwood, and picked up a few rocks and shells to add to my collection. 

We stopped there again on Saturday before we left and I found this:

I love flying.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy the sights through those tiny airplane windows.  (Tim graciously allowed me the window seat on all our flights.)  Providence is just a delight.  The colors, the wooded areas, the estates, the islands and bays, the boats, the backyard swimming pools in all the different neighborhoods - I love it! This time I saw snow east of Chicago, and it was my first time to fly at night.  The nighttime lights of Chicago were magical.  I wish I knew what route we actually took - I'd love to be able to identify the cities we passed over. Their lights were entrancing.

31 October, 2010

A quick peek

Here's Aidan (with a helping hand from Grandpa) somewhere behind the Twin Owls.  This trail was a new one for us and we really enjoyed it.  Huge boulders, incredible vistas, some rain, some sleet, caves and fancy rocks....
It was a great day.

29 October, 2010

Caught napping

Today was pretty much a wasted day.  October has been spent in a seemingly unending cycle of current homework, homework that would be due while we were away, and homework that would be due on our return, and, of course, the new round of current assignments.  Plus work and daily household responsibilities.  (sidebar:  Tim has graciously done all and I do mean ALL the mowing this season.  You don't know how much I've appreciated that)

We are leaving again on Wednesday, so this week has been no exception.  Today - well - let's just say that today was less than productive. 

Jacob and Kate are expecting us for a few days out east.  We've requested a day in NYC and plan to take the train into the city.  I'm looking forward to the trip. 

I've finally downloaded the pictures from the quick getaway  Tim and I made a few weeks ago (which was wonderful).  The pictures from our trip with Naphtali and Aidan (always a treat).  And 2 of my three biology experiments. 

I hope you're ready for this because I am actually going to post something rarely seen on the North American continent:  That's Lake Odessa behind me, taken by Tim back when we made our trip.
I'll catch up again sometime soonish....

12 October, 2010

Because this never happens...

You'll have to excuse a certain giddiness in today's post - because this never happens to me.  It may be a familiar experience for others - but not me! 

So go ahead, smile indulgently, shake your head, you'll not deter my enthusiasm.

 We are finally experiencing some cooler weather so I decided to wear some clothes today for running errands.  I recently told Valerie that camel/tan and gray is one of my favorite combinations. I also recently scored a never-been-worn-still-had-the-tags-on-it charcoal blazer from Eddie Bauer at the goodwill.  I pulled it out of my closet, paired it with a black tee, tan pants and a scarf. 

Now, I'll admit that I sometimes receive compliments on things I wear - but today the bank teller said she loved the way I had my scarf tied - how did you do that!?  So I took it apart and showed her.  It took 2 demos but she got it and she was happy.  I  was, too.  It's all recorded on the CCTV at the bank....

03 October, 2010

It's that time again

Today I began my annual round of musical blankets.  The nights have turned cool, so I made the first exchange in what will be a process involving several different combinations of blankets, and eventually flannel sheets, to transition to winter conditions.  We've had beautiful, classic fall weather this past week.  High, clear blue skies, warm sunny afternoons, and cool evenings will continue for the next week also.  The house experiences a wide range of temperature fluctuations during the course of a day in this in-between (no AC, no heat) weather, so you'll find us starting the morning dressed in layers that can be peeled away and replaced as the day progresses.  I love it.

28 September, 2010

Reading materials

This year, September 25 marks the beginning of Banned Book Week.  I plan to read something from the list.  How about you?

You can leaarn more here:

20 September, 2010


 google images
Over the summer, Tim and I have established and maintained a fairly consistent morning routine.  We wake up around 4:30 (give or take), do our workouts and start the day.  There are times that Tim will wake up earlier (I know, it makes my fingers stumble just to type it).  It registers with me that he is on his feet, but I go back to sleep, knowing that I don't need to be up just yet.  If I bothered to think about it at all during the day, I figured I had fallen into that deep, delightful sleep (you know the one) that happens in those last 15 minutes before the alarm rings. 
 My reason for that conclusion?  I don't hear the coffee grinder! 
Even a non-coffee drinker like me knows that coffee needs to be ground fresh before making a pot.  It loses vital aromatics and taste if you prepare your pot the night before and let it sit until a timer starts the process in the wee hours of the morning....
This whole thing came up in conversation recently and Tim sheepishly 'fessed up.  On those extra early mornings he takes his coffee grinder downstairs so the noise won't wake me! 
Now, I have to ask:  Doesn't this gesture rank right up there with the proverbial cloak across the mud puddle!?

12 September, 2010

24 Hours

12:30 Saturday
I returned from work to find this project started.
12:30 Sunday
It all started with the hail storm in July.  We had broken windows, chipped siding and paint and so Tim spent Labor Day, well, laboring.  The plan was to replace the two broken windows, which meant that he should paint first, which meant he had to sand out the hail chips and he made a good start with all this on Sunday, but by the time the sun came around to the west side of the house where he was working, he was forced to call it a day.  That weekend was a scorcher!  He started in again Monday. 
 The front is painted, the windows are in but not trimmed. 
And that brings us back to the jackhammer.....
If you're going to paint this side, it makes sense to fix (demo) the concrete slab, which slants to the house, first.  We had talked (in pretty general terms) about removing the wrought iron railings and updating the look of the entrance and you know how one thing leads to another, projects need to be tackled in order etc etc etc.  Here we are.  Tim has worked hard and I've helped as I could.  Actually, throwing the chunks of concrete around is rather cathartic..... 
We put in a long, full day of demolition and removal.  I tried the jackhammer, just to say I've handled one, and this morning the top layer, about 10 inches, was gone.

05 September, 2010


This was our project yesterday.  Tomatoes from Tim's garden, our own basil, rosemary, thyme and italian basil, local garlic from the farmer's market simmered together in the crockpot.  We started with about 6 quarts of liquid, cooked it down to maybe 2 1/2 or 3 quarts.  This morning Tim added a couple italian sausages to the still-simmering sauce.   Boil some penne, (I added spinach to my plate) et voila - delicieuse!

29 August, 2010

Something new

Saturday was spent in Columbus, NE, at an all day lab for my biology class.  18 students were expected - 14 showed - an interesting mix of ages (I'm pleased to add that the instructor is older than me) and motivations.  We were given a run down on lab journals, charts and graphs, and the procedures that would help make our at home experiments a success. We practiced with microscopes, which were then packed up, signed out, and sent home with us. 

I'll need to set up  place for my equipment and establish the control onditions for the first phase of my Euglena project.
Should be fun.

On the home front - Tim took Charlie to work with him.  Out of the facility most of last week, and heading east again tomorrow for a couple days, Tim  put in a few hours at work on Saturday and Sunday.  Charlie, in what is no surprise to some of us, has the makings of a good therapy dog. Tim reports that he was well mannered and obedient.   His coat is growing in and  he had a bath on Tuesday so he was shiny and soft and just starting to curl around the edges - handsome, in fact, and he thrives on the exchange of affection/attention.   

23 August, 2010

Did you get the memo?

There are days,  at the library, that we have time to speculate on some of the bigger questions like:
Who sends the memo!?
A book sits on the shelf for months.  One day three people, with no connection to each other, come in and ask for that book.  Who said what to bring that particular book to the general attention of the reading public?  We always check the Sunday paper - maybe there was a review or reference?  A passing comment on Oprah?  GMA? 
Or within weeks of each other, two (or more) authors will release a book featuring a similar story line.  I recently read new books by Dick Francis and David Rosenfelt.  Both story lines involved an Iraq veteran who had lost a leg below the knee.  What are the chances!? 

21 August, 2010

By any other name...

                      Roasting ears...sweet corn...corn on the cob...
a summertime staple - no matter what you call it

17 August, 2010

Birthday Greetings

Happy Birthday, James!

15 August, 2010

Friday the 13th

Tim and I were married on a Friday night - August 13, 1976 - a Friday the 13th.  So when the plumber replacing our hot water heater the other day, explained that he was late because he'd had trouble at the preceeding job by shrugging his shoulders and saying, "Friday the 13th!", I just smiled. 
We were both out of town last week.  I left on Saturday for central Iowa, returning Tuesday.  Tim left for Indianapolis on Sunday, back again Thursday.  I had his package wrapped and ready for him when I left for work on Thursday, knowing that he would be home before me.  And he had mine ready, too, when I got home that night.  Over the years he's done a pretty good job of finding some pretty good loot for anniversaries and such.  This year's will be one of my favorites.  Here's part of it - I wish the camera did them justice:

They simply sparkle.  These tiny ruby buttons are faceted cut glass.  They are gorgeous.

My break is flying by - one week left!
There has been progress on my list - the curtain is up, some of the weeds have been tackled. Closets and drawers have been cleaned.  I've managed to do some reading and a little online shopping.  I've taken, and passed, a CLEP in American Lit.
Here's a glimpse of the weekend in Fort Dodge.  It was sooo hot!  The drive there was uneventful.  Naphtali and Aidan were available for part of my visit and, as always, it was a treat to see them.  On Sunday,we went over to see my sister and Mike.  He's been busy siding the farm house and it looks great.  We looked in at the horses and new kittens, and played with the dogs a bit.  This kitten found a cool place to nap.  My mom and I sat in the shade and watched everyone else cavorting in the pool.
Naphtali and Aidan
Andrea grilled some chicken, fixed sweet corn and fed us a good summertime meal.  Although black tie was optional, Aidan came to the table in what looked like a smoking jacket over his swim trunks and COWBOY BOOTS!
Yes, let's put those two ideas in the same sentence, again.  Here is Aidan wearing COWBOY BOOTS!  We (Grandma Donna, Naphtali, Aidan and I) had looked for a pair at several places Saturday night, including the Goodwill, and though we didn't find COWBOY BOOTS, we did find a necessary piece of COWBOY gear - a guitar.  Why were we looking for cowboy gear?  His camp has a dress-up day each Monday, they've done clowns and rock stars, and the next was cowboy.  He found a mustache, jeans and plaid shirt, hat, and this wonderful guitar!
On our way to Andrea's, we made one last stop to look for the COWBOY BOOTS.  Aidan tried on several pair and he loved them!  Now, some might think that is a bit of an exaggeration, but let me point out that he told his mother that if he got the black pair he could wear the COWBOY BOOTS to school.  Sound logic and sartorial sense.  
I happen to think there are few things cuter than a lanky kid in shorts and COWBOY BOOTS.  Jacob wore them for years.  We had mentioned to Naphtali several years ago that the day would come for Aidan, and let's just say she was less than thrilled with the idea.  So permit me this small measure of glee - a boy should have COWBOY BOOTS - at least for a season - and Aidan is quite dapper in his. 
By the way, he opened car doors and made sweeping bows as we seated ourselves, in imitation of the doormen he had seen in NYC.  It was great.  James and Naphtali have such a delightful son.  I'm looking forward to the pictures of Aidan in full regalia.  (if you can refer to COWBOY duds as regalia)
They headed north from there and my mom and I returned to Fort Dodge.  We went to the apple orchard, played scrabble, caught up on recent events.  It was a good visit.