Friday, February 29, 2008

Choir Practice & Stained Glass

To paraphrase Mr. William Blake......"When I grow up and can do what I please, I think I'll visit churches in Iowa and gaze at lovely stained glass windows!" I love colored glass, whether it be in windows, or suncatchers, or paperweights, or old canning jars.

The window in this photo is from Memorial Lutheran Church in Ames, Iowa. My son attended there when he was student at Iowa State University just across Lincoln Way.

Truly, I could be very happy spending time driving around and stopping at churches here and there. I'd start here in lower northeast Iowa, and work my way further northeast into the scenic hills of that part of Iowa. Probably every state in the Union can boast many old church buildings with lovely windows.

When my camera gets fixed, or better yet, a new camera comes along, I hope to snap some photos of the windows of my own church.


On the subject of church.......I attended our mid-week Lenten service Wednesday evening. Not surprisingly, the crowd was sparse. Arriving late, I sneaked up the steps to sit in the balcony with the rest of the "sneakers". If you are late or, for some other reason, wish to sneak into and out of a church service without being seen, then the balcony is the place to go. And actually, I feel very much at home amongst the "sneakers".

After the service, there was choir practice, and we had a blast, even though there were only five singers present, not counting the director and the organist. We had two sopranos, two tenors, and me stuck alone in the middle on alto. Being able to sing soprano or alto, I go where needed, and lately, that has been in the alto section. Of course, the alto part is buried in between soprano and tenor and is sometimes not easy to hear, especially in a new least not for me. I have to hear the alto part played alone once first, then its fairly easy to latch onto the harmony of it.

Even though we were only a quintet, all of us are strong singers, and we can make quite a bit of sound if we have to. The choir director is ever the good-natured, patient leader and that helps. She is a good friend, and she's the mother of SEVEN daughters!! I think of her as "Our Lady of the Seven Joys" (as opposed to "Our Lady of the Seven Dolors", which is the name of a Catholic Church at Festina, Iowa. "Dolors" are sorrows, and that description certainly does not fit my friend and her daughters!)

Our organist, too, is very gifted with keyboard ability and a great sense of humor. Just being around such people is inspiring and uplifting! Hence, my willingness to return as a choir can be fun!! Yonder many years ago when I joined this Lutheran Church, we had a very large choir, and we sang on a regular basis, and did cantatas for Good Friday and Christmas. But, with the few choir members we have now, ambitious singing projects like that are out of the question.


If anyone reads this.......leave a comment if you're a member of a church choir or another type of singing group!!

Happy Leap Day !

What's missing in the above scene? ........Snow, of course! The happy couple should have snowdrifts to "leap" over!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's Snowin' Again!

It's snowin' again here in Iowa!!!

Cement Truck Accident

Shall we allow our thoughts meander to a season other than about autumn? The photo below was taken on the day of this post. Back then, I couldn't upload photos due to a super slow dial-up connection.

The vantage point of this scene is a little roadside park high on a hill overlooking the tiny town of Eldorado, Iowa. "Eldorado" means a gilded place of great wealth. I doubt this village in Iowa contains a stash of gold, but on the day of this photo, this Eldorado was surrounded by GOLDEN corn fields! The sumac patch across the road provided a wealth of lovely deep red color, also.


Yesterday morning brought an odd dream as I was waking up. In it, a family gathering was going on. One of my sister-in-laws was stirring a roaster full of multi-colored beans. Her back was covered with what appeared to be shredded mozzarella cheese. I was grabbing handfuls of the cheese and tossing it into the roaster of beans. (?????)

I told Husband about the dream when I got to the barn. (He just LOVES hearing about my weird dreams. He's long-suffering and tolerant, poor guy.) Anyway, last evening we received an email saying that another one of our sister-in-laws has a medical problem and will be flying to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on Monday. Its the first we've heard of this, so we have no idea what her medical problem is.

Sometimes, I think the purpose of dreams such as the one above is to sound an alert that someone needs prayer. The dream directed my attention to a sister-in-law......otherwise, they had not been on my mind lately.


The following dream story happened in late summer of 2005: One morning, as I was waking up, a strange dream scene came and went. In it, a thing which looked like a watertower tank was flying low over our field by the road. The tank then landed across the road, in our neighbor's cornfield.

Again, on this morning, I happened to tell Husband about the dream, once I got to the barn. The following day, Husband, one of our sons, and my stepdad were up on the roof of our house, putting new shingles on. Suddenly, Husband hollered for me to bring the binoculars to him.......he said two police cars had just speeded by on our gravel road. (We live 1/4 mile off of it.) From up there on the roof Husband could see commotion on the road over by our neighbor's place. Pretty soon we heard and saw an ambulance go wailing by. Husband kept watching, and eventually said that it appeared a cement truck had gone into the ditch and overturned. Husband could see that the cement mixer's tank had rolled into our neighbor's cornfield! He looked down at me from the roof and said quietly, "Your dream." I hadn't even thought of that yet.

It turned out that the cement truck driver had lost control on loose gravel; he probably had been driving a bit too fast. Our neighbors rushed to the overturned truck's cab and found the driver conscious, but with his arm was pinned. It took the emergency workers 1-1/2 hours to extricate him from the cab! He had a badly broken arm and broken ribs, but no injuries that were life-threatening.

The only reason I'm telling this story is because it all happened. I have no idea how a precognitive dream can take place; I only know that it does happen occasionally. I've had to learn to put aside the idea that these types of dreams are odd or something to be feared. They are simply a normal life experience, albeit an intriguing, interesting one! As I said earlier, perhaps dreams like this are a heads-up alert for us to get busy and pray, even if the info is vague on who to pray for.


If someone shows up in your dream tonight.......say a prayer for them when you wake up!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pioneer Woman Blog

Well......harumph!.....this Holstein in yonder photo below heard about
Henrietta the Cow's post on Pioneer Woman's blog yesterday. Henrietta seemed to sort of infer that "farmers" raise grain and "ranchers" chase cows. Harumph! This Holstein gets chased by a dairy "farmer" on a regular basis. And you might be shocked to know what else he does......its so embarrassing and upsetting, she can't even of it! What she dreams of doing is escaping to India to join the sacred cows!!.....what an amazing blog site Pioneer Woman has! (I don't believe for a minute that she's a desperate housewife, though.) CountryGirl mentions her site quite often, so I finally surfed over to the famous ranch to take a gander. Ree (Pioneer Woman) wrote her post yesterday from the viewpoint of one of the cattle, Miss Henrietta. Maybe she writes that way often, I don't know. Its a cute idea! Amazing what can be developed around seemingly mundane livestock photos! And Pioneer Woman blogs often about photography, which she is obviously very knowledgeable of, and is going to start a PhotoShop tutorial on her blog soon. If only I had PhotoShop!!......and a working camera!!!


Sherry (a fellow Iowan) over at LivingBeyondtheRoads has been trying valiantly to frighten winter away by using descriptive adjectives in her blog writing. Her posts have been very entertaining lately, and she sounds confident that March 1 will bring a turn-around in the weather. I hope she's not just whistling Dixie! I'm wondering if packing up my collection of snowglobes and hiding them in the closet would help convince the snowy weather to go away. We're getting desperate here in Iowa........this cold, snowy, wintery business has been going on long enough.....and there's no room left for anymore of the white stuff!!! (Well, there is still lots of empty space in Iowa.....but, who wants snow there.) So.....winter, winter, GO AWAY!!......come again another day.....far, far away in the future!!!


Hmm.....let's see......I need to use a different blogging nickname for my husband, other than what I've been using, which is simply "Husband", because its completely unoriginal. I've been pondering over "CowGuy" or "MooGuy" or "MilkerGuy" or "DairyGuy". Anybody have an opinion?


I've also been mulling over all the stupid things I've done in my life. There is a reason why I have that "Drink Coffee: Do stupid things faster, with more energy!" quote in my sidebar. Its because I actually do alot of stupid things. I'm clumsy, physically and otherwise, and sometimes barge *temerariously* into delicate places, flail around and do damage. I fail to keep my opinions under my hat. Maybe I'll attempt to make the effort to do better, and keep my mouth and keyboard quiet more often. Not on my blog, though......that is my vent......the place where I keep my head above water. (*That word "temerarious" was the Dr. Dictionary Word of the Day for today, and seemed to be appropriate.*)


"Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write." ------ John Adams, 1765

(......saw that quote on a postmark yesterday)

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Cold Is It?

This morning the Schwan's truck stopped here. As we chatted, the driver said, "I know its cold out when it feels warmer inside the truck's freezer than outdoors!!!"

I didn't envy him today.

Spotlight on Icicles

One morning last week, while Husband was up in the silo, and I was standing vigil down below, a few interesting photo scenes presented themselves. This photo below is looking was way past dawn, but with color adjusting, the scene can be made to look like sunrise. Or I could have called it a sunset, and you would have never known the difference!! If I had PhotoShop, that annoying fencepost could be removed, probably.

My job down there at the foot of the silo was to turn the silo unloader lever every so often, which would cause the unloader up inside the silo to lower and dig deeper and push more silage to the chute through which it falls down into the bunk. In the bunk a conveyor system moves the silage throughout the length of the bunk. Later on, the cows come out of the barn and eat the silage in this outdoor bunk.

Husband was up inside the silo helping the unloader to move through the silage. In very cold weather, the silage up in the silo tends to freeze and stick to the wall of the silo, causing the unloader to get stuck....."buried", as Husband calls it. And yes, Husband simply loves an opportunity to climb up and spend time in the freezing cold puts him in a very good mood!! NOT!!!!


Whoops.....this shot is a bit off-kilter.......!!

And this one is a rather fuzzy, but that's how the photo was, and sharpening it didn't look very good.

My camera seems to have died.......I don't know what's wrong with it. Maybe it got damp sitting in the milkhouse a couple times. I don't know. So I may be in the hunt for a new camera.......something better, but affordable. It will be fun to look around and see what's out there. It will need to be a durable camera, that's for sure. Any advice or ideas are welcome!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dinosaur Found in Iowa!

Paleontologists are stunned at the sudden appearance of the long-thought-extinct "Tine-Spined Iowasaurus" ! This dinosaur is believed to have been an alfalfa-eating, field-dwelling, tractor-sized reptile. If you spot one in your field, please notify your local dinosaur-hunter. Thank you!

(What is this thing, really?)

Read My Daughter's Post

My college freshman daughter started a blog a couple weeks ago. Today I dropped by to see what she's been posting. Go here to read her version of growing up on a dairy farm and the chores she had to do! I about fell off my chair laughing!

Please Click this Link

Well, I just worked very hard to write a post about a trip we took to Colorado. I had uploaded the photos into a draft a week or so ago.....and when it published today, of course, it is dated back then. Guess I won't try doing it that way again!

So please go to the Feb.18 post to read about this wonderful trip that we had. It even has a dream involved.....not even my dream.....someone else's!

Unfortunately, an icy rain is falling today here in our part of Iowa. Hopefully, the weather is good where you are!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunny "Oculi" Sunday

Well, here we are on "Oculi", the Third Sunday of Lent, today being very sunny and bright. The word "Oculi" sounds like it has to do with SEEING, and indeed the Psalm for today (25:15) begins with, "My EYES are ever on the Lord.....".

So that you can SEE that I attended church this morning, here is a photo of our church steeple. SEE the bright gold paint on the cross? That paint was applied by my husband......on June 13, 1998, to be exact! He rode up there with paint can and brush in hand, in the basket of a boom truck.......I was watching anxiously from down on the ground (and taking photos). The steeple is around 60 feet tall and the cross alone is 12 feet tall.

I was supposed to be a substitute Sunday School teacher today, for the youngest class. Well.....our Lutheran school kids were all away for the weekend at a basketball tournament and NO ONE at all showed up for Sunday School! We teachers chatted for awhile and then proceeded to the church basement to sit in on the adult Bible class.

There was a man speaking up in the front of the group......he was unfamiliar to me. He was talking about interpreting everything in the Bible in light of "covenants" and "inheritances", and he was discussing God's initial covenants with Abraham. The guy was definitely talking "at" us.......I think he enjoyed hearing himself talk, and his style was rather annoying for he talked at us as if we were grade school kids. I was trying to follow along in the Bible passages as he rattled seemed to me that he was adding and changing things here and there from what was in the Bible verses. Later I found out he has a "Dr." in front of his name, so he had the prerogative to talk the way he did, I guess. Certainly, I admire anyone who works hard and makes the effort to get a doctorate. "This is most certainly true".......(Sorry, only a Lutheran will understand this.......that something is true because a learned person says it is true.).

After this class, we marched upstairs for Divine Service (that's the formal Lutheran name of a church service). There weren't many people there and the cavernous sanctuary was chilly, as usual. Our old pipe organ is being refurbished, so the organist played the hymns and liturgy on a clavinova which is a weak, pale imitation of a pipe organ. And with so few of us there, the singing was rather pathetic. The hymns felt lonely and naked as their melodies swirled about us without the usual rich, full robing of the pipe organ's rumbling chords.

What I gleaned from the sermon is that my life is a mess, and even if I think its not a mess, it actually is, and the solution to that mess is found in the Sacraments. If I'm depressed, its because I don't trust in God enough, and trusting in God means partaking of Sacraments. Sorry for my griping......I'm a disgruntled Lutheran (raised in a church that didn't worship sacraments), but like so many of us in my congregation, I'm part of the local tribe here, and this church is where I'll stay, even if I grump about what the pastor preaches. He will oversee his share of the congregation's dwindling, then he'll move on to another church, leaving the local tribe behind. If things don't change for the better soon, our congregation will consist of just a skeleton crew of hangers-on.

A blessed "Oculi" to you!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coloring Outside the Box

I'm goofing around with snow photos this afternoon. Its very childish, really. It takes me back through the years to happy hours spent with crayons and coloring books, when I could use any color I wanted on anything......cornflower trees, magenta snow, sienna sky.....(if I was lucky enough to have a 48 or 64-count box of Crayola crayons to pick from). Otherwise, I was stuck with plain red, green, blue, etc. My sisters and I would sometimes fight over certain favorite colored crayons and use each one until it was a stub, peeling the paper off as we went.

Because I watched my mom outline each section to color on each page, and then carefully do the coloring in order to stay inside the lines......that's how I did my coloring, too.......cautiously staying inside the lines.

Well, these photos are a bit outside the lines, colorwise......retouched with the wrong colors for the scene. But, what fun to experiment! Its like being a kid all over again, and having the most gigantic box of crayons to work with!

Frosty Tree, Buds & Nest

Here's some frosty sights from earlier this morning. These photos were taken about two hours ago, and now, at noon, the frost is mostly gone from the tree branches. So you understand my hurry to snap these pictures right away.

Actually, when I turned my camera ON this morning, it didn't do anything. I inserted some freshly-charged batteries and it still didn't work. I reinserted the batteries.....still nothing. Great. I was turning the camera around in my hands, looking it over, slipped from my hands and fell on the floor! I thought that was the end of it for sure. But, I picked it up worked!!! Please don't try this with your own camera!!


The photo below shows those long-suffering little lilac buds again......

The tree in the first photo (above) has this blob (shown below) nestled in amongst one of the high, arching branches. Believe it or not, this blob is the remnants of an oriole's nest. A Baltimore oriole, to be exact......(Hi, Countrygirl! She's from Maryland and takes awesome photos! Visit her site). Orioles, you know, build their amazing, droopy, knapsack-like nests out of the long hairs from horses' tails, or, in our case, cows' tails.

Enjoy the beauty in your world today!!!

Frosty Saturday

Oh, what a gorgeous morning we have!! Everything is covered in fascinating frost! I ran around taking lots of photos, catching my chore-boy son here as he fed his calves. You can see the big square hay bale there......he peeled off a couple chunks to put in front of the calves for their munching enjoyment. He pours the grain on top of the squares of hay. Buster, our Australian Shepherd, is providing lots of help, as you can see!!

If I find time today, I hope to post some pictures of this morning's frosty wonderland beauty. Truly, its a rare occurrence, and provides something for us to appreciate about winter.

If you've never visited Sherry's blog, Living Beyond the Roads, take a jaunt over there. She's a fellow Iowan, and is evidently, truly "snowed in", out there "beyond the roads"! Her posts include lots of interesting info and links to crafting and cooking sites. The day I visited Sherry's site for the first time, she had posted a link to a scrumptious brownie recipe, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Marbled Brownies.......the name is a mouthful, and its heavenly to enjoy a mouthful of these rich brownies! Sherry often writes about what's on her menu for the day......if she lived in my neighborhood, I'd have to find an excuse to drop by her house at dinnertime! She also has a political blog providing updates on current events. Go & visit her sites!
Have a great Saturday, everyone!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weaner World

If this photo had sound effects you would hear a chorus of insistent bawling from these newly-weaned calves. (.....and they would not be trying to remind you that today is George Washington's birthday.) They want bottles of milk! For their first eight weeks of life, I was their mama, faithfully serving them warm bottles of milk twice a day. Alas for them, they grew and learned to eat grain, and yesterday they were moved out of their individual pens into this weaner pen. Everytime they see me walk by, they start bawling for their bottles. I just shake my head at them and say "Tough".

I liken weaning-aged calves to human children entering the middle school years. These calves are in, say the 5th grade pen.......they still want their mama around. In a few weeks, they'll get moved into another pen......that will be like entering junior high. There they will acquire that adolescent attitude, too.....kind of scruffy-looking and they eye you suspiciously when you walk by. They appear forever on the verge of doing something they're not supposed to, like break out of their pen. Once finished with junior high, the calves move on to "high school" pens, which are over by the barn, closer to the adult livestock. After that, of course, comes their initiation into that ultimate bovine career......being a milkmaker.

Enjoy your children today......whatever stage they happen to be in!

(By the way, my son's basketball team lost last night.............[:( ] that sport is wrapped up for another year. I always feel bad for the seniors on the team, since its their last high school game.......but, they'll get over it.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Basketball = Motion + Emotion

What's the perfect antidote to February cabin fever in Iowa? High school basketball tournament games.....that's what! If our boys' team wins its district final game tonight, they will play next at the arena shown in this photo, the McLeod Center at the University of Northern Iowa.

Last evening, our team had a game, even though we didn't have classes yesterday. Evidently, due to all the cancellations we've had, the rules are being relaxed to allow the basketball tournament schedule to stay on track. I didn't go to the game last night, but Husband went.......I washed milkers so he could get there on time. Its good for him to have to go to a game alone once in a while.......I spent years going to games without him when the kids were younger. Turnabout is fair play in this case.

Tournament games always start at 7 p.m., which is right when we're milking. I would really like to go to tonight's game, but it is 30 minutes away, so there's no way we'll get there. Our son is a sophomore. He suits for varsity, and is basically the 7th man on the team, sometimes playing quite a bit, and sometimes not playing at all, depending on the dynamics of the game. Defense is his specialty......Husband always says, "Offense awes fans, but defense wins games." Whether that's true or not, I don't know. Our son is also a starter on the junior varsity team, so he's had a busy season, often playing in several games each week. That's how it goes in small high schools.

Husband and I made it to a few regular season games, when the boys' games don't start until 8 p.m. Its fun to join the crowd of fellow cabin fever sufferers.....its like group therapy. Mostly, I like to watch people. Emotions can run high at sporting events, of course, providing lots of entertainment, on the court and in the bleachers. Where else, really, can you witness so much motion and emotion, all at the same time!! I enjoy sitting on the opposite side of the gym, to watch the antics of our coach as he calls plays, roars his disapproval of something, and throws his arms up in frustration. He's a show all to himself!

The group of boys on the team this year are coachable and lowkey, not prone to mouthing off to referees, thank goodness, and they are playing very well together. Its a joy to watch a team that plays as a team!

If you're following a high school basketball tournament action.......have fun, and I hope your favorite team wins!!! (Unless they happen to be playing against MY favorite team!)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Full Moon Tonight

Calendar says full moon tonight. I missed the lunar eclipse.......its just too cold to go out and watch.

Some Trivia of the Day

I love interesting coincidences, and here is a famous one which occurred to a French poet named Emile Deschamps, who was born today in 1791:

"From the book, Coincidences in the Unknown, 1902, Camille Flammarion tells of the experience of his friend, Emile Deschamps. In his childhood, at a school in Orleans, Deschamps shared a table with a certain Fortgibu, who had returned from England with a taste for plum puddings, then unknown in France. He insisted Deschamps try one. Ten years later, Deschamps passed a restaurant and saw a plum pudding being prepared inside. His early taste, long forgotten, urged him to enter and ask for a slice; but the pudding was reserved for another, and Deschamps was obliged to beg the favour from this stranger. It turned out to be Fortgibu, and both were astonished at meeting again for the second time over the same dish. Many years passed again, and Deschamps was invited to a dinner party which featured an English plum pudding; and Deschamps delighted his hosts with the tale of his extraordinary encounter with de Fortgibu. They all joked about the possibility of the old man turning up. During the meal he really did. De Fortgibu has also been invited out to dinner, but by another occupant of the same building, and had lost his way. "Three times have I eaten plum pudding, and three times I have seen Fortgibu!", said Deschamps.


I first read of the above story several years ago in a book. Today the tale came to my attention via a daily trivia email which I subscribe to. Another piece of trivia for Feb. 20 is that today is the Feast Day of St. Wulfric, an English priest from the 1100's, who kept dogs and hawks as pets.

A Statuary Challenge For YOU!

Ok, yesterday the empty fridge and cupboards were crying for a new supply of groceries, so I ventured away from the farm for a few hours. See what photo-blogging is doing to me.......I actually took my camera along! On a grocery run......looney-bin here I come!

I drove carefully on the icy, snowy roads, scanning the horizon for something worth photographing in the scenery-challenged environs of my home area. Unfortunately, not a mountain, ocean, or lake came into view. The little rivers we have are all covered in snow......great picture that would make.

Suddenly, this rather unusual sculpture came to mind. It is found on the campus of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, the town I had chosen for my grocery expedition. Quickly, I veered off Bremer Avenue for a couple blocks, found a parking spot, and ran through the cold air to capture this fellow on, I mean, memory card.

Believe it or not, he is St.Francis of Assisi.......right here on the campus of a Lutheran college! I'm not exactly sure what the nature-loving saint is sculpted to be doing in this pose.......dancing, catching sunbeams, feeding birds, or just plain doing his thing of enjoying nature. Several years ago, on a tour of the campus, I think I heard the story of how this sculpture got here, but the details elude me now. Maybe once I'm done posting this, I'll pretend to be a real photo-journalist and do some research to find out more about this statue. Stay tuned.
My son attended Wartburg College for two years before he went to Iowa State. At Wartburg, he was a member of Ritterchor, the men's choir, and I was privileged to attend several concerts in the acoustically fantastic Wartburg Chapel, adjacent to St. Francis.
In light of's a challenge for any photo-bloggers who may read this: Post a photo of a statue or sculpture in your area (not mass-produced garden statuary). It has to be of a person, and tell us a little bit about him or her. Submit a comment here, including the link address to your blog post.
(I'm fairly new to blogging, so maybe this challenge has already been done......let me know.)
P.S. - When I returned home from shopping yesterday, I soon realized I had forgotten to buy an important item that we needed.......TOILET PAPER!
This fact reminds me to tell you all to be sure and read CountryGirl's blog post for today. She had quite an experience!
P.S. - See Russell's statue photo and info here .

Good Neighbors

I'm sure everyone is sick and tired of snow photos, and frankly, so am I, but here are a couple more. To the right is our mailbox and newspaper tube, all but buried, as you can see.

This morning is excruciatingly cold, around 20 below zero, making it almost torture to walk to and fro between house and barn.

Below, you can see my neighbor showing off in his fancy John Deere tractor. He's blowing snow away from the road so the milk truck can get through. These neighbors milk Brown Swiss cows (don't tell them but I think its the most boring breed of cattle......they all look alike!), and they use the same milk hauler we do. Until last year, they were orange tractor people like us (although we do still have an old JD 630), but someone-----the friendly neighborhood JD salesman----- convinced them to defect to the green side. Oh my, we were in total shock and speechless for days after we found out!

Seriously, we have a special bond of friendship with these neighbors, who we've known forever. We feel fortunate to have a close neighbor who is still in the dairy business. There aren't many dairy farms left in our area. It used to be that every farm place down every country road had milk cows, a few beef cattle, a few pigs, chickens, get the idea.....each farmstead used to be home to a family-run diversified operation. Nothing big, just enough to keep the family busy and provide a living. There's not much of that going on around these parts anymore, that's for sure. Mostly, there are big grain "farmer" with huge equipment works hundreds of acres, some of which he may own, but most of those acres are rented. Oh, and don't get me started on the stinky hog confinements that these big farmers build (far away from their own residences, of course)......that will be for another post......

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY, wherever you may be!!!

(BTW......we have NO SCHOOL again today.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here's the Answer

Thanks for all the guesses!! Especially, since it wasn't really a fair game. The answer is "net-wrap", which only someone familiar with large round bales of straw, hay, or cornstalks would know. Netwrap is plastic netting that comes on a roll which is inserted into the baler and wraps around the bale to hold it together. When Husband needs to use a bale, he cuts through the netwrap with a jack knife and peels it away, allowing the bale to fall apart and be used as feed or bedding. Husband wads up the used netwrap to be burned later. He wraps it together as tightly as possible because if the netwrap gets spread out or blown around, it catches on everything. Its a nuisance! I've gotten my feet caught in some before, and its difficult to get untangled from. Also, the dogs and cats can easily get caught in it.

We usually end up with a pile of the discarded netwrap balls in a corner by a shed, which is where I snapped this photo. It looked so interesting all covered in ice!

Thanks for being such good sports!

Poor Little Lilac Buds

How do they survive being coated in ice like this? Poor little things.....

Weeping Trees

Even the trees are weeping......there is NO SCHOOL again today!!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Take A Guess!

Ok, peeps, what do you think this is? Yes, I know, its just a pale imitation of countrygirl's very popular weekend guessing game, but it might stump some of you.

Come on, farm people......

Take a guess.......please!!!

A Rare Book Mystery

Sunday afternoon, I snuggled under a quilt in the slatted shadows of our new blinds and read several chapters of The Bookwoman's Last Fling by John Dunning. The story is told from the first person perspective of Cliff Janeway, a homicide cop turned book collector who investigates cases involving rare books. In this book, he's been hired by members of a wealthy family who are also race horse owners. Quite a racing and book collecting.

Anyway, the author set up what I thought was a cleverly amusing scene......Cliff Janeway was doing surveillance on a suspect who was sitting in a restaurant. Janeway had to watch him from across the street and ducked into a shop from which to do so. It turned out to be a thrift shop and Janeway found himself right next to a shelf of used books, which proved to be quite a distraction for him. He was torn between watching the suspect and examining the shelf of old books! Just a really clever scene, I thought. That would be my have to keep an eye on someone in a Goodwill Store or at a rummage sale.......the suspect would get away for sure!

Speaking of rare books.......I have been on the trail of one from my childhood. It is Pitidoe the Colormaker, by Glenn Dines. I put a request for it on eBay and with an online book dealer, but have had no success. Its not a terribly important matter, and I'll just keep on looking, but if anyone reading this knows of a copy in existence, please let me know.

Trip to Colorado

(2/25/08: Sad news.....I think my camera has given up the ghost. But, let's move one to infinitely better news.....My son is engaged! A late summer wedding is being planned!)

Back in the summer of 2005, the above-mentioned son was on an electrical engineering internship out in Colorado. Dairy families don't do much travelling, but this opportunity to visit someone in Colorado was too tempting, so my older daughter and younger son and I made plans for a trip west.

That summer, here at home, we were starting a building project on our house, as you can see in the above photo. This was the phase it was at around the time of our trip, with the basement foundation blocks having just been set in place. You can see there is a trench surrounding the cement block walls. To reach the door to the main level of our house, we had to walk carefully across a plank over the trench.

Three days before we were to depart for Colorado, my younger son got up in the morning and told me about a dream he had just had. In the dream, he had fallen in our new basement area and injured his knee and had to wear a knee brace. I said, "Well, just be careful today, then, so that doesn't happen."

At some point during the day, I was sorting through a stack of magazines to get rid of, and found an ATV sales booklet with some nice, glossy photos of ATV's, and I set it aside to give to Husband's young nephew, Brett, the next time he came here. It turned out that Brett's family did stop in for a short visit that evening. They wanted to see how the house project was coming along. As they were getting into their vehicle to leave, I suddenly remembered about the ATV magazine, and I ran back to the house to get it, stepping carefully on the plank leading to the door.

Who knows how a person's memory can suddenly revert to complete forgetfulness......I grabbed the magazine off the kitchen counter and ran back out the door......evidently forgetting completely about the plank and the trench. Straight down I fell, into the trench, hitting my left knee on the way down on an edge of sidewalk cement jutting out over the trench.

Oh, man, it hurt! I stood there for a bit, grimacing and trying not to cry. Finally, I sidled my way around the foundation until I found a place to climb out. It was right at that moment that I remembered my son's dream.......the "Be Careful" message had been for ME!!

I could walk, but the knee really hurt, and it was already stiffening. I brushed the dirt off the ATV magazine, walked slowly over and gave it to Brett. They hadn't seen me fall, so I waited until after they drove away, then I told Husband about my fall......and always I feel so stupid when that happens......I imagine he'll think I'm making it up. I showed him my knee......(and you know we all have been guilty of saying this to someone)......instinctively, the first thing he said was, "What did you do that for??!" "@#$%#%^&" was what I felt like replying with, but I didn't!

That night, I iced the knee before trying to get into bed. It was impossible to find a pain-free position, and through my head were racing thoughts like, "What am I going to do about the trip?" I was so looking forward to seeing my son and spending time in the beauty of the mountains. All of our reservations for hotels and a trail ride had been made, and tickets had been purchased for a Rockies baseball game in Denver on July 4. We simply had to go.

The next day I phoned my daughter for her opinion on my injury.......she is a coach and has taken athletic training classes. I told her I hit the knee straight on.....there had been no twisting or side hit, so I believed there was no injury to the ACL. She said, too, it probably was not an ACL or MCL injury, thank goodness. I also talked to my pastor's wife at the time, for she also had athletic training experience. She told me that as long as my knee did not feel like it was going to give out as I walked, then it probably was not a ligament injury. So I had two opinions I trusted......there was no time to go to the doctor for it was a weekend.

My gait was ridiculous; I couldn't bend my knee at all. I felt like Chester from the old "Gunsmoke" TV show! The day before the trip, I bought a velcro knee wrap to wear, and decided that I would go to Colorado, bum knee and all. I could still take my turn at driving, for my right leg was fine. What I would have to forego on the trip would be the hiking and the trail-ride we had reservations for.

We left early in the morning on June 30, and arrived in Boulder, Colorado in late afternoon. The next day we were allowed to take a tour at the site of my son's internship, shown in the photo below:

We rode an elevator up inside a wind turbine tower and stood on top of the nacell, which is the box-like thing the blades are attached to. It was quite a dizzying place to was a relief to finally get back down to the ground!These are the only two photos that would load onto this post. (The others wouldn't upload.....just a gray box was there.???)

The photo below shows the site where the various models of wind turbines are set up and studied. A steady supply of strong wind blows down from the mountains through that canyon in the distance, which is why the Wind Technology Center was built here, several miles south of Boulder, on the way to Golden. The mountains look so unreal! Way in the distance (you can hardly see them) are the high peaks of the Rocky Mountain National Park area, where we would be headed the next day.

That evening, while everyone else hiked on the Flatirons west of Boulder, I drove up a mountainside and enjoyed some spectacular views of Boulder and the surrounding area to the east. The next morning, we left Boulder and headed north and west toward Estes Park. It was 85 degrees when we left the time we reached the Alpine Visitors' Center way up in Rocky Mountain National Park, it was 35 degrees!
Trail Ridge Road takes drivers through the park, winding back and forth, higher and higher. We stopped wherever there was an overlook, to absorb the gorgeous scenery and feel the crisp mountain air. Sweaters and long pants were dug out of the trunk, and soon we were stopping at snow fields to take photos. At the Visitor's Center, I hobbled in and browsed in the gift shop, while the others climbed a long stairway trail up above the Center. A silver ring with a black diamond heart caught my eye, so I bought it, and wear it everytime I dress up, to remind me of this wonderful memory of being in the mountains!
We drove back down Trail Ridge Road the way we came up, and found the road to Bear Lake. We walked the trail around this lovely upland lake, enjoying the various snowy mountain peaks which framed the lake from a distance.....Longs Peak and Hallett Peak being two of them.
That night, we stayed at the Wildwood Inn resort near Estes Park......not far from the tumbling, rushing Fall River. Several weeks before, by a serendipitous online blessing, I had found this one night available at this resort.....usually they book their cabins a full week at a time. We enjoyed dinner that evening in the back room of a tiny Italian restaurant in Estes Park.
The next day's schedule included the trail-ride. Everyone (except me) saddled up at the "Cowpoke Corner Corral", a few miles outside of Estes Park. When I went into the office to register, the owner laughed when she saw we were from Iowa. She said the horses are from Iowa, too, and are taken back to Manchester every year for the winter!! Pretty cool, we thought!

The tenderfeet horseriders in the above photo enjoyed a memorable afternoon of trail-riding. They had a great time! While they ambled along the wooded and scenic trails, I drove back to Estes Park and browsed in the tourist shops. I bought t-shirts for everyone and several colorful quartzite rocks which now reside on our fireplace mantle. As I was making my way through the crowds along the street, I felt a change in my sore it had reached a turning point, and from then on it started feeling better and I could walk more normally! I sometimes wonder if the knee injury was meant to happen for some seems I was not supposed to hike or ride a horse on this trip!! Maybe the knee injury spared me from some worse injury.....who knows.
In a happy, tired state, we left Estes Park and drove back to Boulder that evening. The next day, we ventured into Denver and spent time at the Zoo and were in attendance that evening for a Colorado Rockies baseball game. That was on the Fourth of July, and following the game the fans in the stadium were treated to a fantastic fireworks display! Unfortunately, my photo of the fireworks atop the big neon ROCKIES sign would not upload.
The next day we left early from Boulder and headed back to Iowa, arriving safely at home late in the evening. It had been a whirlwind trip, blessed with traveling mercies and amazing scenery, providing for marvelous memories of Colorado! I just love the mountains!!! (You know......I don't know why we don't go to the Colorado high country more often, considering it takes only one day of driving to get there!)
Any of you been to the Rocky Mountains? What is your favorite memory there?

Sun Dogs Over Iowa

Boots full of snow was my reward for running out in the snowdrifts to snap this photo. The sun dogs are fascinating, but their true message is: "WE APPEAR ONLY WHEN IT IS EXTREMELY COLD, SO GO BACK INSIDE!!!"

The wind continues to blow, affecting visibility and causing roads to be blocked with drifts. School is cancelled AGAIN! The kids will be going to school until July, I'm afraid! Tonight's district basketball game will surely be postponed, too.

Wherever you are, enjoy your day, no matter what kind of weather lurks outside your door!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Curly Locks in B&W

On her blog, Country Girl converted people photos to B&W, influencing me to try the same. Here's my daughter showing off her curly locks on a breezy day last fall. The tree bark and flowing hair textures kind of clash, I'm afraid.

Digging Out

My daughter and her friend headed back to college early this afternoon......they didn't get too far, as you can see. After plenty of scooping and digging, Husband gave the car a push and off they went. The girls made it back to school safely.

Here's Husband using the snowblower after milking tonight:

In case anyone's curious to see what the snowblower looks like----here it is:

Its an Icy Reminiscere

Today is "Reminiscere", the Second Sunday of Lent. Last Sunday was called "Invocavit".......I'm just kind of fascinated by these words, because they are new to me. Evidently these titles apply to the first phrase of the appointed Psalm for the Day. Last week the phrase was, "He shall call upon me....",(invoke means "to call"), and this week the first phrase of the Psalm is, "Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies....", (reminisce having a meaning similar to "remember").

Anyway, the morning started out with icy rain, then snow took over, and now around noon we have strong winds, making for blizzard conditions. Church services were cancelled throughout our area.

This photo was from earlier this morning:

These evergreen branches below are laden down with ice.....

Some of the branches get frozen to the snow on the ground below them.......

Maybe I'll forego hanging laundry out today.........

Fortunately, the temperatures today are in the 20's ABOVE zero. I would guess the wind chill is around 0 degrees, which is relatively tolerable if you have to be out doing something for a little while.
To whomever may read's hoping the weather is pleasant in your part of the world on this "Reminiscere"!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wake-up Dream

Five years ago today the following events took place. I can't prove that it happened, but I don't write fiction on this blog. I have no explanation for what happened, but here it is:

Similar to the photo above, it was in the early morning, when the light of a new day was breaking over the horizon. If you're lucky, like me, you wake up without the jarring insistence of an alarm clock, and you are sometimes aware of the world between sleep and full awake-ness.

Well, I think I was in that state when this experience happened. It could be called a dream, but it seemed of a different quality. I suddenly found myself walking arm in arm with an older woman. I couldn't see her face, but she had gray curly hair, and was wearing a red print dress and a necklace of odd-shaped red and black beads. We were struggling to make our way up a steep, slippery incline, at the top of which was an open doorway. Two or three times we almost made it to the top, but then slipped back down. Finally, we were able to reach the doorway, and I got a brief glimpse of the view beyond. It was a beautiful, glowing green meadow of flowers, grass, and trees. It looked pleasant, warm, and inviting. My glimpse was very brief, for as we reached the top, the inclined walkway we were on began to pitch forward like a teeter-totter would, and as we fell, I woke up.

Honestly, I had never had a dream anything like this one before. I usually didn't have much dream recall; they vanished upon my awakening. So I pondered this one all that morning, wondering what in the world it meant, if anything.

In the afternoon, we received a phone call from Husband's uncle. He informed us that his mother, Husband's grandmother, had died earlier in the day, alone in her home, about 20 miles from us. Although she was elderly, she hadn't been ill, so her death was unexpected.

Wow, I was completely stunned! I started to tell my family about the dream, but they looked at me like I was insane, so I shut my mouth.

As I listened to the details of Grandma's death, it seemed that it had occurred around the time of my dream or whatever it was.

I don't know what it was. Maybe it was her spirit telling me good-bye, or perhaps as she was dying, Grandma thought of her loved ones, and somehow her thoughts travelled and I was in a mindstate to receive them. Grandma and I had been pretty good friends. We had enjoyed many long talks, and had a bond.......she would call me every few weeks to come and trim her toenails, since she couldn't reach her feet anymore. She'd be there sitting in a chair, waiting for me with her feet soaking in a pan of warm water.

Some people view these kinds of stories with suspicion, and some people don't. If you don't care for this sort of thing, then surf away. This dream was like a wake-up call to me in a way......I almost divide my life into B.D. and A.D., "before the dream" and "after the dream". Since it happened, I pay attention to dreams, and keep a journal of them. Sometimes, they teach you about yourself, and occasionally, they teach you about someone else.
Probably there are lots of people out there who have had a similar experience. I wish that anyone who did could feel free to discuss such things. Sometimes, in our culture, it is difficult.

White Snow to Snow White

This shot should probably be filed under "Weird Farm Art":

Yesterday, along with Beatrix Potter books, "Snow White" was one of the stories we read. It was just a little square board book version of the fairy tale. As I read, I used lots of expression and inflexion in my voice. The four-year-old girl sitting next to me listened with absolute rapt attention. She watched me with wide eyes.

When we were done reading, she took the Snow White book and climbed into a rocking chair and sat there poring over the book for probably the next hour. I think maybe she had never heard this fairy tale before. Maybe her parents don't do fairy tales.......oops......hopefully I didn't corrupt her. My mom read lots of fairy tales to me (maybe that's one of my problems). When you really think about it, many fairy tales contain anxiety-producing elements.......ugly trolls, child-eating old people, fire-breathing dragons, poisonous fruit, etc. Maybe those stories helped birth anxiety and its offspring, depression, in me, later in life. I'M KIDDING!

However, like I said, the little girl I was babysitting yesterday really took to this Snow White story. Maybe the concept of a lovely, innocent girl being stalked by a hateful queen with magical powers is a story that immediately resonates with a child? The child sympathizes and empathizes with Snow White's plight. I don't know, but for some reason tales of this ilk certainly have hung around for centuries as a classic story-line.

As the little girl sat there absorbed in the book, I saw myself doing the same at that age. Before I could read, I would pore intently over picture books, studying the details of every scene. I hope kids still do that.......I hope noisy, distracting television and video games haven't spoiled that forever. Quiet time alone with books is important for children, I think. It helps usher them onto that road of learning to look at life in their own unique way and think for themselves.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Seatbelt Ticket of My Own

Here is Husband & Faithful Tractor blowing snow away from the mailbox again today. Sorry about the tree branch.......I took this photo through a window. I was too lazy and warmth-addicted to go outdoors right then. Actually, it was because I was babysitting two little girls, age 4 and 1 1/2. They enjoyed watching the plume of snow cascading up into the air.

The four-year-old had fun playing with my daughter's old Polly Pockets from over a decade ago, when those toys actually were pocket-sized. The tiny toy people are not even an inch tall, and they have very-detailed, miniature houses. The younger girl napped awhile, and then we read books. I became reacquainted with Peter Rabbit, Little Benjamin Bunny, Squirrel Nutkin, and Mrs.Tiggy-Winkle. It was a very enjoyable afternoon!

My son's run-in with the seatbelt ticket reminded me that I also have a seatbelt experience lurking in my past. It happened one summer evening a couple years ago when I was on my way to a Ladies Aid outing at a tea room in Independence, Iowa, about 25 miles from home here. On the way there, I did have my seatbelt buckled, as I always do, but because the strap across my chest seemed uncomfortable, I had draped it under my left arm, is sometimes my habit.

Once in Independence, I had to watch street signs closely to try and find the one the tea room was on. While at a stop sign, I noticed a police car behind me, but thought nothing of it. I turned right, and the police car big deal. Then, realizing I had taken the wrong turn for where I wanted to go, I turned into a store parking lot to turn around. The police car followed me into the parking lot, his lights flashing by then. Great. Had I not used my turning signal?? I was sure I had. Were my brake lights not working?? What could it be?

The young (they usually are) policeman walked over to my window and said, "M'am, do you have your seatbelt on?" I showed him that I did......but, of course I had that strap under my arm. He asked me why I was using the seatbelt that way. I said it was uncomfortable the other way. He asked me if I had a doctor's order to wear it that way!! I've got to be kidding me.....this guy must be having a very slow evening!

Unfortunately, I've never been one of those mythical women who can bat their eyes at a law enforcement officer and avoid getting a ticket. My bad attitude shines through too clearly. I said, "This is absolutely ridiculous." The policeman said, SO apologetically, of course, "I'm going to have to give you a ticket." I said, "Well, fine, just hurry up......I'm late for a dinner engagement." So besides memories of a lovely meal at an antique-filled tea room, I took home a $55 ticket for a seatbelt violation involving a buckled seatbelt. Go figure!

Here's some historical info that involves Independence, Iowa. It includes a kite-shaped harness-racing track, and two famous horses named Allerton and Axtell. The huge, old landmark horse barn on the west edge of town remained standing until several years ago. Downtown, next to the Wapsipinicon River, is a towering old brick mill building, and several blocks of old storefronts. You can enjoy an interesting day there, but watch out for young, bored policemen!

A Black & White Makeover

Kasey's blog, WineontheKeyboard, issued a "Black and White Challenge" today, so here is my makeover of a color photo to B&W. This scene, of course, shows Queen Anne's Lace blooms in an unopened and opened state. Scads of them grow in the ditches along our gravel road. Do you know that in the very center of the opened blossom is a tiny, tiny dark red bloom! (You can't see it in this photo, of course......I would need a different camera to be able to photograph that.)

Help.....Caption Needed

Here's another romantic couple, found lurking in one of the old family photo boxes. I have no idea who they are or where they are or what they've been up to, or what that is in the background.

Please.......any ideas for a caption???