Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photo of Month Submission

Excuse me for a moment......this photo is jumping in here for submission to Kacey's Photo of the Month Contest, on her blog, "Wine On The Keyboard".

Title of photo is: "Go Ahead.....Call Me Bent & Tangled"

Its not a very springlike scene, but the photo was taken on April 2, 2008, a few miles from my home.
Thanks, Kacey, for your fun contest!!

Collecting Rocks & Links

Here is the pretty rock I found in one of our fields several years ago. I didn't know what it was called, but it was very unique, with the striations and all, so I kept it displayed on a ledge in our entryway. (The rock is about 3 x 2-1/2" and 1" thick.) One day, the Schwan's truck driver was standing in the entryway, patiently (or impatiently, probably) waiting for me to decide what to buy. Suddenly, he pointed to the rock and said, "Where'd you get that Great Lakes agate?"

So that's when ignoramus-me found out what this rock is. "Lake Superior Agate" is another name for it. Evidently, a slowly-roving glacier delivered it to our field ages ago.

Another time, one of my daughter's friends was here and saw it and said, "Wow.....where'd you get the nice Great Lakes Agate?" He's a rock collector, I then found out.



Below is the 5-pound jasper rock that was shown next to Ollie's face in a photo in yesterday's post. After pulling it out of the creekbed, I excitedly took the rock to the barn to show Husband. He examined it and said, " looks like a liver." Hm-m, a somewhat deflating description of my treasure. He's correct, though, it looks like a piece of raw meat, especially when moistened, as it is in this photo. (Spouses are good for being honest and keeping us well-grounded, that's for sure.......and it works both ways.......husband keeps wife grounded; wife keeps husband grounded.......for good balance!)



Am I fascinated by red rocks? Maybe. The two largest ones are about 2 x 2" and 1-1/2" thick. They're so bright and colorful...... I can't resist picking them up!!


Hey, I did a little bit of blog exploring yesterday morning......groping here and there in blogworld. Gracious Acres blog has some unique views of the Capitol building in Des Moines in her latest post. Added to my bloglist are blogs from Illinois and Arkansas, and a couple more from Newfoundland........I can't get enough of those lovely seascapes. There's also a scenic blog from France......the posts are in French, so, of course, I can't understand them, but beautiful photos are included, which are easily interpreted!! They're a form of common language, it seems.

If anyone knows of other scenery blogs from other countries......clue me in with a link to add to my collection. And, the Iowa blogs list is fairly short, and could use some additions......especially, I'm looking for rural Iowa bloggers. One thing I enjoy in a photo blog is when the pictures show the author's own vicinity or state. There are sights/sites of interest and beauty everywhere........especially, even close to one's own home.....wherever that home may be.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

R-O-C-K in the U.S.A.

Boy, oh, boy, I had some fun on Sunday afternoon......attending the Blackhawk Gem & Mineral Society's annual show in Waterloo......for the first time in my life. The habit of focusing on rocks was forced on me from early childhood onward due to the fact that every spring we had to spend many hours out in the farm fields picking up rocks before the crops were planted, or after they were planted, before the corn or soybeans got too tall. Just us peeps and our waterjugs and snacks and a tractor pulling a flatbed wooden trailer, which would end up heaped with rocks by the end of the day.

With picking up rocks, you decide its either a miserable activity or something possibly interesting and intriguing. Choosing the latter option makes the job almost fun. One factor for me was the possibility of finding an arrowhead. Everytime we picked up rocks, I desperately hoped to find one. It never happened.......but, I was always hopeful; and to this day, I still dream of discovering such an artifact.

On Sunday, I picked out an assortment of colorful polished stones to buy at the show: In the photo below, starting with the orange one and going clockwise: Carnelian from Botswana; Malachite from Zaire; Rhodonite from Madagascar; Blue Lace from Namibia; Fluorite from China; and in the center, Hematite from Brazil. They are sitting on a polished slice of Jasper.

Upon arriving at the show, I attended a presentation given by a guy who is digging out fossils at a quarry near Independence, Iowa. Recently, the quarry employees discovered a stratum of rock which contains numerous big spiral, curly mollusk fossils, from the Devonian Period, he said. Supposedly, the land area which is now Iowa was once covered with ocean and was situated down around the equator......before the continental drift took place. These sea creatures were from that era. It was fascinating to see the fossils!

After that, I went downstairs to the big room where the displays were........many varying collections, a rock-tumbling and polishing demo, a guy picking fish fossils out of rock slabs from a quarry in Montana, a guy making arrowheads, etc., etc.

While at the show, I ran into only two people that I know.......and oddly enough, they share a common connection to my life situation. Right when I stepped into the display room, I saw a lady who used to live RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD AND TO THE LEFT of the farm I grew up on. During my junior high and high school years, I babysat many times at her home, for her son and daughter......the daughter being also there at the rock show with her several children. I haven't seen any of these folks in years! I used to love being at their house......they didn't believe in having a TV, so I was able to easily read and do homework there after the kids went to TV to tempt or distract me!

Now back to the present and the rock show......later, while watching the guy using the little picking instrument on the fish fossils, I suddenly realized I was standing next to my neighbor lady who lives RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD AND TO THE LEFT of the farm I live on now!!! She's a year older than me and has two children in their twenties.......and an eight-year-old caboose son!! She told me she belongs to the Gem & Mineral Society, and she and her young son go on digs in quarries. As we spoke, her son was absorbed in watching the fish fossils being picked at. Incidently, my daughter babysat for him all last summer!

Well, much for that silly little coincidence of the day! (Only one other lady fits the description of having lived RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD AND TO THE LEFT of one of my homes........oddly enough, she wasn't in attendance at the rock show!)

The photo below shows a creek waterway on our farm that was excavated last fall to allow more water to flow through it. I've been spending time down there this spring, when possible, searching for interesting rocks in the dirt piles.......before the grass and weeds take over!

Red rocks seem to be plentiful in this area. This one below looked like a ball of hardened playdough ( I don't know if its red ochre, the red rock that Native Americans would crush to use for dyes and war paint and ceremonies. If I'd have been a Native American woman......they could have given me the task of searching for red ochre.......I'd be happy and content doing that.)

Like I said, I'm always hoping to find an arrowhead. This rock below is obviously not one, but its an odd shape for a rock to naturally occur in. My stepdad and my son's fiancee's father think it is a tool.......a sharpening stone. A section of it is broken off and the inside surface is hard, gray sandstone, just like a whetstone.


My favorite find of the spring so far is the red, whitish, and caramel-colored rock shown below. Ollie's close-up kitty face distorts the perspective of how large the stone really is. It weighs five pounds. After being at the rock show Sunday, I now know that this is a hunk of Jasper. Very lovely and colorful, especially when moistened with water. That's how I found it, actually........the morning sunlight was catching a little end of it glistening bright red in the creekbed. I had to wade in to retrieve it, filling my boots with water! So this little piggy went squish, squish, squish......all the way home!

In the next post, I'll show you a Great Lakes Agate I found a few years ago out in the cornfield. Oh, yes, and almost forgot to mention........the first "career" I recall wanting to pursue (back in third grade) was archeology. Yes, I would tell my parents I wanted to be an archeologist, to which I'm sure they just rolled their eyes. But, hey, you know what...... even though its at the lowest amateur level possible, I AM declaring myself the chief resident archeologist/geologist here on our farm. You're greatly impressed, aren't you!!?? Maybe you'll be even more so once I make myself a badge out of cardboard and aluminum foil!!!

Are there any rock nuts out there amongst those of you reading this blogpost? Or are you at least a fan of John Mellencamp's song?? Or can you tell me who sang this line in a song (my memory fails me at this moment): "I've been a miner for a heart of gold..........and I'm gettin' old......."?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Old Bridge Survives Again

Once again it has survived a flood.......this old cement, one-lane bridge in Dunkerton, Iowa. So familiar is the unique bridge, I hardly notice it. Back in the early 1900's-----so I was told long ago by my grandma-----it was a pretty fancy way to reach the once-bustling Main Street. In this photo, taken yesterday, Crane Creek is still running very high. The photo was taken from the much newer Hwy. 281 bridge. In the bad flood of 1968, when I was ten years old, we stood near this more modern bridge, as it hummed and vibrated from water surging along underneath.......we wondered if it and the old bridge were about to be washed downstream. That year, in late July, our area received FIFTEEN inches of rain in a 24-hour period, resulting in massive flooding. As I remember, practically all the bridges in our area were washed out that time; you couldn't get anywhere!! The old bridge in the photo obviously survived the flood of 1968, and all floods previous and subsequent! It must be well-built!  (Info about the bridge.)

Near the left end of the bridge was a blacksmith shop when I was a kid. An old guy named Joe was the owner/operator. When Dad went there with parts that needed repaired by welding, my sister and I would go along. We weren't supposed to watch the welding process for the sake of our eyes, so we'd skip over to the general store next door to get a treat of bubble gum or a candy bar.

From the blacksmith shop, if you go across the old bridge, you'll find yourself in the city park. Swings, slides, teeter-totters, merry-go-round, and monkey bars----they kept us occupied there, along with a wheel of bars hanging from chains that we'd reach up and grasp onto and run as fast as we could, allowing centrifugal force to then swing us round and round with our feet way off the ground. Great flying fun! It was my favorite! That was the only place I ever saw that particular type of plaything......I have no idea what it was called, and I doubt its there anymore. It would surely be too dangerous in some way.

On our school playground, too, there were merry-go-rounds, swings, slides, monkey bars. Two-Square and Four-Square lines on the asphalt, too, in order to play those games with a bouncing ball. And tether-ball poles........we had several of those. My kids have no idea what tether-ball must have lost popularity in the years between my schooldays and theirs. Probably too dangerous......the ball would hit kids in the head sometimes. Knock some sense into us, maybe!!

What was your playground favorite?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Trinity Window Non-Est?

This is another stained-glass window from my church, and like the

Luther Seal Window, it is situated way in the back of the balcony, where it is rarely seen by churchgoers.

It looks like a Trinity symbol......Father/Pater, Son/Filius, Holy Spirit/Spiritus Sanctus. In the middle is "Deus", meaning "God", I presume. But, what about the three "NON-EST" words? In the dictionary, the definition for this Latin phrase is, "it is not; not there; absent". So I'm assuming this means "Father is not, Son is not, Holy Spirit is not"..........not God alone?? Father alone is not God, Son alone is not God, Holy Spirit alone is not God??? Meaning, of course, that God is Three in One. Maybe someone with theology knowledge can comment on whether this is correct, or tell us what it really means.

Perhaps this window was hidden away up there in the rear of the balcony so no one would see it and ask for its explanation! (Just kidding.)

Anyway, its something to ponder on this Sixth Sunday of Easter. I think today is Holy Pascha (Easter) in the Orthodox Church; I wonder why East and West celebrates Easter on different days??

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Flooded Road Update

This afternoon a case of curiosity came over me; I drove two miles to see how
Elk Run Road was coming along. It looks much better, as you can see. Somebody's coming on a 4-wheeler, though; someone else checking out the flooding situation.
And there he away.......maybe he's camera-shy.

Charade Quiz Answers this exciting or what??!! Here are the anwers to the Charade Quiz (trivia questions about the movie entitled Charade), posted one week ago today. My, how time flies!! [If you've never watched the movie and plan it first before you read these answers, keep the movie exciting for you.]







1. What year was Charade released?



2. The leading man in Charade is played by Cary Grant. Name the three aliases he uses in the movie.

Peter Joshua

Alexander Dyle

Adam Canfield


3. The theme song of the movie is also entitled "Charade". The lyrics were written by __________ and the music by ___________.

Lyrics: Johnny Mercer

Music: Henri Mancini


4. The leading lady is played by Audrey Hepburn. What is her name in the movie?

Regina Lambert


5. Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant's characters meet at a ski resort. He tells her that her nephew, Jean Louie, is throwing snowballs at whom?

Baron Rothschild


6. What is Jean Louie's mother's first name in the movie?



7. Audrey Hepburn's husband in the film (his name being Charles) was thrown from a train which was traveling from ___________ to ___________.

Paris to Bordeaux


8. There were ten items in Charles' travel bag. Name five of them.

Key to apartment

Agenda Book

Letter to Regina


Fountain Pen

Tin of Tooth Powder


Ticket to South America




9. How many passports did Charles have?



10. There were four bad guys. Their names were Herman Scobee, Tex Panthollow, Carson Dyle, and Leopold W. Gideon. Name the actors who played each.

Herman Scobee: George Kennedy

Tex Panthollow: James Coburn

Carson Dyle: Walter Matthau

Leopold W. Gideon: Ned Glass


11. What were the bad guys trying to figure out at the funeral visitation?

If the deceased, Charles Lambert, was faking his death.


12. What humorous game did Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant get involved in at a Paris nightclub?

Passing an orange from underneath chin of one person to another......using no hands.


13. Which bad guy warned Audrey Hepburn that "any morning you could wake up dead"?

Leopold W. Gideon (Ned Glass)


14. Cary Grant and one of the bad guys had a fight on top of a building. What building was it? And which bad guy was it?

The American Express Building

Herman Scobee (George Kennedy)


15. A stash of cash is what everyone is after. What is the amount?



16. Audrey Hepburn's character is employed at E.U.R.E.S.C.O. as a simultaneous translator........translating _________ into ___________.

French into English


17. Which trap-door lever does Cary Grant pull in the theatre?



18. Cary Grant's character actually is employed by what branch of the U.S. government?

Department of the Treasury


19. What is the real Hamilton Bartholomew's occupation in the movie?

Head of maintenance at the Embassy


20. Finally, in the end, after so many twists and turns, and charades.......what is Cary Grant's character's real name?

Brian Crookshank


U Got A Think Tank?

Do you? Do you have a "think tank"? Even if you're not an important government agency, or a university research team, or such as what usually utilizes a "think tank", I think its possible to have one. Because I DO have one..........right here on our farm, in our barn, in our milkhouse, to be exact:
While milking machines are whisking through their twice-daily sanitation ritual, I lean on this tank which holds and cools milk (the "bulk tank", as we call it), and what I do then is THINK. What else is there to do?

This morning I thought about several things: 1. That I need to post the answers to the Charade Quiz questions. 2. That I would like to do a post on bi-polar depression. 3. That happening to watch Bill Moyers Journal last evening on PBS was a good thing, for I received (hopefully) an accurate view of Barack Obama's much-maligned pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Rev. Wright is OK, folks. Don't be overly-influenced by brief sound-bytes on the evening news or wherever. Rev. Wright is about spreading the Gospel of Christ, and about encouraging people to throw off their preconceived notions, such as that the only proper Christian worship style is the white European one. Or that African culture isn't as valid as English, German, Jewish, Chinese, Hispanic, etc., etc. Or that only white people become doctors, lawyers, etc. Or that it was OK to drive the Native Americans from their homelands.

Unless Bill Moyers and Rev. Wright were deliberately misleading viewers with false information, Rev. Wright is OK in my opinion. He has empowered his church's black, Hispanic, and white community in south Chicago with confidence, pride, and hope. He preaches against gang violence, abortion, and the idea that any certain government or culture holds privileged status in God's eyes.......which is the point he was trying to make when in one of his sermons he said we should not sing "God Bless America", but "God damn America".......IF our government and people do not uphold God's laws.

So remember that if you keep hearing in the media or other circles that Rev. Jeremiah Wright advocates the idea of "God damn America".

God bless your Saturday!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Water Over Roads

This afternoon my son and I drove around to see the flooding sites and sights in our area. Little Crane Creek has mushroomed to become a wide rushing river, overtaking roads, fields, bridges.......anything in its path.


The photo below is taken looking straight north along what is normally Elk Run Road. All of the water you see does not belong there!

I honestly have never seen such a huge accumulation of water in this area! It is all headed to the little town of Dunkerton (look out!), and onward from there to the Wapsipinicon River.

Widowed Robin

The good news is the nest and eggs are still there, in their seemingly precarious location on the shoulder of our gravel road.

The very sad news is that one of the robin parents is lying drowned in the ditch water below the nest. Oh, my.......I didn't expect that.





As I walked on past the nest site, 100 yards or so, I noticed another robin suddenly fly up from the road's shoulder to sit on the fence. Examining the area she flew up from, I found ANOTHER nest.......shown below. Again, right there in the grass on the shoulder of the road!! This nest has three eggs as you can see.

Considering the large volume of rain we received last night, and seeing these two robins' nests built right on the ground, it seems apparent that these birds knew the storm was coming. So how could they possibly know such a thing? Some will simply say, "Oh, God tells them." Well, I believe God created all creatures and endowed them with senses and abilities so they can survive and thrive, but He doesn't actually "speak" to birds or to us. Not in His own voice, anyway. Information moves in other ways.

From seeing the ground-level location of these two nests, we humans can "read" the information that bad weather is coming. So, my question is, what do the robins "read" to get their information? Husband thinks the atmospheric air pressure has something to do with it. Something triggered the instinct in those robins to build their nest down low. Last year, early in the summer, we had a couple windstorms, and afterwards I found a dozen or more nests that had blown out of the trees. Obviously, those birds didn't foresee the windstorms. Does a heavy rain announce itself ahead of time to birds somehow??

Remember when that bad tsunami hit in the Indian Ocean a few years ago? Weren't there reports of animals moving inland weeks before the disaster hit? And some primitive tribes of people seemed to have advance awareness of the tsunami, too. That's just so very interesting.





I'm sad about the robin mother drowning........I presume it was the mother, anyway. I think this is the father in the photo below. He was hanging around the nest. Will he know enough to take care of the eggs? I don't know how that works with male they sit on eggs or not? Do any of you know?

Five Inches Rain

In the previous post, I mentioned a thunderstorm moved in last evening. Well, it rained all night........five inches! The photo below shows the "creek" waterway on our farm, being filled with water rushing down from the fields.

Our farm "takes water" from many surrounding farms. Husband had our "creek" waterway excavated last fall, but last night's rain was too much even for the deeper creek bed. When Husband's grandfather purchased this farm back in the mid-1950's, it was considered one of the worst farms in the county, due to its situation of being so wet and having sandy soil. Many, many strings of tile put in over the years have helped resolve the drainage problem. Except, of course, when it rains this much in a short period of time!




I walked down the road to take a gander at the real creek our "creek" waterway dumps into. Its like a lake today!

Below shows a pair of some type of sandpiper, I think. At least someone enjoys the extra water in the fields!



I was anxious to check out the robin's nest on the shoulder of the road, to see if it survived last night's deluge. I'll report the findings in the next post. There's good news and bad news.......prepare yourselves......

P.S. - School was dismissed at 10:30 this morning because the Wapsipinicon River is rising, threatening to overtake some roads near the school. Do you think my son was disappointed.......NOT!

Shopping Day Thoughts

Save it for a rainy day, they say........and sometimes I save certain types of shopping for rainy days, such as browsing for a mother-of-the-groom dress, which I decided to do yesterday. As you can see, the morning was dreary and wet, and remained so until mid-afternoon.
The photo below was taken from the Kohl's parking lot in Cedar Falls; the strange mound in the distance is the UNI-Dome, the sports and multi-purpose arena on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, where my daughter is a student. The campanile is in front of the Dome, flanked by the old college buildings.
The road to our farm is rather a mess right now, as are many roads in the area. The frost continues to boil up out of the ground, creating muddy ruts and potholes.
Despite all the mud and rainy gloom, around sunset the sky briefly displayed an array of lovely clouds. And I do mean it was brief.......shortly after this photo was taken, another thunderstorm moved in. West of us a few counties, there were tornado warnings issued.
I browsed in Dillard's and VonMaur yesterday, to see what the dressy occasion styles are looking like right now. Shopping for dresses is not high on my list of favorite things to do......I'm a separates person. Actually, my favorite type of clothes-shopping is when I serendipitously find items on the clearance particular, the clearance racks at a store such as Norby's Farm go into a farm store with the intention of buying nuts and bolts or tractor oil and grease for Husband, and come out also with an item of clothing for that's the highlight of apparel-shopping for me!! Sometimes, they have really nice clothes at Farm Fleet........its really random, though; its like they get in a supply of some other store's cast-offs. Who knows.

Anyway, like I said, browsing was all I did today as far as the mother-of-the-groom dress is concerned. The wedding isn't until August, so there's plenty of time left to shop. I did buy a few items at Kohl's-----and do any of you shop at Kohl's? And does your Kohl's constantly have rack upon rack of clearance clothes, all through the year? This one in Cedar Falls sure does. I just shake my head every time I go into that store; although, admittedly, searching through the sale racks is fun! Today there were several rows of 80% and 90% off, bringing prices down to near garage-sale levels. Fun, fun!


Have an enjoyable day!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Update On Bird Nest

Ok, I have an update on that bird nest built in the grass on the shoulder of our road. I wasn't entirely certain what kind of bird it belonged to. But, I found out yesterday morning and here is the proof.......the unsafely situated nest was constructed by a robin, as you can see in the photo below:

Right after I snapped that first photo, the robin flew away, giving me a chance to tiptoe over and peek into the nest. By golly, there's an egg in there! Oh, it will be fun to keep an eye on this interesting situation......although, I'm truly having qualms about the safety of the nesting spot. I don't like it at all; but, hopefully, the robins are wiser than I give them credit for.

This nest is right out in the open, on the ground, where predators can easily get at it, and has no protection from rain and wind. Why would a robin couple choose such an unusual place for their nest? Very perplexing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Paul Davis' Passing

"I sometimes wonder why

All the flowers have to die......"

(first line of "Cool Night" by Paul Davis)
Go to the Playlist at the bottom of this blog and click on "Cool Night" to hear Paul Davis' voice, singing on.


This morning in the barn, I walked past the radio just in time to hear the news that Paul Davis died yesterday of a heart attack at age 60. Hopefully, some of you reading this remember Paul Davis, the singer/songwriter. He was one of my faves back in the late '70's and early 80's; I'd instinctively crank up the volume on the car radio when one of his songs was playing.........."I Go Crazy"(1978), "Cool Night"(1981), " '65 Love Affair"(1981).

To my listening ear, Paul Davis had an entirely pleasant-sounding singing voice, gentle and peaceful. I never saw or heard him in person, but I would imagine he was soft-spoken........I could be wrong, of course.

I have the vinyl LP, "Cool Night", which I just now dug out of the closet; the above photo of Paul Davis is from the back of the slipcover. This singer wrote his own songs........something always impressive to me. At the bottom of the credits printed on the album's slipcover it says, "Love to Pam, My friends, and Family.......This one's for Jonathan."

Paul Lavon Davis was born April 21, 1948, and died yesterday in Meridian, Mississippi, the day after his 60th birthday! (My son's birthday is also April 21.) The Wikipedia entry for him states he started out in a local band (in Mississippi, I'm assuming), called "Six Soul Survivors". His 1978 hit, "I Go Crazy" spent 40 weeks in the Top 100, setting a record at the time. In 1988, he was part of a trio song, "I Won't Take Less Than Your Love", with Paul Overstreet and Tanya Tucker, which I vaguely remember.

Anyway........I have always enjoyed Paul Davis' songs, and am sad to hear of his passing. My sympathies to his family and friends.

Bossy Up Close

Believe me, I tried to tell Miss Bossy Anne here that you blog readers really aren't interested in getting an up close glimpse of her elongated face and unattractive gigantic nostrils, but she just wouldn't listen. Please accept my apology for Bossy Anne's behavior.
Seriously, Bossy Anne did confide to me that she's concerned about her whiskers and wonders if there's any bovine facial hair-removal products on the market these days. She really doesn't want to start shaving. I told her I could check around, even online. Bossy Anne says its quite difficult to retain the youthful feminine appearance of her former heifer days. Once you've been designated "a cow", Bossy Anne says, "its all downhill".........whiskery muzzle, sagging udder, stiff joints, sore hooves, tooth loss.......the whole shebang.

I tried to offer a few words of understanding, assuring Bossy Anne that even we aging human women experience discomforts somewhat similar to those she mentioned. She must not have believed me, for she simply turned on her hooves, and stalked away to join the cowyard clique, her nose turned high in the air.

Goodness, what a frustration sometimes, trying to comprehend the female bovine mind (and body). I hope you don't encounter anyone like Bossy Anne today!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clouds Take Over Again

Yesterday was sunny, finding me taking full advantage of that fact by spending as much time outdoors as possible. In the morning after chores I went rock-hunting in the field for awhile. After lunch, picking up sticks in the yard occupied my time. We have those tall, towering soft maple trees which drop scads of sticks on a regular basis. We had those on the farm I grew up on, too........I wonder how many hundreds of times I heard my mother say to us kids, "Get outdoors and pick up sticks!!"

By 4 p.m. yesterday a bank of dark gray clouds was crawling upwards from the western horizon. Soon the sun was swallowed up by the encroaching leaden mass, as you can see in the photo below......the sun sending out its last gasping rays before disappearing.
Making an about face and looking east, this was the sight........the leading finger of the invading army of gloomy clouds projects itself across the late afternoon sky:

The clouds brought thunderstorms and heavy rains throughout today's early morning hours. The first booming burst of thunder awakened me at around 4 a.m. At 5:30, it was raining cats and dogs.......very heavy. We don't have our rain gauge tube set out yet, but I'm guessing we received an inch or more.
This is discouraging weather for the crop farmers, who have their tillage implements and planters readied for action; there they sit, still and silent, in the sheds, watching the rain come down.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Daffy Down Dilly

Remember this nursery rhyme?


"Daffy-down-dilly has come up to town

In a yellow petticoat and a green gown"

************* she is! Only her petticoat is glowing neon yellow!







I just stumbled onto a blog post I really liked on a blog I've never heard of before (my Google Reader page linked me to it). The name of the blog is "Et tu?", and the title of the post is "Art: The Secret Handshake of the Soul". Check it out.

Elbe River Tour Continued

Here's a few more photos of photos from Germany and the Czech Republic. Top left photo below shows the cruise boat on the Elbe River, on which my mom and stepdad were passengers. The other photos are of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, also known as the "Saxon Switzerland Region". It is also called the "Bastei" region. The travelers brought me two pebbles as from this area, and one from the street in Wittenberg that connects Luther Haus and Schlosskirche.

This Elbe Sandstone Mountain area in Germany reminds me of parts of the Black Hills in South Dakota.
Below are some glimpses from Prague. Don't those old Jewish cemetery scenes look strange!? There were other photo pages of Prague showing extremely ornate church interiors. My stepdad said they were given one full day on their own in walk around wherever they pleased.



As I mentioned in the previous post, this excursion was with the Viking Riverboat Tours Co. My mom and stepdad have also taken cruises on the Volga River between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and in The Netherlands at tulip blossom time. They are trying to decide where to go next! Must be rough, huh?? I think they should go to Norway and cruise through the fjords, or to Ireland. My mom wants to tour the Ukraine next, though. She really likes Russia.

In "Vittenberg"

Yeah, I realize this quite pathetic........taking photos of someone else's photo album. My mom and stepdad returned a few days ago from a riverboat cruise on the Elbe River in Germany and the Czech Republic.

One of the cities they spent time in was Wittenberg, in northern Germany.......famous for its connection to the life and times of Martin Luther. Hence, this post's photos will show a few "Sehenswurdigkeiten von Wittenberg"/main sights of Wittenberg.

The top left photo below shows the "Schlosskirche"/Castle Church, on whose door Martin Luther nailed the "95 Theses" on October 31, 1517. Yesterday afternoon, I read the "95 Theses"........they are a list of concerns, dealing mainly with the medieval Catholic Church's practice of selling indulgences. As I see it, over time the Church had become intoxicated by its power and authority over people. (Imagine that.) The institution of the Church became unable to see clearly and operated in a presumptuous manner, thinking it was God, with the right to dictate rules to dominate the masses of everyday people, and feed its greed for money. I highly doubt that that was Jesus' intentions for how the church should operate. The Church was drunk, and like a drunkard, was doing stupid things. Martin Luther's original intent was to reform the Church......not establish a new branch of the Church. Things got out of hand, probably because things needed to get out of hand........the status quo needed to be shaken up. Whoops......we need to get back to the photo.......
The lower left photo in the above photo shows the doors of the Castle Church on which Luther nailed the 95 Theses. The wooden doors of Luther's time were burned in the 1700's, and the ones there today are made of bronze. The two scenes on the right, above, are inside the Castle Church.

Below are pictures of Luther Haus/Luther House. On the Wittenberg city map my mom and stepdad gave us, Melanchthon Haus is next door. Luther Eiche/Luther Oak is down the street.


Below is Luther's gravestone.........inside the Castle Church, I assume.

And last, but not least, here below is a statue of Katharina von Bora Luther, wife of Martin Luther. Her stance shows a determined posture of motion and moving forward. Good for her. Her face looks firm and well-preserved.......botox, possibly??
Sorry......I'm kidding, of course. I believe my stepdad said Katharina is buried next to her husband in the Castle Church.

I hope to post a few more tour scenes in the next post. My mom and stepdad were on a Viking Riverboat Cruise on the Elbe River. Other cities they toured included Berlin, Dresden, and Prague.

Grass, Ladybugs, Dalai Lama

I know, this photo looks like an autumn scene, with the stand of brown grass waving in the breeze, but it was taken just yesterday morning, along "63" north of Denver, Iowa. The fields in the background lie patiently waiting for spring fieldwork to begin. Coming off several days of rain, a week's worth of moisture-free weather is now needed to allow fields to dry out. Farmers are getting impatient!


Up in the balcony during church yesterday morning, I was joined by numerous ladybugs. The Luther's Seal window was crawling with them! As we sang "The Church's One Foundation", a ladybug traveled back and forth across my hymnal page. I didn't was quite entertaining to see which hymn phrases he or she seemed interested in!


During the sermon, the busy little beetle bustled around on my shoe, and onto the black tights on my ankle. I couldn't feel his presence there at all.......isn't that funny. He's an intricate entity all to himself, with his relatively tiny body......yet he certainly has organs and internal systems sustaining his life, just as we humans do. Still, I could feel him not at all!


When I headed downstairs for Communion, the ladybug was still on my shoe; that's the last I saw of him. Maybe he had to jump off due to theological differences.


Speaking of religion........I know the Pope is visiting the U.S. right now.........and the Dalai Lama did so, also, a few weeks ago. This will probably prove I'm not a very good Christian........but if given the chance to meet one of those two men, I probably would choose the Dalai Lama. It shouldn't matter; I'm not Catholic in the first place. What I am is rather intrigued by the fact that the Dalai Lama was chosen at age 2 to fill the religious position he's in. I'd like to ask him how he felt about that when he was a kid.


Do you ever think about this?........What if Europe and The Eastern Orient had been flipped in location, meaning the Roman Empire and the Roman Church moved north and conquered and converted the Oriental peoples? The Church would have mixed with Buddhism instead of with the native European religions. And the religion of the Eastern peoples.....the Celts, etc., would be known as "Eastern Religion". Just some thoughts to mix things up a bit.........give the kaleidescope a twist.
My second child was born on this day 24 years ago! We celebrated yesterday afternoon with cake and ice cream and loved ones. My mom and step-dad are home from their Elbe River cruise and brought photos along. Fun!! Twenty-four years ago, today was the day before Easter, and on Easter it snowed. I remember looking out of the window of my hospital room as I held my newborn son, watching the snowflakes gently falling from the sky, my heart bursting with joy!
Have a happy Monday!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Werner Sallman Signature

This photo shows the familiar "Head of Christ" painting by Werner Sallman (1892-1968). I snapped this in the chapel room at Mission Central on Thursday.

On our way home from Mission Central, our bus tour group was treated to supper at a Lutheran Church along our homeward route. In the parish hall where we ate hung "Head of Christ" in a large frame, and we filed by it on our way to pick up our plates of food. It had the usual printing of the artist's name in the lower right corner, showing, too, that it had been copyrighted in 1941.

In addition, on the left side was the artist's own signature, "Werner Sallman", and the year "1964". There were also three Bible passages listed in the artist's handwriting. Here they are (RSV):

John 14:1-6
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me....."
Philippians 2: 8-11
And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
II Corinthians 4:6
For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
I found it rather significant, to see these verses referred to by the artist himself. The II Corinthians reference, especially, seems to point to what inspired Werner Sallman to paint this glowing face of Christ........"the light of the knowledge of the glory of God........".
I'm not trying to preach........I just thought this might be an appropriate subject for a Sunday blog post.
P.S. ------ Here is an interesting little article about how the artistic depictions of Christ have evolved over the centuries.
Have a peaceful, relaxing day!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Unusual Nesting Spot

While walking just a couple hours ago, I saw something unusual. At least, I know I've never seen anything quite like it before. A robin's nest built right in the grass on the ground. At least, it surely looks like a robin's nest to me. Red-wings usually build more flimsy nests in the small trees and brush in the ditches and fencerows.
Yes, its a brand-new nest........on the shoulder of our gravel can see the road in the upper part of the above photo. The nest is very well-anchored into the thatch surrounding it.
This location would seem to be completely unsafe for a bird's nest. Why, look, there's Buster sitting just a couple feet away! If there were eggs in the nest.......they would quickly become Buster's afternoon snack.
I read once that when birds build their nests LOW IN TREES, its because they know that stormy weather with alot of wind is coming. It would seem to possibly be an ominous "portent" (Dr. Dictionary Word for today.......can you believe that??!!) that this bird built its nest all the way DOWN on the ground!! I honestly have never seen anything like this before in all my years of gawking around at things in nature. Maybe some of the rest of you have.