Thursday, April 30, 2009

SkyWatch #42

This meadowlark welcomes you to our farm in northeast Iowa, USA!
The trees are becoming more green by the hour, it seems!

Blue, green, black, brown......the colors of spring on the farm:

We had several inches of rain on Sunday, causing the drainage ditch to run like a river!
Thank you for stopping by! Please visit
to find the many other SkyWatch links for this week.

Acedia & A Belgian Video

Lately, I've been reading books by Kathleen Norris.....first The Cloister Walk and now Dakota. I feel at home in these books and find the author's insights to be refreshing and original. Right now I'm searching for Norris' book, Acedia and Me, and am about to call the library to see if its available through the interlibrary loan system. Acedia is an ancient word---rarely used nowadays---roughly meaning, "spiritual listlessness/apathy". A bi-polar blogger has written a four-part review of the can be found here, here, here and here. I'm sorry.....the subject interests me, that's all.

A Google search of "kathleen norris acedia" led me to another excellent post by a writer/blogger who heard Kathleen Norris speak at a workshop. Go here to read the post. There's a humorous description of midlife hidden in the post; watch for it! Also intriguing is "The Commonplace Book" idea. I have lots of similar notebooks filed away in desk drawers, but have never heard the term, "commonplace", before. If you have time, read the comments to the post; the one from "Jane" is right on target for me; I need to start "demolishing" piles of clutter in my own living quarters!

A more recent post on the above blog featured this video filmed in the train station in Antwerp, Belgium:

(Perhaps reader Regis was there!)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fred & Bessie Stay Informed

Fred and Bessie seem very happy to be back together again. Currently, they are riveted by news reports of the "Swine Flu", relieved the nasty bug is not called “Bovine Flu” and doesn't appear to infect cows.

swine flu Fred and Bessie are not surprised to learn that pork producers wish the news media would refer to the "Swine Flu" by a more accurate name---such as “Hybrid Flu”---seeing as the bug contains bird, human, and swine flu viruses. Last evening I was visiting with a farmer friend at a track meet and he told me that hog prices are falling because people think they can get the flu from eating pork. NOT TRUE! And, here is an interesting BBC article containing reports from people who are currently in Mexico.

I interrupted Fred and Bessie's session at the computer screen to inform them of what I had learned from listening to the NPR program, "On Point", yesterday morning in the barn. Influenza experts were fielding questions from around the world. I learned that the influenza virus originally developed long ago in the intestines of water birds. Over time, the bug passed to land birds like chickens and turkeys, which later became domesticated, with humans and swine eventually becoming susceptible to the flu virus. The current flu bug is a new combination---never before seen and for which no one has complete immunity---a mix of a bird virus, a human virus, a North American swine virus and a European swine virus. Some people MAY have partial immunities, however, from previous flu shots.

Sunshine is effective in killing flu viruses, the experts pointed out. Maybe we should pray for the sun to shine mightily in the weeks ahead to help eradicate the new bug. The experts said the flu will diminish during the summer---as flu usually does---but that this "Hybrid Flu" will most certainly return to action during next fall and winter's flu season. Hopefully, a vaccine will have been developed by then.

The major factor in the development and spread of this new flu virus is, of course, the mixing of people in public places and the crisscrossing of travelers around the globe. Lucky for me, my usual routine involves staying home most of the time, though I must remember to be more faithful about handwashing, especially during and after shopping and such.


Well, I’ll be swizzled! Talk about a drastic change of subject! Fred and Bessie found an absorbing MSNBC article called, "The 10 Best Places to Kiss", about a subject near and dear to them.....smooching! Oh, why didn't I log off the MSNBC page sooner. Can you believe someone went to the trouble to write such an article (and--duh--then I go and blog about it) and got paid!!......not to mention how much at odds the kissing subject is with "social distancing", the proposed strategy for avoiding the flu.

ten places

If you must know, here are the ten amazingly original suggestions from the kissing article:

Readers are urged to try smooching.....On a roller coaster; On your desk; At a museum; In the middle of a crowded street; In a dressing room; On a pile of coats; Upside down; In the back seat; In a downpour; In bed, while one of you is asleep.

I 'spect you'll run right out and try some of these......Fred and Bessie told me they want to try "on a roller coaster". Too bad the amusement parks aren't open yet. Their next host will have to make arrangements for fulfilling that kissing fantasy!


Have a great day! STAY WELL!!



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Questionable Award


Thanks, Kat. Thanks so very much. Just what I’ve been dying to blog about. Ahem. Kat challenged me to “get my sexy on”. Ok, sure, here goes……

Its amazing I can even bring myself to type out the word “sexy” here on my keyboard, because saying it out loud is…..well…..rather difficult. That would be due mostly to my proper Baptist upbringing, not to mention that I simply would never think of using the word "sexy" to describe myself. Many women probably have similar feelings about themselves. “Unsexy” would be much more like it, though a guy once told me I had “nice” ankles and a regal face……maybe that qualifies as slightly “sexy”…..probably not the regal face, however; “regal” misses the sexy mark, I’d say.

It seems that farmwife and “sexy” do not mix very well in the first place…..they’re like oil and water. Usually, I’m dressed in clothing appropriate for the barn and outdoor chores, walking, loafing…..jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt, boots. If that’s sexy, I’ll eat my chore gloves! Make-up and I never managed to develop a workable relationship, either; at most I wear translucent face powder to counteract shiny skin. I tried eye make-up a few times in the past, but due to the habit of rubbing my eyes, I ended up with the living dead look from smeared mascara. Its just not worth it. Same with lipstick… looks messy and totally out-of-place on me. Ble-e-chh!

God bestowed an odd-shaped head on me, and wouldn’t you just think He could have been considerate enough to provide thick, full-bodied hair to disguise my goofy head, but, NO, my hair is baby-fine and wants to do nothing except lay boringly flat. I use thick mousse in hopes of persuading the stubborn hair to stand up and appear larger than life, but rarely to much avail. Maybe I should use Elmer's glue! Most Sundays I leave for church, doused in much hairspray and thinking my hair is somewhat erect, but when I return home afterwards and look in the mirror, the hair is forlornly deflated, and I think, “Egads… that how I looked to everyone?” And, don’t tell me to get a perm; I did that for years, and grew dreadfully tired of the frizzy look. Definitely unsexy! On the bright side: so far, my head possesses only a moderate amount of gray hair, and it remains easy to hide with home coloring kits.

Some people see sexiness in bare toes and feet…..not me, however. I am horrified at the no-hosiery trend which now grips the fashion world. I’ve been stockpiling a supply of my favorite nylons in case hosiery factories suddenly shut their doors for good. Do the fashion designers think all women have flawless calves and feet to display to the world? Good grief…..heredity and four pregnancies have left my legs and feet looking like road maps and I certainly can’t afford cosmetic surgery to remove the landmarks and etchings. In church, I see women MY AGE exposing bare feet in strappy sandals....ack….I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that. My toes and veiny foot-tops are given full-coverage. Sure, I wear sandals with casual outifts in the heat of summer, but certainly not with a skirt or good slacks.

Skimpy attire is not my thing, either. I honestly cannot recall the last time I wore my swimming suit. The kids are grown, meaning no more trips to the pool (thank goodness). Our neighbor woman is older than me and she wears a bikini top while mowing the lawn in the summertime. Yeah, my husband likes to shake his head and make choice comments about that. Maybe I should surprise him sometime and dress that way for lawn-mowing, too. Haha. No, I could never do that……the pastor would drive in for sure, that’s how my luck runs. Only once in my life….that’s right, ONLY ONCE....I walked out of my house with a tube-top on, and ended up having the most embarrassing experience of my entire life……on a quiet, normally-deserted country road, no less. The trauma rendered me unable to look a person in the eye for years and years and years, to my eventual regret, for I ignored someone I should have been paying attention to. Why I took it all so seriously is a profound mystery to me. The culture and my upbringing are major factors, plus my innate stupidity.

Let’s see…..what else its there to say on the subject? Hmm. Let's not even talk about my unsexy fat neck or the little grove of man-whiskers that poke out of my chin from time to time. Hmm. At night I wear flannel……in order to stay warm! Flannel’s not sexy, either, but it is cozy and comfortable. I can’t summon the the bravado to show cleavage…..many women and teenaged girls do, and if they don't overdo it, it looks OK on them, but I would feel sinfully guilty and like an immodest idiot doing such a thing. I worry people would think, "Well, what on earth is SHE trying to prove?!"

I’m looking around my house and don’t see anything that qualifies as sexy, either. Sheesh…..I can’t believe I’ve typed that word so many times in this post. Most likely, I’ve missed the whole point of the sexy blogger award, anyway. Kat’s post is much better…..go check it out!

If you are reading this and have a blog, consider yourself a recipient of this award. “Get your sexy on” or your "unsexy" on and blog about it. If I can do it, so can you!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Bessie at the Conference

Bessie returned safe and sound---although quite exhausted---from the women’s conference. She forgot herself at first and asked me to be her bellhop, but I refused. She can carry her own suitcase, for goodness sake!


Bessie searched through the suitcase and finally found these photos from the conference. They were stuffed underneath some other mementos…..her namecard and placemat from the closing banquet. I never understand why folks save stuff like that, except as free souvenirs.

Shown in this next photo are the speakers from the first session, “Empowering Your Better Self”, all about being better, thinking better, choosing better, eating better, etc., etc. Somehow the panel discussion veered off onto the subject of finding better men to get involved with. Jasmine advised the audience to NEVER take up with a lad in the mood to take a girl riding on a flying carpet; she said it can be an absolutely hair-raising experience……much too stressful! Dredging up those memories was so upsetting that Jasmine had to excuse herself from the panel.

barbies 2

The auburn-haired Maid Marian offered to speak next. In no uncertain terms she urged all women present to never date a guy who wears tights and is named after a bird. Marian was in dire need of coverings for her bare legs, but Robin would not even consider offering his green tights to her. Robin and Marian got into a terrible tiff and Robin FLEW AWAY, tights and all, never to be seen in the hood again!

Pink-attired Prudence of the Prom was all smiles, though she had let her hair down and allowed her date the liberty of removing her hairpins and tousling her tresses, something she admitted to regretting the next morning. She advised women to “Stand by your hairdo!”

Olympic Barbie’s speech was all about staying in better shape and finding a fellow who is fit and trim. Her motto is: “Don’t settle for less!” What she actually meant was: “Don’t settle for too much!” And, she does have experience to back up those words……she formerly dated an Olympic weightlifter who specialized in the “snatch” and the “clean and jerk”. She admitted he was neat and clean, but he became a jerk in her eyes after he utilized the “snatch” move one too many times. She couldn’t take it any longer, so she cartwheeled to freedom one day when he wasn’t looking.

Poor Princess Pocahontas, of course, fell for an older, foreign chap. She even ended up risking her life to save his, but afterwards doubted whether her efforts were appreciated by him at all. Bessie said there was not a dry eye left in the auditorium by the time Pocahontas finished telling her moving tale.

Mermaid Lady brought this session to a close. Bessie was quite taken with her, wondering how on earth a mermaid gets things accomplished in this out-of-water world of ours. I urged Bessie not to ponder too long over that. Evidently, Mermaid Lady does rue the day when she dared to emerge from the sea. She advised women that its better to stay within their natural habitat.

barbies 1

After that first long session, Bessie said they took a dinner break, grazing over the conference center’s delicious salad smorgasbord. Her favorite dish was the wilted lettuce with alfalfa sprouts and corn nuts. After eating, there was still an hour of time to kill, so Bessie and the other women took a peek inside the attached gambling casino. Thank goodness for the fact that Bessie had no extra cash with her and that she has holes on her back instead of a slot.

After the break, there was an extra special guest speaker……a lovely young woman named Belle. So said Bessie, anyway. Belle had a most interesting story to tell, the moral of which is: Don’t judge a man by his looks. Belle somehow got involved with a beastly-looking guy who turned out to be a very nice person. He simply had an off-putting appearance. Belle said, “Give those beastly guys a chance!” Bessie wasn’t sure what to make of that advice, but she listened, anyway.

belle These next two ladies are the famous story-singing duo, “Ariel and Esmeralda”. Their lovely voices blended perfectly, Bessie said. They sang about their experiences with certain men in their lives……Ariel had escaped from a tyrannical father and Esmeralda had fallen in love with a hunchback. Bessie was spellbound by the atypical love story of Esmeralda and Quasimodo. It has opened up a whole new world of thought for her……in fact, the entire conference seems to have had that effect on Bessie. I am so happy about that. I expect Fred and Bessie’s relationship will benefit immensely.

ariel and esmerelda

Lastly, Bessie said she listened for a few minutes to this young single mother discuss the challenges of trying to raise a child all alone. Its doubtful that Bessie would ever find herself in a similar situation, given the strong magnetic relationship she has with Fred. He would be unable to leave her.

barbie and baby

Whew……I’ll tell you what……I was about done in after listening to Bessie relay all this information about the conference. She was exhausted, too, and fell right to sleep next to Fred. Not a smooch to be seen. Thank goodness. Maybe Bessie has learned to set a high standard for herself rather than simply caving in all the time to being Fred’s smooching partner. Let’s hope so.


Have a wonderful day! Aspire to all things BETTER!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maple Trees’ Spring Fancy

 25th 013

The maple trees are flowering right now……a brief burst of blossoms heralding the eruption of new leaves.

25th 015

Such show-offs!

25th 011 (2) 

The above photos are of a hard maple tree and the two below are from a soft maple.  You can see the winged propeller seed pods forming.

25th 020 

25th 021 (2)

Have a happy day!  Enjoy the springtime tree displays in your area.


Bessie is supposed to arrive home this evening.  I can’t wait to hear her report about the womens’ conference.

I widened the blog wrappers some more.  If your computer screen will not accommodate the blog’s width, please let me know.  Thanks.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trees & Birds of Arbor Day

Though I didn't plant a tree yesterday honor of Arbor Day, I did take pictures of trees. Here's a weeping willow that managed to survive the tornado last year. About half of it was blown down, as you can see. Thankfully, the rest lives on to provide my favorite color blue and spring green!
24th017 (2)
Yesterday afternoon I had to run into Cedar Falls to pick up the sweet corn seed we had ordered from the Earl May store. On the way, I sidetracked to a rural cemetery where some of my paternal ancestors are buried. This is a good time of year to stop at out planting corn in the surrounding fields will think you are there because of Memorial Day coming up in a few weeks. They won't realize you are in reality an oddball obsessed with taking photos of any interesting thing you can find.
And, there was something intriguing right next to the cemetery gate…..a mystery tree! I have no idea what its botanical name is. Maybe you can tell me. It was a very tall, pointy-shaped tree, absolutely covered in must be a conifer of some sort. What is puzzling is that the branches looked more like those of a deciduous tree, with the needles situated in bundles.
Here and there on the branches were these lovely magenta-colored flowers or buds:
24th059 (2) 
If you know what kind of tree this is, please say so in a comment. I will try to consult Google or a tree book to get more information, too.
[Update:  It might be a “Larch” tree, a coniferous deciduous tree, oddly enough. The link states:  In the Civil War era and earlier, it was common to have a larch tree in a town cemetery to symbolize death in the winter and rebirth in the spring.]
Earlier in the day, my son and I were in Waterloo for an orthodontist appointment. Afterwards, we decided to get a quick treat at Burger King. We were sitting in the drive-through lane and noticed this robin nesting close by amongst vines on a fence. (Click the photo to enlarge it to full-screen to see the robin better.) Just beyond the fence is a busy four-lane street always filled with noisy traffic. Apparently, that doesn't bother Mrs. Robin!
This rooster pheasant scurried by after I dropped my son back at school:

After that, a stripey-necked killdeer dropped in for a brief appearance:
This pair of annoyed Canada geese honked and scolded at the human who was bothering them in their peaceful abode in the wetlands southeast of Readlyn. I don't blame them.
Haha......they got caught on video, too! I hope you can hear them honking over the sound of the wind. If you listen closely, you will hear frogs croaking, too......they've just started their season of singing! Have a great day!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lessons For Fred

Look at the sight that greeted my eyes when I tried to mail a letter the other day. More risky smooching! The mailman could have reached in and grabbed Fred and Bessie and whisked them off to Canton, China, or Walla Walla, or Timbuktu, or even What Cheer, Iowa! Enough is enough, I say!
mailbox A phone call to the Smoochers Anonymous Hotline provided helpful information about a women’s symposium scheduled for this weekend, at a conference center somewhere down the road. You better believe I sent Bessie packing, unmoved as I was by her dramatic display of sobbing and sniffling. Too bad. Tough love is what she needs. Buster wasn’t exactly moved, either.
Meanwhile, I made arrangements for Fred to spend time with an adventurous guy named Kendall who gives lessons in male bonding. The training is a bit costly, but hopefully will be worth it. Fred and Bessie simply MUST learn to do something other than smooch!!
The price included Kendall coming right here to our farm to give the bonding lessons. Isn’t that handy! At first I was taken aback by his formal attire and shoe-less feet, but it was obvious from the get-go that Kendall is a man accustomed to operating on the edge, tuxedo and all. Hopefully, Fred’s experiences with Kendall will resonate in such a way that Fred will grow by leaps and bounds, embracing the realization that his own penchant for smooching in precarious places causes anxiety for Bessie and is detrimental to her self-esteem.
Whoa! Kendall got right down to business! This frightening experience in the car should surely prompt Fred to do some deep soul-searching! Don’t you agree? (Kendall assured me that a percentage of this initial session’s fee goes to Sasquatch the Cat.)

Kendall was ecstatic to see so many trees on our farm. His second session involved the trainee---Fred, in this case---being encouraged to climb as high as possible, then close his eyes and depend on Kendall to provide a safe way down. Its all about trust and empathy. If all goes as planned, Fred will learn what its like to be forced to depend on someone else, and thus be more empathetic to Bessie’s plight when he lures her to dangerous places for smooching.
The giddily spinning wheels of the hay rake provided yet another opportunity for a breathtakingly risky learning experience. Fred clung to the tines for dear life while Kendall, being quite talented and coordinated, was able to utilize his arms for balancing. And, in fact, this lesson was all about learning to maintain balance in life.
Kendall required Fred to climb the elevator, too……right on the edge, no less. Fred took it like a man, appearing completely nonplussed. This lesson was about poise. At one point, Kendall spotted my husband out in the field and gave a hearty wave. What a refreshingly friendly guy!
Last, but not least, Kendall and Fred spent time swinging to and fro in the pockets of Husband’s chore jeans drying in the breeze on the clothesline. Actually, I thought this particular lesson appeared to be more about fun than anything else. I suppose Kendall feels obligated to include a little bit of that sort of thing in his sessions, otherwise the trainees might become grumpy and difficult to manage.
Let’s hope this male bonding training will prove beneficial to Fred, and ultimately to Bessie, too. Kendall came across as a very pleasant guy, well-dressed and coiffed, with an ever-present smile on his face. Normally, I’d be suspicious of a guy with a constant smile pasted on his face, but in Kendall’s case, the happy expression seemed truly sincere. When the training was finished, as he was preparing to leave, I asked Kendall about his formal attire....and his bare feet. He shrugged and told me sheepishly that he wears the tuxedo because he has NO other clothes, and unfortunately his shoes went missing many years ago. Can you imagine that!? My goodness. I then handed Kendall his check and he went on his way.....hopefully straight to a mens' clothing store.
I do hope Bessie is absorbing helpful insights at the women’s symposium. We’ll find out soon enough.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SkyWatch #41

swf2 Welcome! These photos were taken Wednesday evening at my home in northeast Iowa, USA.

22nd041 I didn’t think I would have any scenes for SkyWatch this week, but this lovely sunset showed up as if right on cue!


As they say……if you see a gorgeous sunset, be sure to turn around and view the eastern sky, too:



And, here’s a scene from the farm on Thursday……my husband digging up rocks in the field, under a lovely blue sky:

23rd023 (2)

Thank you for stopping by! Visit to find ALL the SkyWatch links for this week.


Facing Up To Facebook

oats facebook

Yeah, pathetic though it is……I signed up for Facebook a few days ago. My sister talked me into it. On my Facebook “wall” yesterday I posted this super exciting photo of the oats coming up out in the field. Whoo-eee!

I now have a total of---(drum roll, please)---ELEVEN “friends” on Facebook. Haha……I did a search of my Hotmail contacts and found a few of you bloggers on Facebook, too. Some of you have over 100 friends! Wow…..I’m in awe!

Another search I did was for my high school classmates from eons ago. Forty-nine of us graduated in 1976. Guess how many are on Facebook……a whopping FOUR! Yours truly, and three sports-jock-type guys. I’m not planning to invite them to be my friends just yet, and I doubt they’ll be pounding on my Facebook door for friendship, either. One of them is an OB/GYN…..he always was one of the hunkier guys in the class, thus his choice of medical specialty has provided many shudders and chuckles for his former classmates of the female persuasion. No way will I bother him to be my friend… way.

Mostly, my Facebook friends are my sister, my kids, their cousins, and my husband’s cousins’ kids living in far-flung parts of the country. Facebook could be a handy way to keep updated on their busy lives and see photos of weddings, babies, and other milestones. The older generations, now gone, might have approved of Facebook for that reason, I think. Since the old folks have passed on , we hardly ever see the far-extended family anymore, nor see photos of them very often. The world changes……people move away……that’s just how it is.

One of my Facebook friends is an older lady, now widowed, who taught for many years at our Lutheran dayschool. All four of my kids have fond memories of her. She was always very interested in everyone and encouraged creativitiy…..not all teachers accomplish that. Her Facebook page shows her to have over 250 friends, most of them her former students. Good for her!

At this point, my impression of Facebook is that it could be described as extremely miniscule blogging, the posts tending to be brief as brief can be… my caption for yesterday’s oats photo: “Oats are up! They were planted on April 4th.” Wowser. Facebookers wouldn’t want to know much more than that, anyway. “T.M.I.” (Too Much Information) belongs on blogs… blog on, bloggers!! I’ll give Facebook a try for awhile; if I don’t care for it…..splitsville!


P.S. – Here’s the fun that was going on around the farm yesterday:

Picking up a few rocks….


Notice how dry the ground is…..we need a soaking rain.


And, the neighbor was planting his corn with a fancy-dancy new planter:



Have a great day, folks!! (Bessie is still attending that therapeutic symposium for women and Fred is being mentored by a male bonding expert……I’ll post a report soon.)


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kitties’ Eyes Now Open

kitties in hand

On Saturday, Miss Kitty’s 2-week-old babies opened their eyes for the first time. Now they look up and hiss at anyone who dares to peer into their box!

baby kitty 2 Of course, when Mama’s there, the kitties busy themselves with nursing:

miss kitty & babies *

Funny story……last week my brother-in-law had a birthday.  My sister had informed me that they had two mother cats who were due to give birth soon, so I picked out a birthday card with kitties on it to send to my brother-in-law.  Like many guys I know, he claims to hate cats.  Pictured on the front of the birthday card were 7 kitties around a big tub of milk and the caption was “KEGGER!”.

On the day after his birthday, my sister sent me a message on Facebook:  “The birthday card was perfect!  How did you know??”  One of the mother cats had given birth to SEVEN kitties right on her husband’s birthday!  That’s just really special and I’m SO very happy for my brother-in-law.  (He thrilled, too, of course.)


Bessie is attending a support group meeting today and I will tell you about that in an upcoming post.


Have a wonderful day!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Adventures

Dessert Fest009 (2)

Here’s a few scenes from last weekend's busy-ness. On Saturday, I spent most of the day on campus at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. (My mom went with me; these irresistible daffodils were blooming in front of her house.)

Dessert Fest002 We were at UNI to attend the Camp Adventure Dessert Fest and Program. There was quite a crowd of parents and friends on hand; after enjoying the dessert bar in Maucker Union, we all filed through a tunnel into venerable Lang Hall:

Dessert Fest034 Our destination was the auditorium, site of the afternoon’s Camp Adventure send-off program. I'm too lazy to explain Camp Adventure to you, so here's the entry from Wikipedia:

Camp Adventure is a program run by the University of Northern Iowa that sends American college students to American military bases, embassies, and British Military installations throughout the world. These students run day camps as well overnight, and sports camps. Counselors also act as lifeguards for the children of military personnel stationed on bases.

Camp Adventure was founded at the University of Oregon in 1985. At its inception, the program sent 12 students to three sites in Korea. In 1997, it sent approximately 600 students to 118 program sites in 16 countries, including United Kingdom, Turkey, Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and the United States.

The camp counselors are trained in games and first aid, as well as how to deal with the problems that many military children have due to the isolation, frequent moves, and dangerous profession of their parents.

The counselors train for several months at the University of Northern Iowa and other Universities across the nation. They are then sent to the destination for the summer. Students are responsible for their own passport and visas, but the program provides transportation, room, and board. An extensive background check is performed on all counselor applicants.

Although the program is based at the University of Northern Iowa, Camp Adventure Youth Services students come from over 80 colleges and universities participate in this service-learning program that allows them to gain skills and experience related to youth services and program management.

Counselors receive 12 hours of college credit for participating in the program.


This year's theme is "Catch the Magic". The students shown in this video--taken in the Lang Hall auditorium--are from colleges in Iowa:

My daughter was near the back of the group, shown in the center of this next photo. She's very excited for the chance to go to Europe this summer!

Dessert Fest014

The program was interesting, though VERY long…..three hours! Yipes, it was difficult to sit that long…..and stay awake. There were skits and demonstrations by the students, plus several speakers, including the founder of Camp Adventure, Dr. Christopher Edginton. His definition of "magic" is: when something exceeds your expectations. (My own advice is to avoid having expectations......then everything that happens is magic!)

FINALLY, finally…..we were dismissed from the auditorium out into the surrounding high-ceilinged halls and stairwells of the old college building:

Dessert Fest025 Fascinating architectural embellishments were the perfect companions to the lovely flowering trees adjacent to the front entrance:

Dessert Fest030 (2)

On our way back to the parking lot, Mom and I meandered through the old part of campus. Here is Lawther Hall, a womens’ dormitory, its attic reportedly haunted by a ghost named “Augie”.

Dessert Fest043 We were parked near the blocky, top-heavy Schindler Education Center, where education majors spend much of their time. Next door is an authentic one-room schoolhouse…..which, unfortunately, I did not think to snap a photo of.

Dessert Fest045

Later in the evening, my mom, stepdad, and I, returned to campus for this theatre production:

Dessert Fest047 Eurydice was performed in the black box Bertha Martin Theatre. There is seating on all four sides, with most of the show taking place down on the center floor. A few scenes ventured off onto small, elevated corner stages…..there is one shown in the next photo. My daughter operated lights on the catwalks in the ceiling---“up in the cats”, in her words.

Dessert Fest048

Eurydice is a story out of Greek mythology, the deeper meanings of which are mostly lost on one such as myself who has never formally studied those classic tales. Parts of the play reminded me of Our Town, the biblical story of Lot’s wife, and possibly even Adam and Eve. The story’s setting was in the Underworld where Eurydice (yoo-RIH-dah-see) found herself after making a bad choice shortly after her marriage to Orpheus, whose head was ever full of music, an exasperation for Eurydice when she was alive. In the Underworld, Eurydice meets up with her deceased father. Their first challenge is to find a way to communicate with each other; the ensuing interaction between the two was fascinating. We had close-up views of the actors’ facial expressions due to the scenes taking place right in front of where we were sitting. Oh, and guess what.....the deceased ones, Eurydice and her father, had also forgotten how to you know what they did with letters and books in an attempt to "read" them?

Unfortunately, Eurydice had another serious problem---unwanted attention from The Lord of the Underworld, an obnoxiously lascivious, underwear-clad goon. In time, grieving Orpheus found a way to descend to the Underworld to try and find Eurydice--you may have heard of this story. Things didn't go very well as Orpheus attempted to follow the Lord of the Underworld's rules for a successful rescue of Eurydice. Lurking on the perimeter of every scene were stones which could speak, with sarcastic ridicule being their specialty. The Underworld seemed not a very nice place to be, that's for sure. The environs of the black box theatre was perfect for this murky, mind-stretching story.

My favorite line in the play was when Eurydice's distraught father asked the Lord of the Underworld, "How does one remember how to forget?" His earnest question was met by derisive laughter from the evil lord, of course.

As we left the theatre after the show, my mom and stepdad were shaking their heads at the strangeness of the story. Like me, they aren't much familiar with Greek myths. I must admit, Eurydice has provided food for thought as I now ponder what this or that aspect of the story might mean. Maybe that's the value of mythic tales......they challenge you to think, and are played out upon a foundation of deep meaning which can blossom as you view it in your mind's eye, similar to the way this performance was acted out right on the ground in front of us.....practically inside our personal space.


On Sunday, Husband and I drove to the Quad-Cities for a surprise birthday gathering for our son who's turning 25 years old today! Goodness...time flies! How well I remember the day he was born; I had spent the previous day outdoors, picking up sticks and doing other yardwork. By evening, I was completely exhausted and fell into bed at 7 p.m., which was fortuitous, as the waters broke in the early morning hours. He was born around 2 p.m., I believe. It was the day before Easter, and snow fell the next day---on Easter! I can recall standing at the hospital window watching the snowflakes swirling down.

The surprise party was fun even though it rained most of the afternoon. Husband and I ended up staying there through the evening; our younger son was home doing the milking chores. We ended up in a nail-biting “500” card game with our son and daughter-in-law. I haven't played for years, but it all came back to me like second nature. I even scored two nello hands! Nello--or, “noler”, as the old-timers call it—is my favorite! Turning a losing hand into a winner. Bad fortune into good. Its fun to flip the rules upside down once in awhile!

I enjoyed this view through my son and daughter-in-law’s dining room window…..right into the treetops!

Daniel surprise birthday033 (4)

The weekend kind of wiped me out......the socializing was wonderful, of course, but, enough is enough, and ALL that sitting.....good grief! I needed to catch on stuff around home---you know how it goes---so I've been trying to avoid sitting down at the computer for a couple of days.

You may be worried that I’ve been neglecting Fred and Bessie. I understand your concern. Fear not, though, they are in good hands…, tail. Looks like Mookie has developed a close bond with the lip-locked pair. Maybe I’ll let him have that talk with Bessie…..


Blessings to you all!