Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Random Postcards

Through a lovely stroke of fate that began with a sincere, handwritten apology for calling me Frankenchick when he signed my senior year book, my buddy Steve and I re-acquainted years after we'd left our high school halls. He's in town once a year, at Christmas. We always meet for a long lunch. And the rest of the months of the year, he sends me cards.

Birthday cards.
Christmas cards.
The best Valentines ever.
And lots of postcards from great places. Coney Island. Egypt. The Texas State Book Depository Building in Dallas. The Coliseum in Rome. Peoria, Illinois.

Every now and then I just open my mailbox and there it is, waiting ~ another great postcard from wandering Steve. They're the only thing that makes it to my refrigerator door other than pics of my family and my granddaughter's art work.

You've got to see this one.
It's my all-time favorite.
Dropped into the mailbox by Steve,
a United States Air Force Academy alumni:

I'm pretty sure they were thinking it, too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Up High

At a time when I'm seriously looking into the possibility of visiting my local plasma center to subsidize the fuel I consume on daily trips to work, my first visit to Seattle set the tiny little wheels in my head to spinning.......if there was a monorail in Des Moines, I could ride it and not have to sell my blood to companies with funny space-age names like Biomedia and Virotech. Yes, it's pretty cool to be able to save someones life by contributing plasma that's used in the production of drugs and get paid for it too. On the other hand it's kinda creepy too and when they check me for track marks at the Blood Center where I regularly donate for free, are they going to see the signs and turn me away?????

Well anyway. Public transportation! What a GREAT idea.
I wish someone in my hometown of half a million people would give it some serious thought.

The Monorail in Seattle is a pretty cool little ride. It took us right to the Space Needle where we met with the first of many opportunities to be parted from copious amounts of hard-earned dollars while on a recent vacation.

Yes. They had a senior citizens discount.
And don't think I didn't try. I pretty much hate heights so the sixteen bucks was a great excuse to stay on the ground. Until someone else bought me a ticket. oh dear.

It looks pretty high up there.

Oh man. Man, ohhh man ohhhhhh man. Does this thing sway in the wind....I wonder....but up I went with the rest of our crew, against my better judgment, packed like little about-to-die sardines in a teensy, widdy biddy little elevator up, up and up. On the way to the top we had a fabulous view over the city.
That's what they tell me.
I was thinking happy thoughts with my eyes closed.

Thousands of miles into the air later, we arrived at the observation deck and stepped out to enjoy the panoramic view. Here is what it looked like:

Well, that's what it looked like from where I stood.
I had my back pressed against the wall, pleading with God not to let me die. I could just see me as a random ink spot buried in the headlines about a collapsing landmark with comments from governors and engineers and city managers that go something like, "This has never happened before, honest.......we really didn't think it would ever tip over."

I could have gone right back down.
That is, if I could have moved.
I was pretty much paralyzed for a while.

Once I got sort of used to the height, I white-knuckled the rail and allowed myself to pivot.....EVER so slightly........to get a better shot of the fine panoramic view.

Hey, you can call me chicken.
You can call me a lousy photographer.
I choose to think of these shots as.....
A presentation of views from a new perspective.
The fascinating juxtaposition of organic textures against the harsh backdrop of urban consumption.......er, uh........somethin' like that.

You're right.

It's just a bunch of tourist butts immortalized on a scaredy-cats camera.
But y'know what? I'll bet all of THEIR pictures look pretty much alike. The usual views. Buildings, water, more buildings, water........boat!........buildings, water and more water.

Yup. I think.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dear Mother Nature, that's enough rain. Thanks. Love, Iowa

Ever the insufferably cheerful sort that can always be
counted on to look for the bright spot, let me begin by saying....
it is a very good day to be a fish in Iowa.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way and honored my 2nd grade teacher who taught me that I should always try and say something nice, let's get to the down and dirty.

It is a very bad day to live in Iowa.
It's a bad day to try and get to work. It's a scary day if you live here in Des Moines and an officer knocked on your door this morning and invited you to immediately evacuate your home. It's worse to live in Cedar Rapids, where your home is under water all the way up to the roof. It's bad to be a farmer watching a zillion little corn plants float away. It's a bad day to be a worker whose employer is under water and may not ever reopen. It's a bad day to be a CNN reporter who thought you'd left misery in Iowa behind you when you busted camp after the caucuses held in our frigid January. (Welcome back. Hope you can stay for the mosquitoes.)

It's a deceptive day.
The sun is shining bright in a brilliant blue sky, there is a great breeze pushing random puffy clouds from West to East. It looks like a picnic kind of day. A great day to ride your bike.Unfortunately, just over that hill over there are flood waters that have lifted ducks up high enough that they are swimming in the treetops. We've been through floods here before so we know this is the dramatic part, the tense part. These are the nail-biting hours. The adrenalin days and the sleepless nights.

Later, it's just plain hard work.

If you want to know how things are going in general, go to our local news source www.kcci.com for great photos, video coverage and Army Corps of Engineer maps that will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about flood plains, sandbagging and earthen levies.

Me and my family?? We're high and dry.
My daughter volunteered sandbagging all day. My son had to haul carpet out of his basement because it's wet from water seeping in from the saturated ground. We're the lucky ones who suffer only inconvenience. Our friends and neighbors, notsomuch.

We've got trouble. Big trouble.
Thanks for your thoughts and your prayers.