Monday, August 29, 2011


Every crew needs a supervisor.


Friday, August 26, 2011

New in Town

I love this happy lady dancing against a South Dakota blue sky with unbridled abandon. I too am pleased with the day. With the decision to move. With my new town. My new job. My new home. It's all good. So incredibly good.

I'm a bit wrapped up tight too, it's a great picture of the way I feel when I'm learning so many new things all at once. New town. New job. New faces. Names to remember. Passwords. Processes. Where to buy the best pizza? Who gives a great haircut? Library? Car wash? Is there a Starbucks on my way to work??? Will my cat like his balcony perch in our new apartment???
Is there a food dish within 10 feet? Yeah. He'll like it.

So. How about a quick tour???

You're noticing the metal, right?
That's handcrafted steel work with a magnificent patina ~ we make garden planters and stakes and sculptures and ornaments and picture frames and recipe boards and holiday pieces and....and....and.....

Well. You get the picture.
The store carries the work of countless American artists and also features our own line called Prairie Dance. I love rustic pieces, have always leaned sort of in the direction of the well-worn and shabby look in furniture pieces and art. Can't tell you how much I adore these pieces. Love. Love. Love.

Break my heart, these pieces are the last of a series ~ discontinued. Love these whimsical and delighted garden stake children. I've gotta have one before the last one goes home with a customer. Someone to keep my Binks company while he's ruling the balcony.

The artists create all this amazing work right on site, in a studio in the back of the store.
I understand why customers can't help but peek back there to see what is going on.
I love watching, too!!

Of course there are lots of other beautiful things to see in the store too.
Tons of fabulous handcrafted jewelry made by American artists. I have to say fabulous again.
And again: F A B U L O U S.

Just a peek for now.
More pictures to come.

We have adorable, unique gifts for children too.
New girl in town, you know how it is.....

Very easy to be charmed by the first walrus sock puppet who smiles and says hello.

Check out my new home away from home:

Friday, August 19, 2011

'Tis the Season

Sugar, flour, some oil and some coconut and a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And pretty soon we'll have bread.
Sweet, sweet and amazing bread.

If I was contemplating becoming a vegetarian, just knowing I could still eat
my favorite homemade zucchini bread would help me decide.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where Did All this Stuff Come From???????????

Moving day looms. Where on EARTH did all this stuff come from??? I've only lived here 8 years. I must be some kinda pack rat. A garage sale was inevitable. I'm leaving a 2-story, 2BR/2BA townhouse with garage for a 1BR apartment with a little stall in a cozy underground parking garage. Whittling down my worldly goods to a manageable volume that will fit into my new place is akin to tucking the contents of my purse into a pill bottle. Ahhh, but I do love a challenge.

Who can live another day without this fine bag, I ask you??????

Now that it's is all over, time to fill these for the big move.

                                                                                                                           Two closets emptied. Four more, twelve drawers and 14 cupboards to go. I could so use a Mary Poppins right now.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lemonade Stand

Grandma Debbie's garage sale day. The perfect opportunity to sell lemonade.
First we must make a proper sign.

We'll decorate our favorite Winnie-the-Pooh table just-so.

And make sure everyone gets a fancy little cocktail umbrella. This is a classy joint.

Cousin Ava is one of our first customers.

A nice stack of quarters at the end of the day and we're hooked. Several customers suggested Grandma Debbie could pour a little extra something into that cup with it's nice umbrella and make Garage Sale Day lots more fun for them. Probably not. But maybe next year we'll add cookies.

Extinction of the Most Tragic Kind

I'm worried.
A little bit sad.
More worried than sad.

A nearby town built a brand new high school. The ibrary / media center is magnificent with massive windows providing the most wonderful natural light. What an uplifting, cheerful place for students to study. There are comfortable places to sit. And almost no books.

No books!!!!
The they still call her the librarian????....says it's because "our students do everything online now ~ research, reading ~ they have access to libraries all over the world via the internet."

Cool enough on the international thing. Am I crazy to wish they also had access to shelves and shelves of books with thin pages typeset and numbered behind colorful hard covers with the authors name printed on the spine? No books??????????? NO. BOOKS?????

Are we raising a generation of kids who won't understand or appreciate the feel of a book in their hands? Does it matter? Am I just old? Do I sound like my Grandpa who thought the world was going to hell in a handbasket because girls were wearing blue jeans???

Encouraging is two years of renovation finally coming to a conclusion and the shelves and shelves of books I find lined up at the Franklin Avenue Library where I used to retreat after school when I was a little kid. My mom worked and the house was empty when I came home after school. Rather than be alone I spent countless after-school hours at that library.

My best friend Joanna and I would pile our homework and raincoats and various paraphernalia of the 5-th grade variety on round library tables and retreat into the aisles to pull books from the shelves. We loved big volumes full of panels by our favorite cartoonists, books about pets and animals and adventure stories about brave young girls solving mysteries and saving the day. Occasionally we would hide "Talking to Your Teenager About Reproduction" inside the cover of a giant encycopedia and sit huddled up and wide-eyed at the illustrations and information we didn't quite understand but thought was pretty darn interesting reading.

Books are my dear friends. It's hard for me to get excited the same way about snuggling up with any of the electronic books. I think they are wayyyy cool for sure, but they're kind of like having to invite a third party to join in my afternoons. Selfish, I know ~ but my afternoon's with a favorite book are just about the two of us. Me and the book. Don't ask me to break off a lifetime affair of turning my favorite pages.

Can't do it. Don't want to do it. Won't do it. I think there is room for all of us. Enjoy the books on your little screen-thing. And leave me to enjoy turning the pages of mine.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Dear Mom....

Dear Mom, I know you worry about me but I had to move out sometime. I loved growing up in a small town but living in the big city is great, I love it here, too. I found a great apartment. The rent is really cheap. As soon as I get settled in I would like to have you and Dad drive down so you can see the place.
Could you maybe bring a ladder.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Scene of the Crime

I was so proud of the gorgeous red lilies on my patio.
Brave against the heat, they were spectacular each morning when I went outside to water. I'm not sure they needed any help from me. They had minds of their own. But I really liked spending time spraying them with water, convincing myself I had some small thing to do with their beauty. So, sooo pretty.
Until this morning.
I pulled out the hose, squeezed the nozzle to bathe all my green and growing buddies.
But...something is wrong. Something doesn't look quite right here........

No tall lilies. No brilliant red flowers. Just big holes.
Big, big, big holes in the dirt.
And carnage on the concrete.
Yup. While I wasn't looking the little rat-bastard chipmunks for whom I purchase ears of corn and bags of sunflower seeds thanked me by selecting my lily bulbs for dessert.

Shredded leaves everywhere.
Not a trace of a bulb to be found. I sort of envisioned the little guys licking the plate when they finally got down to that last, delicious bite. Mmmm. Mmmmmmmmmm.

All the while Binks my brave and intimidating watch-cat.....


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Patience and Happy Thoughts

Such a lovely way to soothe the ruffled feathers of a wheel-gripping soul jittering their way through the drive-up, clinging to the promise of a caffeine jolt. Make that two shots, please. And if you don't mind, make it snappy.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Bringing a Little Bit of the Outdoors Inside

Princess Janie asked me to come over with my paint buckets. She wanted to brighten up her front door. She has a fabulous little front yard, all green and yummy with this-and-that plants vining all over the place beneath the fat and jagged leaves of a magnficent maple tree. Why not bring a little bit of that flavor inside to remind her of the green and lovely outdoors this winter when she's staring out at bare branches and snow drifts??

We always set sail with a pencil because yes, Sharpies really, truly are permanent.

That's about right for a start.
She primed the door first so it was ready to take the acrylic paint.

With a nod to her Eastern Iowa farm childhood we couldn't call it a completed work of
art until we added some fields and a few content cows wandering around in the pasture.

Our rendition of the Purple Cone Flower, another Midwest favorite.

With a few special details added for the neighbors, she'll tidy up a bit with some
 leftover primer, seal it up with a nice UV-protective poly and she's finished. 

Thanks Princess Janie, that was great fun!!!!!!!!!


Someone Likes this Heat

On a quick tiptoe through my tiny patio garden it's pretty clear ~ even as we're sitting inside rolling a bottle of cold water across our chest while sweat drips stripes down our birthday suit, the green-and-leafy side of the family are outside loving the heat and humidity.

We're definitely cruising the 'net in search of interesting pepper recipes.

A few nibbled leaves betray nasty little bugs keeping a low profile while I snap photos in hopes I'll not notice and leave them to their dining ~ neveryoumind fellers, you are perfectly safe. I'm pretty much a lazy gardener. I love to plant. Notsomuch liking the weeding and fussing. You'll get water in the mornings and a quick dead-heading when I'm thinking about my Grandma and all her best advice but 'tater vines, you guys are pretty much on your own.

Monday, August 01, 2011

So There We Were in the Cornfield.....

So my cousin Rhonda and I herded the boys into the van, filled the coolers up with ice and headed down the road to provide hydration, nourishment and roadside reparte for passing bikers pedaling their way across our beautiful home state of Iowa.

Inventory. Bandanas, coozies and the all-important accessory for bikers who find themselves heading to a cornfield for roadside relief: toilet paper.
You'll note one of the boys is a bit of a party animal, beaded up and ready to roll.

He's also our main man on the grill. Dogs, anyone?????
Hotels? For these hard-core camper girls??? Are you kidding??? Rhonda's little single-person tent pops up easy as pie but we left the rain-cover off so she wouldn't melt in the July heat. Even after dark it was soooooo dang hot and humid. I crashed on a mattress in the back of the van, propped the doors open and watched bats flying around catching mosquitos in the glow of an overhead security light in the park. Would they nest in my hair? Or just keep eating bugs?? I pondered that question until the winds picked up and the lightning show started. That's when we got up and rigged Rhonda's tent with tarps and clothespins so she wouldn't drown in the anticipated deluge. Looks kinda like an alien space pod, doesn't it??

So the next morning we set up alongside the road by 7 AM and the bikes started to trickle in.
By 9 AM it was a steady stream until late afternoon. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

The boys are in charge of inventory.

Sustenance for the Gatorade Girls: homemade iced coffee, skillfully mixed road-side using Hazelnut syrup and.....yes, we'll admit it....Half and Half.
Late in the afternoon, the parade has thinned down quite a bit.

My favorite biker.
My daughter Sara who's crossing the state on RAGBRAI for the 14th time.

Yup. Lance passed. Sort of in the way a squadron of fighter jets in formation pass. Fast enough to send a breeze through your hair while you stand there wondering, "What was that...........??????" He and his Livestrong team members actually stop and visit along the way, enjoying the countryside and small town folks who come out to say hello to all the riders. Other than a few promos for Livestrong to promote cancer awareness along the way he's pretty low key, just another one of the bikers enjoying the scenery. No one hardly even notices him.

These guys on the other hand........
Can you say, "In real life I'm a sales manager for First National Bank but one week out of the year my wife let's me come to Iowa, dress up as a Holstein and act silly with my buddies!" ?? Love, love, love the teams with all their crazy bike shirts and hats. We send them home to their families sunburned, legs cramping....with big ol' smiles on their faces.  
Long day. Hot day. CRAZY day!
We didn't pedal a single mile but we sold through about 500 bottle of water and Gatorade, stacks of bandanas and went home feeling like we'd been run over by 10,000 bicycles.

                             And that folks, is my kinda fun.
                                            Now I need a long nap.