Look what fell from the sky – on a rare above freezing day in the winter of 2013-2014, a boy and his dog, dropped from the heavens.
And a few days later, this nice layer of hail fell down before some snow, just to freeze later and put an inpenetrably thick layer of ice everywhere until the next warmup, not currently scheduled.
Linda was selected as her seminary’s inaugural “Transylvanian Scholar.” It means a couple weeks in the Transylvania region of Romania – a description of the trip is below:
Under the direction of Meadville Lombard’s English teacher at the Protestant Institute in Kolozsvar, the Transylvanian Scholars’ primary duty will be to introduce theological and colloquial language to the Unitarian seminarians in various conversational and classroom settings. This may include holding discussion groups around issues of ministry and/or religion, conducting discussions about sermons, assisting the English Teacher with her classroom curriculum, etc. Again, these duties will be directed by the English Teacher.
Seminary is triangular building in this google map.
Additionally, in coordination with the Unitarian seminary faculty at the Institute and The Hungarian Unitarian Church, the Transylvanian Scholar will be asked to deliver occasional “lectures” to students, ministers and faculty on various elements of North American Unitarian Universalism. Topics to be addressed might include ministry, theological education, international Unitarianism or other topics of interest to the students.
Finally, the Transylvanian Scholar may be asked to assist faculty with English texts. He/she may be asked to proofread publications, web pages, etc.
During the stay, the Transylvanian Scholar will have opportunities to travel throughout the region of Transylvania becoming acquainted with Unitarian culture, history and practice there.
Everybody in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. knows about this winter. Today the temperature is forecast for a high of -1. Then -15 tonight.
Martin against the snowbank on the side of the road.
Just as a flashback, this is a picture from February 20, 2012, getting ready to get a few seeds in the ground! I’d be all for a happy medium between these extremes!
The Maintence Shop on the Iowa State Campus has brought the best upcoming acts for 40 years. Last night we saw the latest in a series of great shows in the small intimate setting. This time, it was the Lone Bellow.
Mark and Linda before the show.
We “double dated” with Emma and Jacob.
The Lone Bellow was a rare group that could alternately get the crowd amped up and vice-versa, could command complete silence, depending on the song. In the second song of the evening, the lead singer broke a guitar string and relayed a story he hoped not to share. At a show in Chicago last night, his guitar was ripped off. Now a guitar is a pretty initmate thing to a musician. He was playing his spare guitar, and now was down to 5 strings. Of course, the opening artist hopped up and offered his acoustic guitar – and he used it and a few songs later the roadie had restrung his guitar.
Instead of being angry, he said, he had to think that the guitar was going to lead to some great song that comes from the person who stole it. A nice, optimistic spin on the heartbreaking loss. At any rate, a video of the band follows.
I’m not sure what kind of a gang Emma is hangin’ out with at Iowa State.
Looks like they may be working on the next Breaking Bad or perhaps a secret space mission?
It’s time for the annual Skystream wind turbine update. The good news is that 2013 was the highest year of wind turbine production and just as importantly was the lowest year of energy use.
In 2013, the Skystream produced 4,684 kWh, an average of 390 kWh per month. The farm and household used 9,346 kWh, an average of 778 kWh per month. The Skystream produced 50.1% of our energy, a net improvement of about 1.5% over the previous year.
Annual turbine production – the boost in 2011 was due to a software upgrade.
Average monthly kWh produced.
This chart shows our average annual kWh use over the last 11 years. Some of this is due to better appliances, some due to children leaving the house, and increased awareness of energy use.
I thought it was time to see what our place looked like in Google Maps, and thought I’d show it on the blog. It simultaneously doesn’t look as open or tree-filled as it does from the ground.
Now, for a view with some annotations of some features visible from the air.
1) Fruit Trees (3 groups)
2) Annual Gardens (2 groups)
3) Burn Piles (5 groups)
4) House Windbreak
5) Field Windbreak/Christmas Trees
6) Native Hardwoods
7) White Pine Windbreak
8) Native Marsh planting, with willows to the south of the box
9) Tractor ruts from a bad experience!
10) Raspberries and Blackberries
11) Giant Rainwater tanks (2)
12) Animal Composter
13) Chicken Tractor (can see the daily “tracks”)
14) Old Granary
16) Hog Barn
17) Corn Crib
18) Machine Shed
19) Chicken Coop
20) Old Machine Shed
23) Wind Turbine
24) Cranberry Hedge
Boy, am I glad we planted this windbreak on the north side of the house. The storm windows used to rattle and hum during strong north winds, but now that the windbreak has grown up, that no longer happens.
While others are shivering, we’re out frolicking in the warmth!
It’s time for some of my favorite or most important shots of 2013.
April in Iceland.
Well-earned State Track Berth.
June on a big lake.
June on a little lake.
Ready for New Year!
Even though it was a balmy 5 degrees today, we decided to get out for a while.
We returned to a small creek near its confluence with the Iowa River and brought Daisy along for the adventure.
It looked a bit different than a visit to the same place at the height of summer.
The trees adjacent to the river still show the marks from this spring’s highwater flood mark. All in all, a brisk walk to start out the new year.
Merry Christmas to us! Linda and I decided in lieu of Christmas presents, we’d do something together.
The lobby of the Historic Park Inn, the only remaining hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Now part of the complex is the Wright-designed City National Bank, attached to the hotel.
Some detail of the second story windows.
Typical hallway carpeting.
Our room, complete with square pillow, for what, I’m not sure!
Also connected to the hotel is the 1910 Grille, where I was bold enough to walk from my room to the restaurant in my slippers!
Linda peering out the windows in the Ladies Parlor. The hotel was rehabilitated only a couple of years ago. It would be a nice place to go for small conferences or get-aways when you wanted to focus on the people you were with in a tasteful atmosphere. Did I mention is was away from it all? No, it’s not in Oak Park, Illinois, but in Mason City Iowa. I hope all the hard work the local citizens did to renovate and re-open the hotel gets rewarded and that the hotel has a long future.
It’s getting to be rare when all five of us are at the same place at the same time.
Here we are after the Christmas Eve Service – a rare family photo.
The traditional shsot of the kids in front of the Christmas tree.
With Linda in minister training and at two Christmas eve services, it is time for some new traditions mixerd with old. First out of the gate was the girls preparing the clam chowder and potato soup, along with goblets of beverage and yummy apple dumplings for a late Christmas eve dinner.
I certainly didn’t get an official White House greeting card, but someone else in the family did!
And no, certainly not because we contributed any money, but as a reminder of when Linda was honored at the White House where she met with the Secretary of Agriculture and President as a “Champion of Change” for rural America last year.
Early and mid-December has thrust us into deep winter with snow and cold. The last week was officially the coldest week in the last 4 years.
This is the view out my home office window this morning. Less than two weeks until winter begins for real!