July 28, 2012 – More Storm Casualties

While out weeding in the garden, Linda found this egg.

Most likely it had blown out of a tree during the storm that struck last Wednesday when the RAGBRAI riders were here.  We’re guessing it must be a hummingbird.

July 26, 2012 – Emma’s Time in Chicago!

Linda’s not been the only one in Chicago this month!

Emma downtown on a bit of free time.

Any guesses where this is?

How about now? Of course, it’s the Bean at Millenium Park.

Emma was part of the High School Leadership Institute, sponsored by Wartburg College.  Here’s the group, with high school students and their mentors and staff.  They first did a service project in Chicago at an inner-city school where they conducted day camp activities.  Emma was struck at how much the kids just wanted to hang on her and tell her about their lives.  After a couple of days in Chicago, it was back to campus.

Wining and dining (ok, just dining) the students back on campus.

The week was worth three college credits.  However, the credit is not awarded until the student performs a community service project.  Emma proposed school-age musicians visit the Iowa Veterans Home and perform.  She thought it would be a win-win for the students to get performance experience and the residents to get some entertainment.  But even more important to Emma was that performing would not be the only component of the program, but to work in time for inter-generational conversation between the residents and students.

July 25, 2012 – Linda’s Time in Chicago

Linda spent about half the month in Chicago, finishing up three classes at Meadville-Lombard Seminary after completing reading and assignments throughout the summer.

Here’s one of the classes in front of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they went on an assignment.

Here’s Linda handing out hymnals for an exercise she designed for a class as a “get to know you” – what better way than have people pick out a hymn they would like to be sung at their funeral and tell why.

The school is right downtown on Michigan Avenue, so the lodging and eating is pretty pricey for a college student without an expense account, so she found a place through AirBNB that got her a room in a private house for the time she was there.

July 25, 2012 – RAGBRAI Hosts

Tonight we hosted RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) riders. It was our way of giving back to the world. Last year we were scrambling for a place for Claire to live in D.C. and a Unitarian minister hosted her free of charge for the summer. So, when I learned RAGBRAI was going through Marshalltown this year, I did a search for Unitarian and RAGBRAI. I found an online sermon from a minister in New Jersey, got in touch with him, offered our place, and here is team Woody Van.

Their stuff arrived early in the morning in one of the sag wagons and around 2:00 team members started rolling in.  It was the hottest day in 29 years in Central Iowa, reaching 106. Some riders did a half day, some the whole day, and one did the special “Century Loop” an extra loop that made the ride over 100 miles for the day.  The guy who did it, although being one of the oldest in the group and having ridden his bike coast to coast, said the day was the hardest cycling day he had ever completed – 100 miles, 100 degrees plus, with a 20-25 mph headwind for about 1/3 of the day – all after the two previous days of 100 degree plus riding.

Here’s part of the team – we also hosted part of Team Skunk from Ames.  Most elected to sleep in the air conditioned house, but a few started the night in tents – until the hail, heavy rain and 50-60 mph gusts arrived.  It was an early evening for the crew, some were in bed by 8:00 and everyone by 10:00.  Rev Charlie Ortman from Montclair NJ is hard to miss in his blaze orange.  Other members of the team were from New Jersey, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota.  One of these guys even did the route on roller blades!  It was a great to get to chat with as many of the team members as we could.


July 22, 2012 – Take Me to the River

Martin and I needed a new adventure and to escape the heat, so this is what we found!

We went to visit a county park we had never been to before, but soon tired of the oppressive heat, so we broke off the trail and headed towards the river.

Actually it was a sandy-bottomed creek that leads to the Iowa River.

Finally made it to the river, where our wading ended.  In the last month four children under the age of 12 have drowned in the river close to Marshalltown.  We were happy to splash in the creek, but not eager to jump in the river.

July 21, 2012 – Out with the Old, in with the New

Although it is taking a bit of time, the collision adjuster from Allstate did make a fair valuation of the totalled 1996 Outback.  The amount we were promised ended up being $54 more than we originally purchased the car for four years ago.  I was looking for a replacement that was small and with 4WD to give me a bit more peace of mind when Emma drives to school in winter.

This Honda CR-V we found with a private party in Cedar Rapids fit the bill.

The previous owners looked us up on the blog (you’d hate to sell your beloved Honda to just anyone, you know!)!   They were also a bit surprised that our teen-age girl was proficient with a 5-speed.  You go farm Girl Emma!

July 16, 2012 – Another Room Remodel Almost Complete

The remodel of the back room is looking a bit more complete.

Here’s the remodeled view of the south wall.

Here’s what it looked like before we started.

All of the wood was reclaimed from old farm buildings – on this farm and the neighboring farm that was recently torn down and burned. It takes a bit of work to plane the boards to get rid of the old grey weathered rind, but the wood itself is gorgeous and I left it imperfect on purpose for a bit of a rustic look.

Here’s the new coat closet.

The old closet had the irritating sliding doors that detached from the runners about every other time they were opened. I like the open design better as you can see everything at a glance and grab or hang up a coat quicker. I even built a box in the back to store out of season footwear to keep it out of sight and baskets for hats, mittens, and the like.

The room was pretty much a do-over – when we tore off the paneling there were old covered up windows, old doorframes, some plaster walls, the ceilings were partially beadboard, partially nothing. New wiring, new insulation, new windows, new ceiling and walls. I’ve yet to decide what to do with the wall adjoining the kitchen. Most likely I’ll put in shelving for kitchen overflow and canning jars and storage, made of the same reclaimed wood.

July 15, 2012 – Iowa Peaches

Who says peaches don’t grow in Iowa?

Unfortunately, these peaches represent about 25% of the peach harvest, or any fruit tree harvest for that case.  All the plums, cherries, and most the peaches were lost in the May frost.  If we’re lucky we’ll get a half-dozen apples as well.  So, this won’t be a big jam or canned fruit year.

July 14, 2012 – So the Summer Goes

We’ve even been missing out on the scattered thunderstorms, like this one that poured down heavy rain just to our east.  This one was moving due south and Marshalltown got some 1 inch hail near the center of the storm.

There’s not a day in the 10 day forecast below 90.  I still remember a pleasant summer a few years back, where it only reached above 90 three days for the year.

July 14, 2012 – Subey Takes a Hit for Emma

Emma was on her way to work on Thursday, when she was proceeding through the first stop light in Marshalltown.  An on-coming driver tried to make a left turn in front of her.  The airbags deployed and some kind passersby stopped and took care of Emma until the police and EMTs arrived.  Emma was checked at the scene, thanked by the paramedics for wearing her seat belt and not in need of hospitalization.  She was worried later in the evening when a headache did not go away with medicine, much like her previous concussion symptoms.  We took her to urgent care that evening and she checked out fine at that time, now just is dealing with the usual stiffness and soreness.

The other driver was hospitalized and as the policeman said in the newspaper article, the other party was at fault. The picture comes from that article.  A quote from the officer at the scene was not very comforting to parents “The fact that they are not dead is an indicator that they weren’t speeding.”  I’ve been loving on Emma since the accident, stops at the ice cream store and catching up on movies.

July 13, 2012 – First Berry Harvest

Blackberries are one of the few success stories so far this season.  The bushes erupted full of berries, so I’ve been trying to keep them watered, in order not to squander the harvest.

This bowl is destined for the freezer and is about 1/6 of what we’ll need for a fine batch of blackberry wine.  Last year we gave 18 pounds of raspberries and were returned months later with 24 bottles of a nice, dry raspberry wine.  I’m not a fan of the sweet fruit wines, but our vinter did a good job making a dry wine.


July 11, 2012 – What’s a Little Mess Worth?

Rumor has it that Martin and GJ are both known for making a mess in the kitchen when cooking. That’s why we’ll show the end products.

Today was no exception – on the summer menu: potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh cabbage and beans from the garden, along with some grilled pork chops from an heirloom variety.

Oh yeah, and home-made eclairs to top off the meal.  Unfortunately, the instructions say that the eclairs are best eaten within two hours of making them!

July 10, 2012 – Documents from the Past

There was a bright light on the horizon this evening. I knew in a second what it was…

the continued obliteration of the farmstead across the section.

I was able to get a few mementos from inside the house.  They are fascinating documents of a different time.  I’ll post them below with the names erased for some sense of privacy, I guess.  It just doesn’t seem ok to post them with a name on them.

Perhaps the biggest sign of the times is this check for polio insurance, written in 1955 – the year Jonas Salk released the polio vaccine.

Gas was 24 cents a gallon.

When’s the last phone bill you had that came in under four dollars?

An electric bill from 1955 coming is at under a 10 spot.

Before we found this, Martin asked me what that funny yellow thing that looked like a small part of combine was (photo is in previous day’s album).  The check for a new corn picker.  Again, 1955 was the end of an era and might have been the last, or one of the last years this style corn picker was available, since modern combines were out about this time.

Scores of old Christmas greetings lay littered on the floor.

A handwritten account of farm budget items from 1966.

And perhaps the most ironic is this bulldozer bill from 1952 – 60 years later the bulldozers returned one final time.