December 27, 2012 – Gishwhes Scavenger Hunt

There are new things in this world that have only recently come to my attention.  Evidently, the Gishwhes (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World HAs Ever Seen) is one of them. The website proclaims ” This content is captured as videos or images to memorialize the annual Gishwhes experience. Art pieces range from the touching: “Take a picture of you hugging a war veteran” or “Create a video of you visiting a children’s hospital and giving a puppet show” to the weirdly sublime: “an image of a formal tea party replete with parasols, silverware and a string quartet situated in a junkyard or garbage dump” or “a fully dressed storm trooper cleaning a pool next to a sunbather”.

Exhibit One from this year – make a tea house out of recycled materials and have a tea party under a bridge.  Good thing this creek ran dry near our place.

Have a dog take a human for a walk.

Emma making a snow angel on the kitchen floor.  Thankfully, I was not aware of this until seeing the pictures later.

December 21, 2012 – First Winter Storm in Years Blows In

The biggest snowstorm in a number of years rolled in Wednesday night and Thursday.

The timing was good and bad, since it arrived the day before about 100 folks or so usually descend for our annual Solstice bonfire.  Bad because it may be hard for people to get here, good, because it covers up the dried grasses in the pasture.

The back end of the Subaru didn’t quite make it in the shed (unnamed daughter did not pull the vehicle in front of this one far enough into the shed to allow Mom all the way in the shed after fetching niece Jill from the airport, just an hour or so before it shut down for the evening because of weather).

We were in the bullseye just east of Ames, with about 13 inches of snow, including the always heavy thundersnow.  Any time there’s lightning and thunder in snow, you’re in for a doozy of a storm. As a bonus, most of it came in sideways, with 30-50 mph winds steady for about 36 hours.

Daisy watches the kids trying to dig a fort into a drift on the driveway.

Martin peering out of his fort.

Late in the day, with the winds calming down and skies beginning to clear, the sundogs came out – because, of course after such a snow, standard practice is clear skies and arctic temperatures.

December 15, 2012 – 2012 First Lego League Season

This weekend was the regionals for First Lego League (FLL).

Here’s the team watching a robot run.  This year’s theme was “Senior Solutions” and the competition involved the lego robot challenge, core values, and innovative solution/presentation.

After consulting with a couple of senior citizens, they decided to come up with a simple solution to a problem that both seniors, especially one suffering from arthritis, had trouble with – opening milk cartons with the ring-pull tabs.  They won an award for their innovative and simple design.  Who knows, maybe you’ll see it in the aisles next to the milk cartons some day!

December 14, 2012 – Christmas Tree Time of Year

Our Christmas tree selling is wrapped up for the year.  There were many types of Christmas tree conveyance from our log at Wheatsfield Grocery. Some people stuck them in the trunk, some on the roof, some on the roof only after laying down plastic or cardboard, and this fellow, who simply walked home with his tree.

Just like Pa dragging a tree home on Walton Mountain!

December 13, 2012 – OK, Then

Received this “important’ envelope in the mail today.

It’s a good thing the envelope advised me that it was “FOR IMMEDIATE USE ONLY.”  Otherwise, I might have put it in the box of mail I’m waiting until I turn 65 to open.

December 12, 2012 – Brother Mudder

I missed out on the endurance running gene, but my Bro certainly got it. Former college All-American XC runner, still going strong on the downside of 40.

This from a recent Tough Mudder race south of Tampa.

Running through mud, electric shockers, and walls, are all part of a 12 mile jaunt designed by the British Special Forces.

December 7, 2012 – Siding All On!

The last big project (let’s hope) on resurrecting a 90-year old farmhouse is now complete the addition of new siding.

It will be nice to have it all wrapped up for winter in a bright cheery yellow.  Next up a new front porch/deck.

December 4, 2012 – December Lettuce!

Although it is not the most beautiful lettuce, it is December after all and we’ve limped this patch of lettuce through this far.

December garden lettuce is a big bonus!  We’re now marking the longest number of days without a snowfall of any kind, 277 and counting.  If winter ever does come again, I won’t recognize it.

December 3, 2012 – Mulberry Mess

One of the least-beloved jobs on the farm is cutting mulberries out of fences. This year was worse than usual since I wasn’t cutting them all summer as supplemental browse to the goats.  Even worse that cutting mulberry out of fences, is paying for your own “I’ll get to that tomorrow” mess when you leave a roll of wire with a mulberry tree growing up through it for a number of years.

In this picture I’ve already hacked off the branches that protrude outside the wire (it’s about the 3rd time I’ve managed to do that).  Now it is time to release the wire from the multiple stumps.

But wait, there’s more.  In addition to being armed with wire cutters, saw, and pruners, this job requires poor memory so you repeatedly bang your head against a branch from an adjacent tree that is about 2 inches closer to the ground than your head.  This as you unwind the wire and circle around repeatedly.

But wait, there’s EVEN more!  When you finally get down to the end, you discover another piece that is flat on the ground, of a finer wire mesh that is three layers thick.  Now, all the wire is cut, heaved, and wrestled out of the ground and now just needs to be collapsed and sent out for recycling.  But all-in-all a bonus activity on an early December day in the 60’s.

December 2, 2012 – Linda Speaking in Burlington

Linda was invited to speak at the UU Fellowship in Burlington, one of Iowa’s classic river cities.

It was a delightfully pearly morning and we made sure to go down the river before the services started and watch the receding fog reveal the bridge.

The suspension bridge headed to… (Illinois)

The river is extremely low and there’s not much barge traffic in the port.

Linda getting ready to head in.

I’ve always thought that the Eastern edge of Iowa was the edge of the East and the western edge was the beginning of the West and this Fellowship had an east coast feel to it.  Met some more great folks and warmly received.

December 1, 2012 – Emma’s Days at Drake Honor Band

Emma spent all day Friday and Saturday rehearsing for an honor band at Drake University.

The music was spectacular (Emma is in first row 2nd from left).  There were nice selections and top-notch players from across the state.

After the show, it was off to a Vietnamese restaurant to top off the evening.