June 7, 2015 – Linda Gets “Robed”

Linda wrapped up her two-year internship at the Des Moines UU church this weekend.

Here she debuts her new minister’s robe – a gift from her internship committee.

Speaking of them – here is most of her committee.

Linda with her mentor and colleague-to-be Rev Mark Stringer.

And finally, some old (or shall we say long-time?) friends from the previous ministerial search committee in Ames that came down for the occasion.

June 2, 2015 – Wild Basin Hike

Today it was off to yet another area of the park – Wild Basin.

The trail followed a stream for a good portion of the time.

These bridges were either not washed out or rebuilt from the Sept 2013 floods.

The water really couldn’t decide the best path down the mountain, so it just kind of went every which-way.

This was probably the last day for this little Frosty.

Not many days I’ve hiked through snow and seen a hummingbird!

Unfortunately, even though they are given explicit exemption from domesticated animals on the trail, we did not see any llamas!

Lilly Lake.

The parting group shot!  We left just in time. Three of the next four nights there were tornado watches and 8 inches of rain the following two days after we left, a tornado touchdown nearby, and knee-deep hail in parts of Denver. Just like I brought sunshine to Iceland, I’m evidently a vacation good weather charm at the moment.

June 1, 2015 – Trail Ridge Road

Today was a bit lower-key so we drove the trail ridge road, which has a peak elevation of 12,183 ft above sea level, making it the highest paved road in the U.S.

How’d you like to plow the right lane?

We always told Martin he would get to go places his sisters did not. Well, here’s one!

Even though it is June, the snowpack is still quite impressive along the road.

And even higher near the pass.

Part of the alpine visitor center is dug out – the snow is still up to the roof to the left and right of the entrance.

The building next door was not faring much better – the restaurant and gift shop had only a few opening for some of the windows.

Why they needed an area closed sign down this trail was a bit perplexing!

Marmot!

Near the pass.

Our long-time traveling companions enjoying a warm and bright mountain afternoon.

Back in the lowlands, the elk grazed.

We hiked to within a few miles of the headwaters of the Colorado River.

Mrs. Moose peaking out from the trail along the Colorado River.

May 31, 2015 – Mills Lake Hike

Our first big hike was up to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The trail started out dry, then as we moved up, a little wet…

and then a little white for much of the way. But the weather was warm and it was shorts weather.

Mills Lake Trail

Around the bend, approaching Mills Lake.

The intrepid hiker nearing the lake.

Boy at mountain lake

Martin with what we call his “outdoor advertisement” look.

Finally at the lake.

Mills Lake

This place was reminiscent of  Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies with the numerous peaks surrounding the lake.

Rocky Mountain Peak

A look at one of the peaks on the way back down.

Aspen Leaves

Depending on the elevation the Aspen leaves were out…

Pasque Flowers

or not, but the pasque flowers were.

May 17, 2015 – Linda’s Graduation from Meadville-Lombard Seminary

A few shots from the joyful graduation from seminary in Chicago (four years in the making).

The whole fam, together for the first time in about 9 months.

The class, both honorary and real graduates.

Linda and the kids.

The spousal duo.

The dinner for the graduates the night before graduation.

First UU Chicago, home of graduation. A bit more “churchy” than many other UU buildings – this one is 175 year old and is in Hyde Park.

The inside of the church.

Linda happily in the procession.

With her major professor. Congrats to Linda!

March 15, 2015 – Driftless Getaway

Linda and I snuck out for a couple of days to a nice AirBnB in SW Wisconsin.

We found a nice place to stay.

The view out the windows was a classic Driftless region valley.

Complete with Amish farmers in the bottom of the valley.

old settlers trail at wildcat park

Wildcat State Park was nearby for hiking. For mid-March, temps in the 60’s was a great change of pace.

amphitheater at wildcat state park

A great outdoor amphitheater overlooking the valley.

wildcat park ice cave

The approach to the ice cave.

Sizing up the hunk o’ ice (actually more of a frozen waterfall).

A look up the formation.

wildcat park ice cave

I’m sure we could write a nice story about the ghost trapped inside the ice.

ghost face in ice

Help, I’m melting!

We also had a nice visit and meal with some relatives we get to see about once a decade!

March 7, 2015 – There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear

The basement door is open, the loader bucket is attached to a chain. What’s up on the farm today?

When we moved in about 18 years ago, one of our first upgrades was to replace the aging fuel oil furnace. While the furnace is long gone, the three fuel oil storage tanks are not. We’ve been using the oil left in the tanks to persuade bonfires to start over the years and finally the tanks are empty.

We tried manually moving the tanks up the basement stairs. No go. Wasn’t thrilled about cutting them in half in the basement. Enter a long chain, a tractor, and a three member team to guide them out without taking out a doorframe, door, or wall.

Victory is ours as tank #2 is dragged to the tank graveyard.

It’s a dirty, ugly, smelly job, but now they are finally gone.

October 25, 2014, Backside of Fall

We are on the backside of fall, with November on the horizon next week.  We had a day in the mid 70’s so took a break from the grind of studying and working around the farm for a trip to Ledges State Park.

They grow big leaves here!

It was a great day to take a hike up a creek, especially this one with lots of sand on the bottom. (Emma will be bummed she missed the green stuff near Mom’s head.)

Even though the leave are past prime, there is still enough color to make things interesting. Yes, there are places like this in Iowa!

Martin “owns” the sandstone outcrop.

spindle tree, red berries in pink casing

First time noticing this shrub with brilliant pink berry protectors – this is a spindle tree or Euonymus europaeus.

Euonymus europaeus.jpg

A peek at the berries inside.

July 30, 2014 – More from Chautaqua

Martin tried the Boys and Girls club at Chautaqua.

Here’s one of the gyms.  We were disappointed with the day camp. The duration was only 5 hours a day and it was very unstructured and not programmed nearly as well as the adult programs.  We abandoned the camp and attended other events inside and outside Chautaqua that were more rewarding.

Our front porch is the equivalent of the dock at a cabin.

Hanging out on the porch was a good place to chat and eat dinner.

This is the Hall of Philosophy where most of the lectures in the inter-faith studies were held for her class from Meadville-Lombard.  The broad range of speakers and faith traditions made it a good place for such a class.

Lake Chautaqua is a 17 mile long lake that is along the Institute.

June 1, 2014 – A Superior Getaway: Day 3

Day three is only a few hours in the morning before the long drive back home.

beaver river

However, the Beaver River called as we drove over the bridge on highway 61, so we stepped out for a closer look.

north shore river

I love the minty green of the trees sneaking out of the fog.

Yet another perspective.

gooseberry falls

Finally one more look at Gooseberry middle falls after a night of rain.

gooseberry lower falls

Gooseberry lower falls.

Finally, Mark and Linda selfie.

I was struck with the stark contrast between a story on my phone with my location and experience this morning.  While enjoying the clear waters and parks of Minnesota, I read that the governor of Iowa had cut $9 million dollars from the state parks and outdoors budget and $11 million dollars from the clean water budget, despite being passed by both parties in the state house. Of course, there is enough money to give $110 million to a private company to build a fertilizer plant.

May 17, 2014 – Claire’s Graduation from Macalester

Graduation day at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

toss graduation hat, throw mortar hat

Celebrate!

The assembled audience and graduates.

The president addresses the student body.

Claire moments before grabbing diploma.

And immediately after grabbing the diploma.

Posing for the professional photographer.

With some responsible parties.

Her dad trying to embarrass her by bringing out the Iowa State Honor cords.

Claire and Nana.

Yep, it’s got her name on it!

She wanted a shot on her summer and winter mode of transport.

On the swing at graduation…

and on the same swing at first college visit to Macalester.

In front of the wind turbine at graduation…

and again, on her first tour.

Congratulations Claire. I hope Iceland is prepared for what you bring!

April 12, 2014 – Keepsakes from Transylvania

OK, so it took a while to finish up the Transylvania series.  I end with some of the keepsakes Linda brought back.

Red embroidered cloth is very common in the area.  These are only a couple examples.

A village hat is the keepsake, not the guy wearing it!  Do I look happy like Pharrel Williams?

Delicate bracelets for the girls (shh, they haven’t been home to see them yet).

Edict of Torda

This is an impressed copy of the Edict of Torda, issued in 1568.  It was an important statement of religious freedom when the mainstream church was clamping down on the reformation as nations were trying to consolidate power by merging the dominant religion with the state and creating a state religion resulting in providing a reason to torture or kill those who were opposed to the state-imposed religion. To refresh your memories, Martin Luther’s 95 theses were posted in 1517. The thoughts live on in the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment a couple hunder years later: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Transylvanian Blessing

This document is a copy of the traditional Transylvanian blessing, found in churches and homes across Transylvania.

Finally a couple of tapestries, one them a gift from the Bishop.

April 10, 2014 – People to Remember

It is most appropriate to lead off the wonderful people Linda met with Lajos, the minister at our partner church.

IMG_0072

In his trip to Iowa we were able to host him for a meal at our farm.

Linda tagged along on a regional minister’s meeting.

Some spouses waited patiently for the meeting to end.

Here Linda is with Nora, the English teacher at the seminary.

Food

and drink on a girl’s night out with Nora.

Linda also was honored to meet a Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian Church.  He’s my kind of guy as he insisted Linda bring a gift of hospitality home with her for me – some pálinka from his own stock – a distilled spirit of fruit juices – the saying in Hungary is “what can be used to prepare jam can also be used to produce pálinka.”

This is Izalda, she and Linda spent some time working together on her English before a big exam.  She passed!  Izalda was very kind taking Linda to the Market, walking around town, and generally begin very cheerful to be around.

This woma,Maria, is one of hte first women to graduate from the Unitarian seminary in Transylvania.

Finally, Linda whooping it up with the students after hours.

lastdinner

I’ll end the time in Transylvania with this photograph of the good-by supper she had in the seminary.

April 9, 2014 – Teaching at the Seminary

One of the primary reasons for Linda’s trip was to teach English to ministers, seminary students, and a high school class.

This is a group of ministers she was able to meet with.  As many churches in Transylvania have partner churches inthe U.S., an effort is made for the ministers to improve their English skills to be able to communicate with their partner church in the U.S.

Here’s Linda in the classroom with some high schoolers.

In the central courtyard there was a human chess game going on with students acting as the chess pieces.

She spent the most time with the students in seminary.

For one assignment, they were split up into groups.

For the final assignment, Linda had them pretend they were coming to the U.S. and present a U.S.-style  service and present it in English.

Oneof Linda’s favorite shots from the trip – with all the students.