Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More photos: New Albin, Iowa, late spring

I took a few snaps of the farmland around town. Now there is only one photographer in our family, and I am not he, but I still have fun now and then. Click on the thumbnails for bigger versions.

The first is looking up Cemetery Road toward the Tom Reburn farm, with its famous 12-sided barn.

See that up there??

I just learned how to replace my text blog header with an image.

(That photo was taken about 30 minutes ago, from the north side of town, right at the state line.)

More Turtles

When Lil Miss A and I biked to school this morning, we found Terry Lottawhiskers, one of the custodians, walking around among the bikes parked outside, looking for something. It turned out to be a turtle, a big one this time, with a shell about saucer-sized. He sighed, picked it up and said he would add it to The Collection. I said, "What collection?" Turned out kids had been bringing turtles to school nearly every day. Terry stores them in a bucket until he has a chance to take a break and carry them down to the wetlands to release them. He showed me today's bucket as he added this turtle to The Collection. She was the 4th for the day.

Terry may be big and gruff-looking, but he let a little of his soft side show in the way he tenderly stowed away that turtle for safe keeping.

Gardening as an act of faith

In the past few weeks, the children of one of our local ladies, Edna Don, have rallied to care for their mother after her announcement that she had what was probably terminal cancer. She lived in her own home to the very end, with the help of her children. A steady parade of vehicles with out-of-state plates appeared at the house as they took turns caring for her and her house.

One of the sweetest things they did was to plant her garden for her this spring. Edna had a beautiful garden every year, with nary a weed to be seen. Her kids planted the garden once more. What an act of faith, to plant a garden and assume that she would be around to see it bear fruit!

Well, this time God's answer was "no," and He called Edna home. Her children are now taking care of her affairs, cleaning out her home to be used as a vacation place for their families, at least for awhile, and going through the process of grief. Meanwhile, Edna's garden grows.


Monday, May 28, 2007

New Albin Area Veterans Memorial

Saturday afternoon was the dedication of the new New Albin Area Veterans Memorial. There was a wonderful ceremony, with speeches, prayers and reminiscences by brothers and nephews of veterans. The three living Gold Star Mothers of our town did the actual unveiling. The Kee High Band played. I like the monument itself. Elegant is the only word I can find to describe it.

This obnoxious-looking vehicle from was there protesting military spending from a legal distance away so nobody could kick them out:

The next day they showed up at Kee High graduation, but they made the mistake of parking illegally, and I was able to get the Lansing patrol officer to at least move them down the road a bit.

Kathleen and Mark, married Spring 2007

After a very tough few years, during which she lost first a child, then her husband, my friend Kathleen is married to her new husband Mark Hidingout. They had a small civil ceremony, and then Friday evening a big picnic reception at the local park. Mark comes from a huge family. When the photographer said, "Okay, we need all the family together over here for pictures," about 70 of the 100 or so people at the picnic got up and moved "over there."

Best wishes for years of joy together, Mark and Kathleen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Love, Iowa Style

This is a quote from a personal ad that appeared in our local shopper paper:

Happy 60th Birthday to my Sweetheart.
You've been my best friend for 40 years now, my cook, nurse and bale-unloader....

Yep, that's true love. When you'll cook for a man AND unload bales for him, it's for real.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Turtle hatchlings are everywhere. I nearly stepped on this tiny one as I walked out my back door. He was on the sidewalk.

My pictures really don't get across how tiny and yet how perfect he is. (Was. I released him down by the river.) He was amazing, a perfect miniature turtle with teeny claws and teeny little muscles. So cute.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Old Steamer Trunk from Spring Grove

The Spring Grove Syttende Mai Citywide Garage Sales were Friday and Saturday. My friend Lisa Fruitful and I made our annual pilgrimage. We took her van because the seats are removable. Heh.

I found lots of goodies, but this is the Find of Finds:

It's a wonderful old steamer trunk with drawers and a space for hanging clothes.

Guess how much. Just guess. Go ahead.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Also from that surplus auction

Here's something else I got for a dollar at that school surplus auction:

It's an old wooden filing cabinet. I haven't yet figured out how old it is. I'm stripping that brown paint off the hardware which is dark brown something; if it's Bakelite, that will be a good clue. (Update: Not Bakelite. The stripper melted them.) Anyway, I had a hint of what wood was underneath by a couple of chips, so I knew it was worth bidding on. Just didn't guess that nobody else would bother to bid against me.

Here's the side I have stripped so far. Oak!

Pretty oak, too.

I asked Barry what he thought and he said it is beautiful, so since he likes it, I'm going to try to get it finished by Father's Day and give it to him as a gift.

Book Cataloging Project Proceeds Apace

My book cataloging project has had a few stops and starts but is now moving along expediently. I have 888 books cataloged and figure I am probably about 2/3 done with the project.

It was helped along considerably by our school district's surplus supplies and furniture sale a few weeks ago. It was held in the old middle school gym and was very well advertised, yet somehow very poorly attended. I suspect it was because there were two collectible/estate auctions the very same day within a few miles' radius. Anyway, prices were very, very low. I doubt the school district probably even covered the cost of the auctioneer.

Among other things, I bought an old wooden bookcase measuring 9 feet long by 3 feet high, with adjustable shelves, for a dollar. It fits beautifully right under the windows of one end of my front porch. I tell you, it's much more fun to debox books, catalog them and place them on new bookshelves than it is to put them back into their giant Rubbermaid tubs to go back into dark, cold, sad storage!

I also figured out a more efficient way to enter books into my Collectorz software, and that is also helping.

Then, to top it all off, Tuesday morning I got a phone call from one of the custodians at the school district asking me if I wanted any more shelves. Some that had sold had never been claimed, and they needed to get them moved out. DID I WANT MORE BOOKSHELVES? Of course I did! To make things even nicer, he was on his way to New Albin with the truck, and he offered to drop them off at my house. When he arrived, he had a long low set of shelves that goes neatly on the OTHER end of the front porch, plus a not-so-long-but-taller set that I put on the back porch.

It's been a long time since I had empty space on any bookshelves around here, but I think it may actually be the case here when I get everything out and deboxed. Of course this means that I get to buy more books. Right?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coffee roasting in a cast iron pan

I started buying green coffee beans and roasting them on the stove a couple of months ago and I'm totally hooked. This is a neat video from YouTube showing how it's done on the stovetop. (I use a cast iron frying pan to spread the beans out a bit more than this person does it.) Takes about 20 minutes all told once a week and we're good to go - and the taste is so wonderful.

Take the Nerd Quiz

After scoring so well on the Geek Quiz, I thought I'd do better on the Nerd Quiz, but as you can see,

I am nerdier than 40% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

I didn't.

I know I'm no uberGeek, but after all, lots of the stuff in Weird Al's White and Nerdy song really resounded with me. I actually do take my laptop into the bathtub with me, I edit Wikipedia (doesn't everybody?), I can recite chunks, though not all, of Monty Python's Holy Grail, and let's not go into what I think of bubble wrap. Yet, I am less nerdy than half the population.

There. I just assumed a fetal position and sobbed.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A few of the reasons why I love my life

1. The scent of lilacs.
2. The sounds parent Canada geese make to their babies down in the marsh.
3. The way my laundry flaps itself dry on the clothesline.
4. Working on my laptop on the back porch with the dog and two cats lying in snoring piles around my feet.
5. Birdsong that I am too ignorant to identify, but so sweet.
6. Having Caller ID so I only have to answer calls from those I like and/or love.
7. Knowing my children are just down the road, learning things, and that they will be home soon.
8. Banty chicks following their mom around and learning to scratch in the warm earth.
9. Junebugs, a month early.
10. Waking in the middle of the night just a little bit chilly, with a night wind blowing through the house, a warm husband just inches away, and knowing that I still have hours to sleep.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

But isn't that the best part?

This, written in small capital letters on a package of delicious Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough:


Okay, I had to laugh at this spam.

This was the title:

RE: Your [insert name of body part that is source of great pride for most males] is smaller than the smallest cell phone.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A small miracle of motherhood

The eggs I told you about never developed. So I ordered baby banties from, and they arrived today. I split an order of 15 with the Winner family. Most hatcheries send you a few extra chicks just in case some don't make the trip, and so we got 18 in the box this morning. Sure enough, one wasn't doing very well. When I opened the box, the poor little chicks were all in a pile to stay warm, and he was at the bottom of the pile. I got him to drink right away, but he kept falling asleep while all the others quickly figured out the water dish and food bowl and were galloping around exploring.

When Mrs. Winner came over to take her half of the chicks, she took a good look at him and said he probably wasn't going to make it. I told her I wanted that one in my half. (She is a pragmatist. I know you're just supposed to toss those defective chicks, and I suspect that is what any normal person would do, but I can't stand to do it.)

I have a broody hen at the moment: Eowyn, my birchen cochin banty, has been sitting on fake eggs for a couple of weeks now. Louise, the red frizzle, who if I remember correctly has never gone broody in her silly little peabrained life, suddenly decided she wanted to set the eggs too, just a few days ago, so they are both squashed into the same nest shoving each other back and forth and stealing fake eggs from one another. I put Louise in another nesting box and stuck the sickly little chick under Eowyn's chest. As I pulled my hand out I scooped the fake eggs out too and then I gave them to Louise so she would stay in the other box.

Eowyn didn't act any differently than she usually does when I mess around with her fake eggs: She puffed up and growled at me, but that was all. I couldn't tell if she felt that little feller underneath her or not. After a few minutes I peeked under her to find that little chick standing up on his feet so that he could get up close to her, between her feathers. He looked much more lively than he had before! He needed a real mommy!

Inspired by his success, I got the box containing the rest of the chicks and one by one put them under Eowyn. She settled herself around in her nest, kind of shuffled around, but other than that she didn't react much. Toward the end, I put a chick just in front of her, not under her, and she looked at it, very gently pecked at its beak a little bit and then tucked it under her feathers. All 9 chicks are out there now, cuddling underneath Eowyn, and so quiet. They were peeping like crazy in their box. Now they make soft little whispery happy chick noises but no crying. Eowyn is just sitting there. When a chick tries to peek out, she tucks it back in again, but other than that she just sets there with them. It's so cute. She thinks they hatched all at once, I guess.

My concern now is that she will realize that they need to eat and drink. They are already 2 days old, so unlike chicks that she really just hatched herself, they are at an age where they are starting to need nourishment. The food and water are very close to her nest, so she can guide them to it if she figures it out. I'm going to check on them in another hour or so.

Meanwhile, Louise can see Eowyn's nest from her new one, and every time a baby chick peeks out from Eowyn's feathers, Louise growls at it. I am a little worried of what she might do if one gets too close to her "eggs." Hopefully Eowyn is a tough enough little mama to protect her little family.

I don't know if that one weak little chick will make it, but at least he has a fighting chance now, and if he dies, I know at least he feels safe and warm in his last hours. He knows he is where he belongs, underneath his nice warm mama.

UPDATE (didn't take long, did it?): The chicks have gotten warm and comfy under their mama and are getting more rambunctious, trying to escape. She doesn't much like it when they come out. I scattered food around near the box and they are finding it. The sickly baby was nearly dead when I checked; looked like he was squashed. I took him out and ended his life. Like I said, I know his last couple of hours were spent under a nice warm hen and that has to be a good thing.

I took some pictures:

Here is Eowyn getting to know one of her blue cochin babies.

More babies. The black ones with yellow blotches on their heads are barred cochins.

She has a couple of partridge cochins in there but they won't come out to have their pictures taken.

Finally, here is Louise and her fake eggs that she no longer has to share. She looks pretty fierce, but it's all show; she isn't actually even keeping them all underneath her, so it's a good thing they are not real.