Thursday, July 27, 2006

Blatherskite on a Thursday Night

We've been a busy bunch since we returned from vacation. Mary's had a couple of medical checkups, and last Sunday she was baptized! This was a real family event: my brother, sister-in-law and grand-nephew, my mom, and my aunt and uncle were all in attendance. My brother (my older-older brother, Bob) sister-in-law Angie and grandnephew Luke (who is four, and shares his birth-date with Mary) brought my mom with them for the weekend. Mom stayed with us, but Bob, Angie and Luke stayed one night at the Amana Holiday Inn which features "Der Wasserbahn", a small indoor waterpark. Friday afternoon they let Hannah and Mary join them at the park, and then we all met up again for supper. After we ate we went to see Riders In The Sky perform - what a great show! Their shtick is so funny, and the music is top rate. Saturday Bob and Company came up here, and we got the firepit out after supper and made s'mores. Bob, who is a preacher (the world's greatest, and I'm not just saying that because he's my brother, honest!) gave the sermon to our congregation Sunday morning, and afterwards Mary was immersed. It was a busy, but wonderful weekend.

Hannah's also been extremely busy. For the past two weeks she's been going to College for Kids Fine Arts (C4K-FA) classes, taking Sumi-e (Chinese ink painting) Calligraphy, and Watercolor. Her teachers love her, especially her Sumi-e teacher, who thinks Hannah has natural artistic talent. (This is something her father and I have known for years!) She gushed praise all over Hannah when I met with her, and I assured her that we will definitely continue to encourage Hannah's painting and drawing. Classes finish up tomorrow.

In the meantime, until mid-August we are cat-sitting for my mom again. We (actually, Carl) figured that since she was coming here anyway, she might as well save the extra trip and bring him up now. Mom's going on vacation for a week the second week of August, so Aya is here. This is causing a problem for Moose Mutt who, we have discovered, is a coward when it comes to cats. Earlier this week I let the dog in because a big thunderstorm was coming, and I let him go down into the basement where the cat was. The dog didn't care about the cat - all he was interested in was sniffing around, trying to find a snack. And he did - he found some cat food that the girls had spilled in front of the workbench, and of course he slurped it right up. This ticked off the cat (who is apparently very territorial) and as the dog was slurping away, the cat came up behind him, spat at him and gave him a swat right in the butt. This caused Moose Mutt to retreat to the far end of the basement, and when I tried to get the dog to come to me so I could take him upstairs, he wouldn't come because Aya was under the stairs and he'd have to pass the cat to get to me. So I went around to the other side and called the dog, and as he came toward me the cat lunged at the dog, and clawed him. The dog yelped and ran, and Aya chased him into my studio. Aya had the dog trapped under my worktable, pinned against the wall and hemmed in by a stack of canvases. I needed a broom and a garbage can to gently extract the cat, and once he was gone the dog high-tailed it upstairs and, since the rain had stopped, outside. This is especially funny when you consider that the cat weighs 15 pounds and the dog weighs 105. Another David whips Goliath story, I guess.

So I have the rest of my summer pretty much booked. Cat-sitting until mid-August; Watermelon Days next weekend (y'all come!); church block party the weekend after that; and then school starts for all of us girls. For some reason, I'm apprehensively anticipating the start of the school year. Maybe it's because I'll be the student this time.

Oh, boy.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vacation Pictures!

Here's some pictures from our vacation. I'm not really good at downloading pix onto Blogger, so I hope the captions match up with the photos...

This is Mary's first fish, a little bass. All the fish we caught were small, and all had to be thrown back, but at least the girls caught something!

This is Mary's second fish (under her armpit) a bluegill.

This is Hannah's first fish, also a bluegill. These fish were caught on the girls' trusty Barbie poles. Go figure.

This is our campsite at Lake Okoboji. That's our pickup, camper, and canopy.

This is the girls "locked" inside an antique bank vault at the Higgins Museum of Money. Apparently, Mr. Higgins collected bank notes from the days when each state printed their own money, and also from the days when each town had a "charter" bank (whatever that is).

The girls at Le Mars, Iowa, trying to eat the giant sundae outside of the Ice Cream Museum. The real ice cream we bought inside tasted alot better.

The girls at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Sioux City IA. They're pretending to pet an animated "mannequin" of the Newfoundland dog that went on the expedition.

A sign on the outskirts of Mitchell, South Dakota. It's a billboard advertising a small animal hospital, and underneath the billboard is a banner that says "Hunters Welcome!" I think someone sent a picture of this to Jay Leno for his "Headlines" segment, but I don't know if it ever got onto Dave Barry's blog. Maybe one of you smart MOATies can figure out a way to send this to judi. Maybe she'll even post it!

Why are there no pictures of either Carl or me? Simple! Carl was behind the camera, and I didn't want to post any pictures of me, so there. (Nyeah!) :-P

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vacation Blatherskite, As Promised

To start out, here's the basic schedule of what we did. We had none of this planned in advance. We just thought up what we were going to do as we went along.

June 25 – 30, South Dakota:

<>· Girls went to beach
· Girls went to pool
· Family went to Loren’s
· Out to supper with Gloria and Ken
· Mommy went shopping <>

June 30 – travel to Okoboji
July 1 – flea markets
July 2 – Brandon and Mitchell
July 3 – beach, boat and laundry
July 4 – hang around campground, fireworks at Wahpeton dock
July 5 – Arnolds Park Amusement Park
July 6 – campground in AM, museums in PM
July 7 – Day trip to Sioux City
July 8 – Abbie Gardner, hang around campground, fishing
July 9 – home

South Dakota - we were in Chamberlain, Carl's home town, and we camped at American Creek campground along the Missouri River. This used to be an Army Corps of Engineers site, but now a private enterprise runs it, and it's nice. Lots of trees for lots of shade (our camper doesn't have a pull-out canopy) and it had water, sewer and electrical hookups. It was quiet, too: most of the campers were older couples, some of whom camp there all summer then take their campers down to Texas, Florida or Arizona for the winter. These "snowbirds" must have permanent contracts with the campground - they have decks built next to their campers, and the decks have really nice patio furniture and refrigerators on them. We (of course) spent lots of time with Carl's family, especially his Mom. One night we went out to Carl's brother Loren's farm - the "family" farm. I'm not sure how many generations of Carl's family have lived there, but I think it could qualify as a Century Farm. I gave Hannah (now 12) a driving lesson out there in our pickup. Poor kid, she confused the brake and gas pedals and almost hit the chicken house. Fortunately I was sitting next to her and she pulled her legs back as I reached for the brake with my hand, so I was able to stop the truck in time. This kid definitely needs more time on the tractor before she gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. But the girls had lots of fun swimming. They spent two afternoons at the pool, one with their cousins Jeff and Sarah (Loren's kids). I did a little shopping - I always have to check out the antique stores on Main Street, and I also checked out the new quilt shop. I bought some fabric to make into napkins (eventually).

On Friday we packed up and headed back to Iowa. We went to Gull Point State Park on West Lake Okoboji, in Dickinson County. This park was OK (lots of trees again) but it only had electrical hookup, so we had to be careful about how much water we used. Fortunately we were close to one of the restrooms, so we didn't even come close to filling up the black water tank. This park was much more crowded (4th of July weekend) so there were lots of kids, but also lots of noise. Most of the noise was generated by college students (both male and female) who came to the campground to lay on the beach and drink beer. Their behaviour was annoying, and I kept an extra special watch over my girls to make sure the students didn't give them any grief.

Saturday we went to the flea markets. There were three of them - two were mainly antique sales, but the one at the fairground was a "liquidation" flea market. I got a John Deere plush moose (for my moose collection). Each of us girls got a Beanie (they were 3 for $5) and Mary got a Coleman two-person pup tent (which is now set up in our basement, a story for later). We also got some cinnamon flavored creamed honey, which is delicious! And the weird thing is, the people who sold it knew where we were from because they come to the craft show here every fall. Go figure.

Sunday we went back to South Dakota for the day. We stopped in Brandon to visit with Carl's friend Tim, then we went to Mitchell for a Bode family picnic, organized by Carl's Mom. It was a really nice picnic, and we got to see almost all of Carl's siblings, plus a bunch of his aunts, uncles and cousins. They're a great group, those Bodes. A pleasure to be around. It makes me wish we lived a little closer so we could see them more often. (*sniffle*)

Monday, Carl took the girls to the Okoboji Boat Works for the day, while I went into Milford to do laundry. Carl and the girls rented a paddle boat and tooled around the coast of West Lake Okoboji, and the girls just loved it! After their boat ride, they hung out at the beach until I came to get them. This was not a problem. I didn't mind doing the laundry, really! I mean, can you imagine the results if I had taken the girls to the beach and Carl had done the laundry? EEK!

Tuesday the 4th was a lazy day. We just hung around the campground so as to avoid the traffic in town. (Traffic around Okoboji and Arnolds Park is terrible!!) We did go out once, scouting to find a good place from which to watch the fireworks, and we decided to park at the end of Burr Oak Road, near the Wahpeton public docks. We went back about 9:20, and because we had time the girls and I decided to walk around a little. It was then we discovered that the piers that stick out into the lake were also public property, and anyone who wanted to could sit on the benches. Two very nice ladies (who had a baby) invited us to join them, so we had front row seats to the Okoboji fireworks display. One of the homeowners put his stereo out on the deck so that everyone could hear the musical accompanyment (broadcast by a local radio station) that went with the fireworks. It was all very, very cool.

Wednesday we went to the Arnolds Park Amusement Park. It's a small park, more like a glorified county fair carnival than Six Flags. But we had fun. The rollercoaster is one of the ten best wooden coasters in the country, and the park itself is the oldest amusement park west of the Mississippi. We also wanted to take an exursion on the Queen II tour boat, but the boat was out of service, so we were out of luck. However, I was able to purchase a "University of Okoboji" t-shirt in one of the shops, so that was good.

Thursday was another lazy day. We didn't do much until the afternoon when we went around to some of the local museums. We were too late to tour the Abbie Gardner site, though, so we went back on Saturday.

Friday we took a day trip down to Sioux City, site of the Sergeant Floyd Monument and a Lewis and Clark museum. That was interesting, and informative, and the girls seemed to like it. They really liked the scene-thingy of the Lewis and Clark campsite that had a life-sized animated replica of Lewis and Clark's dog, barking at a prairie dog in a cage. Whatever. On the way back to Gull Point we stopped in Le Mars, Iowa, the Ice Cream Capital of the World and home to Blue Bunny Ice Cream. We toured the museum, which was really neat and featured short (and funny) videos of where ice cream came from and how it's made. And of course we stayed for ice cream. They have a "soda shop" complete with an antique oak soda fountain. Poor Mary's blood sugar jumped way up, so at supper time she needed extra insulin, but she didn't seem to mind. The sundae she had was apparently worth it.

Saturday was yet another lazy day. We went back to the Abbie Gardner Historical Site, where the "Spirit Lake Massacre" happened. This was (again!) a neat, informative place, and the guide running the site was well versed in local history. He made a point of telling "both sides of the story" which I found refreshing, because alot of times you only get the "settlers' version" and not the "Native American" version. We got both versions in a story that mixed them both together and was told quite well by the guide. Afterwards we went back to the campground and lazed around, then in late afternoon we took the girls fishing. Each girl caught their first fish: Mary caught two, a bass and a bluegill, and Hannah caught a bluegill. We tossed the fish back (they were too small to keep) but of course we've got pictures. Carl wasn't fishing (he was helping thie girls) but I was fishing with "Ol' Yeller", a pole my dad gave me when I was a teenager. But do you think I caught anything? HAH!! It is to laugh. But at least the girls caught something.

So Sunday, the vacation was over. We packed up our stuff and headed back home. We had a really wonderful time, and even though this blog is long it doesn't even begin to capture everything we did or all the fun we had. Thanks for reading this long post, folks!

P.S. I'll do another blog post later that's just pictures. I promise!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I promise I'll blog about my vacation as soon as I catch up on various vacation-related household chores like laundry, putting things away and remembering just what exactly happened while we were gone. This is what happens when you don't have wireless Internet and can't blog on a daily basis. But I suppose, when one is camping, the idea is to be away from civilization, which is why the State of Iowa doesn't have wireless Internet at it's state park campgrounds.

Other drawbacks of staying at a State of Iowa DNR run campground:
  • Cold showers
  • Backed up toilets
  • No toilet paper (unless you remember to take your own)
  • Rude neighbors (and their whiny dog)
  • Beer-sotted college boys, tent camping in the space across from us who, when they left, had the back of a Ford F-150 pickup truck filled to capacity with empty beer cans. No, I'm not kidding.
  • No DNR personnel to be found anywhere, except when you don't need help
And a few nice things about staying at a State of Iowa DNR run campground:
  • Lots of mature trees providing lots of shade
  • Inexpensive (i.e. cheap)
  • Nice playground
  • Did I mention it was cheap?
That's all for now. More later!