New Roads

rutsLate winter is by nature a time of ruts.

There are ruts in my driveway, ruts in my schedule and ruts in my menu planning.

So when Jan suggesting a quick trip to civilization for supplies this week – I jumped on it!

Then – to spice things up even more – he took a new road.

What a simple concept with profound results.

Instead of driving the well known and frequently traveled highways – we turned off.  Suddenly everything was different.

We meandered over country roads never really sure what was around the next curve.  We crossed over sketchy bridges and looked deep into unknown ravines.

We drove through tiny little towns and wondered about those who lived there.

And slowly our perspectives changed.

The late winter constraints that bound us relaxed their grip.

We talked.

We laughed.

We dreamed new dreams.

And yes, we eventually made it to civilization. We bought the needed groceries, the mineral for the cows and the tractor parts; but this trip wasn’t about the destination.

It was all about the journey and seeing things in a new way.

It was about jumping out of the ruts and banishing the doldrums.

All that because we took a new road.

The Great Painting Mystery of Middlefork Township

At a recent trip to the “big city” Jan and I spend some time at our favorite thrift store.

While there, an oil painting caught my eye.

It was vastly different from the reproductions and cheap prints around it.

It had an old house and barn in the background, with a beautiful leafed out tree with a swing as the focal point.

DSC_0425Was it the bright spring-like colors that attracted me? Or the tree swing?

Whatever the reason, I walked across the aisle and picked it up.

It was obviously an original.

As I turned it over I was surprised to see that that the subject of the painting was “the Stedman farm near Delphos”.

We live 10 miles from a town named Delphos!

That sealed it. The painting was mine.

But the entire trip home I kept wondering about the Stedman farm. Is it still there? The house? The barn? The swing tree? Is it really just a few miles from our house? How many towns named Delphos are there anyway?

DSC_0427And the artist – the name sounded somewhat familiar. Who was she? When was it painted? Why was it at a thrift store in the city?

Hot diggity dog! I think I bought myself a mystery!

I googled the name of the artist. Nothing.

But I got a few hits when I searched for Stedman’s from Delphos.

It seems there were several in Delphos in the late 1800’s. One owned a restaurant and barber shop and another owned the Stedman store – the largest building in town.

And one L.B. Stedman bought two Poland-China pigs named Long Girl and Smooth Katie in 1915.

Maybe not so helpful – but at least I know there were Stedman’s in the area and at least one might have owned a farm.

Maybe some locals might know something.

So I call my friend Bobbi. She grew up in the area and is a fount of information.

But she hadn’t heard of either the farm or the artist. But the last name sounded familiar. She told me to call Chaz, another neighbor.

While he didn’t recognize the artist’s name either – he was able to give the name of a 85 year old women in nursing home who lived here for her entire life and shared the same last name as the artist. Best of all – she’s still sharp as a tack.

Next step?

A trip to town for what I hope is an informative talk with this lady and maybe a stop at the courthouse to check out some abstracts.

I’ll let you know what I discover.

Nothing like a little mystery to brighten up a long winter!

 

The Orange Chair Adventure

Three generations of women.

One grandma. Four aunts. A slew of cousins.

One day of adventure.

One amazing niece who hosted and made the arrangements.

Many miles traveled to enjoy a day of memory making.

EmporiumA flea market. Antique stores.  Curiosity Shops. The Emporium.

Giggles. Laughs. Secret purchases.

Crazy driving.

El BashasA Mediterranean lunch.

Discovering gyros, schwarma, and garlic sauce.

orange chair paradeFinding the perfect orange chair and recruiting cousins to help carry it out of the store, across the busy street, and down two blocks.

Then watching two amazing aunts figure out how to get it in the back of the mini van already packed with bodies and purchases.

cousin photo shootSeizing photo ops to remember the day.

A snapshot in time.

Precious people.

Precious memories.

mom and her girlsAnd of the course – the big orange chair.

Priceless.

Of Flea Markets, Hedge Hogs and Kettle Corn

My parents were here last week.

It was an impromptu visit to fit in a little more adventuring in the gorgeous autumn weather.

Which we did – in grand style.

They were here long enough for my dad to work on my list of projects and have time for an epic fishing trip and my mom to play multiple games with the kids.

Then on Saturday we took them to the Rutledge Flea Market.

Sixty acres of treasures just waiting to be discovered!

Everything from junk to antiques, guns to tupperware, pot bellied pigs to hedge hogs.

Yes, hedge hogs.

hedge hog

Of course Buddy fell immediately in love and thought we needed one. Desperately.

At least until he held it and it sneezed – causing him to be poked and drawing blood in three places.

Since we didn’t really need a hundred dollar pin cushion, we left him there.

When everybody had found sufficient treasures, we bought a bag of fresh hot kettle corn and headed home on the scenic route.

Taking in the fall color, enjoying the warm weather, watching the combines at work and then stopping at several Amish stores.

Cheese curd samples, local pecans, fresh peanut butter, free ice cream.

We ate our way home, tired but happy.

Of Bridges, Parks and Puppy Chow

My niece Sarah came to visit.

10665206_10204999968018216_6736673193094802581_nWe love her.

We love spending time with her.

We love going to thrift stores and antique stores with her. She always finds the craziest things.

10686652_10204999970258272_8071903550618517225_nLike the same creepy cupid print in every place we shopped. It was following us.

We love driving back roads with her and soaking up the beautiful fall views.

And laughing.

10620800_10204999973138344_6768824139870526135_nLots of laughing.

And puppy chow and pot de creme and raspberry scones and pumpkin cheese cake muffins.

And silliness.

1554528_10204999970858287_155935240697903953_nAnd long walks and deep talks.

And beautiful parks with bridges.

10670228_10204999971338299_7207709068947523214_nWe love our Sarah.

Come back again.

Soon.

Girl Power

Our van is broke.

Since it won’t start and it’s stuck in our driveway, Jan had to trailer it in to town.

(May I stop here and point out the fact that this is the third time in 18 months that we have had to tow this particular vehicle? Once on the way home from camping after rodents gnawed away some important wiring, once from Des Moines when the brakes locked up and now because it won’t start.

You may find this bit of history fascinating – but my husband did not.)

Towing the van into town meant he needed to borrow a trailer as the van is exactly 4.187643923 inches too big for ours.

So he borrowed Dagmar’s truck and the neighbor’s trailer.

IMG_20140922_133845_879This is when things got interesting.

The first time we towed this van we rented a car dolly.

The second time we towed this van we rented a trailer from U-haul that has a fancy come-along thing to pull the vehicle up on the trailer.

This time we have the neighbor’s flat bed trailer with no fancy come along thing.

Remember that the van won’t start.

He needed a plan.

He choose gravity.

So he and Buddy used the tractor to pull the van to the top of a small rise in the yard. Then he backed the trailer up to the rise, and they pushed the van down the slight incline to the trailer.

The plan worked well – at first. The van moved beautifully down the slight incline – but when it reached the trailer, there was a slight uphill to get it on the ramps.

And the van wouldn’t budge.

After several tries, they called for reinforcements.

And since both of our strong, handsome older boys are gone – there was only the two girls and me.

Imagine his reaction when two of the three of us showed up in flannel jammie pants wearing cowboy boots and flip flops!

shoesThey shall remain nameless – but I can assure you that I wasn’t one of them.

But sometimes you have to to work with what you’ve got and we were drafted anyway. At least two of the three of us lift weights occasionally.  (Once again – I can assure you that I am not one of them!)

It took several tries but believe it or not – we did it.

We got that van loaded up and ready to go into town.

No fancy come along thing.

Just brute strength. 🙂

Flip flops, cowboy boots, jammie pants and all.

Girl power.

Last Hurrah of Summer

We had one last hurrah of summer over Labor Day weekend.

One last weekend together with my family before the activities of the fall sucked us into it’s whirlpool.

10653704_699084826851910_2769751935112440105_nMy parents. Siblings. Spouses. Nieces. Nephews. Cousins.

Family.

Three generations under one roof.

Filling every minute. Squeezing out every bit of fun.

10665127_699086726851720_4637055652839721326_nTubing down the West Fork with cousins – twice.

Eating.

10698500_699086250185101_2754532246494617138_nHiking to the rock – twice.

Eating.

10414519_699084843518575_95587905122534132_nLaughing till our sides ached.

And eating some more.

10639453_284309921761555_8818700014860785146_nSitting on the porch watching the storm blow in – feeling the changes that were surely coming.

Remembering the past.

Relishing the present.

Anticipating the future.

Making hot sticky memories to enjoy all winter.

One last hurrah.

“Our state fair is the best state fair…”

I love the Iowa State Fair.

Maybe because it has something for everyone!

10433261_10204549168908520_7474021879587634149_nLike a mechanical bull for Dagmar. She stayed on for longer than 8 seconds.

Now she wants to ride a real one.

Oh dear.

IMG_1179And there was the free music.

Here’s Buddy enjoying a steel drum concert while we ate some lunch.

Notice his smile? Not only is he loving the drumming – but he also just found out his infamous yeast rolls earned a blue ribbon!

This momma sighed a huge sigh of relief!IMG_1192Then there’s our tradition of watching the local 5:00 news LIVE from the Fairview Stage!

We got there late and had to stand the entire time – but we saw everything – even the weather green screen and flub ups.

Didn’t catch any of the free food they were throwing out though…

IMG_1202
And what’s the perfect way to end a day at the Iowa State Fair?

A ride on the Ferris wheel with your sweetie as the sun goes down and the lights go up.

Gotta love the Iowa State Fair!

This is Crazy

My baby girl jumped out of an airplane.

Yes she did.

Dagmar walked in, paid big money, and watched a ten minute minute training video.

Before I knew it – she was geared up and ready to jump.

IMG_6718Yes, jump – right out of that tiny little airplane behind her.

Thirteen thousand feet in the sky.

Seriously?

 

IMG_6728Once in the plane she was harnessed to the professional jumper behind her as they climbed in altitude.

And then she jumped.

IMG_6737Out of a plane at thirteen thousand feet.

Harnessed to a man she had just met.

IMG_6739And she fell through the clouds screaming and laughing.

This is crazy.

IMG_6750Free falling through the clouds.

And loving every minute.

IMG_6845Thankfully the chute opened.

And there she was floating in the sky – held up by just a blue and grey piece of nylon   attached to a guy she had just met.

This is crazy.

That is my daughter – who is already saving up to do it again.

Swapping Stories, Swatting Bugs

I can’t believe it’s been over a week since we got home from our extended family camping trip!

Country Fair week just seems to consume every spare minute.

But this morning – the house is quiet, the washer is humming, and I’m going to take a few minutes to relax and remember some of the special memories.

Things like our annual family hike. Because of flooding  we couldn’t take our usual trails, so we took the drier – more vertical ones – past the Indian burial mounds and through the mosquito infested swamps.

DSC_0014 There’s nothing like swatting mosquitoes and sweating up and down limestone stairs to build some family memories!

And then there was the food. Gallons of my brother-in-law’s famous homemade ice cream, an entire table of baked goods and snacks, and lots of garden produce. Yes – we ate our veggies. 🙂

campfireWe had our annual campfire. Hot dogs, and all the fixings – including for the first time ever – the square marshmallow.

These were designed to better fit in a s’more so that there is gooey marshmallow in every bite.

s'moreWhile enjoyed by many – there were still purists among us who insisted the Jet Puff was the only true marshmallow.

We won’t soon forget the infamous family kick ball game that sent one to the doctor and left many of us stiff and sore.

Or the Family Improv Night which proved to be one of the funniest ever.  My brother’s skillful avoidance of wearing a dress and seeing my nephew in a red flannel union suit was priceless. (There are pictures – but I am not brave enough to post them. Christmas is coming.)

And this one makes me smile –

DSC_0109Sitting at dusk in lawn chairs in the back of pick-up trucks parked on the side of the road  watching fireworks.

Perfect.

But this –

sweet fellowshipThis is what I love most.

Sitting around in lawn chairs with the people I love dearly, swapping stories, sharing laughs and swatting bugs.

This is what it’s all about.