Friday, April 26, 2013

Beautiful weekend

 Terrace Hill
Two weeks ago I drove to Des Moines to spend a long weekend with my sister and brother-in-law.  The last time I had visited was 2003 for the wedding of my niece - which was great, but not like the relaxed weekends that I used to have with them every few years either on my own or with Gerrit.

I told Carlie that even if all we did was sit inside and talk the whole time, I'd still be happy.  But of course we didn't just sit and talk.  We did things and talked.

We took a tour of Terrace Hill, the 1860's mansion that is now the Governor's mansion.  Perched on a hill with a beautiful view of rolling hills and the city of Des Moines, it has been well-cared for over the years.  A visit to Carlie's workplace and gardens followed - because this has been a cold spring, there wasn't much to see garden-wise, but it was great to meet her co-workers.

We had dinner one night at the home of friends, two of whom I've spent many hours on the phone and email with over the years (my broker and his assistant) but never met face to face.  It was such a fun evening.

We drove the 30 miles to Iowa State University, my alma mater; I hadn't been back in more than 25 years and wanted to stand on central campus and look and look and look.  It was fun to see the familiar buildings - and all the new ones. 

 The Campanile - the iconic symbol of Iowa State on Central Campus

We walked into some of the buildings, including Beardshear, the building where all students had to go to pick up their class schedules (who does that anymore?!).  I didn't remember the beautiful skylights - guess in those days I was too focused on getting my class schedule and getting out of there.

We walked to the Horticulture building and greenhouses where I had taken a couple of electives my senior year.  This odd sculpture is by a sculptor my sister says is well-known.  It's set in a bed of tulips.  Is it supposed to be a tulip? A corn plant? Or both, since this is Iowa, home to miles of cornfields as well as Pella, a Dutch community with a major tulip festival every May?

Back home, we walked around Carlie's garden.  She has lots of beautiful plantings, most of which had yet to bloom.  Lenten rose (hellebore) is something I keep meaning to add to my garden but haven't yet.

One of the many things we reminisced about was a cable access television show my brother-in-law did several decades ago about an aging cowboy artist character.  That discussion prompted him to dig through some boxes in the garage and come up with an assortment of artifacts from the show: bolo ties, collar points, belt buckles, all in a Western theme.  As we sorted through the stuff, I pointed out that one of the pins was sterling silver and suggested he polish it and wear it on his lapel - that it was too pretty to be in a box in the garage.  Later that day, he made a gift of it!  Thank you, Gino!

Saturday night, dinner at a neighbor's, who happens to be a "reader," as in Tarot card reader.  Something I've never had done before.  She only tells good news (there's a comfort) and will do a reading on whatever topic or part of life you are interested in hearing about.  It was interesting and encouraging and confirmed one of the things I've been trying to be, which is open-ended about opportunities.

Sunday was church and a trip to an architectural salvage (and other types of salvage) warehouse - really expensive stuff!  None of us were in the market for anything, and it was fun to wander the floors of the building, wondering what some things were, and telling stories about other things we spied that brought back a childhood memory.  Sunday night we co-opted the television from my brother-in-law to watch Call the Midwife - and did you know there are three books by Jennifer Lee Worth?  Carlie had read the first one and recommended it, and I agree - so well-written with keen observations on life in the East End and the culture of the times.  I'm looking forward to reading the two additional volumes, Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End.

Monday morning my nephew was back in town, so we made an early morning visit to his place before I headed back to Illinois to pick up Oscar who had spent a happy weekend with my parents.

It was a wonderful weekend, and even without the arrow pin to remember it by, it will stay in my heart, thanks to my loving sister and brother-in-law.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Showers

Historic levels of rain in 24 hours

 One block north of my house
the road is a lake.
As are the properties on either side.

 That red car isn't going anywhere

 South a block and around a corner,
the pond in the park has overtaken the roadway.
That white car isn't going anywhere, either.

Sloshy swinging in the park.

Makes me thankful the house I fell in love with 26 years ago happens to be at the top of a hill.  I wish I could say it was strategic planning, but I was not that savvy of a home buyer.

My heart goes out to all who are bailing out basements and dealing with water damage.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter dinner

This year I hosted the family Easter dinner - something I've not done before, because there are always others who are glad to host, and because with my choir schedule during Holy Week (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday night's Easter Vigil, and two services Sunday morning) I have always thought it was more than I wanted to take on.

Plus, my contribution to holiday family parties for most of my married years was our annual Sinterklaas (Dutch St. Nicholas) party in early December.  2009 was the last time I was able to manage that, so I decided this year I wanted to host Easter dinner.

Happily, everyone could come and, as well, everyone offered to bring something.  Which makes it so easy, and so much fun.

Thanks to my Illinois-based family - I loved having you here.