Monday, March 27, 2017

Growing and Learning

Today was my second to last drawing class.  We worked with Conte Crayons, which are a combination of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with wax.  This was totally new to me.  It was challenging and fun.

I love learning new things, and I am thinking about what class I want to take this summer.  I want to keep growing my skills, and when it comes to art, I can't do this without a good instructor.  I am thinking about learning to draw with pastels.  I like the idea of doing something with lots of color. The class that is being offered will spend time outside the Des Moines Art Center in Greenwood Park.  That idea really appeals to me.

Another thing growing in my house are the little tomatoes in the Aerogarden.  I wonder if I will end up with ripened edible tomatoes?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

RV Envy

This weekend is the RV and Camping Show at the Fairgrounds.  It's a great day to look at RVs and dream of better weather, because it is way too wet and dreary to actually be camping.  My sister, Jacci, and I went to check things out.

We come from a family where camping was a way of life.  Every year our parents would pack us all up in the station wagon, load the top carrier with the tent and sleeping bags, and we would head out for vacation.  I thought everyone did this.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized how fortunate we were

It is also a family tradition to get together at least once each year for Family Campout.  We have a big family get together with relatives from Iowa and Kansas, usually somewhere in southern Iowa.  Nine Eagles and Lake of Three Fires are two favorite destinations.  Some of us camp.  Some of us just drive down for the day to eat, and talk, and eat, and sit around the campfire, and eat.

For a long time I have wanted a small RV so I could pack up my dogs and head out to visit family and friends, and explore the out of doors.  So far it hasn't been in the budget, but I think I am getting closer.  That's why it is so much fun to go to an RV show and walk through all these vehicles.

I will not consider the $445,000 bus that costs three times as much as my house.  But some of these others might be in the running.  I like the high end finishings of the Winnebago Navion, but the Four Winds or Winnebago Spirit might be closer to my budget, and I would love to have either of them.

It's fun to look and dream!  Maybe I should buy some lottery tickets?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Three Hour Lunches

Three hours is the average amount of time that it takes for my friend, Nadine, and I to have lunch or coffee or wherever we get together.  We have spent longer, and occasionally our lunches are shorter.  It doesn't take that long for us to eat, but it does take that long to discuss all the important issues in our lives and analyze and solve the problems of the world.

I met Nadine in my first year of teaching, which was 1987.  We were teaching at Edmunds Academy of Fine Arts.  She was teaching first grade, and I was teaching fourth grade basic skills.  We didn't get to know each other very well that first year. I was in two schools that year, and we were in different grade levels, The next year, however,  I moved to first grade.  Edmunds was an open spaces building in those days, so we team taught.  We have been best friends ever since.

She has been there for me through all these thirty years and I feel truly blessed to know her and to have her in my life.  We have cried together, and we have laughed together.  We mostly laugh together. I can share anything with her, and I am so grateful to have her as my friend.

I have been subbing this week, but mostly working half days, so we were able to meet for coffee this afternoon.  It was short, only 2 1/2 hours. It made for a wonderful afternoon.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Des Moines Art Center

I am so grateful that I am able to take art classes at the Des Moines Art Center.  It is a wonderful opportunity to learn in such a great setting.  It's fun to use the equipment, and get to know other people who also have a love for art.  It is also gratifying to see my skills grow.  I could never do this on my own.

This week we worked with charcoal.  I wisely wore black, which is good because it was messy.  In my Art for the Curious class last semester, we used charcoal at an early lesson.  I remember that time, I drew a skull, but after I had the basic sketch I didn't know where to go from there.  Since that time, we have learned a lot about value.  This time I felt that I had tools to continue to improve my drawing.

We have just two classes left, so I will soon be thinking about what I would like to learn next.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


I flipped on the television this morning and was channel surfing when I saw an advertisement for an Emergency Food Supply.  It was running on one of the Christian stations.  It caught my eye, because just the week before I had seen a large display of these same buckets at Sam's Club.  Costco also featured them in an ad.

The Emergency Food Storage bucket as featured in the Costco Wholesale flyer.  3/23/17 - 4/17/17.

The speaker on TV was talking about how important this was to have not just because of weather emergencies, or power outages, but because of the coming Apocalypse.  What?  My first reaction was what is the matter with these people?  Isn't that God's choice, not ours?  Are these people trying to bring an apocalypse about?  I just don't understand!  Furthermore, why are they cultivating fear, and then trying to make money from it?

Then I went to church.  Today's sermon was called Receive Reconciliation, and in his message, Pastor Dave was talking about how divided we have become as Christians.  How we judge one another, and limit ourselves to a group that shares our same views, rather than reach out and share and communicate with those who believe differently.  You know, like I had been doing just an hour earlier.

Once again, I came to church in need, and received an important lesson which will help me through the coming weeks.  Our scripture was from Romans 5.  I especially like verse 2-4,
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us to the grace in which we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to the day on which we will become all that God has intended.  But not only that -- we even rejoice in our afflictions!  We know that affliction produces perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and character, hope.
So I choose hope!  I choose to keep working to make this world a better place, by doing whatever I can to be kind and caring.   I choose not to live in fear.  I choose to try to be a better person who takes the time to listen and understand others.

Later in the day I met my sister to walk at Copper Creek.  It was a breezy but glorious day.  When I told her about the ad for the the Emergency Food Supply, she reminded me that this fear seems to be cyclical.  There was a great deal of talk about the end of times at the millennium just 17 years ago, and again a few years ago when we reached the end of the Aztec calendar.  I had forgotten about all of that.

I am grateful for hope, I am grateful for my church and Pastor Dave, and I am incredibly grateful for my beautiful sister, Jacci.

I really loved the greeting that we began the worship service with:

                                       "He drew a circle that shut me out--
                                         Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
                                         But Love and I had the wit to win:
                                         We drew a circle that took him in!"                                                                                      --Edwin Markham

I choose hope and love, and everything that goes with it!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Raised Bed Gardening: Step 1

I have a back yard garden that is long and narrow.  While I have great success with tomatoes, peppers and squash, I have yet to eat any of the green beans.  The bunnies always beat me to them.  Over the winter I did a lot reading about raised bed gardening.  I decided I am going to give it a try by building two raised beds.  By building the beds, fencing them, and possibly even covering them, I hope to add a little variety to my vegetable garden.

I did a lot of research into raised bed options.  My carpentry skills are limited, but there are a lot of kits out there.  With wood, rotting can be a problem, so I decided to build mine out of brick or stone. I had priced several types of stone and edgers at Menards and Lowe's.  Then a friend suggested that I check out the Habitat for Humanity Restore.   I sure am glad that I did, because I found five hole brick there.  Each brick is about a foot long, and they only cost me fifty cents per brick, a fraction of what it would have been if I bought new.  I should be able to build both beds for less than what one bed would have cost.

Today I laid out the foundation for the two beds.  I have to do some leveling of the ground before I actually build the beds.  I am going to use three layers of bricks to make the walls of the beds.  Next thing I have to figure out is where I can buy some garden quality soil.  Do you have any suggestions?

After working in the yard for a while, I loaded Winnie and Chloe in the car and we went walking at Copper Creek.  They loved it and I have two happy but tired little dogs now.

There are so many things to be grateful for;  my two adorable little dogs, an opportunity to get outside and work in my yard, and a beautiful sunshiny day.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Political Activism

Today I attended a town hall with Senator Joni Ernst.  This one was held at Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University.  I am far from a political activist, but I am trying to be a good citizen.  I am trying to be well informed, to research and verify stories, and to stand up and be counted.  That all sounds pretty good when I think about doing these things a week or two before the event, but I often want to forget the whole thing when the actual time comes.  This time I went!

I am very grateful for the people who stood up to ask questions.  Almost all were well thought out, and well spoken.  Most speakers used data and research to support their questions and positions.  Almost all were about important issues that are on most people's minds these days.  Some used humor to lighten the mood.  All, but one were respectful.  Unfortunately, Senator Ernst sidestepped most of these questions, and was vague about others.

I was grateful to see how many people came out to this event held during spring break on a mostly empty college campus, at 5:00 on a Friday, which also happened to be St. Patrick's Day.  It was a full house.  The auditorium was full of people of a variety of ages and varied experiences.

I went because I wanted to hear how Senator Ernst responded to the issues.  Mostly I went because I want our representatives to know that whatever they do, they are accountable to their constituents.

Along with occasionally attending events like this, I am disciplining myself to express my views and concerns to my representatives.  I discovered a website/app called Countable that is helping me to do that.  It lets me know what issues are up for votes during the week.  It also lets me know how my representatives voted.  The thing I like best is that you can put in your zip code to find out who your representatives are.  Then you can write an email that goes to all those representatives, two senators and congressman.  At first I was skeptical, but I have received responses from all three of my representatives.  I am looking at what I can and actually WILL DO to make  myself heard.  If you are interested, I suggest you check out Countable to see if it works for you.

This week I wrote to my representatives about my concerns about the American Health Care Act and I attended this town hall meeting.  I am pretty darned proud of myself!  This is what democracy is all about!