Friday, June 29, 2012

Welcome to Council Bluffs?

On our trip to the College World Series, when we got to Council Bluffs, IA, directly across the Missouri River from Omaha, we were met by this sight, along with two more on the other side of the overpass bridge that we went under:

Apparently these four objects, for lack of a better word, are commissioned sculptures designed to make visitors feel welcome to the city.  

Seeing that "welcomed" was not my reaction at all, I googled them (which is where this picture was pulled) and discovered that - surprise, surprise - the people of Council Bluffs think that they are hideous.  I agree.  They look like someone welded together junkyard metal and then called it "art."

One person commented that it looks like "Come to Council Bluffs.  We'll welcome you and then we'll stab you." I kind of agree.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"The Roberts Opinion: It's Not All Bad"

This opinion is well worth the read.  There is a good chance that this may be the victory for a battle but not for the war.  Those of us who do not want this monstrous invasion of our free choice to be fully enacted need to do all we can to get it overturned via a new president this November.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Love This Picture. . .

Taken by Mike's brother Steve last weekend.

Wisdom from Amy Carmichael

On our trip I did some reading on Kindle for iPad.  One book I've downloaded on there is 10 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe.  In the chapter devoted to Amy Carmichael, he writes the following:

"Amma and her associates practiced John 15:7, trusting God to guide them by the Word and provide for their needs one day at a time.  I think it would be good for some of us to get acquainted with Amy Carmichael's principles for prayer:

(1) We don't need to explain to our Father things that are known to Him.

(2) We don't need to press Him, as if we had to deal with an unwilling God.

(3) We don't need to suggest to Him what to do, for He Himself knows what to do.

"If all of us took these principles to heart, think of the religious speeches that would be silenced in many prayer meetings."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Surrounded By Nature

Mike and his siblings were together this past weekend at a country place for a retreat.  His brother's latest interest is photography, and he's taken some beautiful nature pictures.  He also took some nice shots of the family, but I'm limiting this to the nature photography.

The Congaree Swamp is close by--

Sunflower and cornfields for the wildlife--

They saw this owl in broad daylight--

--and I can't resist including this one of Maureen in the sunflower field.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And Finally, The Detour On The Way Home

While we were considering this trip, I realized that we wouldn't be terribly far from the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, MO.

I've always been a big fan of the Little House series, and also have a number of other books written by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Her children's books are classics - and one mark of a children's classic is that it is interesting to adults as well as to children.  I've read her work many, many times - and not only as a child.  I've also read many of her adult essays, written as columns for the local newspaper.

The first possible goal was to go to the site of where her later books were set - De Smet, SD.  (By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Hard Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.)  But MapQuest showed that it would be an additional four hours north, in addition to the eighteen we had already driven.  And that doesn't count the four to return.  That's when the idea for going to the Missouri site - where she lived her adult years and where she actually wrote the books - percolated and came to pass.

Mike was a trouper.  He was still flying high about going to the CWS, and yet he took his wife out of the way, the next day, to the site where one of her favorite childhood authors lived.  Kind of an unusual combination of destinations for one trip.  We drove hard all day in order to get there in time.  I got there just in time for one of the tours, so our timing was perfect.

Here we are on the front porch of the Wilders' home.

Below is the best picture I got of the house.  Almanzo Wilder built this house room by room.  They lived in the small kitchen as a one-room house until they had the money to start adding rooms.  They had lived such a difficult life as pioneers that this was no hardship for them.

The pictures are only of the exterior as no pictures were allowed on the inside.  Postcards were available.

The house was built throughout the 20th century as they added rooms.  Laura died in 1957, several years after Almanzo, so they have both been gone for 54 years.  The linoleum in the kitchen has been replaced, as have all the curtains in the house.  And the wallpaper in two rooms has been replaced, but has been matched exactly to be what the Wilders had put up originally.  Other than that, everything in the home is original.  It was such a treat to see Laura's dishes, her table linens, bedroom, books, needlework, and the clock Almanzo bought her for their first Christmas (still running).

This is the porch off the kitchen (the first room built).  You can't really see it to the right, but there is a small lean-to built to accommodate the refrigerator.  When they finally purchased one (after their daughter had installed electricity in the house), it turned out to be too big for the place they had planned to put it in the small room.  So, rather than return it, Almanzo just built a little "addition" to the kitchen and put the refrigerator in that little alcove.  He was quite the innovator.

Me outside the side screened-in porch - not the same porch as the one above.  This one is on the left of the picture of the house above.
 The town of Mansfield was a pretty typical southern town.  They have capitalized on the Wilder connection - don't remember exactly the names, but several retail establishments were named after Wilder associations.  (Seems like there was a Ma's Bakery.)  And above is a mural of the town painted on the side of one of the downtown buildings - showcasing the main local attraction.

There was a museum next to the house that included many mementos of the Ingalls and Wilder families, including Pa's fiddle.  About half of it was dedicated to the life of Rose Wilder Lane, Laura's daughter. Her life was not as interesting to me as Laura's, so I skipped over that part fairly quickly.

We left the town and drove to Jonesboro, Arkansas, where we spent the night.  The Ozarks of Arkansas were also what I would describe as "tired-looking," but then we got to the flatlands, and that area was much nicer.  We did not know that Arkansas is the leading rice producer in the United States, but certainly know it now - the route led through the most productive area of the state, and we saw rice field after field.

It was a great trip, and seeing the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home in Mansfield, Missouri, was truly a highlight for me.

Lied Lodge

If you are ever in Nebraska City, NE (45 minutes south of Omaha, about the same east of Lincoln), you should try to check out Lied Lodge.  I found this place on the internet while we were looking for lodging for our trip.  When we drove up, Mike said "You really know how to pick them!"  We really enjoyed the ambiance of this place.

It's run by the Arbor Day Foundation, so everything is very nature-oriented.  The high roof of the lobby is held up by lodgepole pines from the northwest, so the entire atmosphere reminded us of the hotels in Glacier National Park, which we visited fifteen years ago.

There were a lot of nature trails on the property.  We didn't get to explore as far as we would have liked because of a wedding reception being held in the barns at the end of the trail.  There were a lot of bird sounds that we recognized but it was close to sundown and there weren't places to sit still along the trails long enough to get the birds to come close.  

The view from the back terrace of the hotel.  Part of the terrace is at the back of the lodge dining room, so we ate a couple of meals out back overlooking the orchards and woods.

It looks almost like part of a castle.

Mike on the trails.  This was a nice place to visit and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trip to the College World Series

I had most of this post completed when something happened and it disappeared.  Oh well, will start again.  This post will be about the game we went to, and the next two will be about the lodge where we stayed and the stop we made on the way home at the Laura Ingalls Wilder home in Mansfield, MO.

We took an impromptu trip to Omaha, NE, over the weekend.  Last year when USC won the CWS for the second year in a row, Mike said that if they made it this far we were going to go.  So after a couple of days of going back and forth about it, we packed the car and left last Thursday morning.  (The posts that appeared on here over the weekend were pre-entered as I don't like to post on the internet that we are gone somewhere.) 

The first night we went as far as Festus, MO.  In Marion, IL, we got off the interstate and traveled westward to the Old River Road and drove up it, crossing the Mississippi on a pretty bridge at Chester, IL.  The original plan was to get west of St. Louis, but by the time of getting gas in Festus, we had traveled eleven hours that day and the driver had had enough for one day.  

On Friday we had planned to briefly visit my cousin in Kansas City, but during Thursday night her husband got sick and so that plan was scratched.  So we just traveled to our destination of Nebraska City, NE, located 45 minutes south of Omaha.

The pictures are from our time at the game.  I am sitting here in seats from the old Rosenblatt Stadium, which is being torn down this month.  It was home to the CWS for something like 60 years.  While there, another USC family sat down next to me - turns out it was the family of one of the Gamecock freshman pitchers, and the girl with them is going to ML's college this fall.  Small world.

The fan was one of many given out by the Gamecock Club.  People were waving them all over the stadium.  The back side has a K and people especially waved them whenever there was a strikeout.

Mike holding both our fans outside the side entrance to the TD Ameritrade Park.

The next two are of Mike, and then yours truly, outside the front entrance of the park.  The bronze statue at the left is apparently very famous.

Just an example of the huge crowd milling around outside.  It was absolutely huge - 25,000 attendees at the game.

Our first view of the inside of TD Ameritrade Park.  Quite the sight, especially for first-timers like us.

This man (in the middle) was wearing a black cap that said WWII Veteran.  It took him and his wife (in orange) about 5-10 minutes just to maneuver into their seats with their walkers and with much help.  It was neat to see that veteran probably in his 90s have the opportunity to see this big game.

And the view after night fell.  It was a great night, made even better by the Gamecocks' 7-3 win over big rival Florida!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

. . .to my husband, father of our two children. . .
and to my own father also!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Beautiful Location

This is the location where my daughter's best friend all through school got married a couple of weeks ago.  It was at a retreat center located north of here - I had never been there before.  The cross looking out on the lake, a beautiful sunny day - it was a lovely place for a wedding.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Link

This is an outstanding article in Christianity Today.  I posted it on FB but decided to put the link on here also.  It's a little long but is worth the read for anyone who is interested in the evolution of the church over the past fifty years or so.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Swimming-Pool Cake

I wanted to post this last week, during ML's birthday week, but never got it done.  Out of all her birthday cakes, this was the one that she and I had the most fun decorating.  I just wish it was a better picture and that the close-ups were more visible.
This was a swimming pool cake.  The brown part is the lid of a copy-paper box with the inside cut out at just the right size so that a 13x9 cake pan could be lowered down into the hole.  We iced the cake with blue icing, of course, and then added blue gel for waves.  We decorated it with teddy-bear grahams that had all manner of swimming suits piped onto them with various colors of icing.  We made a diving board with a stick of chewing gum on the top of a stack of unwrapped starburst candies, beach towels out of chewing gum also, and plastic pool rings out of gummy LifeSavers.

We had so much fun decorating that cake that it was almost a disappointment to finally cut and eat it.

Friday, June 8, 2012

US Debt vs. a Household Budget

I've seen this in several places on the internet, and read this morning that it originated with the Gainesville GA Tea Party.  Whatever the source, it is very instructive.  

Why S&P Downgraded the US:
U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
Federal budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent [April] budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Budget cuts: $385

Thursday, June 7, 2012

An Unusual Compliment For My Husband

I was talking with one of my sisters-in-law the other night, and she told me that, after Jane's funeral, two women came up to her (I don't know either one) and told her that after hearing that service, when their own times come, they want Mike to do the eulogies at their funerals!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brightening Up The House

We are brightening up our house.  
ML's room was yesterday - she got tired of the bright red that she wanted three years ago - and now it's the hallway.  Andrew's room is next but I think we're doing it a light blue.  And. . .if there is enough off-white paint. . .maybe I can talk the main painter into covering the dated wallpaper in the kitchen. . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy Birthday ML!

From sunflowers at age five -

to sunflowers at age 21 -
 Happy birthday to my beautiful daughter.  Cannot believe it has been that long.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The VW Van

Mike's family in the late '60s.  They were well known in town for the VW van with children hanging out of every window.  People even today sometimes comment on it.