Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The first snowfall of Winter 2011-2012

I try as best I can to follow the Boy Scout motto "be prepared" and take great pleasure when I'm able to get all the things done that a homeowner should do to secure his home for the coming winter season. As it worked out, I did have the opportunity to patch the drive and sidewalks, mulch all the leaves from our many trees, add extra insulation, bring in the garden hoses, etc, etc. At our house, the lawnmower and snow blower share the same space for each season, and so I used the mower to mulch the leaves and ran out of gas just as I finished. Then I could do the annual "trade out" with the blower which would then occupy the spot near the garage door...ready for action. We're fortunate in that the length of the garage space is just enough to allow my van to pull in far enough so I can pull the snow blower out behind it without moving the van into the new snow. At our home, the garage door faces north, which means the first 10 feet of driveway (more or less) does not enjoy the benefit of the winter sunshine and is always subject to slippery patches. So if I can stay off that area until the blower does it's job, I get a much better result and provides a little extra comfort for my wife to enter the vehicle.

I don't know if it's the old weather-guy mentality or what, but I happened to be up around 2am this morning and watched the first snow of the season as it fell below our streetlight. I was smug that I followed the scout motto and was ready and we were snuggled in for the coming season.

As many times happens, the first snow was wet and it was clinging to the remaining leaves. Not good news for the one tree on our property that is the last to drop...the Cleveland Pear in the back yard. As I peered into the early morning darkness, I saw the snowfall had taken 2-3 limbs to the ground from our tall, proud friend. Now the other face of winter was seen...and not appreciated. As of this hour, some 10,000 other central Iowa homeowners are still without electricity and later I'm sure we'll hear about other tree damage. Naughty winter.

This is considered early for the first snowfall...and we still have a long way to go before we go green again. But a lifelong Iowa resident...I appreciate the four seasons. They add a little zest to our lives and reminds us "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven".

Now...back to the snowblower.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Random thoughts about middle America

Reading the Oct 24 edition of Time. I've been following Joe Klein's travels from south Texas to the upper Midwest...talking with locals about what ails America today. The picture above was taken in rural Jasper county (just one county away from where I sit). I've lived and worked in Jasper county, so I'm familiar with the territory.
I was struck by one of the many quotes Joe harvested from one of the many gatherings. On page 34 it reads "There was a sense that the unprecedented affluence of the past 60 years had caused a certain lassitude, that we weren't working as hard as we used to. "Our parents had to deal with the ups and downs of life", said Renita Bankhead, a member of the Austin book club. "We've had so many ups that we never really learned how to deal with the downs."
Suddenly I had a flashback to yesterday's travels here in metro Des Moines. On one occasion I was being tailgated by what appeared to be an agitated young lady driving a small econo-car, talking on her cell phone (who isn't !) apparently late for wherever she was going. It seems this happens a lot lately, and from what I'm able to determine by a quick check of the rear view mirror, there's a lot of what appears to be aggression and I'm happy to get off the road and arrive at my destination in one piece. Somehow I've connected that with the idea that those drivers have grown up in a time that did not offer them the opportunity to "learn how to deal with the downs" of life. It seems their lives are submerged into cell phones, erratic driving and a general state of confusion about where they are in their lives. By the way, I'll be happy if the day ever arrives where yapping on the cell phone...and...driving a vehicle are two separate activities. Trust me...I understand there are times when one must take a cell call when driving, but that's not what I'm witnessing. I cannot for the life of me understand what all those people must be talking about while tailgaiting other drivers in their Beemers.
It's 5am and I'm back to bed...but pick up a copy of Time and read Joe's copy...well worth your time's local.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something to do during the heat wave

Here's an alternative to watching the tube during the time we're snuggling next to our air conditioners. I first posted this last August...but it's a good use of time while the current heat wave has us trapped indoors.

I don't know about you...but along about this time of year I find the need to declutter and get reorganized for the coming winter. I don't want to spend the next several months trapped inside with all the stuff I've gathered, that I no longer use or need to be organized so it's where I can find it. (By the way, the picture is NOT of my office :)

I've found a FREE online program that does one other thing. Our real estate clients may not realize the value of their belongings. This FREE software can help you keep track of everything that fills your home-from artwork and furnishings to jewelry-and quickly see how much it would cost to replace. (Think of the recent floods statewide and elsewhere.)Once you download the FREE software onto your computer, you can create a room-by-room inventory that serves as a record that's helpful for determining how much insurance to purchase and when settling insurance claims. You can even add images and receipts. Compatible with Windows and Mac systems.(Courtesy Shane Michael Singh, Realtor Magazine)

Check it at: still have time before the snow we have time for a few trips to Goodwill, the shredder and office supply stores for a few more file folders.

Good Luck!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Night after night we are bombarded with the news of the threat of earthquakes, tsunamis, military conflicts, child abuse,elder abuse, etc, etc,etc. Finding the absence of death and destruction is getting increasingly's no wonder the apocalypse voices are targeting May 21st ..or December 2012 as time to leave the planet.

Just when we thought the last refuge from all of this was sitting in our own yard enjoying the bird songs, we're greeted with the news that the lovely and peaceful mourning doves are now going to have to fend off armed assaults. If Iowa hunters had to feed their families out of necessity I could understand. But they already have 25 species in their cross hairs. Most of the Iowans I see are nowhere near starvation.

And finally, on the job creation/economic benefit front, it's a sad day when we have to resort to killing the peace dove to support our way of life...shame on us. Let's continue our century-long tradition in Iowa of protecting one of the last remaining symbols of peace in this ragged world.
Stay safe and warm,

Tuesday, March 08, 2011 you

I've been receiving emails since the most recent changes at WHO Radio were announced. It will be interesting to hear who the permanent replacement will be....and I wish them well. WHO has a long and interesting history that I remember going back to the WHO Barndance days. Some host's names I remember...many I've since forgotten. But I do remember one story I'll share with you.

Back in 1969 I came to WHO as the first "live voice" at the old KLYF-FM and shortly thereafter also joined the WHO-TV crew as the weatherman. There was an office of sorts (basically a desk in the tv lightroom) where the famed Barndance member Cliff Carl kept his stuff. As it happened, I was bringing my meager belongings in a few boxes into that office when I passed Mr. Carl bringing his boxes out. I had listened to Carl and his fellow Barndance members since I was a kid in Grinnell..and I felt badly that he was moving on but didn't know how to express that to him as we passed in our trips in and out of the studio. At one point in our passing, I said how sorry I was to see him go after his many years of entertaining Iowans. He gave me a faint and knowing smile and said "there's nothing deader than old talent". It will come as no surprise to you that the effect that comment had on me then is different than it is today. As time continues there will be many others who will go home at the end of a workday and say to their wives/husbands "Honey, you won't believe what happened at work today." Nuff said.

By the way, if you're an old radio buff, check out Ray Dennis' site He writes about a trip to the Mitchellville tower.

Meantime, like you I'll bet, you're ready for springtime. I'm ready to get out into the soil and look for those early signs ...hosta fingers poking up... spring bulbs, etc. I also have some pruning to do before things warm up too much more.

Hang in there and as I said in closing earlier posts "stay safe and warm and write when you get work". Little did I know :)