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Nothing to do but blog.

21 Jun

I am holed up in the basement of my building because of tornado sirens and a sky that looks like they mean it. It’s a familiar feeling that reminds me of my first weeks in Iowa. This time there is cable (Bill Murray’s Father’s Day marathon) and access to the washing machine. My first sheltering experience was crouched in the corner of the public library with my laptop. A guy next to me leaned over and asked me to check the radar online. So I found a national weather map and he said, “Click on Iowa”. And I had to say “Um, click where?” Because I didn’t know what my new state looked like, yet. I am telling you this because when my sisters came to visit me last weekend, they didn’t know where Iowa was either.

We stopped in THE WORLD”S LARGEST TRUCKSTOP for SNACKS and took advantage of a teaching moment among the merchandise. Meghan (of Michigan) and I were able to piece these state magnets together to give Katie enough geographical context to orient herself. Katie even helped a little with the Illinois border. She’s always been good with shapes. Lincoln looks pissed.


I will have to update later with more pictures because my camera is currently at risk of severe weather in my apartment. These are all Meg’s pictures and she is not in any of them. Just believe me that this is what we did.

1. Eat: pastries, burritos, nachos, pie milkshakes, cheese curds, tapas, pastries, in that order. Katie was made to face her fear of misshapen foods by trying cheese curds, a fear which I had no idea existed. Ultimately I think she felt betrayed because no one told her they would by squeaky when you bite into them. So now I guess she has a new aversion to squeaky foods. This is for Tony, from the attractively packaged bottle of the austere, sensible iced tea Obama drinks, Honest Tea.


2. Sleep: they both napped on Saturday while I sewed Katie some curtains. Three seams and it took me at least an hour because I kept sewing the fabric to itself and then threaded the machine wrong. Here we are measuring for them.


3. Watch movies.

4. Touch Katie’s pregnant body.

5. Cut my hair.

Stay tuned for Sister Weekend 2010.


Not really where I left off

29 Jun

I flew eastward for this conference and now I’m at my parent’s house. I was supposed to leave for Iowa early this morning but yesterday my mom woke me up from a pre-dinner nap with a pitcher of margaritas, and I thought about how the library (where I work) is still under water. (Did you know the Midwest is suffering from flood and bloat? My Northwest airline agent had no idea and that surprised me. Since you have to fly through the Midwest to get to the Northwest.) And I decided I might as well stay here where there is always cheese in the fridge and ice cream in the freezer.

(Unfortunately I made this decision after I had bailed from visiting the littlest Lisa in Rochester because I didn’t have time to make the trip. And now I have time but no car priveleges. I miss you, Lisa.)  

So here I am and I just trounced my parents in Scrabble. Not scrabulous. It’s been a while since I’ve played it at an actual table. My dad is a miserable speller. The most absurd of his spelling questions came during his last turn (before he quit), with rhaaait in his hand.

“What’s the arabic word for law?” (He was going for shariah. Not legal.) Immediately follwed by: “What do you call the guy who collects dead horses?” Do you know of such a noun?

More postcards

21 May

I’m done with classes. What does the phrase “by the skin of my teeth” really refer to? Let’s look it up.

“The source of the phrase “by the skin of one’s teeth” is indeed the Book of Job, although the precise phrase Job used was “My bone cleaveth to my skin, and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth” (not “by”). Just what the “skin” of one’s teeth might be is a bit unclear, but it probably refers to the thin porcelain exterior of the tooth, not the gums. Job evidently kept his teeth, but just barely. It is also possible that he was saying that the margin of his escape was as narrow as the “skin” of a tooth is shallow — the equivalent of a “hair’s breadth.” In any case, Job clearly meant that he’d had a very hard time of it, and the phrase has been used ever since to mean a very narrow or arduous escape.” From the word detective.

Reading that made my teeth hurt. Anyway, I had a very hard time of it. But now, now I have time for things like scanning postcards I bought at a junk shop called Granny’s. They have shoeboxes full of postcards sorted by state – I could have spent hours going through them, but I found these in the Iowa and Wisconsin boxes in about 20 minutes. I hope to go back for more before Granny retires this summer. It’s hard to read the date stamps but I think they range from 1912-1966.

Dam at Iowa City, Iowa

Dam at Iowa City, Iowa (back)

Dear Sabina,
As I have not had time to write you a letter I will send you a few lines to let you know that I will try and take time to answer your letter soon. Suppose you will be into the Circus thursday. I intend to go in the evening if I do not change my mind. Please answer soon. Your chum, Hegel.

Why doesn’t Hegel just answer Sabina’s letter if she is taking the time to write a postcard? Is she going to the circus or not? I doubt Sabina is surprised by her indecisiveness. If she hasn’t answered Sabina’s letter, then why does she urge Sabina to answer soon? It’s still your turn, Hegel. I hope Sabina had a great time at the circus without her.

Law Building, University of Iowa

Law Building, University of Iowa (back)

Dear Sister,
I received the package all right yesterday. I am ironing today. How is Chauncey’s hogs? I hope the Sumac did them good and made them stop dying. With love and haste, Isabel.

The best part of this one is the closing, with love and haste. I’ve started using it in emails.

College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin

College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin (back)

Dear Leona —
Am hard at work and am not in the humor. I guess I don’t like to study anymore. I want you to write me as soon as you have time. Best regards to all and love to yourself, Florence Steiner

I wish I could buy Florence a beer.

Picnic Point - Lake Mendota

Picnic Point - Lake Mendota (back)

Boy is it cold it’s awful I am resting hope you got rested after your party. I shall have the headache but it will get better I hope. Be seeing you. Love from Maggie. Thurs.

What makes this one really great is the caption for the photo on the front (Picnic Point – Lake Mendota). “Looking over the Men’s Residence Halls of the University of Wisconsin we see Picnic Point, a famed rendezvous for those week end outings.” I think what Maggie is really saying with this card is that she was wasted but thanks for the sex. She’s sorry if she did anything weird.

Sweater Thursday XXV.

24 Apr

The Wedge is a new addition inside my regular coffee shop. Good pizza. By the slice. Practically in my living room. Jason alerted me mere hours after it opened its doors with an email: “Welcome to your new life of being fat, broke, and caffeinated.” How did he know?

Repeat tee. My, she looks angry today.

Sweater Thursday XX.

13 Mar


My, we are already at sweater number twenty. Thanks to Sweater Thursday, winter is flying by. I wish it would slow down so I could still showcase some of my freshly laundered wool turtlenecks before spring is officially here. Don’t you?

Don’t despair. There are plenty of spring sweaters out there. I don’t own too many because I don’t usually live places with much of a spring. I consider today’s sweater one that will transition well into the milder season: cotton, light, open weave, and kind of preggo-cut which is good for hiding residual winter slugness.

Speaking of transitioning well into spring, Iowa City is melting and the dirty snow is as dirty as it looked. There is garbage everywhere. The most disgusting things I’ve seen so far: a used tampon (in my driveway! not mine!) and a raw chicken breast.

It’s also spring-like in Madison. Here I am reading about it.


Wholesome weekend.

28 Jan


Yesterday I went cross-country skiing at Lake MacBride. Here I look smug because we started on the easy trails. Later my spirit would be bruised on the winding hills.






Lake MacBride herself. She is very popular with the snowmobiles.


I caucused.

8 Jan


In my precinct, Obama was the only viable candidate after the first two counts. It got more exciting before the final count when some non-Obama supporters stood on chairs to plead for their candidate and ask for more time. With a resounding nay, the Obama crowd was not willing to give them even two extra minutes. Harsh! In the end, the non-Obama supporters managed to pull together to create a viable uncommitted group. I believe the one delegate they got will go to Edwards since he came in second place. Obama got the other six. It took 2 1/2 hours. It was both awesome and boring. Pretty cool to vote by raising my hand.

Looks like Obama is about to take New Hampshire, too. Wooo!

[ETA:] 58.6% so far! New Hampshire loves him, too!