Saturday, August 20, 2005

On the Go with J & J

Our annual trip to Minneapolis to visit our son David and my cousin and her family went off without out a hitch. On the way up we discovered that old Hwy 218 up through Iowa had been turned into a lovely four lane. So other than some slightly slow going through Waterloo, it is now a smooth interstate delight all the way from the Quad Cities to the Twin Cities. David had plenty of stories about his recent Europe trip and you can find some of his pictures on his blog

Cousin Lin’s new condo is finished, but the landscaping is still underway as the accompanying photo indicates. We had lunch with David and his friend Janey on Sunday at a lovely Greek restaurant called Christos. Golf was on the docket during the day on Tuesday and David and Janey came out to Lin’s on Tuesday night for dinner and some slides from our Japanese trip.

Had a chance to visit with Lin’s daughter and her husband and to see their son Jack for the first time. He is a bubbly little charmer. Mr. Mikel Cool will like him I'm sure when he gets a little bigger. During the visit Lin and I worked a bit on the family history records. There is a lot more to do. Also visited Aunt Hazel and managed to get a call in to Uncle Skip.

All told a marvelous trip and topped off with a stop in Cedar Rapids on Thursday night so we could baby sit the grandchildren on Friday. Home to Monmouth on Friday night. Back to reality on the way home was a dinner at the Milkhouse Diner. In the twin cities you can hardly get an appetizer for what you can get a hearty dinner for at the Milkhouse Diner in Viola. Seventeen bucks for two and you can't find room for a slice of their homemade rhubarb pie. The place was stuffed with locals who seem to know a good deal when they are living right next store to it.

Here is Mikel the Cool waiting for Jack to grow up a little bit more.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Local Still Trumps

Last night during the moving tribute to Peter Jennings on ABC a technique called "mapping" was mentioned. You got a local map, closed your eyes, pointed at a spot, and then went there to find and film whatever story was present at that location.

The OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) group used a variation of that technique yesterday and found gold literally right outside of the door of the Buchanan Center for the Arts. Led by an accomplished local historial we simply walked around our own town square and learned a fair amount about local history and architecture. Jeff Rankin, Monmouth College's Director of College Communications, was our leader and over thirty hearty seniors braved the heat and humidity to learn about the cigar factory that used to occupy the 2nd floor of the Arts Center, the financial shenanigans in 19th century banking, the various styles of commercial architecture, and why the small stone disk over the door of a building had been sandblasted to obscure its original image. (The building was once a Pabst Blue Ribbon owned bar and when the town went dry it was not thought to be an appropriate symbol to display on the main square.) It was a delightful hour right here at home--no cost yet full of fascination. Heartfelt thanks to Jeff Rankin for reminding us all of the importance of our roots. Here's hoping that some of what we heard will be transferred to friends, extended families, and visitors to our community.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield Posted by Picasa

TJ Brown Visits

Grandson TJ Brown visited us this week. We played golf twice and traveled to Springfield, IL to see some of the Lincoln sites. Most impressive was the new Lincoln presidential museum and the old State Capital. That's Jan and TJ on the right with Abe and family. Some folks have complained that the new museum is too Disneyfied, but those were the parts our nine year old liked best.

Lincoln's Home Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

Weekend at W's

That's W's not Dubyas. We took a pleasant drive up to LaCrosse to visit old colleagues George and Cindy. The farm is perched on a knoll. In front is a flower bedecked prairie, then a row of trees, and in the far background bands of corn fields . The atmosphere is about as relaxing as it can get.

The conversation was splendid and I had the chance once more to take lots of flower and bird pictures. Sunday we went from a little bit of paradise in Wisconsin to Paradise Valley in Iowa where we picked up our grandson. He'll spend a few days with us before we return him to Cedar Rapids.