Sunday, August 31, 2008

Romping in Iowa

(I am so proud of myself, I took 2 photos and one graphic to create what you see above.)

Saturday was a day full of events, do it yourself tours of the local area along with guided tours to local attractions. We had originally planed to make the trip to Freedom Rock. This is a huge boulder out in the middle of Iowa that is painted every year. When we looked at the directions to this site the miles added up to about 60. Right before the tour group set off we were told it was over 100 miles one way. In all honesty we did not want to put in another 200 miles on Saturday so we skipped the trip and went to the Harley dealer in Ames then came back to the romp host town for a little R and R. This was after all our vacation. Jake, Bret and Kathy headed to the hotel for a nap and I headed to the local library to try and log in. The library was closed so I posted from the hotel next door.

At 4 the people games started at the romp grounds. There was a corn shucking contest and trike games. Jake and I both competed in the trike games and each of us came in second in our own heats, only the first place person advanced to the next level.
It turned out to be nice that we stuck around close by. The tour to Freedom Rock left at 9:00 and didn't get back until around 5:00. We live close enough to catch the rock at a later date when we aren't tired from a long ride and a night of fun.

The dinner was very tasty and very much a representation of Iowa. Smoked pork tenderloin served with corn on the cob.

Well, that's all for now, stay tuned for more.

It's a small world after all

Well, this was a long weekend and I had so much fun I am gonna post it as a few short snips.

Friday evening we registered at the event and start walking around. You know the normal thing you would do at any event where people are all apart of a club, organization, or have a single thing that binds them together, be it scrap-booking, roller derby, political affiliations, or motorcycles.

We talked to people from Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and even Connecticut and Ohio. There were American Legion Riders from all over. Well one thing lead to another and our friend Bret met a gentleman from Ohio. I don't know what started their line of mutual questions but it turned out their extended families were from the same two towns in Kentucky. They started naming off families and acquaintances. Then Tank says, "My father has family with that last name too, let me call mom and ask about his family."

Well, after about a 10 minute call to his mom we find out that Tank and Brett share a few great aunts and uncles.

Can you imagine traveling to a different state to attend a convention only to meet a family you never knew you had?
My friend Bret is the taller of the two, and the rider on your right is Tank, the long lost cousin.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How bout that view

Well today is day two of my Romp in the Midwest. We left yesterday, Friday. We drove over the metal grate bridge that links Savannah IL to Sabula IA. This bridge is fine to drive over in a car, you have four wheels and you can't really look down. On a bike I was tense. I had never driven over it myself, only on the back of the bike, never looking down. Because it is a grated metal bridge it tends to grab your tire and change your direction a bit. I was doing good, looking straight ahead, keeping a firm grip on the handle bars going pretty straight, then about 3/4Th's the way across we come to a stop light...on the bridge. NO! my mind screams as we stop and I try not to look down. Let me tell you I was glad when the light turned green. It is a bit unnerving to look below and see the only thing between you and the mighty Mississippi is basically a catwalk big enough to drive your car over.

Well, I am posting from the hotel next door's computer so I had better cut this short before they realize that my hotel sent me over here and I am not putting any money into their pockets. Will update more at a later date. But so far the trip has been fun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Favorite time of year

Now I know it is still technically summer, but with the weather we have been having it feels more like fall. It is not quite harvest time but everyone around who planted gardens are starting to reap the fruits and vegetables of their labor. We got a call early last week from my mother in-law telling us to come and take home some produce. So Sunday afternoon we made the short trip and browsed her garden. We were rewarded with acorn squash, yellow squash, zucchini, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes. When we got home I looked into the sink I was washing everything in and all I could think was, 'wow, all I need is a few carrots and I could make a stew with the deer meat I have in the freezer.'

I think that I will get a few carrots when we get back from Iowa next week and make that stew.
Here is a picture of one of the potatoes we dug up. Keep in mind it was a red potato, which I understand is supposed to be smaller than say a russet. If I'm wrong, someone let me know.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Now that's fashionable.

You know you will be a hit on the runways of Paris when your drink matches your outfit.

The County Fair

This weekend marks the final days of the Stephenson County Fair. Normally every year we make it a point to visit the 3 county fairs we consider our county fairs. Ogle, the county we live in, Winnebago, the county Jake works for, and Stephenson, the county where we buy our food in. This year however we didn't get to the Ogle or Winnebago so we missed out on 2 weeks worth of fair food. Today however we made it to the fair, had fresh squashed (yes squashed, not squeezed) lemonade. This was somewhat disappointing, as it was weaker than what the Dakota Marching Band usually sells. We go to the fair just for their lemonade! We also hit the Illinois Pork Producers Hog Heaven stand and had lunch. We watched 2 tractor pulls. The first had a winning weight of 12,750 lbs for 11 feet and 7 inches.

The second tractor pull had a winning weight of 30 lbs for 29 feet 5 inches.

All in all, it was a good day at the fair.


Tonight (Friday night) marked a small milestone in my life. I had a girls night out with non-family members. Although there were quite a few derby girls there, it was not derby related. We had a great night, wonderful sushi followed by chocolate topped off with pool and a juke box in what used to be a smoke filled basement (before the Illinois non-smoking laws went into effect). All in all, I can't wait to do it again next month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Randomness, it's all good.

Most of you know I work customer service for a magazine fulfillment company. From time to time I pick up an issue to browse. Just to see what all the fuss is about, just to try and see into the minds of our customers. I do this so I can learn why the delivery of an issue is a matter of life or death.

Today I found a copy of a publication entitled The Onion. Now when I was working emails I would get quite a few complaints in regards to the ads this publication would occasionally run. Like a good little worker, I dutifully forwarded the offensive ad to the publisher, who stated,

"We at the Onion try to offend everyone equally, said subscriber did not complain about the same type of ad depicting the catholic faith."

The ad was a picture of Sheba (Hindu goddess with multiple arms) She had a phone handset in each had with the caption reading "Thank you for calling customer service, please hold while we die of some illness I can't remember." My first thought while reading this ad was...oh, that's wrong, funny, but wrong. So when I came across an actual paper, I couldn't pass it up.

Here was the lead story Al Gore Places Infant Son in Rocket to Escape Dying Planet. I hope you find it as funny as I did. If it weren't for the fact that this paper is out of my price range, I would seriously think about subscribing, and actually reading it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where did it go?

Where oh where did my weekend go? Oh where or where could it be?

Wow, time went by way to quickly this weekend. We went down to the Quad Cities for a surprise birthday party that turned out to not be a surprise, and not a party. Instead the birthday girl, her husband, myself and Jake ended up going out to a great little place down on the river (Mississippi for those who don't know about the QC). While we were walking to the entrance we had to walk by the patio area. A couple of waiters were out lighting the tiki torches. One of the torches shot part of it's flaming wick into the landscaping off the patio. The waiters attempted to put it out with water, silly men, oil and water do not mix so it did not put out the small fire. Like the responsible person I am, I walked back to the small flame and stepped on it to extinguish it. The waiters thanked me and said "You didn't have to do that." They were going to walk around and get it. It was no big deal, it is really what any normal person should have done.

So we go in the front door and request a patio seat. Our table overlooked the river and the baseball stadium, I was called "our volunteer firefighter all night by a very friendly waiter. We ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, sat back and talked. At the end of our meal the baseball game finished and we had front row seats for the fireworks. Our Waiter, Tim brought out our check and said, "I took 15% off of your order as thanks for putting out the fire." Wow, thanks! Then my girlfriend mentions it's her birthday. Tim promptly picks up both checks and later returns giving both couples 15% off the entire bill. Tim was great! He even gave us coupons for our next visit. Not only was the service the best I have had in a very long time, the food was most excellent. Jacob got the river burger with a south west twist, it had pepper jack cheese, green chillies and chipolte mayo. I had the blues burger, it was stuffed with blue cheese. We each cut our sandwich in half and shared. All I can say is yum!

Next we walked down to the Rhythm City riverboat casino, we each lost $3.00 on the nickel machines. (I know, slots are not where you go to win, but we were only willing to play $3.00 each and the tables had minimum $5.00 and up bets) Once we had lost our money we walked back to the restaurant, which shared a building with a comedy club. This was my first experience with this type of club and all I can think of was it was such a waste of money. The waiter took our drink order, then came back about 20 minutes later, dumped our order on top of a lady sitting in front of us then took another 15 minutes to return. And the comedians weren't that great either. I just hope that if, in the future, when we attend another comedy club, it is better, heck, it couldn't get any worse.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sinking Ships

My roller derby team has been on vacation since our last bout. We were informed that our League VP was going to be moving to Denver. We all wished her well we knew she was bettering her lot in life. Shortly after we found out our newly elected athletic director quit and joined another league. Then the President resigned, now our secretary has decided to leave for the other league as well.

I know they said it wasn't personal, they had to do what they felt was the best for them, but I am sorry I feel as though my team and I are being abandoned. I never thought I would feel this way about my derby sisters, but, only the rats abandon a sinking ship. The captain and crew repair the holes and start the bilge pump. Then again maybe the bilge pump has already been started.

I am sorry this seems very bitter, I really have no explanation other than this all seemed to come out of the blue, and with 3 out of the 4 girls going back to the team that turned it's backs on them... it just makes me wonder...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I was born to which generation?

Have you ever felt out of touch with people your own age? I have, I always have. I very seldom had friends that were the same age as I am or was. In high school, I was always hanging out with the older kids. My senior year, I only had a few friends that I spoke to outside of class.

Then as I started my adult life, my older coworkers became my friends, I was never into the party scene that drew my peers. After I married, we became involved in the local H.O.G. chapter. Our fellow members were 10 to 50 years older than we were, but they were our closest friends. Jake and I have always gotten along with people our parents age better than with people our own age.

This weekend has just reminded me of this fact, it has also made me wonder.... am I really that crotchety old lady at the dinner already?

Saturday evening we went to a going away party for one of Jake's coworkers. He will be leaving for Afghanistan in about 2 weeks, this weekend was the last free weekend his shift would have to send him off. While at the party there were people our age, younger and older. Everyone was told that due to the drive they could pitch a tent in the back yard, rather than drive home drunk. As the night progressed, the people our age and younger were focused on pouring as much alcohol down their throats as possible. The older crowd made sure at least one of them was sober enough to drive home, if not all of them.

Jake and I took the bikes and brought our tent, that way we wouldn't even have to worry about going home until morning. We each had a few drinks, but were far from stumbling around on our feet. I had gotten a headache and headed to the tent around 12:30. I was almost asleep when I hear a commotion from a few tents down. Our guest of honor started to get rid of all he had drank. I just shook my head and went back to sleep as his friends and wife took care of him.

This morning we got up with the sun, which if you have ever slept in a tent know is pretty much par for the course, as it is almost impossible to sleep with that much light in your face. We packed everything up and rode home.

Once we got home, I wasn't in the mood to fix breakfast so we headed out to the little dinner in town, Farmer's Family Restaurant. This is a small family run place where Monday through Friday from oh, bout 5:30 to 10 you can go and sit in a corner booth and watch as all the local farmers, from the old men in their 70's to the younger guys just barely 19, come in for breakfast. There is a long section of small tables set in the center of the dinning room where they all congregate to have their meals. As one seat is vacated it will be filled a few moments later by the next farmer. Jake and I used to meet there every other Thursday morning for breakfast after we got off work, now, we hardly go there. One of my favorite things is listening to the older gentlemen tell their stories, stories of the weather, the crops, town gossip, nothing major, but you learn interesting facts and tidbits.

Well this morning as Jake and I are eating our breakfast I overhear one gentlemen say how recently at the store his total had come to 5.87 or some such odd number. When he gave the cashier his money he handed over $10.02, so that he wouldn't be stuck with pennies. The cashier gave him a funny look, and didn't know what to do. Another gentlemen stated something along the same lines, "I had a total that came to $17.00 and when I gave the cashier $22.00 they just couldn't understand that I wanted a $5.00 bill back." The funny yet sad part about this whole story is that it is so true. One thing I like to do at a store or restaurant is to give the cashier over the amount so I get specific change back, or no pennies. I do it just to see, to test, if you will, the common sense of the cashier. Is it just me, or is it sad that with out a computer or cash register there to tell the clerk how much change to give you, you would probably never get the right amount back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Storms, and Authors, and Skunks...Oh my!

It is not often I can honestly say, this has been one crazy week.

It started out like any other week, it was a Monday. It looked like rain so I ended up taking the car to work. Now, I try not to be a fair weather rider. I have no qualms riding in the rain, that is what I bought a rain suit for, but I wasn't going to ride in the rain for a 10 hour work day. I get to work and actually get a break from the customer service phones and I get to work the switch board from 1 to 5. As I am sitting at the front door, I have a huge window I can look out. It looks so nice and Sunny out, I start to regret bringing the car to work.

At 5 I head upstairs and get on the phones. An hour and a half later black clouds darken the sky, the wind starts howling, and rain is pelting the small window by my cubical, then the power goes out. Good thing I didn't bring the bike. The tornado sirens go off, we all head down stairs for about an hour until the warning is over then it is back up stairs. Now here is the funny part. There is no power and no phone. We had to sit up there until 8 before we were allowed to go home.

As I am driving home I see pieces of buildings along side the road, and a small plot of trees is missing about half of them now, twisted off due to storm winds. When I get home we are also without power. It was a long night, Jake was helping to clear trees off the roads with the city guys so I was home alone. Not that I minded, I just hate reading by candle light and all of our flash lights had dead batteries. Since the power was off I set the alarm on my phone, but luckily the power came back around 1 am. Work however wasn't so lucky.

I spent much of the day on Tuesday calling into work every few hours for updates. At 3:00 was able to stop calling because the next update was going to be after I would have normally gotten off work. So I have a day off, I was able to catch up on my email and relax.

Wednesday I spent with my Friend, we spent almost an hour in a used bookstore in Sterling, before we headed out to Oak Brook for Sherrilyn Kenyon's book signing. As is fitting a Kenyon Minion I dressed the part of one character, Simi. She is a child like demon who loves her BBQ. K is the smiling blond right behind me.

The signing started at 7:30, there were lots of questions and stories. Fellow author Dinna Love-Snell was there keeping everyone entertained while SK signed books.

I was drawn for a door prize, a pin letting everyone know I am under the protection of Acheron. K and I didn't leave the Borders until around 12:30 am. SK was wonderful. She remembered me from last year. She asked why I wasn't on the bike and I told her I had converted another reader. The ride home was alright, I was happy, I kept asking my friend if she now understood why I had been disappointed in another book signing we went to last year. She completely agreed. Sherrilyn is so personable not only to the crowd, but even more so when you get your one on one time with her. Well we made it home at 3 am and were in bed by 4, K staying the rest of the morning.

I knew it was going to be a long night Wed, so I took Thursday off of work as well. I vegged around the house, finally getting dressed around 2'ish, K had to leave around 10 so she could be in Iowa City by 1:00.

Later that afternoon, I get a call from one of my Diva's. It has been 2 weeks since the last time I went skating so we arranged to meet later in the evening. I called 2 more Divas and we decided to carpool. (Yay car pool!)

We had so much fun being back on skates as a group. We did a few derby type fun things, but mostly it was a chance to catch up with everyone and work off our withdrawals. (yes skating is an addiction, and you do go through withdrawals) After a good sweaty workout we headed out to the bar for a snack and drink before heading home. Now, one of the girls I ride with always calls shotgun (needlessly, cause I would rather sit in back so I can hear everything) and I am thinking that last night she regretted it.

We hadn't even gotten out of Rockford when a skunk ran out in front of the Jeep we were in. We didn't hit it, we drove over it, right between the tires, but we scared it bad enough it sprayed the SUV. Ugh! it stunk, it hit the engine and cooked, now riding in the front seat, directly in front of the vents causes the smells to flow right on to you. When we got back to town we got out of the vehicle only to have the o'de skunk follow. It was in our clothes. It wasn't real strong, but it was there. I lucked out, because I was sitting in back, at least my hair still smelled like fresh sweat, not sweaty skunk (Love ya B).

Anyway, that was my crazy week! Sorry this was so long.