Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jane: Busy weekend!

Almost every weekend is busy for parents of kids in marching band. This weekend was particularly band-ish, and I wish I had photos to share! What I'd really like is a video. . .

Friday night there was a home football game, so the band played. Robbie's marching band only plays for home games, which I thought was odd at first, but now I'm grateful! They also go to band contests--I think they'll do 5 or 6 of them this fall--so adding in those away games would make it even crazier. At least one local HS marching band director has the band go to all games; I'm glad we're not at that school.

This game was particularly fun. We had guests with us, two Japanese students from Coe. We were their weekend homestay hosts. The guys, Nori and Teppei, had a great time at the game, and we are glad they had the American Experience of Friday Night Lights!

Also, the band marched their entire show, and that was fun to see. At the first game I saw, they just marched their first song.

Oh, and the football team won. Every time I looked at the field, they were getting another touch down.

On Saturday, we
  • served pancakes
  • took Robbie to school for practice
  • took the Japanese guys to the farmer's market
  • made zucchini egg-drop soup (Mark Bittman recipe) with market produce for lunch
  • took the Japanese guys to see the Marching Band (win) at the Linn-Mar Contest
  • made refrigerator pickles from some of the market produce :-)
  • waited up late for Robbie to return from (winning) the Prairie Marching Band Contest
Robbie's band, the Washington High School Warrior Band, was really good. They are small, about 70 people, but they have an awesome sound. Robbie pointed out that they have the "best arranger and the best drill designer" which sure helps. Plus, the director is awesome--calm and laid-back but respected, and of course those kids work hard.

I have to say that my heart also with some of those huge mediocre bands . . . I can relate as my own high school marching band, the Midpark High School Marching Band, was huge and mediocre :-) Still, it sure is nice watching an excellent band (the band parents in the stands were cheering very loudly) and knowing one of the excellent trumpet players in it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jane: Anne Fadiman at Coe

One of my favorite writers came to campus this week: Anne Fadiman, author of "The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down," our first-year book this year.

(All the first-year students are sent a copy of the book during the summer; they're expected to read it and be ready to discuss it in their First Year Seminar class.)

When I heard they actually were able to get her to campus, I was beside myself. "Let me know if you need anyone to carry her luggage, or get her from the airport, or whatever," I told one of my colleagues who was on the committee. Later, he asked if I would get her from the hotel. Of course! And then, two days before she arrived, he asked if I'd like to join the committee and Ms. Fadiman at dinner--of course of course!

She turned out to be an excellent speaker and a gracious and charming guest--we all had such fun talking with her at dinner. As my colleague put it, she was just the way she sounds in her essays (besides "The Spirit Catches you" she's also the author of two books of essays); which is to say she is articulate, witty, gracious, humble, and interested. She spoke on Sunday about her writing process, answering questions from the students in the audience. On Monday, she spoke about the writing of "The Spirit Catches you" and encouraged the students.

I brought a copy of one of her collections of essays, "Ex Libris," to our dinner and she signed it, a wonderful memento of her visit.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jane: Crochet Project

What do you think of these crocheted finger puppets I made?

I made them for my brother-in-law, Ken, who is a youth and children's librarian in Atlanta. He said he needed barnyard animals and children for the upcoming "farm animals" month during story time. I found some good patterns, created a couple of my own, and had a great time.

I also made this two-cups-of-tea bookmark for my sister out of . That was fun, too, though tricky to crochet with a steel hook and Pearle cotton.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jane: Biking Cedar Rapids

Yesterday I took my usual Sunday bike ride, but this time I went on a different route. I still kept to the bike trail, for the most part, but I didn't want to load the bike on the bike carrier, so I biked over to the trail--a different part of the trail from where I usually ride.

I had to bike downtown to pick up the trail, but this is not a big deal on Sunday when there's not a lot of traffic. Plus, the side of town where we live now, the Southeast side, is flatter than where we used to live, the Northeast side. (You may think Iowa is flat, but it's actually threaded with rivers, so we have lots of rolling hills, even in town!)

Riding in downtown Cedar Rapids reminds me of last year when Robbie and I rode down every day after the flood to see where the water was. Now, 15 months after the flood, you can still see its effects. Many storefronts and downtown buildings are empty, with "for lease" signs on them. You can see in the windows that they've been gutted, and that most of them have been rehabbed, but the original residents have gone elsewhere--or gone out of business.

Other businesses are up and running--with big "We're Open for business" signs in the windows.

And of course, there are some signs that recovery hasn't touched every spot. As I rode along the bike trail out along the river, I saw some urban fields still filled with flotsam and buildings that had been damaged but not repaired. A garage that had been twisted off its foundations and slammed into another building. The roof of some vanished building, dumped in a heap.

One sight that was uplifting was our Czech town. The picture of the flooded Czech museum became a kind of emblem for the CR floods.

Just last Friday, they announced that they will rebuild--in the same neighborhood, but on a hill that they will construct, and which will be several feet higher than our "500-year" level flood. That's exciting to hear.

I got off the trail to ride up 16th Avenue into Czech town, and discovered some new businesses: a new bar or two, a cafe (they serve breakfast--I'm thinking that would be a fun Saturday morning ride), a Czech import shop and a tea room. Zindrich's, the excellent Czech home-cooking restaurant, has not rebuilt, but there was a note on the window that "coming soon" will be another restaurant. All was great to see--there is life after the flood.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Robbie: Fit day

Normally I don't like going to church but this made it worthwhile this time.

If anyone leaves the comment "you brought your DSi to church" or such like that I will spam you.

Yeah that's a threat! 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jane: Marching Band

The first halftime show was this week--so I went to see. I sat with the rest of the band parents to cheer on the band.

I only slightly embarrassed Robbie by taking his picture.
It was fun watching the kids in the band. They played the fight song after touchdowns, played for the dance team (Tequila, Sgt. Pepper's), and generally had a great time.
Robbie got some good photos, too--he's posted them on his Facebook page, and maybe I'll get him to post them here, too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jane: Avoiding SSS

My friend Peggy gave me some patterns for crocheting baby socks--I'm about to start some socks for myself and she thought I might want to try a smaller version.

I worked up one in no time and took it in to show her. I said I wasn't sure I'd get the other one done. That's when she warned me about SSS or S cubed: Second Sock Syndrome.

I didn't want to fall victim to this syndrome, so over the next couple of days, I finished the other sock!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jane: Bicyclette Blanc

Like my niece, I've been enjoying cycling more and more this summer. The cool summer has made it very pleasant, and our city's bike trails make recreational biking very enjoyable and safe. Here's my transportation: a 1989 Schwinn Mesa Runner!
I love it. Bruce bought it for me when we moved to Cedar Rapids--it was my wedding gift from him. I didn't want a pearl necklace or anything traditional like that. I needed to replace the J.C. Penney 5-speed that I'd left behind in Macomb. So I got this bike.

My kids are a bit embarrassed by it, mostly by the basket.

They say that I don't need to get a lock because "Mom, no one would steal that bike."

But really, the basket is quite useful for carrying stuff--water bottle, bag for work or for errands. And the handy Cootie key chain on the basket makes a good place for me to store keys when I'm on a ride and don't have pockets!

Just about every Sunday, I take my bike to the trailhead and ride a short 40 minute round trip, from Cedar Lake almost to 42nd Street and back.

It's easy to get to work, too. It's less than a mile, so I can ride in my work clothes and not get all sweaty. The roads to work are wide avenues, so despite my nervousness about riding in traffic, I can do it. There's plenty of room for bikes and cars.

I don't think I'll be quite as intrepid as Bruce, who rides in all weather (above 50 degrees), and has a rain suit for wet days. But I will keep enjoying it on the fine days we'll be sure to have this fall.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jane: tree medicine

More on my ailing magnolia.

I decided to call an arborist about the magnolia last week. The baby scales had hatched and were crawling about, so it seemed good timing.

I called a place called, which actually is located in western Illinois (Illinois City?). They came out and gave an estimate, and I accepted.

They treated the tree. I assume these syringes are the way the pesticide gets into the tree.

I hope it works!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jane: beginning of the year

It's the beginning of the year; that's why my posts have dropped off a bit.

You didn't know it was the beginning of the year? Of course it is.

The year starts in late August or early September--when the school year starts. I don't know where everyone got this idea that it starts in January.

At the beginning of the year, I got my new desk calendar for my office. I bought the boys some new school supplies. They started their new grades--7th grade for Eli; 9th grade for Robbie. I started my new classes. The school year IS the year for me.

I don't recount events by which year they happened--as in 1974, 1980, 2000, 2002. I recount them by the school year: the summer after I finished 6th grade, the year I graduated from high school, the year Robbie started Kindergarten, the year Eli started Kindergarten.

Anyway, since it's the new year, we're getting used to a new schedule. I'll try to figure out when I have time to post, and get the boys to post, too. Eli has some photos of his camera collection to post, and maybe Robbie will post about marching band or some electronic creation he makes.

Until then, I hope you're having a good new year!