Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two Vacations

First Vacation: Devil's Lake State Park, Wisconsin

Drove along the Trollway in Mt. Horeb on the way there.
We had rain the first evening . . .

But good weather the rest of the trip! We love the mountain-lake feel of Devil's Lake, and the great hiking up the bluffs.
(No family pics from Devil's Lake--they were on Robbie's Archos, which isn't working)

Second Vacation: Chicago

Went here the hottest week of the summer :-(

The view from the Hancock Tower at night was great.
Friday was a Cubs game for Eli and Bruce. Robbie and I went to the Art Institute. Robbie took some pictures of things that amused us.
Me by the spider silk blanket.

Oscar Wilde teapot.

The Dalai Lama's words in lights, going up the stairs.

Giant Shiny Bean, a.k.a. Cloudgate.

We had lunch with Mike and Susan on Saturday before heading home. Nice to have two vacations--one wilderness, one urban!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Big Corn

Eli is the first of our two boys to get an Actual Job, with a Boss, Tax forms, and a Pay Check.

What's he doing? Working for Big Corn.

He got a job cross-pollinating with Pioneer, a company that produces seed corn. The work is similar to detassling (for those of you who have done that): walking the rows of corn and enabling corn sex. It's a classic Iowa summer job . . .

I told him that he was going to be working for The Man. For those of you who don't think Big Corn is The Man, please read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

He dislikes the work very much. It's out in the hot sun, long hours (he starts work at 7:30 a.m. and they work EVERY DAY for 3 weeks, including Sundays), and unpleasant physical labor. But so far he hasn't quit. "I made $45 today," he said yesterday. He's motivated by the big bucks.

I'm slightly impressed that Big Corn provides 50 spf sunscreen (and makes the kids apply every 2 hours) and protective eyewear. I'm also glad Eli is cross-pollinating rather than detassling because he just goes to the Pioneer farm about 25 minutes north of here to work each day, rather than getting on a bus every morning at 5:30 and being bussed around the state to detassle at megafarms.

Since Pioneer raises corn seed, the seed needs to be pure. So cross pollinators make sure the correct pollen gets on the corn silks by covering the shoots (where corn cobs grow) and the tassles with bags. "Shoot-bagging" isn't too hard, according to Eli.

Tassle-bagging is a challenge as the tassles are at the top of the plants--some of which are 6-7 feet tall by now. You have to bend the corn down carefully so it doesn't break. And watch out for the wasps, spiders, Japanese beetles and flies. And corn rash (from the sharp leaves cutting one's arms . . .)

"I hate corn," said Eli yesterday.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paint happens

Robbie didn't get a conventional job this summer, but he has been doing some work for me. He scraped and painted one side of the garage, then I had him do the fence.
He's done a good job--he needs very little supervision except for consultation about what to do first, etc. This morning, he painted without break from 8:30-11:15 (when he was STARVING and needed to stop for a sandwich.

He's always loved chores, since he was little. When I vacuumed, he'd come running and play with the attachments, pretending they were vacuums. Bruce bought him a toy vacuum, which got a lot of use.

Besides painting, he's been doing some lawn mowing. Usually the way he (and Eli) get lawn mowing jobs is that colleagues call us, and then we split the work between the two boys. Robbie was tired of sharing the work, so I told him he needed to get the work himself, rather than waiting for people to call.

So he started his own company called BAGELS: Bobbert's Awesome Green Excellent Lawn Service. He made some cards that he handed out to Coe colleagues at a summer lunch. Hope someone will call!

Monday, July 11, 2011

You may take me to the fair

Before we left on our vacation, I decided to enter a few crocheted items in the Open Classes part of the county fair. My friend Karen goes every year to help her kids set up their 4-H displays, and has entered items herself, so she took four of my crocheted items up with her.

Today I had to go pick up my things--and I found I had won a ribbon: "Outstanding Exhibit" for my long vest!
It says "Best in Show on the tag, too."
I also won $5, which was in a little envelope taped to the ribbon :-)

I showed the ribbon to the boys. "What does it mean?" asked Eli. "I'm not sure," I said. "I'll have to ask Karen. I think it may mean my vest was the best of the whole division, which was "needlework" and included crochet, knitting, embroidery, crewel, and tatting (!)

Here are my other items: another vest made of size 3 thread, earrings, and a scarf with a pretty stitch pattern. Maybe the blue stickers on some of the tags mean something, too.

I'm just glad I got to show off how cool and hip crochet can be.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Market Day

Here's what I got at the farmer's market today:
  • bouquet of cut flowers
  • quart of strawberries
  • some radishes
  • sugar snap peas
  • eggs from Forest Hill Farm
It was Big Market week, and I went with my friend Anne. Every other week in Cedar Rapids, they move the Farmer's Market downtown and close a bunch of streets. Besides the usual produce and baked stuff, there are many, many booths with street fair stuff--jewelry, yard art, wine, funnel cakes, giveaways from banks, dogs on leashes. There's loud music, free balloons . . . and TONS of people!

Anne and I prefer the regular farmers' markets to the big ones, but having someone to go around with made this one bearable. We just watched for breaks in the crowd and shot through.

I didn't want to miss this market--besides needing the above items, I wanted to meet a visiting artist, Eliza, who is travelling through the US, collecting stories about quilts.
She had her quilt tents set up.
Visitors got a chance to practice quilting, too.
I told her about learning to piece and quilt from my grandmothers and about piecing my first quilt starting at age 10 and finishing at age 21 :-)

Nearby, the municipal band played. All and all, an enjoyable Big Market!