Sunday, June 29, 2008


Friends are gone for the summer, but in their wake, they left six blueberry bushes that need picking. Tonight was my first assignment, so I went over at 5 and for half an hour, crowded around these berry bushes bigger than myself and went to town. I probably picked 5 cups' worth. Now they're washed and freezing in a single layer in the fridge. Soon it will be blueberry streusel coffeecake time. I go back in two days.

And I'm taking one helluva big bowl.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Starry Night.

I love Wiley's friends. I had an idea to have one last get-together for J&A before they go to Europe for two months and come back newlyweds. So I made a pork tenderloin with rosemary and plum sauce, rice pilaf and my Oreo cookie salad. Other people brought salads and meats and spinach dip, and it was all very tasty. I think we all feel very fat.

It would seem to certain people that I'm not shy. I've recently been called meddlesome, albeit in a good-natured way; and outgoing. And while I suppose my stories of meeting and talking to people on plane trips is not your idea of a shy person, in large social situations, I can be. Tonight, I got there late, which is unusual, but unexpected visitors dropped by as I was making a mess of my kitchen and my clothes. No problem, they hadn't started eating. I joked and laughed and talked to most of the people, and then I sat down.

Maybe sitting down is the problem. Before I knew it, I was just a listener with nothing to contribute. Sports this, political science that, little convos here and there, and I'm not an active participant. One is talking about her wedding plans, and then the other is talking about what they're planning to do in Prague. While I enjoy hearing snippets of everything, I feel left out.

So I went blueberry hunting. J&A have a wonderful garden with ripe, fresh, untainted blueberries. And we chatted about this and that, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then we came back to the group and they chatted, and I listened, and at 11:15, I decided I should go home so I could get up and work tomorrow. I said my goodbyes and gave hugs and decided when I'd be back to blueberry hunt, when J walked me out.

J is a very interesting man. College tennis player, super smart, very personable, has just about anything you could ever need at his house that you can borrow at any a kayak, and a weedwhacker. But we've never had much occasion to talk. I suppose I feel a little tongue-tied, though I don't know why. Tonight, it seemed he let down his guard a little bit, and let me inside. We chatted about weddings, about families, about work, and a half-hour later, I'm home, with fresh blueberries and a feeling inside.

I think it's happiness.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It's been roughly four years or so since the breakup of my first marriage. Someone at work was quite surprised when she found out I was married. "You?" she said. Yeah, I know, cute little inquisitive thing like myself, sometimes described by another as meddlesome, with a big smile and flashy eyes, is a divorcee. Just goes to show you we all have our skeletons, and nothing is as it seems.

It wasn't until talking to Wiley later today that I realized sometimes I am still haunted by my ex. I never really saw it while we were married, but he was quite a control freak. When I still talked to him, of course I could see it, but it's funny how much you get burned when you're close to the flame but you never realize it's happening until you move away from it. While I was married, nearing the end of the 8 years we'd been together, but not knowing it at the time, my ex told me he'd lost respect for me because I had no goals. And because I'd "gotten fat". I'll let that one go for now. But as for the goals, he was right: I had no goals. To me, I see goals as too far in the future - and if you focus too much on the future, you lose sight of the present. I'm currently reading Never Eat Alone, which is changing my view on goals, slowly. But I can see that it still affects me. I want people to be proud of me. I want people to respect me. I think I didn't get enough of that when I was a child that I still crave it now, sometimes ferociously. I worry that Wiley won't continue to love me because I haven't figured myself out yet, that I don't have goals that are concrete. Through tears and snorts on the phone because one nostril fills up quicker than the other (this is something that I must've had before going to Bosnia but never noticed until I went there, got infected, and came home thinking it'd go away, and surprise, it hasn't), I unleashed my thoughts to Wiley, who patiently listened to my snorts in his ear, rather loudly at times because when you have on headphones and a mic is right next to your face, it's a bit difficult to regulate, then told me that he wanted to give me the space to figure myself out and the ability to do so without any pressure from him. (And that my ex beat me down too much.) "All my friends go through this," he reassured me, to which I hiccuped, "At my age?" and he chuckled and said, "Close enough."

Puffy eyes are mostly dry now (must remember to get cucumber packs ready for the wedding just in case a tear is shed). Thanks, Wiley. I love you so very much.

Yay Me

Two months at my new job.

16 days until I see Wiley again.

One bookcase sold.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Island Memories

When I was 16, I was lucky enough to go on vacation with my parents to the little island of Kauai. Granted, vacationing with parents when you're 16 never really sounds like fun, but I got to go to Hawaii, while Iowa was dealing with winter, and frolic on beaches. I went horseback riding in a sugar cane field that led to a sandy white beach with crystal blue water. I got to go to a luau and watch hula girls and guys dance and play with fire. Some guy in his 20s thought I looked cute while feeding peacocks and gave me his phone number. (What, I was going to give him mine? Ha. I knew how to play the game.) While it was only 70 degrees and the locals were wearing jeans and sweaters, we were wearing swimsuits and shorts and laying out near the water. We went just a couple of years after a hurricane blew through, and the island wasn't up and running yet. People were living in the condos we were staying at because they had nowhere else to go. I thought it was kinda fun to have roosters wake me up at 5 am. In Hawaii!

And I don't know why the memory struck me tonight, but I remember going to the grocery store with my mom. It was just the two of us - my dad and his mom were back at the condo, and friends who had come with us were off on the island doing their own thing. I marveled at a $5.00 gallon of milk. Paradise, it seemed, came with a cost.

While we were getting in line, a man with a small red basket of items came up to us and asked my mom to help him pay for his groceries. She faltered and said she couldn't. He said, "That's ok," and then left, leaving the basket near the front of the store. Mom immediately regretted her decision and told me to go running after him to find him, and I tried, but when I got outside, he was nowhere in sight. I found it a little odd. He wasn't more than 10 seconds ahead of me, and the parking lot was large, but he was just gone. Vanished.

After my mom passed away a few short months later, I thought about this incident. In addition to this oddity, not long before my mom passed away, she told me of a strange dream, only she swore it wasn't a dream. She said she woke up in the middle of the night, and a cloaked figure was standing at the foot of the bed. She called out my name because I was the only other one in the house (Dad was sleeping next to her). The figure didn't move, didn't say a word, just stood there. She told me she hid under the covers, and when she looked again, the figure was gone.

I wouldn't say that I was superstitious, but after she died, I really started to wonder at these two phenomenon. Was the man in Kauai an angel testing her to see how nice she was and if she passed the test, would she have lived? Who was the cloaked figure? Another angel, deciding it was definitely her that was going to be next?

More likely than not, the guy in Hawaii was probably someone who just happened to look at a lady who had a kid and thought she looked nice enough to help him out. She was; she just thought of my dad and how mad he would've been if he knew she spent money to help a complete stranger, and having to deal with a mad alcoholic is no way to spend a vacation.

The cloaked stranger likely was a dream as well, but you know there are times when dreams feel so real (like every night as I'm going to bed and I dream a spider is spinning a web down to my bed), you're convinced you were awake.

Is there a point to this story? Not so much. But if you're looking for one, stop being a schmuck and be nice. Help someone out, especially someone who a) could really use it and/or b) doesn't expect it.

No Corn for Me

With the floods this year, corn is nearing $8 a bushel. That's quite a lot for roughage. I shan't be eating any this year.

What is booming, thanks to the floods, are the mosquitoes. In Iowa, there are 7 times more mosquitoes this year than last year.

Know what this means?

I ain't going home.

Shovel, swat and swim. This is not a good year for my little home state.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Packing Up The House

So Wiley and I decided it was time to unload some of our stuff. While I think I've done a pretty good job of throwing out his stuff merging our things, more can go since we're moving into a fully furnished house in a few months. So Wiley sent out a general email to friends, and I figured this stuff would be gone by the time we left this place. The same day, he started getting bites for things, so now I'm in ultra-pack mode to clean out bookcases and a microwave cart. Who knew people moved so quickly??

And the mice seem to have come back in droves. So far, there are 7 holes in the dirt around the foundation. Thankfully, over 30 bins are out of the house, so there's really not much the buggers can get into.

And Rewind eats spiders. Ew.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dancin' in My Home

Yesterday: sunny.

Today: sunny.

Tomorrow when I last checked: sunny with a stray thunderstorm.

Thursday: sunny.

Friday: sunny.

Today, I could hear the creek, but I could not see the creek. The temperature was in the high 70s with a good was the kind of day where you would stay outside and then get sunburned because you never realized just how much sun was actually hitting you.

Glorious. I will take my rays of sunshine and the drying out of the Earth for as long as it is possible. Hopefully the Midwest can stay dry so the swelling of the rivers can go down or at least give the people some time to fill as many sandbags as possible to help the levees.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


A cornfield that's not yet under water.

My sister took this picture near Waterloo, Iowa. Perhaps the beginning of a tornado?

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Many Ulcers Can You Get In A Season?

I echo Cara's sentiment. I'm so done with this weather. Today it poured while I was taking the business mail to the post office. I thought, Here we go again. Some roads flooded a bit, but not as badly as before. But now, anytime it rains, I think that this is it, my house is going down in water, and it's a race with the devil to get home to save the cats.

And now Cedar Rapids is full of water.

I can't even get home to help - tons of roads are closed.

The Cedar River is going to crest at 15 feet above flood stage.

People joked about building Arks. Jehovah's Witnesses came to my door. Wiley asked me, "What are you doing tonight?" I told him I'd be watching the channel and running to my front door to assess the rising water in Clear Creek.

It's been a fun night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

And I Thought I Had it Bad...

This is my hometown. Today I heard on NPR that my little home town was sandbagging like crazy, trying to keep out the water from the Cedar River. Turns out that the water has crested and is going down a bit, but unfortunately they're supposed to get more rain in the next few days. Downtown has been evacuated. My sister said they have the presidential state of emergency, which is big news. To put this in perspective, here is a picture of the Ice House Museum on a dry day. I'm told currently has about 8-10 feet inside of it.

And this is the boat house:

In this YouTube clip, all you can see of the boat house is the roof.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I was checking out a friend's Facebook page today, and this little quote struck me as funny:

"If we are what we eat, I'm cheap, fast and easy."


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Don't Like Thunderstorms Anymore.

Do you ever get that feeling in your gut? The kind that you wish you didn't get? I'm not talking gas. I mean have you ever had the feeling that maybe you should've thought through something just a bit more before deciding to do it?

I had that feeling. Right after I signed my lease.

After the ink was dry, a little voice popped into my head. "Sure, living near the creek is nice," it whispered, "but aren't you just a little too close in the event of a flood?"

"Too late now," I hissed to myself.

Today, that little voice came back booming: TOLD YOU SO!!

Bloomington got nailed today with flash floods. I've never been in a flash flood. I've heard about them, sometimes think people are idiots for driving through water they know they shouldn't and then have their engines stall, really think people who go walking around in flood water have a death wish.

And now I can say I am one of them.

I left home this morning at 8:10, noticed the very high creek, and then thought, Boy, I hope that's all the rain we get today. Ha. Not by a long shot.

At 4:30, the rain came down so hard in all different directions, I thought we were going to have to take cover. A tornado had been reported aways away. But at 5, it seemed things were quieting down. That's when I get out onto the road and have to drive through a trickle of water. No problem. A little farther down, a larger puddle of water. Everyone else is going through it, even littler cars than Civics. No problem. Turn down the wrong road, the main road, and that's when I see Lake Bloomington covering the intersection of 3rd and College Mall Road. Normally, we don't have a Lake Bloomington. But there it was, taunting us all. Great. Now what? Sit like a duck in rising water? I think not. Even though a Passat stalled out, I again noticed smaller cars risking their necks, and decide if it stalls, it stalls, and I go through. Miraculously, my car went through without any problems, but I'd had enough. I went to the mall and pulled in a spot. Why risk death? I called my next door neighbor, and he said that the road wasn't completely flooded, but he couldn't pull into his driveway, so he parked in mine. The back yard was filling, and almost to my door, but I had a few feet left. Forty minutes later, I was able to drive down my street, and that's when I stopped about 5 houses up because the water had risen.

My house was completely surrounded by water. The creek overflowed, and it looked like there was never a small creek, but a raging river. I had no backyard. The patio furniture and little table were completely under water. Had my hammock been hanging up, you wouldn't have seen most of it.

Now, I know you're not supposed to walk through flood water. But how about stumbling and running? In professional work clothes? Well, Dear Reader, that's what I did. I had to save the cats! It's amazing how much you don't think about your safety when you're worried and your mind is in overdrive. I could give a shit about my belongings. They're going into storage anyway. But my precious animals I needed to save. Nevermind the fact that they're cats and hate water, so likely would've climbed on the couch or the table to avoid getting wet.

I finally made it inside, and to my complete amazement, the water hadn't seeped in. Had I opened my back door, it would've been inside. And it's in my crawl space. I can smell it. But the floor was dry and the cats were fine. For all the bugs, when it really counted, this little duplex stood her ground, and I am grateful. I was starting to pack things up and get the cats and leave because the water seemed to be getting higher, but Wiley calmed me down and said not to go anywhere because it shouldn't get any higher. It hasn't.

Now it's 9:30, and not only can I see my driveway, but I can see my backyard. I even drove the car down and parked it, though we're supposed to get more severe storms tonight and I'm worried that it's going to flood again. Let's just say sleep tonight will not be easy.

In the meantime, I have the computer ready to go if I need to make a dash. The cats' carrier is out in the living room, I have a change of clothes in my bookbag, and I've packed up the books that were on the lowest shelf and gotten everything off the floor, should the house decide to flood while I'm not in it (say, tomorrow).

It was such a feeling of helplessness. Can't sandbag - won't do any good. Can't fill bins and take them somewhere. The car's all the way up the street and the current was strong. The only thing I could do was stare and make a circle, not knowing where to start should I actually make a break for it. Thankfully, I didn't have to, and now I'm ready should I need to.

And on a positive note, any little mice that were in the crawlspace are now floating bodies.

I have pictures, but they're on my phone and I don't know how to get them off because I no longer have the option to send them. Once I figure that out, I'll update.