Monday, December 31, 2012

Wonderful family Christmas

Santa Mikie at work
After a whirlwind week of family Christmas fun,  I took a quick look back through pictures...

My gift from Santa-studio coming together

A few creations from my new studio...

Blizzard in Evansville
Evansville got about 11 inches of snow the day after Christmas, their 3rd highest snowfall in one day.    Mike, mom and I stayed inside and relaxed with a couple of games of Scrabble.  

Family in Cincinnati...Alex, Diane, mom, Pam Adam and Ange
Dane's favorite white elephant gift
We had a great white elephant gift exchange at Pam's.  We laughed  a lot as a few gifts were traded including the Snickers bar and the gumball machine.  Hopefully no hard feelings...
Ange, Gary and Peggy opening gifts at mom's

Mikie at the craft table

 Beads + cookie cutters + toaster oven = fine works of art


Beads in cookie cutters
Melting beads in toaster oven...what is wrong with this picture?
Bead Art

We thoroughly enjoyed the game "Catch Phrase".  We laughed so hard at the descriptions of songs and artists.  Eric's impression of Stevie Wonder will forever be etched in my head...

Adam 's turn at "Catch Phrase"

And I thought often about dad over the holidays. ...seeing the Pepsi ornament on the tree (dad was a route salesman for Pepsi for many years) and the "schmoo"(his favorite 'Lil Abner character)  ornament on his wreath.  When we heard one of his favorite songs, "Whiter Shade of Pale" while shopping at Jungle Jim's, it felt like he was with us...

And looking back at 2012, it was a great (though not always easy) year!  After months of hard work remodeling my house it sold within 2 months!

After 4 years of being married and living in different cities, I finally moved to Indy to live with my sweetie!  And I am starting to learn about this retirement thing...

We got to see the world this year...from Temeculah, CA to La Salina, Mexico to Big Sky, MT  to Kinsale, Ireland, each beautiful in its' own unique way.
California sunset

And we stepped forward into new phones and smart television.  As Mike says, hopefully they aren't smarter than us.  And Direct TV entered our house in Brownsburg!  YEAH for the the Weather Channel, CNN and HGTV!  And then there is watching Mike text.  I never thought I would see the day he would type "LOL"...

We had some wonderful visits with family and friends throughout the year.  And whether folks live in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Montana or Mexico, we are fortunate to have such great people in our lives.   Thanks to all of you for making this such a great year!

Happy 2013!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Busy holidays

Like most folks, it's been a busy holiday season.  Mike and I are blessed this year to be in one house in one city which gives us lots of time to spend with family and friends. And that's what we've been doing.

Fischer Theatre, Danville, IL

We toured the Fischer Theatre in Danville, Illinois where Mike watched movies as a kid. It's on the National Historic Register and will take millions of dollars to restore, but it wasn't difficult to imagine this building in its' heyday.

The theatre is said to be  haunted, and when Mike's friend Jake gave us a tour under the stage, it seemed about 15 degrees colder than the rest of the building.  I don't know, something about being led on an underground tour with flashlights and cell phone lights made me a bit nervous...

We also attended Jake's book release party at the local library.  I am reading one of his books now, an historical fiction book about D.B. Cooper.  He is an up and coming author, and this year one of his books was a runner up for a national book award and is being considered for a movie.

We celebrated my mom's 81st birthday at our house...
Mom and Alex busy with cookies

Pam and Alex

and baked cookies with sister Pam and niece Alex.

We visited my niece Diane and her daughter Alice.

Mom with her great grand daughter Alice and grand daughter Diane

We attended the Indiana Wind Symphony's Holiday Concert and enjoyed our friend John playing percussion.  We planned to hook up with our friend Ed and his daughters after the concert. Imagine our surprise when we realized they were in the seats right next to us, and other friends were in the seats in front of us.

And I joined in the final "Boys Night Out" dinner of the year at a local dive called The Red Key.  Hey, you can't go wrong with chili and cheese burgers!

And a Chicago weekend with Kevin and Kathy to see the Christmas lights was derailed by our first blizzard. Funny how snow and 50 mph winds can convince you to stay put in your own home.  We made the best of it with a movie, great meals and shopping.  For the first time I watched an Iowa blizzard from a distance, and it felt really weird.

So the gifts aren't wrapped yet, and there's lots of cooking to do for Christmas, but hey there are a couple of days left for all of that.  We wouldn't trade a single moment with family and friends...


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Enjoying the holidays

Christmas cactus
I love this holiday season filled with family and friends...

During a lovely Thanksgiving celebration at Pam and George's house in Cincinnati, we had a wonderful sojourn to the arboretum...

Me and mom

Thomas theTank Engine

Amazing orchids
Me and Mike

And then there was also a great Thanksgiving Day with George's family...
Mom and Joan (George's mom)

Scrabble with George, mom and Pam

And some craft work...
Pam, Alex, mom and me

Felt trees with beads

And then decorating for Christmas...

Christmas tree hoisted out of the attic (Mike's idea, what can I say?)

Decorated tree
Mantle...including reindeer by Craig and trees by me...
Outdoor decorations
And as if if Christmas decorating and gifts and parties weren't enough, I decided on some painting and decorating...

Wendy making a decision on fabric

Seems like there is time this year to enjoy family and friends and decorating.  And if we don't get it done today, there's tomorrow. Somehow this is how I expected retirement to be...


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Des Moines-the same and different

It was a very strange feeling.  I was home again, but I had no house.  I was comfortable driving around the city, but I was staying at a hotel.  Since September there were new buildings and sculptures and every one's life had moved on...Sad? No.  Nostalgic? yes.

Starting our travels with Gretchen and Craig in Cedar Rapids, we had a great meal and wonderful visit.  Somehow it seemed important to touch base before they travel to Mexico for the winter.

With Joleen and Roby
Mike and I met up with friends at our old watering hole, Wellman's Pub in West Des Moines.  It was wonderful to see Kristi, Betsy, Joleen and Roby.  As work colleagues, we each had a special connection and friendship which remains unchanged despite my retirement and move to a new city.

Sculpture at DM Botanical Center
Ruth on Principal River Bridge

The next day my friend Ruth and I started our afternoon with a great lunch at the DM Botanical Center. 

It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm November day.  Somehow ice skating and mid-60's weather worked...

And then the beautiful river and bridges...

Bridge, bridge,  bridge

And I couldn't believe a new sculpture garden arose in the 2 short months I was gone.  DM is developing an amazing reputation for public sculpture that goes beyond the downtown Pappajohn Sculpture Garden.

Later that evening we caught up with friends Emily, Brian and Maggie for some home made pizza, wine and ice cream pie.  And of course too many stories to fit into a single evening...

Emily, Maggie and Brian

Maggie's bedtime

It was a very strange feeling.  I was home again, but I had no house.   Being in the DM again was nostalgic but not sad as I realized that the friendships were so much important than my house or job.  All of these friendships grounded me.  They continue to be my "home" in a city dear to my heart.  And that makes me smile...


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Indiana wants me...

I should probably write a primer on moving to a new state because it’s not really that straightforward or easy.   But  I barreled through it anyway…

First snowfall November 12th

Bright and early on a snowy Monday morning, I visited Mike’s local insurance agent and moved the car insurance on one of my vehicles.  This was pretty easy.  Just write the check, make the insurance effective immediately, and then call the Iowa insurance company to cancel.   

Mike has done business with them for years, and I think they know his and my life history.  I had to smile when I was told “we love Mike” and now “we love you too”.  I don’t know, in all my years in the insurance business, I don’t remember ever saying “love you” to a customer.   Hoosier hospitality???

After studying my Indiana driver’s manual diligently, I set out Tuesday morning to get my driver’s license.  Armed with a passport, social security card, credit card bill, bank statement and medical bill, I was able to prove my identity and that I was really living in Indiana.  Seems that Indiana issues secure ID’s that follow rules from the Dept. of Homeland Security…

I passed the test.  And now that I’m a newly minted Indiana licensed driver, I’ve been boring Mike with all my new found knowledge:
  • ·      500 feet-distance you must turn on low beams when approaching oncoming car
  • ·      100 feet-distance you must stop when approaching railroad crossing arms that are down
  • ·      45-max speed in construction zone
  • ·      55-max speed on “urban” interstate
  • ·      When stopping at a stop sign without a crosswalk, you must stop parallel to the stop sign.
  • ·      Only 1 car can be in the intersection when the light is yellow.
  • ·      Fascinating facts about parallel parking which was met with much laughter since I can’t parallel park to save my life!

Of course getting a license involved 2 trips to the BMV, 2 pictures and twice as much time as I wanted to spend there because “downtown” didn’t accept the license using my middle name when my passport used a middle initial.  

Hey, my second picture turned out better anyway, and this was compliments of this nice older woman who waited on me during the 2nd visit.  

She was from the Quad Cities area, and we had a great discussion about Iowa.  In the short time it took to get my 2nd license, I learned a lot about her life.  She was a bit lost since her husband died earlier this year, and she was contemplating moving back to Iowa to be closer to family.  She felt that she wasn’t ready for the decision, and I suggested she take her time for such an important decision.  I am not sure why she divulged all of this. Maybe she just needed to talk.  I wanted to hug her as I left the BMV…

The next day  I dragged Mike to the BMV for the 3rd visit in 2 days so we could get my 2 vehicles registered and licensed.  Actually this experience went very quite well.  We were excited to learn we could get the same vanity plates for the Challenger “IH8SLOW”.  Of course several days later we got a nice notice in the mail saying this vanity plate was “declined” because of “inappropriate content”.   The only thing we can figure out is that Indiana does not like the word or any representation of the word “hate”.  So back to the drawing board on that one…

So with my pocketbook about $800 lighter, I am getting firmly entrenched in Indiana.  I must say that I was sad to give up my Iowa drivers license and license plates and say goodbye to my Iowa insurance agent who said they would “miss me”.  Funny how all of these little things are are outward symbols of leaving a state where I have lived since college. I miss Iowa, but rest assured that I will be proudly wearing my University of Iowa sweatshirt!

And in between building new friendships with the BMV and insurance agents, I found some time for creativity…Ornaments, purses and sun catchers oh my…


Have a great week!