Dip, Dip & Swing

I really wanted to go canoing this week while I was back. This is not what I had in mind. The Maquoketa river has rolled over its banks for the third time today in five weeks in Manchester Iowa. The river is roaring at 20ft - 6 feet above flood stage. Here is some photos I took this morning when sandbagging my parents shop and the surrounding businesses. Their main shop is fairly high so no damage for us, but lots of muck to scrape out of the storage buildings.

Monday a tornado also hit the small town of just a few miles from where my parents live. Needless to say Iowa's weather might just suck more than Texas. At least today we were blessed with sun :)


The Churn of Disaster

Ever wonder what a tornadic sky can look like? Here are a few photos I shot Sunday of one of the major storms moving through Iowa. I took these at Renshaws house just NW of Des Moines. The cell north of us was the one that produced the F5 tornado. We are all well, wet but well. I'll post more later

The Wild Wild (Mid)West

Thus far vacation has been wet. We made it safely into Des Moines about midnight Saturday night. It was great to see all of the family, but the weather has been wicked wild. I am sure it made national news that Parkersburg, Iowa got hammed by an F5 tornado. It's amazing with all of the destruction more lives were not taken. The fields are littered with bank statements and photos more than 150 miles away.

Here is some video of Parkersburg via youtube. The stories are amazing. One family had a custom storm shelter built. When they walked out their basement was as clean as the day they moved in. This thing was a monster, almost a mile wide. the second video is rough but scroll to the end. The destruction is unreal.


Monkeying around

As you can tell I am playing blog catch up today. I was out all last week with strep throat. And today I started my Monday morning with a 7am root canal. I had some dental work that was not done right years ago and I am in the process of having it all redone. Some of them are so messed up I have to see a specialist because my regular dentist won't even touch them. So that was the start to my lovely week. However, I'll give reps to my endodontist, he does an awesome job! I haven't even take an pain killer today.

anyway, my goal is to complete umpteen projects this week, I leave Saturday to head to the north country. Typically I am so excited, but I think its the thought of flying with two kids alone that wrecks my anticipation. Eliza is at that age where she can't sit still. Sunday in church attempting to keep Eliza on my lap was like trying to hug a rabid raccoon.

But I am looking forward to some fishing, a gunder burger and maybe even take Erin over to the the Elkader Bakery to see if they still have cookie monster cookies.

Eliza's new thing is to put clothing on her head. For some reason she thinks its hilarious. She'll put a pair of shorts on her head a laugh hysterically.

The shoes that were never meant to be....

I'm not a big shoe person. If fact I am probably the only women whose husband has more shoes than she does. I have:

  • Three pairs of running shoes (all Saucony, two pairs which are retired and one in active duty)
  • pair of black - low heal strapy dress shoes
  • Brown - casual dress shoes
  • pair of workboots
  • and my beloved black Z2 chacos, which I paid and arm and a leg for five years ago, but they have lasted me through two pregnancies and I wear them at least five days a week.
Last Saturday Erin and I went shopping for a dress for my cousins upcoming wedding and there they were, these beautiful Maryjane ecco clogs. Shoes are purely an asset of functionality to me. They need to fit right and wear long, but these bad boys made my heart patter. And best of all they were at a discount store, so instead of the online price tag of $120, they were $25.00.

And yet, I thought to myself I really don't need green shoes, so I walked out. When we got home Erin told Jared, "Mom really wants green shoes for mothers day, you better buy them for her." And sure enough, he took the advise of his daughter and I got these stunning babies for mother's day.

The European sizing is a bit funky and after wearing them around the house I decided that I probably needed the next size up. I saw that they had them, so I thought I would go in first thing Monday and exchange them. Monday morning came and I was running a fever of 104 and coming down with strep. Tuesday came and I was still dead to the world, Wednesday passed and I was finally up but not out of the house. And finally Thursday I felt well enough to venture out. I walked in scanning the mutteled shelves of womens shoes. I paced back and forth looking for that deep suede green as Erin tromped around in a pair of silver and hot pink spike heals (the girls walks better in them than I do). They had a few pairs left that would only fit someone named Helga who wore size 11. So I returned the shoes I had fallen for and walked out....sporting my black chacos once again.


Last weekend we met up with some friends and went to the Greek Festival put on by the local Greek Orthodox Church. Its was alot smaller than we thought it would be, but we really had a great time. They had traditional food, dancing, a market and water pumping races. It was held in an outdoor park pavilion and they had overloaded the circuits so they kept tripping a breaker. The lights would go out for a few minutes at a time. When they came back on everyone would yell oompa! and the dancing and music would commence....until the electricity would go out again. Erin loved watching the dances and eyed the balvalka at the bakery stand all night.


In Bloom

My mother-in-law Linda bought me this plant last summer when she was down here visiting. I have long forgotten its name, as I have referred to it as the "do nothing" or my "ugo plant" for months. Its a vine, planted by our front door and frankly Jared was about ready to dig it out because it smells like rotten fruit and the vines don't train very well so they are always whacking him in the face when he franticly races out the front door every morning.

But this week it FINALLY bloomed and we found out the stinky plant has an breathtaking side. The flower is bigger than my hand.


Peanut Butter Galore

Last Friday night a group of us worked at the LDS peanut butter cannery in North Houston. The church has food cannery's all over the US that cans food produced in that area. They do everything from potatoes and wheat to beef chili and salsa. Since west Texas has big peanut farms, Houston is home to the church's only Peanut butter factory.

This cannery produces around 300,000 jars a peanut butter a year. 100,000 jars are turned out specifically for the Houston food bank. The rest goes for humanitarian aid worldwide and local food programs to help needy families.

The factory is small and take about 20 volunteers to run it. In the spring when the peanut harvest come in there are days they run around the clock. We worked the 9pm-2 am shift. It was a lot of fun but by the end of the night I was thankful I don't have to work in a factory setting.

The peanut come in in huge white canvas bags. They are roasted, separated, crushed and then mixed with oil and sugar. (It great PB, tastes like jiffy). A few people feed in empty jars and the jars are filled. People screw on the lids, the jars are sealed, labels placed on, jars are boxed, inventoried and ready to be shipped. Our shift produced around 1500 jars/hour.

I forgot to take my camera, but here is a you tube video of the setup. The video is shaky, but walks you through the process of making peanut butter.