Saturday, January 10, 2009

Road Trip 2

Thursday, I found myself and my son back in the MINI for another road trip. This time we were headed east, to move him into a new apartment for the start of his spring semester at college. I loaded up the necessary boxes of cleaning supplies and bags of groceries to stock his kitchen, but he kept bringing out bags of clothes, boxes of books, and piles of bedding. We just looked at each other and laughed, then re-arranged and stuffed his possessions into every breathable square inch of space in the back of that car. And we got it all packed!

He jumped into the passenger seat and announced that he had a handful of CD's he wanted me to listen to. "A captive audience!" he proclaimed. The first selection was Cat Power, a musician who he had heard at Lollapalooza in Chicago's Grant Park last August. (This was an interesting choice given the last time I moved him, it was out of his apartment before he left for India to study abroad. As soon as we finished packing the MINI and cleaning the apartment that blistering hot, August afternoon, he headed off to this three-day music fest with some friends.) Then he selected Wolf Parade, Radiohead (my Christmas present from my daughter), and Elliot Smith. And the finale....The Very Best of Otis Redding! Ev always wants to share his music with me. Bless his heart, he has great taste in music!

I helped carry in the boxes and bags, surveyed the new digs, then he pushed me out the door. He assured me he could unpack and make his bed all by himself, so after several xoxoxox's and "I love you's" I headed down the road to Sister's Garden with hopes of finding one blogger known to all of us as Sweet Repose. Sharon was helping a friend set up her new blog. I got to poke around in two really cool, old farmhouses stacked to the ceiling with all kinds of treasures. I found some brown transferware plates, a gorgeous, dark blue, oriental area rug, and two fired-clay flower frogs. Wow, what a haul!

After talking with Sharon and Beth, I loaded up the MINI and headed back up Highway 1. I had also purchased a CD from Sister's Garden, Acoustic chill3, which was playing as I shopped. It featured great music from k.d. lang, Alison Kraus, Indigo Girls, Wynonna, and Eva Cassidy. I was hungry, but wanted to get on the road and the only options I spotted from the driver's seat were BK and the Golden Arches, so I passed, and drove out to the interstate.

After about an hour into the trip, I noticed a front moving in from the west. It extended as far as the eye could see both to the northwest and the southeast.
It was dramatic in its approach. I whipped out the camera and clicked away, never reviewing the shots, but just snapping different views, hoping some would turn out. I also thought of Willow's "mistake" firing of her camera and thought I might catch one of those.:}

Further down the road I caught sight of a simple sign that read, "The Best Burger In Iowa". By now, my stomach was grumbling, but it was getting dark and cold; I wanted to get home. After I passed the exit, I regretted my decision to drive on. Why not experience the best burger in Iowa? Surely, by the time I arrived home, everyone would have eaten. It was 6 miles to the next exit, but something told me to turn around and take a chance. So I found my turn-around exit, crossed over the bridge, and headed back to find a burger that was calling my name.

No Regrets!!!! It was one of the best vegetable, cheeseburgers, ever! The golden, crunchy fries on the side were hand-cut and rivaled anything Micky-D's serves. The next time you're traveling through Iowa on I-80 at mealtime, take the Kellogg exit and pull in for the Best Burger in Iowa.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Road Trip!!!!!!

It is countdown week for this grad student-spring semester begins next Monday. There was so much I planned to do over winterbreak, and I had a whole month to play and explore, but the weather threw a wrench into several of my plans. Sunday I realized I had a handful of days left, so if a road trip was my pleasure, I had better get going. The weather forecast for southern Iowa and northern Missouri and Kansas looked to be favorable for Tuesday, so I put my foot down, literally...on the gas pedal, and took off for the day. I got everyone out the door to their school and work, walked the dog, checked in with the carpenter, then hit the road for Atchison, KS. I have wanted to visit Nell Hills and Garrity's, two shops I had read about in Midwest Living magazine several seasons back. Shoppers, some by the busload, come from all over the region.

Garrity's was closed (the website had not been updated!:{), but Nell Hills was open and what fun! This elegant boutique is chock-full, and I mean full!, of home accessories that are priced so they won't break the bank. It offers two floors of merchandise, a feast for the eyes. I walked through a second time and discovered some beautiful items I had missed in my first pass.

On my way back to the interstate, I passed by a rambling antiques mall and did a quick u-turn. Glad I did because I hit the jackpot. I had been looking for an old rosary to pass on to my daughter. I wanted something with some history...a few prayers already rubbed into those beads. I found a handsome black-beaded rosary made in France. I also found one made with sky-blue beads...the color of my daughters eyes.

I also gathered some awesome postcards dating back to the 1910's. A handful depict landscaping in famous parks in Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Chicago. The rest were valentine and christmas p/c's with dutch children and windmills. I could not resist - I'm dutch! ;} My last treasure was a brown transferware lid to a soup tureen. Granted, the tureen part was missing, but the lid was covered with beautiful orchids and birds. This will be hung above a window in the dining room with some of my other transferware plates...always a nice addition to the Audubon bird prints.

It was a fun day. The weather was perfect for January-38 degrees and sunny. The landscape undulated with rolling hills and was dotted with hardwood forests, farm ponds, and boggy lowlands. I cut cross-country upon leaving Atchison and found some great motoring in the MINI-smooth blacktop, lots of "twisties", steep hills and valleys, single-lane bridges...and no traffic. It was glorious!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

In the Stacks

With Christmas and two birthdays in January, the proverbial bookshelf at Friley Road is overflowing. One of the things I am most proud of as a parent is my children's love of books and reading. I credit my husband with that! Don't get me wrong, I love books. My stacks are overflowing, especially with my return to grad school, but my husband, son, and daughter read like there is no tomorrow.

I have a budding photographer, so Annie Leibovitz was a given. Upon my son's return from his semester abroad in India studying sustainability and food issues, a copy of Michael Pollan's new book has found a home in his library. My husband's eclectic mix of reading material provided a feast for the kids in picking out books at the local book store for their father's birthday.

I did a little shopping myself on Amazon and found some used copies of books on my wish list: JB Jackson's landscape essays, and a favorite poetry book of Billy Collins. I am a history buff, especially Iowa's history, and now, the history of landscape architecture. This poem of Billy Collins is probably one of my favorite poems, ever...

The Lesson
In the morning when I found History
snoring heavily on the couch,
I took down his overcoat from the rack
and placed its weight over my shoulder blades.

It would protect me on the cold walk
into the village for milk and the paper
and I figured he would not mind,
not after our long conversation the night before.

How unexpected his blustering anger
when I returned covered with icicles,
the way he rummaged through the huge pockets
making sure no major battle or English queen
had fallen out and become lost in the deep snow.

-Billy Collins, Sailing Alone Around the Room, 2001

Richardson Wright's entry for January 4th in his book ANOTHER GARDENER'S BED-BOOK

This entry is hilarious. Remember this book was published in 1933!

A New Water Lily
Recently there's been heard a wailing from owners of splendid and interesting gardens that are over-run with uninvited visitors, so over-run that garden privacy has become impossible. I have been caught both in "shorts" and without them. Most of my manly anatomy is known to at least three charming garden ladies who once descended on me unheralded. When we meet at flower shows the cordiality of our greeting is still tinctured with a slight degree of embarrassment. But then, I am more fortunate than my friend, the eminent horticulturist, who was mistaken for a Water Lily.

There was a new gardener on the place and he had been given orders to move the boxes of Lily roots in the pool. The owner happened by, and somehow, he couldn't make his man understand where he wanted them placed. So he stripped to the buff and waded in. Scarcely had he reached the middle of the pool when, from out of nowhere, appeared two carloads of garden club ladies. The owner did his best to stay under, but lack of breath finally forced him to the surface. Despite frantic signals from the gardener, the pilgrims lingered by the pond side. It is even reported that one near-sighted enthusiast, peering in the direction of the owner, exclaimed, "Well, I never saw that variety before!"