Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bunnies for Breakfast?

I was talking to the furnace guy the other day about geothermal and we just happened to glance out the kitchen window to check the backyard for square footage. We spotted this juvenile red-tailed hawk sitting in the red bud tree. He was focused on a rabbit that had taken cover under a wheelbarrow in the veggie garden. I have seen owls, sharp-shinned, and Cooper's hawks in the back garden, but never a red tailed.  He was huge....and obviously hungry.   He stayed put for about ten minutes, then gave up on the quaking bunny and flew away.

Filed Under "Christmas"

Now that things have settled down a bit, I wanted to post a photo I snapped the other morning after assembling the Monkey Bread. This sugary delight represents a long-held tradition in my version of Cooper Christmas. Yearly, this gooey breakfast treat was popped in the oven to bake while the kiddies opened their presents from Santa.  The recipe card, which is just as special as the bread and the tradition it represents, was passed to me by a sister-in-law from a Christmas of long ago. I remember her assurance that there would be lots of memories stuck to those sugary balls of dough. Mary was so right.

This year's memory attached to the Monkey Bread will be especially poignant with Ev's arrival home from Vietnam. Last year, Christmas was spent in Nha Trang, Vietnam on a beach that looked out on the waters of the South China Sea.  It was the first Christmas the kids went without their beloved bread.  We had just gone through the line of the hotel Christmas buffet where Tess had made a bee-line to the German stolen. She took that first bite and declared, "Not Monkey Bread!"

Looking at this photo today, I remember the sticky fingers of my children clutching their newly-unwrapped Batman and Barbie, carried to the breakfast table to share our Christmas feast of sugary bread, sweet tangerines, and hot cocoa.  Barbie and Batman have long since been packed away.  However, each year when I pull out the recipe card for Monkey Bread, all the special memories flood my kitchen - including a Christmas so many years ago when Mary shared her secret for the Holidays.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the High Trestle Bridge

Today my son and I ventured over to the High Trestle Bridge - one of the Seven Wonders of Iowa! We had a picture-perfect day to tromp the bridge.  It was nice just hanging with Ev to share such a magnificent gesture on the landscape.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park

This is a Colorado magpie, Pica hudsonia.

This is an Iowa magpie, Pica cooperia, at Emerald Lake in Colorado.

Friday, November 4, 2011

e.e. cummings

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tess and Screechy Sittin' in a Tree...

courtesy of McClanahan Studio, Ames, IA

Gardens are for People

                                                                                                                             photo by dlcooper

A Thomas Church garden discovered in San Francisco,
October, 2011.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

the beckoning lane....

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Industrious Honey Bee

The other day I was hosing off the screened porch in preparation for the arrival of close to 100 guests who were coming for a BBQ. I was just finishing up when I felt the first intense sting on the front of my thigh. Within seconds, I felt another sharp sting on the back of my leg. It was then that I noticed the bees that were inside the screen of the porch. I figured they had gotten in through the door when I left it open for the water to drain.

The next afternoon when I was sitting at the drafting table upstairs hammering out one of the drafts of the skeleton copy of my thesis, I was struck by all the insects flying past the window. The sun caught their arc as they flew by and I was mesmerized by this display. It suddenly dawned on me that there was an incredible number of insects that all looked the same, so I headed downstairs and out the door. I thought they were the dreaded Japanese beetle that had been eating up all the green leaves in my garden. Well, maybe not all, but certainly more than their share. My fear was that they had descended upon the new Pagoda Dogwood, Cornus alternifolia. That was the last straw, so I headed out to the back of the house thinking I would hose them off and keep a vigilante watch to discourage their devouring the tree.

When I got outside , I realized that it wasn't beetles I was seeing but honey bees. And they had a taken up residence in a niche under the floor of the porch. How could I be upset that the honey bees chose my house for their hive. The painters next spring might have a problem with it, but I felt blessed that these industrious workers have found shelter in my garden. Everyday, as my focus and determination flag, I notice the bees flying up and out, then back down and in, as they carry on their mission. They do what they do and it is all part of the process.

More importantly, they remind me to keep working through this incredibly difficult task of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together into one sane and sensible, and hopefully, enlightening, document. It holds the key to my graduation and also for my realizing a long-held and hard-fought-for dream.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swimmer of the Meet

Tess was named "Swimmer of the Meet" last night for her top performance and dedicated effort in all her events. Congratulations!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sycamore Row

: ) Here is the link to the Iowa Public Radio "Audio Postcard" segment on Sycamore Row ( :

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Path of the Sycamores on ISU Campus


I just received an email from a Facilities person. He was responding to a heartfelt thank you I sent off late last night after the swim meet. (FYI: the Ames High girls' swim team dominated last night!)

He was informing me that there were actually four sycamores saplings planted - two more further down the line closer to Elwood Drive. In my haste to get to the swim meet, my joy! with discovering the first two saplings, and my vigilante navigation through the 5 o'clock traffic around the campus, I totally missed them.

It seems like another bike ride over to Sycamore Row is in order today with photos to follow.


Sycamore Row ReDux!

Late yesterday afternoon I was pedaling like a mad woman trying to make it to my daughter's swim meet at the high school in time to see her first event. I am
without the Mini these days, which is a good thing....no temptations from work on the thesis. She has the car from 5:30 AM to 5:30 PM now that school has started and swimming practice is in full swing.

If I want to go somewhere, it is under my own power-either by foot or on bike. The bus is also an option, but I always need the fresh air and exercise. With temps hitting close to 100 yesterday, I was not looking forward to pedaling the 3 miles - uphill- to the high school, but decided it would be faster than taking Cy-Ride. The bus involves several transfers to get from Point A on my side of town to Point F at the high school. Luckily, the fastest route is alongside Sycamore Row, which is also the coolest, literally and figuratively!

I was zooming along the old cinder path (now asphalt) thinking, "I'm late! I'm late" when I noticed a small amount of tree debris strewn across the path. I slowed my bike so I could look around to investigate, but did not notice any areas with new mulch, or evidence of tree removal. It looked like shavings from overhead. I got off the bike to check up into the canopy of one of the sycamores, listening for a woodpecker drilling, checking for a newly sawed-off stump where a damaged limb might have been removed. Nothing was apparent, so I hopped back on my bike and took off. I had just hit maximum speed on the old Schwinn when, out of the corner of my eye, it registered that there was something newly planted a little further down the line.

Imagine my surprise and complete exhilaration when I spotted two new saplings...sycamore saplings with trunks the size of my fist...freshly planted and mulched along the Row. I let out a whoop and a holler! Holy Cow! For all the years I have taken this path, I have noticed this gap in the Row. And especially now since Sycamore Row has been bestowed with the recognition it deserves as one of The Cultural Landscape Foundation's 2010 "Every Tree Tells A Story" landscapes, I have hoped I would see this very thing one day.

These saplings are beautiful. Even though they are just squirts compared to their bigger bros along the Row, they now stand as memorial trees for those who have been lost over the last 100 years. As I snapped these photos, they were waving their big leafy heads. Their peeling, reptilian-colored bark, even at this tender age, is signature sycamore.

I tip my hat to Facilities at Iowa State University. These young trees are in good company here on Sycamore Row.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Clouded sulphurs puddling along Squaw Creek.
image source: dlcooper

image source: showmejoeblog @ joecoelho

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Boone River

A couple of weeks ago, I headed up north to Hancock County, IA to find the headwaters of the Boone River. After studying this aerial, I was able to locate these agricultural fields that had been tiled and drained for farming. This is where the Boone River originates.

aerial of the west and east channels emptying into the main channel of the Boone River
source: orthogis@iastate.edu

west and east channels drain into the main channel of the Boone River....channelization, 8-ft culverts, and corn as far as the eye can see (looking north)

Contrast the above images with these below. This is the mouth of the Boone River, 85 miles to the south, at the confluence with the Des Moines River. This site is magnificent on so many levels....the old channels, the braiding, the deposition and erosion, the sandbars, the floodplain, the river banks, the soils and vegetation, and of course, the power in the movement of water.

Google aerial at the confluence
source: google.com

sculptural sand deposition

where the waters mingle...Boone River entering the Des Moines River

A LIDAR aerial of the confluence

source: orthogis@iastate.edu

Water know where it wants to be and goes there.
- Michael Carey, farmer poet.

source of all other color photos: dlcooper

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

postcard courtesy Playle's
August 11 - 21, 2011

More Dubuque Over the Years

Grandview Tourist Camp in Dubuque, IA
circa 1920-1940s

Sunny Crest Sanatorium in Dubuque, IA
no date given

Fourth Street Elevator aka as the Fenelon Place Elevator
circa 1960-1970s

postcards courtesy of Playle's

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I came across this old postcard the other day while searching Playle's for images of Midwestern cemeteries. This old elevator, over the years, has carried many visitors up to the top of the bluff to take in the dramatic views of Miss River and the city of Dubuque.

When it popped onto the screen of my laptop, it brought back so many memories of my life there in the late 70s. We used to climb into those little cars that chugged and lurched up to Fenelon Place to visit friends. There was also a set of steps that hugged the incline and offered a vigorous workout to anyone daring enough to take on that steep ascent.

I remember one night when we were waiting for a friend to arrive for a dinner party on Fenelon Place. When he did not show at the appointed time, we set out to find him. This involved a descent down those steps, in the dark, the cold, and such icy conditions that prevented the elevator from running during the winter season.

We found our friend, sitting near the top of the staircase, trying to catch his breath from the long, slippery climb. He was cold. And exhausted. We gathered round him and walked back toward the light of his home, ravenous and ready to party!

image courtesy of Playle's

Friday, August 12, 2011

the Ames Straw Poll

Lots of signs announcing events to follow.

Even a big bus announcing events to follow.

A candidate's tent going up.

And banners galore.

And bouncy games for this pro-family event.

AARP has the biggest tent for all of us now in the over-the-hill gang.

This space is called the "listening post" tent and here is the schedule of events.

Fox News!

And the peacock channel.

And the blessed Mid-South Tea Party trailer has finally arrived.

This was the coolest thing....a trailer loaded with just one blade of a wind turbine...signed, sealed, and delivered to the Ames Straw Poll.

Actually, this was the coolest thing over at the ISU Center....a dangling cluster of common baldcypress cones...Taxodium distichum.

God Bless America. The Republicans are here!