Humorous thoughts on adulthood – thank goodness for chocolate, drinks, friends, and duck tape!

Ride ’em Cowboy: the Carson Rodeo awaits…

Do you know what this weekend is?  Okay, yes, it’s tax-free weekend in Iowa which I am all for, but it also happens to be rodeo weekend in Carson!  I know a little cowgirl who is awfully excited for the parade and a college cowgirl who’s excited for the pre-and-post-rodeo events! Lol.

 

People in metro areas seem to make fun of the excitement that comes with rodeo weekend for the locals around here. We get that it might sound a little hokey, but it is the highlight event of the summer in Carson.  Friends and relatives actually put it on their calendars to be home this weekend!  And in a world where there’s a lot of terrible things happening, it’s nice that we can all hang out and be happy to see each other.

 

But I have to admit I’ve never been to the parade.  It wasn’t exactly on my radar in my high school and college years! Lol.  But I have been to the rodeo.  I used to go to the one at Ak-Sar-Ben/River City Roundup every year and I’ve made a few appearances at the Sidney one, too.  As a cattle girl, I definitely made it as often as possible to the Carson Rodeo in my younger years.  It wasn’t very often that my boots and Rockie Mountain jeans were considered cool so I definitely took my opportunities!  As a cattle girl, I appreciated the rodeo even if I didn’t fully understand how they managed to do all those things.  I remember our neighbor girl riding in it, and I was so impressed.  Now days, I think more about my little girl mutton-busting.  I’m pretty sure she’d love it!  But, my husband, not so much! Lol.

 

With or without mutton-busting, I think it’s pretty awesome that Carson puts on a kick-ass rodeo and I dare say, a pretty good party, in the process!   The whole town gears up for this weekend.  It’s like the lights come on, everybody rallies, and ta-da, we have a rodeo!  We all know it’s truly not that simple, but I love that the town goes all out and everybody chips in to make it great.  That’s something pretty special in my book.

 

As I have said many times this summer, there’s a lot of people behind the scenes that do a lot of work to make one weekend of the year a great weekend for everybody who attends!  I have seen a million flyers.  I’ve heard it on the radio.  I’ve seen it on Facebook, and I have definitely heard it via word-of-mouth.  Like I said, I’ve got a couple of cowgirls who are pretty excited!

 

So if you’re needing weekend plans or just wanting to support a great event on a beautiful weekend, swing by.  I promise it won’t disappoint.

 

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Got a good rodeo story for me?  We’re listening!

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RAGBRAI or Bust? You just might.

 

RAGBRAI – pic compliments of our niece, Alyssa Carley

So people have always laughed at me because I often mention that I used to do what I called RAGCRAI every year.  I called it my Regular Annual Great Car Ride Across Iowa, because let’s face it, I’m not much of a biker.  In fact, I’m not a biker at all!  I fully admit I cannot, nor want to, ride a bike!  Does it change my feelings about RAGBRAI?  Not in the least!  I am all about RAGBRAI* as long as nobody expects me to take part in the 2-wheel portion of it!

So you’re laughing, right?  Why would I like RAGBRAI if I don’t even ride a bike?  It’s simple.  I love that people come to Iowa to party.  Seriously!  Sorry.  Let me restate that:  I love that people come to Iowa to test their physical endurance… lol.  First of all, I’m thrilled that people in Iowa take part and that others actually come to our state to participate.  Secondly, I’m glad that Iowa shows we do know how to have fun and that we can make a week out of it!  I love that it even involves exercise!  But mostly, I love that it involves a bunch of towns gearing up for a big event and putting on a good time.  That makes me happy!  I can see the good!  And I hear lots… and I do mean LOTS…of stories!

You hear stories all the time about people stopping to help someone with a tire, giving them a water, offering their barn for a nap, or their bathroom in the middle of nowhere.   I love that those stories come out of Iowa because that’s who we are.  We want to be the good guys.  I still remember when RAGBRAI came through Oakland a million years ago and the church did a food-stand.  I got to help my mom make signs and we did Burmashave signs that lined the road saying things like 3.14 ahead for homemade pie.  I was pretty damn proud of my signs and if I’m not mistaken, they sold out of food! 🙂

Of course, another favorite story was my trip to Muscatine.  As many of you know, my best friend from my cattle showing days lived there and RAGBRAI was scheduled to hit the river one afternoon when I was there so we ended up taking her parents’ boat out and watching as the bikers came in to dip their tires and end the night with a fireworks display.  It was so freaking cool to watch these people celebrate making it across Iowa – tears, laughs, personal victories, beers…

Sure, there are much crazier stories as we all well know, and good for them!  Live it up, my friends!  Just keep me out of the pictures! 🙂  But whether the story is one of accomplishing all the miles or the naked mud slide, there’s no way you can’t find a little good on the road!

So Happy RAGBRAI, everyone!  Tip the stein or dip the tire for me!

 

 

*Footnote: For you out-of-staters, RAGBRAI stands for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.  Thousands of locals and out-of-staters bring their campers and buses and bikes to bike across Iowa for a 7-day bike ride/party.  They ride by day and drink by night!  I kid you not!  And the route changes every year, but they start on the Missouri River and bike to the Mississippi River so sooner or later everyone gets included.

*Further disclosure:  Just call me Schultz off Hogan’s Heroes:  I know NOTHING!

*Final footnote:  for you in-staters, don’t forget that means extra State Troopers on the road if you’re traveling. 🙂

 

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Have a RAGBRAI story?  Let’s hear it!  Out-of-state and curious?  What do you want to know?

“The Good” comes back every year to the East Pott. Co. Fair!

So it’s probably no surprise to anyone that knows me that my “good” of the week is the East Pottawattamie County Fair.  If you want to see good kids, good parents, good work ethics, good success stories, good moments, good laughs, good animals, and good times, you will want to make your way to Avoca between Wednesday and Monday.   (Well, and besides, it’s your chance to see me, too. Lol.)

And if that’s not enough, today you are going to listen to me wax a little nostalgic.  I was talking to a guy I met this week that had grandparents who lived in Oakland when he was a kid.  He spent his summer time here, and we were laughing about the stuff you remember form your childhood.  What I remember most involved the people at that county fair.

I remember being a kid and Lori’s friends putting up with me – Dave, Kirk, Jeff, Carol, and Jay even played cards with me!  I remember paying to get into the fair or having to go really early so we didn’t have to pay! Lol.  I remember Misch teaching me to make donuts for her presentation with these circle blocks we had.  I remember seeing Robin, Kris, and Scott (yes, they know who they are, no need to add last names) laughing and I wouldn’t know why but they were always up to something!  I remember seeing people get thrown in the tank back when we used tanks at the fair.  You got thrown in if you were cute or if you were annoying.  Looking back, those were some funny reasons!  I remember the demo derbies, too, and that chicken on the Pauley’s car!

Personally, I remember being excited for the dog and cat show because they let me hand out ribbons!  Crazy, huh?  Once I was in 4-H, I remember my first market heifer, Jen, she was a mousy thing and I had to take her out in front of the grandstand on the track and my dad telling me that there were no fences and she’d be in the next county if I let go so not to let go!  I remember sitting on the showbox with Kerri and Stacey.  I remember hanging out at the campers with Brad, Perry, Jennifer, Stacey, Guthrey, and a lot of others.  I remember Ryan Danker’s calf always running across the fairgrounds and him holding on still!  I remember having my steer, Travis Tritt, and being bummed I didn’t win, but any cattle person will tell you that you can win everywhere else and still get beat at your county fair!  I also remember Rhoten telling me he was hamburger.  I remember playing cards in the barns.  I remember bawling when I was a senior.

And then it came full-circle, and I remember how proud I was when Tiffany and Kyra (2 of my nieces) were crowned queens or when Bethany suffered through mono to still show sheep when it was 100 degrees.

I remember tons more, but nothing earth-shattering, just small little snippets of a childhood well-spent at the county fair.  I hope you have those memories, too, if not of the East Pott Co. Fair, I hope they are of somewhere…

And I hope when you see those people that make appearances in your flashbacks of childhood, I hope you’re as happy to see them as I am to see the people who show up at the East Pott. Co. Fair every year…

 

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Got a story I need to hear?  A memory I didn’t share?  A story about a different county or a 4-H story or a project you made or an animal you showed?  Let’s heat it.

Finding the Good: Let’s Go to the Movies or at least that’s what we’ll tell Mom!

 

So if I had to wage a guess, I’d have to say that the Dreamland Theater might have been the first place many a Riverside/Carson/Oakland/Griswold/Macedonia kid first held hands (or something more significant, but we will refrain from talking about that)!  I have to say that I remember a couple of friends begging their moms to take us to Carson to see a movie, and I can pretty much assure you it was never because we were dying to see the movie that was playing.  That was totally secondary!  In fact, I’m pretty sure there are generations that could say the same thing!

 

It’s a lot easier to beg your mom to drop you off 6 miles away than it is to convince her she needs to head to Omaha and entertain herself somewhere other than where you are! Lol.

 

So when looking for the good around me, it doesn’t take long to see the Dreamland Theater as a prime example.  First of all, a movie theater in a small town is always rockstar!  There’s never enough to do in a small town!  Plus, they actually get the good movies in a timely fashion.  (Go ahead and keep in mind that I have a toddler and don’t get out much!)  But I love that it is even an option.  I also love that on any given Saturday night, you can find families headed to the Main Street for what Chevy Chase would call good-old-fashioned-family-fun and while there, you can chat with your neighbors or spy on the neighbor’s kid for them!  I kinda think that’s awesome!

 

And as a mom of a toddler, I’m excited that I don’t have to pay a fortune to take my kid to an animated movie that she might not sit through!

 

If that wasn’t impressive enough, I happen to know there are a whole lot of people who donate money and time to help keep the theater running.  Probably they wonder why they bother at times because the headaches are greater than the rewards in most cases, but from where I sit, I couldn’t be more thankful to drive by and see the lights on.  I’m guessing that I’m not alone in my thinking.

 

Sure, you could just hop on Netflix, but there’s something special about a night out, a bag of popcorn with lots of butter, and a big screen.  So mad props, Carson!  Way to get it done right!

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Got a story about a trip to the Dreamland Theater or some other small town movies?  Let’s hear it.  Got something else to say? Go ahead.  Find that good, people.  It’s here for the taking.

Finding the Good: Put the IN in INdependence Day!

We all know what this week is!  It isn’t hard to find good when you’re staring in the face of the 4th of July weekend!  It’s one of those weekends where you instantly think water, drinks, sun, grilling, and friends.  Maybe not necessarily in that order!

 

As Independence Day approaches, I can’t help but appreciate the people who go the extra mile.  Like these people that decided to take their mailbox décor up a notch!  LOVE it!

Of course, I also love the banners on the decks and the red, white, and blue Adirondack chairs and the tinsel ropes!  I love people who go above and beyond for a holiday! (I’m not one of them currently! Lol, but maybe again someday!)

 

But let’s talk what I’m even more excited about:  the town festivities.  Here’s the deal.  City people always ask why you live in a small town.  I think 4th of July is the epitome of why one lives in a small town.  There’s a parade.  There’s free food for breakfast and for supper.  There’s fun activities going on, sponsored by tons of different people that love our town enough to volunteer their time!  There’s somebody selling sweet corn on the side of the road.  There’s grills and parties and family gatherings.  There’s fireworks and lawn chairs and people sharing sun tan lotion and bug spray and pools and slip and slides and tubing on the river or at the quarry.  I don’t know how you can’t be happy when all that is in your grasp.

 

And truth be told, I’m hoping to see a few people this 4th of July.  We moved home and everybody works a lot.  We have become a society of workers and ball game watchers.  Those sure aren’t bad qualities, but I love it when we all get a day off (hopefully) to talk to each other and catch up.  Like I’ve always said, I’ll never pass up a holiday!

 

So get your wieners out!  Put ‘em on the grill.  Slather on the sun tan lotion.  Fire up the sprinkler.  Grab a beverage and a koozie and check out the schedule.  If not in my town, find one nearby.  And then blab about how much fun it was on Facebook!  Put the all “in” in INdependence Day!

 

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Got a schedule for your home town you’d like to share?  Let’s see it!  Got a good 4th of July party story?  Let’s hear it!  Thinking you might be here to celebrate with me Oakland? Let me know!

Bellevue, a Tornado, and the Freaking Sun that Will Come out Tomorrow!

It never fails to amaze me that despite the lack of media coverage or love for Midwesterners, Midwesterners rise above!  As many of you know, my suburb of choice for 20 years, Bellevue, Nebraska was hit last week by a tornado and straight-line winds.  You might be wondering how that could be a feel-good story, but it is…

 

I still get all the social media out of Bellevue, and let me assure you, there was a lot to feel good about.  I watched as more and more of my friends posted they didn’t have power. One even showing their power pole was in the shape of a lower case e.  Some just got power back on 3 days ago, but the hardship wasn’t the focus.  The focus was that the Bellevue East football and volleyball teams showed up to clean up the worst-hit areas after practice.  (I believe some kids from West did the same.)  The focus was that some of the great food places like Roma’s (um, yum, btw) dropped off food at designated spots for workers and those without power.  The focus was that neighbors with chain saws helped neighbors without.  The focus was that people who did have power were offering their houses for freezer space, charging stations, and places to do laundry.   The focus was that, despite lots of damage, Bellevue regrouped and had their field ready for the College World Series guys to still practice there.  The focus was on figuring out how to move on, and not one person got hurt.

 

To be truthful, I feel bad that I didn’t even know to check on some of my friends.  They probably would have taken some brownies or rice krispy bars off my hands! 🙂  I honestly didn’t realize how much of Bellevue was hit, but what struck me, and what reminded me why I lived there for 20 years, was a lady who posted on the Bellevue info page who said something to the effect of “Imagine if we all talked and helped each other out like this every day.”  Yes, imagine…

 

I’m sorry it took a tornado to bring people together, but I’m not sorry it worked.

 

As you head out into your day or evening, think about that.  Take your neighbor the extra brownies you’re trying not to eat! Haha.  Mow a yard for that elderly couple.  Simply chat with the people in line at the grocery store.  The world doesn’t have to be an isolated, dismal place.

 

It can be a phenomenal place if we choose to imagine…

 

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Got a great aftermath story?  Tell it.  Gonna go do something nice for someone?  Let’s hear it.

Find the Good. Continued…

So I promised you a series, and that’s what you’re gonna get. You’re probably going to continue hearing some of my other rambles, too, but I’m “finding the good” wherever it catches me.  (We’ll assume it won’t catch me in a swimming suit!) 🙂

The crazy part is that I didn’t have to look that far. In fact, I have so many thoughts, it was hard to narrow down to what to use next.

I decided on this.

 

I’ll be honest, I’ve driven by a million times. I’ve looked at it, admired it, and thought how thankful I was that somebody went to the work of keeping it up, but I’ve never actually set foot in it until now. I’m so glad I did. Not only is it gorgeous from the road, but even better from within.  I daresay it was Robert Frost-ish.

It’s a hot day out. I sat down on the bench and it was like a cool spring breeze under the cover of the trees. I couldn’t even believe it. And I read the signs of who donated things like the tree donated in memory of Chrissy Galitz or the railing donated in honor of Abe Pierce or the gazebo in memory of AC and Mary Ellen Vieth. I don’t know if I can truly put into words the emotions that were sitting there with me of all the people that make up our little town.

 

It’s like a John Cougar Mellancamp Small Town moment right here in Oakland, Iowa. I’ve got the American flag rep, the bench tucked away in the trees, and people who put a ton of work into making sure the plants grow, the mulch stays pretty, and weeds stay out (they deserve a place in heaven for that!), and they do it because they care. I am tired of the assumption that the people who do this work are those with more time than the rest of us. Rarely is that the case. They just choose their priorities differently. They are not getting paid. They are not inmates. They are just wonderful people with a desire to see our town look nice. It’s their little piece of giving back.

You just can’t put a price on that...

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If you know all the people involved, feel free to share that info with me.  I don’t want to miss anyone.  I hope they know how much it is appreciated. If you’d like to share your love for this place, add your commentary. Have suggestions for me? Bring ‘em.

PS – If you haven’t signed up to get my “Find the Good” blogging, you can still do so. Just click on Follow Bolton Carley’s blog up at the top on the right. Thanks to all of you who did that already. You have no idea how great it feels to get a follower.