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

Tag Archives: Iowa

So… I have a secret…Actually, not so much a secret as gossip… but not so much gossip as it’s true…it’s more like I heard from Ferris that I needed to talk to Kevin down at 31 Flavors to find out that…Okay, I’m kidding. Who doesn’t love a Ferris Bueller reference? But I do have news!  Seriously fab-freaking-fan-tastic news for all the local communities!


As you all know, I am all about finding the good, and people, I have some good right here:


As of last week, the old Riverside High School is now officially Impact Hill!  That’s right, the hallowed halls of Riverside High are about to be transformed into a nonprofit educational and recreational center by Kevin and Dean Schechinger and company.


In the process of envisioning greatness for our community, they are taking suggestions for things that might be housed there.  (Feel free to contact them with suggestions or offers of volunteerism. Oh, or money – I’m pretty sure they’d take that, too! lol) Lots of options have been thrown around as possibilities but they are still in the beginning stages of formulating a plan.  At this point, anything and everything is subject to change, other than their mission.


Just like Jerry MacGuire, they have a plan. Their Mission Statement is:  Impact Hill will be a safe, positive, and welcoming environment for the recreational, educational, social, cultural advancement of all, through the restoration and redevelopment of the historic (Riverside) HS building in the heart of the vibrant community of Oakland, IA.


So, I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped!  Not only is my alma mater not being torn down, but there’s going to be a new business in town, and it sure sounds like it’s going to benefit all of us!  For me, anything that might make my little girl’s world a better world is golden in my book, and trust me, guys, this place is going to be impressive!


Plans are moving forward as we speak and the hope is that a few of the flagship pieces of the center will be up and running the first of the year!


So, here’s the deal.  Oakland and all the neighboring towns are about to get a high-dollar investment for the betterment of all ages in our area.


And I just want to be put it out there that I know how it goes.  It never seems to fail that when people have a vision and want to do good, somebody out there tries to neigh-say it.  So help me share the good news because it is amazing news and if you’re looking for good – here it is – in bright, shiny letters on top of a hill even! 🙂


Needless to say, I’m excited!  This might be the biggest thing to hit town since, well, Gary Works opened the Dairy Queen! 🙂  And, you know if I’m comparing something to a lemon-lime slushy whip, it has to be good!


It’s not every day that we have big news like this, so help me out!  Hit share and tell the world what we have going in Oakland!



Neighbors and Friends
National Good Neighbor Day – Sept. 28

We moved back to Oakland to have neighbors again.  Growing up, I knew every neighbor.  In fact, I was related to some, and the others weren’t surprised if I showed up unannounced!  When we moved back, we wanted Ellen to be able to play with neighbor kids and for us to know our neighbors.  Choosing to live on a cul de sac was our best move.  However, our neighbors might disagree! Lol.

Truth be told, our daughter has helped us meet lots of people, like the night Ellen decided to take off from Jason when he had three broken toes.  She saw a neighbor’s garage door open, made a break for it, got through the door into their house and headed for the furthest point in their basement.  Nothing like being the new neighbors and knocking on someone’s door to say our kid’s in your house!  Our only hope was there were no guns, snakes, or fornicating teenagers in it.  Pretty sure there wasn’t!  But we sure do know how to make a first impression! Many embarrassing stories later, we have met almost all of our neighbors!  Of course, there were a few who already knew us!  Bless their hearts for letting the sale go through. 🙂

Point of all this:  September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. 

The Riverside Links group is encouraging everyone to take part.  What does that mean?  Well, it means go next door and invite the neighbors over for tea, beer, or supper.  It means taking some flowers to the elderly lady who doesn’t get out much.  It means having a block party in the middle of the street for your kids to paint kindness rocks.  It means setting a 7pm chat time and maybe bribe one of the neighbors to make brownies.  It means removing the giant branch for the couple that can’t physically do it.  It means s’mores on the deck with the family next door.  It basically means whatever you want it to mean as long as you are actually talking to or doing something nice for your neighbors!  Acknowledgement makes communities strong!  And I’m not just talking here, I’m talking wherever you live in the world!

Listen, we are all so busy and it’s so easy to wave hellos and good-byes and to never even talk to a person you live 100 feet from.  I’m not judging.  I am equally as guilty, but I’m pretty pumped to get this going!  It’s like May Day but in September! 🙂  And if you know me, you know I love May Day – treats, friends, and something a little unexpected!

Seriously, when we moved back, all I wanted was that home town feeling for my kid.  When we got here, Dick and Leslie realized we were in over our heads and mowed our yard for us.  Jamie and Jill invited us for supper.  My family and Jason’s unloaded boxes and more boxes.  Jen brought us possibly the greatest bars ever! Magaly and Josh offered my daughter a chance to play on their trampoline whenever she wanted.  Jodi and Tim gave me stuff for our nephew who was getting his first apartment. Kaitlin gave Ellen toys she’d outgrown and the stories go on…  And I chatted with my neighbor in the ‘burbs one every year…maybe.

It’s easy to take a neighbor for granted.  It’s not so easy to get good ones.  I hope you take a minute or twenty or more out of your day next Thursday to make it a day to remember.  It will be worth it:

 “As our Nation struggles to build friendship among the peoples of this world, we are mindful that the noblest human concern is concern for others. Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities.” – Former Pres. Jimmy Carter

Isn’t that what we want for all of us?



And if you do something fabulous (which I know some of you will), please drop by and comment here.  We’d love to hear, or share on Facebook and tag the Riverside Links or me. 🙂  Got some other suggestions for what people could do?  Tell us!

Freedom Rock – Oakland, Iowa by Bubba Sorensen

You knew it was only a matter of time before I pointed out the Freedom Rock as something good in Oakland. It’s really beyond cool.  On my frequent drives past it, I see a continual stream of people stopping to check it out. That, in and of itself, is awesome! It’s nice to have a little tourism in town.

But I love it, and find the good in it, for more than one reason. I love that the Pott. County rock is in Oakland. That makes me happy. And I love that a bunch of ladies who meet for coffee every week decided they were going to make that happen. Amazing what a group of women with caffeine can do!

It also makes me happy that the other 98 counties have a rock, too. There’s a sense of unity to it, and the people who travel around to see all of them – well, that’s even cooler!

However, to me, the best part is about one man, Bubba Sorensen. You would probably know him as the artist behind the rock. Funny enough, I only know Bubba by name. I’ve known his dad for many years. He worked our cattle sales in the old days. One of the things that made him stand out to me was that he always treated me as a worthy conversationalist. When you’re young and a girl, you don’t always get acknowledged in the cattle industry, but Bubba’s dad, Mike, wasn’t like that. So it is not at all surprising that he raised a thought-provoking, fabulous family. I mention it because what impresses me most is not that Bubba takes time away from his family to continue his artwork and leave a legacy which is remarkable in itself, but that he is a perfect example of the power of one. One man who was taught to make a place for himself.  Sure, there are plenty of people who help him on his path, but…

He is one man painting rocks for freedom, for respect, and for thousands to enjoy. He is the sole creative, artful mastermind of each rock. He is painting his way into Iowa history. He is making a difference…

Every day, I hear people complaining about the world we live in. I get it. As a former pessimist, it’s easy to get bogged down in the bad, but here Bubba Sorensen sits to show us all the power of one man changing the face of Iowa. Let it be your guide. As a friend of mine says, go “let your little light shine.”

It can, and will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Have you seen the rock or some of the others? What impressed you most? What is your power of one? Tell me about it.

Iowa State Fair

So if you know me, you know that one of the most exciting things to me about not teaching for the first time in 20 years is that I get to go to the Iowa State Fair.  Now, I could try justifying myself but when a national book comes out about the 101 places to see before you die and it’s on the list, I figure that speaks for itself.  Furthermore, I’ve been explaining this to people since I was in fifth grade and we had to write about a place we truly loved.  Where did I write about?  I think that’s self-explanatory.  Needless to say, I’ve been to a few fairs in my day and if you haven’t been, you should.  It’s sad to think that so many Iowans have never been to something so uniquely special and huge for our state.  SO go… even if you have before.  The weather is awesome!  The drive is short.  And trust me, you will find the good there…

I’ve included a little video I made that I hope inspires you…


                                                              The Iowa State Fair

So I can’t fathom what it must be like to NOT want to go to the Iowa State Fair!  But rumor has it that some people actually don’t know what the hoopla is about.  They think it’s just a bunch of animals.  Okay, so there’s lots of them, but, I mean, come on, there’s gotta be a baby goat, a llama, a miniature pony, or a shorthorn somewhere in there that you like!

But assuming there is not, in honor of a neighbor of mine, I am going to tell you my top 10 things you can see at the Iowa State Fair that doesn’t involve poop. Lol.

10 Things that Don’t Involve Poop

So, things you gotta see if you’re avoiding the animals (or even if you’re not):


*You gotta do the Ye Olde Mill canoe ride.  It’s a time-honored tradition and, as kids, it was rumored you kissed the one you would marry in that tunnel.  Now, I’m gonna say that might not be exactly accurate, but it’s an Iowa State Fair tradition.  You gotta do it once.  (I know.  That’s a dangerous statement, isn’t it?)  If that isn’t enough, let’s talk about another major go-to:  the big slide.  You ride a rug down this enormous slide and they have microphones for all your cuss words and shenanigans!  It’s awesome!


*If rides aren’t your thing, but you’re a poor teacher or a parent of kids that lose their crap constantly, you need to hit the commercial building for all the free stuff!  Pens, pencils, balloons, magnets, and, of course, you can grab your UNI and Iowa State posters there, too!  (Okay, the Iowa ones, too, I suppose)  🙂


*The cultural building is way cool, too.  If you’re not into animals, then maybe you like art, photography, or wood-working.  I’ve seen some cool furniture there, some ridiculous doll houses, and some kick-ass photos! (Oh, and a lot of weirdos, but that goes with the territory! Lol.  I was there, too, so I can’t judge.)

Make the Best Better

*The 4-H exhibit building is like Pinterest on crack in person.  I won’t lie.  I’ve been known to snap a few pics and recreate at home.  And as a former 4-Her, we’re high quality. 🙂

Play me some Funky Music

*You can’t help but run into one of the free concerts.  Lots of up-and-coming artists get their starts at state fairs.  Be in on their first rodeos, so to speak, or their last. Lol.  You can catch Tiffany, Nelson, and Slaughter for free!  Of course, the big boys you pay for play at night under the grandstand and those are definitely worth seeing, too!

Park it

*If you’re more of a sit-and-watch-it-happen-around you person, find the Bill Riley stage.  It makes you proud to be from Iowa with tap dances, gymnastics, singers, magicians, you name it, showing off their talents.

Ride the ride

*It’s not my style so much, but the Iowa State Fair has the Midway of all Midways.  It’s huge.  Go on some rides.  See the sights from sky-high.  Personally, I love the sky-jack that gives you a view of the whole fairgrounds.  It’s a crazy sight on a busy day or on a warm night!


*You gotta check out the contests.  Seriously.  They have the craziest contents ever.  I can’t even believe some of the stuff you see.  People, they have a boy’s cooking contest, they have a fly tying contest, and a banjo contest.  And that’s just one day!  They actually have tributes to Miracle Whip salads!

Pucker up, Buttercup!

* Now, obviously, I also think you need to trek to the butter cow, but if that’s too close to an animal, don’t despair, they have a Laura Ingalls Wilder, too – all in butter!

Yum, Yum, Get me Some

*But, let’s face it, I could go on and on about the state fair, but ultimately, if you go for no other reason than the food, you’re still gonna walk away happy!  Between the corn dogs, the cattlemen’s roast beef sundae, the malts from the dairy barn, the fried Oreos, heck, you can even have salad on a stick if you’re that crazy, but I wouldn’t recommend it when there’s good food to be had!  And, of course, there’s beer.  So you got that goin’ for you, too!

So whether you’re an animal poop hater or born in a barn like me, there’s plenty to keep you busy!  Just promise you’ll Instagram or Facebook your best photos – I’ll be watchin’ for ‘em!


Did I miss something?  Have a good fair story?  Never been?  Tell me what you’ve got to say!

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.



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


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. 🙂



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