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

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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.


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?

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!



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!

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...

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.

As most of you know, I’m an Iowa girl and a hometown girl and an Oakland girl.  I’ve never pleaded to be anything but.  We moved home for lots of reasons, but it all comes down to the fact that this is where we belong.


With that being said, I am here and advocating for my home.  One of my favorite things about Iowans is that they live the Tim McGraw Humble and Kind song to a tee.   The unfortunate part about that is that people forget the amazing, wonderful assets around them and start to take them for granted.


We currently live in a world of negativity.  I can be more negative than most, but I know it is my fatal flaw, and I do my best to correct it each and every day.  But there are far more people out there looking at the bad and focusing on it, and I hate that for everyone.  I consider myself blessed to be surrounded by a lot of people who believe in good, do good, fight for the good, and find the good.  I want to be one of those people, too.  So I am bringing you the good.  On a platter even.


This is the start of my Find the Good series.  If you like it, go ahead and sign up to follow my blog over there on the right hand side, and I’ll send you a weekly reminder of what’s good around here.  Or if you have suggestions, feel free to email me.  Got a lot of great ideas right now, but who doesn’t want more?


First up:

This picture is why I love a small town.  In the wake of an untimely and horrible death of a well-known man, people lined up to pay their respects.  The lines were out into the street.  Main Street was full of cars and trucks.  Over a thousand people came to pay their tributes.  That, my friends, is why you live here.  Nothing can replace the feeling of knowing you belong and are appreciated.  A well-attended funeral is a sign of a well-lived life…


Do you watch The Voice or American Idol, or dare I say it, both?  Do you set your DVR for Project Runway or The Amazing Race?  Did you cry (or at least cheer) for Susan Lucci when she finally got her Daytime Emmy or for Peyton when he won his first Super Bowl?

My husband laughs at me, but I’m a sucker for an underdog winning, or for that matter, anyone deserving and humble winning.  I know why I watch all those shows.  I’m a cheerleader.  (Okay, so none of us ever thought they’d see that day, did they?)  No, I’m not going to look very good in one of those skirts or be able to control my pom-poms, but I like to see people win.  I like to see people who are passionate about something get what they want if it’s for the right reasons.  I want to see people be happy.  I, myself, want to be happy.  I know that a lot of us struggle to focus on the good stuff and remember to be happy (when the house is on fire, the kids need another ride to practice, or there’s a snake in your basement – just sayin’).

Last night, as I was watching The Voice finale, I realized I screwed up.  Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of going to my hometown to watch the 2013 state qualifying boys’ basketball team (Riverside Bulldogs) take on the last b-ball team to qualify for state:  the 1986 Oakland Yellow-Jackets (pre-consolidation of schools).  It was a fundraiser and the vision of a 1986 player whose wife made it happen.  I went for a few reasons.  One:  my brother-in-law was one of those 1986 players.  Two:  Sometimes, I like thinking about the old days (and whoever said you can’t go home again needs to listen a little closer to Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles).  Three:  curiosity.  I wanted to see how it all would play out.

So what did I get wrong?  I didn’t go and say thank you for my happiness.  Yes, I posted my pictures on Facebook and made sure to note some thanks with those posts, but I didn’t go say it in person.  After all these years, I was still too shy to think they knew who I was or cared who I was and that my opinion might matter to them.  And who knows?  Maybe they wouldn’t have known who I was or even cared, but I should have said thank you because for the last week I have been blabbing on about how cool it was to watch a bunch of guys with families, jobs, and a million other things to do reunite to raise money for a charity and hang out together on a basketball court again because it’s what they were really good at 27 years ago and because they had each other’s backs.


I listened to Mac (that’s how we all referred to him whether we knew him or not) talk about calling up his former teammates to play and saying he “needed” to play one last time with them.  He said they each answered the call of duty.  – I want that.  I want that for myself and for all of you.  I want something or someone to be so important that you can’t say no and I want you to shine when you answer the call.  (I realize that sounds sappy, and I’m okay with that.  Better take this rare greeting card moment from me and go with it.)

Twenty-seven years ago I went to every basketball game to watch a group of guys I hardly knew win and defeat the odds against them.  Last week, I watched them do it again by 1 little point.  Heart and passion should always triumph.  And should we get a little sappy about that?  Yes.  Should we go home and admit we miss that home?  Hell yes.  Should we cheer for those around us to find happiness?  Yes.  Should we want to be asked to come back and share in it with them?  Hell yes.  Should we hope for more events like this?  Hell to the Yeah! (Did I laugh at my brother-in-law who probably couldn’t get off the couch Monday morning?  Well, of course, I did, but I also love that he did what he did.)

Will I always be cheering on the sidelines for someone singing, dancing, baking, showing cattle, or playing a sport?  Hell yes.  Why?  It makes me happy.  And if you’re looking to be happy, too,  I recommend it as a pretty good place to start.