Category Archives: Yin

Valley Lodge is Closed

Since a few people have been asking, I am making a formal announcement.


The reasons are multiple and complicated, but it is probably your fault. If you search your heart, you know it to be true.

So there will be NO:

– Baby Got Rack Award Winning Barbecue
– Hardcore Firetub Action
– Bubbles
– Sidewalk Chalk
– Golden Retriever
– Master’s Playlist
– Cornhole
– Tent
– Stimulating Conversation
– Catching up with old friends
– No photos like the ones below

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

2016 Birthday Party Photo Booth

Better luck in 2018. I have the idea for that year’s invite. I just need to find some volunteers and some costumes.


The folder called 06-19-07 includes folders of killdeer that I photographed with Steph and Yin and that time Jesse and I met the man that will probably be recorded by history as the best president of my lifetime.

I’m not sure where next Saturday’s walk down memory lane will go. Next week’s folder has lots of subfolders, so there is no telling where we’ll go.

Nader Day

A few weeks back I took Nader down to Des Moines for his birthday. We bummed around the downtown area and then met Jeff, Yin, and a couple of Baiers for lunch at Mad Meatball. Here are a few pictures from the bumming around phase of the day:

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day

Nader Day


Nader Day

Nader Day

We also randomly ran into Shadi in the East Village. It was a good day. Nader messed around and got a triple-double.

It’s Dollars to Doughnuts!

Here are some general pictures from my recent trips to the Iowa State Fair with Baby Got Rack, Stephanie, Kelly, Yin, Jeff, and the Beavers!

I was going to tell this story about the New Jersey woman I met that was just the worst. Like all people from New Jersey. But at this time I think it is just enough to point out that people from New Jersey are the worst.

If I get motivated, I might leave the story in the COMMENTS section of this here post later.

So without further adieu…

It was a successful Iowa State Fair. Next year, I might unretire and enter the Photo Contest again. Of course, I said that about Pufferbilly Days as well and decided that it just wasn’t for me this year.

The Birthday Party of Fate (Roundup)

I’ve thanked all these people in person, but I’d like to publicly thank everybody that helped out in some either small or big way with my birthday party on Saturday.

Big shout out to Scott for making tons of delicious mouth watering chicken and jalapeno cream corn. I only wish I would have had time to help do more than just brine the chicken. If I am so inclined to do this again next year and you are so inclined to help with the food next year, I will have to schedule this so I can be more hands on with the process. I may have been The Master, but Scott was undeniably the Smoker Master. I just can’t overstate how amazing the chicken was people.

Much love to Scott’s (better-other-less high maintenance) half for making the Pick and Pluck. If I would’ve thought of it, I would’ve bought several gallons of ice cold chocolate milk to knock down while setting up shop on that thing.

Thanks to Logan and Corinna for holding down the grill and making an assortment of hot dogs and sausages to compliment the mouth watering chicken. I don’t really have any photos of the event, perhaps next year I can talk him/them into doing some candid photography for the party.

I’m always able to count on Dae Hee when I need some assistance. He came over and helped put up the canopies for the outdoor dining area, the tent for an additional child area, moved all the chairs from the basement to the outdoors, and watched 2 hours of GAME OF THRONES. A pretty solid effort!

Thanks to Jason for loaning me his Cornhole set.

Thanks to Shannon for loaning me her canopies, although I’m still unclear where one gets tailgating tents that don’t have Iowa State colors. Or why a person would even want such a thing.

Thanks to Jesse for laminating the beverage identification signs.

Thanks to Teresa for helping out in various tasks before the party started.

Thanks to my Mom for making a copious amount of side dishes and desserts. Nobody went home hungry. That is for sure.

Finally, thanks to everybody that took time out of their lives to come visit me:

Logan & Corinna
Aunt Linda
Steph, Katie, Jeff, & Yin
Carla, Jason, Alexis, and Johnathan
Scott, Melissa, Austin, and Porter
Dawn, Kevin, Scott, and Kayelee
Jen, Derrick, Evie, and Layla
Sara, Shawn, and Gretchen
Jesse, Kelly, Kalista, Saydie, and Taylan
Dan and Angie
Monica and Jeff
Bethany, Dae Hee, and Nora
Jason, Will, Ben, and Nader
Anders & Nicholas
Shannon and Jason
Michelle, Craig, and Lily
Kim and Kevin

A special thanks to Dae Hee, Bethany, and Nora who came from Minnesota. Aunt Linda who came from Kansas. Stephanie who came all the way from Brooklyn. I guess I’m morally obligated to visit her in October now. Right?

Since I think that this party was a success on some level, I am tentatively planning on doing it again next year. Tentatively thinking about some time on Memorial Day Weekend next year. We’ll see how the cookie crumbles.

Now to the less than stellar news…

The Photo Booth was a success, but far from perfect. It turns out that the photo booth program I used has a painful little quirk. If the “Finish” button wasn’t pushed at the conclusion of the photo session, the program timed out and didn’t save the photo strip! The good news is that it did save the original images. The bad news is that there will be a night in my future where I’ll be piecing together photo strips from saved images. Yeah me!

For that reason, I did load up all the images into the party gallery. Not just the “finished” photo strips.

To see those images, click on the link below… (You can also download them by clicking on the down arrow icon.)


However, thought I would share a few of them here as well:

But the good news is that I now have a thousand different ways to improve the photo booth for next year. Tentatively.

A Small, Intimate Gathering

I had my, what could theoretically become, annual Birthday Barbecue on Saturday.  I would like to thank all of the people that attended and made the evening special:

  • Bardole, Shannon
  • Bennett, Charlotte
  • Cousin, Amy
  • Daniel, Jeffrey
  • Degeneffe, Austin
  • Degeneffe, Melissa
  • Degeneffe, Scott
  • Dill, Colby
  • Dill, Dan
  • Dill, DJ
  • Gorshe, Derrick
  • Gorshe, Jen
  • Henning, Monica
  • Howard, Jesse
  • Howard, Kalista
  • Howard, Kelly
  • Howard, Saydie
  • Howard, Taylan
  • Hugen, Todd
  • Janson, Jay
  • Jauhari, Andree
  • Jenson, Terra
  • Johnstone, Jack
  • Johnstone, Jason
  • Junck, Sara
  • Kahler, Logan
  • Kahler, Russ
  • Kewer, Jeff
  • Krause, Dawn
  • McAlpine, Willy
  • Nitchals, Peggy
  • Parsaei, Nader
  • Perkovich, Becky
  • Roberts, Lori
  • Roberts, Steve
  • Runestad, Anders
  • Stensland, Carla
  • Stensland, Johnathan
  • Wever, Ada
  • Wever, Amanda
  • Wever, Greg
  • Yin, Amy

Next year, I will move the barbecue back to its traditional spot of the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  Feel free to circle the date May 28 on your 2011 calendar that you have yet to purchase. It will perhaps be an even smaller and more intimate gathering.  I might start instituting a survivor type invitation policy similar to the fashion of invites that Jay uses for Symposium.

Special thanks need to be extended to the following people:

Sara for taking the pictures for the invitations.

Sara for providing the s’mores goodies.

Jay for making three desserts: chocolate raspberry cookies, key lime bars and apple crisp.

Steve for providing homemade salsa and chips.

Becky for making a pasta salad.

Scott and Melissa for bringing a banana creme pie.

Shannon for baking a fresh rhubarb pie with rhubarb picked from my personal rhubarb patch.

Johnathan for bringing over cornhole.

Logan and Russ for running the grill.

Mom for baking a cake and creating a watermelon fruit thing.

Derrick for being the fire-starter.

Andree for being the best dressed person at the party.

Shannon for opening the party.

Willy for closing the party.

There isn’t any photographic evidence to support that this party existed. I was too busy to touch a camera and Sara didn’t take any pictures this year. Maybe next year I will add “Party Photographer” to the list of Staff positions for this shindig.

If you wish to be hired for this position (no pay, no benefits, possibly a STAFF t-shirt*) simply send the answer to the following question to

Why would I make an awesome Party Photographer?

I suppose I should start planning Friendsmas now. It can wait a couple of months.

*That is not a joke. There will be staff t-shirts next year.

Housewarming Invites

I had a housewarming/birthday shindig on May 23. I made individual invitations for those that were invited. I’d like to share some of them.


The Kahlers




The Roberts Family

The Hiatts

The Howards


Jeff and Yin

The Gorshes

The Baiers

Bethany and Rebecca


The Degeneffes


Geri requested a new picture of us be taken because she wanted a picture where she wasn’t looking at me as if I was the smartest person in the world. I guess I never noticed her having an expression different than what I’m used to seeing by the majority of people in my life…

Primary Painting Day

Although Carla and Alexis did a wonderful job of taking pictures, one of the downsides of not having taken any pictures myself is that I didn’t get pictures of everybody that helped.

So thanks to my incredible painting crew on Primary Painting Day:

Jason Stensland
Carla Stensland
Alexis Stensland
Jason Baier
Jeff Daniel
Amy Yin
Jen Gorshe
Derrick Gorshe
Sara Junck
Teresa Kahler
Monica Henning
Nader Parsaei
Jay Janson
Jesse Howard
Shannon Bardole
Becky Perkovich
James Strachota

I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. They all did a wonderful job and if it wasn’t for the stupid moisture, I’m sure we would have been completely done on that day. With everything except the kitchen cabinets.

My mom also cooked up a wonderful lunch and supper. I think a good time was had by most.

Some pictures from that day in no particular order:

The Master Bedroom

The Office

Roger taking the tile out to make room for a shower.

Shannon painting the entry way.

Jen working in the kitchen. Notice the swanky green color that kitchen cabinets used to be before the horrible antiquing.

Jesse doing some work on the first official piece of furniture to make it to the house, the Hoosier. Shannon’s dad restored it to working order.

Jesse, possibly high on something, working in the kitchen.

Jesse doing some primer work in the kitchen.

Sara and Alexis toiling in the kitchen. I do not know what I am doing.

Alexis and I painting the living room wall. It might be the accent wall, but I’m not sure if it is still considered an accent wall if you paint two walls that color.

Carla painting in the master bedroom. To the left of her is the family heirloom, our Grandpa Bennett’s painting stool.

Painting the living room. Jesse, Alexis, Me and James.

The guest bedroom.

Jason painting the living room.

Jason and Carla came over on Sunday to do some more painting.

Jen came over and did quite a bit more work in the kitchen as well. I just don’t have any pictures of that.

Saturday Night

On Saturday Night I met Jeff and Yin in Des Moines for Supper. Although I was horribly sleepy when I got home on Saturday night two things reinvigorated me.

I took a brief 30 minute nap.
I watched the Paul Rhoads press conference. It was very refreshing to see a coach that actually showed passion and a desire to be at Iowa State. Time will only tell if he will be successful, but I already feel that he is the right man for the job.

When I got down to Jeff and Yin’s place I was introduced to a couple of pretty fascinating things.

The first was Baxter.

The second was the 1935 Chevy that Jeff is going to restore.

We had a good dinner at Raccoon River Brewery. I tried their root beer. It wasn’t bad, but it was no Red Monkey.