Category Archives: Jen

The Great Snow Ordinance

In addition to being Lowell’s birthday, Saturday, January 10, 2009 was Symposium. It was also the Ames Jaycees Year End Banquet, where I apparently got an award that involved batteries, but I was not there. I had to make a choice. I chose Symposium.

Well the truth is that I was hoping to make a late night appearance at the Year End Banquet, but fate would have other ideas for me on this night.

For those who don’t know about Symposium, it is Jay’s annual bash. He put out a spread that would feast kings and invites several of his closest chums over to feast and enjoy the company of one another. It is always on the second Saturday of January.

This Symposium was going along brilliantly, when we heard coming from the street below the sound of a truck backing up.

Jay lives in a second story apartment in downtown Boone. He rushed to the window and said, “Does anybody drive a SUV? It is getting towed.”

I went to the window. Sure enough, Jen’s Cherokee was getting towed.

Jay next reported the absence of all cars on the street.

Sara asked if her car was there.

I reiterated, all the cars were gone, except for Jen’s jeep that was in the process of being towed.

Jen ran down the stairs, to try and stop her car from being towed.

Sara went down to find out about her car.

The short version of the story is that the Great Town of Boone had put their Snow Ordinance into effect. This meant that every car in town that was parked on any street in town was getting towed.

Jesse went down to harass the tow truck driver.

Then he harassed the shift commander for a bit.

Then he harassed the guy writing the tickets a little bit.

He used a string of profanity that would have made Jay’s stalker more than a bit proud.

I was following Jesse around to make sure he didn’t do anything too over the edge and end up in jail.

The ticket writer eventually had enough of Jesse and said into his little CB, “118”.

Next thing you know, Jesse and I are surrounded by the Shift Commander, two sheriff deputies and two more police cars.

On the bright side, we didn’t go to jail. By we, I mean Jesse in jail and me visiting him. On the negative side, it cost Sara 150 bucks to get her car back. It cost Jen over 100 bucks to have her Jeep lowered 3 inches.

But let met tell you something else, the white chocolate hot chocolate that Jay made more than compensated for me the anguish I went through when I was surrounded by cops and watching two other friends get extorted. That was some tasty hot chocolate.

The Ballad of House Buying: Part 2: Initial Look

Saturday was the day of the big Ottumwa Blitz. I made plans to see the houses on Saturday morning before Jay and I headed to Ottumwa.

I had drove past the house on Union a couple of times and determined that the backyard might be a little bit too cutesy.

I snapped this picture with my camera phone and sent it to Shannon, Sara and Jen with the caption: “The too cute backyard.”

The Great House Hunt

Sara sent me back a message indicating a desire to have tea parties there.

After some time at the house on Union, we went over to the house on Aldrich. It had a few things I really liked.

The Great House Hunt
A Pink Bath Tub

The Great House Hunt
Yellow Kitchen Counters

The Great House Hunt
Poured Concrete Foundation

However, it had some things that were problematic. There were only two bedrooms, but three bathrooms. There was no dining room. The yard was dreadfully small and I would like to get a dog at some point in the future. By dog, I mean a real dog that is going to require some space to roam around.

The Great House Hunt
Dreadfully small.

We looked at several other houses, but what I was beginning to call the house on Union Street AKA The House with the Cute Backyard was clearly the leader. It was only the second house that I had seen that I could really see myself living in.

The Ballad of House Buying: Part 1 The Surrogates

So I think I can be a little freer with the experience of house buying that I have been enduring.

I guess the most important news is that I am officially going through the process of buying a house now. I would like to at least go through the process of how I came to where I am today to update people that may have very unintentionally fallen out of the loop. I have gotten very busy with the process, work and Jaycee functions. Plus, there was Symposium and helping Derrick and Jen move. You could say that my plate has been more than full. It has been overflowing with crawdads, honey.

To start at the beginning of finding this house you have to go back to December 30 or 31. I can’t remember which.

I joined my Mom, Teresa and Ernie for lunch. When I got back to the office my phone rang and it was my Aunt/Realtor Lori. One of the great parts about this process is that now I can recommend Lori as a Realtor to anybody and include the phrase, “And not just because she is my Aunt.”

Lori was going to look at a new listing that had just went on the market. It was on Garst, which is to say that it is in a good neighborhood. She told me that the house was a foreclosure and I know from the time that Carla spent as a Realtor that meant two things. You could buy the house cheap and that is was probably trashed.

I work for a living, which is to say that I haven’t figured out a way for the Computer Mine to pay me for not being here yet, so I had to decline checking out this house on Garst. I did mention that there was a house on Union and a house on Aldrich that I was interested in seeing. We set up an appointment to see those houses on Saturday.

Then I remembered that somebody that has so many crawdads on their plate should use a surrogate. So I called Teresa and asked if she and Mom could swing by and check out the house on Garst to see if it was even worth viewing.

She agreed to do just such a thing.

About 45 minutes later I got a text message that said, “Garst house is disgusting.”

I called her back to find out what disgusting might mean. Did it mean saloon doors between the dining room and the kitchen? I can change ugly.

Disgusting ended up meaning covered in mold.

Well you can’t just take mold down and store it in the basement, so the house on Garst was eliminated from contention.

But Teresa told me that they had went over and checked out the house on Union that I wanted to see.

Earlier that week I had told my Mom about how I had high hopes about a house on Union, but last time I had gotten my hopes up real high for a house they were dashed by bulging basement walls.

She had mentioned the house to Lori and they had went over and checked out the house.

Teresa recommended that I check out this house on Union.


I had big plans this weekend of going down to Ottumwa to help Jen and Derrick get the house in Ottumwa in shape to go on the market, but unfortunately I had a little trouble on the way to work on Friday.

Blown Tire
That my friends, is a blown tire.

I was able to go down on Saturday and help out a bit, but unfortunately my ride for Sunday flaked on me. Oh well, here are some pictures from Saturday.

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House
Mindi and Jen

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House
Derrick and Rob

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

It was good to see Mindi again. It had been too long.

Don’t Screw with the Gorshes

I got a call from Jen on Saturday. She told me that some of her Uncle’s neighbors in Ottumwa had complained about the dumpster that was sitting in front of the house.

The neighbors understood why it was there, but wanted it removed until after Christmas.

Derrick and Jen were not about to move the dumpster. They had paid one rate to keep the dumpster as long as it is needed. To have it removed and brought back would cost them a pretty penny. A very pretty penny.

So they did what anybody else would do.

I got these pictures sent to my phone on Sunday night.

So let this be a lesson to you. You mess with the Gorshes and they just might taunt you with their Christmas decorating.

The Future of Boone

When Sara and I went to Ottumwa I think we might of had a glimpse into Boone’s future if it becomes the proud home of a Juice Bar.

I should start out by pointing out that on our way to Ottumwa Sara got pulled over and issued a speeding ticket by the nicest State Patrolman. He even started out with a joke:

“What are you doing today, besides fast?”

Sara and I ended up in downtown Ottumwa. I snapped a couple of pictures of Boone’s Future. We actually went downtown so I could get a picture of the Adult Theater because Derrick did not believe me that it existed, but I found a couple other sweet things. For some reason Sara would not get out of the car and join me.

Ottumwa House
Right across the street from the Adult Theater – Strip Club!

Ottumwa House
The Salty Frog is located right next to the strip club. A couple of women came wandering out of The Salty Frog while I was nearby. They looked like the type of women that would come out of a bar called The Salty Frog.

Ottumwa House
So it goes… Adult Theater, Chinese Restaurant, Abandoned Store Front, Christian Community Outreach Center. Well played Ottumwa. Well played.

Ottumwa House
Jen described this picture as “The Buddy Jesus”.

Ottumwa House
Cinema X. They lose points for the name. They might as well call it Cinema Generic.

Ottumwa House
Sara’s View

Ottumwa House
Apparently such a landmark that they built a parking ramp around it.

Ottumwa House
A better look at the parking ramp.

Ottumwa House
I might as well end with an Arty Picture.

I’m sure I will be returning to Ottumwa again in the next few weeks. Hopefully, I will get to take in even more of its majesty.

Incidentally, I will be asking some of you to come to Ottumwa with me to help Jen work on her Uncle’s house. You have been forewarned. Unless I already asked you. Then you already know about this project.

If you need more than just an altruistic motivation to get you to help out, Ottumwa has a Breadeaux Pizza. Mmmm… Breadeaux Pizza.

Jen’s Uncle

Jen’s Uncle Jon passed away last Tuesday. He was laid to rest on Saturday.

Below are the words that Jen wrote to be read at his funeral. They are painfully beautiful.

To the world, Jon was introverted, shy, reserved, quiet –to me he was just “Jon”. Maybe if prompted to describe him in a few words I would say, “Jon’s not the kind of guy you can get to know just by meeting him.”

So as far as uncles go, Jon was the best. He was the uncle who was never too tired to drag the sled up the hill for another ride; who could spend all day at the swimming pool; who never tired of constructing forts in the basement. He knew the rules to every game (from chess to tennis) – and was always joyfully defeated by his seven and five-year old opponents. Days spent with Jon were full of fun and adventure…and if the night skies were clear, he would pull out his telescope and tell us the name of every star and crater in the moon.

Jon knew everything about everything. He knew the name of each flower, of every tree. He could tell you the variety of grass of every house along the street, as well as the seasonal pros and cons of each hybrid. He always knew the answers that “stuck” me on crossword puzzles (even at hospice on a morphine drip…and he could spell it!). Those of us who got to know him, knew he was funny, at times plain silly. Sometimes we just sat and laughed about nothing in particular. That’s the Jon I feel privileged to have known.

Jon loved classical music and Gilbert & Sullivan operas. When he wasn’t applying the subplots from HMS Pintafore to contemporary times, he was talking science. He could talk ad nauseam about thermodynamics, physics, and differential equations. In a recent discussion regarding my rowing team, I had told him that our goal time for a 3 mile race was 24 minutes…without hesitation he replied, “That’s an 8 minute mile or a little more than 11 ft per second.” Dumbfounded, I asked “why would you know that?” He just shrugged. I checked the math – he was right.

Jon has given me more than an thirst for knowledge or an appreciation of parabolic curves– he’s given me priceless (although sometimes painful) lessons in perseverance, strength, patience, hope, and faith, as well as countless other gifts that will only be clear with hindsight. It is for those bits of wisdom, gained by Jon allowing me to share in his journey, that I will always be grateful.


I spent most of Monday with Sara.

We started the day by lunching at Fresh Cafe and Market. It is an interesting little restaurant in West Des Moines that is only open about 20 hours a week. They specialize in serving an organic menu.

We started the meal with a double shot of wheat grass. I’m not big into wheat grass, but Sara has made me curious about it. This was the fourth different type of wheat grass that I have tried with her. This was also the best. It was a healthy boost that was most likely negated by our supper.

Sara ordered the Hummus & Veggie Wrap.

I ordered the Mediteranian Wrap. I assume that there is a reason why they spell it that way. I chose the spinach tortilla. The wrap consisted of organic greens, fresh veggies, black and green seasoned olives, tomatoes, feta, lemon and olive oil. It was quite excellent.

At the conclusion of the meal we hopped in her car to travel to Ottumwa to visit Jen.

Ottumwa House
Sara likes driving to Ottumwa because there are no turns.

Ottumwa House
We stopped at a gas station in Oskaloosa to get candy. Sara was very high on Big League Chew.

Ottumwa House
Sara was very high on this sucker that reminded her of the Ogden swimming pool.

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House
Bailey and a neighborhood dog

Ottumwa House
Derrick,Sara and Jen

Ottumwa House
Jackson and a neighborhood dog

Ottumwa House

Ottumwa House
Derrick’s Chainsaw Sculpture

Ottumwa House
This mullet wig would be part of a Halloween costume, if I were to dress up.

This was my first time ever in Ottumwa. It is a town that seems to be fading out of existence, but there are a few nice touches.

In downtown Ottumwa there is an “Adult” Theater. Two storefronts down is a Christian outreach ministry.

We had supper at the Sirloin Stockade. The Sirloin Stockade is kind of a low rent Golden Corral or Bonanza, but it is also considered the best restaurant in Ottumwa.

Before we got out of the car Derrick made a dramatic announcement.

“At some point during the meal they are going ask you if you want a baked potato. The answer to this question is ‘yes’.”

“Why is that? Is the baked potato the best part of the meal?”

“No. But they won’t stop harassing you about the potato until you take it.”

I took the advice to heart.

Our waitress asked us if we wanted a potato.

“Yes, I want that potato.”

Then Derrick, Jen and Sara all turned down the potato.

“What the heck? You told me to take the potato and then you turn it down.”

Derrick answered, “I didn’t want the potato.”

It was the closest to a Willy moment that I’ve ever had with Derrick.

For the record, they never asked the rest of my party if they wanted a potato again AND the potato was the best part of the meal.

Happy Birthday Sara!

Today is Sara’s birthday.

Rather than post a bunch of pictures of Sara for Sara’s birthday, I’m going to take a slightly different tact.

Yesterday I wrote about Sara auditioning to become a Photography 139 Photo Assistant. She got high marks for having a big purse. One of her few problems was that she doesn’t know the difference between a film camera and a digital camera.

I left her with 1 digital camera and 1 film camera while I moved up the river looking for a better spot to photograph Jen’s team. I told her that she could take pictures with the digital camera if she wanted.

About 10 minutes elapsed and I returned to her position and asked for the film camera.

She looked at Derrick awkwardly. He looked back equally awkwardly.

The she said, “There is a little problem with that camera. I didn’t know it was film, so I used up all the film.”

So as a tribute to Sara, I’m going to post all the pictures from that roll of film. The first few are from before I handed her the camera.

More convertible

More convertible

More convertible


Derrick and Jay


Jay and Derrick

The River

It was at this point that I left my camera in Sara’s hand.

All in all, I think she did some pretty solid work. But I was still counting on having that film for later in the day!

So one final Happy Birthday Sara! I look forward to the party on Saturday.

My Saturday (Volume 2)

More pictures from Saturday. Some of these pictures were taken by Sara as she was auditioning to become a Photography 139 Photo Assistant.

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
On dry land

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Oar duty

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Oar Duty

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Celebrating with some juice.

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Jen and Derrick

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
The Past

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Back in the convertible

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Sara after winning a scholarship.

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Classic Frozen Custard

Des Moines Regatta - 2008
Classic Frozen Custard

Des Moines Regatta - 2008

All in all, it was a pretty good day.