Category Archives: Jen


On Saturday, June 20, 2009 I headed to Ottumwa with Sara to help Jen and Derrick with the house that they are trying to unload down there.

Before we left, we stopped for lunch at George the Chili King. I had never eaten there, but I called Jen to see if she wanted us to pick up some lunch for her.

Her only response was to remind me that the toilet in Ottumwa does not work that well.

I snapped a few pictures with the phone (although not a great camera, it is the reason I selected the phone) to document my Chili King experience.

One of the bonuses of the trip was getting to introduce Jen, Sara, Jill and Derrick to the greatness of Bonne Finken.

Pictures of Jill and Derrick listening to Bonne Finken.




I wish I had some pictures of the basement powerwashing, but alas, you will have to imagine what that looked like.

Memorial Day Backyard

I have a bush in my backyard. In fact, I have several bushes in my backyard. But one of those bushes is special. That one bush holds a nest.

Recently the eggs in the nest started to hatch. Out of those eggs came baby grackles.

I’m a long time hater of the grackle. Of course, you are all familiar with my landmark paper “Hey Mr. Grackle, Why You Gotta Be a Dick?” that was published in a 2002 edition of Ornithology Reader.

However, I have to admit, that while I was hanging around in my backyard on Memorial Day, I actually thought that the baby rabbits and grackles hanging out in my yard were cute.

Later that night I went over to Jen and Derrick’s house for a barbecue. As I sat at the table with Jen, Shannon and Derrick I began to regale them with my tale of cute baby creatures in my back yard.

Because there were 2 chicks at the table, I was expecting to hear at least one “Ahhh..”

Instead, what came out of there mouths, (almost at the exact same time) was, “You should buy a cat to kill those.”

I will not buy a cat, but I will publish some photos of the potential cat food.

Baby Grackles

Baby Grackles

Baby Grackles
Heartless, heartless people.


On May 23, I had my housewarming party. I would consider it a success on some level. 10-15 showed up for it.

I would like to thank everybody that made an appearance:

Baier, Jason
Bardole, Shannon
Bennett, Charlotte
Brannen, Suzie
Daniel, Jeff
Derner, Geri
Degeneffe, Scott
Gorshe, Derrick
Gorshe, Jen
Gorshe, Jill
Henning, Monica
Hiatt, Eric
Howard, Jesse
Howard, Kalista
Howard, Kelly
Howard, Saydie
Howard, Taylan
Janson, Jay
Jauhari, Andree
Jenson, Terra
Johnstone, Jason
Junck, Sara
Kahler, Brandon
Kahler, Logan
Kahler, Russ
Kahler, Teresa
Kewer, Jeff
McAlpine, Willy
Meiners, Alex
Meiners, Barb
Meiners, Frank
Meiners, Trevor
Miller, Bethany
Miller, Jim
Miller, Nate
Mubaidin, Shadi
Parsaei, Nader
Perkovich, Becky
Peterson, Tim
Redd, Ernie
Roberts, Lori
Roberts, Sam
Roberts, Steve
Schmidt, Amy
Schmidt, Corey
Schmidt, Izzy
Strachota, James
Stensland, Alexis
Stensland, Carla
Stensland, Elainie
Stensland, Jason
Stensland, Johnathan
Ungs, Casy
Venema, Barb
Yin, Amy

Of course, some special thanks are in order for some special people.

Thanks to Logan for manning the grill so I could engage in hosting duties.
Thanks to Johnathan for helping Logan out.
Thanks to Shannon for bringing Oatmeal Cake.
Thanks to Terra for bringing taco dip.
Thanks to Jay for bring rhubarb crunch and blackberry buckle.
Thanks to Jen for bringing brownies.
Thanks to Monica for bringing taco dip.
Thanks to Steve for bring homegrown salsa and rhubarb crisp.
Thanks to Becky for bringing mint fudge cheesecake.
Thanks to Jesse for bringing ice, a canopy and running to get more firewood.
Thanks to Sara, whom I think might have brought some vegetables.

I did not really get out my camera for this occasion, but Sara took some pictures with her camera. Below are a few pictures from Sara’s camera.

Admittedly these pictures only include a small spectrum of the party people, but it will have to suffice, it is all that I got.

Monica and I

Monica and Jen

Sara and Jen

Sara, Jen and I

Sara, Jill and Jen

Jen, Derrick and Shannon (Shadi in the background)

I and James

Jesse, I and Sara

Logan, I and Jesse

Logan, Sara and Jen

I and Jesse

I and Jill

Jason, I and Jesse


Jen and Derrick

I guess now that the house is sufficiently warmed, I won’t have to do that again.

But on the positive side, I think almost everybody who came to the party will leave with at least one memory of my neighbor, Mr. Jason Johnstone. My Kramer.

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.

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Kahlers

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Roberts Family

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Hiatts

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Howards

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
Jeff and Yin

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Gorshes

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Baiers

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
Bethany and Rebecca

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation
The Degeneffes

2009 Birthday/Housewarming Party Invitation

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…

Black Plague Pizza

In my quest to catch up, I’m going to just copy and paste an email about a recent experience I had a new local pizzeria. So if you were the one who received this email, you might want to skip reading this and go back to your normal job duties.

This experience took place on Friday the 13th. Apparently not just a bad day for Templar Knights.

Earlier in the week, Jay brought up wanting to try this new pizza joint in Ames. I had heard the story of how it opened because it was on CNN. I had heard two reviews of the place. One from Jon who loved it. One from Corey who hated it. Corey’s main hatred was generated from the fact that they claimed to serve the pizza with “sauce” on top of the pizza. In actuality the sauce was diced tomatoes. I told this to Jay because he does not like tomatoes as a warning.

Originally we started with 3 people. During the day I sent an invite out to Jen and Derrick to see if they were interested. Then I went home from work to meet the cable guy.

That afternoon, Monica called and wanted to see if she could join us for FNSC since she wasn’t doing her normal birthday dinner.

I called Jay and we worked out a time for when we would meet there. He told me that Willy was not coming because he had run 35 miles that day and felt he should take it easy. He also had big plans for Saturday night. He was going to a birthday party on Saturday night for his friends that he goes to the fights with.

So it was going to be me, Monica and Jay. About this time, my internet was turned on and I saw that Jen had sent me a message saying that she would be interested, but Derrick was out because he was running sound for Dennis’ surprise birthday party at Deano’s.

I called Jesse to tell him what time we were meeting because he had expressed some interest in trying the new pizza place, plus he had my new speakers in his car. Jesse said that he was in.

About 5 pm, my doorbell rang. I went to the door and was surprised to see Willy there. I told him that Jay said that he wasn’t coming.

He said that he had decided to “Man up.”

Then he gave me a partial bag of ice. The rest of the ice from the bag he was using to ice his legs.

Then Jay came over. He was insistent that we leave right at 5:30 to hold to some schedule that he had made in his head. Willy and I told him that wasn’t “the way things worked”.

We eventually left and met Jen and Monica at the pizza place. FNSC was supposed to consist of Me, Jay, Willy, Jesse, Jen and Monica. 6 people. On the way there, Willy started to get sick.

We ordered two large Chicago Style pizzas. Mr. Meaty and Louie’s Supreme. The price: $69. That is not a typo. That did not include drinks. They told us it would be 1 hour 15 minutes. We asked if we could change the order to delivery and we would eat at Jen’s place. They said that would add 30 minutes to the time we got our pizza.

There was no place to sit, so we ordered the pizza as Carry Out.

Order was placed at 6:20.

Jesse called to say that he had called home and found out that he couldn’t come out.

Jen went home.

Jay, Willy, Monica and I went to Wal-Mart. I needed to buy a toaster and some microwave popcorn. Monica (not making this up) bought a rake so that they could rake up all of the cigarette butts in their yard.

Jen called and said that Jill would be joining us. Willy continued to get worse.

We went inside. There were some tables available. I ordered some drinks and changed our order to Dine-In. They gave me a number after the lady stared at a computer screen for quite some time. I had no faith that the number she gave me was somehow connected to anything on her computer screen. Jay said that if the pizza wasn’t ready in 5 minutes, he was going to leave and take Willy home.

The pizza wasn’t ready in 5 minutes. Jay left.

Jen and Jill arrived. FNSC turned into Me, Jen, Jill and Monica. With two large Chicago Style Pizzas.

A little after 8 pm we were still sitting there (talking about hair) when one of the owners approached our table. He shook my hand and introduced himself to me. He asked how long we had been waiting. I said that we placed our order at 6:20. He asked what time it was. I didn’t not know. He looked at his cell phone and said “Is it really after 8?”

“If you say it is.”

He gathered some information and then went back and came back with a pizza. It wasn’t exactly hot. We told him we had two pizzas. He said, “I hope those dumbasses didn’t accidentally give it out.”

He came back with another pizza. It was not Chicago Style. Somebody pointed this out to him. He took it back and came back with the right pizza.

When he brought back the right pizza he said, “You must have thought we were running a special: 1 pizza for the price of 2!”

The Mr. Meaty pizza had next to no flavor. The Louie’s Supreme wasn’t bad. I like tomatoes, but I could have done without them on top of the pizza. Tomatoes are not a substitute for sauce, which the pizza had none.

At the end of the night, we had 9 slices of pizza left. I took 3 of them to Deano’s for Derrick. I later found out that he took 1 bite and threw the rest away.

Although this experience was very negative, I would be willing to give Black Market Pizza one more chance. I am not willing to give their Chicago style pizza a second chance though.

Moving Day

There are no pictures from moving day, but I would like to thank the people that gave some effort to make moving day work out.

The Friday before moving day had spectacular weather. The Saturday of moving day was not scheduled to have spectacular weather. I returned to work on that Friday to get caught up on a few projects that I had fallen behind on.

To take advantage of the nice weather, Jason and Carla moved some stuff during the day. Then at night, Jen and Derrick and Sara came over and we moved stuff that I wouldn’t be able to handle the projected rain on Saturday.

So after FNSC, Jay and Willy and Derrick and Jen and Sara and I moved a few things.

But thanks also needs to be given the people that showed up on moving day:

Jason Stensland
Jesse Howard
Steve Roberts
Roger Sebring
Toby Sebring
Jason Baier
Andree Jauhari
Russell Kennerly
Shannon Bardole
Becky Perkovich
Jen Gorshe
Sara Junck
Derrick Gorshe
Dan Dill
DJ Dill
William McAlpine
Jay Janson

Plus a special thanks to Scott Degeneffe who personally delivered my brand new stove.

After a good chunk of work was done, Monica and Jeff showed up. Jen, Derrick, Sara, Shannon, Monica, Jeff and I went to Jimmy’s for supper.

When we returned, Derrick and Jen stuck around. Derrick and I hooked up the new TV and Blu-Ray player. We watched The Warriors. Jen had never seen The Warriors before, but I have no doubt that she now probably considers it to be one of the greatest movies ever made. At least I don’t see another way of thinking about that movie.

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:

Primary Painting Day
The Master Bedroom

Primary Painting Day
The Office

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

Primary Painting Day
Shannon painting the entry way.

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

Primary Painting Day
Jesse, possibly high on something, working in the kitchen.

Primary Painting Day
Jesse doing some primer work in the kitchen.

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

Primary Painting Day
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.

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

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

Primary Painting Day
The guest bedroom.

Primary Painting Day
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.

The Ballad of House Buying: Part 5 – The Art of Negotiation

Negotiation isn’t the sharpest tool in my skillset. So after I had made the decision to make a move and try to buy the House with the Cute Backyard, I was a bit worried about the negotiation part of the process.

To not bore you with the details of the financials, (that are printed in the newspaper any way) it should be sufficient to note that I had a ceiling that I was willing to pay. I also had a goal of what I was hoping to pay. The gap between these numbers was about 5,000. The gap between the listing price and my goal was 13,000.

I talked to Lori on the phone on Monday, January 12. I gave her a starting number that was extremely lowball. I also asked for the window treatments and for them to update the electricity. I also asked that they pay the closing costs (which through this process I learned is little more than a shell game) and I asked for the receipts that were down in the basement that were from the original building of the house in 1950. To build this house in 1950 it cost less than 8,000. That number includes the labor.

Lori asked me what I wanted to put up for Ernest Money. I still don’t quite understand the concept of Ernest Money. I guess it is money you put up when you make an offer on a house to prove that you aren’t just dicking with them.

We agreed on 250 bucks and she began filling out the paperwork.

I had a full day of slaving a way at the Computer Mine, so when I got off work I went over to Lori’s house to sign my name to a document a bunch of times and initial it a ton more.

While we were going over the paperwork, Roger (Lori’s husband) made me a chocolate shake. It was quite excellent.

On Tuesday morning Lori submitted the offer.

I didn’t hear anything about it the rest of the day.

On Wednesday morning Lori called me with their counteroffer.

The good news, I could have the ugly window treatments. I could have photocopies of the original receipts. They would pay the closing costs. The price came down under the ceiling of what I was willing to pay, but not quite to my goal.

The bad news was that they weren’t willing to do anything about the electrical.

I had a full day of swinging a pick axe ahead of me, so I told Lori that I would mull things over and call her when I got off work to tell her what I was thinking.

That night I was meeting Kelly (from the Jaycees) at Cafe Diem to discuss setting up PayPal for the Ames Jaycees.

In between the work and this meeting I called Lori back with my counteroffer.

The number was a little lower than my goal and I asked for a thousand dollar allowance to get the electrical updated.

Lori submitted my counteroffer.

I had the meeting with Kelly and I think all that was decided at that meeting was that Cafe Diem makes an excellent Hot Chocolate.

I also decided that whatever their counteroffer was, I was going to take it.

The next day around noon, Lori called me back with their counteroffer. The price came down exactly to my goal and they agreed to the allowance for electricity.

I accepted the offer.

This meant that I had to sign and initial some more forms. I couldn’t do it that night. I was going over to Jen and Derrick’s new pad to help paint.

I went over there after work to admire the handiwork of Derrick and his old man. The night before I had dropped by for a tour of the place. Derrick and his dad were painting the master bedroom.

On that night there had been some debate over which wall would be the accent wall. It was one of those debates where Derrick (as the man) was engaging in for pride because he surely knew that the wall that Jen had picked was going to be the accent wall.

Regardless, Derrick was very excited about the paint on the accent wall. They had painted the rest of the walls a blue-gray color called Shade. They were painting the accent wall a brown color. Derrick was very excited about this paint because it included granite. This was going to make the wall sparkle.

I spent the night primering one of their secondary bedrooms with Shannon. The room was painted an Ogden Bulldog blue. I did take note that Shannon is very good at taping. A skill that will undoubtedly be put to use on my future painting projects (if everything came together on this house).

Lori came over at 8 in the morning the next day and I signed the offer sheet in my pajamas.

I had agreed to buy a house.

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.