Category Archives: Yin

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.

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…

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 Daniel Household

The Daniel Household

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

The Daniel Household

The Daniel Household

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

Matthew 25:40

I began this Saturday morning (12-20-2008) by rising out of bed around 5:45 in the morning. I often don’t sleep that well, but on this night I purposely slept on the couch so that I wouldn’t sleep well and I would get up in time.

I was getting up at this awful time of day because I had to be at the Senior Citizen’s Center in Ames by 6:30 to participate in the Jaycee project known as Holiday Food Baskets.

Despite my body’s best effort to stop me from getting up, I did manage to fall out off the couch and stumble to the basement and take a shower. I hit the road and made it to Ames at nearly the right time.

The process of Holiday Food Baskets isn’t really worth mentioning, but there are aspects of the day that are worth noting.

But before getting to those aspects I should make a confession. Deflation and the rapid falling of gas prices has put more coin in this guy’s bank account. I have often noted that deflation is great, if you still have a job.

It is a poor joke and I do have more than a basic understanding of economics to know that deflation and hard economic times for other people could eventually lead to my not having a job. I do work in what is essentially a luxury industry. Nobody’s job is safe, especially people that work’s for a company thats services are hardly essential.

The Pastors at my church have made doing something about the homeless situation in Boone a priority for our church. As hard is it may seem to believe, Boone County has the 5th highest rate of homelessness in the state of Iowa. What makes the situation worse is that Boone does not have a homeless shelter.

There was one briefly, but the finances were mismanaged and it is no longer in existence. Now the best that Boone has to help its homeless is the Boone Biblical College, but they only take men.

I write these things because these are things that I think about lately and it can really happen to almost anybody.

The need in Story County for Holiday Food Baskets tripled from 2007 to 2008.

Andrea told us a story about a family that seemed financially secure. In 2007 they were teaching their children to buy presents for other children through the Angel Tree program. In 2008, their children were on the Angel Tree.

The first 2-3 hours of Holiday Food Baskets is basically grunt work. It is essential, but hardly rewarding. You do a lot of moving food from place A to place B to place C. After everything is organized, then people start coming in to pick up their Food Baskets.

This is the part of the project that is rewarding and I think it is slightly unfortunate that only a handful of us that participated got to take part in this one aspect of the project.

This aspect was carrying the basket of food from the Senior Center to the person’s car. It is important to put a bag or rolls or some apples in a cardboard box, but I don’t think you get a sense of what all of this really means or amounts to and why it is important unless you get a chance to interact with the people that are getting the food.

It can also break your heart.

While I was carrying a cardboard box of food across a street to an SUV for a young woman she told me that this box of food was really going to help her family. They had 8 people living in the same house.

It made me feel completely inadequate and helpless at the same time. I couldn’t help but look into the cardboard box. Just a few moments ago it seemed like a lot of food.

A handful of apples and oranges.
A bag of celery.
A bag of potatoes.
A bag of carrots.
A ham.
2 cans of something.
A bag of rolls.

All of a sudden I felt that I should have run in and gotten them a second box. I should have gotten them a third box. The ham was nothing to sniff at, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the ham that we had on our Christmas table that fed 9 people was at least 4 times larger than the ham we gave out. I didn’t do this though. The bureaucracy of such things precluded that people had to sign in with MICA and people were designated so much food.

I just wished the young woman a “Merry Christmas” and walked back inside. It is my regret that I didn’t just go grab another box for this family. It was a regret that would be doubled and then doubled again.

We had made up 200 Holiday Food Baskets. At the end of the event around 50 remained. Here is where my regret doubled the first time.

We loaded up the excess food and took it to MICA. As it turns out, MICA doesn’t really have that much capacity for storing frozen hams. Their freezer was already full and they needed to make room. To do this they gave each of us a turkey.

My regret doubled again.

So now I have this turkey weighing on my conscience, but I throw it in the trunk of my car and drive off.

My first stop is Becky’s. I’m supposed to stop at her place to pick up some Christmas gifts. Some for me and some for Teresa. What I learn on this stop is that Becky thinks I’m going to end up in a ditch some time in the near future.

I know she has had this fear for quite some time. When Shannon and I went up to Cedar Falls she gave me an extensive quiz on what kind of safety equipment I had in the car in case we went in a ditch. It basically boiled down to a thermos of hot chocolate. This didn’t seem to satisfy her.

She packed a gift bag full of food. Every time I would pull a new tin of food out she would tell me to “keep that in my car in case you go in a ditch.”

I do not discount the possibility that I might someday go in a ditch, but the closest I’ve ever come to going into a ditch was in the middle of the summer and the reason why is because I was reading the newspaper while I was driving to work.*

If the weather is bad, I don’t read the newspaper.

After I left Becky’s I stopped at Shannon’s to watch her make Christmas candy. She also bound my calendars for me.

Somewhere in between the “pink stuff” and the experimental caramel (which involved the use of a candy thermometer – who invented the candy thermometer??) the lack of quality sleep on the couch began to catch up to me in a massive way.

I bid my adieu since I was going to Des Moines for supper with Jeff and Yin and I was hoping to get a nap of Wentworthian proportions in before I hit the road.

Then on Sunday morning in church, Phil announced that a new family in Boone was homeless.

And I still have this turkey on my conscience.

*Not counting the skunk story.

State Fair Olla Podrida

A random selection of pictures from my trip to the State Fair with my Mom, Jay and Teresa.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Ran into Jeff and Yin on the shuttle to the Fair.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
My new favorite hat.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
My favorite State Fair Food. (I firmly believe that “food on a stick” is for tourists.)

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Pioneer Hall

Iowa State Fair - 2008
My favorite State Fair dessert.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
You get to put on your own syrup! As much as you want!

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Super Bull

Iowa State Fair - 2008
2nd Largest Boar

Iowa State Fair - 2008

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Cow nose.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Mom in Family Center

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Mom in the Family Center

Iowa State Fair - 2008
This is a cake.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Also a cake.

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Family Photo

Iowa State Fair - 2008

Iowa State Fair - 2008
Elvis Impersonator

I didn’t take as many pictures as usual, but I did take more flower pictures than normal.


VEISHEA was cold. A little bit miserable. However, there were some highlights. It took me awhile to see them because I was pretty upset that the good fried cheese curd stand was not there, but I eventually got over it. Who am I kidding? I’m still fuming about it.

I did take some pictures after I ran into Jeff and Yin.

Smokey, Jeff, and Yin

Me, Jeff, Smokey, and Woodsie


My friend Willy would call these people nerds, but he is a nerd. Who is he to judge?

Jeff took this picture of me.

Jeff and the Astronaut




The highlight of VEISHEA for me was seeing the crane in Lake Laverne. I’ve been told that it is a little bit weird that the crane was a highlight for me.

Checking in on a Friend and More


I also wanted to check in on my friend Monica and report on what she has been doing lately. The answer is painting. I’m posting 6 pictures of her more recent paintings for you to enjoy.



When I started typing away on my novella, I stated that I wouldn’t do anything worth writing about while I was writing about those 11 days. It is a pledge I haven’t been able to keep. I have done some stuff worth writing about, but I’m not going to write about them. I am merely going to post a collection of pictures from my most recent adventures. There will not be an explanation for the pictures. They will simply exist, unless somebody out there wants to try to explain where these pictures came from.