Category Archives: Animals

Catching Up with Some Friends

Here are what some of my friends and a family member have been up to lately:

Boone’s bands: Everything from Bach to Broadway

By: MARY CATLETT, Boone News-Republican

06/14/2007

If you didn’t spend last evening in a state of grace, relaxation and live music, then you’re one of the few Boone residents who weren’t enjoying the Boone Municipal Band.

Your loss.

Every Wednesday evening under the stars for the last 91 years, this musical group has kept time with the summer season, entertaining scores of Boone generations and enriching the quality of life with the sound of music.

Lowell Davis is a knowledgeable member of the band, which started its season the last week of May.

“We play on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in the summer at the Herman Park Pavilion,” he said. “You can expect to hear around eight different musical pieces each week,” in addition to the standard opening “Star Spangled Banner” and closing “America” the Beautiful.”

The evening just wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream social, featuring cake, pie and ice cream. These duties are handled by a different church groups each week.

There’s no Paula Abdul or Randy Jackson to critique, only good times and quality sounds wafting through the attentive crowds.

“It really is a wonderful atmosphere on Wednesdays for our concerts. The Pavilion has marvelous acoustics and, as the band director Dave Richardson often points out, ‘a thousand shades of green’ as you look around the park,” said Davis. “I think it’s great to see different generations of families each week enjoying themselves.”

Morever, Davis knows all of the kids who are playing in the park while their parents and grandparents listen to music will have “wonderful memories as they get older of a community event that just doesn’t happen everywhere anymore like it does here.”

For long-time resident Twila Ingham, the band directs sweet memories to the forefront. “I do ‘remember the days’ many years ago, when my parents would take all five of us kids and one of those large paper bags full of popcorn out to listen to the Boone Municipal Band every Wednesday evening throughout the summer months,” she said.

At that time the band played at Blair Park, across the street from the high school, said Ingham, instead of its current home Herman Park Pavilion at the south end of Greene Street.

“The park had a pond that the kids would inevitably end up playing in during the concerts,” she said. “We always enjoyed ourselves, and going to the concerts meant that we kids got to stay up later than usual – that was always a treat!”

For the last 16 years or so, Boone also hosts the Iowa Municipal Band Festival on the second Saturday in July each year. “In the past we’ve had bands from as far (away) as Germany and as close as Ames join us for a full day of music in the park,” said Davis.

Be it Basie or Bach, there’s good reason for Boone citizens to wend their way to the Herman Park Pavilion for a little mid-season music.

“It was, and I’m sure it still is, a great way to spend a summer evening,” said Ingham. “The nice part of this is that the Wednesday night concerts were and still are free. There’s no charge, so get off that couch and bring the family out for a great evening of entertainment!”

The genesis of the Boone Big Band offers a musical counterpoint to its municipal cousin.

Formed by jazz enthusiasts of the concert band, the Boone Big Band is a full-size award winning community-based band made up of five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, drums, piano, bass and guitar. They held their first annual chili feed and dance at the Boone Municipal Airport last October.

“We really didn’t plan on ever performing as a group,” said Lowell Davis. “We just thought it would be fun to have an outlet to enjoy some of the music that we all love. Once we played together a few times people got wind of the group’s existence and asked us to perform in public.”

Their first performances were so well received, and the players enjoyed themselves so much that the group decided to continue on. They now have over 100 charts in their repertoire.

“We love playing the music and people seem to enjoy listening to us,” he said. “We’re on a bit of a hiatus for the summer months as the focus returns to the municipal band and its style of music, but we’ll be back in full force this fall.”

Source URL: Boone News Republican

IT’S YOUR BUSINESS

Quality, Iowa-made soap gentle on skin, clothes

By M. MONICA GILLEN

Ames Life & Times Staff Writer

Time is a key ingredient in Shannon Bardole’s Little White Lye Soap. Bardole, 27, started her business in December and operates from her Ames home. Lye, lard, cream of tartar and a lot of time are combined and the result is, soap, a quality, Iowa-made product that is very gentle on the skin.

Bardole’s process begins with lye and rendered lard from Iowa-raised hogs and some cream of tartar. The mixture is stirred for four hours before it is the right consistency to pour into molds, which her father designed and created. The soap continues to cure for two weeks, to ensure that the caustic lye is blended with the lard to make it gentle on the skin. Bardole carefully cuts and packages each bar and distributes them to retail outlets, all relationships that she has fostered. Bardole learned the art of making soap when she worked at Living History Farms and continues to share her excitement about the process and distribution of her product.

What is exciting about your business that draws you in everyday?

Since this business is so new, I enjoy the new opportunities to create relationships with retailers and customers due to a locally handcrafted high-quality product.

Where were you employed prior to this venture?

I spent four years at Living History Farms after I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in family services. Within those four years I was the Broom Shop Supervisor and 1900 Farm assistant domestic supervisor. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I am currently the office manager at Atlas Media Group, which deals in collegiate athletics.

What made you decide to open the business?

After leaving Living History Farms, I wanted to continue with some of the things I’d learned there. I can garden and cook at home, but I wanted to be able to bring a quality, Iowa-made product to the public.

Why soap?

Soap was a relatively easy and inexpensive start up. I’d like to get into brooms, but that’s taking more time.

How did you become interested this process?

At Living History Farms, we encouraged visitors to participate in some of the daily processes at the 1900 Farm, and one of those activities was making soap. I remember sitting on the porch stirring soap at the 1900 Farm and thinking, “When I leave here, I think I’d like to keep doing this!” It’s an interesting process to see an extremely caustic chemical turn into the gentlest soap you can use on your skin.

What are some other uses for this product?

I use my soap to wash my hands, as we did at the farm, but we interpreted that lye soap would be used for everything from bathing to laundry. I rub my bar of soap into my shower loofah and shave it up to use as laundry soap. One of my customers commented that it helped with itchy skin. I have begun to shave up some of the soap to use as laundry detergent. It’s been very gentle on my clothes, and gets them clean. For a little extra stain protection, I rub some of the soap directly onto the stain, and it’s been known to take out stains such as grease, ground in dirt and blood.

What is special about Little White Lye Soap?

Since it doesn’t have any perfumes added, it is very mild and gentle on sensitive skin.

Describe your products?

A single bar of Little White Lye Soap is approximately 5 ounces. The molds I use are wooden boxes that I cut the bars of soap out of. Each bar is a little unique regarding shape and size.

What other items do you sell?

My dad and I make crocheted dishcloths, which we sell.

What is a price range for your items?

A bar of soap is $4-$5 and a dish cloth is $5.

What have been customer favorites?

The gift set of a bar of soap wrapped in a dishcloth has been popular.

Why would you recommend Little White Lye Soap?

It’s a mild, gentle soap that is good on your skin in whatever form you use it, whether that is as laundry detergent, hand-washing soap or as a full body soap in the shower.

Where can readers purchase your product?

Little White Lye Soap is available directly from Bardole or at the following retailers: Wheatsfield, 413 Douglas Ave, open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; in Story City at RVP~1875, 526 Broad St., Story City, open Tuesday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Heart of Iowa Marketplace, 221 Fifth St., West Des Moines, open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; Living History Farms, 2600 111th St., open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

RVP~1875 is the only location that carries dishcloths. It will also be sold at the Webster City Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to noon starting Saturday.

Source URL: Des Moines Register

There are pictures on the website, but I thought I would throw out some pictures I took on the day of the interview.



Dirty Boot


Stirring


Stirring


Shannon being Interviewed


This Cat Didn’t Help at All

My Sister Teresa

Below is a news story about a Hokie Healing Blanket. My sister Teresa made 7 squares for these blankets.



Minutia – Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Chapter 8: False Sense of Entitlement

Friday Night Supper Club has been in existence for over a year now. Since its existence, there have been three members. We are just like the three musketeers, without the intrigue, sword fighting and problems with the Cardinal Guards. Willy is Porthos. Jay is Athos. I am Aramis. Auxiliary member Jesse is our d’Artagnan. There have also been a few Planchets, Man from Meungs, and Constance Bonacieuxs that have graced FNSC as well.

Since its inception one cold March night at Tic-Toc, it has met without fail. True, on some occasions, Willy has skipped out to roof or watch steroid jockeys talk about God. Jay has missed on occasion to clean his apartment for Symposium. On occasion, actually I don’t think I’ve ever missed a FNSC. In my world, FNSC is sacred.

However, it was looking like our streak was going to come to an end. There was a Friday looming on the calendar that looked like trouble. Porthos was going to hop on a plane and go to Spain. Aramis had birthday dinner plans. This left Athos to hold down the fort and keep the streak going. It wasn’t promising though. d’Artagnan was at Safeco Field in Seattle, watching Chris Young dominate.

The three musketeers weren’t about to give up though. A plan was hatched. Friday Night Supper Club was going to have its first ever Thursday night meeting. It would work perfectly. Porthos would be able to get to his plane on Friday. Aramis would be able to get to his birthday dinner. Most importantly, the streak would continue.

+++

Jay called me at work in the afternoon and wanted to know where I wanted to go for dinner and asked if this was going to be for my birthday.

“No. We can’t go out for my birthday without Jesse. That will have to wait until he gets back from Seattle and Willy gets back from Spain.”

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I’d prefer to eat in Ames because I have some errands I need to run in Ames. How about the House of Chen?”

>We agreed on the House of Chen, but we weren’t sure if Willy was going to make it. He was leaving for Spain the next day and probably still had ducks to get into the row. Jay agreed to meet me at the computer mine. The plan was set.

I did not tell Jay what my errands were. Some people view me as being hyper-secretive. I don’t think of myself this way. I think that I am a builder (not just because that is my unofficial job title at the mine). I build suspense and let things play out in a superior way, rather than just giving up the goods at the beginning.

Plus I’ve learned that when I tell people my plans, they feel like they need to give me their “ideas”. I prefer to work on my thing and unveil it when the time is right.

The night’s errands consisted of going to Hobby Lobby and buying a frame for Rebecca’s graduation signature thing, going to Lake Laverne to feed some swans (and get rid of some old bread that was stinking up my bench at work), go to Wal-Mart to pick up the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and square my 14 buck debt with Monica.

+++

When Jay met me at the computer mine he had the look of a man that wanted to drive. I don’t think I’m giving up a major male secret that there are just times when a man needs to drive. If you can read people, you can usually tell when a man has that need. I emphasized with Jay. I had often had the need that I knew he was having, but I really needed to drive. Not in the visceral, instinctual way that Jay needed it. I needed to drive because I didn’t want to transfer stuff back and forth between cars.

“You want to drive, don’t you?” I asked but already knew the answer.

“Oh yeah!”

“I really need to drive.”

He was slightly deflated.

“Why?”

“Because of all the errands I have to run. It will be a lot easier if I don’t have to move all of this stuff from my car to you car and then back to my car.”

He seemed slightly defeated.

“Alright.” He offered, “But we have to be back by 8:30. I’m having electrical problems with my car.”

As I reached for the door to my car the riff from “Mannish Boy” blasted out of my cell phone. Only two people have that ring tone and one of them was standing about 5 feet from me and he believes with religious fervor that the cell phone is an evil invention. This could only mean that it was Porthos.

I looked down at my phone and saw Willy’s smiling face staring back at me from the Caller ID window.

I answered my phone, “Lone Wolf.” I’m not a nickname enthusiast like Jay, but I felt like playing to the crowd.

“HOWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLLLL.” Willy responded.

“You joining us?”

“I left work early; I got everything taken care of. I’m in. Where we eating?”

“House of Chen.”

“I have heard of such a place, but I don’t know its location.”

“I have to run a couple of errands before we eat. Just meet us at Lake Laverne.”

“Will do! Wolf out!”

I shut my phone and got into the car. Jay was already in the passenger seat. He looked at me and asked, “What is this about Lake Laverne?”

“One of my errands is taking an acceptable swan picture.”

I started the car, turned on the iPod and we headed towards Hobby Lobby.

+++

I have been a long time sufferer of HobbyLobbyphobia. The anxiety caused by this condition does not keep me from entering Hobby Lobby. This anxiety only keeps me from looking a Hobby Lobby employee in the eyes or asking one for help. If the unthinkable happened and a Hobby Lobby employee actually asked me if I needed help, this anxiety would prevent me from accepting any assistance from them.

My HobbyLobbyphobia does not prevent me from pulling things down off their shelves and taking them to the checkout line. I’m quite willing to do this despite the fact I usually have to go through about 5 or 6 frames, candle holders, or whatever before I find one that isn’t scratched, dented, or otherwise damaged. I have no problem doing this if I don’t have to see any Hobby Lobby employees. It is when I’m in the line my anxiety usually turns to frustration.

This trip to Hobby Lobby was one of the rare times that I can say the experience was painless. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a 24×36 frame that was silver. I had already scoped out the frame I wanted. It had a metallic finish. I waited until this week to pick the frame up because one of the good things about Hobby Lobby is the fact that if something you wanted isn’t on sale, wait 1 week and it will be. At least this rule has always served me well when it comes to frames and mat boards. This rule served me well again. 50% off. I was a winner.

I found a frame that looked like it hadn’t been dropped from a high place. I grabbed it and headed for the dreaded line.

The strangest thing happened. I was the 2nd person in line AND the person ahead of me wasn’t buying 40 glass bowls that all needed to be individually wrapped. I was through the line in no time. I was back to the car in no time. We were heading to Lake Laverne in no time. My HobbyLobbyphobia did not ruin this evening.

+++

I parked at Lake Laverne. We had beaten Willy there. This seemed weird to me at first, but then I recalled that despite his love for his sports car, he rarely exceeded the state prescribed speed limits.

I looked around the lake. I looked for the swans. Earlier trips had resulted in swan photos that I considered to be unsatisfactory. I was hoping to entice them with some of my old bread and get in good and close for the picture I wanted.

The swans were on the south bank of the lake. This was where I usually found them. It was going to work out well because they were in fairly deep shadows. I wouldn’t have to worry about small bits of light fighting through the foliage and creating awkward bits of contrast in the images that I didn’t want.

I began making the walk around the lake to the swans. Even though there is a side walk that encircles the lake, I walked close to the water. I was hoping to catch a picture of a frog on my way to the swans. I had no such luck.

Willy showed up while I was doing this activity. He, Jay, and the loaf of bread caught up to me.

“What are we doing?” Jay asked. He was always the inquisitive one. Willy was always the one just able to go with the flow.

“I want a satisfactory swan picture. I want you guys to feed the swans, while I take pictures of it.”

“We’re doing this because?” Jay still wasn’t satisfied.

“So I can get a satisfactory swan picture.”

We finished the walk and approached the swans. They seemed receptive to the idea of having their pictures taken. Jay opened up the bread and started throwing bread at them. I took a couple of pictures.

Then out of nowhere, two geese swam in on us. They moved quickly. In an instant they were on the bank. The beautiful swans were spooked. They plopped into the lake and floated away.

My plan had been foiled by these two honking geese.

Jay looked at me, “Now what?”

“Well, I have to get rid of the bread either way. Give it to the geese.”

Jay and Willy threw some bread at them. In an instant, the geese were on them. They were begging for the bread, but not in the way a dog begs for food. They were moving in on my fellow musketeers demanding the bread. They were hissing at Jay and Willy. They didn’t just want the bread. They felt that they were entitled to the bread. In all my years, I’ve only seen one other creature with such a false sense of entitlement and that was a human.

These birds weren’t thankful for this handout. They felt that they deserved the bread. I still can’t fathom why.

Willy and Jay looked at each other. They stopped giving bread to the geese.

“We can find some creatures out there that will be thankful for a free meal.” Willy said and closed the bag of bread. The gravy train was over.

“Go get a job!” Jay said to the goose nearest to him. Only he didn’t say it out loud. He said it with a look.

They pushed their way through the geese. We walked along the lake for a few hundred feet. We stopped by a bench. Willy and Jay started throwing hunks of bread into the lake at some perch.

It was a melee. 9 or 10 perch all came to the surface and fought for a hunk of bread. This was good entertainment. Plus the perch that got the bread had earned it. They weren’t just sitting around hissing about what they thought they deserved.

“We’re the only Canadian Geese on this lake; we deserve to be given this bread. It is our right!”

These perch were busting their humps for a little taste of bread.

I moved slightly away from my fellow musketeers. I wanted to get a picture of them feeding the fish. Unfortunately as soon as I got into a good position to take a picture, I realized that there was a silver sandwich wrapper on the ground next to Jay’s feet. This trash, this pollution ruined the purity of my shot. I silently thought about how much I hate people that litter in parks. Absolutely the dregs of society.

I was denied my first satisfactory swan shot, but at least I could do something about this picture. I walked back towards Jay and Willy to pick up the piece of pollution. When I was within 15 feet I heard this sound:

“Ooohhhh!”

It came from both their mouths. Something relatively cool had happened.

“What happened?” I asked.

Willy answered. “A catfish just showed up.”

I checked out the lake and there was a catfish mixed in with the perch. It was fighting for its hunk of the bread.

“That thing is so nasty.” Jay said.

Jay is afraid of fish. He always has been. Despite his biased perspective, I do have to agree with him. Everything in the catfish family is a pretty nasty fish. They look nasty and they spend their whole lives in mud. Pretty tasty though.

The catfish made Jay and Willy throw larger and larger hunks of bread into the lake. A second catfish showed up. Then a third. Watching the catfish fight for bread was better than watching the perch. They began throwing full pieces of bread.

I picked up the piece of pollution and moved back to my position.

“Save me a piece of bread.” I called out.

I took a couple of pictures.

When there was only one piece of bread left, we continued on. I wanted one piece of bread left in case we encountered any more geese. I have never been a fan of the goose, but I wanted to see if it was just these two birds that were filled with this false sense of entitlement, or if it was the whole species.

I was not to find out. We finished the loop around the lake without spying another goose. I threw the last piece of bread into the lake. Nothing happened. Willy grabbed a stick and pushed the bread farther out into the water.

A catfish hit it. Then another. Then another. Then it was a catfish feeding frenzy. At least 6 catfish hit that piece of bread. After the first hit it was gone in seconds.

“That was disgusting.” Jay offered.

“Yet cool.” I countered.

“I don’t feel like eating fish for sure now.” Willy offered.

+++

Willy followed us to the House of Chen. We walked into the restaurant and were seated. We sat for a while. Then our waitress came and took our drink orders. It may have become apparent that I’m not real big into physical appearances. I haven’t described the physical appearance of a single character in this tome. There are a few reasons why I haven’t included any physical descriptions of anybody.

The main reason is that I’m not a physical appearance person. Anybody that has seen how poorly I put myself together knows this fact. Another reason for the absence of physical descriptions is that I’m not very good at making them. I can tell you the color of somebody’s hair. I can tell if you if they were short or tall. I can tell you if they were slender, plump, or fat or some degree elsewhere. Sometimes I can compare what a person looks like to somebody else I know. That is really the limit of my skill in this department.

The final reason is that I have yet to come up to a point in this story where somebody’s physical characteristics added a dimension to the story. There hasn’t been a point where somebody was so short they couldn’t do something. The color of somebody’s eyes hasn’t changed the course of any event. The degree to which somebody plucks their eyebrows has not been important to me. Somebody hasn’t been so fat that something else happened.

This is about to change. I will make a vague physical description of a person and it will only happen again one other time in this tome.

I’m not very good with physical descriptions of other humans. So I’ll just say this about our waitress, she met the benchmark for being physically attractive in about every category on the average male’s checklist.

Why is this important? It isn’t terribly important, but it does lead to a minor episode that occurred at dinner.

Perhaps I should give a little bit of background on where this episode was spawned.

I work with a guy by the name of Steve. I lunch with Steve several times a month. Steve is a terrible rubbernecker.

I’d like to say that Steve is an admirer of the beautiful form of woman, but I can’t make this case without knowing that it is a lie. You see whenever we are at lunch; Steve suffers from a decided inability to make eye contact with the waitress. Steve is a straight to eye to mammary contact man.

In the past I have tried to defend such behavior. I point out that when the human eye looks at a photograph or a painting the eye instinctively always looks at the point of greatest contrast. This can not be controlled. It is instinctual.

When a man looks at a woman, he instantly looks at the cleavage because cleavage is the point of greatest contrast. The fair skin contrasts with the shadow that the cleavage gives off. Inevitably the eye is lead into the complete darkness of the cleavage valley.

This does not mean that the man is “checking out” any chick because he looks at her breasts first. The man’s eyes are just drawn to the point of greatest contrast and then his eyes move out from there. It is the same as looking at any other piece of art. That’s just science.

However, it is hard to make this argument for Steve. Not when most waitresses where polos (which hide the mammaries) and most restaurants are poorly lit. This just isn’t the proper environment to create high contrast. It could be that the way women are composed (the lines of a woman also draw the eyes to their breasts like the way the lines in a picture draw the eyes to a subject) that makes Steve so powerless, but I think the truth of the matter is that Steve likes what Steve likes and he doesn’t have the societal training to stop him from making eye to mammary contact for minutes at a time.

Jesse also lunches with us. Jesse is always giving Steve a rough time for his uncouth behavior. Steve deserves the derision, but it comes from a man who is standing squarely on the San Andreas Fault of moral ground.

Before I met Steve, Jesse was the most notorious rubbernecker I ever laid my eyes upon. Jay often recounts tales where Jesse was driving down the street and would almost rear end the car in front of them because rather than watching the road, Jesse was admiring some buxom lady on the sidewalk.

The times when our d’Artagnan would join us for FNSC, he would be on the prowl. Not for himself though. He would be on the prowl for Porthos and Athos. Any restaurant we eat at, he is constantly nudging one those two gents and pointing out the physical qualities of any girls within our table’s sphere of influence. This nudge is usually accompanied by a finger point and a visceral half grunt half “huh, huh?”

It is as if rather than dining with a normal human being, we are dining with the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more” character from Monty Python. It is uncomfortable for everybody at the table, except for King Rubbernecker.

I wasn’t thinking about Steve or Jesse at this time though. I was just thinking about what I wanted to eat. Feeding the wildlife at Lake Laverne had built me a mighty appetite.

The Waitress came back to the table. She took Jay’s order. She asked me for my order. I ordered pepper beef.

The Waitress stopped before she took Willy’s order.

“I really like your shirt.” She said to me.

It is rare that anybody ever compliments a shirt I am wearing. The exception is the shiny pink dress shirt I bought for the Oscar party earlier this year. Other than that, (and the occasional backhanded ‘you clean up nice’) I don’t get very many compliments for the way I dress. That is fair though. I don’t deserve many compliments. I don’t have a discernible style. My style consists of “what was clean and what musician/movie/cause/plaid I like today”. That is all the thought that goes into how I dress myself every morning.

I get out of the shower and think, “this is clean and I like Dang! root beer.” I throw those on and I’m ready to take on the world.

On this day, I didn’t remember what I had decided I liked. Was it red plaid? Was it Shannon Curfman? Was it saving Darfur?

I looked down at my shirt. Rocky Balboa was staring back at me. This morning, my “Rocky” shirt was clean.

“Thanks.” I said.

“It is really cool.”

“It is a great movie.”

Then she moved on to take Willy’s order and then she was gone. It was a simple comment. Nothing was meant by it other than that she liked my shirt. The only other thing one could deduce from this comment was that perhaps she was also a fan of “Rocky”. You could just as easily deduce that she liked the monochrome color scheme of the shirt.

Whatever her intent, the dye had been cast.

I looked at Willy. His elbow was out and he was moving it in a rubbing motion. If we were not so far apart, I assure you that his elbow would have been grinding into my side. Then he pointed in the direction that the Waitress had left.

“Huh, huh!” Willy stammered out a visceral half grunt.

Jay laughed and spit out some water.

It was indeed rich. I had never been the victim of Howard’s vicarious rubbernecking. It was always Willy and Jay. Now Willy was using this opportunity to mock Jesse. Jay was enjoying the moment as well.

I knew that mocking Jesse was funny, but I only laughed, took a sip of RC Cola, and said, “What? She likes Rocky.”

+++

We stood outside of the House of Chen. We wished Willy the best of luck in Spain. Willy accepted our good tidings, got in his Stealth and drove off.

Jay was ready to get a move on.

“Let’s go.” He said. “I got to get back to Boone.”

“I need to make 1 more stop. Maybe a second stop.”

I really wanted to make 2 more stops. I wanted to stop at the Ames Wal-Mart and see if they had a copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of “Pan’s Labyrinth”, but that was going to have to wait, unless we made record time at Monica’s Salon.

“We don’t have time.”

“We have plenty of time.”

The sun was quickly fading in the western sky. I had to make at least 1 stop. I owed Monica 14 dollars and I was going to square that debt. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a welcher. I make good on my debts.

+++

Monica’s salon is located in the mall. We were right next door. We barely drove a block. We still had plenty of time.

I parked the car and Jay asked, “Should I come in?”

“I guess that depends on whether or not you want to see Monica?”

He decided that he wanted to see Monica. We ascended the stairs to her Salon and saw her working on somebody’s hair.

“Benndawg. Jay.” She said excitedly. Monica is one of the last people that still calls me Benndawg. “What are you guys doing here?”

“I came to settle a debt.”

She looked kind of worried. Her look made me think she thought we were in some mindless action film. I was going to explain how she had wronged me. Then Jay and I would shoot the place up. We would miss her with the thousand some bullets that we would fire, and the debt would finally be settled in an extensive martial arts battle that involved hair supplies, shears, and people running up walls and doing flips.

This wasn’t an action movie though.

“I owe you 14 dollars.”

She shot back a blank stare. I would swear she was wondering if she threw some Griptight in our eyes if it would blind us long enough for her to make her escape.

“For what?”

“For taking care of my HobbyLobbyphobia.”

“The matboard.”

“You had forgotten.”

She laughed.

“I had.”

I reached for my wallet and pulled out a twenty. “Can you make change?” I asked.

“As soon as I’m done with this client.”

Jay became agitated. The sun was fading away. He only had one headlight. He was blaming me for the situation.

“What do you mean you need change?”

“I only have a twenty.”

“We don’t have time to wait.”

“I’m not a welcher.”

Jay pulled out his wallet and started handing me cash.

“Take this; pay her so we can go.”

I then realized that I had money in one of my front pockets. I reached in my hand and pulled out exactly fourteen dollars.

“What do you know about that?” I said wondrously.

I put the 14 dollars on her cash register.

“There you go Monica. We have to go. Jay is having electrical problems.”

Before the last words had escaped my mouth, Jay was down the stairs. He was in a hurry. There would be no stop at Wal-Mart. That was the bad news.

What I didn’t know then was that my quest for “Pan’s Labyrinth” would end at the Boone Wal-Mart in less than an hour. That would be good news.

When I got home that night, there was a 20×30 picture of Rebecca waiting for me in my mailbox. That was great news.



Jay Giving the Handout


Swan Floating Away

05-19-07
Goose Throwing a Hissy Fit

05-19-07
Willy Feeding Perch


Jay Watching Willy


Catfish

05-19-07
Jay and Willy Feeding Fish

After Work Walk

I went through a little walk through the woods after work on Monday. I took the following images. They amuse me. Hopefully you will get some moments of amusement from them as well.














I only came upon 3 deer during my walk. Last week I came upon ten deer. I also did not find the groundhog. Of course, I have seen the groundhog 8 times this year, but never with the right lens. I’m still going to get that groundhog.

Randumbness

I’m going to attempt to get out of the video posting rut that I’ve been in lately. Not that the videos I’ve posted have been bad. In fact, they have been highly entertaining. However, this here “Artist’s Notebook” isn’t supposed to be about funny videos. It is supposed to be about “Yours Truly” and my artistic endeavors and artistic failures. Although it is certainly also about my inspirations. Those videos are a part of my “Online Idea Box”, as I have been known to refer to this thing as. 

This “Artist’s Notebook” is also about my more personal inspirations: My friends. So I should reveal what has been up with some of my friends. 

The biggest news about my friends would be that Derrick has become the man at his place of employment. I believe his previous job title was “Guitar god” or “Guitar Guy” or “Sales Consultant”. Now his job title is something like “General Manager” or “Store Manager” or “The Man” or “Mr. Man” or “HHIC”. 

It is a strange twist of fate that his S.O. Jen was once “The Man”. She hired Derrick on. Now it is a few years later and he is now “The Man”. 

There was a store manager in between them, but I fail to recall her name. I do know that the rulers of Derrick’s company did her in on Monday. They pulled the old switching the locks to the door trick. A classic of all passive-aggressive wieners that don’t have the testicular fortitude to do somebody in face to face. 

I know from my extensive firing experiences that it takes a man to look somebody in the face and tell them: “Get out of here kid. You’re no good. You don’t have a future”. Of course my extensive fire experience includes firing not a single person. 

You see I was once “The Man”. Not with the same company where Derrick is currently “The Man”. Yet, I was the man for a couple of years in a quickly failing restaurant. It was hard to be “The Man” at this place because the owner of the restaurant wanted it to fail. They were begging their understanding of God for it to fail. 

I ran what in the politically correct vernacular would be known as a “quick service restaurant” in Campustown. The large overhead of such a business and poor location spelled doom for the restaurant. 

While I was captain of this sinking vessel I did not have to fire anybody. I soon realized that most people fired themselves. You set up standards for people. You communicated these standards to the people. You set up consequences for not reaching these standards. You communicated these consequences to the people. When people knew that they weren’t reaching the established standards, they would pretty much quit on their own. 

I should point out that I wasn’t exactly setting the bar high either. My minions consisted of High School and College Students. This wasn’t a career stop for them. This was a little bit of spending scratch so they could booze it up on the weekend or go to that Dave Matthews concert or for some it was to pay for their textbooks or their rent. 

The good ones already cared about their job, not because they cared about the job. They cared about their job because they were the type of people that did well because what they were doing was what they were doing. In less convoluted terms, anything that they did they were going to do well because the result was a reflection of them. It wasn’t what the job consisted of that was important. Whatever it was, they were going to do it well. 

Then there were the employees that failed under my regime. They really failed of their own accord. At least they left of their own accord. Which the majority of them left because their time at Iowa State had concluded or they realized that they could get paid much better doing a much easier job some place else. However I am not typing words out about the people who just moved on to better things. This is about people who theoretically could have been fired. The failures. 

My standards were not that high. It isn’t that they were low. It is that when you are stuck working in corporation there are about 1 trillion incredibly dumb rules about every single insignificant aspect of how to do every single mundane job. In huge multilevel corporations like the one that employed me, you will find people that memorize and dream about every single one of these stupid little rules that have nothing at all to do with the success of a business. In fact the enforcement of these rules is a waste of time. Concentrating on the mindnumbing minutia that is the “Proper way to pull eggs from the grill” is allowing insignificance to control the significant aspects of the business. 

There were really only a handful of things that I cared about. I never spelled this out, wrote it down, posted it, or handed it out on cards. But if you were to really spell out my rules of management they were simple: 

1. Serve the customer, in a fast, friendly manner with a good product.
2. Keep the store clean.
3. Maintain the equipment.
4. Don’t get me in trouble. 

People who couldn’t do these things usually phased themselves right out of the business. 

WOW! I never meant to drone on and on and on and on and on about it. 

Willy had oral surgery last Thursday. It must have went well. He was up and back on the dance floor by Friday night. He even attended the largest Friday Night Supper Club in history. There were 6 people there. Including 3 people that had never made it to a Friday Night Supper Club function before. Jen, Derrick, and Sara now have FNSC Auxillary Member Status. 

Jesse did not make it to Friday Night Supper Club because he had his nose broken Friday morning. It was on purpose. It wasn’t like he had lipped off to some dude and got regulated. A doctor busted him up good and attempted to rearrange some of the nose parts so that he can breathe better and make him a little bit softer on the eyes. 

I got the pleasure of hanging out in the Ambulatory Waiting Room with Kelly and Mary while the doctors were working him over. It was through a conversation with Kelly that I learned more about his lying, scheming ways. Also I got more ammunition for the Bandwagoner side of the Jesse Howard: Bandwagoner or Innovator debate. Wives sometimes talk too much. 

Kelly also regaled me a tale that I will file in my memory banks under the “Great Easter War”. I will not retell the tale at this time, but it might make its way into a short story collection in a bookstore near you. 

Last night after work I headed to a park to test out my new camera bag. Once I got to the park I realized I couldn’t test my new bag out because the only thing I had brought with me was my camera and the new bag. I hadn’t brought my old bag that was full of goodies. I was looking forward to doing some bird photography, but that dream was effectively snuffed out by the fact that I had left my telephoto lens in my old camera bag. Therefore I was stuck with only my 50mm lens to try to capture images. The 50mm is a great lens, but birds are known cowards. I believe that they are the first known draft dodgers. 

Due to their well documented cowardice (sometimes known as migration but really draft dodging) it is difficult to get close to them with out them taking off. So below are the best pictures I could muster out of the experience. They are failures. I know this fact. 


04-19-2007

 




This is going to sound slightly harsh, but it was nice to see a collection of deer without injuries. There is quite an assortment of deer that live in the woods behind my current place of employment. Almost all of them suffer from at least one injured leg.

Odonata

I haven’t had the “pleasure” of being on MySpace much lately. Which means that my “blogs” have become sporadic and if I’m not mistaken, lower in quality. I can’t say that this saddens me. There are more important things I should be doing with my time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I miss the moments of entertainment I get from this little site or the contact I lose with some people that I seem to only make through this “social networking” thing. Still, Uncle Sam hit me with a pretty stiff tax bill this year. I should be trying to figure out how to raise the funds to pay the feds off before I end up rotting in debtors prison. Although I do know this one thing about many of my chums. If I do end up rotting in debtors prison, I shant be alone. Some of us will be rotting together. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Do your worst Uncle Sam! Just not to me, I’m not like normal people. I don’t like pain.”

I have changed the background music for the blog yet again. I will not pretend to have the musical talent or knowledge of at least 4 of the subscribers to this thing. I just felt that I should cool things off a little bit after the hard rocking of Pillar’s cover of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”. I’m also quite certain that somewhere north of where I sit typing, Mike Britson is scoffing at my tenet that Pillar is anywhere near the neighborhood of hard rocking. I can’t dispute this fact. Mike has always claimed to be the “World’s Greatest Music Snob”. I do not think that he has a t-shirt that proclaims this fact, but in my heart of hearts I hope that Stephanie made him a button that did.

I come away from that aside. All I really wanted to point out is the fact that the new background music is “Minuet in G”. It was composed by the great Ludwig Van. It has always been one of my favorite pieces of music. Due to my relative musical ignorance (despite being a wretched to middling trombonesman in my day) I may be interpreting the intent of the music incorrectly. I have always been struck by how desperate this music sounds. It is more than sad. It is desperately mournful. Yet when you feel like it should be too depressed to carry on, it seems to find a way to carry on. In that ability to carry on, I find the song hopeful as well.

Take that for whatever you like. I don’t claim to be an expert. Although I do subscribe somewhat to what Roy Adzak said about art:

“Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.”

Meaning that the person interpreting the art is in many ways more important than the artist. That is a somewhat scary thought. I have the slight delusions of my own artistic ability I don’t like giving up my art and allowing whomever stumbles upon it to translate what it means. I don’t even struggle with the control issues that some of my friends do and it is still difficult.

I guess what makes this concept bearable and allows me to subscribe to it is the fact that the alternative is utterly unbearable. Namely, having to explain the meaning of everything. Of course, this also allows me to view “Minuet in G” as desperate and hopeful in the same breath and dear old Ludwig Van just has to accept it. IN YOUR FACE BEETHOVEN!!

Dictionary Dot Com defines “irony” in such a way: 5.an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

I’m not sure this following tale is actually really ironic in the way the word was forged by its creators or in the “Alanis-Morrisette-I-Clearly-Wrote-A-Song-About-Irony-Where-I-uses-Examples-of -things-That-Aren’t-Ironic” way.

Perhaps it is ironic that I don’t know if this is ironic and I am having a go at somebody else for their ignorance. Perhaps I should just tell the tale.

Not really much of a tale. I have found a home for some pictures of mine. Here is the arguably ironic part: that home is the Boone Homeless Shelter. My church has adopted a room at the homeless shelter. As a congregation we are donating items to fill this room. I have donated a copy of “Happiness Shared: #01” & “Happiness Shared: #02” to adorn the wall of our room.

What I found out tonight is that when each homeless family leaves the shelter and sets up their home, they get to take everything from the room to furnish their new home.

I did not hand the pictures over to Pastor Phil personally. I left them in the hands of my sister Teresa. Allegedly Phil was excited by this donation and thinks that I should donate such pictures every time a new family moves into our room.

In some small way I have a “standing order”. In no small way, this kind of excites me. Looks like I’m just doing good deeds all over the place. But before I break my arm from patting myself on the back, I should show you what is going to the homeless shelter, to somebody’s home, and perhaps someday to a Goodwill Store near you.


04-04-07

04-04-07

So what would these other good deeds be that I am doing? Depending on your ability to recall facts about me, you may remember that a while back I was instrumental ( by instrumental I mean the same way I was instrumental to the success of the BHS Concert Band by holding down the last chair trombone) in the making of a batch of soap. Some of the soap from that batch is going into care packages for people being released from Mitchelville State Penitentiary.

The truth is that I had nothing to do with this donation. It is all Shannon. Yet since, she is donating soap for this cause AND I helped make the soap. I get to glom onto some of her glory. The boys I hang with like to call that bandwagoning. Except for one. He likes to call it innovating.

However, I am going to attempt to make the world a better place in one more way. It is through something I hope to propose and railroad through Friday Night Supper Club through my power of oratory. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will give you a hint. I should also point out that at this time Friday Night Supper Club is a secular organization. I point this out for my sister Teresa.

I like to go out to the woods on my break. Some people like to smoke. I like to commune with nature. No tax on that, suckers!!

While I was out there I went a little crazy with the camera on a fellow that became a buddy of mine. Since he was what I like to call Odonata, I cracked out the 50mm lens. This is a lens that is fine and dandy for Odonata, but then I heard a rustling to the left of me. There he was for the 5th time this year. The groundhog! The problem was that I was unprepared for this development.

I did not have the proper equipment. He was staring me down, practically screaming at the top of his rodent lungs: “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille!” All I could do was take this incredibly bad picture from about 75-100 feet away. This picture is cropped quite a bit. If you saw the original you would never be able to find the groundhog. That isn’t a challenge. Just a statement of fact.


04-04-07

At least I got a few decent shots of my chum Odonata:


2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

Within these images I find solace, but I’m still coming for you Mr. Groundhog!!!!

The Past Weekend

Mr. Wentworth came over to Boone this weekend. So it turned out to be a pretty good weekend. I took some pictures to remember the events that Bill’s presence triggered.

First of all, I have completed the next picture to be hung in Salon 908. Below is a picture of the picture that will replace “Last, Loveliest Smile”.


03-29-07

This picture is an enlargement of a picture that Teresa commissioned me to do for her living room. I have named my color flower pictures the “Earth’s Laughter Series”, but I did not have a name for black and white flower pictures. Until now. The full title of the picture is “Happiness Shared – #01”.

The title comes from the old adage: “Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.”

On Sunday we went to Cold Stone Creamery. I found out Bill is somebody that hates seeing people have a good time at their job. Usually I find that the people that fit into this category hate the job that they have. Bill seems to fit into that category as well. So when we got back to Boone I took a picture of Bill.

03-26-07

Bill complained that I didn’t give him a chance to get ready before I took his picture. I told him that I wasn’t interested in posed pictures. I was interested in pictures of people how they are. A pretentious person might call that candid photography. A pretentious street photographer might call it guerrilla photography. I just call it capture what “is”.

Willy decided not to ride to and fro with us. The weather was warm and he was ready to get on his motorbike.


2007

2007

The second picture was taken from Jay’s automobile. It turns out that being on a motorbike doesn’t automatically make you look cooler. But check out those sexy legs. Ladies.

Some time last week Jay Janson went a milking. There is video tape evidence of Jay’s encounter with an utter, but I have yet to lay my hands upon it. Jay did bring me the coolest memento from his adventure.


03-26-07

I could really go for a Boyd’s malt right now. One of my fondest memories as a child was returning the milk bottles to Boyd’s because I got to put the bottles on a conveyor belt. I’ve always been fond of conveyor belts.

Then on Monday while I was on my break I encountered this fellow.


03-26-07

I have also seen the groundhog that lives behind the building within which I toil 4 times so far this year. I only saw him twice all of last year.

Then despite all of these good things that put me in good humor I came upon something that reminded me that while Spring brings much good to the world it also bring pure unadulterated evil back to Boone.


03-26-07

I have worked in Ames and lived in Boone going on 10 years now. There has been one constant in that experience. The ability of co-workers to constantly deride Boone as being a backward, hick, racist town.

I point to the myriad of good things there are about Boone.

They point to the Speedway.

I don’t have a rebuttal.

They win.

Stupid Speedway

A Tale of Grotesque Proportions

I know that the deer story did not have the happy ending that we were hoping for, so let me throw this out there. Did I mention that there are also squirrels back there.




So I have mentioned that I have this formal American Cancer Society Fundraiser/Oscar Party coming up this week. On a Saturday I went down to Des Moines to pickup a new dress shirt. This seems to be a fairly simple task.

Within that assumption lies the problem. You see I am a person of strange proportions. I have the neck of a much fatter man. I have the arms of a much taller man. The shorthand version of this tale is that even the Big and Tall store did not posses a shirt in stock that perfectly conformed to my dimensions. On Sunday I shall arrive in a shirt that is freakishly long and a button extender so that I can look stylish and be comfortable.

One last factoid. I am hesitant to admit this fact. I let them talk me into buying a zipper tie. Oh the humanity!!

You may recall that whenever somebody pursues acquiring a picture of mine it always ends up in the bathroom. My eldest sister is redecorating her bathroom. Who do you think she called looking for black and white photos of flowers?

I didn’t take many flower pictures last year. Although B&W is my favorite photographic medium I don’t think I took any B&W flower pictures. So I had to do a little post production work.

Below would be the options I gave her.


Flower Proposal
Flower #1

Flower Proposal
Flower #2

Flower Proposal
Flower #3

Flower Proposal
Flower #4

Flower Proposal
Flower #5

Flower Proposal
Flower #6

Flower Proposal
Flower #7

Flower Proposal
Flower #8

Flower Proposal
Flower #9

Flower Proposal
Flower #10

Flower Proposal
Flower #11

If you are the curious sort, she choose #2, #4, #9, & #10. She also wants a copy of #7, but it won’t be in the bathroom because it isn’t consistent with her theme.

So where will #7 end up? My guess is the guest bathroom.

Deer Update

So I went for a walk through the woods on Friday during my lunch break again and took these pictures.





02-22-07





02-22-07

These are pictures of 3 different deer. The last one is a picture of the deer from Thursday with the broken leg.

Today I went out on my break to see how he was doing. I didn’t get very far. I found him lying dead next to a tree.

Some Photos

I’ll keep this brief because I have a big afternoon at work scheduled. Just thought I would throw up a few pictures that I came across yesterday while I was toiling in the computer mines.

The first image comes from the David Letterman show. I don’t watch the David Letterman show because it is head to head with the Colbert Report, and quite frankly that is not even a tough decision. On Monday, in a segment called “Small Town News”, somebody I actually know was featured: Jen’s dad. See the picture below:




Yesterday a co-worker brought in Venison Stroganoff for the department to eat for lunch. This gave me a little extra time, so I went for a walk in the woods behind our building. Although I was just there for a walk and to find decent lighting to take my new profile picture, I stumbled upon this little guy:


02-22-07

02-22-07

I have seen as many as 12 deer out there at once, but this fellow is the only one I’ve seen lately. He has a broken back leg that makes it difficult for him to get around, but he is still hanging in there for right now.

2007 Calendar

So most of the 2007 Calendars have been printed, laminated and bound. There are just a few left that need to be distributed. If you still want a calendar and didn’t get your order in, better let me know. Because 2007 begins in 13 hours and every day that a calendar comes late, it depreciates in value.

Below is a little bit of a look at what you would get by “purchasing” a calendar.


2007 Back Page

I would just like to impart a small bit of information about why each month was selected.

January Image – Ledges Daily Denouement

I selected this image because it was the most wintery of the images that I have selected. It definitely leaves you with a cold feeling.

February Image – Unnamed Butterfly Image

I made this image exclusively for distribution with this calendar and I don’t like it, so it will remain an Unnamed Butterfly Image.

March Image – Flower in a Ditch

March begins the Northern Hemispheres return to life. Therefore, this is the first of many traditional nature images.

April Image – Oversaturated Dragonfly

April is a month traditionally oversaturated with rain. I went a little crazy with the exposure compensation on this image. Make it a bit oversaturated by traditional photographic estimations.

May Image – Kentucky Appetizer

Traditionally I put my favorite image in May irregardless of whether or not I think anybody else will enjoy it in the slightest bit.

June Image – Yellow Swallow Tail

The end of the traditional nature images.

July Image – Outburst of the Soul

A random selection here.

August Image – Wildflower

August is a great month for wildflowers.

September – Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man

A random selection here.

October – Wheat Grass

The only fall looking image of the bunch so it went in a fall month.

November – Four Flowers

Olivia’s birth month. My auction image from Songs for Olivia.

December – Building 429

A Christian image for the month of Christmas.

Not much info there, but enough for the intellectually curious.