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Monday, May 31, 2010


If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
~ Henry David Thoreau


A few years ago we had the chance to decide what design would be on the back of our state quarter. I really REALLY wanted American Gothic on the back. It is set in Iowa and done by an Iowa artist. Plus, it would have made our quarter the coolest one of all.

But no.

Instead, Grant Wood's painting "Arbor Day" was chosen. Arbor Day was founded in Nebraska.

I am still disappointed, but I certainly hope to find compensation soon.


Nature is a mutable cloud which is always and never the same.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I like white clouds in a blue sky. The contrast is nice. I don't think we'd appreciate how pretty the blue is without the white there.

It's kind of like problems. I like it when other people have big problems. It makes me appreciate not having them. Better them than me.


How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!
~Maya Angelou

Four things support the world: the learning of the wise,
the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave.
~ Muhammed

The secret of Happiness is Freedom,
and the secret of Freedom, Courage.
~ Thucydides

Every memorial in its time has a different goal.
~ Maya Lin

Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The purpose of all war is peace.
~ St. Augustine


Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on a society.
~ Mark Twain


I wonder what Mark Twain's community thought of him when he was writing books. I know he changed names of people and even his town when he wrote, but "The Widow Douglas" was probably easily recognizable as the widow something-else who ran the lighthouse on the hill overlooking the Mississippi in Hannibal - and other characters were similarly identified on some of the tours we took.

I think about it sometimes - about how if I wrote about my community that I don't think they'd find me as likable as it appears Hannibal found Sam Clemens.

Of course, I don't think my town had the same kind of characters -- or at least I was too distracted to notice them when we were growing up. I mean, besides Raspberry Ruby.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Like all New York hotel lady cashiers, she had red hair and had been disappointed in her first husband.
~ Al Capp


One of my favorite quotes from our trip to Hannibal, Mo -

Maddie: I can't tell if this elevator smells like old people or b.o.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I wish I had an answer to that
because I'm tired of answering that question.
~ Yogi Berra


Today I had an email exchange with a colleague. Because I will be leaving work early, I had to hand off a situation to her. I emailed Sara about the incident and said, "Let me know if you have any questions." Here is the exchange that followed:

From: SaraSent: Friday, May 28, 2010 10:36 a.m.
To: Michelle


1. How do I know I am real, and not living in the matrix?"
2. How do you say 750,400,249,399,601,208?
3. Why are they called "hamburgers" when they are made of beef?

From: Michelle
Sent: Friday, May 28, 2010 10:40 a.m.
To: Sara

This was not the response I anticipated, however, I suggest the following.

1. If you were living in the matrix, you
would be shot at a lot more than you are in your current existence because it looks so cool.

2. I suggest pronouncing it slowly - seven hundred fifty quadrillion, four hundred trillion, two hundred and forty nine billion, three hundred and ninety nine million, six hundred and one thousand, two hundred and eight.

3. Because they originated in Hamburg, Germany. The German word for beef is "Rindflesch" and "rindfleschburger" sounds gross.

As you can see, we work well together and are able to make every day a learning experience for ourselves.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as heaven whispers, "Do you like it? I did it just for you."
~ Max Lucado


I don't even know what to say about this photograph.


A shoe that is too large is apt to trip one, and when too small,
to pinch the feet. So it is with those
whose fortune does not suit them.
~ Horace


One of my all-time favorite shoe comments was made by a local reporter (Amanda Krenz) following an incident where an Iraqi man threw a shoe at then President George W. Bush. She stated, "In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes is a sign of contempt."


Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


So, I've been to a couple of roller derby bouts now. This is what I think I know about the fans. There are five types:

1. The fan of a particular skater. This person can be heard yelling, "STELLA!!!!" or the like - depending on his or her favorite athlete.

2. The fan who just wants to see people fall down.

3. The fan who is knowledgeable about and interested in the sport.

4. The person who goes to random events just to be able to say that they've "been there, done that."

5. Somebody who is friends with one of the people in the previous four categories.

Let's - for the sake of argument - refer to #1 as Ryan, #2 as Rod, #3 as Mystery Person, #4 as Michelle, and #5 as Chris.

If you don't know which category suits you, you should go watch roller derby to figure it out.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


There are no rules for good photographs.
There are only good photographs.
~ Ansel Adams


Maddie and Elizabeth just took a nature photography class. I am in hopes that one of them will like it as much as I do. I am also in hopes that neither of them will be better at it than I am. Because that's how I am. Actually, I hope they both excel, but that they appreciate different kinds of photos than I do. And I hope that more people like my kind of photography than theirs.

I have pretty big dreams for the girls.


We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy,
even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.

~ E.B. White


If you accidentally run your cat through the washer on the heavy duty cycle, if she survives, when you go to visit your cat at the vet or animal hospital or farm where you board your dog, a good line when you pet her is, "Oh -- you're so soft!"

However, I do not recommend washing a cat in a washing machine.


I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood.
~ Bill Watterson


I told myself I would remember how much I hated the cold when it got hot out. Try as I might, I can't seem to remember it being so bad (though it was). Instead, I just keep thinking about being ready for fall. And summer hasn't even arrived, yet!

For what it's worth, I find that you can savor a bad mood on a sunny day, as well.


An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.
~ Letitia Landon


I do not like medicines that you have to drink or make into a beverage. For example, there is some flu-repellent that you mix into a cup of water. It tastes like hay. Actually, like a combination of Tang + Sprite + hay.

I also think people who put together drink menus need to exercise caution. I once saw a drink menu that had "scotch" and "rum" near one another. At a glance it looked like "scrotum."

Incidentally, I used a "lamp" quotation for this entry because I couldn't find a "beverage" quotation I liked.


(photo by Me, Jell-O by Sara Kellogg)

A boss creates fear, a leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks questions. A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting.
~ Russell H. Ewing


So, since Sara made the above for me, that must mean - according to the quote above - that she thinks I know all. Thanks, Sara!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Those that dislike cats will be carried to the cemetery in the rain.
~ Dutch Proverb


I had never heard that proverb before looking for a quote to go with this photo.

I wonder what happens to people who run cats through the washing machine.


History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.
~ Voltaire


It makes me happy that Elizabeth retains information about history. Not only does she listen and remember, but she cares enough to put her own criticisms on the people about whom she learns. Consider the following example:

Elizabeth: I don't like Patrick Henry. He's a loudmouth. AND he gave away whiskey at the polls.

Dalai Lama

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
~ HH the 14th Dalai Lama


So, last week we went to see His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. It was a lecture on non-violence. While we were walking back to the car, Chris hit me in the shoulder and yelled, "SLUG BUG!" When I confronted her about the fact that she missed the point of the presentation we had just seen she replied, "I bet the Dalai Lama slug bugs."

Sunday, May 23, 2010


We're always on the side of the animal that's being chased. We always seem to be on the side of the rabbit or the fox and not on the side of the hounds.
~ Norman Jewison


Elizabeth got her bunny today. For now it's name is Louis.

It does not have a neck injury. That is the harness she got for it so she can walk it. Well, it doesn't have a neck injury yet.


If you never budge, don't expect a push.
~ Malcolm Forbes


I love roller derby. I don't fully understand it, but I love it. I know I couldn't do it. I don't like any kind of skating. Except maybe skating by on my charisma and the dark secrets I know about people.


Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff.
~ Frank Zappa


Well, the garage sale weekend is over. We got rid of a lot of stuff. I was a little bummed when Chris marked down my giant rubber duck (something I would have been okay with not selling), but since I wasn't sure where it was when I was getting things ready for the sale, I guess I can't say I was too attached to it.

I am glad the woman with the toddler bought the cash register. Especially since the kid chewed and drooled all over the price scanner. Stuff like that does not increase either the marketability or the value of an item at a garage sale.


A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.
We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.
~ John Steinbeck


Next weekend Maddie and I are going on a trip to Hannibal, MO. She just finished reading Tom Sawyer in school. I suggested to her that Huckelberry Finn is a better book, but she said too many parents get upset with it, so they read Tom Sawyer, instead.

Anyway, I am very excited about this trip. I missed the chance to take her to Little Rock when she was writing a paper on the Little Rock Nine, so I've been looking for a trip for us to take related to her school.

I told Chris maybe we should listen to some Mark Twain books on tape on the way down. She looked at me like I have no idea what a 14 year old girl would like as a part of a weekend trip.

I am thinking of putting together a playlist of songs that Maddie should know. Her musical knowledge does't go back too far. She likes "Cherry Pie" by Warrant, as an example of an "oldie." As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It means that no matter what you write, be it a biography, an autobiography, a detective novel, or a conversation on the street, it all becomes fiction as soon as you write it down.
~ Guillermo Cabrera Infante


As a kid all I wanted to read were biographies. I thought they were the truth. There was some kid's biography series in our school library. I tried to find it online, but haven't yet.

Anyway, I remember being devastated when I got older and realized that biography is not truth. In fact, biography is probably one of the things furthest from the truth. Well, biography and history. Of course my undergraduate degree is in history. Maybe that's because I like storytelling and lying so much.


Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.
~ Charles Simic


I don't think of lighthouses as guides for ships or as symbolic of safety on one's journey or as beacons representing home. Instead, I think of them as very big lights spinning around in the dark by the water.


I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make
my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
~ Goergia O'Keefe


I love bumper stickers - even if they're not on bumpers. I think it's awesome that people put out their philosophies and their favorites and leave it to the witnesses to decipher and disagree.

Of course there are some stickers which make statements I find offensive. I have to appreciate them, too, though. They give me a heads-up to avoid the owners of the vehicles which display the stickers. And to watch out for them on the road. Obviously, anyone with different views from mine is an idiot driver.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Love thy neighbor, yet pull not down thy hedge.
~ English Proverb


Something odd happens at our house almost every day. You can see from this photo that the oddness is so pervasive that our neighbors no long even really notice.

There was the time we had a "recreational fire" all day long and someone called the fire department on us. There was the time we had a brush pile in our back yard and opossums (opossum?) started living there. There was the time we had 58 bags of leaves we cleaned out of our yard (we quit counting after that). There was the time someone left a rather unattractive painting of two lions under our front tree.

We are definitely "those neighbors" in our neighborhood... I feel as though perhaps I've mentioned that before.


~ George Carlin.


Some people don't trust their kids enough to let them go up on the roof. At our house, it's just the opposite. We expect them to go up there and take care of things like lights around the holidays, cleaning the gutters, etc. I mean, seriously, it's not like I'm going up there. I could fall and get hurt. And people are always saying how quickly kids heal from major injuries. Just makes sense.

Monday, May 17, 2010


After enlightenment, the laundry.
~ Zen proverb


One time my mom was helping my Grandma Boettcher clean out her back porch. There was a sack with clothespins and rags / laundry in it. My mom reached down in the bag to get out the rags. She stuck her hand in something smooth and squirmy. She dumped out the bag and found a nest of tiny, hairless, pink baby mice.

Then my mom threw up.


What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.
~ Meister Eckhart


Elizabeth's plan for surviving a tornado is to get into a freezer with a small plant. That way, you won't suffocate because the plant will give off oxygen.

She is not the emergency plan coordinator for our home.


~ Mitch Hedberg


When I was a kid we used to take vacations. When I was little we'd go places like Silver Dollar City or one year we went to Colorado with my grandparents. I remember on our trips my parents would try to be frugal. One time we stayed in a very inexpensive motel. I think it was inexpensive because the furniture was old and they should have invested in new stuff, but instead all the knobs that had broken off of the furniture were replaced with Tinker Toys.


~ Pablo Picasso
Dear Diary,

This weekend we painted the deck. Chris was oh so generous when she stated, "You know, Michelle, this isn't just a Chris / Elizabeth project. You're free to join us!"

Free to join them? Yes. Free to NOT join them? No.

It was pretty fun -- for the first two hours. The other eight hours got tedious.

Elizabeth worked very hard. I told her, "You know, I'm glad you're at an age where when you offer to help it really IS help and it isn't something that ends up working harder to fix your 'help.'"

As we were finishing, I tried to paint Chris into a trap, but she caught on before I could totally strand her in an ocean of wet redwood stain.

When we were done, Chris cleaned the gutters and blew crap all over the deck.
I mock her, but Chris did a great job prepping the deck so we could paint it. Even though she did that, however, I mock her.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Buy, buy, says the sign in the shop window; Why, why, says the junk in the yard.
~ Paul McCartney


I heard one time something about how we have to be careful of the things we have because those things also have us. I think it's good for me to remember that as we get ready for a garage sale this weekend.

So, if anyone wants to buy part of my rubber duck collection...

Thursday, May 13, 2010


All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
~ George Orwell


Maddie got to do a job shadowing thing this weekend. She spent the day with our friend Becky who runs the place where Ripley stays when we go out of town (or clean our carpets or paint our deck...). It's on a farm. I have found that when we tell people that Ripley is "gone to the farm" they think we've sent him away forever. Not so.

Anyway, Maddie got to help clean an old dog's teeth (and pull about 7 of them because they were pretty bad), castrate horses, and hold our cat (seen above in her senior picture pose) while she got her shots. Maddie also had the opportunity to stick her hand in a cow to feel its baby, but she was afraid she might hurt it, so she didn't.

At the end of the day, Maddie decided that she wouldn't really like to work with cows - "'Cause they can moo REALLY loud and it freaks you out!" - but she would like to work with horses.

Elizabeth listened as Maddie shared about her adventures. Then E chimed in, "I could be a veterinarian 'cause I can stick needles in pets."


A schedule defends chaos from whim.
~ Annie Dillard


Elizabeth likes to be organized, but doesn't always do well with school and other tasks. So, she has a dry erase board in her room and she works with Chris each week to mark down the things she needs to take care of.

If you notice in the upper left hand corner of the board there is a notation: "Punishment - pay for door." This is because Elizabeth was angry at Maddie a few weeks ago and kicked our bathroom door so hard (while Maddie was on the phone calling Chris and I to let us know that there was an issue) that she cracked it.

Anyway, that tantrum reminds me of another time when Maddie called. She was talking and then we heard, "Elizabeth - put down those scissors!" and the line went dead. We got home pretty quickly that day. E had cut neither the phone nor her sister. Which was good.

I am not sure why "Pay for Door" is checked off. I haven't seen any cash, yet. Maybe she paid Chris.


The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries is not, 'Eureka!' (I found it!), but 'That's funny...'"
~ Isaac Asimov


So Maddie spent most of the past week working on a science project. She could either make a car that ran on balloon air or a roller coaster. She chose to make the roller coaster. Chris took her and got the supplies and she did all of the work on it herself.

She turned it in today and her teacher LOVED it. She asked Maddie if she could keep the marbles that ran through the coaster to show the other classes. All the kids said they saw her roller coaster. It was awesome.

"Aren't you proud she did it on her own?" you might want to ask me. The answer is no. Because how do I get praise when she did the work on her own? Who is there to say to me, "Good work, Michelle!" when the project is graded? No one, that's who. I suppose now she'll go on to high school and then to college and want all the credit for the work she does there, too.

On an interestingly related note, she realized at 10:30 last night when she had finished her roller coaster that she hadn't done her social studies assignment. GREAT. The kid focuses on things like "science" and "physics" and "major project worth a ton of her grade" and overlooks SOCIAL STUDIES. What kind of future does she expect to have in science? Sheesh.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The belly rules the mind. ~Spanish Proverb


Michelle: What kind of food are you having if you have a wedding?
Elizabeth: Mashed potatoes. And chicken. Chicken from KFC. Have you had it? It's really good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles.
~ G.K. Chesterton


We are all pretty sure that Elizabeth is an old soul back to visit earth for another trip. This is confirmed with her ridiculous memory for history and her interest in things from the past. We live not too far from a little museum / the first school in Ames - Hoggatt School - and she wanted to visit so much. We finally took her. To be honest, I'd never really noticed the signs for the school before E brought it up.

Anyway, she also loves marbles. For a while she was going to school and playing marbles with a couple of other kids. She came home with her "winnings" a few times and assured us she didn't take her nicest marbles because she didn't want to lose them.

Speaking of losing one's marbles, I was wondering where that phrase came from. I looked it up online and it has to do with the French word for furniture, art from the Parthenon Frieze, The Caine Mutiny, testicles, and The Portsmouth Times.


Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
~ Gore Vidal


This is a hat Elizabeth made out of a cut off pant leg from a pair of jeans. I don't remember if I already posted a photo of this and commented or not, but saw it and thought I'd put it up today.

Elizabeth has already planned to make an outfit out of duct tape for one of the dances she goes to in the future. I have no doubt that she will.

For the record, I don't think the paper on the glass in the doors behind her was to hide her fashion innovation, but I don't remember why we put it up, so maybe it was to protect her creative intellectual property.

By the way, if Gore Vidal and Vidal Sassoon got married, they would probably keep their same names. But it would be funny, wouldn't it?

(I DID previously post this photo - 08/27/09. Sorry for the redundancy.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


I want to be a fun mom. Not a gasping for air mom.
~ Mariska Hargitay


Chris: The next person who throws something away needs to take out the trash.

Elizabeth: (whispering) I will never throw anything away again.

Michelle: (also whispering) Me, neither. I'm going to put all my garbage in your room.


Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
~ Heywood Broun


Here Maddie and Elizabeth are playing a game we call trampoline volleyball. A helmet is not required for this game, but Elizabeth was about to use her batting practice thing, so she was waiting her turn. I think Chris was hogging it at the time.

One thing about trampoline volleyball - it is not a sport to be played immediately after eating. In fact, I think waiting an hour to play trampoline volleyball is more important that waiting an hour after eating before you swim. Just my opinion.

Also, while a helmet is not required for this sport, helmets are required for roller derby. Chris and I went to our first ever roller derby bout last night. The Des Moines Derby Dames against the Muddy River Nightmares. It was a most awesome experience. I like going to see sports which I have never seen before.

There are currently no plans under development for a trampoline volleyball league in our area.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery


I used to love going to my grandparents' farm. I would hide and wait for people to look for me. Usually my brother and cousin. Or, if no one looked for me, that was okay, too. I'd just pretend the crazy villagers were after me.

Plus, I think it's always a good idea to have a few good hiding places lined up just in case you need them. Crazy relatives, villagers, zombies, aliens. You never know what might come to get you when you're on a farm.


Better not take a dog on the space shuttle, because if he sticks his head out when you're coming home his face might burn up.
~ Jack Handey


Elizabeth (in regard to our cat): I found out that Neko does not like cars or dogs. Or especially cars with dogs in them.


He who studies books alone will know how things ought to be, and he who studies men will know how they are.
~ Charles Caleb Colton


Elizabeth: I didn't know we had to know the left ventricle and all that, so Anna gave me her papers before lunch and I studied it.

Chris: Wow, she's a fifth grader and she's already learning how to cram.

Monday, May 3, 2010


In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.
~ Aristotle


I like sunsets more than sunrises. I like fall more than spring. It's not that I prefer closure over questions because there isn't really any closure. Instead, I prefer the questions of reflection over the questions of the future.

Oh, this entry is about nature. I like nature, too.


The past is never dead. It's not even past.
~ William Faulkner


I am not generally one to photograph roadkill or carcasses, but when I saw this the other day, I had to turn the car around and take a photo. I don't understand how this happens. No, this is not some reflection on life and death, but more about curb appeal.

This was not far from a nice-ish looking farmhouse. I can't imagine that they didn't see it there -- the grass was mown. It had to have bee there for a long time. So, someone left this rotting animal -- a deer maybe? A dog? -- long enough for it to become just a bunch of bones. Not something I see every day.

It does remind me of a hike that Elizabeth and I took a few years ago. While we were out, she found the jawbone of a skunk or a raccoon. She kept it for a long time and took it for show and tell to school. I wonder what Elizabeth will be when she grows up. A forensic forest ranger, perhaps...