Tag Archives: Iowa

Day 17

5 Aug

Day 17: A picture of something that has had a huge impact on your life recently

Last October Eric and I packed all our belongings up into a small UHaul and moved back to Grinnell, Iowa.  I quit my full-time plus some job, to become a stay at home gardener/cook/painter/writer/swimmer and Eric got a salaried position with Grinnell College.  I’d say things are quite different from a year ago!


10 Iowa Shoutouts From the Road

7 Apr

Going on six years in Iowa finds me very familiar with a certain stretch of interstate 80.  Having family in Minnesota who are insistent on frequent visits also makes me familiar with I35.  So to pass the time, I have found a few key places to always look forward to during those midday Iowa drives.  This afternoon saw me yet again returning through Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, and I thought I would give my personal “thumbs-up” to the great state I now live in (AGAIN)!

10) Northern Iowa: For all the wind farms.  I remember the first time I drove down with my mom to look at the University of Iowa.  It was after a particularly awkward hang-out session with my then oblivious to me crush, now partner of 8 years.  The sun set on a very flat Northern Iowa farm scape.  Since then, every time we drive up, there are more and more turbines.  It makes me proud to be an Iowan to drive by trucks hauling ever more turbine blades and parts.

9) Northwood, Iowa & Diamond Jo Casino: No, I don’t gamble every time I shuttle back and forth, but I do like to stop here to eat often– It’s like a little slice of Vegas but I don’t have to leave the corn. Also, I’m changing my name to Diamond Jo Carlson in honor of you.

8 ) Clear Lake, Iowa: Before Diamond Jo became my guilty little pleasure, this was always a pit-stop.  There isn’t much right off the interstate, but it usually appears right when I’m starving and in need of a pee break.

7) Ames, Iowa: Wind farms are awesome, but after an hour in Southern Minnesota and another hour in Northern Iowa, no sight is better than bison, elk and deer at Iowa’s best ag. school, unless it’s baby bison.  I know, officially as a graduate of UIowa, I’m supposed to hate you, but I’m totally over it.

6) Iowa “Burbs”: Here’s where I get to say The traffic is getting thicker. But can still drive like a total idiot because the trucks are too big to care about a little car like mine.

5) Exit 137A, I35 and I80 interchange: To the truck I’m ALWAYS stuck behind here, going 20 MPH.

4) Iowa City, Iowa:  Not really on my route, but since I spent so much time there, it deserves a HOLLA!  Also, it’s about now in my drive when I realize with relief that I’m 30 minutes from home and I usually have a chuckle at the sigh that says: Iowa City, 97.  Love you, but glad that’s not me anymore.

3) Mile Marker 151: To the happiest, best herd of cows between Des Moines and Grinnell.

2) “Chuck E”: You were the happiest driver on the road.  Thanks for the big smile you gave me while passing me using perfect highway etiquette, turn signals and all.   Keep living the dream, buddy.

1) Grinnell, Iowa: Always feels like home, especially in the embrace of the love of my life.

The Way out of Weather Purgatory

13 Mar

It’s becoming painfully clear to me that Iowa is in a state of weather purgatory.  With temperatures yo-yoing between 25 and 50 degrees with chances of sunlight bursting through the clouds at an all-time low, snow flurries and rain showers reign supreme, and mood swings are running rampant.  The forecast for next week doesn’t look like much of an improvement, although temps may reach into the 60’s, which would be a welcome heat-wave.  Another pattern has emerged from out of the grey and it has to do with survival.  This winter there has been one constant force keeping me from snapping like a dry twig and killing those around me for otherwise minor infractions; The cats for staring at me with their vacant eyes, uttering low guttural pleas to be fed hours before it’s time, Eric for asking me, “What’s up?” too many times over a ten minute period, or even the man on the street who is just being polite asking me how I am doing today.  What is this amazing force keeping the streets of Grinnell from running red?  My garden.  I cling feverishly to the dream that one day, I may taste the fresh splash of a juicy tomato on my tongue, feel the sun beating mercilessly down on my shoulders as I dig up dandelions by their roots, and bask in the opulence of Tomato Forest 2011 (plus some other veggies).

So what do I do when all my seedlings are happily transplanted into bigger pots, watered, and I don’t have anything else to do with them besides gaze lovingly at them?  I plan.  I take my spanky new tape measure out into the yard wearing a red puffy vest, purple calf-length yoga pants, and a knit hat, and I measure the yard our landlord has perhaps foolishly given us the go ahead to turn into a garden.  The sunniest part of the yard is a good 25×25 feet.  Being a person who learns from their mistakes, the plan is not to cram as many plants as I can into this space, but to actually follow the advice of countless tomato growing websites and gardening manuals.  As you can see in my badly drawn diagram, if I plant five rows of five, and figure out some other place to tuck the peppers (Which are less important anyway) I can have two plants of each type excepting the three types that only have one remaining seedling, or in the case of the wildly over-productive Cuban Yellow Grape, only need one plant period.  The best part of this is, there is still more than half our side-yard left in which I can plant other things which I will undoubtedly start to pick up at nurseries when the season kicks into full swing.  I’m thinking peas and beans for the side of the house along with spinach and another whack at lettuce since they actually prefer a little more shade.  Along the random half-functional fence there is a great spot for the blueberry bush I’ve always wanted, and then the sunny stretch nearest to the road can be an assorted squash free-for-all.

For now, however, this is just a plan waiting to be put into motion, and I only have eyes for my little life-savers:  My tomatoes.

tomato babies!