The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Friday, February 25, 2011

When History Repeats Itself

Today would have been my Grandma McBride's 115th birthday. Can you imagine? I actually had to double-check the year she was born, it was 1896. The funny thing is, it seems totally plausible that she could have lived to be 115. She gave it a good run, that's for sure. She died just shy of her 97th birthday. I was working in Dubuque and living with my parents at that time. I came home from work and found one of those smallest sticky notes--you know, the ones that are about 1" square--stuck on the kitchen table with two words scribbled on it in my dad's messy handwriting. After staring at it and turning the note around several times, I realized that it said, "Hester died." Jeez, thanks dad...I like how you broke the news to me that my last grandparent had died.

So, as I was thinking about Grandma McBride today, thoughts of Grandma Scherrman also crept into my mind. It made me think how different they were, and how I inherited a little part of each of their personalities.

Grandma McBride was very old school. She never had a drivers license. Despite the fact that Grandpa McBride died in 1968, she always referred to herself as Mrs. F.A. McBride. She came from a very large traditional family. Her father's family came from England and her mother's family from Northern Ireland. She was the seventh of ten children. A second generation American. She lived in her own home until the day she died and cut her own grass with her riding lawn mower well into her 80s.

I think what I inherited from Grandma McBride was my appreciation for family history. She had pages of hand-written notes on our family tree. Her house was filled with antiques, and she knew the history of every piece. I have many of those pieces in my house. She was proud of her Irish heritage. Because of her, I became the self-appointed family archivist and have been documenting our family history for over ten years (it's a big project...I'm a little slow!) I prefer old houses and antiques to modern contemporary homes and furniture. I embrace my Irish heritage and am happy that, thanks to Grandma McBride who kept in contact with a cousin in Ireland, I've met many of my Irish cousins, visiting them twice in Ireland and hosting three of them for a visit in Iowa. And, yes, I do like to cut the grass.

Grandma Scherrman, on the other hand, was a woman ahead of her time. Not much about her was traditional. First of all, she came from a "broken" home. Evidently, her father Bernie Carden was a bit of a scoundrel and ran off when my Grandma was very young. Grandma was raised along with her two brothers by her mother, Nellie. No large traditional Catholic family for Grandma, just her single mom and two brothers. Grandma was also a working girl before it was normal for women to work outside the home. In addition, she didn't marry my Grandpa until she was almost 30 -- quite an advanced age in 1928. Once married, she told me, and I quote, that she was "fertile Myrtle" and had three kids in a little more than three years. After that, she said she was done. No large family for her! Another time she told me, and I quote again, that "any woman who would live with a man who would father 14 children to her is a dumbass!" She and my Grandpa traveled extensively throughout the U.S., leaving my dad and his two sisters home with her mother. She would frequently hop the train in Farley and go to Chicago to go shopping. She loved the Cubs and would lie on the "davenport" on summer afternoons listening to Harry Carey on the radio. She was 100% Irish, also a second generation American. She had a card club for years..and those ladies would get a little bit crazy. I remember being at her house several times when I was young when it was card club day. We used to go to her house on Christmas Eve, and she would drink wine and recite things. She drove a 1964 Ford Fairlane as long as I could remember. At 4'11", she could barely see over the big steering wheel. She got a little feisty when they wouldn't renew her drivers license at about age 80. She gave the car to my dad, and us kids affectionately referred to the car as Grandma. We loved to drive it. She made the best chocolate chip cookies. She was a weeper. She loved loved loved dogs. And, 40 years after their deaths, she could still be brought to tears talking about Pete and Brownie. 

If you know me, you can see that I have probably inherited more of Grandma Scherrman's traits. Forward thinking, independent, career-minded, sensitive, dog lover, sports fan, loved to laugh, loved to travel, loved chocolate chip cookies. She had a close knit circle of friends and enjoyed their company. For many years, she spent weekends at their cottage on Lake Delhi. She loved to be around the water, in the water, on the boat, it didn't matter. I know that love of water, too. She's been gone almost 26 years and hardly a day goes by that I don't think about her in some way. She was my godmother, too. I miss her still.   

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Really Random Thoughts

I have writer's block. Well, maybe if I really fancied myself a writer, it would be accurate to say I'm suffering from this. Maybe it's more like blogger's block...fatigue, laziness, or my workload have nothing to do with it I'm sure. I made a personal vow to blog something today and was thinking all day about what to write. No here is a recap of my stream of consciousness today. Most days, I eat my lunch at my desk and my typical M.O. is to scan the Telegraph Herald online, the Dyersville Commercial online, and Sometimes, what I read makes me just shake my head.

'The Bodyguard' to get a more modern remake

Really? The Bodyguard? That movie just came out in 1992. C'mon Hollywood, you aren't even trying to come up with new material. Now, in addition to making sequels and prequels, we have to endure remakes of movies that are less than 20 years old...with a "modern" touch. What the heck does that mean? I thought pre-crack Whitney and post-Field of Dreams Kevin Costner were pretty modern in the original. This just makes me feel older than I usually do on an average day.

Baby dolphins washing up in Gulf

As I've written about in a previous blog, I love dolphins (the cute intelligent mammals and the best NFL team ever!). This breaks my heart. It's funny because my friend Katie was just in Pensacola, FL visiting relatives and posted on Facebook that there is still oil in the gulf, there are still tarballs on the beaches, and why isn't this being reported? According to the report, "Baby bottlenose dolphins are washing up dead in record numbers on the shores of Alabama and Mississippi, alarming scientists and a federal agency charged with monitoring the health of the Gulf of Mexico." I think we won't know the full effects of the New Horizon disaster in 2010 for many years.

Hot flashes don't hurt your heart, and may help

Finally, some good news! Praise Jesus...when I wake up in the middle of the night and feel like I'm melting from the inside out I can rest easy that I'm not wrecking my heart...any maybe even helping it. Who comes up with these studies?
'Bunny Ranch' Facing Ban?
"The owner of Nevada's famous 'Bunny Ranch' reacts to Sen. Harry Reid's effort to ban brothels. I saw "Cathouse" on HBO. Really, Harry, aren't there more important things for you to be focusing on in the Senate right now?
Arquette started drinking at age 4 and Charlie Sheen's Latest Rant

I'm sure if I would have looked a little harder there would have been a headline about Miley Cyrus being pissed at Billy Ray, Mel Gibson calling his baby momma a slut, and Lindsey Lohan in court, or on drugs or stealing a bracelet. Celebrities with all your fucked up bore me. I don't care about you. Stop making spectacles of yourselves. I'm sitting here eating a turkey sandwich and a hard-boiled egg at my desk, drinking a diet Dr. Pepper, and want to spend 15 minutes catching up on real world news...and you are cluttering it up with your bullshit.

Doctors report 17 dead in Libyan city of Zawiya

"The casualties were announced shortly after Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi accused followers of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden of brainwashing the youth of Zawiya with hallucinogenic drugs, resulting in the unrest." OK, Moammar Gadhafi, you are a freak, too. You, too, are cluttering up the news with your bullshit. Give it up, already.

So what? What is the deal? My little isolated little world that traverses mostly between Westside Drive and Oakdale Boulevard...seems pretty routine, typical, even downright boring. But, you know, I'm totally happy with that. There are days when I get all wound up with righteous indignation about human rights, equality, the BMI chart that claims I am obese, the price of gas, affordable health care, and incivility. But, I can just as easily tune it all out and be completely apathetic. Is that wrong? I think it's how I cope, because if I really let it get to me I fear I'd be a complete whack job.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves

My sister, what a copycat! I told her last weekend that I started a blog this year. Now, of course, she has a blog. I just read her first two posts. Dammit, I think she is funnier than me.

She talked about me in her if I wasn't going to read it. Hellooo! She claimed we have nothing in common...well, I think this picture shows we have the same nose. So there! And we sound the same on the phone. Our parents can never tell us apart. Frequently, I'll carry on a five minute conversation with our father, and then he'll declare, "OH, this is Carol! I thought I was talking to Kathy." Never mind that Kathy lives with him and is HOME most of the time, but that's a whole other story for another day. Once, when we lived together as adults, I called home one day to leave a message for myself on the answering machine (yes, pre-voicemail and cell phone days) to remind me to do something when I got home. So, later that day, I come home from work and see that we have a message on the answering machine. I listen to it and spend five minutes trying to figure out why Kathy left me a message to do whatever it was. Derrrrr, you left the message for yourself moron. See, even I can't tell us apart. And, a friend of ours insists that we laugh the same and that we repeat our boring stories the same way.

And, yes, we both dislike diet and exercise. And we both have bad vision. And, we already talk about how we'll be the "crazy spinster sisters" living in Farley when we are in our dotage. At least we won't be crazy cat ladies. Crazy dog ladies, maybe. Speaking of dogs...I went to the Pooch Palace in Solon tonight with a friend to pick up her baby. A swank little dog boarding place out in the country. We wondered if the business could be lucrative. Hmmm, we ran the numbers roughly in our heads. They can hold a max of 18 dogs @ a little over $30/night. Evidently, they are almost always booked. By my fuzzy math, they are grossing over $200K per year. Yes, I think I will be the crazy dog lady when I'm old.

But I digress...

My sister has this goofy notion that she's a vegetarian now. Well, I am not giving up the cow or bacon. Don't get me wrong. I love cows. We had some pet cows when we were kids. In fact, one of them I affectionately called Blackie (original name for a black angus...) was so tame I would sit on his back and pretend to ride him, since my dad wouldn't buy me a horse. I loved him as a pet, and I loved him as a sizzling T-bone steak on my plate. So, I plan to keep on being a carnivore, thank you very much.

Another major difference is that I'm like a fish in water and Kathy is like, ummmm, a big old rock? The girl can't swim. And, she's stiff as a board in water. When we were in the Bahamas, I was totally stoked to swim with the dolphins. Kathy....not so much. She wouldn't even attempt to do the "foot push," where you float on your stomach and two dolphins come up behind you and put their noses on the balls of your feet and push you up and out of the you are flying. It was a blast! I went to this dolphin encounter before I saw the documentary "The Cove." I won't patronize a place that has dolphins in captivity again. In Australia, I went on a wild dolphin swim, which was totally amazing!

So, as much as I joke and laugh and tease about my sister...she'll always be my sister, and no one can take that away from me.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Take Four Advils and See If I'm Awake in the Morning

I am sitting on the couch watching "Brothers and Sisters." I might be on the couch all night. The thought of climbing the stairs to my old bedroom at the farm seems like a task that is just unimaginable. Every muscle in this 49 year old body is aching with tiredness. I went skiing today for the first time in about 10 years. I'm getting so old I can't exactly remember the last time. I know I skied at Keystone in November 1999 when I was there for a conference. But, I think I skied at least one other time since then...maybe in 2000. But, in any case, it's been a while, and my body is telling me so at this moment. I've already popped three 200 mg Ibuprofens. I think I will need a few more if I make it off the couch.

I remembered today why I love skiing. Especially on days like today, with clear blue skies, bright sunshine, and warm temperatures. Yes, so warm that I was actually a bit overdressed and felt a bit sweaty under my ski jacket during the mid-part of the afternoon. Gliding down the hill feels a little bit like flying, although I'm sure that my "almost flying" isn't quite as swift as it was 30 years ago.   

My sweet nephew Carter was my skiing inspiration today. He's 3, and can zip down the big hill with the best of them.

Oh, if only we could bottle just a little bit of that youthful exuberance. Carter was on skis even before he could walk.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that I was also inspired by Carter's dad, Alex. Skiing was not really his thing, but seeing how Carter has taken to it, he said that he didn't want to be one of those dads who would tell his son that his mom would have to take him skiing. Alex bought his own equipment last weekend. Bravo Alex!

I joked that he kind of reminded me of Will Farrell in "Elf" when I first saw him on the bunny hill "carpet" in a line of little kids. He's 6' 7" he looked real tall next to all those young' uns.

I think part of the reason that I stopped skiing regularly is that I didn't have people to ski with. I figure I might have 10 years with Carter, before he's a teenager and skiing with your aged aunt just isn't cool anymore. Well, heck, by then I'll be pushing 60 and my knees might be shot anyway. But, I am going to have to invest in some new equipment. My Nordica boots and Rossignol skis circa 1978 are way way outdated and probably downright dangerous. The rental equipment at Sundown is downright nasty.

If only I was independently wealthy my one woman crusade to stimulate the economy would be less painful.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February Update

This was Willow Creek Park on January 4th. My goal was to take a photo from this vantage point each month to mark the passage of the seasons. Well, scratch my February photo. There is so much snow on the path that it is nearly impossible for Bailey and I to forge our way into the park. So, use your imagination to envision the scene above with about 16" of snow on the ground. Hopefully, March will be better.

At least I can report that the days are getting noticeably longer. For today, sunrise took place at 7:11 a.m. and sunset is at 5:29 p.m., giving us 10 hours and 18 minutes of daylight.

Winter isn't too awful, except when I'm walking Bailey at 5:30 a.m. and the clock at New Life Fitness reports the temperature as -14 degrees!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Brunch Sunday

I know most of you are thinking today is the day for Super Bowl parties -- nachos, chicken wings, little smokies, cheese, brats, and lots of beer. I've never quite felt the same about the NFL since my beloved Don Shula and Dan Marino retired from the Miami Dolphins. My obsession with the Dolphins started back in the 70s when they played in three consecutive Super Bowls, winning two of the three, including the '72-'73 team that went undefeated and remains the only NFL team to accomplish this feat. I had a total school girl crush on Bob Griese back in those days...Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Paul Warfield, Nick Buoniconti. Ahhhh, what a team. I lost that lovin' feeling when Don Shula retired and he was replaced with Jimmy Johnson. I cannot cheer for a man who uses more hair product than me.

Instead of celebrating the Super Bowl today, I invited a few friends over for super brunch. It was damn good if I do say so myself. And, I must give a shout out to Paula Deen for her contribution with three excellent recipes. My starting line up went something like this:
  • Mimosas
  • Coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream
  • Yogurt parfaits with vanilla yogurt and strawberries, black raspberries, and blueberries macerated in orange liqueur
  • Chocolate/banana monkey bread
  • Eggs strada with shrimp/mushrooms/brie
  • Roast pork loin with mango chutney
  • Four cheese pesto baked spaghetti
As if that wasn't enough to put me into myocardial infarc, Cassie shows up with an assortment of cheesecakes.

It was a perfect lazy early Sunday afternoon....good food, good friends, good conversation. Now that I am mildly sedated from the booze and the food, I shall park myself on the sofa and wait for the Super Bowl commercials.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Facing the World With an Open Mind

You might have already seen the video of Iowan Zach Wahls speaking to the Iowa House of Representatives in opposition of the House resolution to introduce an amendment to the Iowa Constitution defining marriage to be between one man and one woman. If you haven't seen the video of this extraordinary young man, here's the YouTube link:

Zach Wahl speech

His impassioned plea, sadly, fell on deaf ears. The House passed the resolution by a vote of 62-37. I say to those 62 members of the House, you do not represent me, my friends, my family, or the Iowa that I know.

Iowans have long celebrated freedoms and individual rights.
  • As early as 1839, the Supreme Court of Iowa refused to treat a human being as property or enforce a contract for slavery, holding that Iowa’s laws must extend to people of all skin colors.
  • The University of Iowa become the first public university in the country to admit women and men on an equal basis (1885), to grant a law degree to a woman (Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson, 1873), to grant a law degree to an African American (G. Alexander Clark, 1879), to put an African American on a varsity athletic squad (Frank Kinney Holbrook, 1895), and to offer insurance benefits to employees' domestic partners (1993).
  • By 1851, six years before the state constitution was drafted, laws banning mixed marriages had already disappeared from the books, over 100 years before the Supreme Court banned such laws as unconstitutional in 1967 in Loving v. Virginia. 
In a unanimous vote on April 3, 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court again stood up for individual freedoms and upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman. Iowa became one of just three states, and the only one in the Midwest, where gays and lesbians can marry. My pride with our progressive, yet humble, state lasted exactly 19 months. On November 3, 2010, the three Supreme Court justices up for retention were voted out of office, the first time any judge had been voted out since the judicial selection system was implemented in 1962. 

This makes me angry and sad. I grew up in Farley, which back in my day probably topped out at around 1,100 residents. Unless I missed someone, everyone was white, most everyone was Catholic, a majority were Democrats, and--back then--hardly anyone got a divorce. Dads worked, many moms stayed home with their kids. It wasn't a cosmopolitan lifestyle, but it was a good life. And, what I find remarkable is that having grown up in this completely homogeneous environment, my parents without even being overt or necessarily progressive, instilled in me a respect and understanding for people from all walks of life. 

I can honestly say that I didn't consciously even know any gay people or really even know what it meant to be gay until possibly my sophomore year of college. (See, I said I was kind of sheltered.) OK, there is a caveat, we had a teacher in junior high and my freshman year of high school who, in retrospect, was probably gay. The fact that he was also African-American made him even more exciting to us. What did we know? We were silly adolescents. We thought he was really cool with his fancy suits, platform shoes, and ascot ties. OK, OK, and he was the English and Drama teacher. I know, I'm falling for all the typical stereotypes here. He would make an interesting character on "Glee." One year, he just wasn't there when we came back from summer break. I don't know what ever happened to him, but I will say, I loved Freshman English class with him. He could read a story like no other.   

So, I started to understand and know gay people when I was a sophomore, but still, I can't say that any were really my close friends. That came later, after college, when I was working at my first job with a bunch of other twentysomethings fresh out of college. Since then, I've gained deep and longstanding friendships with many gays and lesbians and many of my respected colleagues in my professional career are gay.

I cannot understand, why, in a country that was built on religious freedom, there is a faction of the country who wants to deny two people who are in love the ability to join together in a lasting union that is recognized and afforded all the rights and privileges that men and women are allowed. What is it that makes them so opposed? I say that they clearly do not know any gay people. That must be it. Honestly, the Jesus that I know and the Jesus I believe in accepted ALL people. I contend that if Jesus were alive today, he would perform the marriage for two people who were devoted to each other and wanted to profess that love before God.

So conflicted.

Maybe, if there are more Zach Wahls, the world will eventually come to respect all families regardless of their makeup.

(Note: Facts about the University of Iowa taken from the University of Iowa Web site.)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow-torious B.I.G.

There have been all kinds of terms being thrown around for today's blizzard:
  • Snow-prah Winfrey
  • Snow-nami
  • Snow-mageddon
  • Snow-pocalypse
  • Snow big or go home
  • Snow-verated
I like to just call it a hella lotta snow. Just ask Bailey...

This was at 10 p.m. It was still coming down pretty hard and was supposed to keep up through the night. Oy vey....we might have to shovel our way out at 5 a.m.

I guess, this time, the weatherman got it right.

Here are the things that bugged me about today's blizzard:
  • It's midnight and the scrolling messages on the TV are still telling that classes at the University of Iowa were canceled after 4:30.
  • KCRG news had an extended hour long newscast at 10 p.m. How many reporters do I need to see standing outside in the snow and how many interviews with snow plow drivers do I need to hear?
  • I hate people who drive those @%#$!#$ big F250 pickups with 4x4 emblazoned on the side. Hello jerk-off, you don't need to drive 45 miles down Mormon Trek. Your big ass truck isn't suddenly going to have magic brakes that allow you to stop on a dime in this snow.
  • Why all the hysteria about going to the grocery store?
  • My company never no reason to try and read all the cancellations on the screen. Well, I can work from home, so that's a good compromise.
I doubt the groundhog will see his shadow in the morning. Thank God....we don't need six more weeks of this:

In a completely unrelated topic, Cornell West is on Craig Ferguson. He is just amazing (Cornell...Craig, not so much).