Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A lesson in positive self talk - from a 2 year old.

This is one of those “mouths of babes” stories. Or maybe it is just a reminder of how much I can learn from my children or in this case my grandson if I just pay attention.
The little guy spent the day with me. His mother had called saying the little guy wasn’t feeling 100% and she thought he needed a day with Papa. Well she didn’t need to ask twice.
We spent the day reading and playing and having a good time together. I used every opportunity that I could to teach him something. But the real learning came when we visited the school playground next door.
The school’s play equipment was clearly built for bigger children, after all the little guy doesn’t turn 3 until the end of October. He will go to this school eventually but that is probably another three years away. I thought that some of the challenges on this apparatus were too tough for him but he didn’t always agree with me.
My lesson came when he decided to take on one of the ladders. This wasn’t a vertical ladder or even inclined but one of those curved ladders shaped like a quarter circle. This one was over his three foot tall head and he was determined to use it to get to the platform for the “big slide”.
So up he climbed. The vertical first section didn’t slow him down at all and the curved section only a little. But then came the challenge. The last three rungs went horizontal. There he was with two feet on one rung and two hands on the next. I was standing next to the ladder so I could rescue him if he needed me and trying very hard not to show the fear for him that I was feeling.
I watched as he figured it out and that is when my lesson began. He tentatively reached out testing the stretch for the next rung. As he looked through the ladder to the ground below, I heard him say to himself, “I’m not going to fall”. Then he looked at me and reassured me, “I’m not going to fall, Papa.” And he went forward one rung.
One more rung and he would be on the platform. There he was again - two feet on one rung and two hands on the next. He reached out to the last rung, balancing on one hand and his two feet. “No problem here” he announced and went for it. The last step was scrambling onto the platform. He hopped up onto his feet and jumped in the air shouting “I did it.” All I could say after I exhaled my held breath was, “Yes, you did, little guy. Good work.”
“Wahoo”, he called as he slid down the big slide.
We had a great day together. After his mother picked him up I collapsed in my chair exhausted. As I replayed the day in my mind, I chuckled to myself. It had taken a 2 year-old child to remind me of a lesson I had tried to teach his mother as she was growing up - the importance and the power of positive self talk.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Groundswell | Cedar Rapids Gazette

This is the kind of community organization I can get into. Check it out.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Cedar River has Crested

The Cedar River crested this morning and is now receding. The crest was just 18.23 ft. USGS reports that the gauge in Waterloo was reading 0.9 ft high so the initial prediction of 19.9 ft was in error.

So a lot of excitement but very little damage this time for my home town. This is good. I also think it is good that we had this little scare. If anyone was starting to forget the disaster of 2008 it was a good reminder. We need to respond. We need to rebuild our riverside areas to withstand the inevitable reality that rivers do occasionally overflow their banks. This is life, this is the course of nature.

Our flood walls and flood plains responded this time and Cedar Rapids didn't sustain much damage. This is good. I hope that we don't take this as a confirmation that what we have done is enough. We are not done.


Friday, May 31, 2013

It is raining in Iowa

Last January I wrote asking the question - "Are we in for a long dry summer?" Well it looks like
those concerns were ill-founded. It has been raining in Iowa for more than a week. In fact, it has been raining so much that now we are concerned about flooding. The river gauge downtown is at 17.1 feet. Flood stage in Cedar Rapids starts at 12 ft. When the river hits 16 ft. it is considered a "major flood".

This, of course, is just an historical reference. For those of us who where here in 2008, we know that even 17 ft is not all that bad. In 2008 we lived through the "Epic Surge" when the Cedar River crested at 31.2 ft. But that doesn't mean we aren't nervous today. It didn't rain today and the forecast is for just a 30% chance of rain tomorrow with no rain in sight until Tuesday. If that holds we will be good.

Right now the USGS is predicting the Cedar will crest at 19.9 ft on Sunday evening. If that happens it will be the fourth highest level ever recorded and only 0.1 ft below the floods of 1851 & 1929. That is significant and will cause problems. The water will be up to the deck of the Third Avenue bridge behind my store. We already have water seeping into the basement and that level will cause even more pressure in the ground water and more seepage into the building but as long as the pumps hold out we will be fine. The berm behind the store tops at 22 ft. and then the flood wall is good to about 26 ft.

The real story is about how the city will respond to this. I am hearing an interesting mixture of responses. Some are blase - this will be nothing like 2008 and nothing to worry about. But for others the memories are coming back strong. Some respond with fear, some just nervous - but I think most people I have spoken with are uncomfortable with the feelings rising up in the backs of our heads.

We don't want to see our city wiped out again. This is bringing back those memories of watching the center of our city float down the river. I remember watching the live feeds of the camera that one of the TV stations had mounted on their roof. My store was center in the picture and I watched as furniture and refrigerators and freezers floated out of the showroom windows and drifted away in the current. Who knew that a deep freeze chest made a good flotation device?

All we can do now is watch and wait. We will hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Oh yes, we have a contingency plan now. If the river hits 22 ft we will be moving everything up to the higher floors. But let's hope that doesn't happen. Let's hope this just goes down as a scare and not an event.

So for now, I will be thankful that we no longer have to deal with a drought. And to all of you
- I pray for peace.

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Kitchen is Complete

Two months ago today we started to remodel our kitchen and today it is complete.

Here is what we started with. This house was built about 50 years ago and we hadn't done anything but replace appliances and put down new floor tile.

It was very nice 50 years ago. This was a modern kitchen in the 60's.

This is how it looks today. The picture is taken from about the same spot in the dining room.
What do you think? Is it an improvement?
The Rev and I are very pleased. We opened up the space and added more counter space and storage. Of course upgrading the appliances doesn't hurt either. The part that amazes me the most is that it feels like we have a larger kitchen when I know that we didn't increase the floor space at all. It may actually be slightly smaller.

Kudos to Jeri Duenow at the Ar-Jay Center for the design and Daryl and Caleb from Ideal Construction for making it happen.

Well the winter project is done - just in time for Spring. Next task is to remodel the front yard.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Kitchen Update

It has been a very busy week as you can see. The cupboards are hung and the new kitchen is starting to take shape. This is a very exciting time for the Rev and me. Counters go in next week and I'm hoping the appliances will be placed by next weekend. I can't believe how much different this room looks. And also how it opens up the dining room. It really is amazing.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Can they really dump wrestling from the Olympics?

I can't believe that one of the original sports of the Olympics - one of the most ancient of all sports will be dropped from the Olympics. Wrestling.
Yet they want to add wakeboarding. Wakeboarding??? My spellchecker doesn't even recognize that word.

Wrestling grapples for its Olympic future (via AFP)
Wrestling, an Olympic sport since the first Games in ancient Greece, looks set to be dropped for the 2020 edition, after the International Olympic Committee voted on Tuesday to remove it from the programme. The decision, taken by the 15 members of the IOC executive board, has yet to be ratified by…

Friday, February 08, 2013

Kitchen Remodel days 3 & 4

Nothing fun to show in pictures but a lot of work being done. The plumber was in yesterday to move the sink location and today the electricians are in getting all of the wiring placed. A side benefit of the electricians working in this area is that I will finally get the chandelier in the dining room moved. It has never been centered over our table and has always bothered me. Since they are going to be in the ceiling for the kitchen any way, going over a few feet for the dining area is an easy task.

Next week will be exciting. The cabinets will be going in. I can't wait to see what that looks like.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Kitchen Remodel day 2

It is the end of day #2 and this is what I came home to. Now the wall is gone and the room is open to the dining area. I have hated that wall since the day we moved in 30 years ago. Yes, I'm glad it is gone.

I see they have also repaired the part of the flooring that had developed a soft spot. I think it is amazing that we didn't have to replace more of it.

They will be back tomorrow morning. I can't wait to see what I find tomorrow night.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Kitchen Remodel has begun

We started our kitchen remodel today. The Rev and I have wanted to do this for a long time and now the time has come. Carol and Christy and I cleaned out the cupboards and prepared the room last night getting ready for the start today. Here are the before pictures.

Brandon and Daryl arrived at 8 AM this morning to get started and by noon this is what we had.
This looks like a good start to me. By the end of the day it should look even uglier. This getting exciting.

I should probably set the stage a bit. We have been working with Brandon and Daryl from Ideal Construction on getting this project done. They are the guys that did our basement remodel a couple of years ago so I have trust their judgement and direction. Brandon suggested we contact Jeri Duenow at the Ar-Jay Center for the cabinets. So off went to see Jeri. She did a great job of designing our new kitchen and getting the cabinets made. Now it is time to get to work on making this new room a reality. We will see how it goes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are we headed for a hot dry summer in Iowa?

When I read about the drought and brush fires in Australia I have to wonder if this is a foreshadowing of our coming summer. Not my idea of fun in the sun.

As Australia bushfires rage, warning of more heatwaves (via AFP)

Firefighters were battling scores of wildfires raging in Australia on Saturday, as a government commission warned that climate change had raised the risk of scorching heatwaves becoming more frequent. In the eastern state of New South Wales, some 1,000 firefighters were attempting to douse about 94…

Thursday, January 10, 2013

US National Cathedral opens doors to same-sex weddings

US National Cathedral opens doors to same-sex weddings (via AFP)

The Washington National Cathedral, a focal point of Christian worship in the United States, said Wednesday that, effective immediately, it will officiate same-sex weddings. In a statement, its dean, Gary Hall, said the cathedral -- one of the biggest in the nation -- would marry gay and lesbian couples…