Monday random thoughts (these kept running through my head today)….
That is all. Carry on.
Monday random thoughts (these kept running through my head today)….
That is all. Carry on.
Today was April 12 on steroids.
Allow me to explain. Dad passed away on April 12, 2008. It was VEISHEA Saturday (although it snowed that year–rotten day). This year, should have been VEISHEA Saturday (sans the snafu which took place earlier this week).
“Flashbacks” to his final hours are common for me this time of year. Most days I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but for some reason the details of those moments are embedded in my brain. It’s special, in it’s own way. How many times, do you wish you could remember a life event more clearly? How many times do you wish the hours in a day would slow, so you had just a little more time? That morning I prayed to lengthen every single second.
It’s not just date that made this April 12 steroid-worthy. It’s the fact a massive dose of nostalgia joined the fray in the form of Damon’s (baby brother), junior prom. Usually I post “good memories” first-thing the morning of April 12. Today, it didn’t seem right. After all, Damon was going to a “ball” (see explanation below). It’s not every day I have a weekend open up to torment him:
His mannerisms and much of his vocal inflection is so similar to Dad’s, it’s amazing. This morning he was showing me the rented tux shoes and did the infamous “shoe dance,” a staple of Dad’s anytime he got a new pair of duds. He’s such a great kid, I’m really quite proud of him (do NOT repeat in his presence, I need to save that ammunition for when I need it).
In any case, I need this day to also honor the memory of Mark Cook. It’s tradition, and frankly April 12 would just suck without the effort:
I agree with this philosophy whole-heartedly. I also agree with his other coffee philosophies–make it as hot, dark and strong as possible. When drastic measures need to be taken, enjoy with a piece of pie or other confectionary item/baked good.
I’m positive each of his children and his wife have been ejected from the bed of this truck while on “watering” duty. He would drive, and we would man the massive hose on the back of the tank to water the trees. Dad loved trees. They were his passion, and if he planted one it was pampered all spring/summer/fall compliments of Big Bird. It smelled like 1950’s dust and diesel fuel, shifted hard enough to knock a hole in the road, and daylight could be seen through the floorboards and around the door seals. This truck was an institution, and Dad loved it. The man LOVED new vehicles, yet he fixed this thing until it literally couldn’t be fixed anymore. Must be a dude thing.
The man LOVED babies. I think he would have had enough to fill a bus if Mom would have let him. Somehow all kids gravitated toward him as well. Maybe it was the beard (which I only saw him without one time in my life). He never actively worked to get toddler attention, just let them wander over to him, play with his beard, read the newspaper, go through sales notes, etc.. Pretty soon both Dad and baby were sacked out on the couch.
He loved to read. My earliest memories are Dad reading to us before bed. Side note: notice the cat in the background on this photo. That was Abby, at the time, our favorite animal, and Dad’s arch nemesis. She used to hide in the upstairs linen closet until after story time so he wouldn’t kick her to the basement. He used to pretend to walk-down the stairs after story time to catch her, and banish her to the basement.
I woke up with this song in my head this morning. It was his favorite. Careful, don’t listen to it too much, the song is like a virus. As soon as it’s in your head you cannot get it out!
You know how some guys have a “uniform?” Dad’s was a Cook Siding hat (trucker mesh in the summer, and solid foam in the winter), with a crisp white shirt. To this day, I refuse to iron my clothes. Liss and I used to have knock down, drag out fights on which one of us had to tackle the dreaded “shirt pile.” Seriously, we counted them after he died, the man had 48 white, button down dress shirts–all of which, had to be ironed. FORTY-EIGHT. I don’t own 48 of anything, and if a piece of clothing can’t be “ironed” in the dryer, I don’t buy it. Ever.
If I wasn’t afraid of getting hailed on tonight, I would have sat at the cemetery on his bench and watched the weather roll in from the south. He used to sit on the front deck of the house to watch the storms form over the fields. The rest of the family would be in the basement. We’d emerge after the worst had passed to find him still sacked out in his lawn chair, sipping on Crown and smoking one of the forbidden cigars.
Mom and Dad decided together what would be etched on the stone. I can’t imagine anything more perfect than the tree of life they chose. The roots are the names of our grandparents. The heart carved in the middle of the tree reads “Mark + Cathy, Feb. 14, 1981″ and the branches are the names of the kids.
This past weekend was lovely–I spent it visiting some great friends. You know the thing about great friends (besides the fact you can disappear off the face of the earth for months at a time and they still love you)? It’s that you can talk about ANYTHING.
This weekend, the topic of conversation: healthy food.
Please let me be clear, I’m not, nor will I ever be, a health food fanatic. I love butter, carbs, sugar, you name it! These things will not be struck from my diet, purely for the fact I am a weak person. Yep, I’m weak. As it turns out, food and I have a love affair that has spanned almost 32 years.
However, I do understand the concept that eating better = feeling better. My friends do as well, hence the conversation topic of the weekend. From quinoa to coconut oil, chia seeds to spaghetti squash, we threw out suggestions and opinions. We talked for hours, and after we talked, we shopped. In Hy-Vee. At 10:00 p.m., and had a hell of a time.
Walking through the grocery store with a food scientist, athletic trainer, grain merchandiser and photographer is similar to listening to one of those crazy “mash-up” songs which were so popular last fall.
We literally combed that store from one end to the other, and found some other interesting products:
As far as a weekend goes it was a little unconventional, but AWESOME.
Food blogs, phone apps, etc. don’t motivate me. I do a really good job of reading them (usually while eating cake), and a miserable job of following their direction. However, there’s nothing like old friends to make you toe the proverbial “line.”
In any case, peer pressure is working:
Spring will be here soon, spring will be here soon. This has been my mantra for months. MONTHS!
The last few days of 60+ degrees have been idyllic…
Cool photo, right? I cropped out the trampoline the Brother and his buddy were using to channel Melvin Ejim. Poor little dude takes after both my sides of the family. Short.
However, the blasted Iowa wind currently howling outside my window is heralding another “cool down”. ANOTHER one? No!
One blasphemous individual said it was going to snow again this week.
Spring and the subsequent summer will arrive soon, right?
Please, Lord let the wind blow in warmer weather soon–otherwise my solar-powered attitude is going to take a massive nose-dive.
SAP alert! This is one of those posts most of you lovely folks will have zero interest in reading. That’s ok–I’ll catch you next time!
Have you ever had a weekend so incredibly heart-warming you’d like to bottle it up for days? Last weekend was one such experience! The Olympics started (yes it’s nerdy, but I love the Olympics!), a Cyclone win (way to go Ejim–please ignore the subsequent ISU vs. WV score), a visit to the farm and copious amounts of time with my favorite short people (all of which were generally happy to see me…we’re dealing with toddlers here, you have to take what you can get!).
Friday night I was a couch potato, and watched the Olympic opening ceremony. I really enjoyed them. Damon HATED them, but I’m attributing that to a 17 year-old male who has zero appreciation for ballet and music. Heathen. ;) I would put some photos of my favorite moments, but it’s late, and I’m too lazy to hunt down photo credits from random websites. The only major fail: what the hell were the ladies who escorted the teams in to the stadium wearing? It looked liked a cross between a Martian and a Vegas showgirl.
Saturday I spent some time with Angie and Mike’s kiddos. There are normally seven kids included in this menagerie, however they took pity on the single aunt and left me with the oldest five (thank God). What do you with five active children all day? My solution was to bribe them with a combination of hamburger helper, outside play-time, TV (tons of TV–what did my grandmother do without a TV?!?) and…sugar. Lots and lots of sugar (sorry, Mike).
They wore me out–Angie is Wonder Woman, running with that crew everyday! When Mike got home on Saturday night, I defected like my shoes were on fire, and headed home to watch more Olympics with Grandma Pat.
Gram has moved in with Mom and Rick, which makes for all sorts of interesting stories (fodder for another post). She’s not much of a TV fan (would rather listen to a radio show); I was really surprised she enjoyed watching the competitions. She squealed every time someone fell, and decided snowboarding was “entertaining, but completely unnecessary,” ha!
Sunday we headed over to Lake City for Graysen’s baptism and Caidah’s second birthday.
This past week and weekend also had its challenges. It’s what makes the good things so much better:
“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears and a light for the way.” Author Unknown
Last week I wrote my first-ever “letter to the editor”. It was an interesting experience–it needed to be short, to the point and heartfelt. As you all know, I do have the ability to be “to the point”, but “short” is usually not synonymous with my written word.
What could have moved me to put my opinion someplace as permanent as a newspaper? Convention space. Namely new space added to the existing Scheman Building in Ames. The proposed space adds much needed flat-space to Ames. More information can be found on the Ames Gathering Space website.
I support this space in Ames for a variety of reasons. The main reason is simple. Jobs. All types of jobs, for all types of people. While some folks may think the part-time jobs or internships created from this space are unimportant, I feel they are integral to our community. Why?
I worked a part-time hospitality job while I was an undergrad at ISU. That job paid my bills and provided much needed income for me to use for a variety of things–which mainly went right back in to the local economy in Ames. Most importantly, this job morphed in to an internship then full time employment following graduation.
The Ames hospitality industry gave me an opportunity many of my friends and fellow students would love–I get to live and work in Ames. If not for those jobs I wouldn’t have had the experiences (or the stories) to continually grow in my career.
While Wall Lake, will always be the “home front” Ames is my home. I’ve built my life here, invested in the local economy and volunteer in the community. I feel this city has much to offer residents, students and visitors. To continue providing the amenities our citizens enjoy, it makes sense we continually look at new opportunities to grow.
I’ve had a front-row seat to some truly amazing experiences through Ames’ hospitality industry. Things that have put us on the proverbial map, like hosting the first-ever Special Olympics National Games, meeting presidential candidates, planning a nationally televised timber sports competition and working at an international baseball tournament for blind athletes. I would love to see the tradition of amazing events in Ames continue to grow and prosper in future years.
STINKS (very articulate, I know)!
I know, you’re all sick of hearing about the weather….me too, however–that’s not going to stop me today.
According to my phone the temperature in Iowa, at this moment, is 0 degrees. This is a veritable heat wave in comparison to yesterday when my eyelashes and nose froze shut on the walk/run in to work. It’s miserable here, really, it is. As Mark Cook used to say, “This is the price we pay for living north of the Mason-Dixon Line.”
Most of us are lucky. We work inside. Both yesterday and today I did the 400 yard dash to and from the parking lot to work. That’s the extent of my exposure to the elements. Daily, it’s only one half total mile. I feel for the folks who have to work outside in these conditions: police officers, electrical linemen, postal workers and FARMERS. That’s right, FARMERS. The people who grow your food (and your fuel).
As you can tell, this is the topic fueling my post today. Last evening, I overheard a conversation in the grocery store (of all places). It included an individual discussing how “over” she was listening to everyone “blather on” about “Thanking a farmer, and everything”. Apparently she was tired of seeing so many posts in her social media feed discussing steps farmers take to keep animals safe, thanking farmers for the work they do during the cold, etc. She ended her statement with, “Come-on! People are just glamorizing this profession–farmers don’t directly do anything that helps me”.
Did I mention we were standing in the meat aisle? She was holding a package of turkey breasts, and was in the process of selecting a package of ground beef.
I rarely get confrontational in situations like this. It’s the glory of the world we live in; everyone is welcome to his/her own opinion. If she’s seeing a steady stream of comments surrounding agriculture in her social media feeds, my thought is GOOD FOR ALL OF YOU who advocate on behalf of agriculture! Clearly, if your thoughts are reaching this individual, they are reaching a level of consumer who needs the type of education you provide.
However, yesterday I responded. I was nice, (really, I WAS!), I merely pointed out that everything in her basket had a tie to agriculture, and the farmers that produce it (ergo, they are helping “YOU”, lady). I also mentioned the work farmers do to produce the food (and fuel) we consume, is done in such a way it provides the most care and safety to both the product (animal or plant) and her (the consumer). I then kindly suggested that she use social media to check out some of the online resources that could give her information about the products she purchases (CommonGround Iowa and Iowa Food and Family Project are a few examples I gave her). We walked away from each other, perfectly calm (we even wished each other a Happy New Year), to continue our evening. She, I’m sure, was thinking I was a random, nosy, crazy soul.
My initial reflex was to go home, and type a scathing post about ungrateful people, hard-working producers, etc. Instead I came home and took the advice my mom is always giving me. I “slept on it”. When I woke up this morning, my perspective had changed a bit (thanks, Mom).
Instead of being furious, (and frankly, self-righteous), I was a bit sad. This individual literally had no clue. Instead of being intrigued by the posts she saw on social media, she was annoyed. Instead of taking the time to wonder why her “friends” felt strongly enough to post a #thankafarmer on their social media pages, or share an article (BTW, check this one out from the Des Moines Register yesterday), she was “over it”.
It begs the question–What do we need to do to further reach our consumers? The woman with a full grocery basket was receiving this information on a grassroots level. Did it fail? To her defense, she was incredibly polite while we talked, but I doubt she walked away thinking she needs to hop on the “love ag” train . I also doubt she’ll check out the sites I suggested.
How do we, who love the industry we work in–or those of us who appreciate this industry for what it provides–effectively advocate on behalf of it? Literally–these are questions I’d welcome any and all input. I’m curious.
If you’re part of the group who is sick of hearing about it, or has no interest in the subject, how do you suggest we reach you (because we’ll always keep trying–it might as well be in a medium you enjoy)? What do you think?
“HOME for the holidays!” Is this song running through your head now? Good! I LOVE that song. :)
As the days get shorter, it seems like folks need some holiday spirit. When I say that, I don’t mean just Christmas, but also Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. The only things required are cooking, eating and hanging out with those you love (or tolerate). This year for Thanksgiving, I headed back to the Cook Ranch to be with the Healy’s (Cook fam update to come in December)!
I am one of those disgustingly fortunate people that enjoy both sides of my family. LOVE the holidays for the pure fact I can kiss new babies (with the Healy’s we have at least one fresh one per year), catch up with the kids who’ve gone to college, see what’s new in the life of my cousins, aunts, uncles, etc–and of course, torture my siblings.
We started celebrating a week few days early this year, by caravanning up to Cedar Falls and the UNI Dome to watch cousin Phil and Kuemper play in the 2A Championship Football Game vs. Sioux Central.
Fast forward a few days to Thanksgiving. It was a relatively small crowd this year, but Mom still marshaled the troops and had dinner ready for 40. Several of us spent a little too much time at the 5 House the night before, so were a little less enthusiastic to get up at 6 am to peel potatoes.
As always with the Healy’s, why keep the festivities to just one day? Friday night we made the standard holiday visit to “The Pumpkin”, aka the best dang little dive bar that could, in the thriving metropolis (4 houses and counting) of Boyer, Iowa (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t have it’s own zip code…) to meet the extended family. A whole bar full of Healy’s? Hilarity ensued.
It was awesome to catch up with even more of my cousins (sorry, phone was dead at this point, so no more photos!).
Saturday ended with trip to John and Monica’s to listen to the Cyclone game.
After all was said and done, on what felt like the 12th day of the Thanksgiving in the Healy Family:
We are blessed.
The ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences released this video this morning, kicking off the holiday season.
Can you name the narrator? ;)
Dad used to say “Life would be the shits if we couldn’t enjoy what’s around us.” Know what? He was right.
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