Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Road of Life

On this road of life we've traveled many miles
Surviving only by His grace.
It will be worth the agony and the trials
When we shall see Him face to face.

We've oft been confused as we journeyed this road,
And giants have compassed our trail.
These troubles can't compare to glory I am told,
Where we will see beyond the veil.

Our problems are far surpassed by Christ's love.
He leads us as sheep of His fold.
Soon we shall see His glory and splendor above; 
His promises He shall uphold.

My fondest desire is to dwell in His presence.
His mercy is without measure.
Jesus alone is our rock, tower, and defense;
The fount of true joy and pleasure.
© Bethany Carson 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lessons I Learned at Bethany: Devotion

The next lesson we learn at Bethany is devotion.  Are you willing to give your all for Jesus, even though your actions will be criticized?
Mary brought an alabaster box of very precious ointment of spikenard, broke the box, and poured the ointment on Jesus' head.  Her actions were immediately criticized.  "Why was this waste of ointment made?  For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor," critics said.

Today, as you follow the Lord, you may be told you are wasting your time and your life.  Long before I was born, my papa was street preaching when an old lady walked up to him and said, "You have such a nice voice; it's a pity you waste it preaching!"  She was wrong.  Now is the time to lay up treasures in heaven.  The life wasted is the life not devoted to Jesus Christ.  As the saying goes: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past.  Only what's done for Christ will last."
Linking with:
The Enchanting Rose
"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all;
but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."--Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Geese at Pine Lake

This fall my family and I went biking in the Pine Lake/Iowa River area and enjoyed watching the geese on the lake.  
Many seemed to have characters all their own.  A dear old friend of mine used to say "We're not all made from the same cookie-cutter!"  Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we were?  Apparently geese don't all come from the same cookie-cutter either.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Field of Dreams

The Field of Dreams movie site is a quiet spot outside of Dyersville, Iowa.  The blacktop road leading to it is in poor repair, possibly last paved in 1989 for the movie stars and filming crews.   It's a typical-looking Iowa farm which seems it would be more at home on a gravel road.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ackley Publishing Co.: Part 2

Behind the main Ackley Publishing building is another building filled with antique printing equipment.  Mayor Daggs welcomes students/classes from Iowa State University who come here to see first-hand how printing used to be done.
The building houses 1500-1600 fonts, some of which are shown above.  Changing fonts hasn't always been a one-click experience!  Until the 1890s, type was set by hand.  The linotype machine was invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and was commonly used until the end of the 1970s.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ackley Publishing Co. Part 1

Walk down Main Street in Ackley, IA.  Across from the Pizza Ranch you'll see one of the oldest buildings in town, built in the 1870s as a Chinese laundry for railroad workers.  Today the exterior looks relatively new, and no one would ever guess the intriguing history of the building that has been home to Ackley Publishing Co since 1895.
Ackley Publishing is owned and run by Ackley's popular and well-liked mayor, Jim Daggs, and his wife Pat, a cheerful, energetic lady who is also a nurse.  Mayor Daggs' mother has said that he was born with printer's ink in his veins.  That might not be so far from the truth.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Miniature World

Another model train hobbyist I met at the Dubuque Model Railroad Show was Les Kline.  He has been interested in model trains all his life.  In fact, a love of trains runs in his family.  Mr. Kline's grandfather and great grandfather had 100 years between them working on the Milwaukee Road.   

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Peppercorn Pantry

One place I've passed several times and wondered about is the Peppercorn Pantry in Aplington, Iowa.  This summer I finally walked in, took a look, and decided it would be a great place to review.  So when my family was invited to sing at a Gideons dinner and meeting at the Peppercorn, I seized the opportunity to take some photos.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dubuque Model Railroad Show

Sunday, November 2nd, my grandparents, Charity, and I left for Dubuque at 4:30 A.M.  We stopped at McDonalds on the way for breakfast, and arrived at the fairgrounds where the railroad show was held with plenty of time to set up.
This time there were no cinnamon rolls available to eat while we waited for the show to open, so we settled for donuts instead.  There was a line waiting to come in when the doors opened at 10 A.M., and throughout the day the building was bustling with people.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Sunset - Skywatch Friday

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised. --Psalm 113:3
Oh, How I love to put into verse and rhyme
Things that have been filling my mind:

A beautiful red, orange, and purple sky at night,
Fireflies twinkling, like stars in my sight,

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gratefulness & One Lovely Blog Award

For many Americans, November is the month of gratefulness and thanksgiving.  I think the only ones who did not enjoy Thanksgiving this year were my neighbor's turkeys.  I captured this shot of them in October.  I haven't seem them lately, so it's quite probable they spent this Thanksgiving somewhere warm.    
I'd like to take a moment to thank Paige at Sunday Best and All the Rest for nominating me for the Grateful Blogger Tag and Aimee at Aimee on the Mountainside for nominating me for the Lovely Blog Award.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Real Auction

A few Saturdays ago we went to a real auction.  Unlike the church fundraising auction where everyone was there to have fun and donate to the church, here everyone was trying to get the best deals possible on the equipment and tools of a closing electric motor company in Waterloo.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons I Learned at Bethany: Serving

Luke 10:38-42 finds us in Bethany at the home of Martha and Mary.  Martha was busily serving dinner while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to him.  Who was Martha serving?  She was serving Jesus!  

What did Jesus tell her?  “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 
Dwight L. Moody said, "You've got to have fire to set fire with. You've got to have life to propagate life with." In science, this is the law of biogenesis.  You can only get life from the Life, and you can’t give life to others unless you have the Life.  Martha needed to hear the words of life from Jesus, all else was of little importance.

Does God care about candles, stained glass windows, choir robes, and religious customs and traditions?  No.  What God cares about is His creation: you.  

Today, we are busy with our duties, working with the talents God has given us, and serving.  Let us not forget to talk with our Creator and first love, Jesus Christ.  We must constantly be drawing from His well of living waters if we are to share His love with others.  Isn't it awesome that Jesus takes the time to spend with us?

"As Thou hast died for me, so may my love to Thee, pure, warm, and changeless be, a living fire."  --Ray Palmer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My $1000 Tip

Last week we received a cashier's check for $1000 more than the price of a painting at my grandma's Carson Art Gallery (for which I am online sales manager).  Unfortunately, it didn't come with a note, "Keep the change."
Credit: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tips for New Bloggers

Ashley from Precious Moments recently nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award with the question, "Why did you start blogging?"  I thought this would be a fun opportunity to answer her question and offer a few tips, which I hope will prove useful to new bloggers.
My blog began as a place where I could voice my opinionated political views. I quickly branched out to include devotionals, book reviews, photography, and posts about interesting experiences and places.  My advice in an early post on my first time welding in 2012 is advice I still give myself and others today: "Don't be afraid to try new things; you may make many mistakes, but never give up!"  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Des Moines Fall Classic

The Des Moines Fall Classic chess tournament this year was held at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny and directed by Matthew Jacob with 75/5 time controls. 

We started our drive at 6 AM, delivered a load of concrete pads, and enjoyed sausage egg McMuffins.  The first round started late, so I chatted with fellow participants, and a few kindly answered my survey on chess player psychology
My first opponent was John Herr (1798), an experienced tournament veteran.  I remembered him playing on the top boards at CyChess L in 2012, so I determined to take my time and be careful.  The opening was a delightful straight-from-the-book example of the open variation of my beloved Sicilian Dragon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chess Player Psychology

The effect of chess on the brain holds great interest for me as an avid chess enthusiast.  I've enjoyed the constant challenge the game presents and the camaraderie of very interesting people.  But is interesting the correct adjective?  To answer this question, I enlisted the help of random strangers as well as other chess players.
How are Chess Players Viewed by the Public?
I asked several people how they would describe their impression of chess players in one word.  Many were surprised, "Chess players?!"  Apparently it isn't a social norm to ask strangers their opinions of chess players. However, everyone was very pleasant; some even confessed to playing chess themselves.  

The most prevalent views are that chess players are smart, strategic, and patient.  We could not ask for a more pleasing stereotype.  But do we live up to it?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kansas Fences and Sisal Twine

Some fences are built for privacy; however, this one in Kansas attracts attention!
The artwork is created from a variety of scrap metal and road signs.  In 2010 when we saw this fence on a road trip to Texas, we didn't have time to visit the studio, but I would imagine the designer has an interesting story.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Model Train Show in Hampton: Part 2

A highlight of the Hampton show was the Iowa Central Modular Railroad.  Six people created and own various pieces of the set. The members meet, assemble the t-track, and operate it for the pleasure of viewers.  During the winter, the track is displayed at the mall in Marshalltown.
The trains are N gauge.  The cliffs (below) are made of styrofoam.  The elevator silos are pvc pipe.  The static grass was created with the help of electric fly swatters, and the campfire--which miniature people sit around while watching a baseball game--is made from 2 LED lightbulbs.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Model Train Show in Hampton: Part 1

Last Sunday, my grandparents, sister, and I stopped at Hardy's for a quick breakfast and then headed to Hampton, Iowa for the North Central Iowa Railroad Club's 4th Annual Model Train Show and Sale.  We had set up our tables and hung Grandma's art  the evening before and had minimal set-up work to do before the sale opened.
We brought along some lawn chairs for comfortable seating, and Grandma and I enjoyed delicious cinnamon rolls from the kitchen beside us.  One lady bought several cards to create a display in her kitchen.  A retired navy man bought a print of a mallard, and a few other prints were purchased while I was at the North Central Iowa Model Railroad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

North Central Iowa Model Railroad

The past weekend found my sister and I in Hampton, Iowa with our grandparents for a railroad arts and crafts show (more details in a future post).
In the afternoon when sales were slow, Grandpa, Charity, and I walked down to the old Rock Island Depot.  In the basement, the North Central Iowa Model Railroad Club has an impressive model layout.  I am unsure of their hours, but with the railroad show in progress, admission was free.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lessons I Learned at Bethany: Faith

One morning, walking from Bethany to Jerusalem, Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree with leaves, and found nothing but leaves.  Jesus said to the fig tree, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” 
Bethany (Al-Eizariya) in 1940
The next morning, his disciples saw that the tree was dried up from the roots. Peter said, “Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.” Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Johnson Strings & an Auction

Sunday morning, my family and I went to a Johnson Strings concert at Zion United Church of Christ in Hubbard, Iowa.  We met the Johnsons in 2006 and listened to them for the first time in 2007.  They've been one of our favorite music groups ever since.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Autumn's Gold

 Autumn's gold is summer's goodbye.
Life is beautiful as it dies,
Leaving its joys in the glories for which we vie,
Bidding farewell and heaving a sigh.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to Pick Apples Like a Pro

In case any of my readers are looking for a seasonal second job or a good way to incorporate a strenuous exercise regimen into crisp autumn days, this is a tutorial on how to pick apples like a pro (and live through it).   

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tears

This poem was written by my grandmother, watercolor artist Colleen (MacArthur) Carson, while she was in high school in 1947.  She recently found and gave it to me with permission to share with you. 
If each tear could tell its story, 'twould make the earth's bowels shake.
If each tear could tell its story, 'twould make the mountains quake.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Survey Results!

Many thanks to the 34 readers who responded to my survey!  As promised, here are the results.  On some questions the answers add up to more than 34 since multiple selections were enabled.  Where responses were written in "Other" (often to add more juicy details) I did my best to categorize them.  

    Question 1: How did you find my blog?
Online Graphing
Seventeen of you found my blog because I commented on or followed your blog, 9 from browsing the blogosphere, 3 each from Facebook/Google+, FICS, and meeting in person, and at least 1 specifically from Wild Bird Wednesday (Other).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Feathered Invasion of Waterloo

Sunday, October 5th, found my family and I enjoying a peaceful afternoon singing for a group of cheery senior citizens at a lovely apartment complex in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  The afternoon turned to evening, and we bid farewell to our audience, driving into the twin city of Waterloo as the sun set and skies darkened.  
We soon discovered that a small area of Waterloo, across the street from Mernards, had been invaded.  The invaders, relying on air-borne missions, had taken over the radio tower and were swarming over important electric lines.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Surveys! (+one for you!)

With the U.S. Senate and Iowa Gubernatorial election only 1 month away, I receive survey phone calls nearly every day.  Since this year is the first senatorial election in the state in 30 years where an incumbent has not run (and won), it is a fiercely contested battle between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley.
I figure it makes the phone surveyors' day when someone is willing to talk with them, and since I am a rather opinionated person anyway, I answer their questions.  By now I've completed so many surveys that I could probably be surveying the surveyors with all the typical questions from memory.  Some surveys are seemingly unbiased fact-gathering calls; however, the impartialness of others is questionable.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Photo Contest & Sunshine Award

Sarah at Trusting in the Lord  is hosting a photo contest at her blog to celebrate her 100th post.  The deadline for entering up to two photos is tomorrow, October 3rd.

It's an unfortunate practice of mine to enter contests the day (or even the hour) before they close.  I well remember an essay contest in my high school days that had a deadline of midnight Eastern time on New Year's Eve.  I did miss out on some of the fun of our New Year's Eve celebration, but I emailed my essay on time (15 minutes before the deadline).

If you'd like to join the fun with me as 11th hour photo contest contestants, you can visit Sarah's blog here for details.  My two entries are below.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Peanut Butter Squares

Here's a recipe that is sure to delight peanut butter lovers!  While I have taken my love of peanut butter to extremes--trying it on toast, soup, raisin bran, ice cream, oatmeal, chocolate, rhubarb cobbler, pumpkin/sweet potato pie, apple pie, and even green salad--this super peanut-buttery recipe from one of my mother's cookbooks is one of my all time favorite concoctions!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Secret of Cleves

A grain elevator, bank, repair shop, and handful of houses are all that meet the eye of the casual passerby.  On the map, the town of Cleves, Iowa is nearly forgotten. Surrounded by cornfields, it is not the pulsating center selected by tourists. The grocery store is gone. The railroad is no more. A cursory glance reveals nothing of interest to be seen. Where is its secret?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Watson's Grocery Museum

On the same day we visited Niland's Cafe in Colo, we stopped at Watson's Grocery Museum in State Center.  It was closed, so we contented ourselves with looking intently through the windows.  Jeff Merrill, who owns Remarkable Rose, Floral & Gifts down the street, was watering flower pots at the business next-door, noticed our interest, and offered to open the museum up and give us a tour!  
Things like that don't happen every day!  Needless to say, we were delighted and very thankful!  Having grown up in State Center, Mr. Merrill was very familiar with the history of the grocery store and surrounding area and proved a very informational guide.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tasty Freeze and Taylor's Maid-Rite

After the Bontrager concert, Papa surprised us by taking us out to Tasty Freeze where we ordered chocolate dipped ice cream cones ($2.50 each).  Considering how big our medium cones were, we had a hard time imagining large ones.  It was a challenge to eat mine before it melted!
Through the front window we could watch the cones being dipped very skillfully.  I've never tasted a bad chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone; we picked a never-fail winner.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Bontragers!

Sunday evening part of my family and I listened to the Bontrager Family Singers (from Kalona, IA) at New Hope Christian Church in Marshalltown.

I had heard them once before (last year), and earlier this month my sister heard them when she went to their annual Turning Hearts Celebration.  Unfortunately she had a seat in the far back and wasn't able to see them very well, so she talked Papa and I into coming to this concert.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hummingbirds!

 "Happiness is neither without us or within us.  It is in God both without us and within us."  --Blaise Pascal
After missing out on capturing the hummingbirds I wrote about in Staying on Focus, I kept a close eye out for another chance to photograph them.  On Thursday the 4th I was able to get one tolerably good shot.  A week later I went out to work in the garden and noticed two hummingbirds enjoying my cannas.  I ran inside and grabbed my camera.

The little birds were fun to watch as they fluttered from flower to flower, drinking the nectar, and stopping to rest occasionally on branches.  A couple times they flew right over me, and I could hear the buzzing of their wings.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Johnson County Historical Museum

After touring the antique car museum, we walked into the other part of the building, the Johnson County Historical Museum.  
One wall was decorated with old maps of Iowa counties, and there were informational boards with stories of life in Johnson county.  The photo on the left shows the last graduating class from an old two-story schoolhouse (1899).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Antique Car Museum of Iowa: Part 2

What is a car museum without music?  Toward the back of the building we found a *working* jukebox!  The curator told us it runs on nickels, so I looked through my change until I found one. There were several songs to choose from, and someone pointed out what I thought was the Andrews Sisters' 1940s hit Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and then Auld Lang Syne. 
The Boogie Woogie (it turned out to be Tommy Dorsey's Boogie Woogie; you can listen to Myron Floren's excellent rendition here) sounded like it would be by far more exciting, so we listened to it as we browsed the rest of the museum.   
  
These convertibles were real beauties!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Antique Car Museum of Iowa: Part 1

The Antique Car Museum was only a short walk from the location of the Iowa Open.  After the first game of the day Sunday we had a few hours for our lunch break, so we strolled over to the museum for a tour.
The admission fee was only $5 per person and covered both the car museum and the adjourning Johnson County Historical Museum. A couple cars, including the Ford Model A above, were on display in the front room, which also contained a gift shop.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I See You, Jesus

Many a man's wish may be
To sing in a grand hall,
To fill a cathedral or mall,
To serenade the rich
With the power of every pitch.

But I see you, Jesus, Lord,
Alone on Calvary,
Not in glamor this world affords,
Dying to set me free
That I, your glory may see.

I see you, Jesus,
Caring for the dying and poor.
I see you, Jesus,
With your sweet Spirit,
Knocking at their heart's living door.

I see you, Jesus,
Giving life to souls without hope.
I see you, Jesus,
Saving those vexed sore
Saying, "Follow me to Bright Shore."
© 2010 Bethany Carson

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Niland's Cafe and Reed's Gas Station

In the little town of Colo, Iowa at the intersection of the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways, is the Reed/Niland Corner.  Here stands Niland's Cafe, originally opened in 1923, and the Colo Motel--both open for business--and Reed's Gas Station, not in operation.
On our way to deliver the concrete pads for propane tanks to a co-op, we stopped here to take a look and eat lunch.  The price of gas at the restored station was 13.8 cents plus 4 cents tax for a total of 17.8 cents per gallon!  Too bad it isn't open; if we had a time machine we could certainly put it to good use!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Staying in Focus

I spotted her, a delicate moth resting on a marigold in my garden.  I crept closer, camera in hand, and tried to focus, but she was not to be captured by my shutter.  She flitted off the flower, dancing to the next and then the next with speed and grace and finally--after flirting with my lenses, too slow in my clumsily amatuer hands to capture her--flying away like a fluttering dream.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coralville Wetland Park

Sunday morning I awoke at about 6 A.M.  I could hardly wait to go outside, enjoy the fresh air, and see what the big city of Coralville looks like before people wake up.   
The cool morning was shrouded in a light, pleasant fog.  Behind the hotel is the Iowa River Landing Wetland Park; my brother, sister, and I took a leisurely stroll through it, culminating in a jog.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2014: Part 2

At 7:00 pm, the third round of the tournament began.  I found myself paired against IASCA President Eric Vigil (1262) who had been unable to play in the first two rounds because, as he put it, he'd been "herding cats all day." 
I had never heard that expression before, so he explained that he had been directing the RBO (U1200) section of the tournament and that was just like herding cats (imagine trying to herd cats!?) with children not coming for their games in time because they were out playing. 
I am very thankful for all the work Mark Capron (Chief TD), Bill Broich, Eric, and the other TDs did to make the tournament a success.  The tournament location was first class, and they even arranged a special hotel rate for chess players who would be needing to stay overnight!