Coralville Wetland Park

Sunday, August 31, 2014

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.

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2014: Part 2

Friday, August 29, 2014

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! 

Iowa Open Chess Tournament 2014: Part 1

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On the morning of August 16th, Papa, my brother, one of my sisters, and I started our drive to Coralville, Iowa.  On the way we stopped at Casey's (a convenience store) for donuts for breakfast.

We reached the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center where the tournament was to be held, walked in, and climbed the stairs to the second floor.  We let the tournament director know we were there and greeted our tournament friends. 

In past years I have always played in the Reserve section (U1600), but since my rating was 1637, this time I had to play in the Open.  The time control was 90 minutes with a 30 second increment; 3 games were played on Saturday and 2 on Sunday.

Sunshine and Liebster Awards

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thanks to Heidi from Along the Brandywine for nominating me for the Sunshine Award and Jon and Caryln for nominating me for the Liebster Award. These awards are a way for bloggers to learn more about each other by asking several questions.  

Cherry Raisin Oatmeal Bars

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today I'd like to introduce you to Cherry Raisin Oatmeal Bars; an easy and flavorful favorite recipe from my favorite cooking site,  The original recipe has been changed very slightly to fit my tastes. 

Scenic Manor Sing and Picnic

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last Sunday my family and I sang at Scenic Manor, one of our favorite nursing homes, on their special event day.  The event also featured a hymn sing, 2 other groups, dinner, and games for children. It is attended by residents of the home, their family members, and locals.
I enjoyed singing and the crowd was a pleasant audience.  Unfortunately though, my shoulders, arms, and fingers have been programmed to hold a guitar for the duration of a 45 minute concert, so by the time our hour was up they were fatigued; my strings were starting to dig into my fingers with every chord...evidently I need more practice!

Mr. Pea Seed and the Soybean Revolution

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In Mark 8:34-35 Jesus tells us, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's the same shall save it." 
via Flickr
Some people may see this verse as instructions for missionaries in a far off land; however, this verse is for "whosoever."  To me "whosoever" is a word that includes all farmers, gardeners, bloggers, and even red-headed musicians.

My family and I are avid gardeners, and between rains every spring we plant our peas, onions, radishes, beets, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes. Pea seeds are shriveled and ugly and don't look any more alive than the even more ugly beet seeds. But, if a pea seed could think, would it see any sense in being buried? I think not.  Mr. Pea Seed would rather be out in the warm sun; gradually he would become even more shriveled, and eventually he would die. Trying to save his own life, pride, beauty, and self, he would lose everything.

Imagine getting ready to plant a field of soybeans. You have the soil prepared, and your seeds are in the planter. You're ready to go and can already envision a healthy field with green leaves and blossoms swaying in a warm gentle breeze; then you see the harvest with dollar bills jumping into your wallet as you combine... Suddenly your pleasant dreams are interrupted as you hear a noise coming from the seeds in the planter. The beans are jumping out of the planter, and a Soybean Spokesman informs you that this is a Soybean Revolution. The beans have decided that they are too beautiful to be buried! They are casting off your old-fashioned ideas of what is best, and they are going to live life their own way! What a scary thought!

Sadly many people are just as blind as Mr. Pea Seed and the soybean revolutionaries. They want to live life "their own way," and forget about God's plans. They say, "Oh, I want to have fun for a while, and when I'm old then the Lord can have His way." But when they're older it might be too late. Don't let your youth and vitality go to waste. Plant yourself in God's plans for your life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." You won't remain a shriveled up pea seed, selfishly seeking your own good, but you'll grow into a beautiful plant, blossom, and be a blessing to many people. Complete surrender to Jesus Christ, the Master Planter, is the only way to fulfillment and happiness in life. All else is as senseless as a soybean seed revolution.

Illinois: My 21st State!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

After leaving St. Donatus, we returned to Dubuque to cross over the Highway 20 bridge into Illinois, the Land of Lincoln and home of President Obama.  Someone reminded us that it was also the land of gangsters and Al Capone.  We thought it over, but decided that since Al Capone has been dead 67 years, and Chicago is on the eastern side of the state, we could probably safely venture over the Mississippi.  

The Perfect Work of Patience

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yesterday I had the opportunity to guest post at Caitlin Baughman's blog Daughter of Destiny.  She always fills her blog with interesting and challenging material, so be sure to keep scrolling and read more about her life and thoughts.  Here's a preview of my post on the perfect work of patience, a virtue that makes life easier and goes hand in hand with faith.  
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."  --James 1:4

Patience is not a virtue easily acquired.  James tells us that the trying of our faith worketh patience.  God has given us many promises, some of which may seem impossible.  He promised Abraham when he was nearly 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 that they would have a son.  Was this humanly possible?  No.  But they believed God, and with God all things are possible. 

It's easy to have faith right after a promise has been made, but 2 or 3 years later it can be hard to still have faith.
Read more at Daughter of Destiny...

St. Donatus and The Way of the Cross

Saturday, August 9, 2014

After leaving Lock and Dam No. 12 in Bellevue, we visited the St. Donatus Catholic church, built in 1908.  We were just a little too late to crash our second wedding of the day; the bride and groom were being photographed, so we snuck around the other side of the church to visit the cemetery and the way of the cross.  

Afterwards, when we were sure the wedding was already over and we wouldn't be in the way, I ventured into the historic church to capture a few photos. 

A Mississippi Barge

Friday, August 8, 2014

In Bellevue we stopped at Lock and Dam No. 12.  The landscape along the Mississippi was very picturesque.
A few years back when we visited Lock and Dam No. 9 near Prairie du Chien, we were blessed when a worker there gave us a fascinating tour.  Lock and Dam No. 12 was thoroughly fenced off, and everyone there was busy working getting a barge through.

Fenelon Place Elevator

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque is the world's shortest, steepest scenic railway.  It is 296 feet long and elevates passengers 189 feet from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place.  

The elevator was originally built in 1882 by an engineer hired by former Mayor J. K. Graves because it took him 90 minutes to drive his horse and buggy from his bank below around the bluff to his home on the top for lunch, even though his bank was actually only 2 and a half blocks from his house.
The elevator soon became popular with the neighbors, and after it was rebuilt because of a fire in 1884, he started charging 5 cents a ride.  The elevator burned again in 1893.  Ten neighbors invested in rebuilding it together.  The neighbor who lived closest to the elevator (C. B. Trewin) bought all of the stock as various neighbors moved or passed away, until in 1912 he became the sole stockholder.  The elevator was last rebuilt in 1977.  You can read the complete history of the elevator at the Fenelon Place Elevator Co. website.

Only Yesterday...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

They were in the front row in wheelchairs,
But they seemed so far away.
She placed her hand on his knee,
But he pushed it off that day.
She softly cried, and another sight I did see.

It was only yesterday,
A beautiful couple with stars in their eyes.
They vowed they’d love in sickness and in health.
Their children grew and joy was their wealth.
But it was all gone too soon…

Senility and dementia had laid their claim,
Any breath could be their last.
They loved each other just the same,
But life had flown by all too fast.
It was all gone too soon…

Lay up your treasures in paradise,
This life is but a dressing room for eternity.
Build a relationship with Christ,
With whom there is hope beyond this life.
Because all else will be gone too soon.
© 2011 Bethany Carson

“Live so that when the final summons come you will leave something more behind you 
than an epitaph on a tombstone or an obituary in a newspaper.”  --Billy Sunday

Wedding Bells!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Last Saturday we travelled to Bellevue, Iowa for my cousin Breanna's wedding at St. John's Lutheran Church.  After a long ride and an adventure in Dubuque, we followed our directions into town until we saw a beautiful steeple.  Our search over, we parked, surprised at how many cars were there already and worried we were late.  We thought the wedding was scheduled for 2 p.m., but at only 1:30 we were nearly the last ones hurrying into the church!
The sanctuary (pictured above) was beautiful; it's lovely white arches looked like a splendid setting for the wedding.  As we took our seats I smiled at another red-headed lady seated; we didn't expect to recognize many of our relatives since we don't see this part of our family often, but at least our rutilistic genes are strong!