The Difference between Texas and Iowa for a Fantastic Friday

What's the difference between Iowa and Texas? Here are my top ten answers based on a few days in Corpus Christi last week.A few years back I spoke at a conference in Corpus Christi, Texas in January and thus escaped several days worth of Iowa winter. With our state in the deep freeze again, perhaps these 10 observations will warm your chilly heart on this Fantastic Friday.

10. Bilingual signs are no big deal in Texas. In Iowa, some people view them with suspicion.

9.  Corpus Christi, population 307,953, is considered a small city in Texas. Des Moines, population 206,599, is Iowa’s largest city and the capitol. We think it’s plenty big.

8.  Texas wait staff ask if you want sweet iced tea or plain iced tea. Iowa wait staff ask if you want hot tea or iced tea.

7.  Texas restaurants feature iced tea as their go-to drink in January. Iowa restaurants feature coffee. Hot coffee.

6.  In Texas, you can order shrimp three days in a row, and it’s no big deal. In Iowa, it’s a big deal.

5.   When the Star Spangled Banner accompaniment doesn’t work in Texas, every day folk sing a capella, no holds barred. In Iowa, every day folk refuse to sing anything a capella unless under duress because it’s not polite to show off.

4.  Iowans feel guilty about escaping winter to enjoy 70+ degree Texas weather for a few days. Texans think Iowans are crazy to live where the temperature goes below freezing.

3.  In much of Texas, home owners consider swimming pools a necessity and furnaces non-essential. In Iowa, furnaces are a necessity and swimming pools are for rich people.

2.  In Texas, people will wait in line for a half hour to get ice cream at Baskin Robbins on a  January Friday night. In Iowa, people wait in line for a half hour to get hot chocolate on a January Friday night.

1.   John Wayne may have been born in Iowa, but Texas owns him.

Top Ten Differences Between Iowa and the DC Metro Area

cherry blossoms

The past weekend’s trip to DC was longer than the one to Orange County the weekend before last. Which means only 1 thing: more time to come up with the top 10 differences between Iowa and DC. Here goes!

10.  DC metro traffic is crazy. Iowa…not so much.

9.   Reagan International Airport gets bonus points for free Wi-Fi. Des Moines International does not.

8.    A statue of President Reagan graces the entrance to the airport bearing his name. If Iowans felt comfortable with something as showy as artwork in front of the airport, which they don’t, they would choose a corn-related subject.

7.  DC boasts a Starbucks about every 2 blocks while Iowa franchises are placed at 200 mile intervals.

6.   As a general rule, men in Iowa don’t wear lavender suit coats with blue jeans. The same rule does not apply to men in the DC metro.

5.   In a similar thread, Iowans wonder who in the world would wear the clothes pictured in fashion magazines while Washingtonians wonder where to purchase them.

4.   100% of Iowans know where Washington, DC is located. 100% of DC metro folks think they know where Iowa is…and then reveal their ignorance by asking if fresh potatoes taste better than their store bought counterparts.

3.    In DC, the natives complain about the smell of fresh mulch in the spring. Iowans save those complaints for when farmers spread pig manure on the fields.

2.    While staying in DC metro hotels, one hears people speaking in many languages and English spoken with a variety of delightful accents. Iowa hotels are considered cosmopolitan when visitors speak Minnesotan.. Yah, sure, you betcha!

1.    DC daffodils and tulips come up a couple weeks earlier than Iowa ones, and their cheerful yellow faces are a feast for the eyes in both spring-hungry locations.

What would you add to this list? Leave a comment

Top 10 Signs It’s Time to Go Home

Shadow Valley Worship

After a week in Alaska followed by another week in the Idaho mountains, it’s time to head home. Here are the top ten signs that say “It’s time to go back to Iowa.”

10.   The mosquitoes found us two nights ago.

9.    I ran out of calcium supplements yesterday and have just enough clean undies to make it home.

8.    The food is so good here that if I stay any longer, my clean undies won’t fit.

7.   While walking a mile to use the internet is healthy, it’s not very efficient.

6.   My fingers are itching to get back to my mystery novel.

5.   There’s this pesky book manuscript to get done by the September 1 deadline.

4.   Mom left a voice mail message this morning wondering where I was.

3.   Sweet corn season is underway in Iowa.

2.   Hiram and I plan to visit the kids and grandchild this weekend.

1.   I miss my hubby.

How do you know it’s time for a vacation to end? Leave a comment.

Top Ten Differences Between Iowa and Texas

Iowa:Texas

What’s the difference between Iowa and Texas? Here are my top ten answers based on a few days in Corpus Christi last week.

10. Bilingual signs are no big deal in Texas. In Iowa, some people view them with suspicion.

9.  Corpus Christi, population 307,953, is considered a small city in Texas. Des Moines, population 206,599, is Iowa’s largest city and the capitol. We think it’s plenty big.

8.  Texas wait staff ask if you want sweet iced tea or plain iced tea. Iowa wait staff ask if you want hot tea or iced tea.

7.  Texas restaurants feature iced tea as their go-to drink in January. Iowa restaurants feature coffee. Hot coffee.

6.  In Texas, you can order shrimp three days in a row, and it’s no big deal. In Iowa, it’s a big deal.

5.   When the Star Spangled Banner accompaniment doesn’t work in Texas, every day folk sing a capella, no holds barred. In Iowa, every day folk refuse to sing anything a capella unless under duress because it’s not polite to show off.

4.  Iowans feel guilty about escaping winter to enjoy 70+ degree Texas weather for a few days. Texans think Iowans are crazy to live where the temperature goes below freezing.

3.  In much of Texas, home owners consider swimming pools a necessity and furnaces non-essential. In Iowa, furnaces are a necessity and swimming pools are for rich people.

2.  In Texas, people will wait in line for a half hour to get ice cream at Baskin Robbins on a  January Friday night. In Iowa, people wait in line for a half hour to get hot chocolate on a January Friday night.

1.   John Wayne may have been born in Iowa, but Texas owns him.

Ten More Things To Be Thankful for this Tuesday

Many of my Facebook friends are still participating in the November 30 days of gratitude project. As was mentioned in last Tuesday’s post, I missed the memo about when to start, and played catch up by listing 10 things for which I was thankful. This Tuesday, because I seem to have trouble remembering to post one thing per day, I’m back with ten more reasons (in no particular order) to be grateful.

  1. My twenty-five year career as a teacher provided our family a good livelihood and was perfect preparation to be a writer and speaker.
  2. Being an uncoordinated kid because it gave me compassion for students who hated recess.
  3. Our warm house, preferably mouse-free, but even with unexpected company, it’s a great home for over twenty years.
  4. My son’s early medical adventures and my father’s illness taught me to never take good health for granted.
  5. Being raised in Iowa and raising our kids in Iowa.
  6. Attending a church where the pastor preaches truth and makes in interesting.
  7. A loving church family.
  8. A mom who taught me to cook and to love cooking.
  9. Being able to spend most Tuesday’s with Mom, though this week she’s visiting my sister in Minnesota.
  10. Siblings who do all they can to make Mom comfortable and happy.

So what are you thankful for this Tuesday before Thanksgiving? Leave a comment…or two…or ten!

Hungry for Iowa

Spring Along Our Gravel Road

Spring is lovely along our Iowa gravel road.The rain washes away the dust kicked up by cars passing by, so the foliage is a deep and vibrant, soothing green. Every day is a feast for the senses.

The lingering scent of rain from a night time thunderstorm.
Toads betrayed by small movement in the grass.
Does hiding the shadow.
Cardinals singing in the treetops.
The stream rushing and gurgling under the bridge.
Goldfinches fighting for their turf in low bushes.

Each spring morning, I rush outside to greet new blossoms.
First the magnolias, the rhododendron, the red buds, and the daffodils.
Then the bleeding heart, the tulips and the lilacs.
Now the iris, the clematis, and the columbine.
Soon the peonies and the daisies.

I can’t bear the thought of missing the arrival of these friends. So most years, I stay home in May, determined to fully savor its beauty. But not this year. Not this week. Tomorrow, we pack the car and leave the beauty behind for a few days. I hate to miss the arrival of the peonies and daisies. But I know how much my daughter misses our gravel road after a year in Ohio while her husband finished grad school.

She misses the ancient silver maples in our yard,
The sight of leaves and grass,
The smell of trees and space and flowers,
The fairy ring where she played as a child,
The regularity of a gravel road each mile,
The greenness found only in Iowa,
Beloved by Iowa girls like my daughter and me.

She’s hungry for her home state, as I was during the seven years Hiram and I lived in South Dakota. So hungry, I could hardly bear it. So eager for a taste of home, I lived for my mother’s visits and feasted on the time she spent with us.

My mother left her roses,
And her yard work,
And her rhubarb,
And her invalid husband
To feed her daughter a taste of home.

So the peonies and daisies will have to bloom without us. Hiram and I are off to see our daughter and new son. Packing our car with Iowa air and comfort. Eager to share our feast with our hungry, Iowa-starved children. Bringing them the taste of our gravel road as my mother once brought a taste of home to me.

Ten Reasons to Walk on Spring Mornings

I’m an early riser and try to start each day with a walk. The practice is good exercise in every season, but a spring stroll is also a delight to the senses. Here are ten reasons I love to walk outside on a fresh spring morning.

10.  Sunrise.

9.    The yellow-green tree leaves are such a happy color.

8.    The red buds blooming in the wild ravine down by the bridge.

7.     Frogs singing in a pond dappled with early morning sunshine.

6.     Knock-kneed fawns running every which way when their mothers turn tail and run.

5.     Wild plum trees blooming along the fence rows.

4.     The scent of lilacs on the breeze.

3.     Cardinals singing in the treetops.

2.     Crab apple petals turning the air pink and white as they float through the air.

1.     The new growth surrounds me with the promise of Easter – new life in Christ.

Three Springy Thoughts for Thursday

Spring is in full swing with Easter celebrations in the works for the weekend. You have just enough time to check out these three thoughts for Thursday before preparations for the celebration crowds out everything else.

  1.  A breathtakingly beautiful drive across the eastern half of our state – its red bud, wild plum, and crab apple trees in bloom mile after mile – made me grateful to live in Iowa in springtime.
  2. Watching oneself in a video is not nearly as breathtakingly beautiful as a drive across Iowa in the spring. In fact, the experience is so painful, I won’t make a habit of watching the book trailer for Different Dream Parenting. But if you’ve been wondering how the book came to be, check out both the trailer and information about how to order the new electronic version of the book here.
  3. Did you see Target’s Easter ad in the Sunday paper? Beside the picture of a carton of eggs was a big, red target dot spinning them as “ready to cook and dye eggs!” How long did it take for the advertizing department to come up with that one?

What’s the craziest spin you’ve seen in an ad? Leave a comment so we can chuckle with you.

Speaking of the Weather…

For a couple weeks after the caucuses, Iowans were conditioned by political pollsters to give short answers on the phone we almost forgot how to engage in casual conversation. But since the ISU Cyclones defeated fifth ranked KU over the weekend, conversation has picked up quite nicely in our little state. Even after the “How’s about them Cyclones?” talk dies down, I think the weather will give us plenty to talk about.

Optimists can talk about how nice it is to walk to the mailbox in shirtsleeves in January.
Environmentalist can talk about how this month’s weather is a sure sign of global warming.
Farmers can talk about how Elwynn Taylor thinks the drought of ’12 is coming down.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Elwynn Taylor, he’s an uncannily accurate Iowa State University extension climatologist. He studies long term climate patterns and predicts long term trends rather than day-to-day weather.

In July, if he predicts a snowy winter, you’d be wise to buy a snowshovel.
But if he predicts a mild winter, don’t buy a new winter coat.
In January, if he predicts the summer will be wet, cancel the cabin at the lake.
If he predicts a flood, buy a boat.
And if he predicts a drought, take it seriously.
Guess which one he’s predicting for this summer?

A drought.

Which means I’m taking out stock in a garden hose company.
Because the last time Elwynn predicted a bad drought was in January of ’88.
When the dry fall and winter weather pattern was similar to this fall and winter.
When La Nina was getting old.
When Alaska had lots of snow.

I was three months pregnant with Anne way back then. By the time Anne was born in July, the drought was awful. To be clear, Elwynn didn’t know about my pregnancy, so it didn’t figure into his prediction.

But, even if ISU loses every game for the rest of the summer, my shelf of conversation starters is well-stocked for the rest of 2012. I’ll be the life of every party, chatting about Elwynn Taylor drought predictions, pregnancy during drought stories, and labor during drought stories. Really fascinating stuff.

So, when would you like me to come to dinner at your house?

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Yesterday afternoon the weather was October bright and sunny, perfect for a drive to northwest Iowa. There are plenty of state highways that wind from where I live to where I needed to be, plenty of ways to vary the route. But most of the highways in that part of our state are two lane roads. Which means the speed limit is 55, practically crawling along.

But this time of year, in a state covered with drying soy bean and corn fields ready for harvest, 55 miles an hour is a luxury on dry, sunny, October days. Slow-moving vehicles – combines, tractors pulling grain wagons full or empty, and grain trucks – crowd the highways as the farmers scurry to harvest the fruit of the past year’s labor.

Stuck behind the giant farm machines, I had time to observe the activity in the fields. Combines ate rows of corn in giant mouthfuls, spitting the golden kernels in the wagons following in tandem. In other fields, the bounty already devoured and carted away, farmers steered tractors down stubbly rows, disking the rubble into the black dirt.

Trailing behind lumbering, clanging wagons, I took in the last, mad, magnificent gasp of fall.  Milkweed pods were bursting open in the ditches. Blossoming mums created splashes of bright color beside farm houses and barns. Grain dust turned the sunset pink and lovely. Trees glowed gold and red and orange along the banks of wayward cricks and streams. The rustling, crackling ditch grasses swayed in the light breeze.“Slow down,” they whispered. “You move too fast. Got to make the moment last.”

Calmed by their soft whisper, I patiently plied the breaks. Smiling, I hummed  a little Simon and Garfunkel under my breath, and relished the drive.