Sunday, July 26, 2009

August Pour Out a Blessing blog

I'm going to do things a little differently during the month of August on the Pour Out a Blessing blog. Rather than a specific book of the Bible or a topic, I have decided that I want to study and blog about some of my favorite passages throughout the Bible.

I will start with Genesis 1:1 and end the month in Revelation 22. That should pretty much cover the whole thing ... except for the fact that I am only choosing 31 specific passages that have intrigued me or stirred passion within me throughout my life. It's difficult for me to winnow these down, but I think that I will enjoy writing about the specific things I have chosen.

That you choose to read along with me is an honor and I appreciate that every time I write. Your faithfulness to my blog has caused me to remain faithful to reading and writing every day. I am very thankful.

If you know of someone else who would like to join me on this journey, please invite them to do so. They can get daily reminders by emailing me at nammynools (at) cox (dot) net or they can follow this blog or just pop in whenever they have time. And at any time, if you wish to be added to or removed from the email list, please just send me a quick email and I will adjust my contact list.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I have tried to become much more alert to the things that I travel past as I go back and forth from Omaha to central Iowa. I find that I actually spend more time confused than I do enlightened, but at some point I will begin learning more and more about the cool things I see.

Yesterday, as I was traveling north on Highway 17, I saw a sign that read “Upper Midwest Manure Handlers Expo.” I was just a bit startled. Only because I’ve spent too much time living in a city!

As I glanced over to where it was being held, I saw tents going up and many, many cars, trucks and vans pulling in. Exhibitors were showing up to prepare for the event which was happening today. (I found it online, of course I did)

I need to do some more research, because information always needs to be flowing in my mind, but as I understand it, manure can be a great source of cash for hog producers (etc). And where there is cash, there is technology. All of a sudden I became fascinated. However, not enough so that I chose to pull in and wander the Expo … maybe another year.

Iowa is quietly filled with industry that reaches out to the entire globe. There is a lot here that I want to learn more about. This state holds secrets that I want to uncover. I am excited that halfway through my life, I look forward to rediscovering the state I grew up loving.

When we were young, Dad ensured that we saw some of the grand vistas of the United States during our vacations. But, he also took us around the state to see some of the wonders that could be found inside the borders. Last year I sent away for a tourist’s guide of Iowa, and as I glanced through it, the things that stuck out at me were the memories of a childhood spent discovering those places.

So far, I’ve been in a hurry to get here to the cabin and have only traveled the interstate to get here, but as time passes and I get more and more acclimated to staying here, I plan to travel the back roads that I’ve traveled throughout a lifetime, the county highways through small communities and past the beauty of rural Iowa.

This place truly is home to me. It’s where I’ve always lived even though I resided elsewhere.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walk on the Moon

My love of writing comes from my mother. Forty years ago, she was on a youth group mission trip to North Dakota when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. I remember the excitement of those days, when every piece of space news was treated with incredible awe and anticipation.

When mom returned from North Dakota, she wrote these words to remember the moment.

The black night sparkles
With the brilliant gems set
In its obsidian crown.

Above, limitless
Space stretches, a challenge
To the minds of humans.

Man has conquered space.
Now he walks the moon
Amid the gems of night.

He has within him
The power and glory
Of God himself.

Man walks the moon and
Down below, night children
Stalk the ghetto streets.

Thus the paradox
Of man's infinite mind.
He may walk the moon.

But he fails to heed
The cry of anguish of
His fellow mortals.

Little lower than
The angels, the psalmist
Sings. How much lower?

So far to go to
Reach the angels, so much
Farther than the moon

Margie Greenwood
July 26, 1969

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday Travel photos

Here are a few of the photos from yesterday's travels through Iowa. Max is still working on processing a lot of them.

First off - the three veterans from the motorcycle club around Freedom Rock, just north of Greenfield, Iowa.

The entire club. What a great shot!

Mojo Johnson, playing outside of Mr. C's bar in Woodward, Iowa.

Mojo Johnson - a one-man band.

And my favorite shot of the day - taken from the Des Moines River bridge on Hwy 210 between Woodward and Madrid. Oh my goodness! Glorious!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Saturday in Iowa

Today was a beautiful day to be on the road. Max packed up his camera gear, I packed up the dog and off we went!

First stop today was Freedom Rock, a wonderful thing that is just one mile south of the Interstate at mile marker 85 on Highway 25. You can't miss it, it's immense! When we pulled in, we were alone, but within minutes another car had pulled over and then the Wind Riders, a motorcycle club out of Omaha pulled in. They encircled the rock with their bikes and I got really choked up. The imagery was glorious. As they dismounted and began walking around, Max was trying to get set up with his camera gear. They weren't in his way, he was planning to do some closeup work. But, they worried about it, so he offered to shoot a picture with all of them around the rock and send them the link to his shots. That worked out fine for all of us! Well, except for me. I got so freakin' emotional, I had to go back to the Jeep. Old age? Hormones? Or just the fact that there was a group of people including veterans coming to see a beautiful homage to our armed forces. Pretty cool.

We drove on in to the Des Moines area and I was stunned by the difference in weekend traffic vs. weekday traffic. I make this trip every week and today was pretty wild. Obviously it was the start of a week of touring. I've never seen so many immense tour buses heading west. You might say they were doing RAGBRAI, but I doubt it. However, I did see bus after bus loaded with people and bicycles heading for Council Bluffs. When we got back this evening and drove past the park filled with tents, buses and people, it was an awesome image (and one we didn't take time to shoot since we were flying by on the interstate).

But, weekend drivers are not weekday drivers. They are rude, impatient and don't know how to courteously drive the interstate. I spent more time hitting the brakes today than I ever have. There is a common courtesy to driving the interstate and it generally includes moving to the right as soon as possible. That didn't happen.

Going east - knowing I didn't have to deal with RAGBRAI traffic yet, all of a sudden at a normal construction area, I was slamming on the brakes. Slamming them! Traffic went from about 65 mph to a full stop! Much cursing and swearing came flying out of my mouth. I did have to explain to Max that in the past weeks as I have been driving back and forth across Iowa, I spend a lot of time talking to the traffic around me. There was no good reason to be at a full stop, just idiots who don't know how to maneuver on the interstate, that's all I could come up with.

We turned north on Highway 141 and I had to introduce Max to Maid-Rite. I love loose meat sandwiches. It was a good time to stop and the food was terrific. When I worked at the Tastee Freez in Sigourney in the late 70s, we had a fabulous Maidrite sandwich. Mmmmm ... good! And carb-free Max even got a Maid-Rite salad today!

The next stop was a trip to Hwy 210 between Woodward and Madrid. I had made this one day as I totally missed the Hwy 17 exit and had to do a quick jig-jog to pick it up and head on to Bell's Dell. There was an absolutely gorgeous sight on this highway. As I passed over the Des Moines River, there were open pylons, obviously from an old bridge, sitting in the river. It was very 'Lord of the Rings' looking and I knew that Max had to shoot it for me.

Before we got there, though, we stopped in Woodward to see if there was something interesting to shoot. Max found some cool old buildings, but I had heard music while waiting for him and upon investigating saw a man in his 40s playing the guitar in front of a bar. Max walked over to talk to him and found out that he is a one man band that plays in a lot of the small bars in small town Iowa. What an interesting character! And he's good! He played for us for awhile and Max shot a bunch of pictures of him. I took some video on my Blackberry, we'll see what happens with that. He was glad to talk to us about what he did and glad to pull out his instruments to give us a bit of a show. He was playing at that bar (Mr. C's in Woodward) later in the evening, so was just warming up his chops when I heard him. You can find him on MySpace - Mojo Johnson.

We finally pulled ourselves away from him and headed on down the highway to shoot the old bridge. I'm hoping Max got some great stuff there, I love the place!

Then on to Madrid, and south on 17. There's a new Hindu Temple and Cultural Center being built just off of Hwy 17. When it's a little further along, we'll go back and shoot some pictures. As we pulled into the parking lot, there was a lot of construction happening, so shots wouldn't have been great. But, I think that in the morning with the sun streaming on its eastern face, it is going to simply gleam!

We started home and managed to get caught in hideous (I'm not kidding here) traffic on the interstate around the construction sites. Completely unexpected. Again, we were at least 8 miles from the construction slowdown when all of a sudden I was screaming my brakes because all traffic was coming down from 75 mph to a full stop again. I ended up on the shoulder, not because I was going to hit someone, but the poor woman behind me had very little control of her brakes and needed a few extra feet to stop. I knew that with my Jeep I could crawl out of the median and she would never be able to do that. Fortunately, there were no crazy crashes with that insanity, but there were a bunch of people riding the shoulders to get their rigs stopped.

After stop and go traffic, we pulled off at Adair for gas and a break and then I headed north to Highway 44 to go across the state. I doubt that I went any faster than the people on the interstate, but my patience wasn't boiling out of the car at the insanity of the travel and we saw more of the beauty of the day.

So ... we're home and Max is processing his photos. I will post a link here later for them and maybe even just post a picture blog with a few of my favorites.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday afternoon randomness

I've been wandering around the net for a few days looking at random things and have these items to share with you.

There are a lot of things that scare the ever-living hell out of me. THIS would be one of them. I was not at all happy with the idea of the 'bird's-eye view' of the Grand Canyon and I can't imagine that I would be any happier with walking out onto a glass-enclosed deck in the upper levels of the Sears Tower. NOT happening! I'm pretty sure I would fall into a heap and have to be dragged away because none of my limbs would continue to operate.

My friend, April Kelly, has written a book on Gratitude Leadership. She was interviewed on WGN in Chicago the other day and it was a fabulous interview! I'm a little proud of her! Yes, it is very important to say Thank You, even when you are the boss! It's amazing what those two little words can inspire in an employee.

I think the bane of my existence while working at Faith-Westwood was meetings. Oh my goodness, but they could make a meeting last forever and turn it into a moment in hell. I'd never seen anything like it, but I'm also certain that we weren't alone in the preponderance of stupid meetings. So, if you would like to set a Meeting Cost Ticker to run on your laptop at the beginning of your next meeting, you might inspire them to cut things short before they reach the cost of the national debt.

The Codex Sinaiticus was completed last Monday and came fully online. It was discovered in 1844, and is the oldest Greek translation of the Scriptures. It has been spread out across the world since that point. Now, finally, scholars have access to all of the leaves of parchment. This is an incredible feat and very exciting to me. Oh my goodness, how cool the internet it!

I have always loved model trains. We were never in a position to actually start building a set, well, actually my brother made a stab at it at one point, but it never got to a point that he felt like it was worth his time and effort. The father of one of my high school boyfriends had a wonderful model train setup in their basement. I took Matthew to one in Golden, Colorado several times when he was really young. But, THIS one is just cool! Oh, I love this stuff.

That's enough for now. Yup, the internet makes me happy.

Covered in 'em

Ok, really? This is nuts.

It's after midnight and I may finally be able to fall asleep. But, only because I am so coated in Solarcaine with AloeExtra that my pores no longer breathe!

My sister, Carol had a birthday party at her house Saturday night. Most of us (ok, pretty much all of us) were outside in her backyard. Freshly mown that afternoon. Carol asked me in the middle of the afternoon if she should fog it. I poohpoohed the idea. We'll be fine. HAHAHAHA!! Bite me, will you! Well, actually they did.

I am literally covered in chigger bites. I haven't had them this bad since I was in ... well, since at least the 1970s. These things itch and itch and itch and before I know it there are bites popping out all over everywhere on my body. At first, I just thought I had a few mosquito bites. Those are pretty tolerable and easy to deal with. But, this? This is nuts!

And oh yes, there will be scars. Guaranteed. The thing is - at my age? I don't give a hoot in hell. If a scar is required to itch the scratch away, fine!

I had sprayed Solarcaine earlier - but, then discovered the gel ... much better.

So, Carol ... next time don't bother asking ... just fog the damned place. We'll all be a lot happier and I won't be wide awake after midnight because my itches need to be scratched!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Complete Insanity

I pretty much had a meltdown day. The worst thing was, I saw it coming and could do nothing about it. I did try to keep it from as many people as possible, because sharing my insanity actually only propagates it and doesn't correct it. I knew that my hormones were heading out of control and I knew that I wouldn't be able to manage them.

So, I simply fell apart. I cried and cried and made weird stuff up in my head. I believed the worst about myself and every single one of my friends and family. I kept telling myself, "this is not real, it's only hormones," but even knowing the truth of the situation could not keep the insane thoughts at bay.

Fortunately, for me, all of this insanity is temporary. I can't imagine being a young mother with a newborn child and having a long term bout of post partum depression. The insanity that I was dealing with today could have easily driven me over the edge. Even knowing what I was dealing with, I had to do everything in my power to stop myself from making very poor decisions based on my emotions. If I had to deal with this day after day, hour after hour, for a longer period of time, I would quickly become unable to discern between insanity and reality.

And then, I felt the hormones stabilize and I was able to function again.

I am generally a very pragmatic, level headed person. To lose myself to emotional upheaval is tantamount to plunging headfirst into a rushing river. I do not like to accept that in myself. But at some point, I simply can't change what it is.

I did post on Facebook that I needed to be placed into a padded cell with narcotics. While that is funny, the main thing that needs to happen when I get like this is that I am separated from anyone I love. I will say terrible, terrible things if given the chance. Things that I can't take back. I'm filled with self-pity and ignore everything that is happening around me, focusing only on myself. Oh, that disgusts me!

Padded cell, narcotics to help me sleep through it until I regain sanity. Makes sense to me! Maybe we should just do that for me for the next few years - maybe I'll finally get through this hormonal fluctuation and fully be in menopause. There, that's a great idea!

Old Friends - New Information

My interaction with technology is a curious thing. For the most part, I accept and embrace it. Then, there's this entirely different part of me that is stunned by the changes that technology has wrought in my life.

When I got married in 1994, the internet was just beginning to be introduced to the general public. Those of us that had played on various networks (CompUServe, GEnie, early AOL, etc.) had been communicating across the miles for a lot of years. I started in 1987. In fact, I can still put my hand on the reference guide from GEnie 1987.

But, I think the most amazing thing is the acceptance of these very radical changes into our lives in a short period of time. Even simple things ... like power windows and locks in my car. It just doesn't feel like it has been all that long since we actually had to manually lock our car doors or roll the windows up and down. A compass and outside thermometer right there in my vehicle? Well, that's just weird! Cell phones don't show up in a lot of the novels I'm reading and it always startles me, because I know that the plot of the book could be totally transformed with one quick cell call. But, for books written in the 90s, they weren't commonly used and the poor victim is stuck on the side of the road with no assistance coming.

Now I'm on Facebook. I've found an incredible number of old friends. It's been overwhelming to me, sometimes a little emotional, sometimes very exciting.

When we were growing up, we spent 4-6 years in a community and then moved away. Because Dad wanted the next pastor to be able to integrate himself fully into the life of the church, we were expected to leave our friends behind and make new friends as quickly as possible. All communication was cut off pretty quickly.

That training in my early years followed me through the rest of my life. I don't think I realized it until just this year as I was finding friends again. I've managed to maintain connections to a very few friends from my past, but it is very few. There were people that I had shared deep connections with during the time we were together, but when I moved away, I allowed those connections to sever or simply wither away because all I knew how to do was move on and start over.

Though it was generally quite innocent on my part, I had probably hurt some of these people with my seeming callous behavior. I simply didn't know how to do this any differently.

As I reconnect with some of these people, I know that I am going to have to re-build trust. They may never trust me again with a friendship and I understand that. Right now I'm just glad to know they are alive and happy.

But, all of this is quite exciting. I think about (didn't experience, I'm not that old) the transformation that happened as the telegraph and later, the telephone brought to our world. People began communicating across miles and miles. Though there have been many critics of the mobile society that we have become, I am thankful for the chance to reconnect with people I thought I had lost, even if it is only in short bursts of information. That's more than I have had in 30 years with some of them and more than I probably ever would have been able to have.

Sometimes life is just fun!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sucker for Legos

I have always loved Legos. I don't own any of them personally, but my nephews ended up with more than they should have because I was always buying them for those boys. I love the patterns that these little blocks create and I love that you can either follow a design or make your own. I used to get lost in Legoland at Mall of America, I enjoy every single piece of Lego mania on the internet.

This is the newest: Brickworkz

This guy uses Legos to make mosaics - photographs, business displays. His stuff is phenomenal! And of course, I love it.

This site has some fabulous projects - glorious churches with incredible detail and many other things.

There will never be enough Legos for me. I have no place to put them in my life so I will thoroughly enjoy watching what others do with them. If you have a favorite site, post it ... I'll be very happy!

Not much to say, I guess

I was doing so well there for awhile. Maybe I've run out of words! Who knows.

The last few months have been wonderful. I've spent a lot of time at the cabin, I've prepared a few sermons, I've written a lot of blog posts on my other blog (Pour Out a Blessing), I've been singing with the worship team at Gretna UMC, I've rediscovered old friends and I'm working at rediscovering myself!

It's been a pretty wonderful summer so far and I see no reason it won't continue this way.

Yesterday was my sister, Carol's birthday. She bought her first house this year and finished her second year of teaching 6th grade. All I can say is - Yea Carol!

My brother has been tearing through construction at the cabin. We deconstructed a lot last year and things are starting to come back together again. It's nice to know that we are going to make this place better than it ever has been. It's just going to take some time and effort. much of the cabin was built in the 1970s and though I hate to admit that it might be old (I graduated in 1977 so be careful), there are a lot of things that need to be replaced and restored.

We bring in various people to do different types of work out there (plumbers, electricians, well diggers, etc.) and I can not believe the difference in attitude from central Iowa to Omaha. Prices are reasonable and fair, they are all gentlemen and treat me with respect, even though they are working with my brother long distance. I just have the capability to show up during the week and let them onto the property. I haven't been treated badly by any of them. That's impressive.

The first week we owned Insty-Prints, a billboard salesman was in talking to us when a customer walked in and ignored the three women owners, went straight to the salesman and tried to order printing from him. He was chagrined to say the least and pointed to us saying, "I have no idea what you're talking about, these are the owners." I get that attitude a lot from men and it's nice to not see it happening when I work with people at the cabin.

One of these days I will quit relaxing while I'm up there and take some photographs of all the work we are doing. My brother is posting some stuff on his blog (The Novel Coder). There's a lot that needs to happen to get it where we all want it to be, but it's going to be a fun summer!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I'm NOT a Klutz or Amazon's Amazing Service

Ok, well, maybe I am.

Last night was a beautiful night at the cabin. Temps were gorgeous, birds were chirping, trees were swaying and making music in the breeze. Diane was reading on a bench on the screened in porch.

Sounds like a perfect time, right?

Sure ... why not. Until the moment I fell asleep with the Kindle in my hand and it fell out of my hand, hit a plastic chair and crashed to the concrete floor. Oh no! I picked up the pieces (the back fell off and the whole thing fell out of its leather case - nothing that doesn't usually come apart) and put it back together.

Hmmm, I need to restart. Well, that makes sense. Hmmm, it's not working right. Alright, I will take the battery out and do a hard re-set. I'm not an idiot (just a Klutz). Well, I tried it all evening and again this morning and nothing was going to make that thing work.

I hurried home this morning as quickly as possible and got to Amazon customer service. I admitted freely what I had done and asked if I had really and truly killed my Kindle. I was hoping that maybe there was a small rabbit they could pull out of the hat to return life to my heart and soul. But, alas, it was not to be. I'd killed it. Dead.

Before I could lament the passing of my Kindle, the customer service representative scanned my account and said, "Based on what you have here and your order history, I can offer you a replacement Kindle at 1/2 the original price."

My ears perked up and a little color returned to my cheeks. Really? Am I hearing this right?

I could barely form words as I said, "Yes, YES. YES!!!"

He wrote up the order, wrote an order for a return label for the old (dead) Kindle and as he began trying to explain how to re-download books to the Kindle, he said, "Oh, I'm sorry, it looks like you probably know what you're doing. If you have any questions, you can call us back."

So, he treated me with a little respect, took care of my needs as soon as humanly possible and did it all within a few minutes.

I guess if there is a company on the web that is going to own all of my information and probably my soul, I'll stick with the company that at least has great customer service!