October 5, 2013

Even though I’m spending this evening in San Francisco I am currently riding south on I-5, the north end of the great interior valley, which spans California and is its agricultural heartland.  Last year on this day we were driving through Iowa,  which can claim the heartland title in the geographical (and probably more valid) sense. I have feeling that dinner tonight will be better than at the Holiday Inn Express in Des Moines a year ago.  Tonight we are meeting old friends from my hometown (Silver Spring. MD).  I love San Francisco and am excited to share a little of it with my friends.

The timing of this trip could be better.  We are remodeling a bathroom with all the mess and bother that implies.  Added to that, my brother and his wife are arriving for  a visit Tuesday and we already know the shower glass won’t be installed by then. Add to that the painter decided to paint the ceiling blue and I am determined to repaint it white before Tuesday.  This is a good place to interject an explanation about  how we get projects done at our house.  First of all, we are solely motivated by company and parties.  So of course we tried to squeeze the remodel in before a family visit.  There is a genetic component here.  I vividly remember my father caulking the new bathtub in the main bathroom in our house as my aunt and uncle and 6 of their 10 children pulled up the driveway in the family station wagon. in my memory parties at my parents were always preceded by major cleaning including washing walls (who does that?).  This genetic mania has affected my siblings as well. Ask my sister who marshaled her friends and family to move and arrange all of the furniture in a new home (including hanging pictures) in one day and then threw a party for the workers in the new place that night! Ask my brother who purchased a table that seats 24 people right before the annual Thanksgiving dinner at his house. Ask my niece who can work all week as a vet, manage two active little boys and their dogs, and throw a Lego theme party on the weekend.  None of these things would be possible were it not for the patient, some would say long-suffering, forbearance of our spouses.  None of whom fully understood what they were getting into when they married us.  So tomorrow morning we will leave San Francisco, less than 24 hours after arriving, so that Mike and I can get home in time to paint, clean, rearrange furniture, garden, shop, change the air filters, fix a sprinkler head….

But tonight–my favorite city, my favorite man, old friends, good food, and great conversation.

Walnut, Iowa--the Antique Capital

Walnut, Iowa–the Antique Capital

Everyone has an opinion...  so "fun" traveling during a presidential election season

Everyone has an opinion… so “fun” traveling during a presidential election season

Oct 5, 2012: Des Moines, Iowa

I had just mentioned to Mike that I hated antique shopping and hoped never to be in another antique store when we saw the signs for “Walnut-Iowa’s Antique City.”  I’m not kidding.

Walnut is a picturesque town—old homes in tree-lined lanes, an adorable downtown with brick streets, a bakery featuring homemade jams and pies, and…(wait for it) at least a dozen antique stores.  Shoot me.  In the mood to be a good sport, I slogged through several shops of collectibles; including a disturbing amount of Aunt Jemima products (actually any amount is disturbing).   I did get some good pictures including a sign for Aunt B’s—no Opie, though.

I don’t know why, but this was a tough day emotionally—sometimes the process of leaving the school and 35 years of being an educator is wrenching.  It didn’t help that Des Moines is huge and we went several miles out of our way before circling back to a Holiday Inn.  I must have looked as bad as I felt because the manager who checked us in gave us a break on the room and included a free (full) breakfast and a goody bag with water and snacks.  We were so wiped out that we didn’t want to venture into downtown for dinner.  Plus it was 35 degrees.

Sidebar—a week ago today, I was leaving Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, after a wonderful, fun, relaxing week with 3 friends.  I had a pale tan (not an oxymoron when you’re mainly Irish and German) and my hair was full and curly from the humidity. Today I’m upset and tired, my tan is fading in ugly patches, my hair is limp and dry, and I have a trip pimple on my chin.

Back to Des Moines: Mike and I headed immediately for the bar, ordered martinis and indulged in complaining.  We decided, before the trip, that we would have “Road Rage Fridays”—a cocktail hour in which we could freely complain about the things that annoyed us the previous week.  All we could really come up with was the truck driver that almost killed us and the exaggerated way Mike grips the door and braces when I’m braking…  Mike didn’t mention my tactless remark about antiquing (he loves it) since Karma had dealt with that…  After that we had a mediocre dinner surrounded by teams of U13 soccer girls.  It took us both back to the days we traveled to soccer tournaments with Max and both endured and enjoyed the relentless energy of youth.