Greetings from a nice winter day in Iowa.

The weather has been crazy this past week.  One day it is above freezing and sunny, then the next day it is snowy and windy.  The worst was on Thursday when a system came through that dropped three inches of snow in one hour along with 50 mile per hour wind.  This occurred at 3 in the afternoon – so John’s commute home was very bad.  It took him two hours and ten minutes to drive on Grand Avenue from Downtown, past the Governor’s mansion, over the new Grand Avenue bridge and finally home.  This drive normally takes 20 to 30 minutes.  He said the wort part was having to wait for drivers attempting to make a left hand turn with oncoming traffic not cooperating – so stupid people.

While John was driving home I went out and dealt with the sidewalks.  The wind caused drifts on the front walkways.  So had to shovel the deepest snow yet this year to get them cleared, while the wind was still blowing hard.  Can’t really leave them because tenants need to be able to make it in the building.  The good part is that once the walks were cleared they stayed that way overnight – the wind kept blowing but the snow did not drift back.  In the morning went out at 6am to touch up the sidewalks and apply fresh salt.


Still playing too much Minecraft.  The multiuser server I play on is called The Crafting Table.  Friday night the shared world become corrupt and everyone lost all of their possessions and their homes.  Logged on Saturday to a brand new world and empty pockets.  So been spending time setting up a new online house, farm for food and etc.  It has been fun starting over, but still think about how much I lost and the time I spent on it. Oh well…  So is life online.

The Central Iowa Linux Users Group meeting last Wednesday night was fun.  The 3D printer that was demoed was amazing.  It printed things out of a gypsum material that had the texture of chalk or a fine limestone, but in color.  They had things printed like wrenches that worked, small replicas of buildings and a car that look like it was made out of Lego bricks, but was one large hunk of printed material.  Would like to get a small 3D printer so I could create brand new 8-track cartridges 🙂


 Had skating lessons on Saturday and Sunday.  Can finally do a backwards swizzle style crossover going counter clock-wise on a circle.  Still need to refine my posture and arm placement but the basics of the move is occurring.  Bad part is that my left foot has been getting sore while skating – not sure if I’m lacing my skates too tightly or what.  I’m sure I will work through it.  Have lessons downtown tomorrow night – so will try to lace skates a tad bit looser and see what happens.

We both have been working on getting things ready for our tax preparer.  I started by going through a rat’s nest of receipts.  Organized the ones that pertain to the apartment building and entered them in an Excel spreadsheet for John.  Have also been printing off tax forms and history of interest paid for the past year from various websites.  Most of the time I can print them faster then they arrive in the mail.

I have the option to work on Monday (MLK’s Birthday), or take it as a paid holiday.  Going to work it but use the floating holiday on Tuesday so I can attend meeting at the West Des Moines police department.  Each year they have a half day program for managers of apartment buildings.  They go over topics like evictions, crime and etc.  It is geared towards larger apartment complexes, but think it is important that one of us go.  The documentation they provide has been very helpful and we refer to it now and then.  It is also nice to network with owners/managers of other apartment buildings/complexes.  Plus free donuts taste better when consumed at the police station 🙂

Work continues on the paint by number painting.  Spent several hours with it today and made some good progress.  John checks it out now and then and keeps telling me it does not look like I have much done.  All of those small irregular shapes take time to fill in… can’t rush quality.


Not much else going on – going to play Minecraft for an hour before heading to bed.

Ethan enjoying video of The Fox on my iPad



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Greetings from a typical winter day in Iowa..

Weather has been getting a bit better, having the high temps getting above freezing each day. There’s not much snow on the ground – more like mounds of ice where piles of snow once where. Lawns are brown and dreary looking.

Quick posting tonight because we are heading to monthly meeting of the Central Iowa Linux Users Group ( CILUG ).  It is a fun way to spend the evening.  I’ve been working on a Raspberry Pi powered laptop that runs Linux just so I can say that I use Linux if asked by other group members.  I also run Plan 9 to keep things super geeky.

Yesterday John had me call Lozier Heating and Cooling to look at the furnace in our apartment. John says it has been surging on and off like it can not sense the burners are light. They sent a guy over and $135 later it is back in working condition. Technician said the sensor had oxidation on it and he just needed to clean it off. Glad it was not anything worse. We suspect our central air conditioner is not going to start up once warm weather hits – was making some ominous noises last fall.

Last evening attended my employer’s “All Employee Meeting” at the Prairie Meadows Casino/Conference Center.  The bank has locations setup all over the world for employees to go and watch via streaming internet video.  The presentation is kept upbeat and fun as they go through key financial figures, explain how the bank is doing and give thanks to various departments.  As incentive to attend they have drawings for money at the end – must be present to win.  This year they had a lottery style ping pong machine where they would draw for a location, then on a printed  excel they would have a lucky employee’s name listed.  One of the winners was from Des Moines, but was not me…. darn… maybe next year 🙂

Ice skating lessons ramped back up last week.  John has caught on to the fact that I’m taking lessons at three different places – it’s a bit “excessive compulsive”, but have skating buddies at each place.  It is expensive, but can you put a price on my happiness and well being… Plus what I spend on ice skating is not much more then John spends on a certain habit that will be left unnamed 🙂

Have just started to learn the “Adult Level 4” things.  Most of it involves going backwards and doing various moves/cross overs and etc.  Problem I’m having it that there are not any other adults at the same level – so coaches are like – “Derek go over there and do your things, while everyone else do this”.  Takes a bit of fun out of the group lessons… On Monday night Coach Jenny had me start doing jumps on the ice.  They were actually easier then I anticipated and only fell once…

John just made it home, so I need to get ready for the Linux meeting.  Agenda says an industrial 3D printer is being demoed, and old computer crap is being given away.  I asked John if I can empty out the Jeep before we leave… no computer crap like new computer crap 😉



Hello from Bitter cold Iowa…

It’s John, haven’t posted in a while so I figured I should at least once this year!

It’s been a rough winter so far here–  Much more snow and much colder than the last 2 years.  Not cool Iowa.  In reality, its not even on par with most Wisconsin Winters I recall, and I think all this news about “shutting things down” because of Sub Zero temps is a little ridiculous.  Schools have heaters– use them.  Hey– What else did you expect me to say?  It’s me after all…

Thank you all for the birthday wishes.  Derek treated me well, and I do like my new toy.  I really like how Apple has made switching devices (granted, to their great advantage) so easy–  Just restore from a backup, and bam, it’s setup.  I admit it, I drink the Apple Koolaide.  Much to my colleague’s chagrin, I believe technology should be simple, and easy to use, and right now I think Apple has cornered that market.

So another Apple Kudos, as Derek mentioned when we were in WI my MacBook Pro started to give ‘Service Battery’ errors, and wouldn’t fully charge.  I wasn’t thrilled, as when the new “non user serviceable batteries” were introduced (with my current model) Apple said 5 years, 1000 cycles.  Well, I had 3 years, and only 59 cycles on my battery.  Yes, fully realizing that batteries do like to be used, and mine spends a lot of time on the charger.  So none the less, I did some on-line searching and found that the 17 inch batteries are nearly impossible to find aftermarket, and if one could, the vague descriptions and super high pricing (within $30 of what it would cost for Apple to change it) I decided to just make an appointment with the Genius Bar and have them do it.  Made an appointment on New Years Day, and brought it in.

Walked right in, and they sat me down, a tech booted my machine from their LAN (using what looked to be some sort of Pixie boot) and ran an Apple Diagnostic tool which I had not seen before.  It found, as I suspected, the battery was failing.  He said they would have it changed in an hour…  So I went to wander the Mall.

My sidebar is just how much I grown to hate people in general, specifically self righteous, me-first, only aware of themselves, Mall Rats.

So I came back an hour later, checked in, and the “Red iPad Guy” said the tech would be out in a few minutes as he was just finishing up.  So 20 minutes later I was getting a bit concerned, and asked the iPad Marshal to get an update…  The tech emerged from the super secret back room (really, I just want to see behind that door!).  He was super apologetic, and said “Something went wrong”.  Ugh.  Really…  So somehow in the process the logic board failed, specifically a sensor on it that measures the temp, and causes the fans to turn on and off.  He gave me a couple options:  Take the computer now, he can order the board and install it when it comes in, or send it off to the repair depot, and it will be back in 3-5 days, with a clean bill of health, and a 90 day warranty.  I sent it in.  Wasn’t thrilled, but sent it in.  Figuring I’d see it next Tuesday since it was NY’s Day…

Got the call Saturday that it was back and to come pick it up.  Went in, as he said, no charge for the service, or the battery.  How can you beat that?  No questions, no games, just done.  I tell you, even as I know we have good people where I work, it certainly wouldn’t have been that easy, timely, and would never have happened on an out of warranty 3 year old laptop, in fact, we most likely would have recommended replacement of the laptop simply because of age, and it wouldn’t be cost effective to put a board in it, or pay for mine (or another) tech to build it.  So, that is why I Drink the Apple Koolaide, as time and time again they impress me, even in desperate situations.

Now, only if I could find a company like that to work for…


 Other than the cold weather, not much else new.  We finalized our cruise plans, and Derek started gather Tax info.  He’s not happy because they are canceling his ice skating lessons because of cold weather…  PEOPLE, It’s ICE SKATING! it’s supposed to be cold!

I’ll leave you with another picture of Prince’s Rough Life…


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Happy 2014!

We actually stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve this year. I was playing Minecraft and John was watching TV – very exciting. Earlier in the evening I prepared steaks and lobster tails that we received from Deven and Melinda. They were delish…

Yummy New Years Eve supper at home

On New Year’s Day we received 4 to 5 inches of snow. I ended up shoveling the sidewalks three times to keep them clear enough for the tenants to walk on. Been wanting to head downtown to ice skate but it has been too windy and cold. Temps have been in the single digits the last few days – going between 5 to 8 degrees outside. The next round of ice skating lessons start on Saturday at Buccaneer Arena and then on Monday downtown at Brenton Plaza. Looking forward to getting back to skating and lessons.

John has been having a crappy few days. He did call into work sick on Monday and spent the day in and out of sleep on the sofa watching TV. I gave him some apple sauce cups for lunch and checked on him every few hours. He then went to work on Tuesday but was still not 100%. Today he seems to be back to normal.

On New Year’s day one of the tenants water heater stopped working. This is the Whirlpool water heater John replaced himself a year and a half ago. Tenants have been having intermittent problems with it not lighting, but it had to wait until a holiday to finally not relight at all. John called AM / PM Plumbing and they came out and determined the ceramic tube that the ignition spark comes from is cracked. It is causing the spark to occur an inch away from where it should be. They called Whirlpool and they are sending us parts just for the cost of shipping. I paid $30.00 for overnight shipping and they should be here tomorrow, maybe.. Plumber was able to get it to light before he left, but not sure how long it will continue to operate for.

John then brought his Macbook Pro laptop to the local Apple Store to have the battery replaced. The logic board in it went bad while it was under their care – so it had to be sent off for repairs. Apple is covering the cost of the repairs, but it is going to take at least four days for the laptop to be returned. So John is having to deal without his main laptop for a bit.

Today is John’s 40th birthday. I baked him a birthday cake and took him out to eat. He decided on The Cheesecake Factory at the Jordon Creek Mall. We have not been there since last summer, so it was a nice birthday treat. Lots of people were dining but we were seated right away. I had Steak Diane and John went with fried shrimp and fries. Both were delish, but I think what I ordered was better 🙂

John's Birthday Cake - simple chocolate on chocolate. Did not have a 0 candle so just went with the 4....

Afterwards we wandered around the mall and ended up at the Apple Store where I asked John to pick out a new iPad. John has been dropping hints that he would like to obtain a newer iPad – so this is a combined Christmas/Birthday gift for him. He went with a white iPad Air with a black smart cover. His old first generation iPad is about twice as heavy as the new one. He’s working on setting it up by restoring his apps from the cloud since his computer is away being fixed. So he has a happy ending to his birthday today.

Have been working on my paint by number painting – put in several hours on New Years day. Been working out from the left corner. The paint brush that came with it is going bad – the bristles are not staying in a nice point – so going to find a replacement this weekend. This is what it currently looks like:

Starting to get more colors filled in on the upper left hand side. Is slow and tedious to work on.

Not much else going on. Going to play Minecraft for a bit and check in on John to make sure his new iPad is working properly.



Greetings from a frigid evening in West Des Moines, IA

The temp at 6:48pm - ick...

Christmas was fun at John’s Dad’s place in Hilbert, WI. We exchanged gifts on Wednesday evening. It was fun watching nieces, nephews and family opening gifts and see how they reacted to them. We received an eclectic array of gifts from crackers to pickled mushrooms, to coffee and coffee cups.. Was fun.

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The day after Christmas I helped John’s dad prepare an ice skating rink behind their house on lake Winnebago. The lake ice is covered in snow and is too rough to skate on. To remedy that John’ Sr. cleared a circle on the ice with his 4-wheeler, then we made a hole in the ice and used a sump pump connected to hoses to flood the circle with lake water. It was 15 degrees out so the ice froze in an hour. After doing two layers of water/ice the ice was still rough but on Friday morning I put my skates on and gave it a try. Found a few 6 x 4 places on the ice that were not too bad and was able to skate for 30 minutes. My John was anxious to leave so had it cut my skating short 🙁 Was a lot of work for just 30 minutes of skating.  The rink will continue to improve and be used by family and friends in next few months.

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We then drove to Milwaukee, WI and meet up with John’s old trucking company boss at Swig for drinks and tapas style appetizers. We spent two hours chatting up a storm getting up to date with the “comings and goings-on” at the trucking company.

Then we promptly left Milwaukee and headed to my parents house in Thomson, IL – arriving at 7:15pm. Friday evening we enjoyed take-out pizza from Casey’s and got caught up with things around the farm and their assorted cats. The next day (Saturday), we exchanged gift with my parents shortly after breakfast. Received some nice gifts like a new coffee maker and JC Penny’s gift cards. Then a few hours later Deven’s family (Deven, Melinda, Jet and Scout) came over for a Christmas lunch and gift exchange. Received some yummy frozen lobster tails with steaks for a nice new years eve dinner along with other neat gifts. Again, it was fun to watch the nephews open their gifts and try to guess which ones they like the best.

Goofy picture of Melinda and Deven with their faux wolf hats

Last year nephew Jet introduced me to the Minecraft computer game, and this year he showed me an interesting music video that is a hit with the 3rd grade crowd – “The Fox ” by Ylvis.  It’s kinda of like alternative music for children:

John did some research and Ylvis is a comedy troupe and the song/music video was not done seriously, but has caught on here in the States.  Regardless the music video is actually pretty well done and I’ve seen/heard much worse.  I give them bonus points for including a reference to morse code and showing a code key in the video.

This is an interview with them on the Ellen show:

John took more pictures of my side of the family, but he is asleep and don’t want to bother him to obtain them right now.  Will add them to the next blog posting.

We gave my mom/dad an Apple TV, so John spent a few hours getting it configured to work with their computer and iPad. Multiple upgrades and tweaks later it was working well. Go John!

This morning we helped answer some computer questions Dad had then hit the road by 10:00am. We made it back home by 2:00pm. The cats and the apartment building are fine, but John is very sick. He did not feel well waking up at my parents place this morning and asked me to drive us home. I’m not a member of the “CDL Protection League” (John does not like how I drive), so I knew he was very ill. He was withering in pain and in and out of sleep the entire way. After enduring four long hours we finally made it home.

It took an hour to get the car unloaded and to find homes for our gifts. Then got our suitcases unpacked and laundry going. Then made sure John was comfortable on the sofa watching TV. I asked him if he wanted to go to bed, but he told me “I’m sick, not tired”…. Will be interesting to how he is feeling by morning. He really does not want to call in sick because it will mess up the vacation time he is rolling over to next year for the cruise.  So much fun… and now I’m not feeling too spiffy myself… It will definitely feel good to sleep in my own bed tonight.  Don’t feel like I slept well during our “tour of holiday family cheer” – just too much excitement probably.

So that’s about it… we enjoyed another nice Christmas with family and friends, are grateful for the gifts we received and hope the gift we gave are being enjoyed.

Did make a minor change to the blog – I turned off the “Mobile Theme”.  It is what made the blog look different on a cell phone versus a computer or tablet.  The mobile theme was intended to make the blog more accessible for cell phones that had limited browsers.  With modern cell phones it is not as much of an issue anymore and I thought it was more of a nuisance then a help.  So, if you view the blog with your cell phone it will always display the full web page.  You may need to adjust your bookmark – have it go directly to www.johnandderek.com instead of the mobile variation the theme used.  Just email us if you have any questions / problems.  I’m off to fold some laundry, read and fall asleep.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from a wintery Hilbert, WI.

We both managed to get out of work by 3:00pm on Christmas Eve – so we quickly packed up and hit the road for John, Sr and Betsy’s place along Lake Winnebago. The drive took us six and a half hours with several short stops. We ran into some snow around Dubuque, IA but ended up driving out of it. We were right on the edge of a large front of snow coming through – glad we were not an hour later.

We woke up this morning to 14 degrees weather outside – bbbuuuurrrrr. It chills to the bone. Here’s view outside the back window looking out onto lake Winnebago:

Lake Winnebago in the background

John’s sister and her family will be coming over for supper then we will have our gift exchange this evening. Our cats are spending Christmas with Brandon the neighbor kid who is taking care of feeding/playing with them, taking trash out and keeping snow off the sidewalks. I’m sure Prince, Ethan and Brandon will get along famously – we encourage Brandon to hang out at our place, watch TV, Xbox and play with the kitties.

John’s dad is making us breakfast – so need to finish up the blog posting 🙂

Hope everyone has a nice Christmas Day!

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Greetings from a frigid evening in West Des Moines, Iowa.

At 6:00pm pm the digital thermometer by my desk says it is 18 outside.  With a little breeze it chills to the bone even with a hoodie and winter coat on.

Love shoveling snow at 6:00am. Brisk way to start the morning.

On Monday found out that my Uncle Darrell on my Dad’s side of the family suddenly passed away at the age of 64.  My parents were out of town at a fruit and vegetable growers conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan but I was able to track them down at their hotel that evening to let them know.

Then went to the memorial service in Iowa Falls, Iowa on Saturday where I meet up with my Dad.  The drive took me around 90 minutes – Iowa Falls is north east of Ames, IA.  I had not seen Darrell or his wife Cindy for 20 years, or my other Aunts/Uncles/Cousins for that matter.  Long dysfunctional family drama story…  So was nice to see everyone again and to meet some of my cousin’s children for the first time – just wished it was at a happier occasion.  The service was nice and they had a yummy meal at the church afterwards.  Darrell was planning his 65th birthday in January – so the meal was a reflection of what he was planning – complete with cake and Little Debbie cakes (his favorite).

Work on my paint by number painting continues.  Finally have several color in place and it is slowly coming to life.  This is what it currently looks like:

Slow progress on the paint by number painting

On Thursday Ethan the cat went in for his declaw surgery to have his front claws removed.  Know this is a controversial procedure – some are for it and some are against.  We wanted to have his claws match what Prince has so they are equals.  Ethan was not mean with his claws, but he did give Prince some good scratches at times.

He went through the procedure without any complications and we were able to bring him home on Friday.  He has a bandage around his neck that is holding a “pain patch” in place on the back of his neck.  He’s been in la-la land on and off over the weekend.  He walks around and occasionally jumps up on the sofa and bed.  He goes so far, then stops to rest and shake his little feet.  Poor thing.  On Saturday he scratched his bandage a lot, but not as much today.  I purchased him his own bed, but like I posted on Facebook earlier this week, he does not like it and lays next too it.  Not sure if it smells funny or what his issue is with it.


Laying down next to his new bed..
We have had the Litter Robot for a week now and the cats appear to be used to it.  Only found one pile of poo “present” on the carpeting in the dining area left by either Prince or Ethan.  I picked it up and put it in the litter robot so they could see where it should have went.  

One mistake I made early on was to run the litter box through it’s cycle while the cats watched it.  It freaked them out for a day – they just could not figure out what was going on.  I left it off  for a few days and ran it with the door closed.  The cats got used to the sound.  On Friday I started leaving it on during the day and yesterday I saw Prince drinking from his water bowl with it was running in the same room like no big deal.  Success!

He goes back to the vet tomorrow to have the bandage removed and his feet inspected.  Expect to see him getting back to normal by next weekend.

This afternoon had my last skating lesson of the year at Metro Ice with Coach Beth.  Good news is that I have passed the requirements for Adult Level 3:

  1. Forward outside and inside edges on a circle, (clockwise and counterclockwise)
  2. Forward crossovers, (clockwise and counterclockwise, 5 consecutive)
  3. Backward 1-foot glide, right and left, one time skater’s height
  4. Backward snowplow stop
  5. Backward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle,( 4 to 6 consecutive, clockwise and counterclockwise)
  6. Moving forward to back ward and backward to forward two-foot turn
  7. Beginning 2-foot spin

So now I progress to Adult level 4 in the next round of classes that start in January.  I still have a few more sessions downtown at Brenton Plaza with Coach Jenny.  Next one is tomorrow (Monday) night.  Hope the weather warms up a bit by then.

Not much else going on – it’s only 6:30pm but is dark out and it feels much later.  Will probably do some paint-by-number, watch TV and head to bed a little early this evening.  Never under estimate the power of a little extra beauty sleep.  Gives a nice glow to your skin 🙂

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Greetings from a wintery evening in the Hawkeye state…

We received 3 inches of fluffy snow today.  Still coming down but is expected to stop later tonight.  Had the fun of driving the Jeep in it this afternoon on the way to ice skating lessons and then volunteering at the ARL gift shop.

Snow in front yard around 12 noon today

Prince knows how to deal with the cool winter weather

Seems like the snow plowing crews don’t do as good of a job here as they do in Wisconsin.    I-235 was a blanket of snow to the point where you could not see the white lane lines.  Few inches of snow in Des Moines is a major event, in Wisconsin it’s just normal…

Did go ahead and purchase an automatic litter box.  Went with the Litter Robot at a cost of around $360.00.  Seems like lots of money for something the cats poo in.  Ordered it on Wednesday and it arrived the following Saturday via FedEx.  The box it came in was huge:

All set to be unpacked

And the unit itself is larger then I had imagined.  Installation was easy – just placed the round part on the base, connect the power adapter and turn it on.  John took one look at it and told me “there’s no way the cats are going to use THAT!”.  Loaded it up with some Arm and Hammer multi-cat clumping cat litter, placed a few pieces of poo from the old litter box in it, and left it turned off.  Checked it a few hours later and the cats left some presents in it.  Manually ran it through a cleaning cycle and it worked well – separates the clumps out and disposes them into the tray below.  So far, so good.

All setup in the laundry room

Today I turned it on so it cycles 7 minutes after the cats leave a present.  It freaked the cats out – they watched it while their guard was up – ready to pounce if it attacked them 🙂  They are still using it so think all is OK.  Only downside I’m finding is that it is a bit noisy when it goes through it’s cleaning cycle.  Think I will need to turn it off before going to bed and turn it back on in the morning.  Perhaps I will connect it to a timer.  Enough about cat poo…

Work on the paint by number painting continues.  Finally have all of the black paint applied and did some dark blue (almost black) areas.  This is what I looks like now:

All of the black areas done

My strategy for completing it is to select a color the is adjacent to the completed parts in the upper left hand corner.  Then do all of that single color, then select the next adjacent color…  Looking forward to adding enough paint so it actually starts to look like something.

Ice skating lessons are going along well.  Had lessons inside at Metro Ice today with Coach Beth.  Still working on perfecting the 3-point turn and getting lots of the basics down with proper form.  The teachers are starting to have me put several moves together – like stroke back with right foot, then put right foot down, do an up/down chasse with left foot, then cross-over right foot over the left and finally lift the left foot up so you glide on just the right inside blade.  Is a fun way to practice several things in a succession.

Tomorrow I have outside lesson for an hour with Coach Jenny.  They are calling for -25 wind chill – so hoping the wind dies down before the lessons start.  I do get warmed up skating outside but hoping the wind dies down before I hit the ice.

Not much else going one… need to finish up my Christmas shopping online, do some paint-by-number painting and then head to bed…

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Greetings from a nice evening in Iowa..

Tonight after supper went to the Animal Rescue League and officially adopted Ethan the cat.  I have now become a “foster failure” like most of the kitty foster families do.  Now need to make an appointment at the vet to have his front claws taken care of – like Prince’s are.  Now that we are a multi-cat family, I want to see about getting an automatic litter box (robot-shitter) .  Been using the crystal kitty litter but it only lasts two weeks with both cats and is expensive at $14 a bag.  Think a automatic litter box would pay for itself because I could use clumping clay litter from Costco.

Ethan is no longer a "foster cat"

Last weekend Bernie and Mike came to Des Moines for a few days.  Was nice to spend time with them again.  They have not been to our place before – so they got to check out the apartment building and etc.  On Saturday we prepared a turkey with their electric frier.  It ended up really moist and yummy.

Mike setting up the turkey frier

Turkey cooking - only took 45 minutes

On Sunday we meet my parents at the Amana colonies for a meal together at the Colony Inn.  The food was pretty good.  They serve all of the sides and salads family style.  Everything tasted home made and was yummy.  I had fried chicken for my main entree and everyone else had a german sausage platter.  Afterwards we wandered around the different stores.  I purchased some Rockford Monkey Socks, cranberry wine, sausage, noodles and a jar of olive bruschetta.  Was fun checking the various shops out.

Be careful shopping with me - may end up on the blog. Dad, John and Mom.

On the way home we ran into some stop and go traffic on I-80, so it took us an extra half hour.  Was more traffic then normal – probably lots of people driving home from their long Thanksgiving holiday.

Have started to work on a paint by number painting that I ordered online from Herrschner’s.  They have a large selection that I browsed, then went with one that featured Adirondak chairs in the woods overlooking a stream and cabin.  Thought it would be something fun to do away from the computer.  Been working on it for an hour the last three nights – have started to fill in all of the black areas.  The painting is a very detailed with lots of small areas – so will take lots of time to complete.  After each of my painting sessions I take a pictures.  Want to put together a time lapse move showing the progress..

Paint by Number canvas before I started

After first painting session

After second session

After tonights painting

Not much else going on… heading off to watch TV and rest my eyes a bit – the are tired and sore…




Happy Thanksgiving!

We planned on going camping this weekend, but are unable to because the RV is frozen solid – literally frozen to the ground from 50 gallons of water dripping from it.  We did not winterize it because of this trip, but this last blast of frigid temps took us by surprise.  The temps are still in the upper 20’s, but John is going to try to get it winterized today by running the furnace in it and replacing the frozen/damaged water filters.  Ick…

Bernie and Mike are going to come to see us this weekend because they need to take their RV to Winnebago in Forrest City, IA for repairs.  One of their slide-outs is not functioning properly.  They can stay at the campground a few miles away from our place that is open all year around – same campground where John’s dad stayed in our RV a few months back.

Tomorrow we will prepare a turkey and have a Thanksgiving meal with Bernie and Mike.  This will be their first time seeing “the West Des Moines Ghetto” – so should be a good time.  Then on Sunday we are going to meet my parents at the Amana Colonies for a holiday lunch with them.

Ice skating lessons are still going strong.  Can now do a three point turn, sometimes, maybe.  This video shows how it is done – looks easy but the “shoulders against the hips” turning motion feels odd to me:

On Monday evening they had a one-hour learn to skate class outside at Brenton Plaza that I attended.  Was geared towards showing beginner skaters what it is like to take lessons.  There was only one other adult skater in attendance, so for $6.00 had a almost private lesson with my favorite coach.  Went over lots of basics and showed ways to have better posture and arm positions.  Was cold out but was still fun..

Have the airline tickets purchased with American Airlines for the cruise in February.  I watched the ticket prices for several days and finally took the plunge.  Glad I did because the amount of seats available were starting to dwindle.  Upgraded our seats to domestic first class so John will have more leg room.  He always complains about how his knees hurt him when sitting in a coach seat.  The upgrade will also let us have up to three pieces of luggage each at no additional charge.  We are flying out on a Wednesday and returning on a Saturday.  Des Moines to Chicago, Chicago to Miami each way.  Not flying on a Friday or Sunday helped to keep the cost of the tickets down.  Plan is to spend Thursday and Friday with John’s Aunt and Uncle before the cruise.  Will be nice to see them again – believe it’s been five years since our last visit.

We are still debating about keeping Ethan the cat.  John is tentatively OK with keeping him as long as we get him declawed and I find a better litter box solution.  The big holdup on our decision is #1 – Having two cats really is twice the mess, #2 – They wake up John at night with their playing, scratching and running around and #3 – What do we do when we go on cruise or camping – not practical to bring both cats along….

Need to head off and put a ham in the oven.  Hy-Vee had a deal where you purchase a ham for $21.00 then you get a free turkey.  Having the Turkey tomorrow, so preparing the ham today.  Is a six pound ham so will take around 2 hours to cook.



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