Greetings from a cool day in Iowa..

The weather has been pretty good for this time of the year – highs in the lower 40’s and lows around freezing.  Would like it to stay cold enough for the ground to stay frozen and not be muddy.

Had a nice Christmas with my parents at their farm outside of Thomson, IL.  Arrived there on Friday evening.  The drive was not too bad – took me around 4 hours with one stop for fuel.  Mom made oyster soup and it was yummy.  I believe it is just milk, butter and oysters with salt/pepper.


Mom's tree


On Christmas Eve they had a full house with my brother Deven’s family coming over.  Was fun to see them again.  Nephews Jet and Scout are getting to a fun age where they can both talk and play.  Was cute to see how they liked to eat pickles and cookies more then the ham dinner.  We spent a few hours playing with their new toys.  Jet did a good job at putting together the Lego kits with just a little help from me.

On Christmas I accidentally slept in until 8:30am, so we did not get to opening presents any too early.  The nephews must have worn me out.  Received lots of nice gifts – my  two favorites are a grey hoodie that has “IOWA” stitched on front and a sandwich press for making panini type sandwiches.

Then Mom had a trip to Clinton, IA planned for us to tour the George M. Curtis Mansion.  It is owned by the Woman’s club and they ran the tours as a fund raiser.  We had a nice lady from the club give us the tour of the place.  She brought us from room to room on the three levels and pointed out all of the nice woodwork, Tiffany light fixtures, stained glass windows and fireplaces.  She explained that Mr. Curtis was a lumber baron back when logs were floated down the Mississippi River from Wisconsin.  He was also a politician – served two terms as US Representative for Iowa.  There were many different styles of wood work throughout the home, perhaps to show off the different styles he sold?   The third level was once an open dance floor, but is now divided into rooms.  The Woman’s club rents out sleeping rooms – mostly to preachers at local churches.  They rented some out to college aged kids, but they partied too much for them.  The mansion is also rented out for receptions, dinners and parties.


Outside the mansion


One of the 8 fireplaces in the home - was just massive.


Another fireplace


And yet another fireplace - this one in the front foyer.


Mom and Dad

Part of the reason for going to Clinton was to take a drive in their new car.  They finally replaced their 11 year old mini-van with a Buick Enclave.  Here’s mom posing next to it:


Pretty sporty....

After the tour we went back home and I helped them with some of their Christmas presents.  One of their gifts was an iPad – so got it configured for their wifi, then got them started using it to surf the web, purchase/play music and switching to the different apps.  Then spent time getting a new multi-functional printer to work with Dad’s computer.  All went well.

On Monday morning I spent time with Dad going over plans for a trip they would like to take.  Last year they took the Amtrak train to Portland, OR when we were there.  They enjoyed it so much that they want to plan another Amtrak trip.  This time will probably be to the Southwest/Las Vegas area.  Still working out the details.  It takes some patience to coordinate train schedules with tours, buses, hotels and etc.

I got the Jeep all loaded up and headed home by 1:45pm.  Taking I-80 across was fine, but got a bit backed up getting into Des Moines.  Ran into some rain about an hour from home. Glad it was only rain and no ice/snow.   Made it to the apartment building by 5:30pm.  Did not stop for fuel on the way back – so made good time.  Listening to Christmas music on the satellite radio made the time go by quickly.

The apartment and Prince were fine.  Having one of the neighbor kids come in to feed, water and play with him worked well.  Prince was a little naughty because he decided to pee pee in his cat bed we moved to the living room.  I put it in the washing machine with a cup of pine sol and laundry detergent and it is back to being usable.

So what about John?  He spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with his family in the Appleton, WI area.  He then drove to Milwaukee in the afternoon and get checked into the hotel with no problem.

Yesterday he conducted some sort of audit of the trucking company – making sure important paperwork was being kept up and etc.  Today he is conducting training sessions for the dispatchers and office people.  There’s lots of state and federal regulation of the trucking industry that is not easy to keep up with.  He prepared the presentation last week when he got done with his school work/exams.

Tomorrow he is going to stop by the Devry campus in Milwaukee to talk with his advisors in person once.  His school work will start up again next week.  Believe he is taking a computer networking and a project management classes.  He is still a straight A student and on the deans list.

Was back to work for me today.  Had taken my work computer to my parents just in case the weather got back – so spent 10 minutes getting it all setup at my desk.  I’m “on call” this week so dealing with all of the problems users report to the development team I’m on.  Also having to deal with tasks that need to be done before the new year starts – like making sure different applications have the bank holidays entered for 2012, making sure there is a new archive database in place and other fun things…

Also working on finishing an application that reports how long it took for someone to respond to an email sent to a support mailbox.  Will probably be used by managers to see how effective their team is at dealing with them.  Then have some documentation for a new project that I would like to have done before the end of the week.

Been dealing with a headache most of the day.  Think I’m going through a mini-caffine withdrawal from the really good Starbucks creme brule coffee mom made over Christmas.  Thought I would be fine if I had it with food, but not sleeping well and dealing with headache is telling my otherwise…

Not much else going on.  I miss John, the apartment is way too quiet without him.  I even missed hearing Star Trek Next Generation playing on the TV – but not quite enough to turn it on myself 😉  He will probably be back Thursday or Friday… depending on how things go for him in Milwaukee…

I’m off to take the garbage out, make some supper and relax a bit… Would like to go ice skating later on, but will need my headache to go away first…

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