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A.k.a. The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
FROM THE WEBSITE: RAGBRAI is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. Heading into its 48th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest multi-day recreational bicycle touring event in the world. Des Moines Register Media has been the title sponsor of RAGBRAI since 1973.
Every year, the route is slightly different. This year, RAGBRAI came through Rolfe!
This is only the second time they’ve come directly through my little town in the 15 years since I’ve lived here. The first time was 15 years ago. In a way, yesterday was possibly a last in a lifetime event for me. Who’s to say I’ll still be alive for the next one?
It takes months of preparation, and the closer it gets, the louder the buzz of excitement in the air. Giant bicycles someone made appeared throughout downtown to mark the event. I went out in the calm of the day before to get photos.
Picture it: You have a town of about 500, give or take. Suddenly, a crowd of 20,000+ people on bikes comes riding through. It was WONDERFUL. To watch, that is. My bum hurts just thinking of doing it myself. I would have been content just sitting on the curb, conspicuously eating ice cream and shouting, “Buuurrrrn!!” as the skinny little munchkins went whizzing by. This is what will contribute to my early demise, I suspect.
But I didn’t sit on the curb (there isn’t one), or eat ice cream (I don’t have any). Like a proud citizen, I mowed and weed-whacked my lawn the night before so it would look its best. In the early morning, Julie came over and we sat on my porch to wave and wish the riders a hearty “Good morning!” and “Welcome to Iowa!” because people come from all over the world for this ride. Insane people, but people nonetheless!
Julie went home to wake Scott. I went inside to put on a bra (wouldn’t want to excite the masses) so I could venture out into public and take a few pictures.
It’s one thing to see 10 or 20 bikes at a time go zipping by from the narrow vantage point of your porch steps. When I went to the corner of my street and looked toward downtown, my jaw DROPPED. I’d never seen anything like it! MASSES!! Masses of humanity! There was music playing and tents set up and delicious smells of various foods. Totally worth putting my bra on for! I traipsed downtown to get more photos.
The race always takes place in the last week of July, which is frequently boiling hot. This time, the weather was GLORIOUS. A high of 81, with lows in the 60’s and a beautiful, sunny day.
You can imagine what a boost it is for a small town like ours to have that many people coming through. Besides all the vendors, several enterprising folks and small organizations set up shop. A ladies organization – and I speak from personal knowledge when I say they do wonderful things – baked dozens of pies. They sold all 750 slices by 9:30 in the morning!
My enterprising neighbor Nikole raised money by selling brownies. She’s also fortunate enough to have the best and only hill in Rolfe, and she wisely used this to her advantage, laying down a huge white tarp complete with a hose to water it down. The words “Brownies!” and “Water Slide!” were ringing out through the morning. There were a LOT of happy customers! Even in nice weather, biking an average 67 miles a day, one would tend to get hot!
It was a circus! It was a carnival! It was a mini-Olympics, all rolled it to one. And then, POOF! It was over. Julie and Scott drove through town in the aftermath. I expected to hear reports of lots of trash and water bottles left behind. Nope! Everything was clean, everything was gone, as if nothing had happened at all. But it did. I saw it! And it was WONDERFUL. A huge thank you to all those who made this event go so smoothly.
And with that, I leave you! May you find a bike with a comfy seat. May we all! Because you’re my favorite.
Every now and then you need an adventure. Last Friday was our latest.
My wee sister Julie and I are very similar, but with a little twist on each similarity. I like crunchy peanut butter, she likes creamy, I like Crest, she likes Colgate, I like estate sales where I know the price and can “hem” and “haw” to my heart’s content. Julie likes the fast moving thrill of an auction.
At a recent auction – and the auctions in Iowa are huge and every bit as wonderful as you could imagine – she didn’t see a dollhouse until it had already sold. Later, when she told me about it, I asked her if she could contact the guy that bought it to see if he would sell it to me. He has a store, and that’s what he does. We offered $30, and he accepted!
So last Friday we set out to the little town of Peterson, Iowa, a scant hour away, to pick up the dollhouse and see what other treasures we could find at the man’s store. It’s called “ThriftnPick.” Here’s the WEBSITE, and here’s the FACEBOOK page.
We had SO MUCH FUN. The store was endless, with row after row, and cranny after cranny filled with treasures, many of which were .25! Wanna see some of the treasures I found?
<<<Speaking of embroidery, I got this stand because Julie and I have decided to take up needlepoint as a hobby. True to form, she’s picked crewel embroidery, I’ve chosen cross stitch. This one’s mine from Ebay. I love it! So Steampunk-y. >>>
Speaking of Steampunk, not many would get excited about a bag full of zippers, but this girl would! They have so many uses!
I also found this piece of metal. Another .25! I didn’t know what I would do with it, but it was something you don’t see everyday, so I had to have it. Dollhouse patio furniture, perhaps?
Some more odds and ends:
And now for the piece de la resistance, the dollhouse! It needs some work before I can actually start decorating it.
The front. I can work with this! There were extra pieces of wood inside, including tall, carved wood spindles that would be good for a porch that wraps towards the right. I think I’m going to channel the house in Mary Poppins, complete with a gated square on top.
The back. Here’s where it goes all wonky. There are some rooms only accessible from the inside. I’d like to have the whole back open with two pieces of wood, like a book. But this is good wood, and with a little modification, this will be a great dollhouse.
I also found this beautiful sign.
All in all, it was a glorious day! Including the $30 for the dollhouse, I spent just under $45. Not shown are the kitchen stool, the wooden dollhouse window, a jar of wood findings and a few other odds and ends. THIS STORE HAS NOT SEEN THE LAST OF US! It was like Disneyland. You couldn’t do the whole thing in one day. We’re going back for Julie’s birthday in a week and a half!
If you’re in the area, and love a good treasure hunt, you should go!
And with that, I leave you! Know what? Even with all these fun finds, you’re my favorite treasure!
Next up: RAGBRAI. What is Ragbrai, you may ask? You’ll soon find out!
My new plan is to work one more year at school and then next summer (if not before) hit the ground running and go back to doing what I love best: creating. Before I get too old! To that end, I am moving heaven and earth to get the house around me organized and in good working order which involves many, many tasks. This is the tale of one of those tasks.
It all started with my garbage disposal. I wish I had a better picture, because it was spectacular. COMPLETELY rusted away from the sink above, and was only held up by a few old plastic bottles of cleaner. Just look at it! For that reason, I avoided “under the sink” forever, and just used the one side. When I got a home improvement loan, I was finally able to have the whole thing removed and turned back into regular plumbing.
Now that that was fixed, I really wanted a Reverse Osmosis drinking water system. Reverse osmosis turns your tap water into something akin to bottled water. No messing with five-gallon containers or endless little plastic bottles! It’s a little expensive to begin with. $700 to $1000 to have it installed, but I discovered I could buy a system and do it myself for $300. Score!
Once the scary disposal was gone, I gritted my teeth, put on some rubber gloves, and emptied everything out from under the sink, including an old mouse trap. Gulp! I channeled my mom, who faced this sort of task with grim determination.
After I bleached and scrubbed and bleached again, I put some linoleum tiles down. Much better! The plumber accidentally left that cord in the upper right behind. Even plumbers make mistakes!
My new system finally arrived. I have zero knowledge of plumbing so I studied the instructions backwards and forwards and bought the required tools, a 1/4″ and a 1/2″ drill bit, and I skimmed through a video or two. Finally, I was ready to go. I would install the system, have lunch, and take a nap.
The first thing I had to do was drill a new hole in my kitchen sink for the faucet that would dispense my water. It turns out, old stainless steel sinks are really tough, and the faster you drill, the harder the steel gets. The sink was smoking, the drill was smoking, I burned my fingers.
I finally found out I needed a special drill bit, one I’ve never heard of or seen before. It’s called a Step drill bit. It’s gold, because it costs a lot of money. And I’ll only use it once! But needs must, as they say in jolly olde England.
Surely that would be the hardest part, and it would be smooth sailing from there. Wrong! There were so many other stops and starts. Throughout installation there were equal parts swearing and praying, one loud and the other soft. More than once I decided to give up and call a plumber in the morning. But then morning came and I would try, try again.
Finally, I finished. It was time to turn the spigot. I now know what they mean by, “Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!”
It was leaking all over the place! I almost cried and probably would have, if I hadn’t already sweated all the moisture out of my body. I finally figured out I hadn’t pushed the tubes into the “quick connect” joists firmly enough. One last trial. I redid the joints and held my breath.
This little project ended up taking THREE DAYS. But I learned a lot. And it’s done! I did it! I didn’t give up! And less the $100 I spent on tools, I still saved $300. That’s $100 bucks a day! Would I call a plumber if I had it to do over again? I’LL NEVER TELL.
My next major project – after a complete overhaul of my downstairs bathroom – is my sewing room. You think my disposal looked bad? Wait until you see the room where all the magic happens! I’ve filmed the “before” and am going to make a video post. VERY FEW have ever been in there. Few would dare! COMING SOON.
With that, I leave you! Need a hole drilled in your sink? I’m your girl! You know why? Because I’ve got the bit, and You’re My Favorite!