Monday, July 30, 2007

Putting Up the Corn

While sitting in the yard, watching the impending storm approaching, our neighbor stopped his truck by my gate. "You need corn?" "Ummm..well, yea!"
We'd begun to think that this drought had affected the sweetcorn harvest. Eastern Iowa has been getting deluged this month, but everything had passed right over us and we were dry. The farm where we usually pick sweetcorn had announced a failed harvest between the lack of rain and the coons. So any chance of getting corn was a welcome chance indeed.

True to his word, ten minutes later, with the rain coming down in great big buckets full, Chuck pulls into the driveway to deliver some corn. I ran out to meet him, greatful for the rain soaking me through. "Is this enough?" he asks, holding up a 5 gallon pail full of sweetcorn. "Plenty! Just put it here on the lawn" I tell him and then spend the next 20 minutes or so bagging it up in plastic grocery bags to bring into the back porch.

The next morning the sun broke through clean and bright without a hint of humidity. It was a perfect morning for shucking corn and putting it up in the freezer. And for taking pictures (naturally). The boys were very helpful as well. And a flexible cutting mat is a must! I did 43 ears of corn that day. Of course, now everyone has sweetcorn ready and DH went out yesterday and picked two dozen more. They went into the freezer as well. Sweetcorn and home-grown tomatoes - it doesn't get any better than this! I love summer!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

RAGBRAI Time Again

If it's July and you're in Iowa, then it's time for RABRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa)! (Follow the link if you want to learn more about the event. ) It's the biggest party of the year with upwards to 15,000 cyclists from all over the world participating. Even Lance Armstrong is going to ride the whole way this year (or so the rumors say).

They start off dipping their back tires in the Missouri River and ride the week across Iowa until they hit the Mississippi River where they dip their front tires. It's totally fun for everyone (not to mention a HUGE economic boost to the small towns they go through). Registration is limited to 8,000, but many bikers join to ride along for a few days and never register. There are many, many support people who follow along as well. So, not only the towns that they stay in, but the towns that they pass through, are included in their party.

As we were sitting in the Painted Pony yesterday, twelve very wet and very nervous cyclists burst into the bar about six o'clock shouting "There's a tornado out there!!!". Another thing about Iowa in July is that horrific storms and tornadoes can blow up in a heartbeat in this heat and humidity. Luckily there was no tornado but these poor folks had been caught in the torrential rain and straight-line winds (I heard reports later of 70 mph winds). They'd ridden in from Iowa City and had stayed the night before in Humboldt. They got caught in the downpour about 3 miles south of town and hid out in a machine shed.

A lot of people will ride from their homes out to the start of the trip. Iowa City is a LOT closer to the Mississippi than it is to the Missouri, so they'd already been on the road for two days. The group had men and women every age (20-somethings to 50-somethings) and, in spite of their frightening experience, they came in good spirits.

After eating supper they got back on their bikes to ride to Mallard (where I'm sure they would stop and party some more) and finally on to Emmetsburg where they would spend the night. By this time it had started to pour again and even though we tried to get them to stay in West Bend for the night, they started off on their next leg of the trip. Well - most of them anyway. Two women with more sense than the rest asked if we could take them to their motel in Emmetsburg. They'd had their fill of riding in the rain and were tired after eating. So we loaded their bikes in the back of the truck and headed west to Emmetsburg.

This is just something that Iowans do for RAGBRAIers. When we lived in Onawa, RAGBRAI started off from there two times. Both times we opened our home to those bikers who were not lucky enough to get a motel room or who didn't feel like pitching a tent for the night. It was quite a sight I must say. Bodies and bikes everywhere! Since living in West Bend, RAGBRAI has come through twice as well. It takes quite a while for 8-10,000 bicycles to ride through your town, especially when half of them stop to party for a while. (Man! Those people can drink!!) We've met some really nice people, just like last night. It was a blast.

Oh - and this picture? I took this of my neighbor's house yesterday. See that spout thingy on the edge of her house? It was raining so hard and the wind was blowing so strong that the rain was blown out of her downspout. Imagine trying to ride a bike in this.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Q and his mom went home after the 4th of July and I've been hitting it hard at the office, trying to regain some control. I've mentioned before that our office is the Chamber of Commerce Treasurer and it took two days just to wade through all the deposits and paperwork from the Fireworks Golf Tournament and the 4th of July. I love having Quinten for a whole month, but we definitely need to work something different for next year. From mid-June on, Chamber is in overdrive with it's fundraising and July 4th celebration preparation. I really need to be available for check writing and other duties.

Things are getting back to normal here at home and at the office. I still haven't read all my blog friends' posts, but I've learned that I don't need to. I know you all are fabulous writers/cookers/photographers/etc. so I'll just jump in where I can. When my mind stops whirring I'll start posting again, too.

I hope all your summers are going swimmingly. Have a cool drink, watch your gardens grow, see a ball game, go to the races, eat some barbeque and in general enjoy!

Definition of Summer

The definition of summer. Period.