Friday, July 31, 2009

Gay Pride Parade

Saturday, August 1 will be the Gay Pride Canal Parade in Amsterdam. My friend Alec will be joining me from the US and we'll go and watch 10 Dutch American couples be married by the Mayor of Amsterdam. There's tons of events going on. The Yoga for men logo caught my eye so I thought I would share it with you all. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ted Gose

I was devastated to hear that a very dear friend, no family member, died this weekend. Some of you may remember Ted Gose, the man who donated his house to host my father's funeral luncheon. He died this weekend. My heart goes out to his 16 year old son, Art, who I've known his entire life and his wife, Barb, and his daughters and step-son.

Ted (or Teddy Bear as my father and mother liked to call him) was a wonderful man. Warm, funny, smart, and endearing. He had the biggest heart in the world. My parents lived across the street from him for almost 20 years and thought of him as the son they never had. The photo above is from a dinner we had at Angel's - a mexican restaurant in Sumter that my father loved. Ted arranged for them to donate food for my father's funeral. Ted and Barb always dropped by and took my dad out or checked in on him to see how he was doing. He was there to give me advice when I needed it and to help out whenever we asked.

I loved Ted very dearly. I will miss him. My heart breaks. Its just too much. The world will be a much sadder and lonelier place without him.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Road Trip 2009: Of South Dakota and Corn Palaces

Neither Alyson nor I had ever been to South Dakota or Nebraska. We had gone to Iowa as young girls with my father, I had been to Minnesota for a wedding after college. Since we were flying into Omaha, we thought we couldn't miss the opportunity to see South Dakota too. Unfortunately, we were trying to conserve Alyson's vacation time so we missed the cousins big trip to the Badlands and didn't have time to stop at Laura Ingalls Wilder's homestead spot that was about 2 hours off the highway but I have a feeling that we'll try to return to South Dakota. Home of Tom Brokaw, Cheryl Ladd, and Tom Daschle!

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Road Trip 2009: Surprisingly beautiful Nebraska

My only real interaction with Nebraska in the past has been awe at the power of the 80s Cornhusker football team, reading "My Antonia" and Little House on the prairie books, and my friend Linda who was from there. I had a vague image in my mind of long flat boring countryside. Boy was I wrong, I found Nebraska beautiful. I would even go back although I'm still smarting from my speeding ticket from Norfolk, Nebraska. At least the police officer was polite! And talk about good service, the folks at the rental car agency were about the nicest people I've ever met in my life!

Enjoy some photos from my road trip with Alyson.

The Pie Auction Video

4th of July in George Iowa, part 2: The Pie Auction

The Pie Auction

What could be more small town and quaint than a pie auction? I had visions of the Andy Griffith Show in my head. Some dear old Aunt Bee laboring over her peach pie but being beat out by the hot new spinster teacher in town so the men banding together to purchase Auntie Bee's pie for an inflated price. I had big plans to purchase a rhubarb pie in honor of my Dad who loved rhubarb pie above everything. It was going to be one of the highlights of the 4th of July weekend in the Midwest.

The George, Iowa pie auction was held behind the elementary school by the baseball field right after a musical performance and before the fireworks. There was a small amusement park set up in the parking lot with a ring toss and bingo. You could buy ice cream and popcorn at the concessions stand. I arrived with my sister and my cousin Catherine prepared to bid for a pie.

Imagine my shock and horror to learn that the opening bid for these 109 home made pies was $100! The first pie went for almost $300!!!! This was no small town Southern sleepy pie auction. These Iowa farmers were rich! They auctioned 109 pies with the cheapest one going for $125. And they auctioned them like a true hog auction complete with fast talking auctioneer, spotters, and a loudspeaker placed somewhere over my head. It went on for at least an hour and a half. I couldn't even get in on the action for what sounded like a gross pie - sour cream and raisin. That one still was out of my range at $125.

I realized I had been laboring under a misconception of what small towns were like. Being rural and being a farmer does not necessarily mean being poor, I have learned. Years of living in the south and being subjected to "we're going to lose the family farm" movies form Hollywood lead me to believe that in the midst of the economic crisis that was to be rivaling the Great Depression that a small town pie auction to support the school would be an affordable deal. I know that George, Iowa suffered greatly during the last Great Depression. Signs in the museum spoke about "one of the many single men who drifted into town searching for work" and my father spoke about times being lean. But with the age of government subsidies for farms and a heavy reliance on genetically modified seeds, modern technology, and intense fertilizer - the Iowa farm looks mighty prosperous compared to the meager efforts I've seen in South America, Africa, and Asia.

So while in many ways, the 4th of July celebrations in Iowa were as stereotypical and patriotic and fun as I had expected, I learned an important lesson thanks to the pie auction. I think I may now be opposed to farming subsidies for US farmers.

I suppose I was struck deaf by the garbled loudspeaker next to my ears at the pie auction. My cousin Linda has informed me that the video shows the pie being auctioned at $50. It was hard to keep track as 109 pies were auctioned and I was just anxiously awaiting the fireworks. But the first pie and several others did go for $300. Most of the purchasers were local businesses.

For those who feel that I maligned the good people of George, Iowa by saying how surprised I was that the town was prosperous, I apologize. I very much enjoyed my visit to George and found very pleasant people there. I was surprised at the wealth in a town of about 1000 people but I invite you to compare and contrast it to the farm towns that I've visited in South Carolina where grinding poverty is a visible way of life. The recession has hit my hometowns of Columbia and Sumter, SC hard and the effect is visible with for sale signs and foreclosure signs all over town and the line around the Salvation Army stretched around the block.

As for not supporting farm subsidies - I also invite me to send me info to educate me to your point of view. While the analogy of the pie auction and the wealth of the US farmer may be a clumsy one, I'm still not sure that farm subsidies are the way to go. Feel free to post links in the comments section.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

4th of July in George, Iowa, part 1: The Parade

In honor of my father, my sister and I went to George Iowa for the 125th anniversary of the town, my father's hometown and birthplace. I"m going to post a series of videos, photos, and remembrances of that weekend.

The Fourth of July Parade:
You can't have a fourth of July parade without men in funny hats driving souped up little cars. This is one of the best examples I've seen.