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Skunk River Photo Essay

Today, Avy and I walked three miles along the Skunk River Water Trail, which I learned stretches for thirty-two miles from Story City to south of Huxley. (Map, next-to-last pic.)

Avy and I set off from a parking lot down the road from the historic site of Soper’s Mill.

The terrain similar to my walk last week, I wondered what I’d photograph.

And then, we discovered a dilapidated bridge stretching over the Skunk. And of course, there were a few other photo ops along the way. (more…)

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Lone Hiker, Blessed Day Photo Essay

On our walk today, Avy and I encountered a lone hiker in the forest.
“Hello. How are you?” I asked
“Oh what a blessing to have this day,” she said, passing.

What else is there to say?


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Ames Woods Photo Essay

Today Miss Avy and I went on a hike in a wooded area in Ames. I’m loathe to say where as we encountered only a mom and her son, who delighted in petting Avy’s nose.

Avy’s good with little kids.

The only noises we heard were the occasional bird chirps and chipmunks clicking. What a marvel the woods were. Leaves mostly fallen, moist, ready to wither and mingle with the rich dark soil.

Ahhh. Did me good to walk behind Miss Avy as she sniffed her way ahead of me.


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My Night with the Ames Police

A dispatch from Ames Citizen Police Academy training.

We’re packin’ heat

It’s late. Closing in on 3 am and I’m sitting in Officer Ashley’s SUV. A half hour ago we sped down Duff Ave at 80 mph, and then down HWY 30 heading towards Boone clocking over a 100 mph.

“You like this job ‘cuz you get to drive fast,” I said.

“It’s definitely better driving at night than during the afternoon shift,” she replied holding the steering wheel with her left hand and the walkie-talkie thingy with her right.

The SUV is now stuck facing down the highway embankment, lights shining towards the hill the motorcyclist ran off towards. He’d slid off the highway, a motorist reported to dispatch. She’d tried to help but he was drunk and belligerent.

My job, lock the doors and stay in the car.

My job: Lock the doors and stay in the car!

This has been a busy night on my Citizen Police Academy (CPA) ride-along. Ashley and my shift has covered the gambit. A harassment call involving a female student against another female student. A call for assistance for an elderly man who needed medical assistance and a ride to Mary Greeley. The EMTs and firemen came just like they do on Chicago Fire. A potential suicide call that we transported to Mary Greeley willingly. It seems the symptoms exhibited might be early signs of schizophrenia. A drunkard on University who barfed after we transported him to holding. Then a call on Main Street where we walked around to the bars in hot pursuit of a short male in jeans and a white t-shirt. Seems he bit a dancer at the “Dangerous Curve” bar. Who knew Ames has a titty, oops “dance bar.” The interview with the lady bite victim was delayed for our hot pursuit for Drunk Motorcycle Crash Guy. The Boone County PD have arrived with the search dog. Ashley reported back that the motorcycle is totaled. I’d really like a picture of it – evidence – but I’m following orders and staying in the car.

Had to be towed back from this.

Earlier this evening I was hesitant to go on my CPA ride-along ride. Scared actually. But came anyway carting along a few items in a fanny pack. My iPhone, a small notebook and pen, lipstick, my drivers license, and 60 bucks which came in handy at the Kum and Go when I bought a bottle of water and a snack. Ashley missed lunch and dinner and bought a slice of pizza. I was glad for the stop because I’d decided not to bring fluids incase I had to pee. Ashley said we’d stop if I needed the Loo. Now I wonder what if they don’t find Drunk Motorcycle Crash Guy? The dog is busy dragging the officers through the woods, and over a fence. It’s 3:25. I’m starting to worry. There’s no Loo out here. ?? But Ashley just informed me that the Safe Neighborhood team are on their way to bring me back to my car at HQ. Sigh! No dance victim statement for me.

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How Two Events Changed My Perspective on Life

Dave and I school

Walking to class at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart

When my mother dropped my brother and I off for our first day of school at the Merz Schule in Stuttgart, Germany in 1971, I was already able to recite the ABCs and to count from one to 10 in German. It seems I had an aptitude for the language, and within a year spoke it with a flawless Schwäbisch accent. (Stuttgart is located in southern Germany, Schwabenland.) Mom wasn’t pleased. High German was better. But Schwäbisch allowed me to slur over the genders die, der, “und” das, and to assimilate into school and the village of Vaihinghen-Rohr where we lived.

In 1973, my family moved to Peoria, IL. I was 13, and in the middle of a growth spurt. (more…)

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Life Happens


Dad & Me April 2013 at John Deere Museum in Moline, IL

In February last year, when I sent my invitation to announce my forthcoming Writer’s News newsletter, I thought it’d be a week or two before I hit the send button. But as I worked with my web-team to get the look and feel “just right” and every word perfect, February turned into March, and March ran into April. Then life tossed me a curveball on April 15th. My brother called to tell me that our dad had been admitted to Methodist hospital in Peoria, IL. Dad’s house cleaner had found him doubled over on the couch. His symptoms, a bowel obstruction caused by scar tissue from a 20-year-old surgery. Conveniently I was in in the Midwest instead of California and drove to Peoria the next day. When Dad went in to surgery four days later, it hadn’t occurred to my brother, sister-in-law and me that he would be dead 18 days later. (more…)

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Seven Books I Read in 2014

Ana ReadingOnce upon a time, I was a voracious reader. In my late 20s and early 30s, books were an appendage. I read while I gulped down my breakfast, at night alone at my table in my studio apartment, as soon as my favorite TV show had ended, every day during my mass-transit commute from Lincoln Park to the Chicago Loop.

One day, with my nose stuck into Steinbeck’s East of Eden, I was yanked from my seat on the 156 151 Busat the corner of LaSalle Street and North Avenue, pulled down the isle, and shoved down the stairs of the bus’ rear exit. When I turned to see what a fellow passenger had rescued me from, flames were bursting out from under the seat I had occupied. (more…)

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On Top of Arnolfo’s Tower

Palazzo Vecchio from Uffizi

Palazzo Vecchio – right next to the Uffizi

Today was Ed’s and my last day in Florence. The one thing on our list to do was to tool around the Uffizi. Kinda sorta underwhelmed after visiting the galleries on the top floor, we ordered espresso drinks and a fruit tart at the roof-top terrace cafe. As I sipped my espresso macchiato, I happened to notice that every couple of minutes a head or two or three would appear in the tower of the building next to the Uffizi. “Hey Ed,” I said. “Wonder what that place is?” (more…)

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Catwalk in the Florence Duomo


me and the duomoWhat was I thinking today when I set off with Ed to climb to the top of the Duomo? He reminded me later as we sat at a cafe after our climb that Paul, our concierge, had mentioned getting to the top was not for the faint of heart. Ed says he warned me too. I wonder why I didn’t hear Paul and Ed? Perhaps it was because I wanted to see the extraordinary view—terra-cotta roofs, the hillsides, and the bridges crossing the Arno? Or maybe I wanted to remember if I had made it to the top as an 11-year-old girl in the summer of 1971. (more…)

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Remembering Pompeii

selfieToday on the way back to Naples from Positano where I attended the Sirenland Writers Conference this past week, Ed and I stopped in Pompeii. We took a tour with a guide, who showed us, in his opinion, the most noteworthy highlights. This was Ed’s first visit to the ruins of Pompeii. My second. I had visited in 1971 with my family when we toured Italy during the first summer we lived in Europe – Stuttgart, Germany. (more…)

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