Saturday, June 30, 2012

to grandmother's house we go...

a video is in the works for the first half of our trip.  but with splotchy internet's become a bit of a hassle.  it may just have to wait until we get home.

we have reached the part of our trip where we need to catch our second wind.  we usually have multiple plans a day...swiftly moving from one group of important people to another.  and each person we see...and each plan that we make is just as important and necessary as the next.  chad and i got to go out with our friends last night and didn't get home until 1am...and my niece's birthday party starts at 1 this afternoon...but this morning...i took the morning off.  well...except for icing a bazillion cupcakes in the shape of a pirate skull and crossbones.

so, i woke up fairly early...crossed the backyards to chad's sister and brother-in-law's house...and set up camp at their bar...crossing my fingers for better service.

at this point, i'm surrounded by 7 children and swirling birthday party preparations...but this post is going to be if my life depended on it.


yesterday, i woke up tired.  after having a niece and nephew slumber party the night before...i had lost my "throw another log on the fire" attitude and was craving nothing but sleep. was the day we had planned to pay chad's grandmother a visit.  so...we drove the hour and fifteen minutes to steamboat rock, iowa.  it's a drive that i've come to appreciate.  it's quiet.  it's off the beaten path.  and it's lined by beautiful corn and bean fields.  the last 30 minutes, or so are trimmed with old barns, cemeteries, crop fields, homes, and cylos.  it's a photographers heaven.  i had to hold my breath as we rolled through a 4 way stop that looked right out of the end of the movie, CAST AWAY...when tom hank's character realizes his future holds amazing possibilities.  there just happened to be a big tractor rolling through.  it would have made an amazing photograph...but would have required stopping and getting out of the car...which i thought chad would scoff at.

so...i waited until we pulled into the tiny town, where his grandmother grew up and where she still lives.

she is a pillar in this historical, old town.  just in these last months...she was instrumental in having these entrance signs to town built.

we got out to take pictures.  there was an older man that pulled up on a tractor and got off to talk to us.  i figured he would ask if we were from out of town or tell us about the sign being new...but he ambled over to us...looked at my husband...and said,

"are you chad?"

chad stuck his hand out to shake his hand and said, "yes.  i am."

the gentleman said, "i'm ralph.  i was just up at janice's place this morning and she told me you were coming to visit today.  welcome to steamboat rock."

that's when i realized that the sign was right.  steamboat rock, iowa really is the valley of friendliness.

grandma janice met us at the door with a home cooked meal of iowa sweet corn, her famous mashed potatoes, green beans,  cauliflower, pork tenderloin (for chad), and fresh lemonade with home made sugar cookies.  we sat at her bar, eating and talking while she hurried around the kitchen, putting finishing touches on the gravy and popping more rolls in the basket.  i noticed that she was on auto-pilot...and that being able to cook without recipes, while talking to us and entertaining the kids was a skill she acquired long ago and mastered over the years.

after that, we drove around town...and soaked in the historical stories and scenes from a woman who clearly knew and loved her land and her home and the people who lived there.

this is a plot of land that i think would make a perfectly nice horse ranch.

we went to see his grandfather's grave...a yearly tradition that has become important to chad and his grandmother.  we patiently answer the same questions from the kids each year.  questions like,

"did grandpa kenny fight in the war?  did they play taps at his funeral like they did for your grandpa, mommy?  is he in heaven now?  can i put flowers on his stone?"

i always wish the same thing...

that they could have known him.  and that chad could have been able to talk to him more about the war and let him know how important WW2 history has become to him because of him and how all of our children proudly know what a B 24 is.

but more than that...i wish that he was still here with grandma janice.  you can see in her eyes how much she still misses him when she talks about him.

and that will never change.  she said that she walks around the cemetery every day.  and every week, she makes 5 trips from her home with a watering can to water the flowers around the war memorial there.

i am just one of many people who's life is incredibly enriched because she is in it.

we ended up at chad's aunt jane and uncle jim's home...where the light rain forced us into their old farm house...where dr. peppers, root beer, and fresh cookies were waiting.

sometimes, all you need is a trip to grandma's house.

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