The past couple of weeks have been interesting on the home front. This year my good friend Jonah has been teaching me about canning. Much to my husband’s delight, and more often his chagrin, I’m slowly becoming a canning diva. While he appreciates the yummy product at the end, the stacks of dirty dishes in the sink along the way are a bit less appealing.
I am one of those people when I get something in my mind, I dive in head first and ask questions later. This can be a good trait, I suppose; but more often I inevitably get in over my head and, despite my most valiant efforts, I don’t always follow through on said project. This mentality is what led to what we’ve affectionately coined “Appleocalypse” or “Applegeddon” 2014.
On top of being overzealous with projects I am also pretty frugal. A couple of weeks ago, Jonah called and said he’d found a property owner who’d let us pick apples for free, and we could have as many as we’d like. The trees weren’t chemically-treated, to boot. Well, this set off all sorts of bells and whistles in my brain.
Here was my chance to not only test my canning muscle, but get a little exercise, eat a little healthier and to top it off it was free. Woot!
Early Saturday morning Jonah, Femme Wonder and I piled into his van armed with five gallon buckets, extension ladders and a good dose of humor and friendship. An hour or so later, we emerged with 10 of those buckets filled to the brim along with a few larger plastic totes. Jonah took two or three to add to his own apple stores, and the rest was hauled into my kitchen one container at a time.
Over two days, Beccie (Femme Wonder), our friend Wendi and I fought our way through the stockpile. When the dust settled we had 53 pints of applesauce, 44 quarts of frozen slices, 18 pints of apple butter, nine more gallons to dehydrate on top of what we’ve already done and made Erin’s horse Faith and her equine friends happy with the ones too small to process. For once, I finished a project. It felt pretty good. Tired but good. Exhausted but good. (To be honest, I never want to see an apple again for a while.)
Speaking of never-completed projects, I dabbled back into one of my discarded pastimes of cross-stitching this week. When searching for a project I started last year and didn’t finish for my hubby, I stumbled across a few more I started and never finished. Sorry Scarlett, I know that baby gift for you was due a good three and a half years ago before you were born. Don’t hold your breath, kiddo, it is back in the abyss of projects along with a few baby quilts that still need finishing.
Given I couldn’t find what I wanted to finish, I’ve started a new project once again, and a much smaller one — unlike Scarlett’s 36 page pattern wall hanging I was so sure I could knock out a month and a half before the baby shower…
The inspiration for this new pattern came from my co-worker, Julie. Julie started a sit and stitch group this week at the Center for Active Living. Femme Wonder and I headed up from Ocheyedan following the apple butter canning to see what it was all about. We had cross-stitchers, crocheters, knitters, embroiderers and more in the mix. Roughly a dozen of us gathered for three hours to relax and enjoy good conversation while pursuing our creative passions. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only crafty procrastinator in the bunch, too, as another admitted her project was one several years in the making.
While it may seem boring to others, it was nice to get back to something simpler. Activities without the Internet. Activities with good friends and new friends that allowed me to take a moment to step away from the hustle and bustle and just breathe.
Often I think we forget to take a moment for ourselves. We get caught up in what we have to do and what we want to do or need to do, and somehow the time for ourselves goes by the wayside. Now that jewelry season is over until next spring, I hope to find more of these opportunities.
A small portion of the yummy bounty!
This is half of the apples we processed.. HALF!
My poor, poor kitchen
Posted on 21 October '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. No Comments.
Time to hit the road again today and I can’t wait. Beccie a.k.a. Femme Wonder and I will pack up the car and head to Iowa City once more to peddle our wares, this time at the Iowa Women’s Music Festival on Saturday. I am so ready to see our Iowa City friends again. This time we get to stay a few days instead of our usual down and back. We have a baby shower to make up for and finally get to spend some quality time with two of our other friends as they house us for the tenure of our trip. I secretly or not so secretly wish I had a TARDIS so we could visit more often without a four-hour car trip. But, the drive down and back is something I truly look forward to.
I think if you can survive an extended car ride with someone without wanting to strangle them, you’ve accomplished a pretty decent feat. (Maybe my standards are low, who knows.) When Bec and I hit the road, it is usually a laugh a minute for the majority of the trek spiced with wailing along to the radio and the occasional critique of our fellow drivers.
It is a rarity, at least in my experience, to find a fellow kindred spirit who will go along with whatever insane idea you’ve managed to concoct. Our favorite Iowa City story is the day we decided we wanted to meet some friends for dinner.
A few exchanges between Beccie and I of “Are we crazy enough to do this?” turned into an impromptu road trip at 2:30 in the afternoon to attend a rally, eat dinner, turn around and come home. I fortunately had a boss who let me come in late that next day after hearing we’d be getting home around 2 a.m. (Jan you rock!) So yes, an eight hour round-trip to eat pizza and visit our friends. Totally worth it.
These days as life seems to keep getting in the way, it is the longest stretch of quality time we seem to get. So I relish these moments talking about some of the most insane topics while pleading with her not to post our foolishness on Facebook between tears where I’ve laughed so hard. Getting away from the day to day and on the road does both of our souls some good.
I think these little moments are not valued enough. Our 15-year friendship has endured many slings and arrows and long periods of little to no contact so now that I have her back in my life, I am grateful. I like to think we both appreciate each other and are more like sisters than friends.
Here lately I’ve been so busy and tired when I get home I feel like a slacker in the friend department let alone the business side of things. I need to prioritize better or figure out how to clone myself. I am not sure I am good at either to tell you the truth but I’ve got to start somewhere.
So until I master the art of time travel and cloning, I’ll keep looking forward to our little adventures and the crazy shenanigans we get into. And see Bec-ala, I love you enough to dedicate my entire blog to you which I think means I love you slightly more than my luggage.
Posted on 25 September '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. No Comments.
Writer’s note: I received a letter last week about my previous blog in the paper. I wanted to take a moment to thank the writer, who preferred not to have her letter in the paper. I appreciated your feedback very much and I thank you for reading my blog.
Well, I woke up this morning and it was a wee bit chilly. Fidget, my cantankerous diluted calico carried on a verbal exchange with my puggle Sammy until Mommy finally went upstairs and closed the window for the princess of the house.
This seems pretty mundane and the idea this interlude would inspire an entire blog is a bit odd, but follow my logic down the proverbial rabbit hole. This little cold snap we are all experiencing made me start thinking ahead and of that dreaded four-lettered “s” word I’ve come to both love and dread living in Iowa–snow.
The “s word” has come up in my household quite a bit in the past few days as we’ve been trying to make plans for holiday travel to visit my family back home in Kentucky or have them come out here. November seems safer than December as far as avoiding snow, but nothing’s set in stone.
As I went to the Farmer’s Almanac website my fears were confirmed. To quote Wade Barrett, “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news…”
Folks, we are in for a cold and snowy winter. The almanac’s forecast is grim saying, “The winter of 2014-15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation.”
Great. “No region will see prolonged spells of above-normal temperatures; only near the West and East coasts will temperatures average close to normal.” Groovy.
“Near-normal preceipitation is expected for the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest States and Northern Plains, while below-normal precipitation values are forecast for the…Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes.The Central and Southern Plains are expected to receive above-average precipitation.” We’re considered “North Central Plains” what does that mean???
Ironically, this month is National Preparedness Month and this dismal forecast has made me realize I am not as prepared as I’d like to be for this winter. So what do you do? Well, for me, after I stuck my tongue out at the entire forecast in disgust, I started making a mental list of things I need to gather up before winter officially hits.
FEMA’s website www.ready.gov offers great information on how to prepare for a number of weather-related disasters ranging from winter storms to tornadoes. They also recommend a basic disaster supplies kit with the following:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Well, looks like I have some preparing to do and I am sure I am not alone. Hopefully we can all benefit from this and look beyond just stocking up on the bread and milk.
Posted on 11 September '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. No Comments.
Folks, excuse me as I dust off the old soapbox. I have something I need to get off of my chest. With the turmoil in recent weeks around the world and on our own shore, I am left in a state of bewilderment as to what is going on.
I know I come from the generation of grunge music and a general discontentment with everything around me. However, I really find myself shaking my head more and more. I was listening to a video on YouTube and I think the presenter summed it up pretty well — we’ve lost our virtue as a society.
Now, you can define virtue however you like. I won’t get into politics or morals here per say. But, I think we can all agree, the general kindness for our fellow human being is fading and fewer remnants of it remain.
I know quite a few people were upset by the news of Robin Williams’ passing. I was one of them. But what I was more disturbed by was the reaction of trolls on the internet to Williams’ daughter Zelda — flooding her social media pages with doctored photos of her deceased father and other equally heinous acts.
How dare someone do that! How dare they! I don’t care who you are, no one, and I mean, no one deserves that. I lost my father to a brain aneurysm in my early 20s and cringe at the thought that someone would do something like that, period — let alone during a time of grief.
Reading the reactions to the situation in Ferguson I equally shake my head at both sides of the issue. Violence counteracted with violence gets us nowhere. Looting does not get your point across. Likewise, pointing military-grade hardware at unarmed journalists and other civilians doesn’t help the matter either.
I am all for peaceful demonstration and standing up for your beliefs. I will champion for the underdog whenever I get the chance; it’s the social activist in me. But I can’t justify destroying people’s livelihoods who have nothing to do with the situation at hand, or threatening and/or hurting those who are not harming anyone.
I just don’t get it. I look around and I see more and more violence, hatred and distrust.
A little closer to home, my friend Beccie and I decided to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge. We like to help groups however we can. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. So after soaking ourselves and challenging our friends, we posted the video online. Call me naive, but I really didn’t think that of all things I posted to my Facebook would cause a backlash. If I’d posted something political or religious, I’d get it. But two people trying to do something nice and have a bit of fun? I was naive.
Within minutes of the video being online, one friend who I was sure would have stepped up to the plate informed us she “didn’t do internet fads.” While I found that disappointing, I dismissed it. When her friend, a man I have never met, left a video in response that essentially said anyone participating was only seeking attention and not doing it for the right reasons — I got a little hot under the collar.
You don’t know me, Mr. Random Internet Person. You have no clue what I do or what my intentions are. If you think I dumped ice on my head to get attention or become famous, you are sorely mistaken. I know we’ve established I’m naive, but that doesn’t make me pretentious or deluded. I just don’t understand the need to attack someone you don’t even know for doing something most people would consider positive.
I’m not saying we should all hold hands and sing “Kumbayah,” and please don’t think I am suggesting the actions of Mr. Internet are on par with the situations I mentioned previously. Not even in the same league; not even the same sport. It merely serves as another example of that lack of virtue or maybe someone’s mom not reiterating that “If you can’t say anything nice…” advice enough.
I just think if we showed our fellow man an ounce of respect, we’d all be a lot better off. Maybe it is because I subscribe to the credo of live and let live and try to treat people the way I would like to be treated. I don’t know.
What I do know is I am looking for the brakes on this handbasket our world’s riding in.
Posted on 29 August '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. 3 Comments.
As I write this, I am worn out. The RC caffeine boost hasn’t kicked in, which is rather disappointing, actually, as I eye a half empty bottle. Or is it half full? Eh, I am not awake enough to wax philosophical. Give me a few more minutes.
The reason I am tired, however, has inspired this latest installment in the adventures that are my life. Ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, I am living the dream.
My Uncle Mike uses that phrase quite a bit. “Livin’ the dream baby, livin’ the dream,” is something my Mother borrowed from her brother. I’ve taken it to heart.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I am sure some of you can relate to this and can also probably relate with the fact this idea changed quite often. My dreams of making a career out of being a University of Kentucky cheerleader were dashed when I realized A) they don’t get paid to cheer, B) you can only be a UK cheerleader while you are a college student at UK and C) I can’t do a cartwheel. Seriously, I am supposed to hurl myself towards the ground on purpose?
Then I moved onto being a judge. Now that career was something a little more realistic. My being an overweight asthmatic child would not be a deterring factor in this choice. I watched “The Judge,” “Divorce Court” and more on my summer break as a child. Judge Robert J. Franklin was my favorite. I was going to be like him when I grew up. Then the dream was dashed again when I learned judges are elected and you have to be a lawyer first. I was leery of being an attorney who might have to defend someone who was honestly guilty. So, I just watched my judicial dreams play out on TV.
My senior year of high school I joined the school newspaper. Then I decided I was going to be a journalist living in a loft apartment somewhere in New York City or Los Angeles, working for a major magazine or even The New York Times. Or, I was going to own my own business of some sort and work for myself, just like my father always wanted to do. But, reality got in the way of those dreams for many years.
Following high school, I moved out on my own and quit college in order to work to pay my bills. It wouldn’t be until I was 26 years old I’d be able to go back to pursue my education thanks to the Superior Court of Arizona — my employer at the time — offering tuition reimbursement. Ironically, I ended up at a courthouse, first at the information desk and then behind the scenes, recording the court cases. Yes, that’s right, I got paid to watch court TV for eight hours a day. My childhood hero, Judge Franklin, was replaced by several judges I admired, like Judge Paul Katz.
I finally graduated college in 2012 after moving to Iowa and getting married. It was a day of mixed emotions, to say the least. My father, who passed away in 2005, wasn’t there to see the one goal he had for me come to fruition. Neither were my grandparents, who had also passed away. But in the stands cheering me on as I walked across the stage were my husband, my mother, my friends and most importantly my nieces. I doubt highly they understood, at ages three and four, the significance of their Aunt Robin being the first person in their immediate family to graduate from college. But I hope when they are older, I can explain it to them.
Moving to Iowa also afforded me the opportunity to reignite my passion for journalism. On a whim I applied at the first newspaper I worked for using writing samples from that old high school paper. It worked; I got hired. After that foot in the door, I moved on to my last job where I learned nearly every facet of what goes into producing a newspaper and a lot more in how to be a good human being. And now — well, we all know where I am now.
Don’t think I forgot about that other dream of working for myself. I do that too. My best friend, Femme Wonder a.k.a. Beccie and I have our jewelry business. Does it pay my bills yet? No. But you know what? I have a lot of fun. It pays for us to travel and meet new people, and that’s good enough for me for now.
I am willing to bet if you take a look at your own life, you, too, are living the dream. Think about it. Break down what you wanted as a kid to its core. Did you want a family? Get married? Be happy? Make a difference in the world? The reality might be different from what you pictured, but you are probably living out your dream. My house in Ocheyedan is far from a loft in NYC — but at its root, I achieved the dream. Now I’ll have to dream up something else. Too bad that caffeine finally kicked in.
Posted on 15 August '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. No Comments.
Life throws you a few curve balls now and again. When I began mulling over ideas for this piece, I was in a pretty angry place. I don’t bode well when people attack my friends — especially when their attackers are their own family. I had an entire rant prepared filled with glass house references and all. Then things changed.
As many may know, I am still the new kid on the block at the Globe. But prior to my tenure here, I worked for a wonderful weekly paper called the Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News. Ran by a husband-and-wife team, it is a small family atmosphere that I was very happy to be a part of for three years. So it should come as no surprise that when I learned one of those family members was about to leave us it would affect me.
Max was the office dog who at times was a very loud beagle who protected us from every person trying to place an ad or pay for a subscription. It took me a while to win Max over with many, many treats and bribes. But soon I made a friend who was pleased with the occasional ear scratch or belly rub when the mood struck him or my homemade dog treats.
Sunday, July 27, I saw a Facebook post saying Max was not doing well. In my two-week absence, he’d already been in the hospital section of the vet’s office and was finally slowing down. I never would have seen it coming. He seemed his usual self to me before I left. Fortunately, I had time to say my goodbyes before he passed the next morning.
When I entered the house, he was lying on the floor and I took up residence beside him. I tried to pet him and he growled. I just sat quietly and cried. After a round of mini seizures, he forced himself to stand to come over to me and I bawled all the more. Finally,he let me pet him and stood as long as he could before laying down beside me as I continued to pet him gently. During this 20-plus minute exchange, a few revelations dawned on me between the streams of tears.
Life’s too short. Two weeks before Max was fine, then, not so much. You have no guarantees. I learned this lesson long ago when my father passed unexpectedly, but it took a beagle to remind me. Harboring the anger and hurt does no one any good, especially yourself. Me silently cursing those that have wronged me or my friends only eats at the pit of my stomach, no one else’s. If our time here is limited and can end at any moment, why spend it angry and upset?
Do something that matters. Something to better your fellow man, something worthwhile, something you can enjoy. While you do need to stand up for yourself, attacking back isn’t always the way.
Thanks Max. Thanks for all of the memories and for reminding me what is really important. Thank you for sharing a quiet moment with me that I’ll cherish. Enjoy chasing rabbits in the sky, buddy. I’ll be sure to bring you treats when we see each other again.
Posted on 4 August '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. No Comments.
High above the bustling metropolis of Ocheyedan, a lone figure casts a silhouette against the moon’s eerie glow. An Iowa breeze causes a cape to ripple as the masked hero keeps watch over the citizens below. She is none other than Power Femme, protector of the underdog, guardian of the downtrodden…
Meanwhile, back in reality, a woman sits in front of a computer screen, writing a blog for the first time in her new position as reporter for the Daily Globe.
Greetings and salutations! I am Robin Baumgarn, and I’m the newest addition to the Daily Globe writing staff. I will be covering both education and news in northwest Iowa. I am a native of Lexington, Kentucky and have lived here now for almost six years.
I live with my husband, Ryan, and our adopted four-legged children: Missy, Samwise and Fidget. I have a small jewelry business with my best friend of 15 years, Beccie, called Dovesland Creations. We travel all around Iowa and Minnesota peddling our wares at various festivals and online at www.facebook.com/doveslandcreations.
In my spare time, I enjoy video games, online roleplaying, spending time with family and friends, cross-stitching and in general most things nerdy. I must confess, I can’t tell you who shot first, Han or Greedo. But, if you want to debate who played the better Dumbledore or why the Lord of The Rings trilogy was more than just three movies of people walking, I’m your girl.
As of late, I’ve taken a trip back to my youth and started watching WWE again. Yes, I know it is fake, but it provides mindless background fodder while I am playing a game. That is until Roman Reigns enters the ring then the rest of the world disappears for a few minutes while I swoon.
I find myself taking those strolls back to yesteryear more and more. Perhaps it is because this year marks 15 years since I graduated high school. It could be I’m not ready to admit I am a grown-up or that my favorite grunge music is now on the oldies station. But I digress.
For now, rest easy Daily Globe subscribers, Power Femme is always watching…
Posted on 24 July '14 by robinbaumgarn, under Uncategorized. 2 Comments.