It has been a hot minute since I have posted anything. It’s not for a lack of having anything to say; it’s just a supreme lack of TIME.

My last post should have been an omen. I was starting to have an awakening in my career. I actually made another LONG post in December but decided not to post it. One never knows in this career when written words will be used against them.

On February 1, I resigned from my job. I am finishing out the year, but I am so completely worn out. So many things have happened this year that led up to the decision. Although I am moving and can’t keep the job anyway, I was just done. Too much to detail and no energy to do it. Maybe another time.

Around November, I decided to enroll in the Applied Instructional Design Academy. One part of teaching that I have loved involves making materials and creating learning that is relevant, fun, interesting, and useful. The program is 9 months, but I am trying to get it done in 4.

That tells you how motivated I am to get into this very highly competitive field.

I know I would be good at this job, but man, is it hard to find entry-level jobs. Everyone wants experience. No one wants to take a chance on a former teacher. For some reason, the word “teacher” has a negative connotation in the corporate world. I already have a nice little pile of rejection letters keeping me company.

However, I will keep on keepin’ on. I am motivated to do something else – a job where my experience is respected and I am treated like an adult rather than a child. I want to have a job where it’s not normal to inhale lunch as fast as possible so I can get back to my desk to correct papers or check off one of the 184 tasks that need to be completed that day. I need to feel more in control of my own chaos – if that makes sense. Right now I am definitely one of the inmates in the asylum, and I desperately need to be out.

Know of any companies that need an instructional designer or a curriculum developer? I’m your gal. 🙂


A ticking time bomb

Silly me. I thought that the longer I was in education, the easier things would be. This is year 23 for me and I have never felt so slammed by expectations and pressure to make sure that everyone passes – no matter what.

I won’t get into the specifics of it all, as you never know when your own writing will land you in hot water, and although I am frustrated by this field right now, I don’t want to leave it just yet. However, there’s a nagging little voice in the back of my head that has been growing louder day by day with a catchy little chant: What else can I do? How can I do what I love to do without this immense pressure to be a grading machine, a super motivator, a surrogate parent, and a relationship builder — all while trying to run my own life?

The buzz word in education these days is self-care. My district focused on that last year. We actually had some good PD from it when we had Zoom meetings with a wonderful presenter based in Colorado. But the question remains – if this profession is so heavy and stressful and chaotic that we need to teach teachers how to take care of themselves outside of the work day, what exactly is wrong with this picture?

The irony remains that the pressures increase and the self-care talk is now replaced with the new buzzword: relationships.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble maintaining relationships with the handful of long-time friends that I have, much less 170 teenagers, some of whom have absolutely no interest in building a relationship with me. We are regaled with sob stories about students who give all the credit for their success to the teachers who went the extra mile. And that’s great, really. I know I credit my own high school teachers for instilling a love of education in me, and that is why I ended up in education.

But now the mantra is that if we are not going the extra mile for every single one of our students, we are not doing our job right.

There’s a napkin dispenser in our break room that has this saying: “Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.”

Whatever it takes? Every day? For every student? All 170 of them?

That’s more than pressure; that’s downright impossible.

I belong to a few teachers groups on the book of faces. It’s a blessing and a curse; I get some great ideas, but it is painful how vicious teachers are to one another. Once in a while, a teacher will post anonymously about his/her frustrations about the job, and within minutes, the holier-than-thou types start lashing out. Inevitably, someone starts preaching relationships. Surely that kid would not be misbehaving if you tried to build relationships. Surely you are lacking in some way. Surely it’s YOU.

It’s amazing and incredibly sad to watch the thread play out in a very predictable way. Rather than supporting one another and acknowledging that we work in a field that is not only difficult but even more so since the pandemic (for various reasons). Rather than admitting that student behavior is not just off the charts at our own schools, it is happening all over the country, we tear apart the teacher who admits that she’s at her breaking point. It reminds me of the teacher cliché of talking to another teacher about a student’s behavior in your class – then having to listen to the other teacher say that the same kid is an angel in their class and they are so surprised that the student acts out in yours. You walk away from that conversation feeling like a failure.

In my 23 years of teaching, I’ve been flipped off (with both fingers – an added treat), told to f*ck off (numerous times), told “tough sh*t” when I pointed out that I expected respect from a student, had my tires punctured with construction screws several times in one school year (no accident, I can assure you; that was an expensive school year!) and been accused of treating students unfairly in various ways. And that’s just the stuff I can think of right now. This year, I have more students than I have ever had in my entire career and now grading has gotten to the point that if a student fails, WE have to prove what we did to try to mitigate that.

Grades are due tonight. I suppose I had better get my defense ready.

I’m tired, y’all. And it’s not just me. It’s teachers everywhere who are dealing with students who have seldom been told “no’; who have zero parental support because there ARE no parents; who come to school hungry, unwashed, unloved, and angry at the world; whose only ambition is to work at the local factory so f*ck you and your English bullsh*t; ones who have been up all night playing video games and therefore can’t stay awake in class; students who get called out by mom and dad every time the kid says “We’re not doing anything today,” (which is almost always untrue); students who are really and truly addicted to their cell phones and cannot even have their phone off their body for an extended amount of time — no joke!; students who are carrying around a lifetime worth of trauma that even the best-trained teacher would have difficulty assisting with . . . the list goes on and on and on.

And now we are taking kids who are barely functioning well enough to exist day to day and asking their teachers to not only hold them to high standards but ensure that they don’t fail any of their classes.

After all, if they fail, it surely has to be our fault because teachers didn’t try hard enough. YOU didn’t contact home enough. YOU didn’t form relationships. YOU didn’t give enough grace. YOU didn’t enact good self-care and thus were not in your best form for work. YOU didn’t differentiate your lessons enough to meet all levels of learning. YOU. It’s gotta be YOU.

Add to all of this that there are students in education programs who are choosing other fields because they hear about the nightmares they will be facing once they get their own classrooms, and this country has a problem that will soon rear its ugly head.

I apologize for making this post about me and not something more fun like antiques or tablecloths or Elvis or literally anything else. This is what was on my mind on this Sunday, and I hope my next post is lighter in subject and way more fun.

Enjoy your weekend!


School Year #23 is now in session

I have almost been back at school for a month now, and it seems surreal. After last year, which was chaotic and stressful and, therefore, not much remembered since I was in survival mode, I was determined to return to school this year with renewed energy and a positive spirit. And, for the most part, I have. I’m trying really hard not to let the few challenging students drag down my entire day, but this year I’ve been handed a couple challenging CLASSES – where a majority of the kids are super high maintenance. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t dread those days a little bit. I have already categorized my odd day schedule as the “difficult” one and my even day schedule as my “easy” one. The odd day schedule is indeed tiring; I teach straight through with my only break being 40 minutes of lunch. From 8:15 to 12:10 I am working with students and teaching; then from 12:50 until 3:25 I’m back at it. I know people will point out that hey, I get done at 3:25! Yes, but then it’s sitting there grading and planning for upcoming days. I’m not complaining. Some years are just challenging for the energy they require from an introvert teacher, and this is one of those challenging years.

My husband and I were in La Crosse, Wisconsin, last weekend for the Elvis Explosion festival that occurs there every year. In fact, that is where we were last year when my husband ended up in the ICU with sepsis. It was a little strange to be back there in that environment, remembering the emotions that I was going through the last time I was there. I had felt like the rug had been yanked out from under me in a very violent way, and I remember wandering around feeling very lost and confused.

This year, however, we had a great experience and my husband drummed like a rock star, as always. My family was able to be up there as well, so that made it extra special. The only unfortunate thing about that weekend is not really having a lot of time to enjoy La Crosse, which is such a beautiful area with a vibrant downtown atmosphere. There’s an antique store that we love to visit there that has 3 floors of goodies. We were able to go there with my family and I kind of made a haul.

First, I found a catalog full of cookbooks from Good Housekeeping. It came in a little green binder so that people could insert them as they bought them. The binder was falling apart and missing the back of it, so I threw that away and took all the cookbooks out. These are such fun with goofy retro graphics and fantastic fonts:

I plan on scanning them all in, and I cannot wait to do that.

I am also a sucker for catalogs from the 50s and 60s, as they provide great eye candy about the stuff I could have bought “back in the day.” I ran across a 1963 Hilex catalog that was in perfect condition:

The cover alone deserves to be analyzed. What exactly is behind that frozen smile on mom’s face? She is either totally in love with dad or ready to poison his coffee.

Inside the catalog, goodness abounds:

I plan on scanning that one in too. And I want ALL those clocks at the top.

I ran across a little 1959 Christmas Cookie cookbook sponsored by Wisconsin Electric Power Co. The cover alone made me want to buy it, but inside are lots of cute graphics and ads, like this one starring Reddy Kilowatt:

And, yes, I plan on scanning in that book too. (I might have a bit of a scanning addiction. Is there a group for that?)

Finally, although I have kind of eased up on Pyrex collecting because of outrageous prices, I still like looking for bakeware, and sometimes I run across a gem that is reasonably priced. Behold, a Fire King divided casserole dish, with candle warmers – original box and material inside.

The tag claimed it was “unused,” but the melted candle wax in the warmers suggests differently. Then again, the wax could have melted while being stored somewhere warm. Who knows. All I know is that $28 was a steal for something like this. Those are the prices I am used to paying for bakeware; none of that $250 nonsense that I’m seeing in a lot of antique stores for Pyrex pieces. I mean, people are selling the turquoise starburst casserole dish by Pyrex for $800 and higher. That is simply stupid.

Anyway, I know that my “to be scanned” pile is reaching ridiculous heights. I still need to finish up my postcard project that I started during the leisurely months of summer. I only have, oh, a few hundred left to go. Maybe I’ll use this Saturday to get that cleared off my plate before I start something new.

Have a fantastic weekend!


The deafening roar of silence

That’s it. I’m officially an empty-nester. My husband and I were heading down to Memphis for Elvis Week a couple weeks ago, and on the way, we dropped off my son at his new apartment that he will share with his brother as he starts college. (He does drive, but his car is in the shop at the moment.) I knew it would be weird, but I didn’t realize how weird it would be to come home to absolute silence.

When I plan supper, my first instinct is to ask him what he’s in the mood for.

And he’s no longer there to answer.

When I go to the grocery store, my first instinct is to ask if there’s anything he needs.

But now he’s in his own apartment now and buying his own food.

I know this is a rite of passage – for both of us – but I never thought that it would be this difficult to adjust. I worry about him. I wonder if he’s eating right. I feel his anxiety for starting the first day of school and trying to find his classes. I wonder if he’ll meet friends whom he will keep in touch with for the rest of his life.

Above all, it is the strange feeling of bafflement that I raised two boys to adulthood. I remember when they were, say, 5 and 7 and graduation seemed light years away. In the blink of an eye, it’s all over. All the stress, all the running around, all the keeping 5,893 tabs open in my brain to keep track of all the kid stuff — it’s all over, for the most part. No more school conferences. No more Saturday wrestling tournaments. No more uncomfortable but necessary discussions about growing up and avoiding pitfalls of life. No more worrying why they’re not home at curfew. No more being the direct line of influence to their daily decisions. Now I am just a spectator.

I know all of this is just the familiar path of parenthood, but that does not mean it isn’t alien to me.

Here’s to new adventures – for all of us! <clink>


Randoms from a Tuesday

After a few years’ worth of use, my phone has finally started to tell me that it’s running out of space. I figured that it might — just might — be the dozens of videos that I had on my phone from all the various Elvis gigs I’ve gone to, so I started to sort through them this morning as I was sitting by the pond. Odd — after I started off my last post complaining about how JULY it was, we have been gifted with a week of mild weather. The temps at night have been getting down in the 60s, so the first thing I do in the morning is open the windows and throw the fans on. It’s almost like I complained and Mother Nature went, “Oh! Sorry . . . my bad.”

No, I do not think I have that much power.

Sitting by the pond this morning was quite pleasant. It was cool, there was no breeze, and it was just as perfect as it could be. I enjoyed not one but two cups of coffee out there this morning, trying to soak up the still and calm. Right now the flowers around the pond are almost all in bloom and the deer have largely left them alone this year – with a couple of exceptions – so I am enjoying the spray of colors. I have a few volunteer sunflowers this year that are growing and the tallest recently started blooming, so now I have a beautiful sunflower towering over the pond.

Never mind that yellow stuff all over the leaves. That is how I have been trying to combat the deer this year – with garlic powder and cayenne pepper. I sprinkle it pretty generously all over the yard and plants, and it seems to have worked, for the most part. The deer have managed to get some chomps in when I have gone too many days between applications, and I am sure the rabbits are responsible for their part of the damage as well. However, this sunflower adds a nice little element to the pond, and I hope it stays blooming for quite some time.

So . . . as I was saying before, I was cleaning off my phone and marveling at the vast array of stuff I have accumulated over the past year or so. I deleted a healthy bunch of it, but there were a few snippets in there that I thought were worth sharing.

Snippet #1: Reflections of history

This last school year as I was standing in the break room, making copies, I looked down and was amused by this ancient box of tacks that was sitting with the rest of the supplies. I am a geek for old fonts and just old office supplies in general, so I picked it up and thought vaguely about permanently “borrowing” it – until I remembered that I had about 82954 tacks in my desk drawer already that randomly spill out all over the place and annoy me. So, no. Here’s the box:

But the best part is when I turned the box over. If I had any doubts that these tacks had spent decades shoved in the back of a supply closet somewhere, those disappeared in no time:

WEST Germany. Also, packed in the USA. Now you KNOW they’re ancient.

Snippet #2: Tell me you’re not a native speaker of English without actually telling me you’re not a native speaker . . .

I received a box of Instant Pot accessories for Christmas because I love, love, LOVE my Instant Pot. The accessories came with a book of recipes that I have a vague suspicion were not written by a native speaker. Don’t worry – I have proof:

I know the directions are cut off, but you can see that for the most part, they use pretty good English. How, then, did no one proofreading this booklet know that “bailecue” is not a word? Also – a 1/2 pound of ribs? Is this for a party of one?

The non-mysteries continue:

Oh, the important of spacing. How many poor, inexperienced souls have spent way too long in the baking aisle, looking for “chuck roast flour”?

But, wait! There’s more! For the low, low price of $19.95, you get THIS:

First, the phonetic spelling of Por Kloin. But that’s not even the worst of it:

THIRTY-FOUR POUNDS of chuck roast!!!!

At least they got the spacing right this time.

Want more? OK, get ready for this scrumptious dessert:

One of these things is not like the other. Heck – NONE OF THESE THINGS should go with the word “shellfish.”

Just in case you needed a side dish for any of these wonderful meals, may I suggest the following?

This is how one might pronounce “steamed vegetables” if a person held his head over a boiling pot of water for a few seconds and then had to speak immediately afterward.

Snippet #3: They Don’t Make Things the Way They Used To . . .

I moved into my house in 2000. The entire time I’ve lived here, the closet that is at the end of my hallway has had the same light bulb, and that is not because I’ve been trying to save it by responsibly turning the lights off after I was done digging in there for something. Year after year, I would marvel at how the light bulb lasted and wondered if I should start placing bets as to when it would finally go dark.

This last winter, the light bulb finally died. I took it down and looked at what kind it was.

Beauty Tone, eh? Well, I was intrigued at what sort of marvel of modern engineering created this wonderfully long-lasting bulb, so I did a little Googling. It turns out that Beauty Tone bulbs were designed to put everyone in the best light – no pun intended. Here’s an ad for that brand:

I mean, I guess I kind of get what they’re going for, but does one have to plan ahead for the mood that one wants for a room, or was it done on the fly? “Excuse me, Percy, but must change the bulb now before I slip into something more comfortable . . .”

All I know is that those light bulbs were the absolute bomb when it came to lasting forEVer, and they need to be made again.

I also love how the blue light gets a hoity-toity name – Beauty Tone Aqua – and the yellow gets to be “Candlelight,” but the last one is just “Pink.” Someone in the marketing department dropped the ball there. BIG TIME. Sunset Rose. Blushing Bride. Dainty Dusty Rose. Bubble Gum. Flirty Lip Gloss. Modesty Mauve. First Kiss. I mean, I could go on and on.

Hey, Westinghouse? If you ever do bring these lovely bulbs back to life, I’m your name gal.


Slogging through July

July finally showed up in all of its, well, Julyishness. This week has been full of high humidity and temps (along with random thunderstorms that pop up) and it’s been more fun to stay inside than out. I have done my best to try to stick with my exercise routine – getting up and walking about 6 a.m. before the heat really sets in and getting 2-3 miles in. It’s usually these walks when I get to spot the best wildlife. Fawns abound this time of year, and I enjoy seeing them – that is, when their mothers are not fixated on licking every last bit of seed out of my bird feeders.

I have never been one to be really consistent with keeping a bird feeder full, but this year I went all out and purchased one of those multi-tier feeders with hooks, spikes, and dishes for all sorts of food. In the spring, I put orange slices out for the oriole, and they seemed to love that until they moved on to greener (juicier?) pastures. Now I fill the majority of the feeders with a standard ol’ variety of bird seed, then I fill the dish and one feeder designed like a schoolhouse with what I call the “good” food. I suppose it’s like the people who love nugget ice, calling it “the good ice.” This food is spendy (at least to me, it is), but the birds love it. Each morning, I take a red Solo cup and fill each feeder with one cup of food. After that, I sit back and watch the influx of birds as they flock in for their all-day grazing party. I desperately need a bird book, for my bird-identifying skills are limited, but I know I have the standard variety of Iowa birds, such as blue jays, cardinals, cowbirds, mourning doves, woodpeckers, and a bunch of little tiny brown birds that I have not identified but are probably some type of wren or sparrow. Oh, and the squirrels. Don’t forget the freaking squirrels. So far, the squirrels are pretty content to sit on the ground and eat the leftovers, but there’s one that I call “fatty” that likes to try to scale the pole and get up to the cup where I keep the “good” food. Fatty also likes to chase away any other squirrels that dare to venture close while he is enjoying his meal. Fatty is a brown squirrel, but there’s one little gray squirrel who seems to walk everywhere rather than hop (which makes him distinctive), and every time he comes creeping up on the buffet, Fatty chases him away. At least, I think it’s a him. I might want to read up on the gender identification of squirrels while I’m looking up various bird species.

Anyway, the bird feeding station is a hit, and sometimes I just sit and marvel and how busy it is. Birds, squirrels, and bunnies move in at various times of the day, and sometimes they’re all there at the same time. All it takes is one blue jay to make the birds scatter, however. Then it’s “big gulp” time for that dude. I am amused at how they will go to the dish of “good” food and just wolf it down like they’ve been starving for days.

I have thought at times that it would make for a relaxing live video to shoot the bird feeding station with the pond gurgling in the background. And then I remember that my A/C unit is right next to there, and during this time of year that is all that would be heard on the video.

Despite the heat this week, it has been fairly pleasant at night, especially once the sun ducks behind the trees surrounding the property. The other night, as the clear sky reflected lightning from a tower of storm clouds 40 miles away, I sat outside for a few moments around 11 p.m. and listened to the pond while my hyperactive dog took one last gander around. It was quiet, and it was humid enough to make sitting there pleasant, and I reminded myself that sometimes it is important to take these little moments of zen. My crappy cell phone does not do the best with nighttime pics, but this gives you an idea of what my view was.

A month from now, I’ll be back in the classroom, and these moments of zen will be more important than ever.

Cheers to the rest of July!


1200 miles later . . .

Since I started my last entry with the mileage I had just traveled, I figured I would do the same. This last weekend involved a trek to Michigan – Belleville, Michigan, to be exact. This was an outdoor Elvis fest that got rained out for part of Friday, but was able to recover and keep going that night and into Saturday. The last time I attended this fest, it was nearly 100 degrees and high humidity that was just plain miserable. This year, the rain provided a much-needed gift in the form of mild temps and moderate humidity.

All in all, it was a fun weekend, but a long freaking drive. Construction was everywhere – especially when we were on I-94 in Michigan. It seemed to be pretty much constant. And while we are on the subject of road construction, can someone please help the crews in Joliet, IL, fix I-80 so it’s not just a constant landmine of potholes and bumps? Unreal. A few months ago, I had to have a cracked wheel replaced, and I am fully placing the blame for that on that stretch of road. I hate driving on it at night because you can’t see the potholes until it’s too late; then you go over them and pray that nothing is broken on your vehicle.

It’s an expensive summer to travel. Usually I do not bat an eye when it comes to filling up on gas, but this summer I feel like I’m in a horror movie every time I see the prices outside of Iowa. I’m not saying Iowa prices are stellar, but they are better than the ones in Illinois by far. Here E-85 is at least a dollar+ below what regular unleaded prices are. In Illinois, it might be a few cents cheaper, but it’s no bargain. Call it simple denial, but I cannot bring myself to fill up my tank completely when I am in Illinois. I will put a few dollars’ worth in and then repeat the routine until I am back in Iowa.

OK . . . can we talk about the Elvis movie? Spoiler alerts abound here, so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading. I’m going to see it for the 3rd time tonight, and so far I’ve been blown away by Baz Luhrmann’s creativity. I know the critics have complained that it’s not a true biopic and that Baz stretches the truth on some parts, but that does not bother me in the least. What he captured on screen was a beautiful life being squandered by drugs, abused by narcissists, and unappreciated by the throngs of people around him. Did Elvis really fire the Colonel from stage at the Hilton? No, but he did go on plenty of other rants on stage, and he did try to fire the Colonel at various times of his life – just not on stage. Baz just combined the rants + the firing, showing how volatile Elvis’ moods were at times, especially toward the end. Was Priscilla the only woman in his life? Obviously, no, but since Priscilla was one of the people who met with Baz and shared her knowledge of Elvis, it was not likely that she would have given the green light for other women to share her spotlight in his life. After all, if you start including all the girlfriends, where do you stop? Elvis was notorious for needing someone by his side 24/7 and a woman in his bed every night. Even the so-called “girlfriends” who like to keep their mediocre fame going by attending Elvis fests and billing themselves as “Elvis’ girlfriend” were not the only ones sharing Elvis’ bed. The movie, already 2.5 hours, would be even longer if Baz decided to start including Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden in it, so he chose not to. I think it was a smart move because the movie isn’t about them anyway. It’s about Elvis’ relationship with the Colonel. I love attending the Elvis fests, but sometimes it makes me sad to see all the people who still try to use Elvis to keep their own relevancy alive. He had plenty of that when he was alive, and 40 years later, it is still happening. Everyone wants to take credit for the part they played in Elvis’ life. I laugh when I hear someone say, “I told Elvis . . . ” as they recount their part in some monumental moment. Everyone wants to have a piece of him to wave around like a trophy.

Really, that idea is what makes the poignancy of the movie even more powerful. The Colonel used Elvis to finance his gambling habits. His doctor used his notoriety for failed business dealings. Everyone wants to take credit for things they told Elvis or did for Elvis, and that is why the end of the movie is just plain sad. When he gets into the song and says, “I’m with it!” to someone to his side, we are struck by the dramatic irony of it all. No, Elvis, you’re not with it. Your life is falling apart. Baz’s choice to use Elvis’ actual performance at the end seals the deal. I never cry at movies, but that got to me.

If you haven’t seen it yet, it should probably be in theaters for this week as well. I know some people do not care for Baz’s style of moviemaking, but I love it. It’s a fast-paced saga that is also a party for the eyes and ears. Seriously – go see it!


900 Miles Later . . .

As I wrote about in my last post, my hubs and I had to go to St. Louis this past weekend so that his band could play a gig behind the famous Bill Cherry. The drive took 7.5 hours to get down there, which is quickly becoming ho-hum to us the more that we drive around the country together. Each drive nets us more laughter and more memories, so I try to keep that in my head as the ultimate payoff for the seemingly endless miles of highway driving. It’s not so bad once we get past the flatness of Iowa, but the flatness of Iowa is immense, and it can be relentless. I kind of dread the last 2 hours getting home because the drive is so. freaking. boring.

The gig was held at the Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis – a charming little place built in 1927. We were told several times that famous icons such as Frank Sinatra had sung there, and it did indeed have that “look” that suggested that many decades of dancing and music had taken place there. I am very much a total nerd when it comes to old buildings; I spend a lot of time skulking around, geeking out at architectural elements and imagining the history that had taken place there. However, there is one not-so-good element about playing in old buildings: THE STAIRS. My husband is a drummer, and the pieces to his drum kit are immense (they fill up the entire back of my Dodge Durango – with all of the seats folded down!), and the box with all the chrome stands in it (we call it “the coffin”) is ungodly heavy. So when we arrived at the Casa Loma and realized that the historic building had no elevator and we had to go up two flights of stairs to get the equipment in, it was a little disheartening. It was hot down there in St. Louis, and hauling all those pieces of equipment up stairs just to set up was not our idea of fun. However, with several other people helping to carry things, it went fairly quickly. The building also wasn’t air conditioned, so it was a warm night. I stood most of the night and took pictures and was dripping sweat just doing that; I can’t imagine how hot it was on stage with the lights.

The show, however, was fantastic. If you are an Elvis fan, then seeing Bill Cherry is a must. You will forget it’s not Elvis up there on the stage, and I do not say that lightly. He looks like him, he sings like him, he talks like him, and his jumpsuits are spot-on. He is one of my favorite people to photograph simply because the illusion is so striking. Here are a few of the pics I snapped from the show:

The pics probably do not do the performance justice, but let me tell you – a Bill Cherry show is great entertainment.

On our way out of St. Louis, we stopped by a record store called The Record Exchange that my husband had been wanting to go to for years. The store is owned by Bill’s manager and her husband, and my husband is always loving all the posts she makes on Facebook about her business. Since we were FINALLY in St. Louis, we decided to go there on our way home.

O . . . M . . . G.

This store is IMMENSE! The building used to be a city library, so there’s lots of floor space to work with.

The place is almost overwhelming once you step into it because every inch of the store is crammed with goodies – records, CDs, DVDs, tapes, stereo equipment, and lots of posters and historic material. The records are organized meticulously – which is not the norm in vinyl stores, we have found – and it is easy to find what you want. We had a long drive ahead of us, so we were only able to spend 1.5 hours there, but it was so much fun to peruse the store, and we would definitely love to come back and spend more time browsing.

I have been on an Otis Redding kick lately, and I was able to score one of his records here. That isn’t an easy feat, I have discovered, for Otis Redding vinyl is hard to find. But the owner of the store knew he had some Otis in stock and found it for me.

If you’re in the St. Louis area, be sure to visit The Record Exchange. It is a great store with something for everyone.

That’s all the news from my little corner of Iowa. This weekend we head to the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque!


Stormy Monday

As per my usual routine these days, I awakened about 3 a.m. and my mind started reeling. It’s funny – I thought that once summer hit that I’d be sleeping in or at least not awakening before 8. My routine, however, has been that I often awake in the middle of the night. If I can’t get back to sleep, I read for a while, or I get up and start poking around on the ‘net. It is obvious which one I chose to do this morning, although the book I’m currently reading, a biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder, is beckoning me as well.

During my daily walks, I often go by a little farm that has been nestled against a hillside since, well, forever. In fact, the farm has been there so long that the road that goes by the farm is named after the people who live there. It’s a picturesque little place, with a huge garden and a wide variety of farm animals, including pigs, birds, goats, horses, and – at least in the past – a couple of peacocks. The farm has a wonderful variety of flowers growing around the house and along the ditch, and I love to walk by and see all the colors every day. This was my view yesterday. It just screams summer.