Wednesday Wanderings

I guess we’ll have to add racism as one of those subjects you need to avoid if you don’t want to start an argument.

Just like in politics and religion, everyone has a different opinion, and by the time you state your belief on the subject, the other person has already established your opinion doesn’t matter.

I understand racism and sexism and all the other “isms” people seem to be coming up with every day, but there is one thing I don’t understand: When did we become a society so afraid of offending people?

I mean no offense (see?) but the truth is, I don’t want to go through the rest of my life afraid I’ll say something to someone who may take it the way I unintended and be offended by it, and ending up on the evening news.

It isn’t about color or sex or even ability. It’s all about how you treat other people:

How you treat people doesn’t say anything about who they are, but who you are. 

I consider myself a good person, but even I judge. We all do. It’s built into us humans as a defense mechanism and it tells me whether or not I want to keep associating with certain individuals.

It doesn’t tell me what color your skin is or what gender you are. My internal data collector goes through my list of criteria, which I have already established in my 52 years, and asks the simple question:

“Is this a good person?”

Most of the time my instincts are dead-on Sometimes, however, untrustworthy people slip through,but it’s not long before I realize it, and I do what I have to do to correct the situation.

My mind is wandering with 100 different reasons to be offended. But I know what other people think of me is nothing I should take personal. It’s all about their mindsets, their fears, and their inability to cope with who am I.

And how I live my life is really none of their business, anyway.






Cone’s ‘Little Bohemia’ a reminder of progress in New Bo

little bohemia

Little Bohemia, Marvin Cone, 1941

Hanging in the office of Cedar Rapids Main Street, located at the edge of the city’s historic Czech Village, is a reproduction of a painting by local artist, Marvin Cone.

“Little Bohemia Tavern” was inspired by the actual Little Bohemia Tavern, which is located at the corner of 2nd Street and 16th Avenue SE.

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “the corner tavern was one of the first encountered by thirsty workers leaving the Sinclair meatpacking plant” after it opened in 1935. It became an icon when Marvin Cone painted it in 1941. The 1883 building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

After the New Bohemia neighborhood was flooded in 2008, Coe College and the Marvin Cone Art Club commissioned a reproduction of the 1941 painting, with proceeds from its sale supporting flood recovery.

Marvin Cone is an accomplished artist in his own right, but never became quite as famous as his good friend, Grant Wood, who painted “American Gothic.”

Cone was born in Cedar Rapids and lived there most of his life. He graduated from Washington High School in 1910. Cone graduated from Coe College in 1914 and traveled to Paris, where he did work as an interpreter.

He served in the Iowa National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, during which time he won a training camp design competition with a “Red Bull” insignia that the unit wears to this day.

After his return to the United States in 1919, Cone helped to found the Stone City Art Colony along with Grant Wood. (The Colony was headquartered in the large, limestone mansion of the Green Estate, overlooking Stone City.)

Cone became a professor at Coe College in 1919, where he taught French and was responsible for starting the Art Department.

Most of Cone’s paintings can now be seen at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. Some of his sketches can also been found in the permanent collection of the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art in Cedar Falls.

Cone believed that nature was a “vehicle for revealing certain truths.” He once said that the purpose of art is not to reproduce life, but to present an editorial, a comment on life.

“The artist does not set out to imitate nature. What would be the purpose of that? Let the camera with its clever mechanism imitate. Art, such as poetry, music, and painting, is simply a portion of the experience of the artist. When we actually see ideals, they become real to us. Art traces an abstraction and makes it audible or visual. It symbolizes the whole of life. We believe in something we can see.”

little bos

Little Bohemia Tavern in Cedar Rapids, 2012

Cone’s painting of Little Bohemia says a lot about the neighborhood. The artist did an excellent job of creating a scene that depicted the simple, yet busy, lives of the people who thrived in that neighborhood in the 1940’s. The tavern was a meeting place, not only for the workers, but for the entire community. It helped to establish a culture that is still alive today.

Though the Flood of 2008 devastated the downtown neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids, the entire district is coming back, even better than it was before.

The painting not only serves as a reminder of what the neighborhood once was, but what it will be again.

Wednesday Wanderings

After a month of writing challenges, I can now sit back to look at the data I have before me.

It’s good to challenge yourself once in a while; it tells you a lot about yourself. What it tells me is that I am determined (finishing the last 7 items in 3 days); I am a procrastinator (finishing the last 3 items in the final day); and I can make any deadline (finishing the last challenge right as the clock struck midnight).

It wasn’t my best work, but I think that’s because I knew I was up against the clock. I found myself just wanting to be done with it. Especially the news story. It wasn’t good and I know that.  It was a second-hand account of something that happened a few days ago. I plan on writing a better one, if only so I can be satisfied with my work. It’s a personal thing.

I went back and looked at all writing I did with the challenges. It was fun. I had a great time doing it. I took longer than I should have with the fanfiction, but it’s because I am in love with the show, Supernatural. The excitement of killing demons and monsters, along with a great story line, and Sam & Dean Winchester, and Castiel the Angel. What’s not to love? (wink, wink)

One post I have to finish is the love story. I got so caught up in the story that I didn’t realize I was spending way too much time. I’m excited to see where it goes, though. Maybe it’ll turn into a book. I’m not sure yet.

Another thing I learned about myself is something I already knew, but it just puts in better perspective; writing isn’t just something I do. It’s something that is a part of me. If there ever came a time in my life when I couldn’t write anymore, I think I would wither away because my life would no longer have meaning.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but I know there are others who share my sentiment. There’s something purposeful about being able to weave a tale or communicate vital information that makes the art so appealing. Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well. It takes more than just arranging the words on paper or a computer screen.

I’ve already told you my favorite challenge, but I have yet to share my least favorite. I wrote a poem about the Iowa State Fair, and though it was done in fun, I found it almost unpleasant. Writing the poem was painful, but maybe it because I wasn’t “in the zone.” You have to want to write poems or poetry and I just don’t care for it much. My poetry usually ends up sounding like Dr. Seuss. And while I love The Cat in the Hat, it provides me with some very valuable information:

I’m not a poet, and now I know it.

Challenge #14-The Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa

My 14th and final Challenge is to write a local news story. It’s 10 minutes to midnight.writing challenge14

RAGBRAI, Iowa’s annual bike ride across the state, is in full swing and unfortunately, there has already been one accident.

A Sioux City , Iowa, woman was arrested Sunday morning after she ran into RAGBRAI riders from Wisconsin, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. It happened just as riders were just taking off the first day of the ride. Police officers were controlling an intersection to allow riders to safely leave the area.

The driver of the car went around the barricade and struck a tandem bike ridden by Bruce and Barbara Blair of Hudson, Wisconsin. The woman’s injuries were minor, but the man injured his leg, possibly breaking it.  They were both taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance.

The driver of the car, Charryse Chavez, 36, was arrested a few blocks away and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, no insurance, and failure to obey a police officer.

Challenge #13-Love, absolutley

Challenge #13 says I have to write about something I absolutely love. This is a hard one because I love a lot of things. I guess I’ll just have to pick one.writing challenge13

I love Stephen King. I don’t remember the first SK book I read, but I’ve read a lot of them. There were a few of his books I never read, but saw the movie.  (Christine comes to mind.) And I read Carrie after I watched the movie. (The book was better by far.)

There were a few books that I haven’t gotten too, yet. And there are books that I didn’t know were even written by Stephen. (He also writes under Richard Bachman, or did, anyway.)

I have my favorites of course; books that I could read over and over again. I loved It and The Stand (though it took me months to read) and The Talisman (my all-time favorite).

What I love most about Stephen King is the way he makes me feel as I read his stories. He is the most awesome storyteller I have ever known. The twists and turns and double-twist backflip at the end of each story leaves me wanting to read more. King writes in a way that makes me feel like I’m a part of the story. But I guess it helps to have a wild imagination, one where my dreams came become my reality at a flip of a switch,a lot like Jack in The Talisman. (For those who have never read the book, Jack is able to flip back and forth between two worlds.)

I saw an ad for Dr. Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, that I am dying to read (no pun intended)-if I can find the time, that is. King’s stories have terrified me and inspired me, and I hope someday I can write a story that makes my readers feel that way. The inspire part, not the terrify part.


Challenge #11-Oops

How could I miss # 11? It’s the one where I write about what’s on my mind.  It’s 11 o’clock at night. After working 13 hours, the only thing that’s on my mind is sleep. But there is something else…writing challenge11

Have you ever heard of Flipboard? It’s pretty cool. You get to make your own magazine. Well, actually, it’s a collection of articles about subjects you want to read about. You get to choose various topics and the computer finds them for you and puts them all in one place.

I heard about it when I attended a workshop to learn all about Hootsuite, which is kind of like a dashboard for your social media. It’s great for people who use a variety of social media platforms for their organizations.

As I was looking through my flipboard, I came across the extraterrestrial folder and came upon this video of an “alien.”  Another shows a different alien scaling a building.

Is it real, or not? It reminds me of something the Enquirer might try to convince is rea.  I suppose anything is possible, but we should be careful not to believe everything we see on the internet. I guess I’m going to have to have more proof, like seeing them outside my door.

I have other, more legitimate articles on my flipboard, which I can post to my business’ social media pages and get ideas for blogs. It’s amazing the things I’ve learned so far, like the scientist who found out he was a psychopath (and it changed his life forever.)


Challenge #12-How lucky can you get?

You’re probably wondering why I have gone into writing-frenzy-mode. I started my writing challenge June 20 and gave myself a month to complete them. Today is July 20. Yikes.

I have three challenges to complete by midnight. The 12th challenge is to write a short story. Believe me, it will be short and sweet.writing challenge12

How lucky can you get?

Tucker ran down the sidewalk toward the pharmacy. He had to get there before it closed, and he only had a few minutes. He had to get his mother’s medicine. She had been sick for so long, and was in so much pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.

“She might as well be at home with family, rather than in the hospital,” they told Tucker and his dad.

The traffic signal turned yellow, and then red. But Tucker couldn’t wait. He looked right, left, and right again. Just as he was about ready to stepped off the curb, a big black limousine turned the corner right into a puddle, splashing Tucker from head to toe. But he didn’t care. He was on a mission.

Tucker looked around and didn’t see any cars coming so he made a run for it. When he reached the other side, he slipped and fell on the curb. He was about to jump up when something caught his eye. It was white and furry and he almost didn’t pick it up, but something compelled him to. When he held it up, he could see it was a rabbit’s foot.  He stuck it in his pocket and ran the rest of the way to the store.

Oh, I hope, I hope, I hope it’s still open, he sang in his head. He rounded the corner and saw the pharmacist just locking the door. Tucker ran up to him and out of breathe, blurted out that his mom was out of her medicine and needed it right away.

Tucker got tears in his tears as he thought of his mother. The pharmacist looked at his car in the parking lot, and then back at Tucker’s sad face. He nodded and opened the door back up.

Wow, Tucker thought, wiping his face. That was really lucky.

Tucker waited patiently while the pharmacist counted out each pill. He answered his questions politely, but wished he would hurry. With a quick swipe of his hand, the pharmacist emptied the pills into the brown bottle and slapped the label on. The pharmacist handed the bottle to Tucker, who handed him a 5.

“My drawer is already closed and you have a little change coming. Why don’t you just picked out anything you want from the candy aisle?”

Tucker shook his head. “I have to get home,” he said impatiently. But the pharmacist grabbed a paper sack and a handful of penny candy. “You don’t have to tell your father. It will be our secret,” he told Tucker with a wink.

Tucker nodded and thanked him and then ran all the way home. He panicked when he saw his Aunt Maggie in the doorway.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, pushing his way past her.

Maggie laughed with delight. “It’s okay, Tucker. Your mom’s fever broke! She’s going to be okay!”

She grabbed Tucker and hugged him tight. Tucker looked over at his mother, who that morning, couldn’t even lift her head off the pillow.

“Mom? Really? You’re better?”

“Yes, Honey. A little weak, but I feel really good.”

She smiled at him and opened her arms for him to come join her. He laid next to her for a moment, looking at the tattered blanket she used to wrap around herself. Then he looked down at his jeans, which had been darned so many times they were frayed.

“Mom, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a million dollars? Then we’d never have to worry about money again!”

His mom pulled him close and said,  “Oh, Tucker, I don’t need a lot of money. I have my health back and I have you and your dad. I don’t need anything more than that.”

She looked around room at the table, the two chairs, and the little bed where Tucker slept. “I guess it would be nice to have a little money,” she said. “Your dad’s been off work so long… But maybe someday we won’t have to worry about money.”

Tucker felt the rabbit’s foot in his pocket. He smiled and gave him mother a kiss. He sat on the stoop outside and took out the rabbit’s foot. There wasn’t anything special about it. It was just like the one he saw for sale at the 5 & 10 for 50 cents.

He rubbed it. It was soft, except for the claws at the end.

“I wish we were rich!” he said enthusiastically. He rubbed the foot until it felt warm in his hands, and then put the foot back in his pocket.

It wasn’t long before he saw his dad walking up the sidewalk.

He lifted Tucker up high above him, laughing with delight. “I’m so happy to see you!”

“Mom’s feeling better, Dad!”

“She is? That’s wonderful news! I have some good news, too. Let’s go in an see her!”

Tucker’s dad sat him down on the edge of the bed next to his mom. “Do you remember that invention I have been working on the past few years?”

Tucker and his mom both nodded.

“Well, the strangest thing just happened to me. I was standing in line at the patent office when a man in a suit came up to me and asked what kind of invention I was going to patent. I told him all about the Maxter2000, and he loved it! He signed me on with his company right on the spot. And guess what? They’re going to pay me $1,000,000 for it! Could we get any luckier?”

Tucker smiled at his mom and dad and gripped the rabbit’s foot tight. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”