29 November 2004

Where have I been?
Not quite a month since I last wrote; yup its been a while. Seems like I just turned my calendar over to November and already I’ll be changing it again. In a 3 week period of time, I was in the office two and a half days. My boss probably wonders if I’ll ever come back. Today I was scheduled to be in Des Moines for 2 days and in Independence on Thursday for various meetings. Friday I decided that my untouched work here in my office would take priority. It also happened that on Friday I was the only one in the office working. After numerous phone calls and clients at the counter, I realized how long I’d been gone. I felt like a new employee all over again. Many things change and progress and take shape and I didn’t have a clue how that was all happening.
One week I spent 3 days at a Prescribed Burning Training. I picked up on a few things but nothing that really increased my job skills in the area. I’ve had some good training before but it wasn’t official so this was just jumping through the right hoops to satisfy those above. The second week I spent in Kansas City. Not all that exciting either. I was there for a Managing for Success Training. It too was crap. I had high expectations of this professional meeting, etc. One of our speakers was a comedian before working for us and you could tell. The other speaker had us reading out loud to each other. We did a lot of team building skills but nothing brilliant came out of it. I learned about a good partnership with other agencies and how to get that established but it was a side note to the whole thing. It sucked!
Come home not feeling so well. The stress of being away from home, not eating well and having lots on my desk to think about just sucked my energy. I whined through the weekend, worked a half day on Monday and went home to a week of company. Denise (ryan’s vet school buddy) came and stayed for a few days. She recently came home on furlough from doing missions work on Africa and it was good to see her. Plus Ryan’s parents came up from AZ and stayed a week. We enjoyed our company. Ryan’s mom helped me on a blanket I’m making before Ryan put her to work stripping paint off of our window/door trim. His dad helped him with re-building the north porch. They are hardworkers and I so appreciate their help. His mom has such a servants attitude and made some wonderful meals, washed dishes, etc. Thanks to them, I got some well needed rest on the couch.
Thanksgiving was of course a feast of food, family and fun. Everybody pitched in for the meal and clean up and it was awesome. Today was back to the office. I tried to muttle through the piles on my desk and happened to lose an application and all the design work for a federal cost share deal. Yup, bad me. I’ve got about a week to get things straightened out that I left undone. And about 3 weeks until Ryan and I head off to AZ for Christmas. Yikes, I have lots to do.

12 November 2004

(I took the liberty to remove some questions so you wouldn't get bored)
1 - What color pants are you wearing? Blue jeans that have the brown background where they’ve faded.

2 - What are you listening to right now? Troy, my coworker, talking

3 - Soup or salad? Both, I like to eat.

4 - What was the last thing you ate? I had a granola bar first thing this morning and will be having a snack here shortly.

5 - If you were a crayon; what color would you be? I like yellow. It’s a brilliant color that highlights many things but tends to be behind the scenes and in the background quite often.

6 - Weather right now? Oh my gosh, its cold! 20 degrees when I left this morning. Yesterdays high was 38 and it was windy which is way freezing after a gorgeous 60 degree day on Wednesday

7 - Last person you talked to on the phone? Jen Royer, she’s also married to a young vet named Ryan. We chatted about her pregnancy. She’s due at the end of February so I’m hoping for the 20th which is my b-day.

8 - Do you like the person who sent you this? Yup, I’m the last person she had talked to on the phone when she did this. I love Kristin, she’s wonderful!

9 - How are you today? I feel wonderful. Another blessed day from God - I woke up hoping it was Saturday. I was on travel M, T & W. Thursday was a holiday and it so feels like I should be home cleaning today instead of sitting at my desk.

10 - Favorite drink? I’d have to say my all time favorite is water, chilled with no ice and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

11 - Favorite alcohol drink? Bluck! I’ve tasted a few wines and they’re nasty. Tasted my brothers Corona one time and it too was awful. Robitussin is good :)

12- Hair color? Brown with some natural blond and red highlights.

13 - Eye color? Depends on what I’m wearing. Generally a greenish blue with a ring of yellow around my pupil.

15 - Siblings and their age? Jen (26), DJ (22), Jeff and Aimee whose ages I don’t know.

16 - Favorite food? More recently, I’ve really liked salmon and shrimp.

17 - Last movie you watched? Shrek 2 for the second time and again I fell asleep during it.

18 - Favorite day of the year? Government holidays and family get togethers

26 - What is your favorite show? CSI wins the gold on that one

27 - What books are you reading? I married Adventure by Luci Swindoll is one of the books I’m currently reading. I also just finished I Grew Up Little by Patsy Clairmont. I don’t read too often but I’ve been on a reading kick lately.

29 - Favorite Board Game? Battle of the Sexes – I’ve only played it once but it was fun. Otherwise I like Mexican Train (not a board game but a dominoe game), it rocks!

30 - What did you do last night? Ran a veterinary call with Ryan in the late afternoon and then went to Sabor Latino for supper. On the way home, we stopped at Andy & Erica’s and I played with my girls (4 cuties from 2 to 9ish) We colored, looked at crafts projects of theirs, played with a carebear and checked out some videos. Yeah, fun stuff!

31 - What inspires you? Grace, mercy and love

32 - Buttered; Plain; or salted popcorn? Oh, I’ve so been wanting popcorn. I like it with butter, Lawry’s seasoning instead of salt and then add some almonds and fruit gummy things. Its rockstar popcorn!

33 - Favorite car? Car, its all about trucks. Yup, I like the 79 Chevy pickup. Its my all time favorite.

34 - Favorite flower? Yellow roses, it’s a family thing. I also like tulips and lilies of all sorts.

35 - How many keys on your key ring? One I think. The key to my car and it rarely leaves my ignition – even when I’m on travel for work and have locked my doors. Yup, the locksmith and I are buddies now. He used to dairy farm not too far from here. Its quite an experience when you lock yourself out of your car in some other town! Makes for a great time to catch up on phone calls while you wait.

36 - Can you juggle? I like Kristin’s answer. I can’t juggle fruits or baseballs, but I can juggle, so far, all my commitments.

37 - Who would you hate to be trapped in a room with? Anyone but Ryan, if were were trapped in a room… it would be more entertaining

38 - 7-up or sprite? Sprite over 7up but I really don’t care for POP.

41 - Favorite perfume? There’s two: Endless Love from Victoria’s Secret for everyday wear and Obsession for going out.

42 - Favorite band(s) of all time? I don’t know that I like bands per say, but I do like worship teams and music in general


A man decided to write a book about famous churches around the world. So he bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would start by working his way across the USA from South to North. On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read "$10,000 per call". The man, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for. The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God. The man thanked the priest and went along his way. Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same golden telephone with the same sign under it. He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was. She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God. "O.K., thank you," said the man.
He then traveled to Indianapolis, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. In every church he saw the same golden telephone with the same "$10,000 per call" sign under it. The man, upon leaving New York decided to travel out mid west to see if western states had the same phone.
He arrived in Iowa, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read "40 cents per call." The man was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign. "Father, I've traveled all over America and I've seen
this same golden telephone in many churches. I'm told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in the east and south the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here? The priest smiled and answered, "You're in Iowa now, son it's a local call".

03 November 2004

Two major things in the office lately. The first is reconciling every single contract in EQIP (one of our federal cost share programs). This means going through every contract line item by line item to make sure that it migrated over correctly into our program. Our contracts have an average of 17 line items plus we have to check their direct deposit information, etc. Its time consuming. Add to that, the system is web based so with everyone in the nation working on this, it can slow down the system considerably. We have over 100 contracts total and I have 15 left. One keeps giving me an error and the other 14 I can’t touch until they create a program to fix them because they doubled up.
The other bit of frustration on computers is printing maps. I’m trying to print a whole watershed which is about 3’x5’ in a much smaller capacity. Eric asked me to help on this since I’m pretty comfortable with computers. A simple process became quite difficult. After printing off six 8”x11” pages and Eric pasting them together, I realized that it was way too much work. So, I decided to run to our area office on my way home (only 6 miles out of the way) and print it out on their plotter. My login wouldn’t access the plotter and Neil’s login wouldn’t access the photos from the server. Jerry’s also wouldn’t access the plotter, it has to be on the engineering computers. Of course all this is after hours and there’s noone around. Jerry (the boss in the field office which shares a building with the area office) had no clue where the disk was that has the photos saved. Go figure, he’s counted on his soil con to do all that stuff – same for my office. So, I was going to burn a cd with the info on it and take it back to the right computer. But, Jerry’s computer that can burn cd’s was down and our computer guy, Brian wasn’t around. Without sharing all the crazy details of my little adventure, I left the area office 1.5 hours later with a plotted document that didn’t have the aerial photos in the background as needed but did have the field boundaries. This morning started the craziness all over. Brian, our computer guy, came back and eventually set me up to print on the plotter in the area office from my desk. That was great but I couldn’t print preview it so I really didn’t know what the end result was. Rhonda, one of the office managers was trying to help but she’s not at all familiar with reading maps; bless her heart. Dave Brommel (the head guy for our area) came to her rescue. He jumped on the phone and said “looks like Bloody Run Watershed…” He was familiar with it because he worked in our county about 20 years ago. We got the scale right to fit but the darn thing wouldn’t change from portrait to landscape even when I told it too. Way too much drama for the day. Now that I waisted some big paper and lots of time, I told Eric to call the guy who originally created and sent him the document to have him print it out in Des Moines and mail it up to him. Ah, done with that one.

My county is never slow but things sure have picked up. We’re gearing up for Conservation Security Program (CSP) expecting to hear soon if we have it. It’s a new program in Iowa and requires lots of bodies and mucho mucho hours to sign people up. When that officially happens, we’ll likely have a Jan-Feb signup. We also just got our EQIP money for this year – about 5-6 months earlier than usual. That will be a mid December signup so we’re gearing up for that now. Setting appointments to meet with interested landowners. Plus, its fall work time here and that means that we should all be out in the field laying out practices before the ground freezes. Unfortunately there’s too much on our plate right now to focus on one thing. Then, Troy, my coworker who does a ton and has been the one focusing on the EQIP appointments, got called for jury duty today. So I filled in with an appointment this morning but now he’ll be out at least a couple of days. As if we can afford to get any farther behind. Two days after we got our EQIP money, we also heard that our CRP offers got accepted. That means that we have 62 landowners to sit down with and plan out their next 10-15 years of grasses and each step of that program from getting it established and what kinds of grasses to seed through maintenance, etc. Its quite the project when we get these. The same day, they informed us that our ECP money came through finally. This money goes to repair all the damage the May floods created around here. That adds gobs of work for the technicians to do. So, to put it simply, we are BUSY around here. Some say job security and I kinda hope so – I’d prefer to stick around here as long as I can; I know they’ll keep me busy!

02 November 2004

Five of us ladies from church had quite the adventure recently. We left on a Friday morning from my house and headed for Minneapolis. Jason Taylor, the JHi Youth Retreat Speaker and Ryan’s childhood friend, was staying the weekend with us. He was quite surprised when lots of people were all of a sudden at the house and he was still in his pajamas. We finally got on the road about 9am. With only one pit stop on the way, we arrived at the Mall of America about 1pm. It took a while to find parking and then we were inside this massive mall. Of course we needed to have lunch so I suggested Bubba Gumps. I felt horrible because it was expensive and not so great food. After lunch the ladies went on to shop. My buddy Renessa is still nursing and needed to take care of duties so I went back to the van with her and we chatted. About the time she was done and we went back into the mall, we had 20 minutes to shop. I made sure to find Victoria’s Secret and make a quick purchase before leaving. We walked through one other store before meeting up with our pals to head for the hotel. Our meeting spot happened to be near a Hooters. That’s so NOT a family restaurant. Who do they think they’re lying to? I couldn’t believe that there were young teenage boys in there and that the girls really do wear skimpy clothing. Outrageous!

We took the long way to the hotel, checked in, freshened up quickly and headed back South towards downtown. For as much time as we spent driving there, it would have been better to hang out at the mall a bit longer and go straight to the conference. After venturing through downtown with HORRIBLE directions trying to find the arena, we made our way into the parking ramp. Eventually we arrived at our seats – the nose bleeds. I’m not kidding you, we were in the second row from the top! It was great, you could see everything, it was just really small in size :) It was so good to sit in an arena with 18,000 other women to hear some great stories, see some great drama and worship.
I went last year and it was right after I got bucked off my horse and was still having massive headaches, back issues and couldn’t stay balanced when standing. This time I was refreshed, feeling good and teachable. What a difference that makes. I loved every bit of it, every speaker, every music artist – the whole weekend was wonderful. Saturday afternoon, Tammy Trent shared her story. Tammy is the singer who lost her husband while on the last day of their vacation in Jamaica – September 10, 2001. What a heart wrenching story. I had heard it before but there was newness this time and it was so much more personal. Plus she shared details that I had not heard her share before. I cried. Each time I’ve heard her talk, it has helped me to appreciate Ryan that much more. I have such a wonderful and loving husband. Tomorrow he might be gone forever so I need to make sure he knows how very special he is. At the close of the conference one of the speakers got up to tell us about the head stage guy. Friday night after the conference, he said he didn’t feel good and was going outside to get some fresh air. As he walked down the isle, he collapsed. They rushed to the hospital to find that he had a brain anurism and wasn’t looking hopeful. The guy is from Philedelphia and has a wife and 5 year old son. Life truly can be gone in an instant.
I left there Saturday night emotionally drained but encouraged. We had a great bonding time together and I look forward to going again next year. Next time we won’t count on internet directions to get us around and through the city :)
I'm not much for Halloween or that kinda stuff but I do like to see the kids and their cute costumes. Since we live 3 miles out, we went to a buddies house in Ellkader and passed out candy. It was fun since I knew some of the kids from working here in town and coaching/reff-ing soccer. I was mean and told the kids who didn't have costumes that they needed them and just gave them cheap candy instead of the good stuff. That makes me mad - totally beggars! It was interesting because we were at Ryan and Jen Royer's house. Dr. Royer was a vet school buddy of my Ryan's and so we're good friends. But because Dr. Royer works here at the Elkader clinic and I work here in Elkader, while each of our spouses work in other towns, I'm often asked if I'm Ryan Royers wife. We got married a month apart and so its totally confusing to people who really don't know us. Last night, I answered the door once by myself and then Ryan Royer walked up behind me to check out the costumes. I could just imagine the thoughts of the parents outside: "so that’s what Dr. Royers wife looks like". I told Ryan I couldn't answer the door without his wife anymore! Creates too good of rumors in town here.