Archive for Living in Ames

Iowa State’s Swans

I’ve been saving these pics for a special day.  I’m off today and looking forward to rambling around Ames, perhaps capturing more great shots like these I got last week.  Back in Indiana, someone sent me a link to photos of  Iowa State’s two swans on the lake…that was the clincher for me…..I had to come here for graduate school!

   Just to the west of the Memorial Union, red buds adorn the rim of Lake LaVerne.  I looked anxiously for the two white swans, but didn’t see them swimming.






Then as I was trying to shoot more red bud, guess what I saw?!







Two lovers, hidden under the trees, with their own little case of spring fever!


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Spring Flowering Trees in Ames

Today was the day!  I feel like spring is about at its peak here in central Iowa, so I took out the Cannon and drove around town to capture the beauty.


Iowa State University has a beautiful campus and every year when the blue squill bloom it still takes my breath away.  This year I finally got onto campus for some close ups of the patch between the Memorial Union and the Knoll.




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Ames Maker Space

(Steven checking out the tools at Harbor Freight in Des Moines)

Steven (Ourada) has been getting into the Maker Movement for the last year or so.  He’s a software developer who is now getting his hands dirty with tools and wood and metal and projects.  The Ames Maker Space is one place he likes to hang out these days and I followed along with him last Saturday night for their web development help session.

Some one we’d talked with earlier in the day showed up for some help with her online portfolio and questions about how to write the code for online testing using Java Script.  Steven O. wrote code for  a sample test  question and projected it up on the wall while Steven Lischer pointed out some alternative ways to approach the code.  I am not a programmer myself and I barely passed a basic C++ class, but I enjoyed hearing the language of programming being used, and of course, I like hanging out with geeks too.


Here is Nitin Gadia, another mainstay of the Ames Maker Space, looking on  with new member, Matt.  Check out the space’s website to see what they have to share and follow some of their projects.



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Reasons to Curb Christmas Excess and Cure Christmas Letdown (and save the planet?)

Today is the last day of 2011 and I’ve been reflecting on Christmas and a new way of thinking that I am excited to catch glimpses of around the web.  I realized that one of the reasons I am drawn to DO Christmas is the buildup and engaging in something out of the ordinary of daily life.  It can also draw me closer to family that I have built up these traditions with and is part of my identity.  But it seems like  a lot of Christmas excess, or just consumer excess in general, happens when we let the market tell us who we should be, what we should do and what we should buy.  But come on, we are smarter than that, aren’t we?  And we don’t have to be humbugs about it and totally destroy capitalism in the process (tongue in cheek here!).

  Idea #1

What if we decided to stop doing personal Christmas light displays and agreed to just enjoy community displays instead?

I love Christmas lights, especially the white icicles that people hang around their overhangs.  Driving around looking at Christmas lights was something enjoyable we did as a family, often on Thanksgiving night.  But as I was indulging myself this year, the sustainability researcher in me kept whispering, “this is not sustainable”.  But the Joey part of me answered back, “but they are so pretty”.  What to do?  I wondered how much electricity and therefore carbon was was being spewed out to meet my and others’ need for “pretty”.  Is there any way we could agree as a community to give up personal Christmas light displays?  Aha!  Perhaps it would be better if we just focused on community  light displays instead.  And I could WALK to my community light display, like this one at Iowa State, or downtown to  Ames, and I might engage with other community members, sing a few favorite carols, bump into friends for hot chocolate at Cafe Diem.  We do this to a degree, as there are Snow Magic and other community celebrations, but it’s not enough somehow.  Could we learn how to let it be enough?

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Lani, ISU and Roots

I’ve gone to the ISU campus several times since I finished my long term sub job and have some free time.  Yesterday, it really clicked with me, I LOVE Iowa State!  My perfect job?  I would really love to find a job at the university doing research, helping this land grant university fulfill its mission of making the world a better place.

I still remember when Steven first e-mailed me a photo of the campus, back when I was in Indiana, trying to figure out where I might go to grad school and how I was going to make a future for myself.  “This campus is so beautiful!” I thought.  “Perhaps it’s the right place for me.”

Since coming here, I’ve put down roots.  And I’ve made some great friends!  Lani has been here from the very beginning, always there if I needed her, even in the midst of a busy life, working at ISU and have two kids.  During one of my visits back to campus, I wanted to see Lani in her ISU setting.  She works here and does some amazing work with Annie’s Project as part of her job.

Now that I’ve finished my masters and its time to look for a job, I do hope I get to stay in Iowa.  I’d love to stay with ISU and see what these new roots will produce!  Thanks Lani for helping me feel at home here!

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Book Vault

   I’m finished with my long-term sub job now at Beloit and find I have an “extra” week before Thanksgiving since I was assuming turkey day was this Thursday.  It’s not like we didn’t have a calendar on the wall at school either…not sure how that happened, but I have the gift of an extra week now!  I’m finding I have the urge to just sit, curled up with a book in front of some window with the sun streaming in.  Steven and I wandered Parks Library at ISU for a while yesterday and planned to hit the grand opening of Books a Million (BAM) in Ames  for our date night, but they weren’t quite grandly opened yet.   As I was pondering my excitement at having a replacement for Borders here in Ames, I remembered the bookstore in this photo.

The Book Vault is an awesome bookstore I stumbled onto in Oskaloosa while wandering to Peoria after convention in August.  It made me think that Oskaloosa must be an awesome little town in its own right to support such a community treasure.  And now this morning I wonder, do we really need BAM in Ames, or should we just make more of an effort to support our own little locally owned book vaults?


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Iowa State Homecoming 2011

I always love the homecoming displays in front of the Greek houses!

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