Mom and i went on a little vacation last week, which i shall proceed to tell the story of in photos.

The first stop has no photos though, so um, just kidding. We went to Cedar Rapids to spend a night with Tim, Angie and Jamie (my brother & his fam) and stopped to see Nina & Karl’s new place in Coralville along the way. It’s nice, i’m jealous. Tim and Jamie showed us all the flood damage in their neighborhood, which was amazing to see. Almost every house has a big orange X on it, meaning nobody can enter. There’s just stuff all along the curbs in the residential area, and there was even a house that had been carried halfway into the street by the flood waters. WAY worse than the damage in Des Moines.

From there we headed toward Uncle Dave’s house and stopped at a lake on the way out of CR.

Ladies at the Lake
I look goofy in this pic. We were afraid the water was contaminated, so we didn’t get in.

We’ve stayed with Dave three times in the last month now, which is probably more than in the past eight years or so. It was good to visit again. From Dave’s place in Long Grove, IA we headed North to the Maquoketa Caves. We only went as far as the mouth of the big one, however, because the lights had been turned off and we had no lamp. Also, it looked extremely muddy and scary.

Maquoketa CavesThe mouth of Dancehall Cave

We decided to proceed to Crystal Lake Cave, just south of Dubuque, which is well-lit and clean and illuminated by a young tour guide so disenchanted with his job that he jokes frequently about how lame it is to come all the way to Dubuque, Iowa just to see that particular cave. The “Crystal Lake” was pretty silly; it looked more like a puddle that a few people had chucked coins into like an out-of-service mall fountain. I didn’t bother to try to photograph it.

Crystal Lake Cave 1
I don’t remember what the different formations were called. Soda straws, maybe?

Crystal Lake Cave 4
Bacon strips..?

Then we went to the Mississippi River historical museum in Dubuque. I liked the animals. I’m still much like a little kid when it comes to museums.

Friendly Gators
Not doing it, just friendly.


We stayed in a cute little town called Mineral Point, Wisconsin that night at a bed & breakfast that made me wish i had a boyfriend. It was up above a brewery/restaurant which had really nice beer and food. The next morning we went to the Land’s End warehouse clearance event a few miles north. It was huge and crowded and insane, and i didn’t buy anything.

Land's End Feeding Frenzy

We drove all the way down to Kalona, Iowa that evening and stopped at President Herbert Hoover’s birthplace along the way. Turns out he was only in Iowa until he was eleven, at which point he moved to Oregon. Kinda like my life, but backwards. We had dinner in Iowa City and then headed down to Kalona, and caught an amazing sunset while driving. I couldn’t even begin to capture it, because out there in the country i could see the horizon all the way around us, 360 degrees, and it was all just beautiful.

Iowa Sunset 2

We walked around Kalona a little the next day but decided against taking a tour of the Amish community there. I probably should have taken it, since i have a hard time understanding why anyone would want to live like that. No internet? Come on. What would i do with my Saturday nights?

Going back through Iowa City the next day, we stopped to see the legendary Black Angel at one of the old cemeteries. Supposedly people tell stories of how a man commissioned the statue for his deceased wife and it turned black in a day because of her infidelity. The truth is that a woman commissioned it for her husband’s grave, refused to pay for it because she thought it was ugly, and was sued by the artist and made to pay $5,000 which back in those days was a lot of money. Her name is on the grave and the birth date is 1830something, but there’s no death date. Like maybe she refused to be buried under that thing.

The Black Angel 2
It’s not nearly as beautiful as the one i photographed in Rome. Few things are, i suppose.

After that we went shopping and headed home. It was nice to go on a little adventure for a while, but i always feel pretty relieved to be home again after a vacation. We’re settling back in now and will probably be heading to the Iowa State Fair before returning to the grind on Monday. Also rooting for Shawn Johnson tomorrow in the women’s gymnastics competition–representing iowa! Go team USA!



This weekend i learned that even artwork is a material possession, and sometimes you have no choice but to let it go.

Iowa has been flooding this summer, as i’m sure you’re all well aware. I blogged about the floods in ames, after that happened Des Moines also flooded, and just after that Cedar Rapids and Iowa City took it in the shorts big time. As it turns out, the storage unit that my mother and i had a lot of our worldly possessions stored in was overtaken by about 2.5′ of water, and we didn’t have the means to deal with the aftermath until this weekend.

Mom lost all of her furniture except for a desk we acquired at a garage sale at some point for $5. I lost whatever nostalgia i had stored in there except for my stupid fucking beanie baby collection, one other box of toys and some lightweight box i didn’t bother to open.

I had figured that my old journals were destroyed, and i discovered they were. I’ve been keeping a journal for ten years now, and the earlier half of them is gone. My high school letter was in there, no big deal. And my portfolio. That portfolio had probably eight years or so of artwork in it. My charcoal self-portrait. The sunflower i hated but mom loved. The conte and oil pastel drawings i did in my last drawing class. The graphite drawing of a rose. I don’t even know how many other pieces. I never found my old sketchbooks or the three-dimensional artwork, and so those are probably in there somewhere, too.

Self-Portrait in Charcoal
This is the self-portrait in charcoal, which is destroyed now.

I cried when i saw the portfolio. I discovered that my drawings are worth more to me than my writings. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but i think the two are incomparable. The journals were mostly full of drivel i’d written about boys i ought to have forgotten by now anyway. Which reminds me, the statue i was given as a gift once upon a time was destroyed as well. Sadly, though, i suppose that’s only fitting.

Metallic statue of a man's face kissing a woman's face

I’m grateful for what i still have: my more recent journals, all of my photo albums, all of my black-and-white photo negatives and prints. My poetry is all preserved on my computer. I have the people i love and my own life, and that’s actually worth more than everything i’ve ever created or ever will create. As an artist you imagine that the things you create might live beyond you, but i’ve never done anything of that importance anyway.