On The Road To Iowa!

Something About Nothing – Column for Albert Lea Tribune, March 17, 2014

On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again. iowa photo: Iowa Iowa.png

Those words from the Willie Nelson song rumbled through my head as we prepared for a trip to Iowa for a weekend of fun with our son and his children. We had not been across the border, down south, well, a little down south, since the beginning of October. Every time we prepared to get on the road again, we had a snowstorm.

I want to share a few thoughts with you about our visit traveling across the Minnesota border to outside of Des Moines. I always find experiences when I travel that direction or at least something that makes me laugh and wonder.

I gave thanks when I stepped out of my car and I could remove my winter jacket and walk around a house on the dormant grass.

I learned that I need to brush up on my Xbox skills so my grandson doesn’t keep beating me in “Madden NFL” and some other crafty game. Of course, it would have helped had he actually explained what I was supposed to be doing and what the buttons meant on the controller.

The first game we played, which I can’t remember the name, his character blasted me right at the beginning, time and time again, and, yes, I quit in protest of not knowing how to play. My goal, I will learn and conquer and surprise him in the future.

I reinforced my opinion of some drivers on the interstate. Some drivers really are idiots.

I know I must remember the correct name of Orange Leaf frozen yogurt. My grandkids think it’s funny because I always call it Orange Peel. The yogurt tastes the same no matter whether you call the place Orange Leaf or Orange Peel. It is yummy.

It is possible when you wake up in the morning and are in a new community, and you realize you can’t stand your hair one more day, that you can walk into a salon and find a stylist that cuts and styles your hair exactly as you wanted it. When panic mode hits and your normal stylist is hundreds of miles away, there is someone who can save you.

Attending the “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” movie I noticed the adult men were laughing louder at some of the nuances in the movie than the children. I wondered how many of those subtle comments my young grandchildren would remember and ask later on what they meant. Why do movies for kids now have to have suggestive comments in them for adults?

It is possible to meet new friends in strange places. Another grandmother and I bonded at our grandchildren’s gymnastic practice over exercise. We decided the frog hop and the “pull the pad by your toes as you crawl across the floor” — we didn’t know the real name for the exercise — would be perfect for us to try at home. We agreed we wouldn’t let anyone else watch us. We decided to skip the upside-down-against-the-wall exercise as we felt we are a little balance challenged and our heads are dizzy enough without turning upside down. The strange thing about talking to this new friend was that it felt as if we had known each other a long time. I hope we meet up again.

I came away from a conversation about Sunday school with my grandchildren wondering why we don’t take kids’ advice when they have suggestions for making learning in Sunday school more interesting. They have some good ideas.

I concluded that unless we can figure out a way to turn off the electronics it is going to be a hard sell to turn children into readers in this gadget world of ours. Thank goodness for teachers who assigns their class reading assignments where the kids have to read at least 20 minutes every evening. Maybe in that short space of time something will spark a love for reading so they want to put aside their gadgets and get lost in the words and pages of books.

I learned on this trip that my 11-year-old granddaughter is a good cook. Not only can she cook, she makes it look like the enticing food on the cooking shows. My mouth still is watering from her scrumptious French toast and strawberries and cream.  She, unlike me, has the patience to stand and nurture what is cooking instead of walking away and ignoring it until she thinks it is done. She taught me that if she can be patient while cooking, I can too.

As we traveled the road back to Minnesota in the nighttime hours, I became aware of the number of people who have died on the freeway this year in the state of Iowa. Signs over the freeway in the darkness at various points in the road flashed those numbers and warned us to drive safely.

As we came back to Minnesota that night I looked at the beautiful stars in the sky and the brightness of the landscape at night because of the snow and marveled at the differences a few hours can make in our lives.

I thought back to my experiences during the weekend and was filled with wonder at how many experiences small and large that we travel through in our lifetime. The tiny pieces of moments and experiences weave together to change something about us, however small. We may not notice, but we are changed by the moments not just the hours and days.

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.” — Wayne Dyer

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