Saturday night
After 4 hours in the dentist's chair (you don't want to know- just suffice it to say, I have a great dentist), I picked up my elderberry wine from Alice. What a thrill to actually see the wine from the elderberries I picked and destemmed!

I stayed and talked with Alice for quite a while. We watched a beautiful video she put together from her dad's 1930's home movies! It was so refreshing to see Yorkville so small and undeveloped! And Yellowstone in the 1930's! So remote and unpeopled! I had a great time. It behooves me to do more with my mother's pictures from 'way, 'way back, to pass on to Jeff and Angela.

I have so much more to tell you, dear Reader. And of course, I shall let the photos I took do the real talking.

First and foremost, the lake is melting. There seems to be no stopping it now. Is ice fishing really over for good?
Please see the photos above. The first two were taken on March 11th, and the third one is from today, March 13th. This morning I even saw two ducks swimming around. They were totally enjoying their new found water!

The next photo is of the hand pump I bought in Exline, Iowa. Exline is a tiny former coal mining town just above the Missouri border in south central Iowa . Dave H. came over today to get it out of my car, and take it to his house to work on. He asked me if I looked to see where the pump was made. Of course, I hadn't. So we looked at the lettering on it, and would you believe it was made in my home town? Davenport, Iowa!
Obviously by now you know I took a little trip to one of my favorite areas in Iowa - Van Buren and Appanoose Counties. This is rural America, folks, and I love it. The soil in Centerville and Exline, Iowa (Appanoose County) is not very good for growing crops, so there are lots of pastured cattle. There are hills and a great many huge oak trees (my favorite!). Lots of what I call "real" farms. Smaller farms with year around animals, haying, pastures and ponds. Exline just happens to be the hometown of Morgan Cline. Who is he? He is president and CEO of Cline, Davis and Mann in New York City - a company well-known for pharmaceutical advertising. He has gifted many projects in Centerville and Exline. The Exline general store last year won the best general store in Iowa! That's where I found my used hand water pump.

Another favorite general store is Dutchman's store in Cantril (Van Buren County). It is owned and operated by Mennonites, and has everything from yards of calico prints, to homeschooling books, to heavy-duty boots and clothing, to homemade quilts, to a complete grocery store. It's one of the most fun places to visit.  Many days you will find Amish horse and buggies pulled up next to the line of cars in front of the block-long building. I didn't see any this time, but of course, the Amish were clop, clop, clopping down the roads! (see photos)

Milton, Iowa is another one of the seven villages of Van Buren County. It just happens to have the Milton Creamery featuring the best cheese of 2009! Prairie Breeze is the best cheese I've tasted! I'm not alone. It won two top awards for cheese. In April, 2009, Milton Creamery's Prairie Breeze won the Open Hard Class at the Wisconsin Cheesemakers national USA contest in Wisconsin. It takes a great cheese to win in Wisconsin - home of the Cheese Heads! But that's not all.  Prairie Breeze also won in Austin, Texas at the American Cheese Societies Annual Conference and Competition in August, 2009 (in the Cheddar 12-24 month class). "This is an incredible achievement by a small and new Cheesemaker..."

I forgot to tell you that I stopped in Pulaski, Iowa (a two-block town) to take photos of the name of this town in honor of Michael, my dear friend who takes me to great restaurants. Michael was born in Poland and came to the United States when he was three. He called me a few weeks ago to tell me that Chicago was honoring Revolutionary War hero, Casimir Pulaski, so I thought it was only fair that I stop and take a photo of Pulaski, Iowa!
The house photos (and I use that term loosely) are of a house that needs some work in Van Buren County- just the kind of house I like to restore! I found an unexpected animal in the delapitated barn a fer piece from the house.  I would say the landscaping could use some clean up, wouldn't you?

Further down the quaint road of V63, is a newer beautiful log home with this lovely elk statue near the road. Thought you would like to see it, dear Reader. It is quite dramatic on top of the hill.

Last, but not least, on the way home I travel through Columbus Junction, which just happened to get flooded big time in the last Iowa flood. The Iowa and Des Moines rivers meet just above Columbus Junction and boy!  that leads to some high water. The name of this bar, "Rumors and Excuses," caught my eye. I thought you would like it, too. At least they're honest. Not to mention they "raise the bar!"

And that's it for the pictures from my trip. It was a great, but short, time. Now it's back to prune, prune, prune and yes, start my seeds! I heard it might be 60 degrees by Thursday! Let's hope so!

Enjoy the photos! I wish you had been along for the ride!


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