Category Archives: Iowa

Murals | 1934 Works by Local Artist

Several weeks ago, fellow blogger shoreacres posted a story about murals she enjoyed while poking around the environs of Arkansas and Missouri. A visit to her post is well worth the time. I found her pictures of them and the background stories very interesting.

Soon after her post, I visit our local shopping mall which opened in 1998. It has 4 large murals on walls of the walkway depicting scenes of Iowa. They add some visual interest to the mall.

This past week two much older murals were put on public display. Originally, eight were commissioned for display by the Hotel Jefferson in downtown Iowa City in 1934. The works were done by Mildred Pelzer but were not part of the Works Progress Administration murals in which started in May 1935. After Pelzer’s murals were finished, the eight were listed as a tourist attraction on display in the hotel.

In 1949, the hotel was remodeled. The murals were taken down for storage and never put back up. In 1970, the two shown here were discovered in the basement of the hotel. Three others were discovered later in the old city hall building. Three others are still missing. These two, Railroad Arrives and Stage Ready, are now on display in the Senior Center and the Public Library in Iowa City.

Railroad Arrives | Click to embiggen

Stage Ready | Click to embiggen

More of the story about the paintings and the artist is available in this sign posted next to the railroad painting.. It needs to be enlarged for readability.

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Mother’s Day Hike | Ryerson’s Woods

by Melanie and Jim

After our early morning breakfast, we drove across town to Ryerson’s Woods. It was acquired by Iowa City in 1985. The park has about 50 acres and includes less than a mile of trails. Last time we visited was in mosquito season. We got a short distance into the trees and ran back to the car with several bites each. This time there were no mosquitoes.

We met two men and their dogs who were on the way out. The men were chatty. One dog reminded us of the Good Dog, Carl. The children’s book series about Carl is wonderful. We saw only two other people from afar.

There is a bit of up and down in the park, but the trail is well maintained with mulch under foot. Clean-up of fallen trees needs to be done in a few places, but the path was only blocked in one spot, and we climbed over easily.

As the park name implies, it is a wooded site. The ground vegetation struggles in many places to capture sunlight. Even so, it is lush and dense with green, as well as with wildflowers.

We saw a lot of Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum plants in many different sizes. Most were about a foot tall. There were a few two feet tall and shaded a red color.

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Campus Trees | U of Iowa Map

I like to share good examples of blending technology with a specific set of data. The University of Iowa has over 8000 trees of 281 species on 3 campus locations. Care of those trees is under the auspices of the Facilities Management office. They have kept a database of the trees since 1989. How can that information be shared with others?

A web app was announced 29 April 2016 on Arbor Day to make the details of each tree available to students, faculty, researchers, and the general public. Follow this link to the app. This image is an example of a small part of the campus trees map.

TreeZoom

UITreeLegend

From the web site about the web app:

The UI Tree Inventory app delivers information about the number and location of trees and their condition, size, and species, with additional links to photos and descriptions. Users can also see if the tree was dedicated or planted as a memorial and view other designations, like state-champion status. Use the “find my location” feature on your mobile device to view information about the trees around you.

Users can drag the map, zoom in or out, and click on any of the tree symbols to bring up a window with details about that tree. What a great way to share the knowledge with everyone.

TreeDetails

THIS is Iowa

by Melanie

Note: It’s time to remember what community is about, and the intricate, sometimes invisible ways we’re bound together. I wrote this four years ago after an evening at the North Liberty Barbecue and Blues Fest. 

Your vantage point may be different from mine. If you see Iowa from 30,000 feet, or perhaps whizzing through on I-80 at 70 mph, you don’t see what I see.

From my vantage point this evening, I saw feet. Settled into grass rough as a boar’s bristle hair brush, I ate my barbecued brisket sandwich and cole slaw, and I saw feet. Women’s feet, clad in rubber flip flops, towering high heels, strappy sandals, ballet flats. Stretched out in front of me, my own feet, the exception: clad in thick crew socks greyed from a laundry mishap, and a pair of athletic shoes.

Children, little boys with pale skin, pinked from the heat and sun. Many have blond or reddish hair — the northern European genes still run strong in this part of the state. Other little boys with their chocolate brown skin and tightly curled hair. Little girls, towheads with tank tops and tiny skirts, and dark-haired girls, dressed the same, all holding tightly to a parent’s hand.

I remember passages of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods, where she so aptly describes the swirling skirts dancing at Grandmother Ingalls’ house, all from the viewpoint of a small child. I think of my view from the ground, how limited my scope is here, how little I see.

Looking up I see more, taller children, young adults, young families pushing their strollers. Varying colors and attire, still they seem much the same. The police officer stands out in his uniform, though. He sports a painted pirate patch over one eye and a curling mustache, lending unexpected panache to his appearance.

The next generation older, those of us in our 40s, 50s, 60s, we are more diverse. Men wear tank tops or polo shirts or Sturgis rally t-shirts. They have long hair and crew cuts, beards and smoothly shaved faces. Dew rags and straw hats and ball caps… If you think all Iowa men wear “farmer” caps, John Deere or Case caps, let me assure you it isn’t so. Half the men I saw tonight in their 60s look like old hippies, and the others looked like anyone’s neighbor.

THIS is Iowa. Iowa is not what you see from 30,000 feet, nor speeding by on our main highway. Iowa is not defined by our agriculture or our industry or even our presidential caucuses.

Iowa is our people and how we come together. We come together at the North Liberty BBQ and Blues Fest this evening, at the Kalona Fall Festival, at Hooverfest and the Iowa City Jazz Festival, and hundreds of festivals across the state, across the year. We come together at the farmers’ markets and the football games and community concerts, at churches and synagogues and the Mother Mosque of America. We grant each other a high degree of tolerance and respect.

We are not well represented by the fringe elements proposing a radical GOP platform. We are not well represented by the vile and reprehensible Steve King. We are purple, not red. We are well-educated and rational. We love jazz and blues. We have a long history of progressive civil rights laws, and we were one of the first states in the nation to welcome marriage equality.

What you see from a distance is not what I see. The view from afar does not show you our people, our faces, our children of many colors. The view from the ground is different, is real, and is the future. THIS is Iowa.

Ferns On The Palisades

by Jim and Melanie

We go to Palisades-Kepler State Park  in east central Iowa several times a year. Thanks for joining us this time. We like to hike along the trail more than 100 ft above the Cedar River. Parts of the trail are along the face of these rocks.

2015_0702FernHike_06

Each season brings out something different such as wild flowers in summer or colored leaves in autumn. This time it was an abundance of ferns. We’ve had a wet and cool spring.

2015_0702FernHike_01

Could not ID

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On the Radio: Iowa stays ahead in wind generation

This is good news for the state and the planet.

Iowa Environmental Focus

An Iowa wind farm (Brian Hoffman / Flickr) An Iowa wind farm (Brian Hoffman / Flickr)

March 23, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at an assessment of Iowa’s wind energy industry that shows the state still leads the nation in percentage of wind energy production. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Iowa Wind

With over 3,400 turbines, Iowa maintained its third-place ranking in wind energy generation last year.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The American Wind Energy Association recently released fact sheets for each state,
showing that Iowa sits behind only Texas and California in wind projects added as of last year. Iowa still leads the nation in energy percentage from wind, with 27 percent,
resulting in a wind capacity of over 5,000 megawatts. Thatʼs enough to power nearly 1.5
million homes.

Even with those gains, the Association estimates wind power could meet
the stateʼs electricity needs…

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#FarmerNice: The Iowa Nice Guy wants you to thank a farmer

Pucker up next time you see a farmer.

Iowa Environmental Focus

(Rich Herrmann / Flickr) (Rich Herrmann / Flickr)

KC McGinnis | February 11, 2015

“So I hear you think you know something about farmers,” the newest video from Iowa satire icon Scott Siepker, the Iowa Nice Guy, begins.

“There’s a word for what you know,” he continues. “It’s fertilizer.”

The witty new video is an effort to educate the public about how agriculture affects their everyday lives. In it, Siepker narrates as his trademark Iowa Nice Guy, directing quips at the agriculture-illiterate while highlighting the importance and scientific know-how of everyday farmers.

“Your food doesn’t start with a factory or the Keebler elves,” the video continues. “It starts with farming.”

The video lists a litany of unexpected items that come from agriculture: crayons, pet shampoo, bandages, and more. It also points out Iowa farmers’ environmental contributions, like their strong connection to the wind energy industry.

“They got the idea from listening to you…

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Snow Hike | First Time This Year

by Jim and Melanie

It snowed about a foot last weekend. The temperature dropped to -3˚F with 35 mph arctic winds by the next morning. Today, it warmed up to 25˚ with no wind. We strapped on the snowshoes and headed for the trail behind our house. Trails in town wind through the neighborhoods of town and make for great excursions all year long. Join us on this hike.

Strapped on and ready to go.

 

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Bald Eagles | Below Lock and Dam 14

Iowa has an east coast and a west coast since it is bounded by two major rivers. This View From Iowa was about as far east as one can be in the state. We met friends Tom and Sharon in LeClaire along the Mississippi River. Melanie and Sharon did some shopping in a fabric store to stock up on their quilting needs. Jim and Tom visited while sitting in some fancy painted chairs in the front window of the store. We walked down the street for lunch.

After lunch, we drove a short distance along the river to a viewing area below Lock and Dam 14. Bald Eagles congregate there to snatch fish from the water, stunned by their passage over the gates of the dam. Several were soaring above us checking the waters.

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

Many thanks to Tom for permission to use his photo above and the one at the end of this post. Very nice work, Tom.

 

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Coyote Calls At Night

by Jim and Melanie

Chuck Jones

Our View From Iowa is not only about what we see. It is also about what we hear. Last night, while settling into bed, a distant emergency siren started to wail. Not far from our house is an interstate highway, fire and police stations, and a major university hospital system. The siren is a common sound. This time it was different.

Within seconds of the siren, a group of coyotes started to wail. There is a wooded area and open fields behind our house. Deer and turkey are common visitors. The coyote are less frequent visitors. But, we have heard them on several previous occasions. Sometimes, they run through within one or two hundred feet of our house yelping and whining to each other. It is always a treat to hear them. This audio sample is almost exactly as they sounded.