Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Here recently I had the experience of a lifetime. Both of my girls play travelling softball and, of course, on two different teams.   This past fall my eldest, Alexia, went to play on a team out of Ottumwa which was a great experience for her.   Her teammates consisted of girls 12 and under from Ottumwa, Moravia, Eddyville and Fremont. She developed new relationships and found friends for a lifetime. This spring playing ball has been pretty good. We started the second weekend of April and will finish the middle of July. The scheduling has been really pretty good. They have played opposite weekends or at the same tournaments, where I can bounce from field to field catching a little of one game and then get back to help coach my youngest daughter, Nicoa’s, team or leaving her team to go catch the end of Alexia’s game.

Nicoa’s team consists of ten girls. Nine out of the ten go to Cardinal and one girl from Ottumwa. We recently played at Coralville at the state ASA tournament which had 17 teams in it and we ended around 7th place which is great!  The girls have come a long way from when we started last year. In March the team blocked hotel rooms in Coralville. We got a cheaper team rate and I, like many of the other parents, called and made reservations for the weekend of June 19-21. This weekend happened to fall on the weekend that I was scheduled to work and Nicoa played at 8:30 that morning so at 5:30 am she and her sister loaded up with Chris and headed to Coralville to play ball. I would come up after I was done working.  If they won they played at 2:30 and lost it would be 11:30.  They won so 2:30 it was. It was hot &  humid when I got up there, but there was a light breeze blowing. We won our next game and now we were set play at 5:30. While warming up for the game we could see the sky getting darker and darker blue and you could see the lightning. They called the game and told us to head to our cars. We sat in our cars for around 15 minutes and then got the call that the games would resume Sunday morning and we would know more later that evening. We headed to the hotel in the pouring rain. When we arrived, I parked, threw on my coat, and ran into the hotel to get checked in.   My girls were dying to go swimming with the rest of the girls. Once inside the lobby, I was in line.  Not only was our team staying there, there was another team and they were checking in too.  There was only one front desk clerk that resembled Snoop Dogg. Finally it is my turn to check in.  “Talia McClure, reservation with the Comet Attack please” he looks at me, scans the computer and scans and scans and finally says “uh, no” and then “oh yes, here it is!” “By the way, there is no hot water and the elevator is not working, but we are giving you a 40% discount on your room”. In the back of mind I am thinking ‘how am I going to handle no hot water? I have to have a shower! I’m hot and sticky and my hair is greasy from the sweat earlier that day’. We proceed up to the second floor where our room was located and my girls are stripping off their clothes as fast as they can so they can get to the pool and go swimming.  I am sitting in the desk chair looking at Chris and said, “No hot water? This is not good.” He looks at me and says, “It only for one night.” But, I was not satisfied with that.  I started calling other places nearby.  When I got off the phone, Chris looked at me and said, “You’ll be fine.”  So, I finally gave in and thought ‘ok fine, I’ll deal with it’ and went down to check out the girls swimming.  After them swimming for 2 plus hours we headed up to the room to shower and get ready for the next day. We get to the room and now I am not the only one that is dreading the cold shower.  The reality has set into my girls that they need to shower and all there is cold water. The girls concluded that they had been swimming so it would be ok they just wash their hair and that would be good.  I proceed to wash Nicoa’s hair in the sink, but her hair is so thick I can’t get the shampoo out of it so we head to the tub. The bathroom was like a closet.  I could not get in without stepping to the side of the toilet to get the door shut and then reach the faucet to get her soapy hair.  We got it rinsed and she was saying, “This is cold, oh this cold!” and in my mind I am thinking, ‘I am going to take a shower!’ After their hair was washed I thought, ‘Ok. I am going to get this over with. It can’t be that bad.  I’ll be in and out.’ Yeah right, the water hits me and I am hyperventilating. I take the shower head and point it towards the wall. I take handfuls of water to get my greasy hair wet so that I can wash it without the water hitting the rest of my body.  I take a wash cloth soaking it water and getting the rest of body clean within 2 minutes! I  had enough.  I am semi clean.  GE….good enough!  I come out of the bathroom and the first words out of the girls’ and Chris’s mouth was, “How was that?” I’m sure by the  look on my face, they knew how it was. This was an experience of a lifetime, one that I will not forget, but don’t want to repeat anytime soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Present For My Wife

                One of my favorite memories as a kid was strawberry season in early June.  My Grandma Johnson had a large strawberry patch.  We’d go down to her house on the weekend when the berries were ripe.  We would help pick berries, and then always have fresh berries and ice cream.  There are not many simple things in life that are better.

            8 to 9 years ago my future wife moved down here from Des Moines.  It was May when she moved and a couple weeks after she had arrived the strawberries would be getting ripe.  Grandma and Grandpa had moved to town so they no longer had a patch to pick.  Instead, when the time came I just stopped at the Farmers Market and picked up a couple boxes.  It was just enough for a young couple.  I remember sending Katie a text as I headed home that said, “I bought you a present”.   I’m not sure what she had in mind, maybe flowers, jewelry, but not strawberries.  She was anything but thrilled when I arrived at home.  In fact, to this day she still asks me, “Do you remember when you told me you bought me a present and it was strawberries?”

            When we bought my parents house several years ago one of the first things I did was get a strawberry patch planted.  My wife’s question this time was “Why did you make it so big?”  Over the last couple years Katie’s helped out a little with the patch, but it has been more my thing with help from my Aunt and Uncle doing some picking when I was busy.  Luckily for me though, our daughter was blessed with a good set of taste buds.  She thinks the fresh berries from the patch are every bit as good as I do. 

            This year the first week of June, I was to be in Ames for Ag Credit School.  This just also happens to be the prime time for berry picking.  I went through all my hog chores with Katie before I had taken off, and then told her to keep an eye on the strawberries. I told her if they get ready call Aunt Patty, because I am sure she would come up and pick them.  I was surprised when half way through the week I received a proud text from my wife with a pretty large quantity of berries she had picked.  She proceeded to tell me how “nice” they were.  I am pretty sure that if our daughter Cylee didn’t love them that she would have just let them rot on the vine.  I’m holding out hope though that she’s coming around.  Maybe next year she’ll take an interest in mushroom hunting too!  

Drew Johnson