Corn mazes-a Midwest Tradition and a Sisterly Excursion

I promised this summary a few posts back and am finally getting around to it. Despite being a Heart of Iowa girl my entire life I have never been to a corn maze. Oh wait, I lie. Apparently when I type a definitive statement is the time my subconscious decides to kick out a memory. I’ve been to one before, in high school, and that time I did actually go through the maze, at night to boot. I love the idea of a corn maze and would like to go through one during the day, or at least sometime where they weren’t wanting to close so they were hurrying us through. – there was a corn maze at the wedding I was in, back in August, but it had down poured that morning and decided that would be a poor life choice.

I can say, however, that I’ve never been to a corn maze like Sever’s Corn Maze in Shakopee, Minnesota. (As a complete side note I think they are missing a HUGE opportunity with not just calling them Maizes. It sounds like the word of what it is and translates to the word that is the material. Why don’t people consult with me? Obviously I’m a genius.) We didn’t even make it to the maze itself, we got too caught up in the other attractions. What attractions? You may well ask. They had more than I’ll probably remember to write about, so I’ll stick to the ones we participated in. There was a corn pit. You heard me. Corn pit. There was this giant tent set up with hay bales lining the edges. In the middle were giant stacks of corn kernels. Something we learned there, I’d die in quick sand. The theories behind moving in corn may or may not be similar to sand but I’m certain that if I couldn’t quite grasp corn I don’t want to try the sand. My older sister Bailey, however, took to it like a fish to water. She was able to slither herself up to the top of pile while I sunk when it was only up to my knees. I know, you’re jealous.

Next up, pumpkin launches! They had 2 old launchers of some kind, that when stuffed with mini pumpkins, could hit trucks and targets. It fed some primal nature to see stuff explode, namely the tiny pumpkins. Also, it was super satisfying see them shatter against the truck. Not so much for Bailey, she asked if I could/would hit anything besides the truck. Then we headed over to the petting zoo where I neglected to read the signs and almost reached out and got my hand bit off. Luckily my sisters were looking out for me. They yelled at me before anything bad could happen and only my pride was hurt. Okay, who am I kidding, my pride has been ‘hurt’ so much it has an impenetrable layer of scar tissue to protect it. That tent was pretty fun and I even got to pet a camel and a deer, so win.

Finally, and the highlight for us, was the parakeet tent. A tent full with hundreds of birds! They had little sticks with seed on them that if you held them out the birds would go to so you could hold and pet the birds! My nephew LOVED this place. We spent the most time there and he really only hit one bird. After being reminded to be gentle he was able to pet the birds without scaring them off. I think my sisters and I reacted more violently to them coming and going then he did. He thought it was down right hilarious that the birds scared us with their swarming. I think at one point we each had an average of five birds in our hands. Insanity. Would I do it again, oh yeah.  Then before leaving we snagged a gi-normous bag of kettle corn and this sweet pic. People seem to find it hilarious that my nephew is driving, but lets be honest, it’s the easiest spot to put a twenty month old. And it’s fun having the sisters as pumpkins (or why argue over who the driver is). Okay it is funny. The rest of the weekend was quite enjoyable, complete with viewings of Bringing Up Baby, Abbot & Costello meet Frankenstein and Clue. We had more than enough popcorn for the movies. A very successful sister’s weekend.


LOEB: Young ________

It’s that time again – the League has called.

In the spirit of Young Indiana Jones, Young Frankenstein, or Young Einstein, come up with a “Young ___” prequel or series.

I know you’ll be shocked to hear the first thing that popped into my head was a “Young Holmes” series. Can you imagine what life was like growing up with Mycroft and Sherlock. You, as a parent, wouldn’t be able to get anything past them.

“Oh look Sherlock, the tooth fairy came and dropped off a bag full of coins!”
“Mother, I felt you slip them under my pillow when you came in to wake us.”
“No, Sherlock, that must have been the fairy scurrying away.”
“Oh mother,” Mycroft butts in, “the coins were jingling in your pocket as the door opened.”

Contrarily imagine the childhood you’d have to survive to become the way the two brothers are:

“Mycroft, come come, best be eliminating the inert ingredients if you hope to figure out what you were poisoned with.”
“What! Dad, it’s Christmas, you promised not today!”
“Sherlock,” Mr. Holmes would switch focus, “based on your brother’s symptoms, when, during dinner, was he dosed?”

Whether or not their parents were fiendishly clever or not, think of the spy vs spy mischief the two would get into.

“Sherlock, really, the water over the door trick. When, in any stretch of the imagination, would that work on me.”
“Oh Mycroft to true, tell me, has your hand done something agregious or are you just scratching it for fun.”
“Of course it’s not for fun, but I’ve got an itch that I just can’t- Oh. Oh you’re a dead man.”
“You may want to go wash before you spread it around to much.”
“I’d run if I were you.”
“Why, are you going to roll me over?”

BUT seeing as how that is already a thing apparently (I haven’t seen it, but according to IMDB it does) my second choice would then have to be the Young Marauders.

Dear old J.K. has teased with a few back stories of the four friends, but what was life actually like at Hogwarts in their day? How much did Lily really despise James and how did he really turn it around? What did James look like when he screwed up his transformation and had little antlers poking out of his head the next day (did Snape see – of course)?

I envision James and Sirius being in constant friendly competition to see who could pull the bigger prank, sneak out the latest or in general cause tom foolery. Mean while Peter and Remus might compete over the Rolaids in reaction to some of the more extreme stunts. However I think the spectrum would most likely settle out to be Sirius-James-Remus-Peter.

Check the League’s main post to see updates to the prompt all week, or you can head on over to other members to see The Young Dukes of Hazzard, Toddler Mutant Ninja Turtles, or a Prequel (young) Monster vs. Aliens.

Until next time~Q

[Audio]Book Review: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch

I’m an audible subscriber and I realized I have a LOT of books in my library that I haven’t listened to. So this week I decided to compile them all onto my iPod and make a reading list. I’ve just finished the first book on the list: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch by Bill Pronzini, narrated by Nick Sullivan. As I listened to it I was trying to figure out why I had bought it. Then I remembered it was a member bonus and was a bit relieved. It’s not that the story was bad, it just wasn’t very good. Or more accurately it didn’t really leave me with anything. It was kind of like lukewarm water. Not warm enough to make something you want and not cold enough to be refreshing. I wasn’t overly fond of the narrator though. If there is such a thing as ‘go to voices’ for characters he hit them all. I don’t feel like he had the widest range for voices, so he had to do that. Like the deep gruff voice for an older man even though that might not fit the character.

The story was about a detective who is hired to find out who killed a man. The victim was burnt in his house a short time after a series of buildings were burned down in Ragged-Ass Gulch. The victim was part of a development company that wanted to convert Gulch into a tourist trap of a ghost town. The citizens of Gulch didn’t take kindly to the idea. The detective’s approach was to re-access the burned down buildings. The sheriff had said it was incidental but the detective discovered it was arson. He deduced (as had the Monroe company and Monroe’s insurance company) that perhaps the Gulchers were trying to scare of the company from buying the land by first burning the buildings and then one of their own homes. Incidentally the man wasn’t suppose to be home at the time, so they weren’t outright murderers, I suppose.

The nice thing about this story is that it was only about an hour and a half long. Wasn’t a real commitment to listen to it. (Contrarily perhaps that’s why it wasn’t that good too. There wasn’t time to really develop much of story.) Just passed the time while I designed some projects. However it did make me a bit more paranoid. As I was listening I was at work with my ear phones in and I kept hearing voices (outside the phones) despite being the only one at work. Not good for someone who has an overactive imagination. I convinced myself it was just a sub track or something (kind of like the sound you could get if you recorded over a cassette tape too many times) and ignored it. When in doubt, ignore it.

This book had a dysfunctional romance, wordplay, suspense and mystery. If you have time to kill you could do worse than reading Ragged-Ass Gulch.

Ciao ~ Q

LOEB: How to Destroy the Death Star or whatever

It’s that time again – the League has sent out a prompt, which is: Write a step-by-step guide on how to do something. This could be a real world project or a fantastical one, so do with it as you will.

Now I’m going to cheat and pull something from my personal archives. Below is a paper I wrote for my tenth grade composition class. (I think it’s tenth grade anyway, even if it’s not that hardly matters). I remembered really liking the project, it was a lot more fun then the straight laced formal how-tos (even though I wrote mine on making a PB&J) we had to write before we could write our creative ones. So without further ado

Someday My Frog Will Come.

Many of us have read the fairy tales about the handsome prince who always saves the damsel in distress.  You may have caught yourself wishing a prince would come and save you from your chores or homework.  Why wait for him to come to you when you can find him yourself?  I know it may seem silly to go look for a prince.  Don’t be absurd.  All you really need is a frog.  In short, to get your prince, all you need to do is find a frog, smooch it, and presto-chango, there he is.

Don’t get me wrong; finding a frog could prove to be very tricky. What you need first is bait; flies would be the ideal choice. To catch some, I’d suggest going fly fishing. No matter how you acquire your flies, you’re going to have problems with them.  Flies, as you may have experienced, are extremely stubborn and have some major attitude problems. You’ll need to establish dominance, similar to training a dog.  So after you have them on leashes, (that’s the best way to keep them in check) you should torch a few. Burning them is much easier than fitting muzzles on to them.  Using a lighter works well because the stench will linger and remind the rest of the flies of their fallen friends. Also, if you spit on the carcasses, it will help reinforce the statement that you don’t care about the flies. Their attitude will change to terrorized obedience. It may be tempting to overlook the importance of flies in frog catching. However, a friend of mine didn’t think she needed flies, and the frog ate her instead. True, she had bug eyes, but she didn’t deserve to be eaten for her oversight.

The next step in the quest for your prince is to locate a frog. With your bait it will be super easy. The best places to look are; near a pond, in a swamp, in a rain forest, and in your local biology classroom. The key is finding somewhere wet, or at least damp.  You may be wondering how you will know which frog to pick.  I have some helpful hints on how to chose your perfect frog. [My editor has mentioned these may be a little hard to follow. To alleviate this concern, I have described the process in detail in my companion text entitled Picking Your Frog: Friend or Foe?] You may see some frogs hopping about with their noses high in the air. Don’t pick them.  When they turn into princes, they will be extremely snobby, and you don’t want a snobby prince.  When a frog comes up to you, offer him a fly.  If he sticks around after he is done eating there is a good chance that the frog is interested in you, which, let’s be honest, is an essential quality in any relationship.  If your luck isn’t so good and no frogs hop up to you, approach one that looks inquisitive.  No matter which frog you select, you should give them all flies.  When they change into royalty, they will remember the meal they received from you and will repay you.

After you have chosen the frog you wish to turn into a prince, you need to prepare to kiss it. Once a friend thought she could just kiss it, and when the frog turned into royalty, it turned into the descendent of the tyrant Czar Nicholas II. So, obviously, these next steps are key. Missing even one will change the outcome. For this process, you’ll need lip balm, a washcloth, and a toothbrush with toothpaste. First, put on some lip balm. You need it to prevent one or more of three side effects. They are that he will want his castle damp or near a swamp, he will still eat flies, and you will sprout wings.  Then use the washcloth to wipe off the frog’s head. You will be kissing the frog on the top of the head, not on the mouth. Rosie, a friend, tried kissing the frog on the mouth, and the frog swelled to the size of a house. In her defense, it was the cutest frog I’ve ever seen. Then brush your teeth. You won’t want a nasty taste in your mouth while talking to your newly transformed prince. Exposing the prince to his past self so soon after transformation can cause lasting damages, such as the inability to break him of his amphibious tendencies.

Finally, wait 15 to 30 seconds for your frog to transform. You may think, “Great.  At last I get my own prince.” I don’t mean to burst the beautifully bright bubble of the vision of your masterful wedding. I’m sure it’s exquisite, with angels dropping flower petals from above, but let’s get back to reality. You will need to make a good impression on your future husband. A healthy relationship will make it so much easier to correct his natural tendencies into practices that are more becoming of royalty. You will have to train him to stop stalking all the flies in the castle, and not to croak when surprised or frightened. For tips (on surviving the aftermath of the wedding) consider purchasing my sequel, When Your Prince Makes You Want To Croak.

Perhaps if I have time later in the week I’ll plot out how to destroy the death star, but for now this will have to be it. If you’d like to see a brilliant way to destroy the death star and get a cup of joe at the same time check out Primordial Badger’s post on the subject. Both Spaceman Star and Crooked Ninja have their own plans to destroy the deathstar as well. For other how to’s (ones that follow my heart) Learn about books/reading with Adamotomy, cooking poptarts with Monster Cafe or Proving fabled creatures exist with Green Plastic. For a complete list of entries head over to the League’s main post.

That’s all for today but stay tuned for my review of a corn maze. Until then ~ Q

LOEB: A reality show staring you

This week’s prompt from the league: Television executives have determined that you lead an amazing life and have pegged you as the next big reality TV star. What’s the name and the premise of your show? Where to even begin? A title I suppose. Here are a few options:

  • Life of a Loser
  • The Gals
  • Making an Intro an Extra
  • Stars Hollow Redux

The breakdowns:

Life of a Loser – Would just be following me around all day. The camera would roll while I am at work, capturing all the sometimes unfortunate things that escape my lips. (Like last week’s gem of me telling a customer I’d shoot them rather than I’d shoot them an e-mail. Perhaps not the best customer service).

Then the action continues as I go home and pick up a book to read. 

If you can handle that stay tuned for when I then go to browse pinterest

I don’t know if the viewers could handle such excitement.

The Gals – I video chat with my 3 high school friends 2-4 times a month (sometimes biweekly is all we can manage). We were all involved in the arts (over athletics) in school which was a necessary foundation seeing where we are now. Cheryl lives in Texas and is an engineer, Jamie is a medical illustrator in Georgia, Allie lives in KC and is an elementary school teacher, and then there is me. I’m pretty much living where we all spent our childhood, holding down the fort as it were. Cheryl is obviously smart, but sometimes I just can’t understand what she is saying. So she has that going for her, she is also recently married.

Jamie is in grad school to become a medical illustrator and lives with her boyfriend.He hangs out in hospitals (where he works), she hangs out in cadaver labs (where she studies). It seemingly makes sense though.

Allie once posted “May I be as zany as Ms. Frizzle, as inspiring as Mary Poppins, and as nurturing as Miss Honey!” Considering she once dressed up as an ninja to get her kids to remember an acronym, I’d say she succeeded. She is actively dating and is a social person.

Finally there is me. If the first reality show synopsis didn’t show you what I’m about lets see if I can do it here: I’m a designer (and occasional blogger) who spends most of my time alone and through chance only hangs out with women, so no real dating prospects on the horizon. My manager jokes about how she wants to set me up, but she doesn’t know anyone in their mid-twenties so I have, thus far, dodged that bullet.

Making an Intro an Extra – A reality show where they would attempt to make me more social and try new things. Perhaps There could be silly weekly challenges. One week I’d have to host a dinner party worthy of Julia Child.

Then the next week it’s something completely different, snare setting with MacGyver. I bet that would be better to watch.

Stars Hollow Redux – When I tell people about the town where I now live they comment I more often then not get is ‘That sounds like Stars Hollow.’

For those of you who didn’t watch Gilmore Girls it centers around a pretend small town in Connecticut where this single mom raises her daughter. The town always has some festival or activity going on. That is kind of how my town is. Sadly we don’t have giant town meetings, but what we lack in that we make up for in committee meetings. There’s the EDC board, the GCC board,  the planning committee, the org committee, the promotions committee, PTO, school board and lots more. Some of these even have subcommittees so really, it’s obnoxious. The sad thing is that each committee probably average 8 people so you can’t get away with snarky asides. However it is easy to see various factions within the committees, so that makes up for it. Currently I’m involved with 2 (just finished serving on a special committee for RAGBRAI) and it takes up time. The nice thing about this show option is that you’d get a slice of the heartland and what life is like in small towns.

That’s it, those are my pitches.

Monster Cafe is primed to pimp out his business for the show, Dorkhorde will give you a penny for your thoughts, Primordial Badger is gonna kick it with some birds, and our very own Cool and Collected (host of The League) will be playing What’s in the Box.

Ciao ~ Q

Quick Post: Looks gross, tastes delicious!

Today for breakfast I decided to be semi-adventurous the result was a bit gruesome to the eyes so I balanced it out with an old favorite – cheese omelet and toast. Anyway to the experiment. I had a ton of spinach that was due to go past its ‘best by’ date this week. I also had some grapes that weren’t my preferred level of tenderness. Knowing I wasn’t going to eat either (had my meals planned and they didn’t include spinach salad) I threw both in the blender and decimated them. The result? 6 cups of runny green goo. Sounds appetizing right? I warily dipped in my spoon and was rewarded for my bravery with a wonderful taste and unique texture. I was worried there would be just chunks of spinach leaves but there wasn’t to many and they were tiny enough to ignore. Also the grapes dominated the flavor, and the slight spinach essence only enhanced the experience, rather than detract. That’s one way to get your veggies without dealing with the sometimes bland taste. As an added bonus Spinach is full of good-for-you stuff like calcium, folic acid, vitamin C & K, iron, fiber, carotenoids, lutein and bioflavanoids. The goo was actually my favorite part of breakfast. The other stuff (eggs & toast) were just old had compared to the uniqueness in my glass. Anyway must dash, until next time ~ Q

LOEB Assignment: Summer’s over, it’s time to go back to school!

This week the league has cooked up an open ended prompt: Summer’s over, it’s time to go back to school!

What does this mean? Oh so much. In the past it would be the time when I’d go shopping for new supplies (always composition notebooks and pens. I still have a soft spot for those notebooks but have over a dozen blank ones on my shelf right now). Also new clothes. I remember back in elementary school laying out my clothes for the first day. Some years I went so far as to have the first week’s outfits all folded and sorted by day. I was such a nerd. Then there was the first day itself. Getting up a pinch earlier so we could go out on the deck with our stuffed to the gils backpacks and take first day of school pictures. Those days are long gone for me. What does the end of summer mean for others? Well, if you are still doing education (highschool, college, continuing education what have you) obviously you are going to school. That includes (usually) having to do homework. If you have a family you may have various practices to schedule.

What it means for me? Books, theater, and TV shows that I wont really watch now anyway. Back to school means my waiting for the new Rick Riordan book, The Mark of Athena, is that much closer to being over (comes out in October).

If you’re into sports, football madness is in full swing and will be all semester.

If you like TV the prime time shows will be returning shortly (if they haven’t already). I like TV but it’s too hard to keep up with them ‘live’. More than likely I save them up and just watch them once they’re out on disc (or on netflix). Here’s a rundown of what I’d watch if that wouldn’t mean me living on the couch every night:

Sunday – Once Upon a Time or The Mentalist.
Monday – Bones
Tuesday – NCIS, NCIS:LA or New Girl
Thursday –  Big Bang Theory, Elementary or Parks & Rec
Friday – Community, Grimm, Fringe or Haven

Other things I look forward too for back to school? The beginning of the new Performing Arts series at the various places I frequent. I’m looking forward to seeing Les Miserables, War Horse, Jekyll & Hyde and Million Dollar Quartet at the civic center. Other things I may see are Pride & Prejudice, Shrek, Biloxi Blues, Blue Man Group, Noises Off, Alice in Wonderland, The Three Musketeers or A Streetcar Named Desire. So yeah, I love the start of school. It means the waiting of summer is over (even though summer fun in the sun is an excellent way to pass the time).

Curious how other members interpreted this week’s assignment? Go to the League’s main page for a list of everyone or you can check out some of these:
Monster Cafe
hung out in New York
Memories of Toymorrow always had birthday blues
Good Will Hunting 4 Geeks puts together his educating team
while Under Scoop Fire assembles a different kind of team
and Jannghi discusses new supplies

That’s it I suppose (below is just filler about the TV lineups and why I like certain shows) until next time ~ Q

Once Upon a Time: I really enjoyed this show and did actually watch it (although that usually meant missing several weeks and then having a hulu marathon). I’ve yet to watch the last two episodes, but now that the season will start soon maybe I can. I hate how shows always end with cliff hangers and then you have to wait months for it to be resolved. So to avoid this I just didn’t watch it.

The Mentalist: Not a show I’ve ever watched live but I like the premise. When I do see the odd episode I always enjoy it.

Bones: I have a love hate releationship with Bones. I loved where the show was going and then a couple seasons ago it was they decided that Bones might be getting too normal and BAM they made her back into a person that didn’t get normal people. If they would have made it gradual I might have been okay with it but it was so all of a sudden. I did have to take a break from the show for awhile, but I just love the sciency bits so much that it keeps calling me back.

NCIS & NCIS:LA: I love both of these. Part of the appeal is that they are both something our entire family enjoys wo when we get together and USA has one of their marathons it’s easy enough to agree what we should watch. The characters are interesting and loveable. There has to be something good going on if a spinoff series not only does well but then, in turn, gets its own spinoff. Excellent. Just excellent. I also like how you don’t have to see every episode to keep up with it, not the case for some shows (like Fringe).

New Girl: Zooey Deschanel is brilliant and I love this ensemble. Although like the trend in comedy nowadays sometimes the bits cross over into the territory of being so painfully awkward. I’m hoping they don’t prolong the Jess & Nick thing for much longer, that too is painfully obvious.

The Big Bang Theory: Another one the family enjoys.

Elementary: Going in the same vein that I love all things Sherlokian I’ll at least look into this new show. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this, so we’ll see. I have hopes, making Watson a woman is intriguing at the very least. I also very much enjoy Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. I’ll keep my fingers crossed about this one.

Parks & Rec: Amy Poehler, enough said.

Community: I don’t follow this the most but ts always good for a laugh though. It’s a fun premise. Almost like a highschool drama, only you get a more amusing mix since you have the random old person (Pierce).

Grimm: I’m always confused when two different studios put out seemingly similar shows. When I heard both Grimm and Once Upon a Time were premiering last year I wasn’t sure if they’d be the same thing or not. I’m glad that despite both involving fairytales they are very different shows and enjoyable for very different reasons.

Fringe: Although it’s kind of getting trippy I can’t wait to see how it ends. This year marks it’s last year and will have a half season to finish the story line.

Haven: I love this show. If I watch anything ‘live’ this will be the one. I’m seriously in love with everything about this show. Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant and Eric Balfour have amazing chemistry as Audrey Parker, Nathan Wuornos and Duke Crocker. My friend once described it as the love child of Fringe and Once Upon a Time, interesting thought.