Archive for November, 2009

Remembering Mother — Marion Gunderson

November 30, 2009

By Clara Gunderson Hoover

It’s hard to believe five years have passed since Mother died on November 30, 2004.  Shortly thereafter, an Omaha newspaper columnist paid tribute to noted Omahans who died that year.  He quoted Garry Trudeau, who had recognized others.

“Even as we are sad for her having died,

We are boundlessly happy for her having lived.”

This little quote, whose pronouns I’ve changed, is taped to my desk lamp and lifts my spirits whenever I miss Mother.  She still makes me smile.  I’m proud of her life-long involvement in community efforts. Well known in Rolfe as “Marion the Librarian,” she spearheaded many library projects and fostered a love of reading.  She organized fund-raisers, taught Bible school, was a Cub Scout den mother and 4-H leader, and late in life was a kindergarten volunteer.  And throughout this time, she painted and, with our father, raised six children.

Mother’s influence was long lasting and often quiet.  She tutored a high school senior in a course needed for graduation.  She provided financial assistance enabling another senior to attend college.  She created the original database for Rolfe’s online cemetery records.  Her teaching ceramics in Bible school later inspired a former student to take up pottery. Mother loved reading with her grandchildren and delighted in their accomplishments.

In addition to her paintings and needlework, other tangible items are constant reminders of Mother’s presence.  I wear her purple poncho. Only after Peggy e-mailed a photo of Mother knitting it, did I realize Mother knew how to knit.  Mother’s colorful gifts to Hal decorate our home. Several angels in my collection were gifts from Mother or part of her collection.  Each has a story.  Mother gave me a jade ring that had been given to her grandmother sometime before 1900.  I think of Mother when I wear it and enjoy telling its story when people ask about it.

Mother and Clara reading together, May 1944. (Click photo to enlarge.)

My home office is full of photos, including many of Mother.  My favorite was taken in 1998 at Mother’s retirement party.  This picture is on my desk and shows Mother, Peggy, Louise and me each reading a Mary Higgins Clark book and sitting on our cars with their license plates, LIBRARY (Mother’s) and READ (mine).  Another photo is of me, probably age two, sitting on Mother’s lap while we read a book together.

And on a lighter note, my favorite bookmark features a quote from Mother’s August 2002 e-mail commenting on a book I’d given her. “What trash!  But it held my interest right to the end.” We’ve all chuckled over that several times.  Mother and I enjoyed many of the same authors and artists. Often when I read a good book or see something especially colorful, I think, “Mother would have loved this.”

Her own mother died when Mother was just 31.  How boundlessly happy I am that Mother lived a long, meaningful and productive life; and that, adult-to-adult, we shared so many experiences and interests.

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(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.  To view archived posts about Mother, click here.)


Home Brew Bottles (What Kinds? Cleaning? Caps?)

November 25, 2009

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Last night Jim Eaton and Bill bottled the American Bock that Jim, Bill and Scott Finneseth began brewing on September 22nd.

It’s an odd concept that if one wants to bottle beer…you have to have bottles! Probably the only part of the brewing process these brewmeisters aren’t excited about is removing labels to recycle bottles.  But, many hands (and good conversation) make light work, as was the case last night.

Sam Adams bottles recycled for this batch of American Bock home brew. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Q.  What kinds of bottles do they use?

A. They used to try any bottles that weren’t of the twist-cap type. This included the longneck type of bottle as well as the shorter bottles, such as Anchor Steam.

The Anchor Steam bottles worked fine with their first batch of home brew.  However, when the Anchor Steam bottles were reused in a second batch, the tops of some of the bottles broke. Since this wasn’t the case with the longneck bottles, they now stick with the Sam Adams and other longneck non-twist-cap bottles and have had no further breakage problems.

(Once when they were really low on bottles, some were purchased from Beer Crazy in Urbandale.  Of course, that cost can add up quickly.)

(Click photo to enlarge.)Q. How do they clean the bottles?

Q.  How do they prepare the bottles for label removal?

A. They soak the bottles in a bucket for a day or so, or several hours if short on time.  The solution consists of water and the powdered form of Oxi Clean stain remover.  The labels peel off fairly easily.  A brush or sponge is used to remove any label residue.

(Click photo to enlarge.)

Q.  How do they get the caps to be tight on the bottles?

A. They use this contraption (at left) that they purchased at Beer Crazy in Urbandale.

* * * * *

S-o-m-e-t-i-m-e I plan to talk more with Mr. Spaulding and post more insight from him. Also, I want to add a few more posts to finish up about our Oregon trip.  And, of course, I want to pass along more information about Mother’s watercolors.

November 30th will be the fifth anniversary of  Mother’s passing away. The November 30th posting will be in her honor.  If you missed the open house and/or if you’d like to know more about the availability of prints of Mother’s watercolors of…an ear of corn, florals, grain elevators, a bunny, etc., click here.

Until next time, warm wishes and thanks giving for this…Thanksgiving.

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Hay You!

November 22, 2009

Hay bales along Highway 196 south of Sac City, Iowa. (Click photo to enlarge. Twice to enlarge even more.)

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Marion Gunderson, Her Watercolors, and the 1951 Des Moines Tribune

November 19, 2009

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"A Busy Mother Heads Art Week," Des Moines Tribune Oct. 31, 1951. (Click twice on article to enlarge text.)

This newspaper article is on the back of the framed original of Ear of Iowa Corn, painted by Mother and owned by Bill Carmichael at West Lake Okoboji, Iowa.

Our family had no knowledge of this painting until July of 2007 when RAGBRAI went through Rolfe. A year later, Carmichaels were kind enough to let my oldest sister, Clara, take photos of their original corn watercolor, painted by Mother. You can imagine Clara’s surprise and glee (yes…I think glee!) when she discovered this article in a plastic protector on the back of the framed painting.

The article is from the October 31, 1951, Des Moines Tribune. Peggy was born just 30 days prior. I was born four years later. Meaning that at the time of this article, Mother had five children ages nine and younger. In Mother’s 1980 (or ’81) oral history she said, “Much of my painting was done after eight o’clock in the evening when the children were in bed because I just didn’t have time earlier.”

It is amazing that after days that I’m sure were frequently long with five children, Mother had the get-up-and-go to reserve time and energy for painting in the late evenings. And, to exhibit around the state of Iowa.

What a marvelous photo of Mother at the bottom of this article. And, I love the columnist’s use of the word “brilliant” (second column) to describe Mother’s watercolors. It’s so very true. See for yourself by taking a look at two watercolors she painted in 1951, the same year this article was published: Railway Station and Grain Elevator (Gilmore City, Iowa) and in Depot (Rolfe, Iowa).

If you didn’t already click twice on the article to read it, I hope you will.

Also, in case you didn’t catch last week’s (11-10-09) Des Moines Register article about Mother, you may click here to read it.  (Update on December 13, 2009:  The article is no longer posted on the Des Moines Register web site.  If you email me to let me know you’d like I a digital copy of it, I’ll email it to you. ) The article is an endearing story about Mother.  It also explains how the profit from prints of her watercolors is funding the Rolfe, Iowa, oral history project she spearheaded in 1980-81.

* * * * *

This article is posted with permission from the Des Moines Register.

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Mover, Shaker and AURA (and still available by appointment)

November 15, 2009

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.  Info about specific prints is available in “View and Order Prints.”)

Whew!!!  The open house was WONDERFUL.  The amount of funds we took in was far beyond my even-most-hopeful expectation.  Equally as fascinating were the stories people told, especially with their involvement (or involvement of their preceding relatives) with the Pocahontas grain elevator that was pictured in the Des Moines Register.  (Update on December 13, 2009:  The article is no longer posted on the Des Moines Register web site.  If you email me to let me know you’d like I a digital copy of it, I’ll email it to you.

I received a note yesterday from a woman. She wrote, “It was a pleasure to read of your mother’s talents and deeds in yesterday’s Register.  During the 11 years my family lived in Pocahontas I was a member of her P.E.O. chapter and I came to know and admire Marion as a ‘mover & shaker,’ important to Rolfe and to the area.  I’m glad to see her aura lives on.”

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a little too robust perhaps for “going after” making prints of Mother’s work available.  I quickly dismiss 99% of that notion when I remember that the purpose is for work (through the prints’ fund-raising) to be accomplished through the Rolfe Public Library. However, this week I dismissed 99.5% of that notion when people either called or drove from across the state and beyond to share stories about Mother and northwest Iowa and to order/purchase prints.

THEN (all caps again…can you tell I’m excited?!!!) the 99.5% became 100% when I received the kind note (mentioned above) yesterday concluding with, “I’m glad to see her aura lives on.”

More about the open house later.  Let it suffice to say it was very successful.  I thought about extending the open house for another weekend, but I think I’ll pass and just relish meeting with individuals/groups as they desire.  Any time I’m around…any month…I’m VERY pleased to meet with people in our home by appointment, or if somewhat convenient, at other locations.  (People call spontaneously to ask if they can stop by in a “little bit.” Others call to say they’ll be in the area on a certain date and wonder if I’ll be available.  I enjoy both types of appointment requests.)

I’ve been asked if we are having an open house again next year.  Hmmm…sounds fun!  I’d say there’s more than a 50% chance.

(If you or people you know live at a distance and/or plastic is your/their preferred way of paying, purchases can be made at  The drawback is that sales tax is charged because the library cannot accept credit card orders.  However, if you get your purchase in person from me, the shipping fee can be waived. Two-thirds of the images/prints are not on Etsy yet, but will be by Thanksgiving.)  (11-24-09 update: I have not listed additional images yet on Etsy, and am not sure when I will.  If you prefer to order via Etsy and what you’d like isn’t listed yet, please let me know and I’ll hop right to getting it listed.)

Thank you,

Louise Gunderson Shimon (Marion’s youngest daughter)

14106 Green Dr., Perry, IA  50220


All Day Saturday, Nov. 14th, Holiday Open House (including directions)

November 5, 2009
Ange in Wine and Blue co pro 800 H

"Angel in Wine and Blue" watercolor by Marion Gunderson, 1954. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It’s official!  I am having a holiday open house for the purpose of promoting (and hopefully selling) prints of Mother’s artwork…as well as having fun getting together with friends and meeting people even if they don’t purchase.  The open house will be in Bill’s and my home 2 and 1/2 miles (2.5 miles) west of Perry, Iowa, on Highway 141.

Saturday, Nov. 14th:  9:00 AM until 5:00 PM (The open house is advertised to have a break between noon and 2:00 because I will not be here for those two hours.  However, feel free to stop during those two hours to browse and purchase, if you like.  I just won’t be here during those two hours to chat and/or answer questions.)

I am happy to meet by appointment, as well.

To the right of this page there is a link that says, “November Open House.”  It has some basic information about the open house.

Here are directions for getting to Bill’s and my home, 14106 Green Dr., Perry, Iowa.

If coming from the east, for example from Des Moines:  Take Highway 141 from Des Moines to Perry until you get to the stop light that is at the Hy-Vee/McDonalds intersection.  From that stop light, continue through the intersection (don’t turn at the intersection) and keep going west another 2 1/2 (2.5) miles until paved (not gravel) Green Drive is on your left.  Turn south onto Green Drive. Green Drive curves back to the east. Our home is about 1/20th mile off of Highway 141.  It is the first house in the development.  (If you get to the airport on Highway 141, you’ve gone 1/4 mile too far west.)

If you are coming from the west on Highway 141, for example from Dawson:  Once you are on Highway 141 with the Perry airport driveway on your right (on the south side of Highway  141), continue another 1/4 (.25) miles east.  (Go somewhat slowly on Highway 141 between the Perry airport and our house because Green Drive pops up sooner than you’d think.) Turn south on paved (not gravel) Green Drive. Green Drive curves back to the east.  Our home is about 1/20th mile off of Highway 141.  It is the first house in the development.

This week on November 10th the Des Moines Register published a story about Mother’s watercolors.  The story also explained how sales of prints will benefit the Rolfe Public Library…and the community of Rolfe, Iowa. (Update on December 13, 2009:  The article is no longer posted on the Des Moines Register web site.  If you email me to let me know you’d like I a digital copy of it, I’ll email it to you.

My mind is all a-buzz with excitement planning for and anticipating the open house.  Therefore, my writing might have left out some important details.  If so, feel free to contact me with any questions/comments you might have, or to arrange an appointment. or (515) 465-2746

If you have even a smidgen of interest in the prints, please come and see them if you can.  Online photos of them just do not do justice to Mother’s work.

By the way, since I last posted, I added the image of Bunny in “View and Order Prints.”  Except for dealing with the open house, I probably won’t post about other topics until after the open house.

Thank you for your interest,

Louise Gunderson Shimon