Archive for March, 2010

Two Projects: One in the Works and One Near Completion

March 27, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

I’ve been working on a project. I’ll unveil it within the next three weeks. I want to “go public” with it RIGHT NOW but I need to get a few ducks in a row before I do.

In case you are wondering if the project has to do with prints of Mother’s watercolors…no, it does not. I take that back; indirectly, it does. I’m sure that Mother, having been Marion the Librarian for 35 years for the Rolfe Public Library, would be pleased to know about the project.

I mention all of this because I don’t want the lack of recent posts to make anyone think I’ve been slacking. Quite the contrary.

So far, 75 of the 100 Rolfe, Iowa, 1980-81 oral history tapes have commitments to be sponsored (7 of these yet to be paid).* Of the 25 that have not been sponsored, four of them are recordings of meetings regarding the oral history project. If you subtract those four meetings tapes, that means only 21 of the actual interview tapes are yet to be sponsored. Splendid. What a tribute to those who expended time and energy to interview and be interviewed in 1980 and 1981 to now have their friends and loved ones (and, in some cases, the interviewees, themselves) keep the oral histories alive.

Once all of the 1980-81 oral histories are digitized and cataloged, the oral histories on CDs will be accessible at the Rolfe Public Library.

* * * * * * * *

* Unsponsored tapes may still be sponsored. Because the project is nearing completion, any sponsorships should now be made payable to the “Rolfe Public Library Trust,” and no longer to Wild Faces Gallery. Any questions about the project may be directed to me at . Questions may also be asked at the library; however library personnel may not be aware of the most recent ins and outs of the project.

Note added March 29th: CD copies of the oral histories (preferably of oral histories already sponsored) may also be ordered for $10.70 each plus $2.30 shipping, with payment to Wild Faces Gallery. For any questions regarding copies you may contact me at or the gallery at 712-848-3399. (The $29.96 for a sponsorship payable to the Rolfe Public Library Trust includes one “free” copy of the sponsored tape.)

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


Do You Remember Al Bell Assemblies?

March 24, 2010

In case you didn’t see already see this article, and in case you remember paying a dime to attend Al Bell assemblies when you were in school, check out this March 21, 2010, Des Moines Sunday Register story.

At some point the article will no longer be available online. When that time comes, and also now, you’ll at least be able to see him in this photo from the Rolfe, Iowa, THE RAM 1964 yearbook.

Do you remember which, if any, of your school years (either as a student, teacher or administrator) Al Bell presented at your school, and do you have any particular memories from his visits? Also, in your yearbook(s) do you see any photo(s) of Al? (If you do and want to email them, I’ll post them.

Also, there is a Facebook group called “I Remember Al Bell.”

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

Beer ‘n’ Bread at Living History Farms

March 20, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

All of the photos below may be enlarged by clicking on them.  Since there are so many photos, this post might take awhile to load on your screen.

If you happen to know these guys, would you please tell them I posted this photo? I told them that I'd email, but I misplaced the email address.

On the first Saturday in March for the past three years, Katie, Joe, Bill and I have delighted in attending Living History Farms’ (Urbandale, Iowa) annual Beer ‘n’ Bread fund-raising event. Each year we sampled home brewed and microbrewed beers as well as locally baked fresh artisan breads. Represented this year at the three-year-old event were two bread vendors, six microbreweries, one macrobrewery, and the Iowa Brewers Union.

At this festive and tasteful event you won’t see any mugs filled to the brim and you won’t hear any slurred language. (At least I’ve observed neither.) What you will experience is a teasing of your taste buds and walking away with an education. (And, for anyone who doesn’t like beer, check out the Millstream Sarsaparilla.)

Upon entering the event this year, each participant received a “free” mug (included in the ticket price of $15 per person or $25 per couple). As you might have guessed, the mug was used for the sampling of as many different beers as many times as a guest wished.

Tokens for voting for favorite 1. bread 2. home brew and 3. microbrew.

With the mug were three tokens (either tiny toy horses or bees). These tokens were used for voting: one vote for the favorite bread, one vote for the favorite microbrew, and one vote for the favorite of the twelve brews of the Iowa Brewers Union.

Official voting rules posting around the corner from the South Union Bakery table.

It was tough to know which bread to vote for because there were two categories of bread vendors. One was a bakery, while the other offered packaged beer bread, dip, spread and cheese ball mixes. I went back for seconds and thirds of the Beer Bread Company’s (Sac City, Iowa) beer bread and later bought two packages of the beer bread mix in the Living History Farms’ gift shop. Although I voted for the beer bread, I’d purchase the South Union Bakery’s (Des Moines) already-baked Garlic Foccacia in a heartbeat.

Millstream's (Amana, Iowa) Windmill Wheat got my vote.

As far as the microbrews and home brews at this year’s Beer ‘n’ Bread event, my favorite overall was Millstream Brewing Company’s (Amana, Iowa) Windmill Wheat. Bill’s favorite microbrew was the Colony Oatmeal Stout from Millstream.  His favorite of the twelve home brew varieties from the Iowa Brewers Union was the Pale Ale #2 Hoppy.

The Iowa Brewers Union offers good beer and good advice. It meets the third Monday of every month at the Holiday Inn on Merle Hay in Des Moines. Meetings are open to the public. More information is available at


A partial representation of voting jars for the breads and beers at the Beer 'n' Bread event.


The Iowa Brewers Union offered 12 home brew varieties for sampling.

What we like about the event is that…well…obviously we get to sample a wide range of varieties of beer as well as mouthwatering bread. An added bonus is that while the event is never too crowded, we brush shoulders with guests and vendors who share our interests and are glad to offer advice. For example, the beer meisters from the Iowa Brewers Union (IBU) exude such enthusiasm about their beer making. I’ve tried to rewrite this next sentence about ten times and I keep coming up with…The IBU Beer ‘n’ Bread participants are like grown up little kids. They love to tinker with their beers, and they relish sharing what they’ve learned in the process. Click here for more photos…

A Designer’s Perspective

March 17, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

Grain Elevator, Rolfe, Iowa, by Marion Gunderson, circa 1950. Standard size limited edition -- 13.25" W x 17.25" H, $35. When matted, fits in standard size 20" x 24" frame.* (Click photo to enlarge.)

Kathleen Beeler is an interior designer friend who several months ago saw a few of Mother’s original watercolors. Kathleen plans to incorporate fresh-looking artwork in her home and wanted to take a look at prints of Mother’s watercolors…mainly the agriculture-related ones.

Yesterday I took prints to Kathleen’s home for her to try in various rooms. (I felt like the Fuller Brush man.) Kathleen was/is so pleased with her finds. Knowing that Kathleen has a design background that I trust, I got goosebumps thinking how pleased Mother would have been listening to Kathleen ooh and aah about Mother’s work. “They fit my house, my lifestyle and my husband’s background.”

What really made me “see” Mother smile was something Kathleen said about the ag-related prints/originals, for example of the Rolfe, Iowa, grain elevator that was destroyed in a 1969 fire. Or the Iowa State University heating plant** (that Mother painted a watercolor of in 1951) that no longer exists. Kathleen kept commenting about how even though the watercolors were painted decades ago, they haven’t faded out of style. She said, “They aren’t stylized. They are sophisticated. They are contemporary portrayals of something in America we’re losing.”


* * * * * * * *

* Click here for size/price information about prints. All profits from sales of prints go to the Rolfe (Iowa) Public Library.

** Within the next few months, prints of the Iowa State University heating plant watercolor will be available.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Hollyhocks Watercolor by Marion A. Gunderson, 1954

March 14, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

The newest image for this blog’s header/banner is of a very small portion of the Hollyhocks watercolor (below) painted by Mother in 1954. (1954 was about two years after Cathrine Barr taught her last class for northwest Iowa’s Barr Art Association. The association* continued to meet into the 1970s.)

Hollyhocks watercolor by Marion A. Gunderson, 1954. This watercolor was framed and behind glass in this photo. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

In case you are trying to figure out exactly from where in the watercolor the much smaller banner image is taken, maybe this explanation will help. If you could take the banner that is above and rotate it 180 degrees, it would be right-side-up. It could then overlay part of the lower left hollyhock bloom in the actual painting.

Before I had this original framed. I took two frame moulding samples to Mother’s nursing home room. (This would have been within the year before she passed away.) I explained to her that I wanted her to select the moulding sample that she liked best, which she did. After the framing was complete, but before Bill and I hung this watercolor in our home, I once again took Hollyhocks to Mother (still in the nursing home) so she could bask in her painting’s beauty.

* * * * * * * *

To view images and size/cost information regarding currently available prints of Mother’s watercolors, click on the “View and Order Prints” link on this blog’s home page.

With Easter just around the corner, at present the Bunny prints are in the highest demand. In the actual Bunny prints, the tail and ears look more pink-than-orange than they do on my computer monitor.

Prints have not yet been made of the Hollyhocks painting. However, if you have an interest in having a print of this watercolor, please contact me at

*More information about Cathrine Barr and the Barr Art Association is in this post. Within the next year, I hope to have additional information to add about Cathrine and/or the association.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Back Next Week…

March 12, 2010

I’ve had the flu or food poisoning for the past couple of days but am now (Friday) on the upswing.  I’ll post again sometime early- or mid-next week.

90 Days After a Fog… (Part II)

March 9, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

Central Iowa fog on March 8th, 2010. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Although the fog yesterday morning at Perry, Iowa, wasn’t nearly as dense as the fog in northwest Iowa on January 18th and 19th, yesterday’s fog did prevent me from traveling.  It also made me think back to my January 20th post. In that post I referred to the theory suggesting that 90 days after a fog there will be precipitation.

I emailed Elwynn Taylor, Professor of Ag Meteorology at Iowa State University, to ask for his explanation of the 90-days-after-fog-precipitation theory. He was kind enough to respond and to give me permission to quote him.

My question to Elwynn: “Is there a correlation between fog and 90-days-later precipitation, and if so, what is the explanation of the correlation? (Many people I’ve talked with say the 90 day theory is bogus/chance since it precipitates frequently anyway. I’d like to respond intelligently to them.)”

Elwynn’s response: “In the summer the 90-day to fog (in some locations it is the 100 day-to fog) concept is not valid.  As you say, there could be rain about then anyway and statistically that is about how it turns out.

“In the winter a wide-spread Midwest fog is simply the viewing of the ‘breath of the Gulf of Mexico’ and it is much like seeing your own breath on a cold day. Now if the Gulf air is entering Iowa in January (not a common thing) it may very well indicate that the Gulf air flow will be strong and/or early come spring. (Gulf air begins to dominate much of the Midwest after mid-March each year.) If it is early and strong…. yes, this results in a wet spring some 90-days after the fog was first a major thing.”

Well, the dense fog did enter Iowa in January. So it was early…and strong. It will be interesting to see what our spring will be like “some 90-days after the fog was first a major thing,” which I’m thinking was January 18th and 19th.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Extension Tubes in Macro Photography (Part III)

March 7, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page. Click here for Part I of “Extension Tubes in Macro Photography.”  Click here for Part II.)

Miss Kitty's paw photographed with an 18-55mm lens and a 12mm extension tube. (Click photo once or twice to magnify detail.)


These three images illustrate the limitations of three different lengths of extension tubes. All three photos were taken with an 18-55mm lens in combination with an extension tube. From L to R: 12mm tube, 20mm tube, 36mm tube. (Click photo to enlarge.)

In my Kenko tube set I have three extension tubes: a 12mm tube, a 20 mm tube, and a 36mm tube.

I’d been meaning for awhile to experiment with the extension tubes. Last week when Miss Kitty walked by and rolled over exposing the bottoms of her paws, she instantly became a model.  When I used the 12mm tube, I could get pretty close and focus on Miss Kitty’s entire paw (left photo of the tri-photo above). That was all the closer I could get with the 12mm tube.

When I used the 20mm tube, I could focus even closer on just two of Miss Kitty’s toe pads (middle photo of the tri-photo). Not all of the two pads are in focus, meaning, I think, I need to experiment more with camera settings and/or holding the camera steady.

* * * * * * * *

I’d better post about something else before extension tubes wear out their welcome (if they haven’t already)! I have so much I want to post about that’s been on the back burner for awhile (for example, finishing up about Bill’s and my Oregon travels); yet I enjoy posting spontaneously about whatever topic is at hand. Thank you for sticking with the blog, never knowing what serious or absurd topic the next post will be about.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Video Chat Wedding Shower: Do that ooVoo that you do so well!

March 5, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

I’m interjecting a post between Part II and Part III of “Extension Tubes in Macro Photography.” I’ll post Part III by Monday.

Using ooVoo ( we had three-way video chatting tonight. L to R: Jeff and his better half, Jon and Claire, and me. We'll use ooVoo for the remote Internet wedding shower on Sunday. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Jon and Claire (my nephew and his bride) from Michigan are getting married in April. I thought it would be a fun family time to host a shower for them in Iowa. However, schedules didn’t match up. Hmmm…what to do? There must be some outside-the-box way to pull off a shower.

I talked with Jon’s mom, my next older sister, who is always game for fun, and pulled ideas from the guy at the Apple store and Jon’s brother, Josh. Bingo! We decided to have a “remote”  Internet shower. I’m sure we aren’t the first ones in the wide world doing this, but in our immediate worlds we are!

What we will do is video chat across the Internet. At each location there will be a computer that, at minimum, can handle one-way live video streaming for watching Jon and Claire open gifts. When an observing location’s computer has a built-in or attached camera so that the remote participants can also be viewed via streaming video…the bonus will be two-way streaming video chatting (or three-way, four-way, or more).

Jon and Claire and their parents will be at Jon’s parents’ home in Michigan. Bill and I will be at our Perry, Iowa, home with at least part of the Gunderson family from Rolfe and Omaha. Additional branches of Jon’s extended family will participate in clusters via cyberspace reaching from Florida to Oregon.

Jeff (Jon’s dad) is the designated IT guy for this shower. Before the shower, Jeff is calling the contact person for each participating location to make sure the contact knows how to connect via the Internet to the shower. When Jeff called me tonight, he led me through the simple steps of two-way video chat using ooVoo (…I keep accidentally calling it “Voodoo.”) OoVoo is always free for two-way video chatting. Video chatting via ooVoo with up to six other people simultaneously is available for a fee.

By downloading the ooVoo software, I have more options than if I don’t download the software. However, ooVoo may be used satisfactorily without downloading the software.

While Jeff and I were video chatting tonight as he was leading me through some steps/options, Jeff “invited” Jon (who was at his own home) to video chat with us as well. It just happened that Claire was in the vicinity of Jon, and my sister was in the vicinity of Jeff. Being the silly goons that we are, Jon, Jeff and I each got out a camera and simultaneously took a photo of the computer monitor in front of us (i.e., the photo at the top of this post).

Sometime after the shower I’ll report how it went, either by commenting on this post, or by adding a separate post.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)

Extension Tubes in Macro Photography (Part II)

March 4, 2010

(Click here to go to this blog’s home page.)

This is the second of three posts about extension tubes used for macro photography.  To view Part I, click here.

If you aren’t into learning about the tubes, you might want to just skip the videos in this post and wait for the photos in Part III.  If you have time to watch only one video from this post, I recommend watching the second one, although I think both of the videos are helpful.

The YouTube video* immediately below, while not polished, gives a helpful visual by comparing two focusing distances: 1. the arm’s-length distance a camera lens would need to be away from the photographed object if an extension tube is not used and 2. the hand’s-length distance a camera lens can be away from that same photographed object if an extension tube is used.

This next 7+-minute video* is the most comprehensive (I think) of the YouTube videos regarding extension tubes. It provides easy-to-understand explanations about three tools used for macro photography: close-up filters, extension tubes and macro lenses.

Tomorrow (Friday) or Saturday I’ll post  a couple more cat paw extension tube photos. Since not everyone is enamored with cats (or extension tubes), it will be the last cat post (and extension tube post) for awhile! (I think.)

* Obviously I had nothing to do with the production of these videos, but I’m certainly glad that someone else took the time to make them available.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page.)