Archive for June, 2010

Full Moon Intrigue

June 26, 2010

Jackson and me last night reading Kitten's First Full Moon. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll understand the moon's intrigue.

Last night Jackson, Grandpa Bill (my husband) and I went outside to experience the full moon. That prompted Jackson and me to read Caldecott Medal-winner Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes*. After reading, it was late, late, late for Jackson to go to bed.

Even from his bed, nothing gets past Jackson. He came out of the bedroom to realize I was getting my camera ready to photograph the moon. He asked if he could get the “tall thing” (tripod).

So, at about 11:00 PM, all three of us in our jammies went outside into the humid summer night for our photo session. Just the three of us and the moon, stars and lightning bugs. We set the tripod/camera height at about 24″. I sat cross-legged right up to it with Jackson sitting in the bowl of my lap so he, too, could see the camera’s moon-images. I know these photos aren’t the most memorable ever, but those moments from last night are.

One of last night's first photos.


Right before the wind picked up, suggesting we go indoors.

*Click here to hear Kevin Henkes pronounce his name.

(Click here to go to Louise Shimon’s blog’s home page. Soon to be posted is a series of interview segments regarding Rolfe, Iowa, in the ’40s and ’50s.)


There is never enough until it is given away.

June 22, 2010

Daddy (Deane Gunderson) fell again on Sunday. I’m with him a lot and therefore back into short-and-simple posting mode, at least for now.

I know that people look at this blog for a variety of reasons. Many people look purely because they want more information about Mother (Marion Gunderson). After I posted the image of the placard from Mother’s 1970 exhibit at Younkers in Des Moines, I thought maybe readers in the “want to learn about Marion” category might like to see Mother in her element (the library) around the time of that 1970 Younkers exhibit.

Mother (Marion Gunderson) in the former Rolfe Public Library, circa 1970. What you see here, including the walls in the background, comprises about 1/4 of the main room of the former library. Does anyone know what the artwork is on the back wall? (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Mother’s note on this photo says, “About 1970.” (That was my sophomore year in high school.) The location is the former Rolfe Public Library where Mother was a librarian for 35 years. Click on the photo to read the saying she took to heart.

It’s sort of fuzzy so (even though I still hope you’ll click on the photo to look more closely), here’s the saying. Simple, but so easy to forget.

LOVE is a basket of five loaves of bread and two fishes.

There is never enough until it is given away.

* * * * * * * *

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

Cumulonimbus Mammatus

June 20, 2010

When I was an undergrad at Iowa State University, I took one agronomy class to help prepare myself for farm-wifery. It turned out that I was pathetic at having any logic or understanding regarding agronomy, including about weather (although, one agronomy concept and visual that stuck with me is that soybean plants are dicotyledens).

The wonders of nature still get lost on me, including weather-related phenomenas. Thank goodness I have Bill to point them out to me, like he did Friday night. We were out for a walk at about 8:30 PM when the humidity was 78% and the temperature was 75 degrees. Sticky.

Looking east-southeast. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

According to my resident expert, the cotton ball-puffy clouds in this photo are mammatus clouds occurring in a large cumulonimbus cloud. (Rats, that a lot of the photo’s cloud detail is lost when viewed on the web.) Cumulonimbus mammatus clouds are typically associated with strong thunderstorms, oftentimes with tornadic activity and very high winds. For that reason, Bill said pilots steer away from this type of cloud.

Wow. At the link in the previous paragraph (in case you don’t want to click on it and read the info) it says, “The individual mammatus lobe average diameters of 1–3 km and lengths on average of 0.5 km.” From the ground they seem so teeny tiny.

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

Marion Gunderson’s 1970 Younkers Exhibit Placard

June 18, 2010

Speaking of Younkers…at about the same time I posted most recently, I ran across a placard from one of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor exhibits. Below is the front of the placard, as well as the back of it with her handwriting indicating the month and year of the exhibit. July 1970.

The handwriting is in pencil on a dark background, making it quite difficult to read in the raw scan. Using the actual placard as a guide, I edited the bottom photo to provide more contrast between her penciled writing and the dark background. Mother’s actual handwriting is probably most dear to her immediate family. Even so, I wanted to include it in this post.

Placard from Mother's July 1970 exhibit at Younkers in Des Moines. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Mother's handwriting on the back of the placard. (Click on photo twice magnify.)

As far as I know, none of us in the family knows where in the Younkers store Mother exhibited. We are assuming her exhibit was in the Younkers Tea Room in downtown Des Moines. If you happen to have more information, either verifying or contradicting, I hope you’ll let me know.

* * * * * * * *

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

A New Concept in Agri-Business

June 14, 2010

Looking west-southwest approximately 3 miles south of Manson, Iowa, at the intersection of Highways N65 (N/S) and D26 (E/W). (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Am I the only one who thinks this seems just a little surreal?

Information about the history of Younkers is available at the links below. I have no idea as to the accuracy of the information.

In case you don’t know anything about Younkers stores, they were probably ***the*** department stores for many of us growing up in the Midwest, at least for me in the ’60s and ’70s. (Anymore, for customer service and a few other reasons, I seldom step foot inside any Younkers store.) The Gates department store in Fort Dodge was a nearby favorite, as well.

* * * * * * * *

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

ISU Heating Plant Vantage Point, Simplified

June 11, 2010

ISU Heating Plant, Ames, Iowa, watercolor by Marion Gunderson, 1951. (Click on image to enlarge.)

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

In case the first “Vantage Point” post about Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) ISU Heating Plant watercolor was just a little too detailed for you, here’s the cut-to-the-chase version. At left is the image of her watercolor (same image as in the first post).

I’m also including a photo-with-explanation indicating her most likely vantage point for the watercolor.

At the end of this post are links that provide more information about Iowa State University’s heating/power plant.


Iowa State University Power Plant, March 2010. (Click photo to enlarge.)


At the links below, more information is available about the history of Iowa State University’s heating/power plant, or current information.

At this link scroll down to the “Power and Heating Plant” heading.

ISU power plant floor plans, etc., are available here.

Additional background information is available here.

This Iowa State University link ( provides a map of campus. To easily see the location of the current power plant, in the upper right at this ISU web site you’ll get a pop-up menu if you click on “select building.” In that pop-up menu, select “power plant.” OR, at the left side of the same web page where it says “Layers,” put a check mark in front of “building names.” Then enlarge the map (i.e., click on the “+” sign) a little and you’ll be able to see the names of buildings on campus.

* * * * * * * *

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

Vantage Point for “ISU Heating Plant” Watercolor by Marion Gunderson

June 7, 2010

In the previous post I explained how I learned the identity of the building in Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolor of Iowa State University’s heating plant.

Mother’s notes indicate she painted the 1951 watercolor “From charcoal sketch done while at ISU.” She was a student at Iowa State during the period of 1937-1941. In other words, there was at least a ten-year span between when she created the charcoal sketch and when she painted the watercolor.

I wondered what Mother’s vantage point might have been as she created her sketch (later used as the reference for her watercolor). In an effort to learn more about the vantage point, I contacted Jeffrey Witt, Iowa State’s Assistant Director of Utilities.


ISU Heating Plant, Ames, Iowa, watercolor by Marion Gunderson, 1951. Medium limited edition: 13.25″ W x 17.5″ H (approximate size of the original), $35. Large: 15″ W x ~20″ H, $45. (Click on image to enlarge. To order, see * below.)



Vantage-Point Explanation and Photos from ISU’s Jeffrey Witt March 2010

This painting [immediately above] appears to have been done looking south and east towards the power plant from the north side. We do not have any photographs of the plant from this perspective but there may be some in the Special Collections section at Parks Library. I was able to find two views of the plant from that general timeframe and one a few years later. These [below] are scans from a historical account of the power plant put together by one of our staff.



“The first picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The first picture [immediately above] is looking at the plant from the east looking west. This photograph was before the large concrete smokestack was constructed. The concrete smokestack shows in the background of the painting.



“The second picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The second picture [immediately above] is looking at the plant from the south looking north and a bit west. We believe this picture was taken in the 1930s about the time the sketch was done.



The third picture [immediately below] is an aerial view of the plant from the north and west looking southeast and was taken in 1954. The plant had a major addition in 1948-49 so it looks different than the previous pictures. It looks to me like the artist may have done the sketch while standing in the vicinity of the 4 white oil tanks that show in the foreground of this picture.

“The third picture.” (Click on photo to enlarge.)

The power plant depicted in the sketch and painting was built in 1906 and includes an addition in 1914. The facility would have looked similar until 1948-49 when it was modified to look like the 1954 picture [immediately above]. Another major addition was added to the south in 1968 and a 3rd major addition to the north in 1986-87. Over the years we have built on all four sides and on top of the original 1906 power plant. The original power plant supplied steam for heating and electricity for the campus. Today’s power plant still provides heating steam and electricity and we started providing all the cooling for campus with the addition in 1968.

The power plant is in the same location. I included a photograph for your reference [immediately below]. The photograph is looking east and north at the plant from the west and south. The area where the artist likely stood is still there as well. It is a green metal shed** located north of the power plant that is used by the facilities department for equipment storage. You can locate the power plant if you go to ISU’s website and look at the campus maps.***

“Photograph for your reference” of current power plant.

* * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * *

*To check on availability of prints at various locations, please email me at You may also order online. (The ISU Heating Plant prints are online in the “Potpourri” category.)

**In the photo at this link, the “green” storage shed looks more yellow/tan. In reality, it is green.

***In the next post I’ll include web sites providing more information about the heating/power plant.

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

Iowa State University Heating Plant + Marion Gunderson = Georgia O’Keeffe-like Watercolor

June 2, 2010

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

Mother (Marion Gunderson) used to store her watercolors in two ways at Gunderland. She had approximately seventy of her watercolors stored loose in portfolios under the basement steps. Another fifteen-or-so of her paintings were framed and displayed around the perimeter of the basement.

A portion of Marion Gunderson’s ISU Heating Plant watercolor, 1951. (Click photo to enlarge.)

It must have been after Mother passed away in 2004 that one of those paintings hanging in the basement caught my attention. I had no idea what building/location was in the painting. I just knew that the Georgia O’Keeffe-like gentle-curvy lines and rich colors that Mother used prompted me to ask to have this particular painting.

Not realizing that the painting included mounds of black coal, I thought that perhaps the painting was of another ag-related building. My dad (Deane Gunderson) and my husband (Bill Shimon) didn’t know the exact location of the building in the painting; because of the coal in the painting, they believed the painting might have been of something factory-related.

Mother’s, Clara’s (my oldest sister) and Marti’s (one of my middle siblings) work helped with my investigation. Several years ago at Mother’s request, Marti took inventory snapshots of as many of Mother’s watercolors as could be located. Mother then put those snapshots in an album. Along with the snapshots, Mother provided corresponding documentary notes for most of her paintings that were in those snapshots. Since before Mother passed away in 2004, Clara has been our family’s keeper and continuing recorder of documentation about Mother’s watercolors.

Back to the above-mentioned painting…I hung on to the painting for another couple of years before asking Clara if she had any idea of the identity of the building in the painting. Clara looked in Mother’s notes and found that about this particular painting, Mother had noted, “ISU Heat Plant, Ames, Iowa. From charcoal sketch done while at ISU.”

Bingo! Identity known!

Alongside Mother’s signature on the painting she included the year “1951.” Mother attended Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) from 1937-1941. We assume that she created a charcoal sketch of the heating plant sometime between 1937 and 1941, and later, with the charcoal sketch as her reference, in 1951 painted her watercolor of the same heating plant.

Because the heating plant in the watercolor looks nothing like the present Iowa State University power plant, I was confused about what Mother’s vantage point might have been when she painted the heating plant. I recently contacted Jeffrey Witt, ISU’s Assistant Director of Utilities, to learn more about the history of Iowa State’s heating plant. More specifically, I wondered if he could shed some light on where Mother’s vantage point as she painted might have been, in relation to the current power plant at Iowa State.

In the next post I’ll include the connect-the-dots information Jeff provided in regard to history of Iowa State’s heating/power plant and Mother’s 1951 watercolor of the older plant.

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