Archive for November, 2010

This One’s for You, Mother

November 30, 2010

Today, November 30, 2010, marks the six-year anniversary of Mother (Marion Gunderson) passing away.

Although Mother sometimes gave the appearance of being prim and proper, those close to her knew she was fun (e.g., as I explained in my Priscilla’s of Boston post). And, she was a great listener. Also, she worked to educate her six children beyond our formal schooling, but repeatedly said, “It doesn’t matter what you know; what’s more important is when you need information, you know where to find it!” True blue Marion the Librarian!

Since starting this blog, I’ve spent so much time researching history that I sometimes wonder if I miss elements of the present. That’s made me wonder if Mother ever felt that way. Then I realize how empty-handed (as far as knowledge of our roots) our family, and the Rolfe community to some extent, would be if Mother hadn’t conducted her extensive genealogical and community research.

Recently I received the advice that researching the past is good as long as a person mixes it up with the reality of the present and also with helping mankind move forward. Clara’s (my oldest sister) post from a year ago shows that Mother did exactly that: loved helping others connect with the past, mixed it with reality of the present…and quietly helped so many people move forward. If you missed it last year (or even if you read it) I hope today you’ll read Clara’s endearing post “Remembering Mother — Marion Gunderson.”

In this photo Mother is getting painting supplies ready for 1987 Christmas-time painting with six of her seven grandchildren at Gunderland. L to R: Mother, Abby, Jonathan, me, Josh and Katie. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Works of art in progress! L to R: Tim, Katie, Josh, Abby and Christina. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

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


Geraniums in the Fall (actually, anytime)

November 27, 2010

What a difference one week of fall can make. All four photos in this post include geraniums. To enlarge the photos, just click on them.

The top photo was taken one week ago on November 20th. The second photo* was taken today, the 27th.

The third photo is of the geranium watercolor painted by Mother (Marion Gunderson) in 1972. Mother was partial to geraniums, planting them in the several-feet-long brick flower planters at Gunderland following each Memorial Day. (Because of her fondness of them, ever since I was a little girl, on Mother’s Day I gave Mother a potted geranium.)

The bottom photo was taken May 29, 2005, six months after Mother passed away. The photo is of Daddy (Deane Gunderson) placing a geranium on Mother’s grave at Clinton-Garfield Cemetery in Rolfe, Iowa. Mother passed away peacefully on November 30, 2004.







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* The second photo was taken with the combination of three accessories: 1. 50 mm lens, 2. Kenko 36mm extension tube and 3. Kenko 12 mm extension tube. Shutter: 1/8. Aperture: f/9.0. Exposure Bias: 0.0. ISO: 400. Manual focus. (I was so close to the geranium that I couldn’t get the camera to focus automatically any better than just a blur.) It was approaching dusk, so gettting dark; I used Photoshop to lighten up the photo just a tad, but not much.

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

Our Holiday Tree Tradition

November 26, 2010

Our Concolor Fir Tree (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Today Bill, Katie and I made our annual the-morning-after-Thanksgiving trip to choose and cut down the tree for Bill’s and my home. Because our traditional tree farm no longer sells cut-your-own trees, today our tree farm of choice was Hill’s Tree Farm located 1/2 mile south of the west edge of Minburn. The ad says that Hill’s Tree Farm is “open”: “Fri. 10-5 * Sat. 10-5 * Sun. 1-5 or by appointment.” Contact information given in the ad is 515-677-2389 or

At Hill’s Tree Farm patrons have the choice of cutting their own trees or choosing from fresh pre-cut trees. As for tree variety, we compromised by choosing a Concolor Fir tree since Bill likes shorter needle trees and I like longer needle trees.

I’ve never really paid attention to the names of different varieties of Christmas trees; I appreciated that Hill’s Tree Farm had a little plot that included one of each variety of their trees.

Plot of six varieties of trees. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Close-ups of six varieties of trees. Clockwise from upper left: Concolor Fir, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine, Canaan Fir, Fraser Fir and White Pine. (Click on photo to see the differences.)

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

Newt Gingrich Brings Valley Forge to Life

November 17, 2010

November 16, 2010: Newt Gingrich speaking in Iowa State University's Memorial Union about his most recent book.

Newt Gingrich was in Ames last night. In the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Iowa State’s campus, Newt promoted his (written with William Forstchen) most recent book, Valley Forge.

Bill and I attended the approximately thirty-minute lecture in which Newt spoke illustratively about his and Forstchen’s research.

Valley Forge is a work of fiction, but so grounded in fact. If it is even half as interesting as listening to Newt speak, reading it will provide an understanding of the elements George Washington and his army endured, and the sacrifices they made to forge America.


Although I realize Newt’s book tour may double as a litmus test for a potential continuation of his political career, Newt did not focus on present-day politics. I wish I could say that about the Q and A session following Newt’s speech. Before Newt needed to be elsewhere on campus by 8:00 PM for Fox’s Hannity show, approximately six people had the open-microphone opportunity to ask Newt questions. Hmmm…mostly bee-in-a-bonnet/attitude questions. At least the last question was about the novel.

Newt and me after his speech at the Memorial Union last night. There was so little time for signing before Newt had to get ready for the Hannity show. I literally had about five seconds to scurry behind the table and have some guy (accompanying Newt?) quickly snap this photo.

Three or four years ago, at a Barnes & Noble I attended Newt’s similar lecture and book signing for Pearl Harbor. (In at least one of his books, Newt intentionally puts a “what if” twist in the plot. I know that he did this with one of his Pearl Harbor books. Others of his books align closely, throughout their entirety, with his research. If you read any of his books, Google the titles to see which books have the “twist” and which ones don’t.)

So, where am I going with this?

When I was in high school I had the same history teacher for three year-long classes: American History, World History, and Government. For three years that teacher taught by reading aloud from the text books. Literally. Ask anyone who went to Rolfe high school during the early- and mid-’70s. Also, all three years, before every test and quiz, that teacher revealed to every class every quiz/test question AND (get this) all of the answers.

Three years of non-thinking high school history? Two alive 30-minute sessions with Newt? You get the picture. So…get his books.

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

Thirty-Five Years of The Glory of Love

November 16, 2010

These Grant Wood-like announcements were given to guests at Bill's and my wedding reception on November 15, 1975. The building in the background is what I remember as the hog house at Gunderland. It is the middle building in "The Farm" (below) watercolor by Mother, painted the same year Bill and I were married. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Thirty-five years ago today Bill and I were married. November 15, 1975, in Rolfe, Iowa, with — get this — temperatures hovering around 75 degrees. As I’m beginning this post, “The Glory of Love” by the Platters is playing throughout the house. Perfect.

In the spring (anyway, that’s when my memory says it was) of 1975 the Gunderson side of the family was sitting around the living room at Gunderland. The topic of discussion was Iowa State’s upcoming 1975 football schedule, including the Nebraska/ISU game on November 15th. To which Bill and I surprised everyone by saying that was the date we had chosen for our wedding day. Football schedule — out. Wedding planning — in!

There’s only one time in my life I remember my mother telling a fib. It was when, in the spring of 1975, she and I were visiting sister Marti in Boston. We decided to take in bridal gown shopping at Priscilla’s where “the Nixon girls bought their dresses.” Good golly, Miss Molly!!!!! My mother and I were sitting up on something that seemed like a pedestal atop five or six tiered carpeted stairs while different (I think?) women took turns sashaying in to present dresses to us. Mother and I expected that the dresses might cost just a little more than at Lillian’s in Fort Dodge. We just had no idea that wedding dresses could be SO EXPENSIVE. I tried on a few dresses but, between ladies bringing out dresses, Mother and I quickly whispered to each other that we were out of our league.

Having been brought up that it isn’t kosher to even tell a white lie, I was like “You go girl!” when Mother, cool, calm and collected, told the clerk that the reason we weren’t making our minds up that day about a dress was because we just didn’t know if we had seen anything we liked. She continued with saying that if we went back to Iowa and later decided on a dress from Priscilla’s, we’d be back. We walked out of the store knowing we’d never return, but also feeling like the cat that swallowed the canary.

Back to the actual wedding day … the sequence of the day was 1. ceremony 2. church reception 3. dinner at the Legion Hall and 4. barn dance at Gunderland. (Hmmm. None of those buildings — church, Legion Hall, or barn — are standing any longer.)

In preparation for the barn dance, Bill and Daddy nailed sheets of plywood to cover blemishes of the haymow floor so we had a smooth floor to dance on. Two bands played: Ralph Zarnow’s big-band-sound from Des Moines and the rock band named the Country Knights from Palmer. Just now Bill said, “It was a helluva good time!”

"The Farm" by Mother (Marion Gunderson), 1975. The middle building was behind Bill and me when the above photo was taken. Sizes/Pricing: Small ~7.5" H x 10" W, $15. Medium limited edition 10" H x ~13.5" W, $25. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Does anyone know who won? Nebraska? Iowa State?

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

Honoring our Military

November 11, 2010

As I was lounging having my breakfast this morning thinking about the upcoming day of the open house, I remembered… I can do things such as this because of our veterans and current military who have and still do put their lives on the line (or work in offices, or whatever their military jobs) to preserve my/our freedoms. I cannot imagine for one second what life in the trenches of war must be like, and I cannot imagine what it is like for a veteran who has been permanently disabled as a result of service, or what it is like for families who lost a loved husband/wife/father/brother/etc. as a result of service. Or whose loved one is away from home for a year at a time. I take my freedoms for granted, but surely wouldn’t if one day I found that I no longer had those freedoms.

Last year when I was pumping gas on some random day, a man in military fatigues was at the adjacent gas pump. I thanked him for serving our country. (Yes, most or all of us serve our country in some way or another. But, my way is certainly a cushioned do-mostly-what-I-want-when-I-want way.) He so respectfully thanked me, and said that he had never had anyone say that to him before. If you express thanks to a veteran or current military personnel today or anytime throughout the year, I hope that you are not the first for that person. Whether you are the first or one of many, your expression of thanks will be priceless.

I’m speaking to the choir, right? But, in case I’m not, I’ll click on “publish.”

Open House to Showcase Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) Watercolors

November 11, 2010

What’s the difference between this year’s open house and last year’s? This year prints of 26 watercolors are available; last year there were prints of 13 watercolors. This year note cards will be also available, and on Sunday, there will be jewelry by Heather Morphew.

Please check out the 5-Ws information below the photos.


These three proofs were approved last week. To date, proofs of 26 of Mother's watercolors have been approved. Prints range in price from $15 to $70.


The items in this jewelry collection were designed and created by Heather Morphew. Heather will have her jewelry available at the open house on Sunday the 14th until mid- or late-afternoon. (Click on photo to enlarge.)



The second annual November holiday open house featuring prints* of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors.

Jewelry will be available on the Sunday (the 14th) of the open house.


All profits from sales of prints go to the Rolfe (Iowa) Public Library where Mother worked for 35 years. To date, approximately $3,000 has been given to the library.


Thursday, November 11: 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Saturday, November 13: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Sunday, November 14: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM


Anyone is welcome to attend. I will be hosting.

On Sunday, jewelry designed and created by Heather Morphew will be available.


14106 Green Dr., Perry, Iowa, Bill’s and my home. (Directions are below.)


1. *Prints may also be viewed and ordered online. Print prices range from $15 to $70.

2. On the Saturday and Sunday of the open house,“Art on the Prairie” will be held in Perry, including at the historic Hotel Pattee.

3. Contact information: (515) 465-2746

4. Background information about Mother is available at this blog. On the home page, click on the “Marion Gunderson” category.

DIRECTIONS to 14106 Green Dr., Perry, IA

Bill’s and my home is 2 ½ (2.5) miles west of Perry, Iowa, on Highway 141.

Or, about 30 minutes northwest of the I35/80 Grimes exit at the northwest edge of Des Moines.

If coming from the east, for example from Des Moines:  Take Highway 141 to Perry until you get to the stoplight 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 past Hull Ave. (gravel) and past H. Ave. (gravel) until paved (not gravel) Green Drive is on your left.  Turn left/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 right/south onto 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.


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

The Mouser Transition — Part III (Nov. 11, 13, 14 Open House Info to Follow)

November 3, 2010


Mouser during his first few days after leaving Gunderland to live with Bill and me ... and Sammy and Miss Kitty.

Mouser was my dad’s (Deane Gunderson) cat/companion for the last two or three years before my dad passed away on July 1st.

On September 27th, Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) birthday, Mouser left my dad’s farm in northwest Iowa to travel to Perry in central Iowa to live with Bill and me … and Sammy and Miss Kitty.

Following our veterinarian’s advice, I purchased a kennel in which Mouser lived for his first almost-week in our garage. The kennel was Mouser’s home until, as our vet put it, the cats stopped hissing at each other. Actually, Sammy still utters a hiss every once in awhile. Mouser never hissed. Miss Kitty still growls a little.

Update: In the above paragraph I should have also said that each day during that first week when our other two cats were outside (i.e., couldn’t hiss at Mouser), Mouser came out of the kennel for several hours. During those times he had free reign of the garage, and also, attended by me, went for a few explorations outside.

Also, in the second photo, you can see one of my dad’s undershirts in the kennel with Mouser … to help Mouser (or maybe it was more to help me?) with his transition.

Mouser used to live on a flat-terrain farm on a gravel road and had free reign. He occasionally was invited by my dad into the house. Jumping on the kitchen counter was frowned upon by my dad, but…oh, Mouser was so loved that he never really got in trouble for it. Instead, his redirecting “punishment” might have been an invitation into the living room.

Now Mouser lives in a rural setting once again, but in a hilly subdivision on a rural but busy (compared to a gravel road) highway. An invitation into the house likely won’t happen (shhhh…unless Bill is away and somehow Mouser gets invited in!).

Not big news…unless you are at our house being entertained with the dynamics of Mouser trying to win the acceptance of two established-territory cats. The verdict is still out as to whether or not that complete acceptance will take place. I’ll keep you posted.

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Tomorrow or Friday I’ll post information about the second annual November open house showcasing prints of Mother’s watercolors. It will be the same basic information as the “November Open House” at this blog’s home page. Profits from sales of watercolor prints will go to the Rolfe Public Library Trust. Those profits will help support the digitization/online availability of 101 years of Rolfe newspapers. If you’d like to contribute to this project, but aren’t really interested in the prints, you may do so. Information on how to do so is at this link. We are trying to have funds raised by the end of November.

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