Archive for December, 2010

Winter Inside and Out

December 28, 2010

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


This morning when I looked out the window I felt like I was in a Currier & Ives* setting. Sparkles-cold-white outside. Christmas tree-warm-colorful inside. Perfect for some sort of Irish Mocha Mint commercial.

Each of the photos in this post includes contrails*, with a more recent one (i.e., more of a straight line) in the second photo. Before seeing these contrails, I had just watched the news reports about airport closings and canceled or delayed flights out East, with approximately 450 people spending the night at LaGuardia. Yikes.

As I watched the jets/contrails today, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the people in those jets were counting their lucky stars that they weren’t stranded in an airport.


(Click on photo to enlarge.)


I didn’t know until today that “contrail” was short for “condensation trail.” How did I miss that? (If you didn’t know it either, come on and raise your hand!)

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


O Christmas Tree …

December 24, 2010


In the above photo the Christmas tree was on the dome of the brick corn crib at Gunderland, the farmstead where I was raised. For several years in the 1970s, Daddy (Deane Gunderson) and Johnny Zeman collaborated to offer holiday spirit emanating from these glowing lights seen across the night-time countryside.

Immediately below is a 1970s video* of their process.



Mother's (Marion Gunderson) note about this photo says, "Home of Deane and Marion Gunderson near Rolfe, Iowa. Taken about 1969 or 1970 by Jerry Turner --- then funeral director in Rolfe --- Hobby Photography." (Click on photo to enlarge.)


*The cast of “characters” in the video is:

Daddy is the person at the beginning of the video carrying the tree up the ladder. He’s also the person getting on top of the dome of the crib, and the second person coming out of the top of the crib to climb down the ladder.

Johnny is the person inside the top of the crib while Daddy is carrying the tree up. Johnny is also the first person to climb down the ladder at the end of the video.

Marti (7-year-older sister of mine) is in the yellow coat. Mother is in the red scarf. Mick (Marti’s husband) is in the leather jacket. I’m not sure who the person is in the vicinity of the red barn.

At the end of the video there are a few seconds of footage of my Dad’s “old” (the red one) and “new” (the sheet metal one) work shop. The old one was destroyed in the tornado that passed through in 2004. The new one still stands. Also in the video you’ll see our two dogs coming out of their warm doghouse. My dad made this doghouse by removing a basement window so there would be an opening for the doghouse “door.” Just inside that foundation opening he built a wood and glass doghouse that was at the ceiling level of the basement. Whenever we went down to the basement, we could look up and see Dumpty (my dog that Daddy gave to me when I graduated from eighth grade at D.M.T., hence the name “DuMpTy”) and Happy (Dumpty’s son) and they would wag their tails with excitement as they could see us.

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

I’ll add a snowy Christmas-time post later today.

December 24, 2010

By 1:00 PM CST time today I’ll add a new snowy Christmas-time post. I hope you’ll check back to see it today or tomorrow if you have time.

I know some of you will be with family, and some of you will be missing family. Whatever your Christmas Eve and Jesus’ Birthday will be like, I wish for you a peaceful Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Johnny Zeman: Long on Loyalty, Know-how, and Getting Things Done

December 22, 2010

In this 1961 photo, Johnny prepared the seedbed with John Deere 730 tandem tractors pulling two 14-foot tandem discs and a 30-foot harrow. This configuration was designed by my dad, Deane Gunderson, who in the early 1940s was an engineer for the John Deere Tractor Company in Waterloo, Iowa. The tractors could also be used separately for lighter fieldwork during the summer. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Bubbles in the Wine (A Rolfe [Iowa] Arrow weekly column)

March 20, 1975

by Deane Gunderson

Johnny Zeman, long on loyalty, know-how, and getting things done, a 145 pound bundle of tough muscle and porcelain innards. The muscle is just about as good as it was 19 years ago when he started to work at Gunderland, and his know-how and a few other things have improved a good bit in the last few years.

No longer will Johnny be slowly turning Irving Cornwell’s corner at 7:59 a.m. (winter hours) with his six-soother at his side. We’ll miss the convenience to us in the little things as well as his sincere desire to get the crops in and out properly and quickly.

Johnny...and Johnny. (Year unknown. Click on photo to enlarge.)

Johnny had his funny side. One night he was relaxing in the old tavern (now extinct) near the coin laundry. A friend along the bar said he was going up to the (old) Midway to see what was going on there, and friend left. Johnny thought, “I’ll just duck out the back door and slip up to the Midway and be nonchalantly at the bar when friend comes in the front door of the Midway.”  Johnny was scurrying back behind the buildings in pretty good darkness with a smile on his face, no doubt, when he unexpectedly found himself scrambled with sandburs, broken shipping crates, and cinders in the bottom of an abandoned basement drive-in entrance to one of the buildings.

Johnny and Daddy at Gunderland. (Year unknown. Click on photo to enlarge.)

On another occasion, Johnny called up about 9:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and suggested that he go up to Les Allen’s to pick up some equipment so that we’d be ready to charge into our work more quickly Monday morning. I told Johnny, “No, just let it go — we’ll take care of it in the morning.” Nevertheless, half an hour later, Johnny called from Allen’s to say he had encountered a couple of horses in the middle of the road and his car was over in Martin DeWall’s field. “I’ll come to get you,” I said. We looked for the horses, [but] didn’t find them although we could see where they had been. Later I took Johnny home and by then Johnny was concerned about what discipline he was going to get, because he had outright disobeyed me. “No, Johnny,” I said, “it’s just that at certain times you ought to keep away from that car.” “You mean to say that I’m not going to get laid off, or have my wages docked or anything like that?” Answer: “That’s right.” Whereupon Johnny said, “O.K., then, give me some more ell.”

Once when visiting in California, I was regaling my dentist uncle with some of Johnny’s antics, telling about  how Johnny liked to get to the tavern after work and tell his buddies about how we (or he) did this today, and we did this much this week, etc. My uncle said, “Yep, that’s his fraternity.”

Best regards Johnny, LaVonne and the kids, and fond memories from Gunderland.

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Johnny passed away in 1989.

Click here to read a few more of Daddy’s “Bubbles in the Wine” columns, including his story about how he began his BITW column. I’ll be sure to post more of them in the future. I have his permission, and the Pocahontas Record-Democrat‘s, which now owns the Rolfe newspapers.

If you want to learn more about the John Deere configuration and didn’t already see it when I posted my dad’s obituary, click here for a 1964 Fort Dodge Messenger article about it. The article also includes another photo of Johnny.

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

Quelf (From the Land of the Farm!*)

December 20, 2010

Me, Katie, Hal and Bill playing Quelf at Gunderland --- the farm --- on July 30, 2010. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Are you looking for a really, really fun and pretty crazy board game to give to and/or play with family or friends over the holidays (or any time)? If so and if you and your potential players are between the ages of 12 (or even a few years younger?) and anything older, Quelf is the game for you.

In late July when our whole family was together, about ten of us ranging in age from the 20s to the 60s played Quelf. We had a blast.

Typically the maximum amount of game players is eight; the minimum is three. However, since we had so many wanting to play, we had six people playing individually and we had two pairs of players. The pairs also work well if a potential player is a little inhibited; the other person in the “pair” can be the safety net and do anything that the first person doesn’t want to do. However, if there was any inhibition by any of our players when we started the game, it evaporated by fifteen minutes into the game!

I think the pairs work well also if you have anyone who wants to play that is, say, between the ages of 7 or 8 and 12. In that age range players might be a little young to “get” everything about the game. However, if paired with someone older who is willing to either interpret and/or act out whatever a drawn card says to do, the younger person (in my opinion) will do just fine in being a part of the fun.

Also, if someone in a “pair” can’t be around for the whole game, he/she can still participate but just leave when necessary.

There’s very little information about the game at the web site. However at another web site is the following (plus more) information:

“Quelf is the unpredictable party game that gives Random a new name! Whether you’re answering hilarious trivia, performing ridiculous stunts, or obeying silly rules, Quelf will inspire you to use your creativity, wit and sense of humor in ways you’ve never imagined. As you move around the game board, as one of eight quirky characters, crazy things start to happen. Your friends start talking strangely. Your mom’s face is wrapped in toilet paper. Your dad is acting like Dracula. And you are reciting a poem about your armpits.”

When I checked the YouTube site, I found one video (below) describing the game of Quelf. I think that video gives somewhat of a bland portrayal of the game, but it explains the mechanics well. However, the other videos I saw make it look more like a beer party game. If you view the YouTube videos, in most of them you’ll see beer bottles. Also, in some of them you’ll see people acting out some things that are on the edge of being a little racy. Be assured that the game has nothing to do with alcohol and also that it is a 100% “clean” game (unless participants choose to make it otherwise). FAMILY FRIENDLY!

I just saw Quelf on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart web sites. I think our game was purchased at a Target.

UPDATE: Since posting I’ve found that the game is sold out in many stores, including online. As of this morning (12-20-10), it is in stock at and has the option of standard or 2-day shipping.

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* One of the Quelf cards drawn said that whenever something happened in the game (I can’t remember what it was) we all had to say, “Quelf! From the Land of the Farm!” (Or, maybe it was “In the Land of the Farm.) If I recall correctly, the last person to say it each time had to move back a space or have some other penalty. Anyway, how appropriate that we were at the farm when we played!

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

Prints and Note Cards Available (so far) of Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) Watercolors

December 11, 2010

Note Cards: The background for this note card image is taken from the lower left corner of Grain Elevator II (Pocahontas, Iowa). The heart is taken from Rag Dolls. This post includes a link for these note cards and for each of the 27 watercolors of which we've had prints made. (Click on photo to enlarge image.)


To date four of my family members have played a part in having giclee prints made of 27 of Mother’s (Marion Abbott Gunderson 1919-2004) 150+ watercolors. Hopefully tomorrow on December 12, in time for holiday gift giving, there will be a Fort Dodge Messenger column about the prints. As a result of the prints, so far $3,300 has been given to the Rolfe Public Library. The funds will go toward library-related projects, the current one being the digitizing of 101 years of Rolfe newspapers so that they will be available on the Internet.

Update December 12, 2010: To read today’s Messenger column, click here. (The blizzard is delaying deliveries of the Messenger. Any word-of-mouth that you can help with by sharing the link to the column* and/or this blog post will be appreciated.)



For contact information and information about where these prints may be seen/purchased “in person” click here.

For online ordering information click here.

For background information about some of the original watercolors click here.

For a tribute to Mother click here. For a 1951 Des Moines Tribune article about Mother click here. For blog posts referring to the Barr Art Association click here.

If you don’t want to go to any of those links and just want to contact me directly, that is 100% fine! Louise Gunderson Shimon: 515-465-2746; 14106 Green Dr., Perry, Iowa 50220; (I’ll be gone part of the week. If you call and get no answer, please leave a message and Bill will get it to me.)

If you have information about any of Mother’s watercolors that you think we might not know about, if you’d let me know, my family would appreciate it so much.



"Railway Station and Grain Elevator" at Gilmore City, Iowa, painted in 1951. 13.25" W x 17.25" H limited edition prints are available, $35. For those who wish to display the watercolors of the Rolfe, Gilmore City, and Pocahontas grain elevators in a grouping, we have chosen this standard size for all three. The Rolfe Depot prints are very close in size of the grain elevator prints. Also, if matted, a standard sized frame may be used instead of a custom frame.



Here is a timeline of when Mother painted the 27 watercolors of which we’ve had prints made so far. Note cards are also available.

1949: Bowling, Sandbox, Ear of Iowa Corn, Grain Elevator I (Pocahontas, Iowa), Grain Elevator II (Pocahontas, Iowa)

1950: Brush and Shaving Mug (pair of watercolors, one dated, one not dated)

1951: Depot (Rolfe, Iowa), Railway Station and Grain Elevator (Gilmore City, Iowa), ISU Heating Plant (Ames, Iowa)

1952: Santa

1953: Coat Tree

1954: Angel in Wine and Blue, Churchyard

1957: Farmstead

1963: El Toro (The Bull)

1966: Eyelashes Under Hat, Yellow Chrysanthemums

1967: Tomatoes

1968: Bright Tulips

1969: Red Flower

1971: Pumpkins

1975: The Farm

1976: Tulips

1993: Rag Dolls

Dates unknown: Grain Elevator (Rolfe, Iowa), Bunny, Picnic Basket

* * * * * * * *

* Messenger column link:–Christmas-gifts–It-s-a-festive-season.html

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

Perry’s Lighted Christmas Parade

December 8, 2010

Always on the Friday night just after Thanksgiving is Perry’s (Iowa) annual Lighted Christmas Parade.

In the fourth photo are Marines who served with Lance Corporal Josh Davis. These Marines traveled to Perry to honor Josh who was killed on May 7th of this year while serving in Afghanistan.

Clicking on the photos will enlarge the images.











* * * * * * * *

For these photos taken November 26, 2010, I used my 50mm lens and f/1.4 and ISO 1600 settings. The shutter speed varied.

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

Hallelujah Chorus Video — “This was a much needed smile.”

December 6, 2010

On Facebook yesterday one of my friends posted the link to this joyful video.

One of the commenters on the YouTube site said about the video, “Bravo. This was a kindness. Many of us out in real world are having our asses handed to us by life right now. This was a much needed smile!” :  )



* * * * * * * *

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

The Mouser Transition — Mouser Unleashed!

December 4, 2010


Between September 27th when Mouser (my dad’s cat*) came to live with Bill and me, and October 14th, Mouser’s only outdoor experiences were when he was on a harness/leash. I was afraid to let him loose outside for fear that we’d never see him again.

On October 14th Peggy, my next-older sister, and her husband, Jeff, came to Perry to visit Mouser. (That’s right. Not to visit me. To visit Mouser.) Since on that day there were three of us to corral Mouser if needed, we let him outside for about 45 minutes. Unleashed and free.

All of these photos were taken by Jeff. The first two are of Peggy and Mouser in the garage. Clicking on the photos will magnify all of them.




* Click on the following hyperlinks to read the previous “Mouser Transition” posts. Part I —  Part II — Part III

I plan to sometime early in the new year get back to writing more about Rolfe-related topics. Until then I plan to bask mostly in the wonders of Christmas and also in sweet memories of my dad, being this will be the first Christmas in my entire life without him.

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

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry — I mean Garfield — Street

December 2, 2010

Here is what I “saw” yesterday during my trip to Rolfe. #1 and #3 are the only ones that took place at Garfield Street (a.k.a. Main Street) locations in Rolfe, Iowa. But, with so much going on, I felt like Marco in Dr. Seuss’ Mulberry Street story!*

1. Approval for Rolfe newspapers online project

On November 17th the Rolfe Public Library board approved the contract with Heritage Microfilm for the “Rolfe Newspapers Online” project. Yesterday the first check toward the project was mailed to Heritage. THE BALL IS ROLLING!

Are donations toward the project still needed? The answer is, “It depends.”

The comlete project will cost about $4,000. From private donations $740 has been collected specifically for the newspaper project. The balance of funds has been raised via prints of Mother’s watercolors. The library board plans to put a chunk of those funds toward the newspaper project; it is also hoping to retain a portion of the prints funds for other library-related projects. For that to happen, yes, donations toward the project are still needed.

Project and how-to-donate information is at this link.

2. P-l-e-a-s-e click on this image to magnify the detail of the granite.

While in Rolfe I visited the cemetery. When Jackson and I were at the cemetery last summer, he affectionately put this heart sticker (pictured) on Mother’s (Marion Abbott Gunderson) side of the grave marker, and a smile sticker on Daddy’s side of the marker. Both stickers are still there.


3. Another watercolor: Eyelashes Under Hat

I stopped at Wild Faces Gallery to approve another proof of one of Mother’s watercolors. We’ve named the prints of this whimsical watercolor Eyelashes Under Hat. (Below is just a portion of the image.)


4. A new (to me, anyway) kind of pizza

On my way to Rolfe I saw something at the Casey’s in Jefferson that I had never seen or heard of. Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pizza. Ok, so this wasn’t even in Rolfe, but it was part of my meandering “Mulberry Street” day.


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* Do you know what the setting was for Dr. Seuss as he wrote And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street? And, do you know what Dr. Seuss’ real name was?

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