... a pebble in the pond

2018 ... More than meets the eye!

I’ve been trying to think about what I want to say in my annual Year in Review, and I was thinking how boring my life is. I mean really boring! And I was talking to Nick on the phone during our weekly conversation and telling him what I’ve been doing. I realized that I do a lot of things – in just one week. So instead I decided to talk about everything for which I’ve been thankful.

Like …

Val Day at the Commons

There’s an abundance of community events in a small town. Pool parties … parades … monthly dinners at the Community of Christ … holiday dinners … the annual Christmas Tea at Liberty Hall (everything occurs around food – is it like that where you live?). There's Graceland University where I took two graphics courses - one in typography and the other was an independent studies course where I worked on my graphic novel (more on that later). Its student cafeteria, The Commons, is where Les and Dee and Dean and I (and others) have monthly lunches along with special theme meals during the school year - and the Fitz where I work out regularly. Of course, there’s the many concerts and college events throughout the year.

Pool Party Working Out at the Fitz

Graceland's sustainability program which provides Dee White Eye and I with a community garden in the middle of town. It was hot and dry all summer – and a lot of our tomatoes had problems. We still ate a lot of them, though. But you know what: When you eat home-grown tomatoes, you realize the ones in stores are fake. The only thing they have in common with real tomatoes is that they’re red. Man are home grown tomatoes GOOD!

The city is sure supportive! My Graphic Novel of Lamoni (http://www.leadonlamoni.com/tour/) is on the their internet pages and continues to grow as I add chapters. I’ve visited backstage at Amish businesses, learned about Graceland University’s first panty raid, and been up close and personal with a bunch of steers. Check it out – you might get a different idea about what a small town is like.

And don't forget the city's recreational trails which continue to be a big part of my good weather activities. As I get older, more and more bikers pass me, but I keep peddling along as I broke the 2,000 (2,082) mile barrier again this year. I’m still on the Trails Commission as a member but no longer chair. During the year I wrote or worked on several grants that brought improvements to the trail.

Racquetball: Jim Jones and I travel to Bethany (Missouri) for a game after a hiatus because of my sore wrist – now every other Tuesday instead of every Tuesday. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen!

Cajun Kill - Mystery Club The public library with its outstanding and helpful staff where our Mystery Book Club still meets monthly is a great resource for Lamoni. The club gives me a different perspective and takes me out of my comfort zone of authors. Sometimes I hate the books – oftentimes I find a new author. It’s good to find a new one as some of my favorites aren’t around anymore (Robert Parker … Sue Grafton). This year we tried to find out the killer in The Cajun Killer staged at Sophie Ryan's house. Turns out ... I was the killer! YIKES!

And the local weekly ... If you subscribe to the Lamoni Chronicle (which I'm sure you all do), you get to read my column, Around Lamoni, most weeks along with the movie synopses (I had to Google the plural for synopsis) for the Coliseum Theatre where I have been to a fair number of shows. I really enjoyed “A Star Is Born.” I had thought Lady Gaga just a quirky celebrity, but when I heard her sing … AMAZING pipes!

Being a part of something special: I’m still a member of timeBanking/Lamoni (http://personal.graceland.edu/~tBL/) and have helped others and received help. It’s an excellent concept. If you don’t have one in your community, start one!

Keeping up with relatives resulted in connecting with my cousin Mike who is into searching our family tree. Through Ancestry.com, he signed me up for a DNA test. It came back England, Wales & Northwestern Europe - 64% and Ireland & Scotland - 36% which was no surprise, but I'm learning a lot about our "tree" as I search through all the work he has done.

I welcomed a new kitten into my home in April. Z is what I call her, but her full name is Zwickle (named after Nick’s favorite beer). All black … all energy … all bad! It’s nice to have another heartbeat in the house, though.

March Madness 2018

March Madness: Even though I lost the bracket battle to Darrel Baker again this year (2 years in a row), this was a great tournament because Chris, Nick, and Andy were in Lamoni for part of it! We overdosed on both basketball and food. … so enjoyable to have the Rees boys all together.

Betsy & Maggie 2018

My annual visit to Perkasie and the Chris and Hannah Rees family was in August. Those two little granddaughters change so much in a year. I think it’s safe to say, though, that they actually got cuter – it must be magic )or as seen the eyes of a grandfather). I cannot believe everything they are into, and they just GO … GO … GO …! (It’s easy to forget what it was like all those years ago. At the same time, it’s nice to be reminded of those memories of our kids growing up (and how hectice it was) – even better … easier … in the role of a grandparent.)

Thanksgiving in Sioux City with Don and Barbara Mathews – always a highlight of the year. This year was no exception. Of course, picking Andy up at the Omaha airport on the way and being with him makes it even more special. But I think everyone who spends Thanksgiving dinner around the Mathew’s table would agree that it is truly one of the year’s best memories. During the visit, we had dinner at Tony’s followed by the Festival of Trees at the Atrium of Ho-Chunk Centre. Football … munching … watching Barb set up the Christmas decorations (which are immense) rounded out the visit with an extra day because of a winter snow and ice storm that blocked my way home.

And - of course - my brother Dave. We call each other all the time (usually after 10:30 pm my time ... 11:30 pm his) and, as in previous years, especially during Steeler games when we have a ritual of calling back and forth during the broadcasts. This year ... well ... we're getting fed up with the team. BUT ... there's still time!

Finally … where are we? Well, Andy is in Scottsdale, AZ. Nick and Katie are in Los Angles raising (and still spoiling) their two dogs - Sammie and Bennie. And as I said, Chris, Hannah, Betsy, and Maggie are in Perkasie, PA with me in Lamoni, Iowa.

Maybe it’s not really that boring a life after all … and for sure I have a lot to be thankful for!

I hope you had a great year.

Happy Holidays!

The Rees Boys - March Madness 2018

Family is the Greatest Gift!