Weekend Update: Iowa

First off, here are some fun Facts about Iowa (from Wikipedia):
  • Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland." 
  • It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration.[5] 
  • Iowa is often known as the "Food Capital of the World",[7] ] 
  • Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live.[9] 
  • Des Moines is Iowa's capital and largest city.

Here is my own list of "You know you are an Iowan when":
  • You care more about where people are from (a.k.a. where their family is from) than what they do
  • You do not bat an eye if a salad doesn't actually contain any vegetables (in fact, it may be made entirely of jello, and/or a pear covered in shredded cheddar cheese)
  • You say pop
  • Salt and pepper (oh, and maybe a little garlic salt or A1 Steak Sauce on occasion) are the only spices you need
  • You know the different between a cow, a bull and a steer
  • You know how many ears of corn grow on one stalk
  • The smell of hog reminds you of road trips
If you couldn't tell, I spent last weekend in Iowa.  My dad met me and The Boy in Chicago (a two hour flight for us, a 12 hour train ride for him) and we drove to Waterloo, Iowa (4-5 hour car ride).  First stop was at the farm of our family friends.  I have been going out to the farm since I was a baby (I apparently watched Halley's Comet shoot by there as an infant...this is not something I remember, but I will be something like 78 years old next time I will have the opportunity to take a look).

On the farm they have horses, chickens, lots of barn cats (about 20 currently....there were 40 last time I came.  Sooooo many cats), a dog, sheep and

a steer!!!  (note: for those of you that are not from Iowa, a steer is a male cow who has been neutered.  A bull is a male cow who has not.  Now you know).
Sheep!  I learned many things about sheep.  I think I will cheat and talk about that in another, less lengthy post.
On Sunday, we headed back into town for the annual Smith Family Picnic.  A couple of notes about the picnic:
  • If you don't know the date or the time of the picnic, shame on you.  No one will tell you.  Even if you ask, all they will tell you is "the weekend closest to Aunt Ruthie's birthday at the warmest part of the day, at the place it was last year."  Good luck with that one, outsiders!
  • It is actually the Tjebkes family picnic.  My great-grandmother Sarah Dietz was an orphan in New York who got sent to Parkersburg, Iowa on the Orphan train (basically they shipped city kids out to the Midwest as free farm labor to their adoptive families...one way to solve a social problem, I guess).  She met a man with the last name Dietz, who helped produce eight daughters before he died before the youngest was born.  My great-grandma lived to be 100.  Her eight daughters (my grandma and my great aunts) all lived around Waterloo, carrying on family traditions like this picnic.
  • They've been bringing the same can of beans for the last who-knows-how-many years.  The first year, someone brought a can of beans but no one had a can opener.  So the next year they brought the same can of beans, but again, no one remembered to bring the can opener.  Now they bring that same can of beans every year asking "anyone bring a can opener?"  Everyone shakes their heads mock-sadly and says, "darn it, must have forgotten it." 
My great aunt Emmaline (my grandma's twin sister) makes carmel corn.  We all roast hotdogs and smores. 
Mmmmm hot dog...
 We walk around the park.
This elephant statue has been in the park as long as I remember.  It used to be blue, but it looks like the flooding and old age has gotten to him.  Also, I think I used to ride on his back.  I could not figure out how to get up there by myself, and we determined that I am too big to be lifted up there.

And we take a family picture.
Oh, what a small, motley crew.  One of the eight daughters.  Three of the six grand kids.  Three of the countless cousins.  Two great grand kids.  Assorted spouses/others.  There are 244+ people in the family (I know this because we all have a number...I am number 136) and this is who is still around to come to the picnic.  Do we look related?
Other things I did this weekend:
  • Messed up a knitting project. More on that later.
  • Freaked my dad out (dad: if you are reading this and disagree with the following, do feel free to let me know). I legit believe my father thinks I am a raging feminist crazy person. I think he realizes he raised me this way and it is his fault, but still gets strangely quiet when I went I go all fiery about the practice of taking business associates out to gentleman's clubs, rape culture, and the sexism/racism found in the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (that is actually what they are called. Look it up). It is the same silence I got from my aunt in Atlanta a couple weeks ago when I talked about doctors "slut-shaming" young female patients. I should probably learn to tone it down around my family/anyone who hasn't learned to take me with a grain of salt/everyone.
  • Went bowling and scored the best game of my life.  I am afraid to tell you the score for fear that you will realize how terribly bad at bowling I really am (despite my huge love for it).  I will say, though, that I got a TURKEY!!! (three strikes in a row).  With a hot pink, eight-pound, kids' bowling ball, no less.  I rock.