I’ve been a stranger to my Web site during the last 3 weeks, not because I wanted to stay away, but because I’ve been tied up with projects, one of which took my husband and me to Wisconsin to paint a basement.

Tale of a tornado

Right after Iowa’s state tournament for Destination ImagiNation®, the program for which John and I volunteer, I found myself e-mailing Global Finals-bound Team Managers with support information and uploading related documents to the state Web site, run by Students for a Creative Iowa. I learned by e-mail about the plight of one of Iowa’s teams, which is advancing to the Global Finals competition being held at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville on May 25-28. This team is from Mapleton, the town that was hit hard by a wedge tornado on April 9th, the evening of the state tournament. The team, which consists of four high schoolers, performed at the Destination ImagiNation tournament, then left early to participate in a school play. Five minutes into the performance, the town’s tornado sirens howled, sending everyone to shelter in the locker room beneath the stage. Others hid in the school’s boiler room, hoping for the best. When it was all over, 60 percent of Mapleton, a small rural town of 1,200 in northwest Iowa, was flattened.

When our state Board heard this news, we knew that the Mapleton team that had qualified to advance to Global Finals would face a special challenge in raising the $5,000-plus needed for its journey, which includes room and board, transportation of team members, chaperones and props, hotel stays, team T-shirts and trading pins. After some discussion, we decided to award a special distribution of $500 to the team from the Kitch-Eilerts Memorial Scholarship Fund, established in part to honor the memory of an Iowa Destination ImagiNation participant who was killed when a tornado swept through his Boy Scout camp in 2008. Two Ames, Iowa teams, also advancing to Global Finals, decided to make trading pin mats for the Mapleton students, and offered to split the earnings from busing restaurant tables with the team. A local Mapleton farmer who wanted to show his appreciation for students who had cleared his fields of metal debris from the tornado came up with a $600 donation. In short, many folks who weren’t exactly affluent themselves dug deeply into their pockets to help the Mapleton students.

As I write this post, I do not know whether the students will reach their fundraising goal by the payment deadline, but if you are interested in helping them do so, you can follow the instructions I posted in Globals-bound team comes home to tornado. You might say that this was my completed challenge for Week 15 of the 52 Weeks Challenge.

The paint job that wouldn’t end

The next week (Week 16 of the 52 Weeks Challenge) my husband and I spent in Wisconsin, painting my father’s basement. His house, which is up for sale to support his care costs, had developed structural issues over the 40-plus years in which he lived there, shifting 2-1/2 to 4 inches off the basement foundation. Two corners of the basement wall collapsed, and there were holes in the cinder blocks wide enough in which you could shove your arm. The drain tiles failed a water test, and the sump pump had to be replaced. Needless to say, all of this spelled out water issues in a big way. The basement needed work before the house would sell. Fortunately, our realtor helped us locate a contractor who was willing to take on this job, which involved digging an eight-foot-deep trench on all sides of the house, straightening the walls and shoring them up with supports, replacing the drain tiles and installing not one but two sump pumps, rebuilding parts of the basement wall, replacing four glass block windows, and gutting the interior of the basement. The contractor completed the work this month, leaving behind a straightened, repaired foundation, but also a basement with ugly gray-and-green patched walls that looked like something out of a horror story. Over the course of five days, John and I used up 7-1/2 gallons of primer to paint the entire basement, including 65 (I counted them!) floor-to-ceiling support beams. I do not think I want to see a paint brush, paint pad or roller brush for a while.

Before painting


After painting

Coming home to ants

As you might imagine, when we returned to Iowa we were bone tired but glad to be home. The temperatures had warmed up and there was just enough rain so that everyone’s lawns had greened up. Unfortunately, these are perfect conditions for ants to hatch. Imagine my horror when I walked into my paper studio and found ants swarming all over the desk, wall and window frame—likely the entry point for the little critters. Fortunately, half a dozen ant traps and two days later, we took care of the problem. Meanwhile, I stayed out of the paper studio and took my crochet hooks and yarn into the family room to be productive. You can see below the headwarmer and scarflette I completed for Week 17 of the 52 Weeks Challenge while keeping the ants at bay. Somehow I don’t find nearly as cute as I did before picnic cloths decorated with ant trail borders!

Crochet Head Warmer in Lavender, Fuchsia & Purple
Lavender & Fuchsia Crochet Scarflette


© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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5 thoughts on “The tornado tale, the paint pail and the ant trail”

  1. Sheesh Judy, I’m tired just reading all that the two of you have done. Glad that your fathers house is finished and now you can get on and sell it. Good luck

  2. Judy! That’s nutz. When things go wrong I always hate to say or think, what else could go wrong….b/c something always does then. You have been through a LOT. The basement looks great by the way:)

  3. Wow! You have been busy! The basement looks great and I hope it sells quickly. I hate those little ants, I don’t know why they have to come inside in the spring. It seems like everyone has to fight them here. I hope the DI team from Mapleton gets all the funds they need to go to the nationals!

  4. My goodness Judy, talk about challenges this week! Sounds like you have been quite busy. Good luck selling your dad’s house. And I hope those pesky ants are gone for good. Ick!

  5. Fabric Fascination

    Oh my Judy! I would definitely say that the basement project qualifies as a finished project. What a few weeks you have had. I hope you will keep us posted on the outcome of the tornado team fighting to make it to the finals.

    The lavender yarn is very pretty.

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