Friday, December 2, 2011

Flying Squirrels and Three-Legged Frogs

Thought for the day:  Ain't too funny, but it sure is corn!  (Hee Haw line)

A lot of that stuff I said about Indiana in the last "stately" post goes double for Iowa. Not only is Iowa part of the corn belt, she's the undisputed queen, and produces more corn than any other state. So before we shine the light on any landmarks or laws, how about a brief commercial break to talk about ... what else? Corn.

First, for an unusual, but effective way to cut corn from the cob, try placing one end of the shucked ear into the center of a bundt pan to hold it steady. When you whack the kernels off, they'll plop right into the pan. Clever, huh? Now, here's a short video on a very simple, no muss, no fuss, way to cook your corn perfectly PLUS (big bonus) all that annoying silk slides off in one fell swoop. (I tried it, and it works GREAT!) And finally, to complete our corn trifecta, didja ever hear of cooler corn? As in going-on-a-picnic cooler, not cooler than Fonzie kinda cool. This works especially well when you're cooking for a crowd. Don't have a pot big enough to hold all that corn? No sweat. Place them into a clean cooler,  pour a couple kettles of boiling water over them, and close the lid. That's it. Now, go finish cooking the rest of the meal.


Thirty minutes later, and presto! The corn is ready to eat, and get this ... it'll stay hot and ready-to-eat for a couple hours!

Commercial break's over. What else can we say about Iowa, other than it grows a lot of corn? Well, it's the only state that starts with two vowels. (Oh man, that's really reaching.) Although most people may think of Iowa as being land-locked, it's the only state of the original 48 whose east and west borders are 100% formed by water, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Oh, and also, Iowa gets more tornadoes than any other state, a superlative I suspect they wouldn't mind ... shucking.

Okay, time to take a look around the state and see what we can find.

As immortalized in the book The Bridges of Madison County, Madison County has six covered bridges. Pictured is the oldest, Imes Bridge.

According to Ripley's Believe it or Not, Snake Alley, located in Burlington, is the most crooked street in the world.

Strawberry, anyone? The world's largest strawberry can be found in Strawberry Point, Iowa.

And the world's largest bullhead fish can be found in Crystal Lake, Iowa. (See, they're not ALL about corn. Fruit and fish, too!)

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art contains the largest collection of  (native son)  Grant Woods artwork in the world.

And how about THIS museum? It's the National Balloon Museum, located in Indianola. No, they don't twist cute little balloon animals here; it's all about the hot air balloon, and the museum chronicles more than 300 years of ballooning history.

The annual three-day Nordic Festival, held in Decorah, celebrates the town's Scandinavian heritage.

Here's one of my favorite tidbits about Iowa. The University of Okoboji. No, I'm not graduate of that school. In fact, in spite of all the stuff you can purchase for this school,  no one has ever graduated from there, because it doesn't actually exist. And never did. It's the fictitious creation of three brothers, who came up with the idea in the early '70s. A local radio station joined in on the joke, and started identifying itself as the campus station ... and still does. Iowans, who obviously have a great sense of humor,  plaster alumni decals on their cars, and the school name is used in connection with several annual fundraisers for charity. Ain't too funny, but it sure is ... (you know)

Time to check out some of Iowa's laws. (By the way, the words on the flag are Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.)

  • A man with a mustache may never kiss a woman in public. (How about goatees ... or goats?)
  • One-armed piano players must perform for free. (Now, that's just mean.)
  • Kisses may last for no more than five minutes. (Who's timing?)
  • Ministers must obtain a permit to carry their liquor across state lines. (Gotta get their teetotaler friends to do it for them.) 
  • In Cedar Rapids, it's illegal to read a person's palm. (So take notes on the back of your hand.)
  • In Dubuque, hotels must have a water bucket and hitching post out front. (In case you're married to a real nag?)
  • In Fort Madison, the fire department must practice firefighting for fifteen minutes before attending a fire. (Um, so they're in no real hurry? Like they're not on their way to a flipping fire???)
  • The ice cream man and his truck are banned from Indianola. (A lactose intolerant mayor is NO excuse for such a cruel cruel law.)
  • In Marshalltown, it's illegal for horses to eat fire hydrants. (A passel of pooches possibly petitioned for this one.)
  • And in Ottumwa, a man may not wink at any woman he doesn't know. (But he CAN whistle, air smooch, and pinch her posterior?)
[Quick: Who can tell me which character on which long-running TV show hailed from Ottumwa, Iowa?]

Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

*** Just because a drunk with a concussion saw it doesn't mean it wasn't there. Everyone else in that New Jersey emergency room saw the squirrel, too. A flying squirrel. Repeatedly climbing eight feet up to reach a wall-mounted light fixture, so it could dive off and glide into the glass wall on the other side of the room. Over and over again. Not sure how many flights ol' Rocky made before firefighters grounded him with a well-placed blanket, (a wet one, perhaps?) but the poor little guy was probably in need of some post-landing emergency care, so he picked a pretty good place to take his test flights. Not the first time this has happened, either. This is the second flying squirrel to show up in that emergency room in the past two weeks. Looks like medical costs aren't the only thing soaring around there.

*** Nope, Santa Claus didn't pay an early visit to a home in Lubbock, Texas. That was just a 22-year-old man trying to drop in. On his own house. Through the chimney. You see, it was one o'clock in the morning and the poor schnook was locked out of his house. But why pay a locksmith, right? He decided to get into the house by using his own sharp wits.What can I say? Turns out, his wits couldn't cut butter. He came up with the brilliant idea of climbing down the chimney, while his wife and child waited outside. And waited. And waited. This fella didn't possess Santa's girth, but evidently, he didn't possess his magical abilities, either, because he got stuck in the chimney, and firemen had to hoist him out with a rope. Think they'll send him a bill for that wee hour rescue? (More than what the locksmith would've cost?) Tsk, tsk. I mean, what was that man thinking? He'll be lucky if he doesn't catch a nasty case of the flue.

*** What iconic structure do most people associate with Paris? Hint: It was built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel. 'Nother hint: It's shown in the picture. Yeah, I know. You didn't need the hints ... or the picture ... to answer this question. But how about this one? What if the Eiffel Tower had a new look? Went green? According to a report in the newspaper Le Figaro, plans may be afoot to blanket France's signature structure ... with plants. Lots and lots of plants. Ginger, an engineering company specializing in ecological projects, wants to change the face of the tower by adding 600,000 plants and a state-of-the-art irrigation system to keep all that greenery green. Cost? Oh, just sixty-five million pounds, give or take. (A LOT of green!) Hmmm, if this story turns out to be true, the Eiffel Tower may indeed become the most ecologically correct structure in the world, but in light of global finances, it may also prove to be the most economically incorrect. (And about as pleasing as the thought of putting false eyelashes and rouge on the Mona Lisa.) French authorities, by the way, deny any plans to pursue this project.

*** Um, taste like chicken? An emphatic NO, says Ross Dance, a 32-year-old (former) customer of Britain's Nando's restaurant. His chicken sandwich most definitely did not taste like chicken. Why, you ask? Because his chicken wrap actually included a frog. A live frog. After swallowing one of the chewy that-ain't-chicken frog's legs, Dance investigated. No, he didn't croak when he discovered the four-inch frog (minus one leg) smiling back at him, but it's a sure bet he won't be hopping back to that restaurant any time in the near future.

                                   Remember ... time's fun when you're having flies!  Kermit the frog

                                      Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Radar O'Reilly - M*A*S*H. I like the corn hints too! :)

  2. Gotta try the corn in a cooler trick next summer.

  3. Hi, Skippy. BINGO! We watched M*A*S*H so much, we even had a special trivia game, based entirely on that show. (And it was the only trivia game my husband ever enjoyed playing.)Glad ya like the tidbits about the corn.

    M.G.- Great! Let me know how it works for you.

    Take care.

  4. I like that idea of cooking the corn in a cooler! That might work at our next poolside shindig!

  5. As wacky as ever! Your blog is definitely entertaining!

  6. That last one was an OMG for sure. I would have passed straight out.
    Now...that corn in the cooler thing. After the half hour do you pour out the water if everything else isn't quite ready yet? Will it get overcooked if you leave it. It sounds like a fantastic idea and would like to try it out.

  7. Brilliant stuff Susan - this was a hoot from start to finish :-) Hugely enjoyed it - flying furries, frogs and all...
    BTW - if you ever get round to writing about Llandovery, in Carmarthenshire, West Wales, UK (and who would, really?) our two claims to fame are that we've got the narrowest section of road and the only level crossing on the A40. Makes corn look kind of sweet, doesn't it??
    All best and thanks for the larfs!

  8. Dianne- Sure sounds like an easier way to handle a bunch of corn, doesn't it? I hope it works well for you.

    Al- Thank you, dear sir.

    Delores- Yeah, me too. I don't think I'd be a very big fan of my "food" looking back at me. As for the corn, I think you're supposed to just leave the water in the cooler. It'd keep the corn hot, but because it isn't boiling, shouldn't overcook it.

    Kara- Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. Tell ya what, why don't YOU write about those interesting kinda tidbits about the UK on YOUR blog? (I've got my hands full covering the states!)

    Take care.

  9. The Bridges of Madison County, Madison County

    The movie version has the unusual distinction of being the one Eastwood film my wife will watch all the time and the one I will run off screaming into the night to avoid.

  10. Great corn video! He made it look so easy! :-)
    Wow so much info on Iowa! I had no idea. :)

  11. Another great Yammy Friday! Thanks Susan!

  12. Hi, Beach Bum. I read the book, but didn't care for it. Never saw the movie, and don't want to, either. It just doesn't seem right for Eastwood to star in a movie without a gun in his hand and a snarl on his face, ya know?

    Jennifer- It really IS easy! (And no pots to wash afterwards, either.)

    Austan- Thanks, kiddo. Have a great weekend.

  13. Poor frog! I'm not the litigious sort, but I might be tempted in that case. If only to be able to provide appropriate medical assistance for the critter. ;)

    Oh, and I love that cooler corn idea! Sounds like a perfect way to cook for a crowd.

  14. Linda- Yeah, I hear ya. Somehow, a refund and a cheery "sorry 'bout that" don't suffice.

  15. Pity the poor man from Ottumwa who has a twitch in his eye - even worse for him if the judge is a woman.

    Thanks for the hints Heloise, I mean Susan, on how to get the corn off the husk without making a mess. When I cut them off, they spit all over the place. I found a few recently under my toaster oven.

  16. I love it...there is a corn palace in Iowa..every year they design a differetn exterior and decorate the outside of the building with ears of feeds the birds all year and houses a gym, musuem and tourist attraction that sucks you in...we visited on a cross country tour a few years was a fun town!!
    I love reading these posts and don't comment very often but figured I'd stop lurking to thank you for the cooler corn idea...that is AWESOME!!

  17. Haha! The laws cracked me up, as usual. The one about the firefighters practicing... hehehe.

    I also like the story about the fake university.

  18. Hi, Arleen. Yeah, I guess a guy with a twitch has to wear dark glasses all the time. Heloise, huh? OK, sounds good to me. Hope the tip works for you.

    Colenic- Man, oh man, how did I ever miss out on the corn palace? That sounds too cool. I appreciate you exiting the lurk mode to make a comment, dear lady.

    (Gee, if I knew the cooler corn would've been such a big hit, I would've mentioned it a long time ago!)

    You come on back again, now, y'heah?

    Shelley- I like the fake university story, too, and how so many people go along with it to keep the legend going.

    Take care, y'all.

  19. Didn't know a damned thing about Iowa until now. Oh, wait a minute, I just remembered going to Mason City, Iowa for the National Music Man Marching Band Competition while in high school. We finished 5th.

    BTW, the Music Man, written by Meridith Wilson (I think that's right, and I'm too lazy to look it up), a native Iowan, was set in Mason City, Wilson's home town.) How 'bout that? Turns out I do know something about Iowa after all.

  20. Of course ..... Radar. I've most likely seen every MASH episode several times. I still watch it when I happen upon it.

    In fACT, I've been to Ottumwa many times when I lived in Minneapolis.
    Love from Manzanita

  21. Mr. C- See? Ya learned more things in high school than you realized! Very cool on going to Iowa for the Music Man competition. I'm pretty sure you're right about Meredith Wilson, but I thought the musical took place in River City. (I can imagine Robert Preston singing that song about "trouble in River City" and the evils of shooting pool.)But I could be wrong. (It's happened a time or two...)

    Manzie- Yeah, we've seen most of the M*A*S*H episodes a bunch of times, too. (But they're so darned GOOD!) Thanks for stopping by. Take care.

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