Hooverball season

Green fields of corn and soybeans with a red barn in the distance.I played Hooverball today. It’s like volleyball played with a six-pound medicine ball and scored like tennis. Hoover’s doctor devised it for him so he could lose weight. There’s a tournament every August at Hooverfest and some of the local players were practicing. I won’t be able to play at Hooverfest since I’ll be working. It’s pretty hard heaving that thing over a volleyball net. Unlike volleyball or tennis, once you catch the ball you can take your time heaving it back. “It’s a gentleman’s game,” one of the veteran players told me.

The corn is flowering, or tasseling, as they say around here. I took some farm photos on my way home from Hooverball.

Iowatude

A close up of a fragment of my driver license.I rid myself of one the last vestiges of Mississippihood today when I got my Iowa driver license. I’ve already changed my license plates, auto insurance, and voter registration. I still have the cell phone number though, and I’m not in a hurry to change it.

I got a little taste of Iowa though. In the small town where I work they had “Hometown Days”, a sort of town fair. Mostly the local folks attended. There was a parade of local firetrucks and civic groups, and antique tractors (sorry no photos). I had never seen a parade of tractors before. Very middle-American stuff. They had events scheduled too like camel rides. And there was a cheerleader creamed corn eating contest. A small, twisted part of me deep inside wanted to see that very badly.

You know you’re a redneck when…

you walk on the street despite the sidewalk, something I’ve found myself doing here.

The apartment search is stagnating. I’m waiting to hear back from one of the landlords. Met a couple of nice people in town last night. They just walked up to me and started talking. At first I thought they wanted me to vote for someone or convert but they were just friendly.

Home-hunting

I am spending this fine weekend immersed in the drudgery of finding a place to live. I want to live in Iowa City, somewhere conveniently between work and downtown. Iowa City is a University town and a lot of the rentals are sort of junky. There are some nice condos and apartments, but not in the area I want to live in. We’ll see if I’m so picky in the next week or two.

I drove around a few neighborhoods, block by block, looking for rental signs. There are a few. I’ll start the real estate agent route this week when somebody is in their offices.

Iowa City will be somewhat more expensive than Ocean Springs.

Here I am

Road sign on US Highway 61: \"The people of Iowa welcome you.\"I have arrived.

I am staying in a hotel in Coralville. It’s okay. Iowa weather is nice right now. It’s getting green. Work is okay so far. There is a lot to digest as usual. I’m looking for places to rent; I think that an apartment in Iowa City equivalent to the one I just left in Mississippi will be much more expensive. I have to figure this out. It may be more economical for me to buy.

The way people talk here is very funny, though not altogether surprising. Even more funny than Staten Island or the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Imagine that.

Journey to the center of America!

Iowa seems like a pretty nice place to live. There are farms everywhere. In fact everything is either a town or a farm. There is no vacant space or wilderness. Even the ditches are managed. It’s very pretty. West Branch looks like it’s out of Norman Rockwell painting. It is also tiny; I could probably walk around it half an hour. Iowa City is a fun university town. I haven’t made up my mind where to live, but I think I’d like to live in Iowa City and commute the 10 miles to West Branch, though I did find a nice, reasonable apartment in West Branch. Iowa is also much more bicycle-friendly than Mississippi. I might invest in a better bike if I can ride it around more.

Speaking of bikes and Mississippi… the first thing I saw tonight when I stepped out of the Gulfport Airport were two bicycle cops stopping a motorist. This guy was driving some old GM beater that looked like it fell off a bridge. Most of the front end was busted up and neither headlight worked. This is at 9 p.m. If I had to pick one place that I would always find a cop these days it would be the airport. I would not drive my illegal car in the dark to get there.

It funny, the Gulfport airport has been undergoing major renovation almost since I moved here. The construction went into full swing last year; people visiting the coast for the first time probably think the airport was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

Good and bad reviews of Iowa

Yoga tonight. I felt pretty good. I hope I can find a good yoga school in Iowa.

A couple of former volunteers visited us at work today. They’re from Illinois. When I said I was moving to Iowa, one of them went into this diatribe about how awful the weather was: steamy hot in the summer, bitter cold in the winter, wind blowing all the time. He went on and on. Then he started telling me all these good things about Iowa, the riverfront in Davenport, the rolling hills, a funky college town that starts with a G, dozens of little colleges, some really good Amish baloney, and so forth.

I work with several Midwesterners, so I guess Iowa won’t be too shocking.