Thoughts by Helen D. Gunderson

Chickens

The Hawk and My Chickens

This morning, my five laying hens were making a huge ruckus. Instead of my paying attention immediately, I tuned them out, thinking, “Oh, what people don’t know about urban chickens. Hens can be as loud as roosters.” But I looked out the kitchen window, and saw some of the chickens pressing in a frenzy against their pasture fence. Unusual. I thought maybe they were eager to get away from their feed trough, waterer, leaves and

Read More »
Helen at Urban Farm

Pickled Beets and Hymns in the Kitchen

There are beets in the refrigerator that I have just cooked and peeled. I got them at the North Grand Farmers Market this morning. I wash the stainless steel stock pot that I used to cook the beets. I glance out the window. There is an evening glow following a day of gray skies, thunder, lightening, and a soaker rain. The garden needed the rain. I saw the chickens a few minutes ago when I

Read More »
fresh vegetables

Cooking with Collards

I look at my hands as I tear collard leaves into pieces and put them in the cast iron skillet along with garlic, onions, yams, and white potatoes that are already cooking in olive oil. It is past midnight. The day has been one of lows and highs. A lot of sleeping, Partially physical exhaustion but admittedly, partially a blue and lonely mood. Then I got a bit of energy and organized the garden shed

Read More »
Helen's pickle jars

Bread and Butter Pickles

I hear the hum of the refrigerator and the noise of the fan above the stove. For most of the evening, I have also heard the voices inside my head that question whether I measure up in this world. I get a pot of sliced cucumbers and onions out of the refrigerator. The salt water brine has made the cucumbers bright green and the onions bright white. I think of all the time I spent

Read More »
girls basketball team 1963

The Basketball Petition

The girl likes sports, but her school has no sports program for girls. In seventh grade, she heads a petition drive, requesting the school board to start girls basketball. This petition drive is conducted decades before photocopy machines, computerized word processors and laser printers. As a child and young adult, the girl often thinks of herself as a troublemaker. She does not realize that her family and school do not have adequate outlets for her

Read More »

Thoughts about Valentine’s Day

The imminent arrival of Valentine’s Day gets some people thinking of the color red, yummy-but-not-so-healthy desserts, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, candlelight dinners, cupids on Hallmark cards, and romance between two people of the opposite sex. This past week, not thinking of V-Day at the time, I cooked my first batch of beet borscht for 2011. It’s a great winter menu item–warm and hearty with a jewel red color. So why not think of it as

Read More »
Rolfe High School Logo

A Rambling Piece by Helen Gunderson

Life here in Ames is full with gardening and plenty of napping to deal with fuzziness in my system that is probably a reaction to stuff in the springtime air. However, I did get time to shorten the video that I produced in 1997 about the road I where I grew up. The show is now 10 minutes long and short enough to post on YouTube. Some of you may have already seen it in

Read More »
Rolfe High School Logo

Gardening Circles

When government leaders can “go green” by getting into gardening on the grounds of the White House, then maybe the rest of us, too, can go green by gearing up our gardening efforts or being good patrons of local food growers. The White House garden is a reminder of the Victory Gardens that American families grew during World War Two. In that era, victory meant defeat of Germany and Japan. In this era, victory can

Read More »
Ragbrai riders

Thoughts on RAGBRAI 2007 Parading through Rolfe

The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI) went through Rolfe on July 23, 2007. I was there with camera, starting on a county road northwest of Rolfe and ending in town. I regret, however, not capturing more variety or heading east where a farm couple, Mike and Joni Behrendsen (RHS 1961 and circa 1969), served root beer floats. It also would have been great to photograph riders on the picturesque hills

Read More »
Rolfe High School Logo

A Blog-like Letter

Dear RHS alumni, faculty, and other Rolfe loyalists … A few weeks ago, I made great headway in posting materials from the RHS time capsules. I have finished posting items from the 1917 capsule but have made only a dent in all the files that I digitized from the 1928 capsule. Fortunately, it is a big dent. But rest assured, there is much more to be posted from the latter box. And I will get

Read More »