Thursday Storms, 7-14-23

Remember this picture from yesterday morning?

I was drinking coffee in the porch and admiring the very green lushness of North Iowa in July when a small white car drove up the road very slowly and then pulled into my parking. The man and woman got out of the car so I thought I must know them and they’re wanting to see me. I walked out to meet them in my bathrobe and was quite stunned to hear their “story”.

Her name is Lara S. but I didn’t learn her husband’s name. They are from BELGIUM! They saw the barn with the flag from the highway (because Tim planted beans across the road from me instead of corn) and wanted to take a picture. I invited them to come with me up to the haymow to look at the building’s gambrel roof from inside.

They are very interested in Americana and are headed to the Black Hills. Every year they fly into Chicago and rent a car and spend the next month traveling/camping around the USA. While traveling across Iowa they have been studying barns. There isn’t another barn in Iowa like mine, is there?

This was one of those chance encounters that just made one feel good all over. She’s going to read the blog and learn more about Country Threads. Lara – when you read this will you please send me your email? Here is my email address:

So last night about supper time heavy thunderstorms moved through our area. We thank God it didn’t hail and destroy the crops. Hazel absolutely shakes and trembles so she was hiding under a blanket by Rick. I sat in the porch and enjoyed it. I stepped outside to take these beautiful pictures.

Reader photos

This is Jake’s Quilt by Country Threads

This kind of weather is the reason I move such big plants back into the house in the fall. Oh, how I wish I had a greenhouse!

And when I pull through the drive thru for coffee at Java this is my view – tall Iowa corn growing just inches from the ordering screen. This is North Iowa in July.

I’m waiting for the next batch of Oh, Susannah! books – I have all your orders and checks in a fireproof safe until I can fill your order. Your notes that accompany your orders are a delight to read! Thank you!

My day is not so busy today which is a relief. Maybe I can actually sew something? How about you? Don’t you just love summer?

59 thoughts on “Thursday Storms, 7-14-23

  1. Dorothy

    Love,love,love the Iowa sky pictures. Looks like a piece of Heaven!! I probably will only get a bit of sewing done today. Heading out to lunch with 2 very dear friends that haven’t seen in awhile. We went to nursing school together and were bridesmaids in each of our 3 weddings 2 weeks apart. That was 41 years ago! Lots to catch up on.

  2. Chris

    Yes, I love summer! In fact, we go to North Padre island, Texas in the fall and stay until spring so we can have “almost summer” all year. Mary, you really NEED a greenhouse; but I have a feeling your plants would soon outgrow it! I thought it was so exciting for you to have those two visitors from Belgium. I hope they enjoy South Dakota, too. I haven’t had time to sew for a couple of days so I hope to get to it today, too. Hope your weekend is great for sitting on the porch and seeing those gorgeous sights. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Linda in Estherville

    I hope your/our new friends go down by Storm Lake to see all the beautiful Barn doors! There aren’t many I can think of in Hwy 18 or Hwy 20 running thru Nebraska. I hope they do not miss the beautiful Princess at Chamberlain, South Dakota along I-90 watching over her river and the land. Most beautiful metal work I can think of.

    Humid, humid , humid….but it is worth it if it was proceeded by rain!

  4. Diana in Des Moines

    What a life! Would love to just get in the car and go explore. Not an option these days with grandkids here every day plus mom living with us now. Oh some day….
    Thought of you when I saw the storm warnings flash across the screen. Much needed rain – glad there was no damage.
    I am having my kitchen and family room painted. She is almost finished. I hired it out as I have really high vaulted ceilings and I’m just too old to get up on a ladder. New appliances next week, new countertops and backsplash in August.
    Sewing with friends tomorrow. WOO HOO!!

  5. Erin

    What a great story about the couple who stopped by! They must have some wonderful stories to tell about their travels. I hope they keep in touch with you.

    Your barn is wonderful! I so miss being on a farm, especially one with a huge old barn.

    Getting out in a sheltered place to watch and smell a summer Midwestern storm is somehow both relaxing and stimulating. Your pictures evoked great memories of those storms I witnessed years ago.

    Thanks as always for sharing lovely pictures.

  6. Beverly Custer

    Hello! I got my 5 books, yesterday, but I can tell you never received the address labels…so today, I am sending an order for a few more books, complete with labels…I was far too busy to plunk myself down to read it yesterday, we got nasty storms, too, but plan to remedy this today.
    I know Lara will enjoy this blog…imagine living in a country where you can walk to meet a strage car in your bathrobe, and not be thought of a nutty, eh? I would have done the same thing!
    Thank you—sometimes my day is just blah, but you fix it right up with stories, and pictures!
    Thank you!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Beverly – your books were already addressed but it’s the thought that counts! Thank you!

  7. Meredith in Cincinnati

    Love to hear about your visitors! When we have traveled in Europe, I often ask people I meet if they have been to America. They often say yes, and usually they have been to New York City, Disney World, or Las Vegas. Love that this couple is seeing the real America. Received my book; what a sweet story of this tiny creature!

  8. Linda

    I read your posts and I think of the lines from Field of Dreams. “Is this heaven? No it’s Iowa.” I so enjoy your pictures and words. My little Scottish Terrier would love your farm!

  9. Tanya T. in Houston

    Not a more patriotic barn anywhere! I just love reading about your surprise visitors! And, thanks for the corn and storm photos. I had just said this week that it’s about time for some corn pictures from near your farm. 🙂
    Of course, it is HOT in Texas. After all, it is summer. Our church stitchery group is getting ready for fall bazaar. One woman is painting a wooden dollhouse. One is needlepointing ornaments. One is wrapping up strips of net for someone else to make round dish scrubbies. One is using clips to hold down biinding on a quilt that someone else will stitch down. I am knitting dishcloths. And that’s just at the table I was sitting yesterday! We even had two grandsons about sixth grade age who were sorting buttons. It takes a village.

  10. Carol R

    You are lucky about the hail. The storm that moved through mid north Indiana n June 25 left us with baseball size hail and thousands of dollars of damage. So far insurance is coming through. Yes I feel that too many foreign travelers miss the true United States. Indiana looks much like Iowa and this was our year for the field behind us to be planted in beans so we are not so hemmed out in. Busy day today as my extension homemakers are hosting a fish fry at the County Fair. My pies are baked!

  11. Cynthia Lucas

    I love to sit on my front porch and watch the storms roll through as well. Hope it’s not to late to send in an order for your book. Thanks for all the great pix ! I so enjoy your post.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Cynthia – it will never be too late to order a book – unless I’m dead.

  12. Brenda L Cornell

    Stunning pictures! Your corn is at least a foot taller than here in Southern Ontario, Canada. And isn’t it wonderful when we open ourselves up for a chance encounter and meet interesting new friends.

  13. Rita in Iowa

    Mary glad you got rain, it skirted around us yet again. This week so far only 4 tenths. Another chance today. We took a carload of items to the dump/recycle as we went through things in the garage.
    Yesterday I was feeling up to par so I too 2 hour+ nap. So far feeling better today.
    If anyone was interested in the Mystery quilt it will be available free till the end of July. Got the last post today to put on borders.
    Hope to do a little sewing today.

  14. Kathy in western NY

    Nice quilts and pictures to admire. Yes we do have lots in this country to see. Our area has a lot of painted barn quilts for visitors to travel around to in our farmland. It’s fun seeing them continually pop up. A man we never met thru another acquaintance is digging out lots of our ferns as they needed thinning and he wanted them for his house, so he wants us to come to his place and grab some flowering plants he needs to thin. Such a fun morning we have had chatting. It looks better already!

  15. Diane in Colorado

    I LOVE Midwest thunderstorms!!! We only very rarely get thunder and lightning in the middle of the night like you all do. Yes, it keeps me awake when it does happen but it is such a reminder of “home” that I simply lay there and soak it all in. Akira doesn’t hear as well as she used to so storms bother her less and less these days. Skyler has never been faxed by storms or fireworks (thankfully!!!!).

    Love that you had unexpected visitors and welcomed them as you did. I’m sure they were tickled to get the chance to go into the very barn they were only expecting to get a photo of!! I love barns. I follow a FB group that is about old and abandoned places in Minnesota and often people post photos of old barns. I always think they are such majestic buildings—huge and so much “wasted” space—not really, but if it was in any other building, it would have another full floor or two under those tall roofs!—and all to house farm animals and hay—I love it!! Oh that I could own my own. It would definitely have a weathervane on top!

  16. Jean Elliott

    Wow..that was so interesting about the couple from Belgium! I love your outdoor pictures.
    Maybe you should look into having a greenhouse built!

  17. Chris J

    Your photos are beautiful, I love seeing how green it is. I live in the west in the desert so green is a somewhat unfamiliar color. Though this year, we had much more snow so things are green and flowering. I love seeing your garden and wonderful new friends.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Tina W in Oregon

    Great post today (as always)! Love Nancy’s caterpillar quilt. Very cute! I have a Pinterest account where I keep my sunset/sunrise, rainbows and storm pictures. They’re so beautiful and majestic. I bet meeting Laura and hubby from Belgium just made your day! We watched for the Northern Lights last night but couldn’t stay awake that late. They were supposed to be able to be seen in Oregon but, alas, we missed them.

  19. Jill Norenberg

    I just received my two “Oh Susannah” books and can’t wait to read to my littlest grandchildren. Thank you!

  20. MN/Jo

    Thank you for the weather photos. I miss that. It’s hard to see weather coming in because of the trees. We are under air quality alert today and tomorrow because of the Canadian wildfires. I so pray for rain up there, so the fires can get controlled. I remember the times I shopped at your place, and falling in love every time.

  21. Marian Stever

    Dear Mary: Oh, this message was so interesting. I think your writing made my day. The Belgium folks were so interesting. They lead a wonderful life. I hope you will keep in touch with them. Their journey to the Black Hills will be impressive to them. I always enjoy your blog and stories about Iowa life. I am looking forward to Oh, Susannah! It’s hot and muggy today and we are hoping for rain in SE MN.

  22. Beryl BC

    Yesterday and today’s blog were full of interesting and beautiful things. Quilts and natural beauty, both! Your visitors from Belgium reminded me of the international travelers we saw when traveling in Utah and Arizona last fall. One group was on a bus tour from Poland, starting in California and traveling as far east as eastern Utah. Others were from Sweden, France and Australia. I would love the cooler weather you talked about when we visit Britt on Aug 12, but I’m expecting the hot, humid stuff. The storms are likely coming our way tomorrow.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Beryl BC – I’m taking Red for the car show on Hobo Day – maybe I’ll see you!

  23. MaureenHP

    There is nothing like a Midwestern summer sky with a storm rolling in or blue sky and huge white clouds.
    How gracious of you to take Lara and her husband into the barn. I hope they encounter folks like you on their travels.

  24. Sheryl Austin

    Am guessing you told her about hosting quilt retreats in the loft. I only got to go once but I so enjoyed. I plan to order your book

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sheryl – yes, I did tell her about the quilt retreats but I’m sure she thought I was crazy because right now it’s very dirty up there where we are storing hay for the goats. Remember the flags hanging above? We rented scaffolding to hang them and now they’re so terribly dusty and dirty that I really feel bad about them.

  25. Barbara Yarnell

    So glad you posted my photo of Jake’s quilt. I see that I have two blocks in the upper right turned the wrong way! Glad to catch that before I quilted it.

    1. Kathy in western NY

      I saved your picture Barbara to my photos on my iPad as I bought that pattern from Mary and have been wanting to make it up. I liked your color choices as it would be soothing to be a good couch quilt. Now I feel bad you have to rip the blocks out in the corner but I didn’t even notice it when I was admiring it. I really do study every picture Mary posts for us but missed that!

    2. Teresa from Port Coquitlam, BC

      I really had to search for the mistake. Isn’t it nice when we notice it before it’s too late. Nice quilt show today. I have to send a picture in of my latest quilt but it’s on my camera so need to hook that up to the computer to take the picture off. Will do that once I’m home again.

  26. Anita

    Mary, I cannot think of anyone on the planet better for these two people to encounter as they explore your part of the country. One of the reasons I love your blog – and you – is that you are so good at explaining and sharing the Iowa/Midwest lifestyle and attitude. I would be willing to bet those people will be telling their friends all about you and your gracious hospitality for a long time. I am sure you blessed their day.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Anita – and I hope Lara signs up for the blog and becomes one of us!

  27. Betty Klosterman

    What wonderful fun, visitors from Belgium. I think if you asked them about foreign visitors to their country, they would say they see the big cities, etc, but not the boonies where the rest of the world lives.
    We see so many visitors from all over the world out here and they are so much fun. We see tons of visitors in the fabric stores and of course, it is instant friendship. I’m ALWAYS asking where people are from and their lives. Same with the airbase. One event comes to mind — While in the dr office, I was visiting with a man sitting next to me. Come to find out, his mother was raised just 2 blocks across the railroad tracks from my house in Clarion, Iowa, and I’m still good friends with his aunt who was in my class! Go figure. Can’t talk about anybody as they are all related!!
    What I miss about Iowa are the tomatoes and the beautiful green grass. NOT the humidity or tornadows…..
    Now coming across South Dakota, please stop at Chamberlain to see Dignity. She is beautiful. A man from Sturgis sculpted her and a classmate of my niece in New Underwood did all the welding on her. It is a small world full of really nice people. And a whole bunch of them are quilters.
    That is what is so great about your blog, Mary. Really great people from all over. Does a person good.
    Take care, everybody, and keep up your good attitude. And don’t forget to laugh, too.
    Betty in Rapid City

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Betty – I believe I’ve seen pictures online of Dignity – I’m going to look now. I can’t imagine all your visitors – must be a surprise to see a familiar face. The blog about nothing is a great group of ordinary friends who live similar lives and talk about very ordinary days. We’re all lucky.

      1. Betty Klosterman

        This fellow was much younger than I was and I’d never seen him. When he graduated, the first thing he did was join the Air Force to get out of town. Our meeting was in the waiting room at a doctors office in Rapid City. I do remember it was a real surprise when we were visiting!

  28. Charlotte S in northern California

    I remember driving through the back roads in Iowa on one of our cross-country trips. I loved seeing all the cornfields. Beautiful country!!! What an interesting story about the couple from Belgium stopping by. You are such a gracious hostess. I’m sure they loved seeing the inside of your barn too. Loved all the pictures today. I so look forward every day to your blog.
    It’s going to be really hot this weekend, so my plans are to stay inside and sew. I’m working on a memory quilt for a friend. I always loved the midwestern storms too. We rarely get thunder and lightning here.

  29. Deb in Idaho

    What a lovely surprise to have someone stop to admire your barn. I love all the open space and love a summer storm with rain. It’s been hot here and not a cloud, so I spend afternoons in side. Love this blog about nothing. Haha

  30. Pamela Dempsey

    I’m glad the couple from Belgium went up your driveway and y’all got to meet! Your yard and plants look so healthy and green. Luckily our grass hasn’t turned brown, we’ve had enough rain. Looked at pictures of last July when we were buying our place and it was mostly dried up. We are still going through excessive heat warnings and it will be so nice for Fall weather to arrive 🍁🍁🍂🌬. I love my Oh, Susannah book, so special! 🥰

  31. Sandy McPherson

    Hi Mary, love the little white dogs and Keeper on the golf cart (does he have his license to drive yet?).Nice to meet people from other countries and learn a bit about their way of life too. Off to sewing Sunday tomorrow at our quilt guild, will help with the charity quilts and do a lot of chatting! Take care everyone, best wishes from Sandy

  32. Jane Velander

    The story about the Belgian couple was the coolest story. Too bad you didn’t still have quilt camp in the barn.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jane – it is so dirty up there now so I’m sure it was hard for them to imagine quilting as a group but it is a sweet memory for me.

  33. Susan S. in central New Jersey

    Was so happy to find “Oh Susannah!” In the mail today! Worried that the USPS might mess up delivery like it did with your last book. How nice you took so many pictures of Susannah over the years. I love the book! We take so many digital pictures now with our phones, unlike back when we used regular cameras and the cost of film and the number of pictures left on a roll were a consideration. My cousin was visiting the other day and asked didn’t I have a pet duck when I was a kid? Yes I did, in the suburban town in northern New Jersey where I grew up. I bet there are only a handful of pictures of Quacker and our beagle Mike together, who became great friends. Quacker would waddle along the sidewalk behind us when I took Mike for a walk.
    The pictures of the fields and sky are wonderful. You gave the visitors from Belgium a lovely story to tell when they get back home about Iowa!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Susan S – and YOU could write a story about Quacker and Mike!!! Thank you for the compliments on the book – the story is very dear to my heart.

  34. Carol

    Mary, I received my book and thoroughly enjoyed every page, word and pictures! Thank you for sharing your life with us all. God bless.

  35. Dee from Shell Rock

    Isn’t life great? Who knew that Belguim would come to you! It’s Friday afternoon here and it just rained buckets. I was in the car and just sat there for about 10 minutes. I was listening to a book on tape, Aurora Teagarden, and it wasn’t a hardship to sit there. I love the quilt with the pinwheels and caterpillars. So Cute! and always the animal pictures. Have a great weekend.

  36. Linda

    I love your barn so much!!!! No-there is not one like it in Mn either…..

    We hadn’t had rain since the middle of May–so–last night quarter size hail—It is so sad to see some of my flowers and the dents in my car….

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Linda – oh no! Hail? I was holding my breath during the storm because the overhead clouds were a constant continuous rumble – a sure sign of hail somewhere. I’ve seen fields completely pulverized by hail!

  37. Judy - Michigan

    Yes I love summer. All of it, storm inclyded as ling as there is no damage.
    Hope Rick is doing well with his hip. I had mine done first of April. Doing well after 3 months PT. Trouble is arthritis is still the real culprit.
    Still loving your blog!

  38. Diane, Squeak, Buddy in Central Ohio

    It looks like Hazel approves of your visitors😃. That is neat they stopped because of your beautiful barn. I love the two quilts today. Some little person will love the bugs ( pattern??) and some bigger person will love the pretty “Jake’s Quilt. Very nice work on both. I hope Ric continues to do well with his hip. It does take time. The rain keeps skipping us and we need it. Hot here.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Diane – we’re 3 weeks out from surgery and things look better. He can even get something out of the frig !

  39. Sue in Oregon

    What fun to have a couple from Belgium stop in! Looks like Hazel enjoyed their visit too.

    Beautiful photos of the storm, Mary. We rarely get thunder here and it always seems to happen in the middle of the night. When we do, they tend to be really loud but move through quickly. The worst though, is that they often start forest fires.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sue – and I forget about forest fires – such a foreign event for me. We see it on the news however and I would be terrified. Oh, the damage!

  40. Janet S

    Wonderful comments and pictures today. The quilts are great. It’s amazing how wonderful our world really is when you can make new friends while sitting at home in your bathrobe. Imagine being able to travel to another continent for an entire month each year. How lucky for Lara and husband. They sure must have interesting stories to tell.
    Our next door neighbors went camping for the weekend so we feed their outdoor cat. He absolutely knows the routine and comes here for food and petting(and spoiling). The trouble is we are having a new cement sidewalk put in today so we will have to stay vigilant to keep him at arms length. Oh well, I guess cat footprints aren’t all that bad.

  41. Ann in Virginia

    Mary, I got your lovely book today and I cried!!!!! Thank you for sharing with us.

    It is so sweet and for pet lovers it is so meaningful.
    And, yes, I will send you a copy of my book when it is finished–a labor of love.

    I am ordering two more copies of your book! Checks in the mail tomorrow!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Ann – thank you, Ann! I hope you have some kiddos to read to!

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