country market loot, rock island days

Update from the Quad Cities: Rock Island Days

augustana college, rock island days

It’s been about two months since we moved to Rock Island, Illinois, which is one of the Quad Cities.

(The other three are Moline, Davenport and Bettendorf. The jury is still out on whether or not we picked the right one.)

Taido took a job at beautiful Augustana College. He is teaching theology in the building pictured above, which is Augustana’s Old Main. (so fancy!)

augustana college, rock island days

We enter the campus by walking over this lovely little bridge and through the woods.

augustana college, rock island days

The college is the nicest place I’ve found to go for walks, so I keep going back there.

augustana college, rock island days

There’s even a little path along a slough, which I don’t think is such a nice word, but it’s beautiful even if it is a “swampy area.”

augustana college, rock island days

Sometimes Simon walks with me around the campus after school,

augustana college, rock island days

and sometimes I walk by myself.

augustana college, rock island days

My parents have already been up for a visit! And my sister has been over as well, so we’ve gotten to show off the college a bit.

Rock Island Days, Mississippi River, Bike Trail

In 2013 we moved to Scotland as a family of six.

Then in 2016 we moved to Germany as a family of four.

Rock Island Days, Mississippi River, Bike Trail

And now we are three.

It’s been a challenging set of changes for me for sure, doing another move and sending Ben off to school all at once.

But we’re only a few hours away from Ben and Mary Polly (as well as my sister and her family), so that helps.

And I’m slowly trying to explore my new surroundings. Bit by bit.

Rock Island Days, Mississippi River, Bike Trail

We’ve gotten out on the Mississippi River bike trail a few times. The river is the border between Illinois and Iowa in the Quad Cities, so I find that I’m crossing back and forth often between the two states.

downtown rock island

When I’m not out with the Taido and Simon, I’m exploring on my own.

Rock Island Days, Mississippi River, Bike Trail

I made use of this bench for a long afternoon one day to write.

Rock Island Public Library, Rock Island Days

I’ve gotten a library card and am already a regular visitor, of course.

Rock Island Library Card

I’ve been to the local farmers’ market and to health food stores.

rock island days, country corner

I visited a farm that was in full fall festivities.

rock island days, u pick raspberries

I went to pick raspberries, but they were very buggy.

buggy berries

However, I persevered and managed to bring home a couple of pints of berries without bugs on them.

country market loot, rock island days

Plus I bought a few other treasures at the farm store, including fresh apple cider and cider doughnuts.

And miraculously I did not break down and cry when I saw all the wagons full of preschoolers visiting the petting zoo and picking out pumpkins. (I find I am breaking into tears at the littlest things these days.)


But mostly I have been puttering around the house we have rented.

I’m working a bit. (I edited a big project last month, as well as a few smaller ones.)

I’m having a go at keeping house plants, which is new for me.


I’ve framed some prints of the Lake District that I’ve carried around for four or five years.


They remind me of some of my favorite walks.


In fact, I’ve started to make some walking plans for next year and I think having these prints hanging up might be the inspiration.

sprouting mung beans

I’m making my own sprouts.

I’ve expanded my kombucha brewing.

sourdough bread

And of course, I’m still baking sourdough bread.

cutting sourdough bread

Every. Day.

sketch pad

I’ve starting doing one small sketch every day.

I’m using this curriculum I’ve had from my Mama Polly since the kids were young.

She wrote it for fourth graders, so that’s about right for me.

sketch a day polly loibner

I love seeing her handwriting and reading her instructions.

The lessons were written to accompany her television program from long, long ago.


I’m also learning Spanish on DuoLingo. I’ve become obsessed with staying at the top of my leader board. Join me?

A few other things I’m reading/watching that I’m enjoying/finding interesting:

When They See UsThis is the Netflix series about the five men who were wrongly accused as The Central Park Five, who are now known as The Exonerated Five. It’s brilliantly done. Excruciating and so important. I love everything Ava DuVernay directs because she is always telling more than the story that is right in front of you. In When They See Us, she’s telling a story about every young man who’s ever been wrongly accused. And she’s telling a story about how hard it is for family members to hold up those they love who are in prison. She’s telling a story about what it’s like to try to find a job after you’ve been released from prison. She is telling the story of these five young men, but ultimately, she is telling a story about America.

The 1619 Project: 400 years ago the first African slaves arrived in America. Nikole Hannah-Jones spearheaded a project to release a collection of essays that are an opportunity to pause and consider how the decision to allow and depend on slavery in America has shaped our nation. There is also a podcast version of the project. Particularly compelling is the episode on how our American economy has been and continues to be shaped by the legacy of slavery.

Jemar Tisby’s account of the opening of The Elaine Massacre Memorial:

100 years ago this week, there was a racially motivated massacre of over 200 black men, women and children in the small town of Elaine, Arkansas. I went to Elaine a couple of years ago to see if there was any evidence of the violent events that took place there in 1919 and only found a small plaque. I’m hopeful that the new memorial will be a help for all Arkansans in reckoning with the insidious racism that so often remains buried.

I found both The Sun is Also A Star and This Beautiful Fantastic to be absolutely delightful to watch. I’ve also been writing to the soundtracks of both films.

And a few books I’ve loved lately include:

Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor

Kindred by Octavia Butler (I can’t believe I’ve never read anything by her!)

My Midsummer Morning: Rediscovering a Life of Adventure by Alistair Humphreys

rock island

That’s about it for me. We’re headed for the woods this weekend to kick off Simon’s fall break. I’m happy about some time around a campfire.

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