Iowa Rain verses Pretty Shoes

 Several pairs of my shoes have been flooded out. So far this year, over 40 inches of precipitation have graced the fair community of Cedar Rapids. That’s right – and we still have three of our “tradtionally wet months” ahead of us!


Normally, I wouldn’t go off on a rant for this blog, but sometimes the Iowa weather makes me cranky. It makes everybody I know cranky. I find myself wishing I owned stock in a flip-flop company!




 Frankly, we midwesterners are extremely weather-sensitive. The very first decision we make each and every day depends on the weather: what to wear. And this year (actually last year must be included as we remember THE flood) we  must decide what shoes we can or cannot wear based on how many inches of rain have been predicted. 

I mean,  don’t misunderstand – I am fully aware of heartland beauty. I appreciate each season with its unique spectrum of colors, and spicey or earthy scents, and comforting ambience.

But then it rains.

Every season.


    So yeah, I’d wear these to work! 


Dianne Ross

Interior Designer/Phelan’s Interiors



Post-flood thunderheads

Dianne Ross photo


As my post from last week looked at the partnership of beauty and chaos, and as the flood waters recede, the people of Iowa find ourselves seeing more and more of these exact images.  2000 homes have been condemed. 20,000 volunteers have been diligent in their efforts.                 

                     Devastation and recovery.  Darkness and light. Yin and Yang.

The clouds put on quite a performance as I was driving back into Cedar Rapids last Friday.   As sunset approached I shot the schizophrenic thunderheads in their confused glory. One side was sugar white, fluffy, fairytale clouds full of hope and the other was as black as a betrayed heart, fearful, saturated with doom and gloom.  Once again nature was showing all sides of the argument simultaneously like a couple of innocent children in the backseat punching each other. And if the enormous size of the visual battle wasn’t enough, Mother Earth wasn’t quite satsified with her bedazzled sunset. She added a Bobby Flay Throw-down sunbeam! 

            What does any of this have to do with interior design, you ask?

Well . . .  nothing.  Almost nothing.  But, whenever something grabs your attention because of the seeming paradox, pay attention. It’s all there: color, proportion, texture, continuity, beauty, catastrophe, drama, awe, contrast and balance. Odd bedfellows indeed, but a visual and emotional Throw-down, a real feast. You might even shoot a photo out the car window while driving down Interstate 380!

To be continued . . .


Dianne Ross / Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors






Brian Ray Photo


Hello everybody! Wow – what a week.


 While eyes from all over the country were following our weather pattern and devastation via the news, I got caught up on viewing the story through photographs. The reason for that is because I left town Thursday afternoon. I got outta Dodge.

My week away from Cedar Rapids was , in fact, planned and on the schedule. I have a nephew moving from St. Louis to Austin.  So my sister and I had planned a road trip in her packed, stuffed-to-the max car to get some of his belongings to Texas.

Then the rains began. I got out before 380 was closed. We had great weather on the road, but visually, I was out of contact with Cedar Rapids. People from all over the country were calling my cell phone and checking in on Cedar Rapids and my family. To all of you – thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

 I selected this photo taken in Coralville for the beauty found in chaos and crisis. The juxtaposition of beauty and nightmare are captured perfectly – and that’s how the week played out for many Iowans. They stood shoulder to shoulder and helped each other through it – and are working still.

 All of you are in my thoughts and prayers.


Dianne Ross / Interior Designer

Phelan’s Interiors