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Opinions

Stop bugging me

Food For Thought

I seem to forget that I have central air-conditioning and don’t have to suffer and suffocate during those first hot and humid days that pop up unexpectedly after a string of pleasant, breezy spring days. It’s usually some time after lunch when I start to wonder if I’m coming down with something. I seem to have a fever. I feel damp and clammy. I get short of breath after the slightest effort. Then, it dawns on me. Oh, it’s hot in here. I open a couple windows and let a breeze drift through the house. Nice, but no cooler. I’m still sweating.

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Gun control

Not so much

According to author Bill Bryson in his wonderful book “A Sunburned Country,” Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else.
“Of the world’s 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian,” Bryson wrote. “This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip.”
So it’s a good thing that humans in Australia can no longer be counted as a mortal threat, at least when it comes to mass murder.

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Hello, I’m back for now

Walkin'

I’m not sure if I’ll start writing a regular column again, but I wanted to check in with regular readers who noticed that I quit several months back with no explanation.
The reasons I stopped are many.

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John Kevin Wallace

John Kevin Wallace, 53, of North Liberty, passed away Sunday, June 19, 2016, at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City. A Graveside service at St. John’s Cemetery in Lisbon will take place at a later date.

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Coming home again

Food For Thought

Feet are for dancing, for prowling ferny valleys, splashing shoeless in the rain, for scaling daunting heights, for traveling alien roads... and coming home again.

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Suffering from the epizoodic

Food For Thought

When I was still a toddler nearing 3 years old, I frequently suffered from a mysterious malady my mother called “the epizoodic.” Dr. Ralston, who made house calls, left a tiny envelope of little pink pills for my mother to give me as needed. The symptoms varied; headache, blurry vision, congestion, slight fever, drowsiness, runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, cough, sometimes I even had a rash. It felt like a common cold more than anything else, except it often disappeared after just a day or two, while colds tend to hang on for a couple weeks.

Define the word “play”

Food For Thought

There was a time when the boys of summer were really boys and what they did was play baseball– with the emphasis on the word “play.” Most of the time, their games were variations of the game because there were seldom enough players to make up two teams for a regulation game. The equipment consisted of whatever bats, balls and mitts the boys involved happened to own or borrow, and the playing field was a vacant lot if they were lucky, or the middle of the street if they were not.

Aunts

Food For Thought

Agnes came every summer on the train from Milwaukee, wearing silk blouses, costume jewelry and too much perfume. Married twice with no children of her own, she doted on her four nieces. Agnes brought us glamour; evening sweaters, cobwebby nylon stockings, after-bath lotion– things too sophisticated for young teenagers. I often thought her gifts odd, but looking back, I think she knew exactly what she was doing by nourishing our adolescent daydreams. Agnes was small-boned and dark-haired with beautiful violet eyes.

It’s for the birds

Food For Thought

About six weeks ago, I watched a robin building a nest on the top of an outdoor light fixture on my deck. Since we first extended the deck to connect an added back porch to the existing deck, there has been a robin’s nest there every summer. Before, we usually put our Christmas tree out on the deck after New Year’s Day as shelter for the birds that came to the bird feeders. Many springs found us forced to delay disposing of the dried-out tree because a robin nest was neatly built in its branches.

Spare the rod - please!

Food For Thought

It’s been a while since I heard anyone repeat what was once an often-used phrase, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” It was thought that an undisciplined child (as in a child who was not spanked regularly) was headed for a life of crime, or at least a life of self-indulgence and conflict with authority.

The demise of downtown

Food For Thought

It used to be every little town had a business area centered around a park, a courthouse, municipal offices, schools or churches. My hometown of Knoxville still has its castle-like county courthouse, but the business area is rapidly disappearing as the outlying shopping malls, motels and fast food businesses pop up at an amazingly rapid rate.

The class of ‘52

Food For Thought

“One out of every three people over 80 will fall this year,” my friend Russ wrote to me. Russ is the classmate who went rafting on the Amazon three years ago and the one who bungee-jumped off a bridge in Australia to celebrate his 80th birthday. I doubt if he worries much about falling but he did wonder why, as we grow older, we get shorter and our feet get bigger. I’m not sure I know the answer to that but I suspect it is Mother Nature looking out for us. After all, if we are shorter, we haven’t so far to fall, and with bigger feet, we have a broader base to help keep our balance.