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Opinions

The invisible They

Food for Thought

All my life I’ve been mystified by the knowledge and expertise of that enigmatic, all-knowing being known as They. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. They say teenagers need more sleep than adults because their bodies are growing and changing so fast. They say it is better to give than to receive. They seem to have an answer for everything and we seldom question their authority. Yet, nobody ever says just who They are. Why do we put so much faith in someone nobody seems to actually know personally?

Luck and love in Rome

Walkin'

Our second bike tour, a panoramic cruise of Rome, began at 5 p.m., and we were determined to use public transportation to get to the start.
With the help of several strangers, we were able to get on the correct bus, transfer twice onto the correct trains and select the correct direction to walk from the last station to the tour beginning. As I’ve attested many times in this space, Sabra and I have made getting lost into an art so it was with some gratitude for blind luck that we arrived at the beginning of the bike tour two hours early.

The demise of magic

Food for Thought

For centuries, magicians have guarded their secrets from the rest of us on the principle that, once we know how the trick is done, it loses its entertainment value. They were right, of course, and as we gain an understanding of those little mysteries, we lose our sense of wonder and the pleasure of being mystified by the cleverness of it all.

Driving, Italian style

Walkin'

There are no traffic laws in Italy, just polite suggestions.
It’s like going to a tavern and ordering a Margarita. The bartender might suggest Jose Cuervo, but he won’t think twice if you ask for Don Julio.

Rhubarb by any other name …

food for thought

My mother called it “pie plant,” and my dad, by example, taught me that all treats don’t necessarily have to be sweet-tasting. Dad was big on what I came to think of as “grazing” in the garden. He’d pull up a radish, baby carrot, or little green onion, brush off the soil and eat it right there, standing amid the rows of growing vegetables he’d planted weeks earlier.

Only in Italy!

walkin'

After an evening of sharing beers and swapping stories with Udo and Trixie, the German motorcycle riders in Rome for the Harley convention, we called it a night.
The bed in our bungalow was thin but very comfortable, so we slept well. Nevertheless, jet lag left us– or, at least me– a little off-center in the morning. Besides messing up my sleep cycle, mal de Lufthansa plays havoc with my dietary routine. Basically, I want to eat six meals a day, three on Iowa time and three Roman. So it was with a little weariness and a lot of hunger that we made our way to the camp restaurant.

Silence on the phone

Food for Thought

There is something eerily askew about a phone call to the telephone company that does not require anyone to speak a single word at the actual time. This happen periodically when my land line develops an annoying hum that makes it impossible for me to understand a single word from someone who calls me. I can barely hear, let alone understand what they are saying, but they can apparently hear and understand me perfectly well.

Welcome to Rome, varoom

walkin'

To ease the sense of claustrophobia while flying, we’ve taken to booking aisle seats, even if it means Sabra and I don’t sit together. One of the secrets to a happy marriage, we’ve discovered, is not sharing an armrest on long flights. I regretted this on our leg from Cedar Rapids to Chicago, however, as I was neighbors with one of the world’s grumpiest men. When I accidentally touched his foot with mine, he threatened to call the stewardess if I couldn’t contain myself better.
No doubt he was also a Cardinals fan.

Pointing the finger of blame

Food for Thought

I guess it’s human nature to try to find someone to blame when unpleasant things happen. We don’t want to shoulder the guilt all by ourselves. Maybe we believe it will be easier to put up with trouble, loss, failure, and all those other unpleasant things if we can dump it on somebody else.
I’ve always tried to be philosophical about such things, and truly believe that, often, things just happen and they’re nobody’s fault. There isn’t always an explanation, or a reason for disasters except, perhaps, for just plain bad luck that isn’t anybody’s fault.

Food for Thought

Going bananas

I’ve been helping my friend Lois Muehl put together a book of poetry she’s written over the past few years. This isn’t her first book, or even her first book of poetry, as she’s been writing for most of her ninety-three years, having sold her first effort at age eight. A retired professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa, she has published scholarly works, magazine articles, light verse, children’s stories, travel pieces– you name it. You’ve probably chuckled over some of her short witticisms that, over the years, appeared in The Readers’ Digest and other publications.

Food for Thought

Bird-watching?

Species: Snow-crested Female. (Common name. Older Iowa Woman.) This individual is usually mated to the Gray-bearded Male (also known as the Grizzled Old Codger), though she often outlives her mate. A rare number can be found who have never chosen a mate but are not significantly different from all others of the species.

Walkin'

Death by Jenga

The day before starting our big trip to Rome and then on to Sicily for my niece’s wedding, disaster struck Sabra personally three times.
First Pearl, our labradoodle, managed to get her anxiety medication off the middle of the kitchen island and eat a 30-day supply. Regular readers will know that we just went through this ordeal a few weeks ago, and we should be old pros at it by now. Since the two-dollars-a-pop pills don’t contain any real drugs– only herbs– they are as harmless as setting six sawbucks on fire and dropping them into a large, empty, metal trashcan.