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Opinions

The need for butt glue

Food For Thought

“I think it’s writer’s block,” my friend said. “I can’t seem to think of anything interesting to write about.”
This, from a talented woman who writes delightful poetry and entertaining essays, and has something new to share with the writers’ group at nearly every twice-a-month meeting.
“Take an imaginary tour of your grandmother’s house,” someone suggested.
Others said, “Write about one of those old family anecdotes that get told at family reunions or around the dinner table on Thanksgiving.”
And, “Do you have any relatives who might be called ‘characters’?”

No more beer

Walkin'

As you read this it has been one full month since I’ve consumed a cocktail or beer. It hasn’t been easy, but the choice was a no-brainer: gout has been ravaging one foot or another these past four months and it was time to decide whether to give up being able to walk or quaff.
It’s been a good run, however.

How many trees do you need?

Food For Thought

Because I live in the woods with more than my share of trees, I forget that one of our environmental concerns is we don’t have enough trees to absorb the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere. Whether happy coincidence or divine plan, it doesn’t matter, the fact that plants use carbon dioxide and manufacture oxygen holds the possible solution to the unbalance that is causing our environment to become less suitable for the sustenance of animal life—and that includes us humans.

Falling apart

Walkin'

As I approach 63, I find more and more things simply can’t be done any more.
Like driving a golf ball. In my prime, during the rare event when I actually hit it where aimed, my ball might actually be in a position to reach the green in regulation. And if my aim was off, at least the shot would go two, sometimes, three fairways over.

A little bit of water

Food For Thought

I don’t know why, but my mother firmly believed that a lawn and garden weren’t complete without a pond, stream, fountain or, at the very least, a birdbath. Dad apparently agreed, for he managed to provide a small body of water in the back yard of every place we lived.
While I don’t remember it, I have photos of a fish pond that was in the back yard of the house where I was born. It featured a little waterfall that tumbled over some rocks on its way to the pond, and a weeping willow tree that drooped picturesquely over its west edge.

Golfing again

Walkin'

With Sabra’s retirement from the veterinary clinic, we have more time to do things together like golf, at least in theory.
When I first started dating her, she played several times a week. Naturally athletic, she was playing a fairly competitive game, which I found unnerving. Not that I can’t stand being beat by a woman; it was the way I was getting hammered.

The harvest

Food For Thought

Dad’s dream of raising all the food for his family came closer and closer to reality as the fruit trees and berry bushes he planted came into production. He had planted just about everything in the nursery catalogs they claimed would survive southern Iowa winters, and we were beginning to enjoy the difference between store-bought and tree-ripened fruit. We also had a number of things that, for years, had been standards in gardens across the Midwest. Rhubarb and ground cherries, horseradish, grapes, asparagus and other things that, once planted, came back reliably every spring.

The Iowa City history tour

Walkin'

One of my projects this summer has been developing a bicycling tour of Iowa City. The tour is 16 miles long and typically begins at the Agudas Achim Cemetery on the north edge of the city.

Gardening with Dad

Food For Thought

Dad spent most evenings reading, an activity I understood and appreciated. What I didn’t know was just what he was reading. I realized, years later, that he had been boning up on farming and animal husbandry. He was dead serious about raising most of the food his family would eat, and he didn’t want to waste time, money and effort doing it wrong. He also sought advice from Mother’s brothers and father, who had farmed all their lives.

The acreage, Washington Street

Food For Thought

From the time my parents first came to Knoxville, a couple years before I was born, Dad had his eye on a small acreage that was located on the southeast edge of town. Just short of 10 acres, it had once been a commercial cherry orchard. There was a big, two-story house, built around 1900; a small barn with attached lean-to that served as a machine shed; an old corn crib converted to a chicken house; and the remnants of a small pear orchard. Some black walnut trees and a couple unidentified apple trees grew in a sloping pasture that stopped at what is now Highway 5.

Fish fry surprise

Walkin'

Benders Fishing Camp, epilogue:
What’s left to do after a week of near-perfect fishing?
Fry, baby, fry!
The key to good cooking, I long ago decided, is to start with really wholesome ingredients and then don’t mess it up.
At no time is this philosophy more important. There simply is nothing better than fillets from plate-sized blue gill caught in the still cool waters of North Minnesota in late spring. The meat is just so fresh, firm and sweet.

Summer days on First Street

Food For Thought

There was always something special about an early morning in summer. Possibly it was because the day hadn’t yet heated up, there was a fresh coolness that belied the promise of another sizzling July day.
When I was about seven or eight years old, the house we lived in was located on South First Street in Knoxville. It faced west, the front yard shaded by a row of mature American Elm trees that hadn’t yet been exposed to the devastation of Dutch Elm Disease. There were two gooseberry bushes flanking the door to the screened front porch, and the grass grew sparsely in the limited sunlight.