[Spencer Daily Reporter nameplate] Overcast ~ 78°F  
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Friday, July 25, 2014
Repurposing bug hasn't caught me (07/21/14)
Shabby chic came into vogue in the decorating world a decade or so ago. Poufy couches covered in vintage linens, and romantic muted tones were the hallmarks of that decor. Tuscan, modern and now industrial chic are all styles which have made their way into homes. ...
Telling stories (07/14/14)
I can't start my column without taking a moment for a big "CONGRATULATIONS" to the cast and crew of the Spencer Community Theatre's children's theatre teen production of "Into the Woods." I attended opening night and there were no signs of opening night jitters. The cast handled the sometimes-tricky Sondheim musical with grace and pizazz. I would stand that show up to adult productions any day of the week...
Making a living AND a life (07/07/14)
I made a vow to myself Thursday as I prepared for the long holiday weekend. This year I would not spend the time catching up on housework. I would not scrub my kitchen floor. Or sort through my junk drawer. Or clean that spare room that has been acting as catch-all for a busy life...
All-American pursuits (06/30/14)
Where has our summer gone? Friday is, impossibly, the Fourth of July. Somehow I got too busy with this and that and a bit more of this, and failed to notice that summer had eased right in and is zooming right by. I intend to rectify that this weekend. I want a good, old-fashioned Iowa Lakes Corridor July Fourth...
Why the weather? (06/23/14)
I didn't really think about it much as I sat in my basement in the early morning hours last week. It wasn't on my mind last weekend as I celebrated a family wedding with storm clouds rolling above our heads. I admit it did start to tickle my brain as my staff and I took shelter during yet another tornado warning on Thursday. ...
Making magical memories (06/16/14)
We've all got emotional touchstones -- places, things, events -- which fill our hearts. For some folks, it's an annual ritual, like a family weekend in July at the lake. For others, it's a car, perhaps a 1965 Mustang, or a beat-up Monte Carlo. My heart fills whenever my six siblings and I can gather under one roof. ...
Sky's the limit vacations (06/09/14)
School's out. Warm weather is here. It's summer vacation season. I grew up in a family where summer vacations meant packing the nine of us into the family station wagon (fighting over who had to sit in the rear-facing back seat), pulling the canvas tent out of the attic, and hitting the road...
Goodbye, and hello again (06/02/14)
The literary world was in the news this week, with the loss of one of its gifted and beloved lights -- Maya Angelou -- and the news of the possible rebirth of a television show that showed a generation that reading was cool -- "Reading Rainbow." Angelou's position as an elder statesman of our nation's literary establishment, and an articulate survivor of the birth of the civil rights movement, was not in doubt. ...
Summer to-do list is long (05/26/14)
It starts on Memorial Day -- my quest for a "perfect" summer. I mentally make a summer bucket list -- "to-dos" before Labor Day rolls around. There are some constants -- chimichangas at the Taco House, bike rides on the area's extensive trail system, strolling the aisles in the barns at the Iowa State Fair...
Dear graduates (05/12/14)
Your big day is almost here! You're pretty excited, I'm sure. While I probably appear to you to be of an age where studies were done in one-room schools, with the abacus and chalk, I still remember those giddy May days leading up to my high school graduation. The memories still make me smile...
Time to celebrate (05/05/14)
It's a week of celebrations. On Saturday evening, the Clay County Regional Events Center celebrated 10 years in Spencer with a reception prior to the show by the incomparable Bill Cosby. The celebration was festive, and the comedy that followed reminded us all of the genius of Cosby. It was a great night in Spencer!...
Determination, goals, helped Winther succeed (04/28/14)
"Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen." -- Horace Mann The newest member of a very small club has lived the words of Horace Mann. Spencer's newest Citizen of the Year, Merlyn Winther, decided at a young age that he would defy the bullies of the school yard. ...
Here's to a safe spring planting season (04/21/14)
Spring is here, and in Iowa, like much of the Midwest, that means farmers are getting in the field, preparing for spring planting. Every year, it seems we hear about auto-farm equipment accidents on our area roadways. It's important for both the car and implement operators to take special precautions on the road...
Temperature, and calendar, heating up (04/07/14)
It helps to have a short memory when you live in Iowa. I prefer to forget the snow we had just the other day, and focus instead on the spring-like forecast on tap for this week. March may have been a lion, but April had better be lamb-like. There are too many exciting things happening this month -- we don't need Mother Nature butting in. ...
Luckier than Caesar (03/31/14)
"Beware the Ides of March." -- Julius Caesar, WIlliam Shakespeare You'll have to excuse the literary reference, but I cannot recall ever being so darn happy to see March slide out the door. While I must admit to being luckier than Julius Caesar, who failed to heed the warning of the soothsayer and was stabbed at work (a meeting of the Roman Senate), March 2014 was more wild and wooly than I ever imagined...
Helping to contribute a verse (03/17/14)
Can we just take a moment to appreciate, in these academic days of "teaching to the test" and school funding tied to where schools are located on a very rigid chart, the Spencer school board has shown its commitment to something more ethereal, less easily tested, and more vital, I assert, to the soul -- the arts...
Pulling heartstrings on the hard court (03/10/14)
I'm a sucker for the sweet sports story. As a kid, I cried my eyes out watching the tale of a young athlete dying young in "Brian's Song." The story of Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers' friendship in the early days of integration of sports teams still holds a place in my heart...
The 'selfie' seen round the world (03/03/14)
Sometimes, all the stars align and a social media moment explodes. That's what happened Sunday night at the Oscars, when a group of gazillionaires eagerly crowded together (along with Lupita Nyong'o's brother -- blocking Angelina Jolie in a photo for the first time in her exquisite life -- for the selfie to end all selfies. It was like a bunch of high school cheerleaders at halftime......
A little bit about a lot of things (02/17/14)
The Daily Reporter is once again seeking nominations for Spencer's Citizen of the Year. Last year's winners, John and Mary Rahn, were perfect examples of residents who went that extra mile -- year after year -- to help make their home a better place for everyone to live in...
Living without labels (02/10/14)
"Once you label me you negate me." -- Soren Kierkegaard I've been thinking a lot about labels these days. "Conservative" "Liberal" "Rich" "Poor" "Gay" "Straight" "Strong" "Weak" Labels are a convenient way for us to not have to get to know someone very well. ...
Lessons from classics (02/03/14)
Flying home from a business trip this past Friday, I chose to spend the night with my nephew and his family in Omaha, rather than make a middle-of-the-night drive. While I've often made the late night trip, flurries at the airport, and the opportunity to spend some quality time with my adorable 16-month-old great-nephew on Saturday morning made the choice to stay pretty easy...
The blizzard that wasn't (01/28/14)
Is it just me, or do Mother Nature's moods seem to be a mirror image of those of a 51-year-old woman? (No nasty emails, please, I speak from experience.) Here we are, preparing to say goodbye to January, and there is barely a skiff of snow on the ground. The wind, however, is howling, and the temperature is in the sub-arctic range...
Calling foul on bad behavior (01/21/14)
I had to read the headline twice. "Indianola-Lincoln game marred by six Rails technicals in one quarter." That's right, a high school boys basketball game in Iowa saw 12 technical free throws shot (and all made); a player and a coach ejected from the game for two technicals each; and two other members of the same squad whistled for technical fouls -- all in one quarter of play...
Olympics will hurry winter along (01/14/14)
I'm gonna just say it loud and proud. I really, really, REALLY don't like winter. Perhaps, as a child, I frolicked in the snow. Maybe I loved pulling on my snow pants and boots and running out to make a snowman. I just don't recall any of those joyful cold weather moments...
Winter's not so long these days (01/07/14)
As a child, a no-school day like Monday, with bone-chilling cold, would have been a perfect chance to spend the day curled up with a book. A frigid forecast meant a free pass to hours spent between the covers of a favorite story. For many years, that may have been a tale by Laura Ingalls Wilder...
Closing a book, and opening another (12/31/13)
With 2013 coming to a close, it's nice to reflect on the year that was. Nationally, our government illustrated the definition of "dysfunction," fighting over just about everything, probably even the Friday Special in the Congressional dining room. Here's hoping 2014 brings an understanding to our elected leaders that they were selected in order to serve the people - not their own interests...
The reason for the season (12/24/13)
For over 30 years, I've made my living with words. I write to paint a mental picture, evoke an emotion, clarify a situation. However, as we celebrate this most holy of days, my words aren't enough. My words can't capture the wonder and the awe of the reason for the season...
Caring hearts make program successful (12/17/13)
As I reflected on another successful Holiday Family Adoption Program, checking off the details that go into wrapping up the program, I began to think about all the people who work to make it successful. Families, who make the program a holiday tradition...
Turning up the holiday spirit (12/10/13)
I'm blaming the late Thanksgiving this year for my current state of Christmas crazy. With just over two weeks until the holiday, my tree looks dismally short of presents. My baking is behind, and I have yet to finish my holiday decorating. In talking with friends and co-workers, I have a feeling I'm not alone in my pre-holiday panic. We are all coming to the realization that, although it just seems we've pushed away from the Thanksgiving table, it's time to plan that Christmas dinner...
Giving spirit on display in program (12/03/13)
Wow! We live in a pretty super community. Have you ever taken the time to think about the myriad of ways in which we as a community support each other? Whether it's in volunteers who guide our youth in 4-H, athletics, or the arts; or organizations like the Dream Center, local churches, or Upper Des Moines Opportunity, which lift up families in need; or the special angels at organizations like Shayla Bee, which shine light in lives at the darkest of hours; good-hearted people make this such a special place.. ...
Having an attitude of gratitude (11/26/13)
I have a niece who, along with being beautiful and smart, has a heart the size of Nebraska, the state in which she makes her home. Every day, without exception, this exceedingly special young woman posts a picture on her Facebook page, with some Twitter-style hashtags, about something for which she is grateful, or blessed by. It could be family, a beautiful sunset, a bag full of new "teacher" clothes for her upcoming student-teaching semester...
Fifty years after Camelot (11/19/13)
Don't let it be forgot That once there was a spot ... For one brief shining moment called Camelot ... The attention of the nation's news shows has turned to a somber anniversary this week, marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy...
Of food, and food for thought (11/12/13)
One of the great things about being in the newspaper business is that you're privy to information about the really important things that tie communities together. I'm not talking about back channel agreements or impending economic development deals. I'm talking about knowing when, and where, all the church soup and pie suppers, firehouse breakfasts, and fundraising dinners are going to be held...
Warm your heart during these cold days (11/05/13)
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. A fire would be delightful. But, the gloomy weather does indicate my favorite time of the year is right around the corner. It's time for the annual Holiday Family Adoption kick-off. On today's front page, you see the first set of families in need of "adoption" this holiday season...
Animal, criminal? (10/29/13)
Crime stories make for compelling reading. Online traffic statistics prove it locally - folks do like to read about crimes. The popularity of shows like "Law and Order" and the "NCIS" franchise prove it out as well. And, I'll admit I find myself perusing the national and local news for stories of nefarious criminals. I've noticed in the past week a disturbing trend in crime headlines - crimes involving animals...
Bringing up baby (10/22/13)
You'll have to excuse me, but I've got babies on the brain lately. There's been a bit of a baby boom around my family, friends and colleagues. I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time in the baby section of stores lately, finding the perfect shower or birth present. For someone with no plans for being a grandma for a long time, I've learned a lot about the new do's and don'ts of raising children. And, I've found out how little I know about child rearing in the new millennium...
Week commemorates big parts of my life (10/08/13)
I never realized until Monday that this week - Oct. 6-12 - is a pretty big one in my life. Sure, I knew my anniversary fell during the week, but in looking at the calendar, it's also National 4-H Week and National Newspaper Week. What are the odds that three institutions that mean so much to me are all celebrated during the same week?...
Real politics is stranger than fiction (10/01/13)
FADE IN: INT. THE MURAL ROOM -- NIGHT On the right hand side of the table sit the Republican Congressional leadership. On the left, the president and staff. The president stands. Everyone else follows. The speaker of the house is the last to rise. PRESIDENT:...
Paying life's rent (09/24/13)
A track meet with no timers. A church with no ushers. Meals on wheels with no wheels. Ever think about what would happen in your own world if no one volunteered? Stop and think about the Clay County Fair. Where would our community's September showcase be if everyone said, "I'm too busy."...
Farewell to a great fair (09/17/13)
Another Clay County Fair is in the books - the record books, that is. With an unofficial total attendance of 334,575, the 2013 fair boasts the highest attendance ever. That's quite a feat for a community, and a county, with a total population of less than 17,000...
Fair off to a hot start (09/10/13)
Scorching temps on Saturday didn't stop crowds from coming out for day one of the World's Greatest County Fair. Throngs of visitors lined up for icy strawberry smoothies and fresh, hand-squeezed lemonade. The hot spots (pardon the pun) on the fairgrounds on Saturday were the air-conditioned locations. ...
When the destination isn't the key (08/27/13)
The bittersweet days of summer are here. Back-to-school sales lure shoppers. Evening pulls its shade over the day earlier and earlier and sweaters feel good after the stars come out. Trying to squeeze in some end-of-the-season fun becomes a priority...
Spencer folks doing great things (08/13/13)
On Monday, Spencer's own Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson took command as superintendent of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. This is the latest in a long string of ground-breaking successes for Johnson. It shouldn't be a surprise though - the 1977 graduate of Spencer High School has been making us all proud for about 40 years...
Losing a Spencer treasure (08/06/13)
Our corner of the world lost a bit of its warmth, its light, and its grace on Friday morning when Kayleen Rose died. She left this life the way she lived it, gently and quietly, slipping away in the predawn hours - not making a fuss, which was her way...
Mahan has priorities straight (07/30/13)
Pro golfer Hunter Mahan earned big points with golf fans, especially female golf fans, when he left the driving range Saturday at the RBC Canadian Open. Mahan, leading the tournament by two strokes, took a call letting him know his wife Kandi had gone into labor with their first child - a month ahead of her due date. The golfer hurried off the range, and hit the skies, making it back to Texas in plenty of time to witness the birth of Zoe Olivia Mahan at 3:26 a.m. Sunday...
Taking the bad with the good (07/23/13)
You tend to grow pretty thick skin if you've been in the news business for a long time. Me? I've been a newspaper reporter since I was on the staff of the high school paper at 16. That's a long time. You understand that, just as doctors hear stories about "miracle cures" that their patients credit for their recovery, rather than the educated course of treatment you've prescribed; or lawyers listen to yet another bad lawyer joke; there are always those who just aren't going to get it...
Lightening the load (07/16/13)
It seemed like such a good idea in theory - a group of middle-aged sisters get together with a brother to hold a garage sale. In practice? Well, when those three middle-aged sisters seem to have inherited a hoarding gene, have never held a garage sale, AND have very busy lives, the simple idea is already giving one of those sisters - me - a headache...
Headed straight to 'Urinetown' (07/09/13)
"Ya got trouble, folks right here in River City trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for..." Well, according to one anonymous area resident, it seems the trouble that starts with "P" would be "Urinetown," the Spencer Community Theatre's teen musical, set to debut Thursday at SCT...
In defense of traditional publishing (07/06/13)
I am a bookworm; I've always been one. I have nearly 500 books and they're proudly displayed on a 7-by-7-foot shelf in my basement, which is nearly bursting at the seams. As I've grown older and more interested in the process behind the book, I've noticed a growing number of writers who prefer self-publishing to traditional market publishing...
Celebrating with a 'great anniversary festival' (07/02/13)
Independence Day and traditions go hand in hand. So many of us have our annual plans for the holiday that remain unchanged, year in and year out. Some families flock to the lake. Others gather for a day of barbecue and games. Still others feel the holiday isn't complete without catching a televised version of the Boston Pops iconic July 4 concert...
Bucket list less risky, just as satisfying (06/25/13)
I read with alarm the other day a story about "Bucket lists gone bad," which described the ever-more risky adventures Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) embark on in the name of dream fulfillment. One story described an 80 year-old woman (technically not a Boomer, but old enough to know better), who slipped out of her instructor's harness while tandem skydiving. ...
Lend a hand to help the hurting (06/18/13)
The loss of a beloved child creates an aching hole in a parent and a grandparent. While faith, love, and the support of others can help make days easier, the loss can be nearly unendurable. I've watched the grace and strength of those who have walked this path no one can imagine. I keep them in my prayers. And, I've seen the support of so many to help lift up those who are grieving...
Making musical magic (06/11/13)
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... It's about learning to dance in the rain." -Vivian Greene As the steely gray skies gave way to sprinkles, then showers, and finally let go of any pretense of holding back and just began dumping buckets of rain on the visitors, workers and bands of the first-ever Rocket Suzie Music Festival, it would have been easy to forgive founders Dave and Leann Jacobsen for giving up and throwing in the towel...
Summer's bucket list beckons (06/04/13)
At the beginning of every summer, I create a mental "bucket list" of must-do activities to squeeze in to the precious balmy months. Some of the items are simple - dipping my toes in Lakes. Soft serve ice cream dripping from the cone to my fingers in the heat of the day. A trip around town with the car top down...
Fill those summer days with fun, learning (05/28/13)
Memorial Day has passed and summer is upon us. The kids are out of school, and the days of summer stretch long, long before them. While hanging out, playing ball and spending time with friends top a great many lists of "to-dos" for kids, parents want something more productive to come out of the summer break for their children...
Enjoy the golden days (05/21/13)
Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leafs a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost "Nothing Gold Can Stay," the classic Frost poem, came to my mind after a couple of days spent surrounded by youth at its finest - a Friday and Saturday at the Iowa State High School Track and Field Championships, and Sunday at high school graduations...
Dear graduates: (05/14/13)
Graduates, The big day is upon you. Hard to believe that 13 years of education has come to an end. You've survived the playground, Algebra II, bad lunchroom food, too many half-pints of 2 percent milk to count, and hundreds of games of dodgeball in physical education class...
A very special birthday (05/07/13)
She may look frail. She may look weak. She may look as though a stiff wind could blow her right into Winnebago County. Looks can be deceiving. My Grandma Read has a core of steel, strengthened by fire. She is the strongest woman I have ever known, and my admiration for her is boundless...
Mother Nature's been a challenge (04/30/13)
This past weekend's beautiful weather had me dreaming of summer, and more sunshine, and days spent playing outside. Dreams of cruising with the ragtop down began to enter my consciousness. Then I saw the week's forecast. One more day of warmth, then gray and chill...
Greatest honor for new Citizens might be closest to their hearts (04/23/13)
One of my favorite parts of my job is honoring each year's Citizen of the Year recipients. Not only is it a chance to shine a light on a deserving person or couple, it's also a wonderful reminder of the good that goes on every day, often unheralded...
Let's talk about (crazy) taxes (04/16/13)
While the pain of sending off your taxes (and that check) by last night's midnight deadline may still be too fresh in your minds to smile about, perhaps it's time to gain some perspective. Courtesy of Turbo Tax, here are some oddball taxes from the U.S. and around the world:...
Farewell to the Iron Lady (04/09/13)
It seems impossible to believe that, when Margaret Thatcher began her 11-year tenure as Britain's Prime Minister, it symbolized a seismic shift in how people looked at women and power. Thatcher's death at 87 on Monday took me back to my high school days, when Thatcher and Ronald Reagan formed a strong bond and shared a joint ideological rejection of communism and cold war ideas...
The good, the bad, and the ugly in sports (04/02/13)
I've had sports on my mind the past couple of weeks - what with the NCAA basketball tournament in high gear, major league baseball kicking off its 160-plus game season, and the Masters golf tournament just around the corner. We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly...
The rest of the delivery story (03/26/13)
It would be impossible to count the number of times I, or one of my staff, have been asked about what we would do at the Daily Reporter if the U.S. Postal Service followed through with its plan to cut Saturday delivery. According to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, in his early February announcement, that action would save about $2 billion per year for the beleaguered agency...
Time for a 'cuppa (03/19/13)
One of the greatest things in life is to see the student become the master; the child become the teacher. I commented to a friend recently that, just when my son got to be REALLY interesting and great to spend time with, he heads off to college. Not that it wasn't great raising him, it's just that now that he's an adult, we have such great conversations and debates. He's not shy (not that he ever was) about disagreeing with his mom and giving his opinion...
It's the most wonderful time of the (basketball) year (03/12/13)
The most wonderful time of the year, at least for a college basketball fan like myself, is right around the corner. With Selection Sunday next weekend, and conference tourneys in full swing, as Dick Vitale would say, "It's time for March Madness, Baby!"...
Good news Tuesday (03/05/13)
I think there would be general agreement that we are pleased the recent winter storms that roared through the Midwest have only given our little corner of the world a glancing blow. Heading to bed on Sunday night, listening to the sound of ice pellets hitting my windows, did nothing to reassure me that my morning commute (of six miles) would be a pleasant one...
Counting sheep and losing sleep (02/26/13)
While it's winter, we humans can't take our cues from the bears and hibernate. As the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted, we can't seem to get even a minimum needed for our best quality of life. In "chatting" via instant message with family recently, I laughed as I noted how many of our frequent messages were about sleep - when we got to sleep, whether we got to sleep, and when we might be able to "catch up" on our sleep. ...
Nominations, please (02/19/13)
Look around at all the great things going on in our area. A robust arts community; school events supported by so many; a vibrant downtown; continued development - the list goes on and on. So much of this is supported, or made possible totally, through the volunteer efforts of our residents...
Time to stand up and cheer (02/12/13)
The center of the wrestling universe? This week, and every mid-February, that would be Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Iowa High School Wrestling Tournament is a sight to behold. Hundreds of wrestlers on the mats, thousands more in street clothes, roaming the skywalks of Iowa's capitol city. You can't miss them -- they are the lean, muscular ones with the hungry look in their eyes...
Crying over commercials (02/05/13)
After all the pomp and circumstance, in the end it was an ad for a truck, and another for beer that brought me to tears. The Super Bowl is famous for being the launching pad for television commercials. With rates upwards of $4 million for 30-second spots, sponsors are looking for a big reaction in return for their big investment...
Hope for a very human talent (01/29/13)
After months of tense, Twitter-fueled confrontation, former ISU star Royce White may soon get back to business - basketball business. It was announced on Saturday that White and the Houston Rockets had reached an agreement that puts the player on track to join the team's D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on February 11...
Unplugged (01/22/13)
It's probably been eight or 10 years since I really realized the world of communication had made a sea change. I was in the car, driving with my sister and my two nieces. After a while my sister and I noticed no sound coming from the back seat, where the teens were sitting...
Locking up the cookie jar (01/15/13)
When the weather is cold and gray and dreary, I like to daydream about exotic, warm getaways. I visit travel sites online and plot my "perfect" trip. I can curl up on my couch and look at all types of vacation destinations. Similarly, when my son was looking at colleges, we paid virtual visits to many schools, using the internet...
Fighting evil with good (12/18/12)
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 You can't escape the evil that came to an elementary school on Friday. You can't hide from it and you can't make it disappear. Every parent on earth, every person who ever loved a child, felt outrage at the violation of the most precious, most innocent among us...
Holiday traditions make season special (12/11/12)
A wonderful aspect of the Christmas season is the traditions that make it unique to your own family. They can be traditions passed on from generation to generation - a favorite ethnic recipe, or treasured ornament. They can be a recent addition to family folklore - watching "Christmas Vacation" in your jammies as a family, or picking out your tree the weekend after Thanksgiving...
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas (12/04/12)
The tree is up; the lights sparkle outside my front door. There are presents (wrapped, already!) under the tree. My oven was barely turned off all weekend as I baked and baked, and baked some more. I hate to say this, and folks may stone me for daring to utter the words but.....
Savor the sweet days of Christmas (11/27/12)
Thanksgiving has come and gone, with a year's worth of turkey stuffed (pun intended) into a few short days of hugs, laughs and food. This holiday, often seen as a precursor to the Christmas season, has a sweetness all its own. It's too bad it's so close to another busy time of celebration. You really need to savor the individual sweetness that is Thanksgiving...
History in every stitch (11/20/12)
It's time to go "over the river and through the woods," to grandmother's house. At Thanksgiving, our hearts go home, whether we can physically make it home or not. My thoughts, these past days, have gone father back, to my great-great-grandmother's house...
This movie seems familiar (11/13/12)
It really doesn't matter what genre you're into, it seems there's been something exciting for everyone at the theater this fall. Along with the news that Disney had purchased Lucasfilms last week came the hint of more chapters in the Star Wars story. ...
A top-notch performance, and a friendly reminder (11/06/12)
"Grease" was the word this past weekend, and once again the Spencer High School Drama Department, headed up by Larry Untiet, put on a tour de force performance. The excitement has been building for months over this, the 75th performance of Untiet's tenure in Spencer. Combined with the 75th anniversary of the construction of the auditorium, so many put in so much effort to ensure a blockbuster celebration performance...
Older, but not grown up (10/30/12)
When I was young, I sat at the "kid table" at family gatherings. We children were segregated in the basement family room, using piano benches and stools, seated at a card table. The "grown ups" sat together in the dining room, around the "real" table...
What's your password(s) (10/23/12)
My biggest concern, when moving from elementary school to junior high, back in the "good old days" was my fear of forgetting my locker combination. "Right 14, Left 7, Right past 7 to 12" Talk about pressure. I feared immortal humiliation at the hands of ninth-graders as I stood helplessly in front of my locker, attempting to crack the code so I could gather up my science book and make it to the next class on time...
Picturing a mother's love (10/16/12)
I heard the story on the news. As I was rushing to get ready for work, I had to stop, one shoe on, one hanging from my finger, to watch. "The Mom Stays in the Picture," the graphic at the bottom of the screen read. The words I heard made me tear up, and nod my head...
It's easy being green (10/09/12)
Feeling green this week? Well, there's good reason. It's National 4-H Week Oct. 7-13. Green, as in 4-H clover green, is the in color, as we celebrate the great youth programs available through 4-H. I'm a 4-H'er through and through. I remember my first 4-H calf (Daisy May, a gorgeous Simmental heifer), my first sewing project, (a flannel sleepshirt, which was finished in the car, on the way to the fair), and my first view of the nation's capitol, courtesy of the Citizenship-Washington Focus trip I took as a 17-year-old.. ...
A wide array of interesting things to see (10/02/12)
Mother Nature's been a bit of a show-off lately, blessing us with sunny days, nights with just enough chill to warrant an extra blanket on the bed, and that uniquely fall light that makes the hues of the changing leaves seem even more other-worldly beautiful than can be imagined...
Let the sun shine in (09/25/12)
"Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety." Pres. Woodrow Wilson. I'm in the news business, so it makes perfect sense that so-called "sunshine laws," and the idea of an open flow of information between public officials and the public, are concepts which are pretty important to me. They should also be pretty important to everyone else...
Dandy fair in the books (09/18/12)
The smell of the fair lingers in my garage. Ok, I'll be honest, it's the smell of the cattle barns, and it's emanating from the boots family members were kind enough to abandon prior to entering my home. Some sad, lonely cotton candy remains on my countertop...
High drama Saturday (09/11/12)
Here in Iowa we like our sports full contact. On Saturday we saw examples of two of our favorite sports, as football and politics came together at the Clay County Regional Event Center ballroom. A crowd gathered to watch "The Only Game That Really Matters," or, for the non-Iowans out there, the ISU-Iowa football game. Following that nail-biter, we had the first public debate between contenders for the 4th District Congressional seat...
Everyone has fair role to play (09/04/12)
For the past, I don't know, decade or so, part of my Labor Day weekend has consisted of placing little pieces of Velcro to the back of photography labels. Then I alphabetize them. And I take them to the 4-H Exhibit Building at the Clay County Fairgrounds...
Everyone has fair role to play (09/04/12)
For the past, I don't know, decade or so, part of my Labor Day weekend has consisted of placing little pieces of Velcro to the back of photography labels. Then I alphabetize them. And I take them to the 4-H Exhibit Building at the Clay County Fairgrounds...
When the best of intentions go haywire (08/28/12)
Cecila Giminez had the best of intentions. She only meant to make some much-needed repairs to a water-damaged, century-old fresco in her church in northeastern Spain. Instead, she's become an Internet sensation, both vilified and praised, for her amateur repairs to the artwork...
He said what? (08/21/12)
Republican, Democrat, it really doesn't matter what political party you support. If you support intelligent, rational leadership you've got to be shocked by the statements made by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin on Sunday. The Republican Senate nominee is locked in a tough race against Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. When asked about his views on abortion in cases of rape, Akin opened his mouth and stupid came out...
The very best of times (08/14/12)
When you were very young, I held your hand as we walked to the end of the lane. I had combed your hair carefully, and double-checked to ensure your notebook and pencils were packed securely in your backpack. I got out the camera and posed you beside the apple tree we planted the summer before...
Turning up the heat on renewable fuels (08/07/12)
Lunchtime conversation Monday with some longtime ag types touched on calls by some to suspend federal renewable fuels standards in light of the drought the US is going through right now. We've all heard the scary stories of higher food costs coming as a result of the drought. ...
Farewell Weekly Reader (07/31/12)
Back in the day of rotary telephones, four television channels and Trapper Keepers, a highlight of my school week was the handing out of the newest edition of the Weekly Reader. Condensed into a handful of colorful pages was a week's worth of kid-friendly news and information, a puzzle or two, and a half hour of guaranteed reading time in class...
Those little extras add up (07/24/12)
Hear that "drip, drip, drip?" That's your money being slowly, surely and stealthily siphoned away from your wallet. Sometimes you realize it, sometimes you don't. Product companies, airlines, hotels, service businesses all have been finding "creative" ways to separate the consumer from his or her cash...
Summer pleasures, familiar and not (07/17/12)
When the temperatures seem they can't get any higher, and humidity is almost visible in the Iowa air, you know it's a special time of the year - county fair time. Now, we all know that Clay County has the king of all county fairs, but I must admit that I've been to my "fair" share of other county extravaganzas around the state...
Festival would be music to my ears (07/10/12)
Spencer has been blessed through the years with an embarrassment of riches in the cultural arena. We've got a great community theatre, widely respected throughout the state and the region. There's Arts on Grand, with its wide array of exhibitions and classes...
Curtain going up on another unforgettable show (07/03/12)
For a 17-year-old girl from Iowa, there was nothing to compare to the excitement of being in the center of the theatre universe that summer. Heat waves rising off the pavement, the hustle and bustle of millions of people, the breathless excitement of new sights, new sounds, new scents...
Paula Buenger
Publisher