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Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
A life filled with grace (02/01/16)
"The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances." -- Aristotle I've been thinking a lot about grace these past few days. Grace, in the secular sense, defined in part as " kind, polite and fair" and "a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency." As a Christian, I think of grace as God's unmerited favor toward man. His love and mercy which comes, not because we've done anything special, but given freely...
How far is too far in presidential politics? (01/25/16)
I don't generally write about politics in my column. We at the Daily Reporter don't endorse candidates, we aren't affiliated with any single candidate. Aside from telling folks if they don't participate they don't have a right to complain, I back away from public political pronouncements...
Pitfalls of Pinterest (01/18/16)
When the weather is cold, as it was this past weekend, and I'm in between college basketball games, I've begun feeding a dangerous addiction. I browse the wide open spaces of Pinterest. Pinterest, an online "catalog of ideas," feeds my imagination. On the photo and idea sharing website one can find ideas for home decorating, for crafts, for the next great vacation and how to pack for said vacation. ...
Buying a ticket to dream (01/11/16)
The excitement reached a fever pitch across the United States on Sunday after another Powerball drawing yielded no winners, and Wednesday's jackpot is estimated to top $1.4 billion for Wednesday's drawing. That's billion, with a "B" (my pinky is placed at the side of my mouth as I type this, ala Dr. Evil from the "Austin Powers" movies)...
Being present for 2016 (01/04/16)
Fresh year. Fresh start. As I look at my newly-minted 2016 desktop planner, I see box after box of unmarked time. Only a couple of appointments have been jotted down, marring the symmetry of 365 (actually 366, since 2016 is a leap year) days of possibilities...
Resolving not to make resolutions (12/28/15)
As we prepare to turn our calendar from 2015 to 2016, my thoughts turn to a quick review of the year just past and dreams for the year to come. I'm not a big New Year's resolution gal -- pronouncements made simply because "it's what you do" have far less chance to actually happen than goals set in response to a movement in your mindset or life circumstance...
A different kind of Christmas (12/21/15)
I was ready to write my traditional Christmas column this week, a riff on the "Yes, Virgina" letter to the editor. It speaks to the spirit of the holiday, beyond the packages and gifts. And it's an important reminder to us to keep our childlike joy and wonder. It's an appropriate message this time of the year...
Santa, by any other name (12/14/15)
In Italy, "La Befana," a kindly old witch, brings gifts and sweets to children during the Christmas season. In Finland, it's "Joulupukki," the Yule Goat, who knocks on the doors of Finnish homes and yells, "Are there any well-behaved children here?" before leaving presents...
Feeling the love (12/07/15)
Balmy temperatures greeted the throngs who headed out for Spencer's Grand Meander. Warmer than usual weather meant folks really felt like "meandering" along the city streets, rather than speed-walking from one warming station to another as is sometimes the case with Spencer's annual holiday event...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (11/30/15)
The traditional weekend-after-Thanksgiving decking of the halls (and the counters, and the nooks and crannies) is complete. It is truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my home! There was a bit of cussing and gnashing of teeth as I attempted to put up the Christmas tree while simultaneously watching THE GAME on Friday. ...
Having an attitude of gratitude (11/23/15)
It's Thanksgiving week, and in my house, that means food, family, some football trash talk (a sister with Nebraska season tickets), more food and even more family. It also means reflecting on the things for which we are thankful. And, despite so much to fear in the world, there are still so many things to be thankful for. Big and small, counting our blessings is so much more enjoyable than worry. It's also good for you, and there's science to prove it...
Lighting up a dark world (11/16/15)
The world watched in horror on Friday as the events unfolded on our television and smartphone screens. A small group of organized terrorists once again brought their vile brand of hate into our collective consciousness. Over 130 were killed and hundreds more injured in a series of coordinated attacks...
Sacrifice made visible (11/09/15)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly. Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie...
It's beginning to look a lot like... (11/02/15)
Like Santa, I often start "making a list and checking it twice," around this time of the year. Luckily for my loved ones, I don't have a "naughty or nice" criteria to weed out the rascals before making gift purchases. It's hard to believe, particularly as the mercury hovers near 70 degrees, that soon the Christmas carols will be playing -- on the radio and in stores. ...
Local spend could be tied to TIF (10/26/15)
If you've been around city or county government for any time at all, a phrase comes up time and again -- tax increment financing, or TIF. It's a common tool for economic development that is utilized in order to promote economic development or upgrade infrastructure so development can occur...
Flying the not-so-friendly skies (10/19/15)
On Monday morning, I turned on the TV just in time to hear a news story about a Southwest Airlines flight which had to turn around and make an emergency landing in Los Angles late Sunday after a woman claimed the man in the seat behind her tried to choke her after she reclined her seat...
Fact or historical fiction? (10/13/15)
The nation observed Columbus Day on Monday, honoring the explorer who famously "sailed the ocean blue ..." in 1492. While I've never been invited to a Columbus Day party, and there are no Columbus Day cards put out by Hallmark, it's recognized as a holiday...
Recognizing 4-H Week Oct. 4-10 (10/05/15)
With farmers busy in the field, harvesting their crop, it's appropriate that this week marks National 4-H Week. From Oct. 4-10, the youth development program celebrates its long history of helping young people learn and grow. 4-H has been a part of my life for just about all of my life. My parents were 4-H members and leaders. My brothers and sisters and I were all in 4-H. My son was a 4-Her. Nearly all my nieces and nephews participated...
Giving from the garden (09/28/15)
We've had a lovely "problem" at our little 3-acre country home -- a bumper crop of raspberries. Three rows of the lovely canes have exploded with berries, in an orderly fashion, with one following another to full ripeness. The past week has seen all three rows bursting with berries...
Saying farewell to another great fair (09/21/15)
The sun rose on Monday morning way too early for a lot of locals, who would have preferred to sleep in just a bit. It was, after all, the day after the gates closed on one of the most successful runs of the Clay County Fair ever. Certainly, in terms of visitors, it pulled in the people. ...
Rest in peace, Tyler Sash. Every piece of you (09/14/15)
Losing someone too young, too soon, is a special kind of misery. A life snuffed out, midstream, with so much promise, so many adventures not taken. The loss of a young person always seems a bit like closing a book after only reading a chapter or two. The "what ifs" loom large...
Traditions make Clay County Fair special (09/07/15)
I did a little math before sitting down to write this column and realized that the 2015 edition of the Clay County Fair is the 40th anniversary of my very first visit o the fair. Its been four decades since my introduction, as a middle schooler new to northwest Iowa, to the wonders of the "Greatest County Fair."...
Ethics in an age of instant information (09/01/15)
A few events conspired recently to make me think about journalistic ethics in an age of instant communication, citizen "journalists" and social media. The first was a Facebook dialogue at one of my papers. A poster was furious that we had uploaded photos and information on an accident a couple of hours after the event...
Honorees an inspiration to all (08/25/15)
This past Saturday I was honored to be a guest at the 2015 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame ceremony, held at the State of Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines. The awards were established in 1975 by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. Since that time, the list of honorees is a veritable "who's who" of the state's leaders...
One last first day of school photo (08/17/15)
For 16 years, I've made my son hike out to the apple tree, planted when he was a toddler, admonished him to give me a smile, and taken the traditional "first day of school" photo. The photographic evidence of his growth, from a bright-eyed kindergartener, to a sulky middle schooler, anxious to get it over with, to an independent young man, has been a memento of a period of our life which is nearing an end...
Making the most of summer's last weeks (08/03/15)
"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color."...
Dealing with Mother Nature's bounty (07/27/15)
Is it just me, or did my garden ripen much earlier this year? I don't recall stressing about the abundance of tomatoes, and bushels of green beans in mid-July before. The onions are big, and round, and begging to be dealt with. And carrots? Well, Bugs Bunny can come hopping right over to my house and take care of some of the abundance...
Capturing vacations in our soul, not with a lens (07/20/15)
It's the height of summer vacation season. Folks are packing up the family truckster, or collecting their boarding passes, and taking off for parts unknown. From cities to wilderness areas; domestic or foreign travel, one thing just about everyone takes with them these days is a camera -- incorporated into those ubiquitous smartphones...
In it for the long haul (07/13/15)
In the photo, they look like babies, surely far too young to marry. He's a dapper young man with hair slicked back perfectly, and a skinny pink tie. A daring sartorial touch for his wedding? Perhaps now, but right in keeping with the 1955 doo-wop spirit...
Making baseball dreams come true (07/06/15)
"Well, you know I ... I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. ...
Your vacation is calling (06/29/15)
I was working my way through one of those high-end travel magazines this past weekend. I subscribe to a few of what I call "aspirational" editions. From travel to homes, to food and wine, I am now fully equipped to know a great trip, meal, or designer chair when I see it. I don't, however, often see those things in person...
Even Apple bows down to will of Taylor Swift (06/22/15)
I don't remember the last cd I bought; perhaps it was "Long Road Out of Eden" by the Eagles, or John Mayer's "Continuum." In any case, I don't know where the discs are now -- probably in a box in the basement, awaiting the next purge of the storage room...
Honesty and our personal narrative (06/16/15)
What determines the narrative of our lives? Is it genetic? Cultural? Biological? Our own will? Just how radically can we alter our life's path? A pair of high-profile cases over the past few weeks bring that question into sharp focus. First, we had the transformation of former Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner. ...
Enjoying Spencer's quality of life (06/08/15)
It had been a long week, filled with stresses and tension and worry -- at work, at home, with ones I care about. The knot between my shoulder blades was taunt and reminding me that I was no longer young. The psychic load was pulling my spirit down. After surviving the week, by Sunday I felt restless and ready to blow. It was time to run away from home...
Love lost (06/01/15)
Remember those crazy, wild days of your youth? When anything was possible, and puppy love would last forever? When you thought it would be a great idea to immortalize your love with a grand, symbolic gesture? No? Me either, but thousands and thousands of people from around the world have been pledging undying love by writing their names on locks, and hooking them up to the railings on the Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris. ...
Get in the game (05/25/15)
For a woman who played right field (traditionally the place for the least-talented fielder) and had a hitting percentage near zero in her two years of youth softball, I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about, and preparing for, a celebration of America's game -- baseball...
Ready, set, summer (05/18/15)
While Mother Nature apparently misread "May" for "March" and is giving us cool, rainy days, Memorial Day -- the gateway to summer -- is nearly here. This time of year is, to me, all about anticipation. We can't wait for school to be out. We await anxiously the first dip in the lake, or ride in the boat. We dream about summer vacations and nights out under the stars...
Congratulations, graduates! (05/11/15)
Mark Twain was a man who knew a little bit about taking risks. He left his sleepy little hometown as a young man -- about the age of you graduates, and took to the river that flowed beside Hannibal, Missouri. He became a master riverboat pilot. Then he headed West, failing in his quest to earn riches mining for gold...
The power of words (05/04/15)
I'm among those Americans who watched in horror as another city in America erupted in violence after another black man died in police custody. Half a dozen police officers have been arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, after Freddie Gray died from injuries that appear to have occurred in a police van...
South Dakota -- It's better than Mars (04/27/15)
I always say that I try to under-promise and over-deliver. We all know the frustration that comes when someone promises a job done in an unbelievably short timeline -- only to have half-finished work on that date. Or the anguish of ordering a product with two-day "guaranteed" delivery that arrives the day AFTER the birthday for which it was supposed to be a gift...
Week filled with special events (04/20/15)
Spring has sprung, and the calendar has certainly heated up! I love weeks like this -- with a schedule jam-packed with great events. For those who complain there's "nothing to do," this week should convince you otherwise. On Wednesday you can have a great evening, while contributing to a great cause. ...
Life on the gravel road (04/13/15)
As a young girl, I dreamed of living in a big city, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of people living their lives cheek to jowl with one another. I wanted the excitement, the variety of entertainment options, the low, rumbling heartbeat of the city playing background music to my life...
Less stuff, more experiences (04/06/15)
Four months ago, my husband and I wished our son well, reminded him of our love, and, with big hugs and only a few tears, sent him off for a semester's adventure in London. Well, I've spent the past couple of weeks checking in on him and visiting a few places on my personal "bucket list."...
Let the light shine in (03/23/15)
We just wrapped up a week which is pretty darn important to those of us in the news media, and should also be vitally important to every citizen. National Sunshine Week, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, seeks to highlight the importance of transparency and open government. From local boards to federal officials, all benefit from light shed on the mechanisms that power the machine of government...
Back to the game board (03/16/15)
In this age of gaming systems, smartphones loaded with personal games and computer gaming groups with memberships in the hundreds of thousands, you would think old-fashioned board games are a relic of the past. You would be wrong. The world is in a board game renaissance. ...
50 years on (03/09/15)
Fifty years. It's been 50 years since the March on Selma. "Bloody Sunday," it came to be called. That day a group of civil rights activists in a planned march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, were set upon by police. The 600 peaceful activists were clubbed, bloodied and battered as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of town, at the beginning of their planned journey...
Events to make the pre-spring days fly by (03/02/15)
It's been a long, cold winter, but spring is in sight. As the calendar turns to March, and daylight saving time approaches this coming Sunday, you can almost feel the winds shifting. From icy and desolate, to breezes carrying a hint of warmth. At least that's what I've been telling myself...
Motion pictures in our minds (02/24/15)
I sat down on Sunday evening for a night of Oscar-watching. It's a tradition at my house, the same in a lot of other homes I imagine. I do love to see the silly sketches, over-caffeinated winners and those dresses. But, as I prepared to settle in for a night of pageantry and self-congratulations, I had a bit of a revelation...
Ready. Set. Presidential race. (02/16/15)
They're baaaa-ccccckkk. Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the presidential wannabes are booking flights to Des Moines and testing out the chilly waters of the Iowa political landscape. While it seems like they just left, in truth we're less than a year away from that Midwestern sieve that separates the "possibles" from the "pigs will fly first" brand of candidates...
Do we have a 'Right to be Forgotten?' (02/10/15)
Thanks to the Internet, our sins -- from fashion crimes to very real legal issues -- lurk in the background, just one search engine result away from exposing our past. I thank goodness the Internet was decades from wide use when I wore a patchwork suede mini-dress, with ultra-large eyeglasses for my elementary school picture. My mother has a copy of that shot -- no one else needs one...
Parents just don't understand (text messaging) (02/02/15)
With my son studying abroad this semester, the thread that holds him to his parents has been stretched pretty thin. For him, it's a chance to learn about a new country and a new culture, thousands of miles away from his parents. For us, it's an opportunity to see our future relationship with him, with limited contact and more independence...
Saying goodbye to SkyMall (01/26/15)
My earliest memory of air travel was seeing my father off (at the gate!) on a business flight. He was dressed in a suit and tie, carried a briefcase, and was certain to be offered an in-flight meal, with a smile, from a stewardess wearing a snazzy uniform...
Looking for those community superstars (01/19/15)
Every year, as the calendar pages turn from one year to the next, we at the Daily Reporter ask you, the residents of our community, to recognize those who go above and beyond to help others in our community. Last week we put out a call for nominations for the Daily Reporter's annual Citizen of the Year. ...
Are we all Charlie? (01/12/15)
The world watched in horror last week as terrorists, armed with high powered weapons and blind, rabid faith, savagely gunned down a dozen people in a Paris magazine office. The horror continued as another member of the terror cell killed a police officer, then held hostages in a kosher grocery store, murdering four more innocents. Latest reports say the shooting of a random jogger in Paris may well be linked to the criminals...
January's coming in like a lion (01/05/15)
Mother Nature is giving 2015 the cold shoulder. Frigid temperatures, piles of snow, and gusty winds remind us all why we dream of beaches and sunshine in January in Iowa. The week's forecast offers little in terms of good news or a break from the ice box in which we live...
Ready for a great 2015 (12/29/14)
A new year is upon us and, while every year is a blessing, 2014 came with its challenges for my family and I. Serious illness and accidents; heartaches and headaches; and the inevitable rolling on of the years made it a year to remember -- and not always in the best ways...
The true gifts of Christmas aren't gift wrapped (12/22/14)
When I was a child, about 100 years ago, I remember watching the grown ups at Christmas time, and feeling sorry for them because they didn't get all the cool toys we kids got. How could they seem so happy and cheerful, without the toys? Why were they laughing and smiling all the time without the latest must-have item wrapped up for them?...
Holiday tradition makes spirits bright (12/15/14)
If you listened closely Sunday afternoon, you could have sworn you heard sleigh bells, as Santa arrived early for 80 area families. The Holiday Family Adoption program wrapped up its work for 2014 with the delivery of gifts to those in need of a helping hand this holiday season...
After hours? Offline (12/08/14)
Been in a public place -- waiting for a concert to begin or taking a break from shopping -- and notice all the people with their heads down? Most likely, those folks are reading texts or checking their email on their smartphones. I'm guilty of it. In the doctor's office waiting room, before I work out, while waiting for a grande mocha latte, I'm checking my phone...
The myth of the perfect tree (12/01/14)
The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally "deck the halls" time at the Buenger household. I have, I admit, a problem with Christmas decorations and, by "problem," I mean I have waaaayyyy too many of them. I imagine the decorating will be a lovely afternoon of setting up the tree, carefully unwrapping crystal ornaments and silver baubles from their protective cases, all with dulcet holiday melodies wafting through the air. ...
Travel safe this Thanksgiving (11/24/14)
Packing up the car and heading over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving? If so, you'll be in good company. The AAA auto club estimates 46.3 million of us will travel at east 50 miles from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. That's a 4.2 percent increase over last year and the highest traffic volume since 2007...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (11/17/14)
Wasn't it just the Fourth of July? I turn around, it seems, and the summer holiday has morphed into Thanksgiving and thoughts of Christmas. The blanket of snow we received on Saturday helped to push visions of sugarplums to the top of my mind, and so did the afternoon I spent decorating a room of the 1916 Parker House in holiday finery, in preparation for the Spencer Hospital Foundation's Festival of Trees Tour of Homes this weekend...
Toes may be cold, but hearts are warm (11/10/14)
Ready or not, winter's on its way to northwest Iowa. The forecast calls for cold, colder, and even colder than that. Highs in the 20s -- in November -- are forecast over the next 10 days. Lows? Well, you don't want to know. Misery will have to love company, as much of the United States will be shivering together this week, as an Arctic weather system that ripped through Alaska, is barreling south, bringing a chill to most of the nation...
Playing like a (super) girl (11/03/14)
I love sports. And while as an athlete I was the one who "threw like a girl," I'm now the one in my house that is glued to the television on Saturday watching college football. I live for March Madness. And the Olympic Games are an excuse for three solid weeks of couch surfing...
Bradlee a towering figure in journalism (10/27/14)
People have asked me, over the years, how I got involved in the newspaper business. My answer was always the same, "It started with Watergate." I age myself with that answer, but it's the truth. And journalists print the facts. I remember the headlines from the Des Moines Register and the Cedar Rapids Gazette. ...
Slowing down isn't that hard after all (10/20/14)
Sometimes you need to slow down a bit to appreciate how great life can be. I've just completed a hectic and crazy summer and early fall. It seems I barely had a chance to catch my breath from one big project before the next came rolling up behind me...
Halloween not just for kids anymore (10/13/14)
October has always seemed like a month jam-packed with events and activities. As a child it was a favorite month because it held not just Halloween, but also my birthday. The month's been even more special for the past 26 years, as it also marks my husband and I's wedding anniversary...
Getting past the election clutter (10/06/14)
We're in the final stretch of the 2014 election cycle, and voter fatigue has set in, at least for this voter. The spin doctors and reputation scrubbers are hard at work on both sides of the aisle, painting the opponents as Satan in a business suit, and their clients as purer than the driven snow...
Rest up, October calendar is filling up (09/29/14)
Who says there's nothing to do in northwest Iowa? The next couple of weeks have plenty of fun activities to ensure everyone has an excuse to get out of that recliner and take in the excitement. The Artisans Road Trip will be taking to the highways and byways of our region on Oct. ...
Role models? I don't think so (09/22/14)
There's a lot of bad behavior these days in the National Football League. Or, more likely, there's a lot of bad behavior which is being made public these days in the NFL. The awkward gyrations of Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners -- the promises of "awareness training" and standardized penalties for players found guilty of abuse -- are sad. ...
Nine days to warm the heart (09/15/14)
It's easy to get jaded, to believe the world's a pretty scary place. It's tempting to think things just aren't as good as they were in the good old days. After all, we've got ISIS, hurricanes, awful news coming from the NFL, Ebola -- the list goes on and on. No wonder we despair; it's hard to find good in the world sometimes...
Appreciating the fair through new eyes (09/08/14)
Old friends and new discoveries. That was the theme of my first weekend of the Clay County Fair. I was thrilled to have a great high school friend of mine back for her first Clay County Fair since our graduation. The occasion? The appearance by one of our all-time favorite bands back in our high school years -- Cheap Trick. That was impetus enough to plan a weekend down memory lane...
Big city attention for local treasure (09/01/14)
My lovely niece has a saying about people she adores -- she calls them "pretty AND popular." Well, the Iowa Great Lakes should be feeling just that this week after the publication of a glowing piece in the New York TImes on Thursday. The travel section feature, written by Anna Bahney, highlighted the family-friendly fun still available in our backyard. ...
Many not ready for college success (08/25/14)
I was up before dawn on Monday to take care of some very important business -- snapping the traditional "first day of school" photo of my son beneath the limbs of an apple tree we planted the summer he started kindergarten. Both the tree and the boy have grown tall and strong in the 15 years since that first photo. A junior in college, he's made a successful transition from high school to college, with few struggles in keeping up with the college curriculum...
Oh, what a party! (08/18/14)
Travelers on Grand Avenue Friday evening would be excused for taking their eyes off the road a bit more than is advised. After all, you don't see West Leach Park populated by a sea of white-attired party-goers every day. The inaugural Soiree en Blanc Spencer transformed a large area of the park (sorry disc golf players, for dining in your fairway!) into a surprisingly intimate, thoroughly classic, formal picnic. ...
Summer days are fading fast (08/11/14)
We all have our own internal calendars, with personal touchstones, which signify the changing seasons of life. The physical calendar matters less than the events which mark the passing of time. The July to August calendar shift means less to me than the arrival of the Iowa State Fair. That means it's back to school time...
Flood of candidates has begun (08/04/14)
They're baaacccckkkkk! With 825 days remaining until Americans go to the polls to select our next president, hopefuls are booking flights to Des Moines and learning the back roads to get from Keosauqua to Rock Rapids. By this time next week, there will be a traffic jam of White House hopefuls lined up to get a selfie with the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair...
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...
Paula Buenger
Publisher