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Friday, Aug. 28, 2015
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...
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...
Paula Buenger
Publisher