Local Columns

No treats for Rudolph

With Santa and his reindeer soon to be arriving, it is a good time to discuss our other deer friends. Many gardeners have experienced deer damage to their gardens, but what steps can be taken to help prevent Bambi and his relatives from feasting on your landscape? Although prevention of ...

What has happened to Eb Griper?

I was sitting in the coffee shop, by myself, sipping on a tall Columbia Supremo. It had been a difficult week and I need some alone-time to think. A voice from behind surprised me. “Well, you’re looking mighty glum today, big boy. What, did you lose your best friend?” It was my old ...

Honoring a former president

Like many of you, I watched the funeral for our former President George H. W. Bush last week. It was sobering, enlightening, awesome, and somehow comforting for me, all at the same time. As one commentator said, “Ceremonies are very, very important to the U.S.A. Ceremonies allow us ...

Amaryllis, a holiday favorite

One of the most widely grown bulbs worldwide, and available in a wide array of colors and flower types is the Amaryllis. Mainly cultivated in South Africa, Israel and Netherlands, these bulbs are shipped for purchase as winter blooming flowers indoors for our cold Iowa climate. Amaryllis ...

Sonar for ice fishing

About this time last year I had an interesting conversation with a friend that wanted to get more involved in ice-fishing. He is an accomplished open water angler: He has a nice boat that’s rigged with sonar and an electric motor. He has several rods and reels and a couple of tackleboxes. ...

A trip to the future by way of Memory Lane

Senior year in high school is a whirlwind time for both the student and parents. Plans for the student’s future come into sharper focus. There are financial aid forms to complete, scholarships applications to submit, meetings to attend and graduation parties to plan. College visits are ...

Ice fishing with spoons

Ice-anglers have a good number of different baits and bait styles available to them. One of the most popular and effective bait styles for ice-fishing is spoons. Look in the tacklebox of almost any angler who fishes through the ice and you’ll find at least a couple and probably quite a few ...

Poinsettia pointers

No flower says Christmas like the beautiful poinsettia. When one thinks of holiday plants, the poinsettia is the first that comes to mind. A member of the spurge family, poinsettias were given the scientific name of Euphorbia pulcherrima (meaning most beautiful euphorbia) in 1833. Have you ...

Christmas traditions you probably don’t observe

With Thanksgiving now behind us, Christmas, less than a month away, looms larger on the horizon. Soon, if not already, kitchens will be filled with the aroma of cookies in the oven, living rooms will be filled with the fragrance of pine and closets will be filling up with wrapped boxes. ...

A calmer, gentler time

The first thing just about every single morning you’ll find me on the elliptical in my basement, putting in 20 to 30 minutes to get myself moving and my heart pumping. It’s what I do before I have a chance to give it much thought so I can put it off until that elusive ...

Ideas for better ice fishing

There are a few concepts for ice-fishing that are really good starting points. If you’ll practice these concepts, with minor revisions every time out, you'll be more successful on the ice this ice-fishing season. In any type of fishing, you need to fish where the fish are. We keep on ...

Sweet potatoes or yams?

Although the names are commonly used interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are actually two different plants. Yams are monocots, having only one seed leaf, such as grasses, corn and lilies. Sweet potatoes are dicot plants, with two seed leaves, such as beans and roses. The sweet potato is ...

Building memories in Branson

Nearly 30 years ago my in-laws began spending their winters in the entertainment hotspot of the Ozarks ̶ Branson, Missouri. Cindy and I drove down to visit with them and became enamored with Branson. In the ensuing years we usually visited Branson twice a year ̶ in March to visit her ...

Living a healthy, purposeful life

Sometimes it feels like there is a theme to my life, because a certain topic—or variations on it—comes up over and over again in conversations, on the radio, in something I read, maybe on a TV talk show. So lately that topic has been about healthy living, only it’s not so much focused ...

Open water fishing 2018

We were fishing largemouth bass on a lake in Minnesota this late October. It was a beautiful day and the thought never entered my mind that this could be the last trip of the year. Since then the weather has cooled noticeably, and there has been ice on the ponds here in north Iowa for ...

Those !!?#@#!X# cornflakes

The story is told of two young brothers who decided they were old enough to swear. At bedtime one night they agreed that the next morning they would begin swearing. They even chose the cuss words they would use. At breakfast the next morning, their mother asked the oldest boy what he wanted ...

Documenting ones life

In one of the first writing classes I took as a journalism major in college we learned how to write an obituary. I don’t know if that’s still the progression of things. Maybe that’s why I read obituaries in the newspaper now. I just like to learn about how people lived, where they ...

First ice panfish

I was at an ice-fishing Open House at a retail tackle shop recently. There some anglers there who had been looking at a long range weather forecast. According to this forecast, cold weather is headed to the upper Midwest, and these anglers were guessing that they would be on the ice in north ...

There are good people everywhere

Here in Iowa we pride ourselves on being friendly and helpful and supportive of others. Some of us call it Iowa nice. Maybe it is the media that encourages us to believe that we are the good guys while the folks who live in urban areas are impolite, cold, and uncaring folks who live isolated ...

A contribution to international relations

During a layover at the Denver airport some years ago I heard a commotion just a few yards away. Two teenage boys, accompanied by a handful of other teenagers, were boisterously greeting one another. Not an uncommon sight at airports, except these young men were speaking in German. After a ...