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Local Columns

It’s going to be snowy, icy and icky

So here we are in September. The official summer season is almost over. Autumn officially begins on September 23 and then we know that winter isn’t too far away. We Iowans are subjected to the extremes of weather – from beastly hot, humid summers to bone-chilling winter cold ...

Finding your place

Recently I read an article on finding your place, which got me to thinking about the various ways we talk about our place and how that changes during the travel of life. Take the phrase “There’s no place like home.” Does that mean a real, physical place, or is it wherever the ...

The beauty of imperfection

Occasionally I read something that really speaks to me. Maybe you’ve had that experience, too, when a piece feels like it’s targeting you individually-- addressing what’s been on your mind, perhaps, or just appealing to your sense of humor or resonating with where you are at the ...

Not to me either

One of the news stories getting air time and ink in Iowa this summer was the report that Iowans are now the fourth most obese people in the United States. According to the study by ConsumerProduct.com, 36.4 percent of Iowa’s adult population struggles with obesity. The study determined that ...

Catch more fish this fall

Autumn is in the air! Birds are gathered on power lines, butterflies are getting together to prepare for their southerly journey, there have even been reports of tree leaves changing colors. Summer fishing is different than spring fishing, and fishing in the fall in several very important ...

Letters from Camp Fannin, Texas

It seemed a little creepy at first. Reading someone else’s mail just doesn’t feel right. After my mother passed away last November, one of my brothers came upon a stack of letters our father had sent to his parents during his training in the U.S. Army. I read them recently. Dad was ...

The joys of Iowa sweet corn

So there I was, sitting in my favorite camp dining hall in New Hampshire, with about 30 other central staff as we waited for our mid-summer banquet. The summer session was half over, campers and staff were gone for now, and the rest of us were just relaxing, kicking back before we were soon ...

Take every opportunity to celebrate

A few days ago I went to a small gathering to celebrate the birthday of a friend. Keep in mind that the other women there were all about my age, so it was nothing rowdy or boisterous, to say the least. We had a nice time visiting, taking some time to catch up with each other, and, of course, ...

Now get off my lawn

That sweet new baby you adore ̶ he/she is selfish, self-centered and ill-tempered. Just watch that baby when it’s time to eat or have a diaper changed. Or when big sister takes his binkie. We are all born that way but early in life, our parents work to change us. From the time we ...

How do you remember your hometown?

I grew up on a farm near a town of 141 people. We'd ride our bikes the four miles into town with our dollar bill and head to the little grocery store. My friend's Dad owned the store and he'd watch us with eagle eyes. For that one dollar we could buy a Coke and 25 pieces of candy. There was a ...

My advice: Soda pop and ice cream

How much pop did you drink when you were a kid? For many of my generation the amount consumed was low… very low. The topic came up over lunch with a cousin and her husband recently. In my parental home we never had pop. On a rare occasion when he went to Everett Thompson’s DX gas station ...

Our State Fair is a great state fair

It's the time of year that we Iowans do our annual celebrating at local community celebrations, festivals, block parties and county fairs. And we're now about in the middle of the queen of them all: the Iowa state fair. It is quite the phenomenon, this traditional celebration of our state. ...

Explosive largemouth

It was almost a year ago last summer that I got to spend a day on the water chasing largemouth bass with Mike Frisch. Some, maybe much of the time, when we think about late summer fishing for largemouth we think weedlines and crankbaits or jigworms. However, throwing artificial frogs in ...

A slow drive through the Coyote State

Until my family moved to Sioux City in 1974 I had never set foot in the state of South Dakota. I knew a few things about the state as a number of East Frisian (my ethnicity) immigrants had moved there in the 19th century. My grandparents and others of their generation would talk about going to ...

Celebrating cats on their special day

In case you aren’t aware, in just a few days we can all celebrate International Cat Day. Thursday is our chance for a full 24 hours of recognition of one of humanity’s oldest and most beloved pets. Even so, it wasn’t until 2002 that the International Fund for Animal Welfare joined ...

Weed Whackers and Window Cleaner

As part of my work, I visit a lot of small towns around the nation and teach them practical steps to a brighter future. I visited Roscommon County, Michigan and toured a few empty buildings.  On one corner, a major intersection into town, there was an empty building on each corner.  We ...

Find the food, find the fish

In the remaining open water months, there is one very basic thing to keep in mind for fishing success, we’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again, but it’s so important that it’s a good thing to keep in mind: If you want to catch fish now, you’ve got to find what ...

Nobody understands the crazinesss better

Whatever my siblings and I lacked in material things growing up, we were rich in cousins. My mother was one of a dozen children and my father one of six. As close as I can figure, I have more than 60 first cousins ranging from 10 years my senior to 20 years younger. I am one of the older ...

The joys of a summer bike ride

If everything goes as planned, the current edition of RAGBRAI is underway as you read this. Unless you live under a rock in Iowa, you know about this annual event that started as a simple bike ride across the state and has turned into a very real phenomenon that attracts bicycling enthusiasts ...

Some mid-summer fishing reminders

Summer continues. July is on the way out, August is here or near. Time marches on and that’s okay: What else can time do? Many anglers across the Midwest and North America report that fishing has been pretty good, bordering on excellent in some locations. And despite the thought that ...