Local Columns

Just how cold was it?

The recent cold snap generated a lot of “I remember when it was so cold…” comments. Most of us who have been around Iowa for a while can remember periods of sub-zero temperatures and how we coped with them. My first few years were spent in Kossuth and Winnebago counties up on the ...

Warm sweaters and cuddly cats

Having a cat in your lap is something like putting on a sweater to chase away the chills of a frigid January like what we’re suffering through. The same could be said for a cool fall day, too. This is the time of year when my cat Maxine and her habit of quietly leaping onto my lap is ...

Houseplant hints

During the cold winter weather, there is not much gardening to do outside. But for those with houseplants, we will take a look at the importance of water, as a variety of water quality factors should be considered. Water plays a role in transporting nutrients from the soil up through the ...

The best method of snow removal

It was about 9:15 on a recent Saturday morning. We had received three inches of snow the night before, the outside temp was 12-above and I was working up the ambition to go outside to remove snow from our driveway. Comfortably (and warmly) ensconced in my recliner I was watching Iowa ...

School memories

One of the reasons I like to read obituaries is because I get to see where the deceased went to school. If they were in their 80s or 90s when they passed, it’s a chance to see the names of Iowa schools that no longer exist. In fact, it’s not unusual for some of those towns to no longer ...

Mid-winter yellow bass

I just completed an ice-fishing trip that I had really been looking forward to. Kevan Paul and I had been trying to make plans to get out on the lake that he guides on, Clear Lake in north central Iowa. In mid-January everything came together. We wanted to headquarter out of my CORE ICE ...

A most productive open-water technique

Ice-fishing so far this ice-season has been strange. First the ice in my area of north Iowa is safe, then it isn’t. I haven’t been out much, which means that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about fishing, through the ice and otherwise. Awhile back I shared two of my favorite ways ...

Winter damage to trees and shrubs

The first thing one can do to help prevent winter injury to trees and shrubs is to remove any snow that may pile up after each significant snowfall. This helps to prevent snow building up to dangerously heavy loads which can cause bending and breaking of branches. Evergreens are especially ...

Two Midwest ice-fishing hotspots

It’s been a very interesting ice-fishing season so far. Ice came early to quite a bit of the ice region, then the weather got warm. Rain fell in some areas, heavy snow fell in others. We maybe didn’t lose a lot of ice, but we also didn’t make much. There’s cold weather in the ...

Mid-season ice-fishing ideas

In many areas where anglers fish through the ice this time of year, we are at about the midway part of the season. Most lakes have a good cover of ice as well as some snow. We also have cold weather, lots of it. There are a number of things we can do to catch more fish through the ice this ...

That precious little piece of paper

My driver’s license expires this month and I absolutely must remember to renew. I took the written test once a long time ago and I don’t want to have to do it again. Speaking of driver’s license renewals, I don’t appreciate the relatively new rule that forbids one to smile on his or ...

Winter days are great time to play cards

I see we have just passed Card Playing Day. This seems like the perfect time of year for such a day, considering most of us are spending our days indoors out of the cold, snowy wintry weather. (Okay, so our winter weather this season has more to do with gray, cloudy, rainy days. Those are good ...

Mid-season ice fishing

The middle part of the ice-fishing season will soon be here. There are things we do in the middle of the season that we don’t do earlier in the year. For more fishing success in the next few weeks, keep these ideas in mind. I was fishing for perch a couple of years ago in South Dakota ...

A letter from the school counselor

While shuffling through some of my old school papers, proudly saved by my mother over the years, I came across a document that shocked me. It was a letter to my parents from the school counselor and dated April 8, 1954. I was a kindergartener at that time. “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Huisman,” the ...

Thanking all the helpers

“Thank you for letting me help you,” I was told recently. I should have been the one saying thank you, and I did. Her statement is something we don’t hear very often, yet it was offered sincerely. But it’s true—it is a gift to be able to help someone who really needs support of ...

Memories and Christmas traditions

The Christmas tree finally went up yesterday. Yes, I know I’m running kind of behind this year. Usually, the tree and all the decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving. But it’s been a busy month for everyone at our house. But I’ve got to figure we still have time to break out a ...

Holiday Cactus ID

Did you know that there are actually three different types of holiday cactus? These three types can be distinguished by their different leaf forms, flower color and their different bloom times. The most popular and widely grown holiday cacti is the Thanksgiving cactus, Schlumbergera ...

Two favorite techniques for catching fish

I was with some fishing friends recently, and, as usual, the conversation turned to fishing. At some point the topic of “My favorite fishing technique” came up. I was asked what my preferred way to catch fish was. I couldn’t answer. I like to catch fish, any species of fish, and I ...

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 ...