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Local Columns

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 ...

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 ...