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Opinions

The girls of September

Food For Thought

I’ve always found it odd my three closest friends when I was growing up had birthdays within a few days of each other. Not only that, but two of them shared the same birthday, and the other had her birthday on the same day as my mother’s. This had to be more than mere coincidence and made me half believe in astrology which, logic tells me, is unreliable at best and superstitious nonsense at worst. I am ambivalent, after 80-some years, and may never be sure just what I believe about it.

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Bicycling Austria

Walkin'

“Did they show you the devil’s hole?” the young man across the picnic table asked me.
It was the third day of our ride.
It was a bicycling trip we made in August. Sabra’s sister, Lisa, and her husband Allen proposed it and we gladly joined. Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks visiting Austria and cycling along the Danube River to Vienna? Two friends of Lisa’s, Karen and Julie, also joined to make our group six.

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Thinking literally

While I was writing last week’s column about my early days in school, I remembered a little neighbor boy we had while we lived in Iowa City. The youngest of three children, he missed his older siblings when school started each September. As happens with younger children, he had heard a lot about that somewhat mysterious and definitely wondrous place called school, and couldn’t wait for his turn. He had been told repeatedly that he could go to school when he was 5.

Love a parade

Walkin'

So where did we leave off last week?
Oh, that’s right, Frank and I were out on a double date, and we came up short on the bill.
So what did we do?
Frank called his older sister, Sue. Even though she just put her hair up in rollers, she threw on a housecoat and brought us $5. The kindness of strangers and siblings at play.
Fast-forwarding to today, the highlight of their recent visit was attending the Beef Days parade. Frank, as it turns out, loves a parade, and rarely misses a chance to see one or better yet, be in it.

I’m back

Walkin'

It’s been a busy couple of months since I last filed a column at the end of June.
In July, my oldest and dearest friends, Frank and Jan, stopped by for a long weekend.
Frank and I go back to junior high.
In the earliest days of our friendship, we went stag to the Rolling Meadows movie theater and sat, an open seat between us, hoping a couple of lovelies would look over and find us irresistible.
Then, as we matured, we’d take dates to the show instead of hoping they parachuted into the seats next to us.

The end of summer

Having lived in Iowa all my life, I’m not familiar with the policies of other states regarding summer vacation and the beginning of the school year. I know there are places that take into consideration the weather (extreme heat or cold) and holidays (both religious and national) when scheduling the school year. Circumstances have changed dramatically since early pioneer days when schools were strictly local matters, often managed and taught by individuals with no official oversight by local government or even school boards.

A matter of relativity

I’m not talking about Einstein’s theory here, but the third, or maybe the fourth definition, depending on which dictionary you’re using, “Relativity; dependence on a factor that varies according to context.”

Bad ideas

Food For Thought

In 1890, a New York City man named Eugene Schieffelin had the not-so-bright idea to import every species of bird mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Among the few species he managed to actually introduce to the city’s Central Park, was a flock of European starlings (referred to in Henry IV). Within 50 years, starlings colonized the entire North American continent– with dire results.

Before Dr. Seuss, even

Food For Thought

It has been said that J. K. Rowling has coaxed more kids into the reading habit in this century than Dr. Seuss did a generation ago. Her Harry Potter stories enchant and entertain adults and kids alike, and while both authors have influenced movies and television, I think their greatest contribution to society has been in the cause of literacy. Tempting children to read, to prefer books to the more passive activity of sitting and watching the screen, not only establishes the reading habit; it requires the exercise of imagination.

The green menace

Food For Thought

Many years ago, I enrolled in an art class to learn more about painting with watercolors. I’d majored in art in college and had concentrated more on oil painting, but had always wished I knew more about this more portable form of painting. The watercolor class was in the summer and most of the sessions were held outdoors. I became acutely aware of the many different shades and variations of green there are in our landscape and eventually became seriously tired of green paint.

When is a rose a weed?

Food For Thought

For all the years since 1971 that I’ve lived at my present address, a single wild rose plant has survived at the edge of the gravel road that dead-ends at my house. Every year, it has bloomed in June or July and, every year, it has been mowed off soon afterwards by the county crew that keeps the roadsides trimmed so tall weeds and grasses don’t obstruct the view of drivers and cause accidents. I appreciate the need to keep obstructions from growing at intersections and access roads, but I’ve always thought mowing off everything that grows beside the road to be a bit of overkill.

Making your own good luck

Food For Thought

I’ve come to believe our perceptions and expectations affect things that seemingly happen to us by chance. Aside from birthday candles and chicken wishbones, we halfway believe praying or wishing for something will increase its chances of happening. Sometimes, even though we’ve given up hope, the thing we’ve dreamed of actually comes true and we start to believe in Lady Luck. Such things happened to me often enough I have become curious about the role of luck (or the lack of it) and dug out an old magazine article I’d saved.