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Opinions

The Abilene Principle

Food for Thought

The various proposals we’ve seen over the years for a new jail and an addition to the Johnson County Courthouse have been less than officials want and claim they need, yet more than voters and taxpayers want to support. That’s a good example of the Abilene Principle. We’ve all experienced the sort of compromise that ends in nobody getting what they wanted, but settling for what everybody could tolerate. Such compromise seems to be the essence of politics and the reason such undertakings, even when finally approved, are not sufficient to fill the need.

Beef Days beeristory

Walkin'

The first Solon Beef Days I attended was in the early 1980s.
Back then, the entire city was an open container zone during the celebration. People came and went from the beer tent and the half dozen taverns in town with cup in hand. Individuals also hauled in their own coolers bringing in more beer and liquor. People around town, myself included, scheduled family reunions and parties to coincide with the festival and often tapped a keg or two.

Misconstrued

Food for Thought

Many years ago, when my husband first opened an office in Iowa City, he furnished it as economically as possible with furnishings from a secondhand store. He found a nice wooden desk for his inner office, and some shelving. A set of heavy oak dining room chairs furnished the waiting room, and the walls had ample space for a number of my oil paintings– most of which were unframed but still looked better than bare walls.

Alas, poor Bobby

Walkin'

So if brother Bob floated up dead in the lake at the bucolic Bender’s Fishing Camp, who would be the prime murder suspect? I can imagine creating a case for any one of several dozen defendants as the actual killer.

Body parts

Food for Thought

For years, I’ve enjoyed reading and rereading my collection of Agatha Christie mystery stories. I’ve never bothered to count them, but they completely fill three 30-inch shelves in my bookcase, and it takes months to work my way through the entire collection. At the time they were written, mostly during the first half of the last century, they represented upper-class life in England fairly accurately. This was the world that Agatha Christie lived in and knew best. There were country manor houses with butlers, housemaids, valets and chauffeurs.

To prank or not to prank

Walkin'

A reoccurring theme at Bender’s Fishing Camp is the prank.
Someone, for example, put four big catfish in our live well. The hoax is extra-impressive when one considers that while almost every game or pan fish available in area waters– northern, muskie, bass, walleye, perch, blue gill, crappie– the lowly catfish is not on the list. Did someone actually import the fish just to play a prank?

Gearing up for summer

Food for Thought

It was usually well past Memorial Day (and often after Independence Day) before I settled into the mind-set that nearly everybody else had enjoyed since the last day of school. By that, I mean that, as a child, it took me a while to change gears, to get out of my school-mode and into vacation-mode. I don’t know why I needed that transitional interval, but I still tend to pause, look around at my new circumstances and mentally switch gears before embarking on a new phase of my life.

And the murder mystery continues . . .

Walkin'

Besides the folksy crew that runs Bender’s, there’s a small sect of people making an annual pilgrimage to the fishing Mecca. They’ve been returning to the same spot on the same week for decades to commune with nature in the rustic setting and fish, fish, fish. Little Bro Bob has given nicknames to most of them:

No gifts, please

Food for Thought

By the time you reach age 75 or 80, you probably have enough fancy guest soaps, golf balls, pretty stationery, fishing lures, or useless what-nots to last for another decade at least. So, you’d really like to have that birthday party your kids and grandkids are planning for you, but the idea of receiving, acknowledging, and making use of so much additional stuff is discouraging, to say the least.

Some beach, somewhere

Food for Thought

Besides the cast of interesting characters running the Bender’s Fishing Camp, I arrived with two of my favorite Chicago fishing pals: brother Bob and his friend Rob, aka Gonzo.

Lawn mowing

Food for Thought

I remember the lawns surrounding the houses where we lived when I was a child. The grass was sparse and interspersed with dandelions and assorted other non-grass things that, at least, were green for most of the summer. My dad mowed with a push mower with a whirling cylinder of curved blades that he kept razor sharp. As far as I could tell, everybody mowed their own lawns, even Dr. Stone who lived at the end of our block, and Henry Reem, who had the biggest insurance agency in town and could afford to take his family to mountain dude ranches and seaside resorts every year.

Bender’s Fishing Camp

Walkin'

(Recently, I spent a week with my brother Bob and his friend Gonzo at Bender’s Fishing Camp in northern Minnesota. The place is so beautiful and away from everyday life that it is almost mythical in my thinking, a place like Avalon. In the far recesses of my mind, I’d like to write a play that takes place at the camp. Here’s how it would start).

The setting: Benders Fishing Camp in Northern Minnesota.