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Opinions

A little bit of water

Food For Thought

I don’t know why, but my mother firmly believed that a lawn and garden weren’t complete without a pond, stream, fountain or, at the very least, a birdbath. Dad apparently agreed, for he managed to provide a small body of water in the back yard of every place we lived.
While I don’t remember it, I have photos of a fish pond that was in the back yard of the house where I was born. It featured a little waterfall that tumbled over some rocks on its way to the pond, and a weeping willow tree that drooped picturesquely over its west edge.

Golfing again

Walkin'

With Sabra’s retirement from the veterinary clinic, we have more time to do things together like golf, at least in theory.
When I first started dating her, she played several times a week. Naturally athletic, she was playing a fairly competitive game, which I found unnerving. Not that I can’t stand being beat by a woman; it was the way I was getting hammered.

The harvest

Food For Thought

Dad’s dream of raising all the food for his family came closer and closer to reality as the fruit trees and berry bushes he planted came into production. He had planted just about everything in the nursery catalogs they claimed would survive southern Iowa winters, and we were beginning to enjoy the difference between store-bought and tree-ripened fruit. We also had a number of things that, for years, had been standards in gardens across the Midwest. Rhubarb and ground cherries, horseradish, grapes, asparagus and other things that, once planted, came back reliably every spring.

The Iowa City history tour

Walkin'

One of my projects this summer has been developing a bicycling tour of Iowa City. The tour is 16 miles long and typically begins at the Agudas Achim Cemetery on the north edge of the city.

Gardening with Dad

Food For Thought

Dad spent most evenings reading, an activity I understood and appreciated. What I didn’t know was just what he was reading. I realized, years later, that he had been boning up on farming and animal husbandry. He was dead serious about raising most of the food his family would eat, and he didn’t want to waste time, money and effort doing it wrong. He also sought advice from Mother’s brothers and father, who had farmed all their lives.

The acreage, Washington Street

Food For Thought

From the time my parents first came to Knoxville, a couple years before I was born, Dad had his eye on a small acreage that was located on the southeast edge of town. Just short of 10 acres, it had once been a commercial cherry orchard. There was a big, two-story house, built around 1900; a small barn with attached lean-to that served as a machine shed; an old corn crib converted to a chicken house; and the remnants of a small pear orchard. Some black walnut trees and a couple unidentified apple trees grew in a sloping pasture that stopped at what is now Highway 5.

Fish fry surprise

Walkin'

Benders Fishing Camp, epilogue:
What’s left to do after a week of near-perfect fishing?
Fry, baby, fry!
The key to good cooking, I long ago decided, is to start with really wholesome ingredients and then don’t mess it up.
At no time is this philosophy more important. There simply is nothing better than fillets from plate-sized blue gill caught in the still cool waters of North Minnesota in late spring. The meat is just so fresh, firm and sweet.

Summer days on First Street

Food For Thought

There was always something special about an early morning in summer. Possibly it was because the day hadn’t yet heated up, there was a fresh coolness that belied the promise of another sizzling July day.
When I was about seven or eight years old, the house we lived in was located on South First Street in Knoxville. It faced west, the front yard shaded by a row of mature American Elm trees that hadn’t yet been exposed to the devastation of Dutch Elm Disease. There were two gooseberry bushes flanking the door to the screened front porch, and the grass grew sparsely in the limited sunlight.

Two-ton hamburgers

Walkin'

Benders Fishing Camp, last day.
Limited out in blue gill and walleye, the only thing left for today is to try for northern and they aren’t biting.
I’d lament about the trip being all too short, but Bob doesn’t like lamenting in his boat, he’s afraid that it will ruin the carpeting. He does allow reflecting, however, so I spent the day pretty much doing just that.
In particular, I mused on how much fishing has changed just in my lifetime.

Wanting it all

Food For Thought

Every week, the last half-hour of Friday kindergarten class was devoted to the rather scary but heady activity of standing in front of the class and telling about an experience we considered memorable, or showing off a prized toy or curiosity. Quite often I had neglected to bring something to talk about, but that didn’t stop me from taking my turn.
One Friday, I marched to the blackboard and boldly announced that I could write my name in cursive.

Benders fishing camp day 4

To mix things up a little, I asked to go out with Chuck instead of Bob for the morning, 5-7 a.m., fishing session.
In his mid-50s, Chuck designs and builds flow meters for a company in Chicago. He’s an all-around nice guy, someone who is very comfortable in his own skin. His spouse, Rosemary, comes to camp but she mostly stays shoreside reading or doing puzzles while her hubby fishes. You might say she’s a good-hearted woman in love with a good fishing man, who loves him despite of ways she doesn’t understand.

The Sisyphus principle

Food For Thought

A cruel king of Corinth, Sisyphus, was condemned to push a boulder uphill for eternity. Just before he reached the top, the boulder would slip and roll back down so that he had to start all over. Sound familiar? It should if you’re the one in charge of the housework at your house. You never get it all done. Even with a dishwasher, you can’t keep up with the dirty dishes. Long before the last rinse cycle has finished, a nice supply of drinking glasses, snack plates, and various utensils has accumulated by the kitchen sink, awaiting their turn.