Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Posted December 06, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

The old man, the combine, and baseball

“I’d offer you lunch, but I’ve already eaten it,” the old man says without a hint of a smile. Dry humor fits this landscape of dust and whirling blades and blowing chaff. A foreign country for sure, where everyone operates on a seasonal punch clock. Not my world, even though

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Posted November 01, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

The drag queen and us

“Everyone does drag. Each one of us in our everyday life puts on a costume and does a performance piece as whoever it is we are.” – Joe Fraioli. The Garden Nightclub was just beginning to fill as folks got off work on this weekday night. T-shirts, a sprinkling of

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Posted October 04, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

Firetrucks and firefighters

“You can sit behind the wheel if you want to. Go ahead.” The firefighter, younger than my youngest child, is grinning broadly as he encourages me. He has me pegged. Yup, beneath my bald head is a tow-haired 5-year-old making firetruck noises while playing on the linoleum floor. Do I

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Posted September 06, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

Shirley Ballard — a lie detector in reverse

Shirley Ballard died the other day. Most of you didn’t know her. Honestly, she would have been all right with that. Not because she didn’t want to know you, but because she preferred to be behind the scenes. A little off stage. Far down in the credits. But it would

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Posted August 02, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

The ‘small potatoes’ game

If you’re feeling a little down because of what is occurring in the world, wondering what is going to happen to health insurance, taxes and world peace, you should play the “small potatoes” game. It is fun-packed, travel-friendly, and can be played by the entire family. You’ve never played before?

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Posted July 05, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

Working out

Spandex shorts, wicking shirt, sport socks. Check, check, check. Weight-lifting gloves, yoga mat, roller tube. Got ’em. High-performance shoes carried in my high-performance bag. Yup. And don’t forget the protein drink and proper hydration bottles. At last, I zip up my breathable, rain-resistant jacket, and I’m ready to go. It’s

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Posted May 31, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

The Merle Hay Trestle

“I remember…” began the old man. The streetcar sits high in the air, click-clacking across the tracks. A long bridge with eight buttresses, wood and steel framing, and exposed sides stretches out in front. There is no idle creek running below, instead, Merle Hay Road heading north to Camp Dodge.

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Posted May 03, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

Another marriage saved on the California Zephyr

My wife is stuck. Having climbed up into the top bunk of the sleeper car, legs forward, head tucked, she can’t unfold. The ceiling is just a bit too close for her 6-foot frame to unbend. And now here she is. A human sandwich traveling to Denver on Amtrak. How

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Posted April 05, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

In search of Mother’s Day

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”  — William Makepeace Thackeray. Mother’s Day cards in the card aisle at the grocery store are something to behold. Funny. Sincere. Loving. You can choose any flavor. You just sign your name at the bottom and

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Posted March 01, 2017in Joe's Neighborhood

What does democracy look like?

Bundled against the cold, with a pink pussy hat, pink gloves and pink scarf, the woman looks over the crowd of 26,000 gathered at the foot of the Iowa State Capitol. She raises the bullhorn to her mouth and calls out: “WHAT DOES DEMOCRACY LOOK LIKE?” Wow. Not really a

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