Friday, July 3, 2015


Posted July 01, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Those pesky relatives of summer

The applause is thunderous. But not from hands clapping. Instead, skateboards brought by fans are smacked against the hardwood floor again and again. The raw sound of wood pounding against wood resonates around the skating rink. Primal. Especially when laced with the dark throb of heavy metal music and the

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Posted June 24, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Not a shark attack in sight

Boredom is an art form perfected by teenagers, lifers in prison and pop culture. My money is on the teenagers as the pros in that group. When the hapless parent appears at school and tries to hand over last night’s forgotten homework, the disdain of the young teenager is something to

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Posted June 17, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

The chronically sports-impaired

The crack of a bat against a ball. The rising crescendo of the crowd as the striker roars toward the goal. The muted pound of the runners flying down the far side of the track. These are all sounds of spring sports as they turn slowly toward summer, then summer to

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Posted June 10, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Lawn Mowers Anonymous

My name is Joe, and I’m a recovering mower. Just drive around on any evening or weekend in Des Moines. Go ahead. Notice what’s going on this time of year. People aren’t at the theater. People aren’t drinking at the bar. People aren’t hanging out with their friends. Nope. They’re mowing their

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Posted June 03, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

The death of a farmer

Dave Parker died this past winter. You probably didn’t know him. He farmed with his uncle out near Mingo and lived alone in the old family farmhouse up on a hill. A big white clapboard house, with farm machinery spread out back, grain bins to the side, a carefully mowed

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Posted May 27, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Grace and the tollbooth

Tollbooths are a rare bird in Iowa. We don’t pay a toll to travel down Grand Avenue to East Village, for example. We don’t toss money into metal baskets and wait for the arm to lift so that we can drive past the shops in Beaverdale. And, frankly, I have yet to get

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Posted May 20, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Chasing Route 6 to Cleveland — a graduation gift

Graduation time is always complicated when it comes to picking out gifts for the graduating seniors. For many reasons. But not the least of which is a harsh reminder that you don’t really know what is relevant to the graduating generation. You have aged. Yup, just a little. But I have

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Posted May 13, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Serious business at the fun table

Three women sit at the corner table in Star Bar on Ingersoll. All blonde. All laughing. All comfortable in their skin. Periodically, they lean in to each other conspiratorially, then rock back in a whoosh of hilarity at some clever story or phrase or memory. Obviously, the fun table. Samantha, 17

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Posted May 06, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Searching for morel mushrooms

“When the lilacs bloom, it’s time to start.  Although some people do wait for the dandelions.” That’s good advice for almost any endeavor, don’t you think? And so the lilacs are blooming, and out we head.  Beau Perry, Max the Dog, and myself.  In search of the elusive morel mushroom.

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Posted April 29, 2015in Joe's Neighborhood

Elvin’s Voice

The dapper white-haired man sits elegantly entwined upon himself — leg over leg, arms crossed lightly, waist turned gracefully inward. A flower waiting to open. “I started what is now as an international plant society about Gesneriads. That is the African Violet Family, you know.” No, I don’t. In fact, I

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