Thursday, October 27, 2016

Posted June 15, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Capturing the wind

  The 160 acres of black dirt was near Stratford, Iowa. Corn and beans and cattle and chickens and a large garden made up my grandpa’s farm back in those days. I would wake before the sun and he would take me to the landing by the side door, where

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Posted June 08, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

A graduation gift of 3 stories

Listen, I don’t have an actual gift. And of course I missed both parties. Not to mention seeing them walk across the stage. But I’m an ocean away as my friends’ boys graduate from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. It’s a big deal. Will and Henry Gunderson and Eli

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Posted June 01, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Sarajevo, Slipknot, and the Hawkeyes

  “Where do you come from?” the young copper artists in Sarajevo asked. My wife and I told them. “But where in the United States?” they insisted. We went into our typical patter that goes something like this: “A small state in the middle of the country called Iowa, it’s

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Posted May 25, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

A Sarajevo bullet

    “Honestly, officers, I just forgot it was there.” Words I have heard many a guilty criminal utter as they are hauled away to jail. The 5-inch, copper-cased bullet was wrapped in soft tissue paper and buried among the copper coffee grinders, the copper pan, the copper plate and

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Posted May 18, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

How to eat a herring

“There are multiple ways of cleaning a herring. What I do is chop the head off, chop the belly off, make sure the skin is off, the fins are off. Then I’m opening the herring by putting my thumb under the back spine, and then I clean the belly and

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Posted May 11, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Tulips and cornfields

  Iowa cornfields in late August are a thing to behold. Sure, I’m biased. I love the long formations of parading stalks, their dark green leaves turned dry and hard by the approaching autumn, their tops swaying and rolling in unison with the warm winds, and, of course, their whispering,

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Posted May 04, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The bones of the Magi

We’ve been doing a lot of sinning lately, don’t you think? Sure, most are lazy sins, like poisoning our water and hating immigrants and trying to take health care from women. It’s easy when there are no faces. The sins get a little more complicated when we are about to

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Posted April 27, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

The Ambassador

This part of The Hague was new to me. The reddish-brown bricks in the road still held the last drops of rain as I peddled toward the cafe where we had agreed to meet. Yellow daffodils, vibrant green grass and canals bordered the way. Arriving early, I waited at the

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Posted April 20, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Thoughts from an outdoor cafe

  An outdoor cafe in early spring in Holland. The hat comes off first. Your head drops back. Your eyes shut. Your surroundings disappear. And all you feel is the sharp heat of early spring raising pinpricks of red on your cheeks and a rosy hue under your eyelids. And

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Posted April 13, 2016in Joe's Neighborhood

Prague in 3 acts — an Iowan’s view

  The street is tight with tourists. Some jostling rudely, some floating adrift, some wary of every brush of the pocket, and some, of course, looking to brush your pocket. But all of us, innocent and guilty alike, are pushed away from the river, across the tram tracks and careening taxis,

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