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Posted April 30, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Daydreaming in early spring

Is there any harm in letting your mind drift along on a warm spring day, feeling the sun on your neck and smelling the just-turned Iowa dirt from across the fields? With the world topsy-turvy because of missing planes, upside-down ferry boats and troops massed on the border, isn’t it

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Posted April 23, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Why not?

HELP WANTED: Person needed to create something wonderful out of an empty spot in Downtown Des Moines. 400,000 square feet available. Some debris removal required. Portions of Tea Room included. Helpful if partially crazy. The monumental fire and the destruction of the Younkers Building was quite a tragedy — sad

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Posted April 16, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

When a building dies….

When a building dies, do we mourn the loss? With all the real troubles in the world — the real suffering, the real terror, the real death — it seems absurd to mourn a building. I mean, come on, let’s be serious. A thing, built of mortar and brick and

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Posted April 09, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Fathers and sons

Old farmers in the Midwest tell tales of winter blizzards so fierce that a farmer had to tie a rope from the house to the barn to be able to get back home. The tied-off rope kept the farmer from getting lost in the blinding snow and freezing to death

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Posted April 02, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Dear soon-to-be graduate

Let’s talk about your future. Please. We must. Before things get too far. Sure, it was just a moment ago that you were trudging to class through ice and snow wondering if perhaps the glacier had permanently slid down from the tundra of Mason City to cover Des Moines. But,

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Posted March 26, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Obamacare implicated in Grand Avenue Bridge fiasco

The recent fiasco at Grand Avenue Bridge, as reported first by Cityview, underscores once again how Obamacare has unmoored the very heart of red-blooded America. Listen to me when I talk to you about this because I’M ANGRY AND I’M LOUD. And you should be, too. After Obama almost stopped

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Posted March 19, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

A streetcar is trying to kill me

A streetcar is trying to kill me. I thought you should know. Crazy? Maybe. Paranoid? Certainly. But untruthful? You be the judge. The bell is what announces the streetcar’s arrival. There is no rumble, no whistle, and no escaping steam to give warning. Silence reigns as she smoothly glides along

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Posted March 12, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Part 2 — the common birch tree

A clump of paper birch trees was planted by my neighbor in his front yard several years ago. Today, the white-bark trees stand out proudly against his blue house in Des Moines. They delight the eye. Their cousin, the river birch, is in our front yard across the street. Eighty

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Posted March 05, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

Part 1 — stones

Stones are a bane to Iowa farmers. Every year, new ones work themselves up out of the dark depths of the earth to land right smack in the middle of the field that is to be planted or plowed or disced. Yup, right there in the middle of the row

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Posted February 26, 2014in Joe's Neighborhood

The late winter blues

You’re tired. You’re tired of winter. You’re tired of slogging through another day. You’re really tired of another year silently slipping away. Your exciting job of last fall has become relentlessly mired. And now even the children are acting squirrelly. Spring probably won’t come. Listen, I’ve heard that can happen.

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Barmuda