[Masthead] Fair ~ 63°F  
High: 82°F ~ Low: 58°F
Friday, Aug. 1, 2014
Time to cut back (07/19/13)
Editor's note: Mary Roder has written this weekly column in the Daily Sentinel for 10 years and today concludes her column with the 526th Musing with Mary. Thank you, Mary. How does it happen that every month fills up with more appointments, activities and expectations than the previous one? My recent birthday had me wondering about this. ...
Binocle is its real name (07/12/13)
The card game that originated in France as Binocle was adopted by the Germans. They introduced it to the United States when they immigrated in the 1800's. Either they didn't bother getting the spelling or pronunciation correct or they made it their own by renaming it. ...
Never say Never (07/05/13)
As kids, our summer months meant lots of picnics. The ones at home in the front yard were fun. But less enjoyable were those on Sunday. It seemed every other Sunday my mother knew where there was a branch of her family having a picnic that she wanted us to attend. We came to know our grandmother's siblings and their children but also to dread those Sundays. We would not have chosen of our own free will to attend those picnics but went along out of obedience and respect for mom...
The memories surfaced, even if a little late (06/28/13)
It was a beautiful June morning. I checked the calendar for reminders of whatever was going on that day. My hand automatically went up, giving myself a knock on the forehead. It is a gesture I make when I realize I have done something stupid. Today was the 22nd birthday of our granddaughter, Adrienne. ...
Ignore the weather -- it is summer (06/21/13)
The strange weather we are having is messing with this old lady's head. It feels like late April, looks like May and is, in fact, mid-June. The iris could not decide when to bloom so they didn't even get buds. The peonies are showing off now while during ordinary years they are almost finished blooming by Memorial Day...
Summer fun begins on the last day of school (06/07/13)
Grade school was a great time for me but I still looked forward to the last day before summer vacation. The day after final tests were over, we lent a hand with cleaning the school. On cleaning day we removed the brown paper bag covers we made in September from our text books. Scraps of rubber erasers still in our pencil bags were used to clean any marks or scribbles in our books readying them for the next year's class...
Red stole my helper (05/31/13)
Her older siblings and teacher-parents had to go to school, but Maggie's preschool had two days off. We invited her to come spend those days with us. The first day of her visit we went to buy plants for the flower bed near the front door of our home. She kept busy taking pictures at the garden center with my small digital camera. Every flower she thought we should buy had its picture taken several times. (A wonderful feature of a digital camera is that pictures are easily deleted)...
Where oh where (05/17/13)
The first week of April gave us several mild days, teasing us into thinking spring was here. My husband had tilled his garden last fall. His box of seeds for this year's vegetable garden had been riding around in his pickup with him for two months. He was ready to begin enjoying his pastime for the two upcoming seasons. Small drifts of snow in the ditches alongside the road did not squelch his enthusiasm...
Gawkers, not good Samaritans (05/10/13)
An old joke tells us about the fellow who took a job painting traffic-guiding stripes on the highway. The first day he painted three miles, the second day he painted a mile and a half, the third day he painted one tenth of a mile. His employer called him in to see why his productivity dropped so drastically with each passing day. The clueless employee answered, "I kept getting further away from my paint bucket."...
Pride does go before the fall (05/03/13)
Lenten shopping trips were as important to us as teenagers as was abstaining from eating between meals. Mother wanted all four of her daughters to have new hats and shoes for Easter, hence the exciting shopping trips. Usually our Easter dresses were sewn by her or were hand-me-downs, but the hats were bought especially for each of us. ...
MISINTERPRETATIONS (04/26/13)
My dad needed help from his children during certain seasons of the year on the farm. A cousin from town had spent two overnights with us. That kept two of us out of the field for a few days. On the last day of her visit my dad came to the house to remind us that as soon as she left for home we were to come to the field to help shock the oats. ...
A comedy of errors (04/19/13)
It started out as an ordinary week. We went to church, visited a sick friend and read the Sunday paper. A household auction in our neighborhood that afternoon intrigued me and, although I am a novice when it comes to knowing when to bid, I went, picked up a bidding number. ...
This year's April Fool joke (04/12/13)
Easter was the last day of March this year. We planned to have an evening meal for fourteen. The invited guests included five small children. Setting the table and having enough food on the table for that many does not leave much room for a fancy centerpiece. I had to think of some other way to make the table look festive...
From memory lane onto public roadways (04/05/13)
The usual activities that fill up our social calendar every spring have begun. We have out of town trips planned for a niece's wedding, a college graduation and a First Communion celebration. Winter trips are few with one exception -- many nostalgic trips are taken through photo albums. One such trip took us through a series of photographs taken on the First Communion celebrations of fifteen of our grandchildren who have already had that special day...
Helping mom (03/29/13)
Sometime ago one of my sons wrote the following to his siblings: "In the wake of the columns Mom has written for publication, I think we are all realizing more and more how she is immortalizing many family moments. I wonder if each of us can jot down ten (or more) things about growing up (including through our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc.) that we hope she will (or has) written about. ...
Decisions, decisions, decisions (03/15/13)
Our youngest daughter wrote a letter to her dad once saying how she might want to be a farmer some day. She talked about how she loved growing up on the farm claiming she should know a lot about it because she rode in the tractor cab with him so often. ...
Our latest adventure (03/01/13)
"Der Toott Farei I have a wagily toott I kpe eding abbls." This note was written by our granddaughter, Sylvia, who is five years old. She is very excited about her loose tooth. Several of her classmates have already lost teeth and she is eager to be a part of that group. Her family was awaiting that event and the birth of a child. Sylvia wasn't quite sure which should happen first, losing the tooth or finding a baby in her mommy's arms...
Column morphs into a blog (02/15/13)
Two of our granddaughters are going on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua. This gave each of us as grandparents an assignment. They hoped grandpa would open his wallet with needed financial assistance and this grandma would open her seldom used sewing machine. The organizers request that our slacks/shorts loving girls wear skirts while working with the five hundred plus patients they expect will come to their clinic for medical services...
Skinny girls from the past (01/25/13)
Opening the envelope with a Christmas card from my cousin, two photographs slipped out and fell to the floor. I picked them up, turned them over, and was utterly surprised at what I saw. The pictures were of two skinny young women striking silly poses while wearing hats, pearl necklaces, spiky heeled shoes and ridiculous looking shorts. Could one of them really be me?...
Suffering from too much sparkle (01/04/13)
The Christmas celebrations are supposed to be over for another year. At our house it looks a bit like we are trying to extend it. We usually leave the tree and other decorations up until after what we call Little Christmas or the Feast of the Three Kings, January 6th. I am not sure if that is an official date on the church calendar but that's the way I remember it from the days my parents followed that custom and that is good enough for me...
Two weeks before Christmas (12/21/12)
This has been a busy week. An afternoon attending a visitation for a deceased friend, another spent with the folks at the assisted living facility, another helping serve Christmas goodies at a local bank and yet another cooking and baking for a family gathering the next afternoon left little time for decorating, wrapping gifts or writing cards. ...
Out with autumn - winter's here (12/07/12)
This morning we cleared the tops of our kitchen cupboards of the cornucopia, turkey platter, the owl peaking from behind fall foliage, etc. in preparation for a more wintery look. The rest of the house will have decorations more with the theme of celebrating Christ's birth but whatever goes on top of the cupboards gets to stay there for the balance of the winter. ...
Two very different thanksgivings (11/30/12)
We didn't eat in the dining room very often, but on holidays our mother brought out her good dishes and china, the cloth napkins and matching tablecloth and a beautiful centerpiece. Sometimes my grandma and aunt came out from town to join us, but even if we had no company, she made it special for us there in the dining room...
Singing the sick blues (11/23/12)
Fighting a head and chest cold for several days has left me with little or, should I admit it, no ambition. It should be understood that in the old days a little thing like spending most of the night coughing would not keep me on the couch during daylight, or when feeling the worst, not for long. ...
I LOVE THE LIBRARY (11/16/12)
Our home town was too small to have its own library. When we helped the Sisters clean up the school rooms before summer vacation, they would allow us to take a few books home to read over the summer. One summer I read and reread A Lantern in Her Hand, the story of a girl born into the Nebraska territory. ...
Relatively Speaking (11/09/12)
I worked in an office downtown for a little over thirty years. During that time my cousin owned the business next door. Wendell was two months older than me. He considered it his right and duty to keep an eye on me and make sure I trod the straight and narrow path at all times for the sake of our family's good name...
The art gallery (11/02/12)
The mail brought a new piece of artwork sent by a grandchild as her way of including us in her celebration of Halloween. My refrigerator magnets have done their share to help display the many photographs and drawings given us by grandchildren over the years. However, the front of the refrigerator is no longer used for that purpose. We were getting so many pictures we considered fridge-worthy, we had to change our course of action...
Premonitions (10/26/12)
An uncle living in California dreamed the farm he had called home in Iowa during his childhood had been hit by a tornado. The dream bothered him. He phoned his brother who now lived on that farm. The phone was out of order. The farm had been hit by a tornado that day. Has something similar happened to you. It is called, having a premonition...
Telephone trouble is a family experience (10/19/12)
Ben loves to play that he is talking on the telephone. It wasn't long after he began walking that he found his toddler-length arms could reach the portable phone on my bedside table. I saw him walk out of the bedroom beaming as he listened to the dial tone. ...
The radio, then and now (10/12/12)
My kitchen radio entertained me as I worked around the house during the first ten years of my life as a wife and a mother. Public radio offered a half hour of daily reading from classical novels such as Grapes of Wrath or Lorna Doone. My chances to sit down to read were few and far between, but I could listen to those readings and get the charge my imagination needed. ...
Concentrating can be a bad thing (10/05/12)
My theory is that we should never go to bed until we have learned something new that day. Trying to learn everything about my new computer during these past weeks, I feel I have put enough into my knowledge bank to neglect that for a while. Beginning with the first day I got the laptop, my powers of concentration went into overdrive. ...
Fun activities can backfire (09/28/12)
When it comes to being inventive, my biggest successes seem to be unintentionally creating problems. An example of that is teaching the grandchildren to imagine themselves in a parade, crowds waving and calling to us as we strut through a circle of rooms in the house. We step in time to a John Phillip Sousa march...
Pass the humble pie, please (09/21/12)
We were enjoying a visit with a friend who moved from our town many years ago. He knew I wrote a column but expressed surprise on hearing it is published beyond our local area. "Why would someone in Eau Claire, Wisconsin be interested in what you have to say?" he asked. That set me aback and for a moment I wondered the same thing...
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (09/14/12)
My husband wants to claim he is the most romantic husband in town because he brings me fresh flowers for our dining room table so often. He does, but he picks them from the flower gardens I have planted, tilled, watered and weeded all summer. Now that it is late summer the flowers have suffered from the high heat and lack of rain water. ...
Mrs. Huffy was a clean freak (09/07/12)
My mother liked to have the house clean and tidy. During our adolescent years we weren't always happy about that but it was easier to live up to her standards knowing she wasn't like Mrs. Huffy who lived in town. Mrs. Huffy went overboard. We did not tell our mom what we knew about this woman but mother must have known because one day she talked about a lady who had died. ...
Today's Idiots (08/24/12)
It is wrong to label people. I am going to do it anyway by writing about a rather recent batch of troublemakers I consider idiots. First let's consider those people who have the time to work out ways to invade the privacy of others by getting into a personal computer. ...
Born with a Lose-it Gene (08/17/12)
My dreams have recurrent themes. One that is repeated often is that I have forgotten my room number at a hotel and every time the elevator door opens, it is on the same floor, the wrong one. Another is that I can't find my classroom or I am in a city and can't find the school back. Last night it was my dorm room. I not only could not remember which room was mine, I couldn't remember the names of my roommates. I was so glad to wake up in the midst of that dream and know I was in my own house...
Discipline takes many different forms (08/10/12)
A picture of my great-niece's daughter picking up sticks reminded me of my own little one doing the same. She, too, was a toddler when a windstorm deposited a branch on the sidewalk outside our back door. The kids had to go past or around it to do their pig chores. They had to go past or around it to get to the garage and the car. They had to go past or around it to go anywhere outdoors. And that is just what they did -- they went past or around it...
Our experiences at the county fair (08/03/12)
It is time for county fairs in our area of the country. Our summers, from the time my sisters were old enough to belong to the 4-H club until the youngest of our family had graduated from high school, were spent doing projects for the Plymouth County Fair. ...
A birthday gift to remember (07/27/12)
During a phone call to my oldest daughter on her birthday I reminded her that when I was about her age she put out the idea for my birthday gift. The family had been suggesting for some time that I write something for publication. My excuse was always the same. ...
Keeping busy in garden & kitchen (07/20/12)
Zucchini, cabbage, peas, kohlrabi, beans, peppers, cucumbers and potatoes are being brought into our kitchen on a daily basis. My husband is out pedaling beans to non-gardeners at this very minute. We do not have an excess of any of the rest of those vegetables yet. ...
SUMMER RECREATIONS (07/13/12)
Playing Andy-Andy Over around the cob house during daytime and Moonlight-Starlight among the big trees on the front lawn after dark were highlights of summer for me until we got our first bicycles. It was during the late 1940's. My dad and brother went to the Sioux City stockyards to watch a load of hogs being sold. ...
Get to the doctor, quick, quick, quick (07/06/12)
Our parents and those of our friends during our growing up years did not take us to the doctor very often. My three older siblings had their tonsils taken out in what was apparently a marathon surgery as they were all in bed at the same time recovering. Personally, I don't think I was ever in a doctor's office until I had to go for a physical prior to my marriage. I don't know how I escaped the tonsil thing unless it was because I was talking so much they couldn't get a look at my throat...
First Times (06/29/12)
A comment in a recent column about the first time I tasted potato chips brought comments from some readers. Kris says she attended a picnic in the back yard at the convent. The yard was completely surrounded by high hedges making it very private and mysterious and she considered it holy. The Sisters served Doritos corn chips at that picnic. She thought they were the most delicious thing she had ever eaten. A FIRST she has never forgotten...
TRUCKIN' TO TOWN (06/22/12)
Going to the movies as a youngster was always a very special treat. It was extraordinarily exciting the day we learned the Vogue Theater in a nearby town was going to have a special showing of the movie the Song of Bernadette for all the students in the small parochial school our family attended. ...
Getting my zzzzzzzzzs (06/15/12)
One of the blessings of being retired for me is that I can take a nap whenever I feel like it and not feel guilty. Ever since my first pregnancy, I have been a mid-day napper. It started then and maybe it became a habit more than a necessity, but I never got over it...
Real graduations and a virtual one (06/08/12)
We attended three graduations for grandchildren this year, all at different levels of education. So far the graduations of this generation of Roder offspring have been nicely spaced. We have not had more than one high school graduation a year. That will change when the three we have in fourth grade now break out at the same time...
My list is short: crisp cucumbers & burned potatoes (06/01/12)
I was trying to think of some hints for success in the kitchen that I could pass along to my grandchildren now that some of them are setting up their own households. It occurred to me while I was preparing a salad that my mother soaked cucumber slices in salt water for a couple of hours before putting them into a salad. Why? In the back of my mind I seemed to remember something about them being bitter or poisonous and the salt water took away whatever was bad...
Dumping made easy (05/25/12)
My cleaning out and disposing of efforts got a needed boost recently. Two granddaughters are moving into their own apartments this summer and one grandson just bought a house. The girls said they are in need of any "extras" (their word) that we have around the house...
My hometown (05/18/12)
I was six years old the year we moved from a rented farm to one my dad bought near the small town of Oyens in northwest Iowa. I lived there for another 16 years and loved it. It disturbs me, even now, when anyone new to the area mispronounces the name of the town. It is supposed to be pronounced as if you were saying two letters "o-ns". Instead people pronounce it as if they are making a disgusting sound that rhymes with coins...
Money Troubles (05/11/12)
During the first few years of our life as farmers, neither my husband nor I had an off-the-farm job with a monthly paycheck coming in. The grain we sold took care of the farm rent and our big expenses, but we counted on the pigs and chickens for the day-to-day stuff. If our checking account ran low it stayed that way and we lived with it until my farmer said there were hogs ready for market...
One mystery solved - one remains (05/04/12)
We are planning to make a 6 hour road trip to attend a nephew's wedding. Our trips away from home usually involve delivering some of my husband's homemade goodies - jars of jam, pickles, frozen sweet corn, etc. This time we were asked to also bring a pile of storage boxes from our basement. We have been storing some of our youngest son's belongings. Brad is moving to a larger apartment and now needs his stuff. Responding to that request also answered a mystery we have had for some time...
The solution: Buy only belated greeting cards (04/27/12)
My aunt and grandma lived together and we went into town at least once a week to see them when I was growing up on the farm. Still, when it was my birthday, I would sit at the mailbox waiting to hear the sound of our mailman's junker-car turning the corner onto our road. ...
Where do they get these ideas? (04/20/12)
Currently I have no granddaughters in high school. I thought that eliminated the possibility of fielding last minute requests for help with costumes, The girls came up with crazy stuff like wanting me to create something on very short notice for Dress-as-a-Comic-Strip-Character day or for I'm-a-Nerd day at school. ...
Traveling with extended family (04/13/12)
We have had some fun times while traveling with family but, as is usual with my husband and myself, the fun is almost always mixed with a misadventure or two. We went to St. Louis with husband's brother and his wife to celebrate another brother's 25th wedding anniversary. ...
Hats and high fashion were the topics of the day (04/06/12)
Several decades ago when we were still very interested in hats, our ladies' group had a contest at a morning luncheon. Contestants had to wear hats they had created. I was busy at the office preparing tax returns. The tax forms came in different colors: gift tax returns were green, trust fiduciary returns were yellow, estate fiduciary returns were pink, and partnership returns were green while ordinary individual income tax returns were white. ...
A new take on some old favorites (03/30/12)
Many years ago on Saturday mornings my sister and I listened to a radio program called Let's Pretend while we dusted and helped with the cleaning. Fairy tales were brought to life as we listened to Cinderella's wicked stepsisters plot against her. Another week it may be Rumpelstiltskin trying to convince the miller's daughter to spin straw into gold for him I don't suppose a radio program like that would be as popular now that most of the fairy tales have been made into animated movies, but I find the children still like to have those same stories read to them. ...
Ahh! The sweet smell of spring (03/23/12)
My husband walked out of the back door, took a deep breath and sighed, "The smell of spring is in the air. I can't get enough of this." The weather had been rainy followed by several very warm, windy days. Today was a warm, windless day after a tough winter. There were a few spots of snow on the north side of the ditches and buildings but the rains earlier in the week took care of most of it. The landscape was not pretty. Everything was still dull tans and greys but the fresh air held promise...
A dog in the house might not be so bad (03/16/12)
My sons have teased me about whether I got the right kids when I left the hospital after giving birth. The teasing results from the fact that they dearly love dogs and cats and I can tolerate them but there is no way I can get silly or lovey-dovey with them...
The grands keep us going (03/02/12)
Basketball season is in the tournament phase. I like watching my grandchildren playing this sport but enough is enough. I am ready to turn the page on basketball for this year. In all honesty, I have no choice. None of the teams I follow made their way into post-season tournaments...
Reviewing but harboring no regrets (02/24/12)
Heading into my office today to write my weekly column I realized It is 6 weeks into the year. Time for me to review all the promises I made to myself on January 1st. Note that I no longer call them resolutions as that seems to doom them from the start...
My Las Vegas experience (02/17/12)
Our former employer invited his office help to visit him at his retirement home in Las Vegas. My friend and I eagerly accepted his invitation, planning to see some shows and check out the casinos while visiting him. My first thought was that since playing slot machines requires no skill and I like to play cards, I would take my turn at the gambling tables playing Blackjack. ...
Saturday nights were magical (02/10/12)
My memories of Saturday night during my growing-up years took place in a town slightly larger than the one I now call my hometown. We stopped at the grocery store first to unload crates of eggs from the car trunk where they were traded for mother's pantry supplies for the week. ...
That Old House (02/03/12)
There are many abandoned farm houses in our state. I am always tempted to stop and explore when we pass one but the fear of someone seeing me trespassing overrides the temptation. I think just going inside would give me a feel for the people who once lived there. ...
A gift held me hostage (01/27/12)
We were enjoying the spring-like winter weather with which Iowa surprised its residents. The air was crisp and refreshing, the streets dry and clear when I took my 6 AM walk. It lulled us into expecting it would stay that way. It didn't. The day after we decided to make a trip north, all of it changed. We are staying home. I had hoped getting out of the house for a few days would break a spell I had been under...
Sharing was okay with me (01/20/12)
Maggie was napping with me. "Do you have to share this bed with Grandpa?" she asked. She is about to have a room of her own, the first that she doesn't share with her sister. She is very interested in who has to share and who doesn't? My sister, a year younger than myself, was my roommate during our growing up years and that lasted until a few months after I graduated from high school. ...
It was not one of my better days (01/13/12)
It didn't start out well. I had a long list of things to do that day. I spent the first 15 minutes after getting out of bed looking for my shower cap. It wasn't where it should have been and I wanted to take a shower but didn't want my hair to get wet...
Resolution makers (01/06/12)
The topic of conversation at many tables during the first day of the year is resolutions. Dads want to make resolutions for their kids. In my experience they don't have any ideas for resolutions of their own. The one who fathered my children was never brave enough to ask the children to return the favor and suggest resolutions for him. On the other hand, I get very vocal about my plans...
Christmas Eve at our farm (12/23/11)
Does your Christmas Eve meal include oysters or bowls of clam chowder? Many families have a staple that traditionally must be part of their supper. We can't remember what we served when our children were all at home. They were always so eager for the evening to begin that they would have been satisfied with pancakes. No matter what we put on the table, it was eaten in a hurry. They couldn't wait to go put on their costumes and get the living room ready for their annual skit or play...
Hiding gifts is part of the game (12/16/11)
No matter how young their children are, parents spend time in the months prior to Christmas trying to figure out where to store gifts to keep them secret. My husband and I should be beyond the stage in life where that is necessary. We are not. Our offspring are now asking us to hide stuff at our house for them. ...
Gearing up for the next holiday (12/09/11)
It seems celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday and preparations for the Christmas holiday have overlapped this year. We did enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with six of our seven adult children present over a period of 5 days. That means there were also 19 grandchildren in and out during that time. There were times when the noise level in the house was raised to a dangerous level...
Enjoying the little kids in our lives (12/02/11)
We were walking through the neighborhood and passed a house that had recently suffered severe damage from a fire. My five year old grandson wondered aloud where the man who lived there would sleep now. I told him the man's mom and dad would probably have him come live with them until he could find another place. The little fellow quietly considered that...
Giving thanks for Thanksgiving (11/25/11)
Our family loves Thanksgiving. We are one family among a multitude who agree that it is a wonderful holiday. No matter how many problems we have during the year, it is so good to spend some time being grateful for all that has gone right, to take the time to count our blessings and to do it in the company of those we love as we sit around a table full of wonderful food...
Maybe we should wallpaper (11/18/11)
Paint is promoted as an easy and inexpensive way to give a new look to a room or a piece of furniture, a facelift of sorts. That statement is made with the understanding that all of the paint ends up in its intended location. Somehow in my experience paint isn't always a simple solution. It has a way of not just solving problems but also creating them...
The mysterious sisters (11/11/11)
My aunt was a professed Sister in a convent. The order to which she belonged allowed only two home visits in a lifetime. Most of the Sisters made that visit at the deaths of their mothers and fathers. I didn't meet Sister Marie Therese until I was a teenager and had grown past the years when my curiosity would have had me asking her many personal questions. ...
Halloween is fun for all ages (11/04/11)
We rummaged through the costume box frantically. It was already late afternoon on Halloween and our 12-year-old had made the last minute decision that he was not too big to go trick or treating. He wanted to go with us but we were not finding anything he wanted to wear among those in the box...
Oscar's tenure as a mascot was brief (10/28/11)
Normally reptiles are far from my favorite sort of animal and yet one particular one found his way into my heart. Our high school class had traveled to a nearby city in a school bus to attend the circus. We girls tried to find the silliest souvenirs possible but the guys outdid us. ...
What I did this summer (10/21/11)
Summer is winding down. Harvesting is in full swing. We have many wonderful memories of the fun we have had over the last half dozen months, traveling, spending time with family who live out of our area and attending sporting events. Our seven adult children, all of them with families of their own, had lots of fun with exciting baseball, softball and soccer games, swim meets, music camps, etc. ...
A twin would help me out (10/14/11)
A few days after I wrote a rant of sorts about my grandchildren qualifying for drivers' licenses when I thought they were too young, a friend told me about a headache she avoided. Her twin sister phoned her that day to ask if she had remembered this was the month to renew their licenses. She had not and was grateful to her twin for the reminder. Two days later would have meant her license expired requiring her to take both written and driving tests to get it back...
The kids are driving (10/07/11)
Our farm was seven miles from town. Our teenagers were involved in many extracurricular activities at school and church. That meant those fourteen mile round trips were frequent. We drove them to friends' homes, school functions, the gym and church and spent way too much time waiting outside these places to take them back home. ...
The orpdome (09/30/11)
We were gone for the weekend leaving two teenagers in charge of their four younger siblings at home. What pair of teenagers wouldn't relish the idea of being in charge and the freedom that goes with being out from under the watchful eyes of their parents? Ours certainly did...
Remembering 9/11 (09/23/11)
The tenth anniversary of that horrific day in American history, the day our country was attacked by terrorists, has come and gone. We watched the memorial ceremonies in fascination as people told stories of lives saved, losses suffered and the ways others have helped them heal and forgive. There were many heartfelt tributes to those who led others to safety, treated injuries or searched for survivors, strangers who put aside their own fears to provide kindness to fellow citizens...
The Man Cave (09/16/11)
Trendy home improvement magazines promote fixing up an area of the home specifically for the man of the house. The room should give him a space that highlights his hobbies and favorite activities and is all his own. Those areas have been dubbed Man Caves...
Cucumbers & beans (09/09/11)
My husband's garden is mass producing this year. We have so many beans and cucumbers that he has me doing a run every other day with bags of produce for friends who can no longer garden or who do not have the space needed for a garden. Here in town we can find quite a few who fill that description. People who had gardens when they were younger or healthier are the most appreciative. They know how much hard work it takes but they also know it is better eating than anything they buy in the store...
I was the new girl (09/02/11)
We needed one another, my younger sister and I, during the first days as strangers in a new school. It was the first day of March, but more importantly, it was the first day of school for us in the midst of a school year. March 1st has been the prime moving day for Iowa farm families for years because most farm leases run from March to March. Our dad bought a farm the year I was 7 and we couldn't move in until the family ahead of us moved out. They waited until the last possible day...
Up, up and away (08/26/11)
Procrastination was the name of the game. My column was due and I was waiting - and waiting. I wanted to write about the hot-air balloon ride my family purchased as their gift to me for my 75th birthday. I was sure this was the week the pilot would phone to say the weather was right. No call came. At the last minute I gave in and wrote about sweet corn...
Sweet corn season (08/19/11)
We were taking a trip to Colorado and were staying at a home in the mountains. We would not be living in close proximity to any restaurants so we planned to make most of our own meals. It would be the best treat ever for the families joining us there if we could bring along some good old Iowa...
Our Rocky Mountain High (08/12/11)
Many of my columns are written while sitting out on our deck looking past manicured lawns to the wide, green expanse of the golf course. Today my laptop and I are on a deck but the view is very different. We are enjoying a week's vacation with a son and his family in the mountains of Colorado. ...
Grounded (08/05/11)
My birthday gift this year from our adult children and their spouses was quite a surprise. They wanted to make it possible for me to cross off one of the items on my bucket list - the list you make of things you want to do before you kick the bucket...
A Mini-celebration For Mini-Maggie (07/29/11)
Musing With Mary Maggie bounced into the house early one morning, eager to show off her new birthday dress. She looked darling in a little black and pink sundress. But I was surprised and disappointed at the same time. It was the very same dress I had just finished wrapping as part of our gift for her. ...
Pop talked politics (07/22/11)
The national elections are a year and a half away as I write this but we are already being bombarded with phone calls asking our support for candidates seeking the presidential office. Invitations to town hall meetings or meet-and-greet appearances arrive in the mail regularly. Every newscast has an analysis of future politicians and the issues they face. We will certainly be weary of political talk by election time. My husband says he grew up weary of political talk...
The air was cool & so were the stars (07/01/11)
As newlyweds, fighting to find respite from the heat on hot summer nights, we dragged our mattress out into the yard and slept there. We had no such luxuries as air conditioning in the house nor a tent and sleeping bags for sleeping outdoors. The luxury we did have was complete privacy. ...
A sister and her brothers (06/17/11)
Ann, our firstborn, was almost five when she became a big sister. She was thrilled to have a baby brother and shadowed me whenever I cared for the baby. She ran to get a diaper when one was needed. She stood by while I bathed the baby so she could help put lotion on him and pat baby powder on his tummy. ...
A time for remembering (06/10/11)
We spruced up and decorated our loved ones' graves between showers the day before Memorial Day in spite of the weatherman's prediction for high winds and rain the next day. Ordinarily on the day we decorate we also wander around among the graves remembering those gone before us and visiting with some of the folks there for the same reason we are. ...
Kids and their cars (06/03/11)
We lived seven miles from town while our children were growing up. We were never quite brave enough to figure out how many miles were put on our various cars making that fourteen mile round trip. We were probably in the minority when it came to parents and their attitude toward their children learning to drive. ...
Grandma thrills -then disappoints (05/27/11)
Today my flower garden was to get my sole attention. Before I could begin I had to pick up one of my granddaughters from daycare to give her a ride to a late-starting preschool class. Her little sister, Maggie, met me at the door. She knew I was taking Joci to school but she wanted me to stick around. ...
Creek fun and frights (05/20/11)
The creek cutting through our farm pasture in loops and curves was the source of entertainment for three generations of our family. It wasn't long after their parents bought the farm that my husband and his siblings discovered all the fun they could have down by the creek. ...
Wild Summer Weather (05/13/11)
The men were at a neighbor's farm unloading baled straw. A beautiful summer day had become hot and humid. The usual breezes we counted on for a bit of relief had stilled. One of the children came in from outdoors and said it "felt funny" out there. The sky had turned a greenish color and huge black clouds were looming on the horizon. The threatening change in weather had not gone unnoticed by our farmers. The tractor came roaring up the drive with two men aboard...
By Mary S. Roder
Musing With Mary