Typically, in the days leading up to the start of a new session of the Iowa Legislature, the attention is on lawmakers’ goals and priorities — and on the pledges they make to work together for the good of the people of Iowa.

It was a good many years ago that I officially became a licensed unicorn hunter. A professor at the University of Wisconsin wanted people to help save our language from sloppy and confusing misuse. I responded and paid a modest fee (one dollar, if memory serves) to get my Unicorn Hunter's li…

The coming year will be over almost quicker than you can say Happy New Year. Just look how fast 2021 sped by us all. Time rarely feels as if it's standing still unless we are waiting for something to happen. Time only drags when we need something to happen like a cure for a disease, a job to…

When I walked out the door at the Des Moines Register for the final time on Dec. 12, 2014, there was an unfinished piece of work tucked away in a box of assorted stuff I carried.

‘Visions of sugar plums’ don’t dance through my head come holiday season. No, instead I see flashes of spatchcock chicken, chicken patés, celeriac fries cooked in duck fat, beignets with cranberry dipping sauce, orange cheesecake, chicken alfredo pizza cooked on Lebanese crispy flatbreads an…

We had difficulties when we were growing up in Martin County, Ken., but overall, we thought we were doing okay. President Lyndon Johnson came to Inez, Ken., in 1964 to let us know we weren’t doing very well. He began his campaign in our community and we became the poster child for American p…

I guess it’s just human nature to attribute human qualities to nature. We like to think that our pets have the same sensitivities and emotions that we have, that they understand us, and even that they may evaluate and judge things as we do. The more we observe our animals and the more things…

It has been said, in many different ways, that fiction imitates nature, and that truth is stranger than fiction. I’m not surprised when fiction seems to copy reality; after all, writers have to get their ideas from somewhere. But I am more than amazed when today’s fact turns out to have been…

When you have orbited the sun as many times as I have, people sometimes want to tap into the insights you have gathered through the years. Young journalists and newsroom managers ask about the lessons I accumulated from a half-century in the newspaper business.

I really liked Joe Heller’s cartoon with all the little container ships and semi rigs spelling out the message BUY LOCAL and then the question that’s on everybody’s minds, “What are we to do?” It seems impossible to get a lot of things at our local stores while nearly everything is available…

Nobody I knew when I was a child ever put up their Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. Of course, the general public didn’t have artificial trees then except for some very disappointing miniature versions made of paper and intended as table-top decorations. Some of the big department st…

If you watch the news, you get the impression that America is not doing well under the Biden administration.

One of my sisters stopped calling it Thanksgiving Day several years ago when she realized that it had become, not a day of gratitude, but one of gluttony. She’s called it Turkey Day for a long time now, and I thoroughly understand why.

I have been an operating room nurse for over 39 years. It is my passion, yet I realize it is the one area that is hidden from the public eye. Nov. 14-20 is OR Nurses Week. It is time to make the public aware of our importance and how every patient deserves a registered nurse for their surgery.

For some time I wondered why all the female television personalities had suddenly decided to let their hair grow long and loose. I was pretty sure that most people’s hair didn’t grow so fast and luxuriant. It had to be, at least in part, artificial. If these gals were expecting us to believe…

At least once a month I get something in the mail that strongly suggests that I need a hearing aid. Sometimes it reminds me that I already have an appointment for a hearing test: at other times it implies that somebody has informed them that I have a hearing problem but am too shy or stubbor…

The news out of Afghanistan last week about the terrorist bombing at the airport in Kabul brought fresh heartache — and old memories — to Iowa.

It would have been funny if I’d been in good health, but this was my first excursion since being moved from hospital to a rehab facility, and I felt weak and vulnerable. The whole thing was a surprise for everybody involved. I was in my room having just finished picking at a disappointing lu…

I was fighting to escape—something—but what it was, I could not imagine. I had no name for it. Everything has to have a name; every object, every action, every idea. Later, I would wonder if that was what it felt like to be autistic; to be unable to express ideas and feelings because I didn’…

While watching Antiques Roadshow I became aware that the real English women (not actresses) appear to have been raised to present a smiling, eager, cooperative face to the world. I imagine a nanny or mother instructing each little girl to cultivate a sweet smile and possibly a dimple or two.…

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, there’s a sense of relief and optimism that things will return to normal. Long-awaited family gatherings, birthday parties and graduation ceremonies are finally happening in person. Sporting events have fans in the stands, airports are busy, and we…

The honeymoon has been around, in some form, for a long time and takes many forms for a wide diversity of reasons. In some primitive cultures, the honeymoon lasts for one year, giving both members time off from work and other normal duties to become adjusted to the married state. I mentioned…

Too often these days, Americans and our government seem to be incapable of agreeing on what the best course of action is, regardless of the issue. This is especially true when we are talking about immigration and immigrants.

For most of history, weddings were generally homemade affairs with the families and friends of the bride and groom taking charge of details and chores. The only exceptions being the church and relevant government officials whose services were required.

My plan was to withdraw quietly from the scene and take care of the long list of things that are in front of me.

In spite of what we see in the movies and on television, the outdoor wedding isn’t always the lovely, fair-weather affair we imagine it to be. First, there are the usual outdoor hazards we deal with every time we spend time in the great outdoors. Things like allergies, annoying insects, sunb…

Have you ever noticed how some people in government make spending decisions as if it were their own money, studying issues thoroughly and weighing the options carefully? Have you also noticed other people take a totally different approach when it’s “just” other peoples’ money?

We have all gone through the pandemic that has been very tough on most people. This Republican government has done many things to make this event more miserable than it has to be. Very rarely have they done anything to make this horrendous event bearable. On the contrary, they have made it m…

I haven’t been very deeply involved with many weddings in my lifetime, this is probably because I was born in 1934 and grew up with parents who weathered the Great Depression. Because of the hardships they endured, they were naturally frugal and conservative. Big Hollywood-style weddings hap…

Thank you, Solon Economist, for the articles about the June 8 special election to fill the board of supervisors vacancy created when Janelle Rettig resigned.

In a fundraiser letter second-district Republican Marianette Miller-Meeks repeatedly referred to Democrats as “Socialists.” Miller-Meeks is either very confused or giving her constituents a bum steer.

When I found out Doug and Lori Lindner were going leave Solon, I was flooded with newspaper memories. Wherever my family lived, my parents subscribed to the Des Moines Register and I always said I learned to read at an early age because of the DMR comics section!

It was with skepticism, and a little bit of suspicion, I listened to my dad telling me how the peanuts we were burying in a sandy patch in the garden would grow into plants and make more peanuts than we could harvest and roast in the oven for eating. I couldn’t imagine those delightfully sal…

It has been almost a month since my big sister died, and I’m still reaching for memories of all the years when we were close. As too often happens, people tend to move around (especially in my family, though I’m the exception). During the ‘70s and ‘80s, two of my sisters and their families m…