Okay. Somewhere, one must draw the line.

For me, it’s the silver crowns from teeth my mother no longer has.

As late fall leaves from a maple slant slowly to the lawn, my wife and sister go through kitchenware and dining dishes from my mom, also in the late autumn or early winter of her life.

I’m in the other room, not wanting to sort through that stuff. I couldn’t tell you what is valuable and what is not. But just handling boxes and briefly unwrapped keepsakes as we pulled a portion of person’s life from one of those self-storage cubbyholes was enough to make me squirm. I’m not worthy, certainly not up to it.

It’s amazing the material my mom collected in her life, so far. She’s not collecting now, ensconced in a care center, but two persons are sifting through some of her stuff, exclaiming now and again over a particularly rare thing, a marker to be used to when stitching a dress from a Simplicity pattern, old dish clothes that can’t be bought anymore, virtually irreplaceable when drying dishes, dimpled glassware that was all the rage at some point that held mints and candy corn for visiting children and grandchildren.

And, the letters. Oh, the letters, handwritten with much, much love, as much as could be civilly expressed through the post. These will wait for our old age, probably, when we can’t do much more than sit and try to remember those folks who have gone before. They are the real treasure.

Four boxes have been sorted this a.m. Time to go back for more.

Wish me luck.

Weather ahead!

Media accentuates the possibility of storms, maybe overly so.

According to reports, we’re in for a snowy Friday here in northwest Iowa. Brightly colored weather maps, in motion, paint a dire picture for those of us who aren’t ready for winter, November or not, or paint a rosy picture for those of us who are good and ready for the cold and white stuff.

Weather is apparently a big deal here.

Shut up and listen

Now, more than ever, we need people in the news business to confront the truth.

It’s expensive. (That’s the stuff of another reflection.)

There is no cutting corners, and that practice has been going on too long.

Those of us in the business have got to acknowledge that it is the individual stories that carry the weight.

The turn of the general election should be a very big clue.

Those who correctly predicted the turn of events were in the trenches of the campaign or who bothered to listen to the discontent or paid attention to the signs…

…Oh, and correctly figured that nearly 50 percent of those eligible to vote stayed home and realized the an uncounted host of people aren’t even bothering to register.

At my little weekly, when asked if I want to talk with a campaign person, a candidate, or a person in state or national office, I respond with a simple, “No, thank you.” What’s important to me is getting the local stories out there, not the opinions or proposals of the politicos who want to influence me…

…As if my little publication can do more than it can. I won’t be party to soothing a representative’s ego or plans.

What’s important is the record, what my representatives do in the halls of power and with the money that’s pumped their way. That’s the job of those reporters who haunt the halls. Reducing the number of reporters there is criminal. That’s where the rubber meets the road. That’s where the absurdities of our system need to be explored and brought to light, as well as the good things that happen.

I can see why the ordinary Joe feels left out. The news business is not doing its job. In the case of my little weekly, in the distant past, the pages were filled with local opinion and stories of everyday life, real stuff, not news releases or carefully crafted stories meant to pave the way for the career of individual news gatherers.

You see, the story is the thing, the story of a couple marrying, of a community grieving the death of one of its members, of the crimes and misdemeanors of the populace, of the recipes that make homemakers proud, the paragraphs about who visited who, the babies born, the rich, rich texture of everyday life in a community.

If the business stops telling those stories, it loses touch with the very basic underpinnings of the political realm. That’s why so many outlets missed the “surprising” election returns.

So, I return to my theme: We’re all reporters. As the industry declines because it’s losing touch with the very folks it has been trying to interest, it’s up to story tellers of all stripes. That’s one reason I prowl the web. If those stories are not reaching the pages of our publications, they can be found here.

If you have a story, tell it. If you know of someone with a story, encourage them to tell it. If they are not able and are willing, you tell it or find someone who will. That’s a high calling. And, if you are a paid journalist, for Pete’s sake, find those stories and publish them.

I’m wondering…

When did prayer become an action and not a lifestyle?

I can see the logic in stopping, taking a moment, taking a knee, bowing a head, facing the direction of a holy site, retreating for a short or extended period of time. But, all that implies a stopping of sorts.

That’s short of “praying without ceasing,” a pretty tall order, given the exhortation to the Thessalonian church.

I’m thinking the church today is giving short shrift to the radical concept of prayer and the idea that it should permeate life.

I’m trying to wrap my head around that.

Infernal combustion

A friend waxed rhapsodic about finding a good, old car again, almost as if finding a pal that just turned up unexpectedly.

Most of the cars I pick are accidents, an old Chevrolet four-door that I drove around after high school that got painted snot-green after my sister decapitated a fireplug, a sporty Mercury Cougar with a zippy V-6 that I turned over to a friend for the remaining book of payments after getting walking religion, an old Ford boat with an in-line engine heater to keep an aging battery alive that eventually wheezed and died but not before killing a few farm cats that were attracted to its warm engine block, a very old farm pickup with wooden side racks and a very low gear ratio that we drove back and forth into town, purchased from a friend who felt our obsession with bicycling was a little overdone. Then my wife took over the choices and did a much better job finding appropriate family vehicles, until our latest, a Buick crossover that has tires with annoying road noise, subpar mileage but with a lot more miles left in it.
Cars, we’re building more spaces for them, I read, than we’re building shelters for ourselves. I don’t know who coined the phrase “infernal combustion,” but it fits.