Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She wrote stories for her own enjoyment, including a short story about a teenage drug addict—something of which she knew absolutely nothing about. Her cousin, with a flair for detail, illustrated the cover using Halloween orange paper featuring a gruesome graphic hypodermic needle.

2017-12-04
Sugar, icing and everything nice
My mother, Shirley, lived in the era when a woman’s career of choice (or necessity) was a stay-at-home mom. Add the setting—an Iowa farm in the 1960s and 1970s—and you have my childhood. My mother would be up at dawn every morning fixing breakfast for my father, my brother and...

2017-11-29
Showering little blessings on the seniors in our lives
S tand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly … – Leviticus 19:32 It struck home recently when a Facebook friend sought prayer for her elderly mother who had just lost another friend. Her mom was wondering why she was still around when she couldn’t...

2017-11-21
Thanksgiving A.S.A.P
I admit this is not original (gasp!). I found it through a special networking group to which I belong. I have to share it, especially with Thanksgiving at hand. Ever wonder about the abbreviation A.S.A.P.? Generally, we think of it in terms of even more hurry and stress in our...

2017-10-02
A name by any other name …
Each year at this time, a package arrives from University of Minnesota Gopher Sports. I do a little happy dance as I zip off the tab. Inside the 15” x 9½” envelope are our long-awaited men’s hockey season tickets (measuring just 6½” x 2”, by the way). I flip through...

2017-09-18
And the password(s) is/are….
The recent and potentially catastrophic EquiFax hacking debacle got me thinking about security—or the lack thereof. Let’s face it, nothing is secure. Everything is available if someone tries hard enough, even personal and financial information of dead people. Passwords and logins are no longer reliable, but I’m not too anxious...

2017-09-08
Memories, mortality, scrapbooks
My cousin, Patti, caught me off guard recently when she said she felt that time was running out. Gulp. Say what? Girl, you’re 58, not 108. I let her comment slide with a snicker. But it stuck with me, and I found myself facing the ticking clock as people in...

2017-08-26
Delightfully overwhelmed by the Minnesota State Fair
I look up…up…up at the Ferris wheel and get a creak in my neck. Is it just me, or is that unusually tall? I’m no expert on fair rides—in fact, I’ve only been on slow moving carousels and county fair Ferris wheels a handful of times. A tidbit from the...

2017-08-23
Spacing out … literally
A recent Facebook post stirred a spirited grammatical debate that garnered LOLs, protests and trips down memory lane. It called into question the validity of education, and even branched into use of the comma in mailing addresses (another blog topic!). And it all revolved around the space between sentences. I...

2017-08-04
Can you go home again?
In consideration of the Thomas Wolfe) novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again” , I asked myself recently, can I go home again? My answer? Nope. I’ve been gone from my home state, Iowa, for 24 years. I only live three hours away in Minnesota, but whenever I visit Iowa it...

2017-07-12
Growing up in the north end of Tornado Alley
Recent severe weather in Iowa spawned tornadoes that, thanks to amateur video, have appeared on Facebook garnering thousands of shares. I took particular attention as I’m from Iowa and understandably concerned—and a little curious—about the goings-on there. Plus, I have experienced tornado warnings, straight-line winds, and dealt with the aftermath...

2017-07-02
Revisiting the Declaration of Independence
What better time of the year to actually READ the Declaration of Independence than July. I am not too proud of admit that I haven’t read it in decades. I studied it wwwaaayyy back in school, and probably learned just enough for the tests. So, without further ado (drum roll),...

2017-06-14
Insight about eyesight
I had a birthday last week. I’m not going to divulge my age. Suffice it to say that I know who Jan Brady is and I wore bell-bottoms in junior high. As I’ve trekked through middle age, birthdays have become less, well, fun. I think I speak for a lot...

2017-06-01
The leaning evergreen of Greene
As I studied the 80-foot evergreen tree in the side yard of my mother’s home Memorial Day Friday, my head tilted to the angle of the tree. Oh, boy. I walked around the base of the tree and saw two small cracks in the soil about six inches long, maybe...