[SeMissourian.com] Overcast ~ 40°F  
River stage: 15.05 ft. Rising
Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014
Thankfully, this column will fill in some of the blank space (12/19/14)
Thankfully, this column will fill in some of the blanks on this page Someone asked me the other day if I ever have trouble coming up with ideas for my next column. The plain and simple answer is yes. I told this inquisitive person: "That's when you read about Missy Kitty."...
Another of life's mysteries is solved by watching live TV (12/12/14)
Another of life's mysteries is easily solved by watching live TV Because of a scheduling situation in our household, my wife and I watched the live broadcast of the evening news on CBS Monday night. As a result, we now know why medications -- prescriptions and over-the-counter -- are so expensive...
The truth about trees of the Christmas variety (12/05/14)
"The week after Thanksgiving." That was my mother's standard reply to my post-Halloween nagging. In my young mind, the first week of November was none too early to find the best living-room size cedar tree, which would be decorated for Christmas. "The week after Thanksgiving. That's when we'll go look for a tree," my mother would announce, using a tone of voice that needed no interpretation. The subject was closed until the turkey was eaten...
O say can you sing 'O Canada!' (11/28/14)
Let's be clear: I can be a pretty emotional guy at times. Whenever I see a bride going down the aisle at her wedding, I get teary-eyed. When I hear an infant cry, I get bothered -- in my book, holding a crying baby is why God gave us two arms instead of four ears. ...
Dear me, the deer still aren't a bit endearing -- to me, that is (11/21/14)
At a meeting earlier this week, one of the attendees, a hunter, was asked about his first weekend of deer season. The hunter reported that, although conditions were ideal, he did not get a deer. I immediately invited him to my yard. As it turns out, if deer hunting were legal in Cape Girardeau, I would have to wait in line for a hunter to show up in my neighborhood. That's how many homeowners hereabout would like to see the marauding deer culled, or even eliminated, inside the city limits...
Missy Kitty checks in, gives her much anticipated winter forecast (11/14/14)
You know, of course, that when Missy Kitty looks into the future, the last thing she's worried about is the weather. After all, her humans -- that would be my wife and I -- are well-trained and provide for her every wish and need...
Time for common sense about time: Look to China (11/07/14)
Time for common sense about time: Look to China There are many reasons to think about China. For one thing, it has a huge and growing population. It has a huge and growing economy (No. 1 in the world as of last month). It has a huge and growing military. It owns a huge and growing amount of foreign debt, particularly U.S. debt...
Seek answers instead of wallowing in ignorance (10/31/14)
A thought: Seek answers instead of wallowing in ignorance How is it that I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time? It happened last week. My wife and I went to lunch at a local café where you get your own drinks. My wife was filling her iced-tea glass, and I was sitting at a table waiting for her...
The past comes alive when a novice starts looking at his roots (10/24/14)
My family -- on both my mother's and my father's side -- has never been much interested in its ancestry. I've mentioned this before, but I think the reason was simple: They were consumed with surviving and didn't put much stock in digging into the past...
The marvel of finding magic when you're not even looking (10/17/14)
There's something special about finding art and beauty when you least expect it. You might call that serendipity. I call it the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum at Altenburg, just up the road a bit from Cape Girardeau. Some of you most faithful readers remember that I have mentioned the Altenburg museum a few times in the past. That's because this jewel of a museum always has a surprise or two...
This is why we stay home most of the time (10/10/14)
There's not much I can say for air travel these days that's good. Yes, airplanes get you there fast. And that's about it. My wife and I recently returned from a week in Seattle that included a drive to Portland for a wedding and a drive back to Seattle. Thank goodness Alaska Air has a nonstop flight from St. Louis to Seattle and home again...
I'm sorry. What did you say? Can you come a bit closer? (10/03/14)
Any lawsuit against the city ought to be taken seriously. And the one filed by the fellow who was arrested for violating one of Cape Girardeau's noise rules is getting sober attention -- and costly, too, seeing as how lawyers are involved. When I first read the story in the Southeast Missourian, though, I laughed out loud. I thought a lot of readers would find a portion of humor. I thought the comments section of the online version of the story would be jammed with hoots and hollers...
The week that was – but really should never have been (09/26/14)
Last week started well enough. Autumn temperatures. Rustling leaves. Schoolchildren waiting for buses. University students competing for parking spaces. Hot coffee. Whole-wheat toast. Fresh coffee. Hummingbirds on the feeder outside the kitchen window...
Our heroes can come in mighty - but small - packages (09/19/14)
If I should make it to my 99th birthday anniversary alert in mind and able to move about, I will know there is, indeed, a benevolent God. And I hope I can celebrate such an event with something approaching the grace, charm and dignity of my friend, Avis Muench...
Here's my story, and every word is the truth, I think (09/12/14)
This is a true account of what happened. The lesson? Be prepared. Or else. You are all familiar with planned obsolescence. Once upon a time you could buy things and expect them to last. Today, of course, things last exactly one day past the warranty. How do they do that?...
When you hear certain sounds, you're right to be frightened (09/05/14)
The sound I heard the other day was familiar, but it was out of the ordinary, too. As my brain cells tried to figure out what the sound was or where it came from, I imagined a lot of possibilities -- all of them not quite right. Then it came to me. The sound had a bit of metallic screech and just a hint of "sproinggg!" -- if you know what I mean...
The word is out: Downtown golf is coming back with a big bang (08/29/14)
Tiger Woods, apparently, will not be in Cape Girardeau on Sept. 28. Sept. 28 is the date of the First-Ever Ninth Annual World-Famous Louis J. Lorimier Downtown Golf Tournament and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet. Does that seem possible? I mean the fact that this will be the ninth downtown golf tournament. ...
Buggy whips. Then rotary-dial phones. And now Ivory soap? (08/22/14)
Headquarters Procter & Gamble Cincinnati, Ohio Dear Mr.-Ms.-Miss Decision Maker: Please forgive my being so forward, but I must tell you that you may be on the verge of making a grievous error, and I feel it is my duty to let you know what I and millions of your customers think about the possibility that you will drop Ivory soap from the many brands you currently produce worldwide...
Valley full of memories flows out over the hilltops (08/15/14)
A conversation with friends this week made me wonder: Have I told you everything I know about Killough Valley? The farm where I "grew up" is on Killough Valley, which is a narrow valley in the Ozark hills over yonder. "Grew up" can mean a lot of things. ...
When things aren't right, they are wrong. Plain wrong (08/08/14)
There are lots of things I don't understand. I'll bet there are lots of things you don't understand. Maybe the two things I don't understand right now are among the things you can't figure out either. Example 1: If I made a list of minor and major aggravations in my lifetime, this would be at or near the top of the "major" group. What is it? It's mail-in rebates...
Feed the hungry, saith the Lord. What? All of them? (08/01/14)
Looking out one of our bedroom windows, I have a good view of the tomato patch in the raised bed where the old elm tree used to stand. Since the tree's demise during a wind storm, sunlight now reaches patches of our yard that used to be perpetually shaded...
Missy Kitty, who rules her world, is getting older too (07/25/14)
Once again, a bundle of fur and googly eyes gets top billing. It happened the other day when a lively group of Red Hat Ladies -- or, as they prefer, Women With Attitudes -- graciously asked me to be the luncheon speaker. So what were their first words of greeting? "How's Missy Kitty?"...
Some ballot issues are baffling to plain old hillbillies (07/18/14)
In a little while we'll be heading to our polling places and making decisions that we all have to live with, even those who don't vote. One issue is a statewide sales tax to pay for highways. Another has something to do with farming. We're being asked to add something to our state constitution called the Right to Farm Amendment...
Wild crops, and how to tame Missouri's chiggers (07/11/14)
Back in the day, in the Ozark hills over yonder, the bounty of the wild yielded a good portion of what we ate. For example: In the spring we went looking for greens, which grew along the roads and fields around our farm. I had no idea we were eating weeds. My mother's family and her mother's family had always gathered greens. With enough bacon fat and vinegar, they were downright tasty...
Celebrating freedoms – and still waiting for more (07/03/14)
Today we celebrate our nation's many freedoms. But are we truly, totally free? Of course not. Certainly we have escaped, as a model for the world, so many of the bonds that enslave too many people around the globe. But we still can't open a package of AAA batteries without uttering a few choice words...
Compliments from readers make for happier columnist (06/27/14)
Last week's column was about how to read your utility bills, which are complicated and, unless you work in Ameren's billing department, meaningless, except for the amount you have to pay. That's very clear. Do you know what's even more complicated than a utility bill? I'll tell you. ...
Compliments from readers make for happier columnist (06/27/14)
Last week's column was about how to read your utility bills, which are complicated and, unless you work in Ameren's billing department, meaningless, except for the amount you have to pay. That's very clear. Do you know what's even more complicated than a utility bill? I'll tell you. ...
Let me explain, please, in terms no one will ever possibly understand (06/22/14)
After a church dinner last Sunday, a fellow parishioner said he had a topic for my next column. There's nothing I like better than suggestions for columns. Sometimes I run a little dry, and these unexpected offers to help are always welcome. So, said Charlie, why don't you write a column about the Ameren bill. Maybe, he said, you could find someone who could explain it to us...
Trading terrorists not like trading baseball players (06/13/14)
By the time you read this, much of the huffing and puffing over the five-for-one deal may have ended. Or maybe not. What I'm talking about is the exchange negotiated by the Obama folks: five terrorists being held in the Guantánamo prison for a U.S. soldier who has been a guest of the Taliban in Afghanistan for the past five years...
Get it off your chest? Out of your mind? Keep trying (06/06/14)
There are two things on my mind today: sobriety and deer. These are probably not the same two things that are on your mind. If they are, then that's quite a coincidence, isn't it? Not to mention the odds of something like that happening. But now that I've told you what's on my mind -- sobriety and deer -- you probably will be thinking about both topics all day. I wish I knew a catchy tune about sobriety and deer, because then it could drive us all crazy for days...
When the nearest phone was nine miles away (05/30/14)
I came this close -- this close! -- this week to yelling at the driver in the car in front of me at the wait-and-sometimes-go intersection of Broadway and Kingshighway. The driver -- could have been a man, could have been a woman -- was clearly in a snit because of a cellphone. The device either wasn't showing any bars or wasn't responding quickly enough to jabs on the keyboard. More than once the driver threatened to throw the phone into the street...
There is more to the night than things that go bump (05/23/14)
I was reading something the other day that referred to God's promise to Abraham. God said Abraham would have as many descendants as there are stars in the heavens. Have you looked at the stars recently? Or tried to? Poor Abraham. Hardly any kin left, if you put much stock in God's promises...
If the customer gets too smart, what happens next? (05/16/14)
It's hard to say when all this started. Maybe you were paying attention and have a better notion about exact dates. Let's just say that some time ago a funny thing started to happen. I know. I know. Lots of funny things happen all the time. But this is a particular funny thing that I've been trying for a long time to figure out. And now that I think have a clue about what's going on, I'm worried...
Where there's a will ... any mother knows that (05/09/14)
Before my mother died a few years ago, I would ask her about growing up during the Great Depression in the Ozark hills over yonder. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized, while my wife and I raised our own family, how difficult it must have been in the 1930s...
College athletes are employees? Let them pay taxes (05/02/14)
Now that I'm on the government dole in my retirement, I try to keep track of who's going to pay for my Social Security benefits, my Medicare expenses and any other payments Uncle Sam wants to send my way. Yes, I paid for most of it during nearly half a century of paycheck withholding, but I figure at some point what I paid in is going to be exceeded by what I'm taking out each month. It's simple math...
If Utopia exists, please drop me a line (04/25/14)
After 20 years in Cape Girardeau, you would think we would be used to everything that causes allergies in these parts. Sure, we had allergies -- minor ones -- when we lived in other parts of the country. And we've lived in just about every part over the years...
Want wisteria advice? Ask your wife (04/18/14)
As many of you know, I like to putter in the yard. This includes several flower beds. And then there are a variety of shrubs and flowering trees. I like all of them. Except, of course, the wisteria. You have heard me complain about the wisteria in our yard. I planted it about 15 years ago. It bloomed once. I don't know what I did that year to produce blossoms. I've tried all the tricks I could find on the Internet and from talking to successful gardeners in the area. No more blooms...
Dying eggs and other memories of Easters pass (04/11/14)
After you've lived so long, you find fewer and fewer surprises in life. But they're still there. For example, I was at the Store That Sells Everything the other day, and as I turned the corner past the large cooling case stocked with cartons of eggs, something caught my eye. I stopped, backed up with my shopping cart (not always easy to do in this store) and felt my jaw drop...
Find a missing plane? First, know where to start (04/04/14)
It would be in bad taste to make jokes about the lives lost in the mysterious disappearance of that Malaysian jetliner. So take what follows as one man's musing about the irony that often results from such tragedies. Let's start with the fact that a huge airplane loaded with sophisticated communications equipment can vanish literally into thin air. ...
Yes, I knew him well, but now I'm hungry. Feed me. (03/28/14)
It occurred to me the other day that Missy Kitty, the plump bundle of cat fur snoozing on the wicker chair in the family room, is better known -- far more famous -- than I am. And I'm the one who elevated her to such high status by mentioning her over and over in this column...
If it's not to much to ask, kindly uncage the lamb (03/21/14)
Dear Mr. Lion:Your unexpectedly early arrival -- when was it, last November, maybe October? -- has made for a few interesting months in our neck of the woods. Normally, we expect you to show up in early March. We tend to welcome your bluster and fuss, because it means another visitor will soon arrive, usually by the end of March...
It takes four reporters to say there's nothing to report (03/14/14)
One thing round-the-clock television news channels have taught us is that it is possible to fill 24 hours every day with nonstop news reports based on little or no information. Much of what now passes as broadcast news is pure conjecture at best and sensationalized speculation at worst...
Chilling words at the end of our coldest winter (03/07/14)
When I was growing up on a farm near my favorite hometown in the Ozarks over yonder, there was a prominently displayed sign posted on the wall of the Zephyr Cafe's dining room: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." "Anyone" meant persons with dark-colored skin. There was no question about that. Similar signs were at many other businesses...
Is it possible to be goofier than a state legislator? Absolutely (02/28/14)
There have been suggestions in this space in recent months that our state legislators have turned Jefferson City into a goofy party town. Such a town is a place where serious deliberation is grossly overshadowed by efforts that can only be categorized as nonsense. Nullifying federal laws is just for starters...
Will our glorious state flag fade away? (02/21/14)
Some folks in Jefferson City are, once again, proving how little effort it takes to run a state like Missouri. These folks, elected by registered voters, can't find enough to do. They are, apparently, ashamed to take their paychecks and per diems without looking busy to the folks back home...
Cold work deserves warm praise -- and lots of it (02/14/14)
Just about everything that can be said about this miserable winter has been said. But why should that stop me? While many words of thanks have been directed at those who work outdoors in cold weather, not nearly enough has been said on that account. It quite possibly might be impossible to thank everyone adequately...
Missy Kitty and the merits of the Ninth Commandment (02/07/14)
There are so many good things to say about the cat that rules our lives. Her name, as most of you well know, is Missy Kitty. She is accommodated beyond all reason. Spoiled, you say? Rotten. No question about it. Missy Kitty is cute, loving, a great mouser, defender of our yard, playful, funny and affectionate. ...
Some thoughts on being a very cold human being (01/31/14)
There isn't a whole lot I can say about cold weather that you don't already know. But I keep looking for the positive side of our frigid torment. I have to be honest: It's not easy. Each winter my wife says she hopes we get enough cold weather to kill some of the "bugs" that cause various ailments and make us miserable. I have to say I think she got her wish this year. And we don't seem to have so many allergies. Let's count this as a plus for freezing temperatures...
Weather memories, and why they are so unreliable (01/24/14)
So, the polar weather was not quite finished with us. Another blast from the north on the heels of a fine, sunny day that saw temperatures in the 60s. In January. Oh, that's right. It's January. What did we expect? I remember (this is a great way to start -- you know something good is coming) a few winters on Killough Valley over yonder in the Ozark hills. ...
Maybe you can figure this out, but I can't do it (01/17/14)
It was a slow, s-l-o-w news day when the big story broke about the New Jersey governor, the Fort Lee mayor and the traffic snarl that happened several months ago. How do I know it was a slow news day? Well, when a story like this dominates the media for days on end with no understandable explanation of why it was news, you know things in the news business are at a near standstill...
The Ice Age, and other bits of this and that (01/10/14)
Had enough? Ordinarily, this would be the time to make jokes about global warming. But it's darn near impossible to laugh when your tongue is frozen to your teeth. Have you noticed? And it could have been worse. The National Weather Service provided 24 hours of forecasting yoga before The Storm was scheduled to arrive Sunday. My favorite: Expect snow accumulations of 1 to 12 inches. Turns out the NWS was correct. We got the 1 inch. And the Arctic vortex...
All good things must have a beginning ... sometime (01/03/14)
If you expect great things for 2014, I'm with you. Great things have happened in the past: indoor plumbing, remote controls, the Internet, iPads. And great things are out there waiting to happen. I know what's on my list of expectations, but how about yours? If you made New Year's resolutions for 2014, do they include expecting something great to happen in the next 12 months?...
Missy Kitty delivers her annual Christmas wishes (12/20/13)
When you are a cat, you can only do so much. Sure, you can twist your resident humans around your little paw with no trouble at all. But there are bigger and more important needs out there. And let's face it, cats are limited. Why God didn't give us opposable thumbs is still a big mystery...
Cold work, and a cat ad that goes way, way too far (12/13/13)
This is about an ad campaign that has me scratching my head. But first let's give credit where credit is more than due. In the wake of last week's snow/sleet/ice storm, getting from here to there was a challenge. In some parts of Southeast Missouri, power outages added to the misery and inconvenience...
If you figure this out, please explain it to the rest of us (12/06/13)
There are some puzzles that are best suited for coffee shops. This is where most of the world's problems are solved and where questions with no real answers are asked. I've been wrestling with a few topics of my own recently. Maybe you already know the answers. That happens sometimes, when we get bogged down on something and can't see a simple solution, but everyone around us can explain it to us...
If at first you don't succeed, try something not so ad hoc (11/29/13)
Albino deer in Cape Girardeau have touched off a wave of emotional discourse. Some participants in the discussion go so far as to suggest special protection for the animals. Given the fact not everyone is a deer lover, albino or not, there doesn't seem to be a quick fix for the Let's Save Everything With Pink Eyes Alliance...
A slice of time, half a century later (11/22/13)
PREFACE: Everyone of a certain age has a frozen memory of events that occurred 50 years ago today. These events changed the world, but not for the last time. My memory is no better than anyone else's, and everyone who was old enough to remember the day President Kennedy was shot can tell his or her own story. The story I am telling today is the story I know best: my own slice of time...
Well, at least my photo isn't on the wall at the Post Office (11/15/13)
People are so nice in Southeast Missouri. I know this because they are so nice to me, sometimes when I least expect it. I am still both pleased and surprised when folks I have never met before come up to me at restaurants or in supermarkets and tell me they love my column...
'I was hungry and you gave me food' (11/08/13)
Anyone who knows me knows I am hungry all the time, but that's because I have an overgenerous appetite. My hunger is not because I don't have food. I have plenty of food. Maybe I have too much food. Not everyone is so lucky. And these individuals aren't in some far-off, war-torn, drought-stricken region of the world that we only see and hear about on the CBS Evening News. ...
Proud to be from Cape? We can all help with that (11/01/13)
A number of years ago there was a Speak Out comment in the Southeast Missourian that got my dander up. (That's not the only time, of course, but it's the only one pertinent to this column.) The comment said Cape Girardeau's littering problem was so bad that our fair River City of Roses looked worse than Wayne County...
Runaway spending? Where do we slice and dice? (10/25/13)
Now we know. Southeast Missouri's congressman is in favor of closing Fort Leonard Wood. There are plenty of other military facilities to handle the load. Ka-Ching! Billions of dollars saved. And U.S. Rep. Jason Smith favors closing the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff. Let the soldiers who risked their health and limbs in the defense of freedom find their own medical care...
Sorting through life's puzzles on an autumn day (10/18/13)
With the arrival of fall comes that interlude between summer's hectic schedule and winter's desire to hibernate, which makes autumn the perfect time to sit in a La-Z-Boy and think about some of the Really Big Questions. Yes, I know we have big problems to solve all over the world. The plain fact is I cannot contribute much to these Really Big Questions. Neither can you. So let's whittle some thoughts down to our size, shall we?...
Cat stories, and much, much more (10/11/13)
Over lunch the other day, I mentioned to my wife that I hadn't written a column about Missy Kitty for quite some time. Almost everyone who mentions my column to me also asks about Missy Kitty. There is always some story to tell. That's because she's a cat...
This is why autumn is my favorite season of the year (10/04/13)
If a "perfect storm" is when weather disasters converge, what do you call it when autumn arrives and all these glorious fall events take place at the same time? How about "perfect"? Since my favorite season started a couple of weeks ago, there have been more things to do than I have time for...
Sweet memories, sweet sins and sweet forgetfulness (09/27/13)
So you know, up front: This is about sinning, redemption and forgiveness ... or, possibly, forgetfulness. One of those words that start with "for." When I was a youngster, my favorite hometown in the Ozarks over yonder had a bakery. I can't remember everything in its display cases, but I do remember two things for sure: glazed doughnuts and doughnuts filed with red jelly...
What's around the bend? Who knows for sure? (09/20/13)
I haven't always said nice things about roundabouts. You know what I'm talking about. Traffic circles. The latest fad in roadway engineering. "Latest fad" is relative, of course. There have been roundabouts elsewhere in the world for a long, long time. But in this neck of the woods, a roundabout is still something of a novelty...
It's time for downtown golf: Where will you be Sept. 29? (09/13/13)
When Louis Lorimier, founder of our fair city, set up shop along the riverfront, he had no idea there would one day be an internationally acclaimed sporting event named for him. Louis was not a great athlete. Yes, he raced horses when explorers Lewis and Clark visited that time. But did he actually ride a horse? Or did he simply yell, "Faster, you old nag!" as a herd of horses thundered past his home and general store...
The Syria question: Does it really matter to you? (09/06/13)
Whatever President Obama's motivation for seeking congressional authorization for a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria (constitutional, political, moral -- all of the above, and more), there are significant indications that most Americans would prefer to see our nation err on the side of caution in this matter...
Cats (like children) can't be spoiled too much (08/30/13)
My wife, who is allergic to cats, dotes on Missy Kitty. I say she spoils the animal. Father Howard Foland, a friend for many years and many years ago, disliked being told his rotund dog was "spoiled." "He is not spoiled," the good father -- who was a bit on the roly-poly side himself -- would say with a sniff of disdain. "He's accommodated."...
It's never too late to make a big deal out of a small flag (08/23/13)
What follows is a true story. Last week I took my wife's car for an oil change. The car is eight years old. It has just over 11,000 miles on the odometer. Neither of us can remember the last time the oil was changed. The reminder sticker on the windshield said the next oil change was due when the odometer rolled round to 12,000 miles or in February -- of last year. So we were either a thousand miles early or 18 months late for the oil change...
You asked, so here are some honest answers (08/16/13)
Q. Joe, you recently blamed strange weather patterns -- specifically, the way rainstorms seem to bypass Cape Girardeau -- on aliens. I thought your thinking was goofy at the time, and now that we've had record rainfall for August, don't you want to apologize?...
As it turns out, God has the greenest thumb of all (08/09/13)
The flower beds and other ornamental plantings around our house continue to surprise and amaze us. We are amazed mainly because we are pretty sure our house sits on a toxic waste dump. How else can you explain some of the weird things involving plants that grow from the soil in our yard?...
Building a new bandwagon and calling it my flagship (08/02/13)
I can't begin to tell you how many of you good folks have come up to me in the past couple of weeks to tell me what a great idea I had. Recently, I wrote that Cape Girardeau, home of the Missouri state flag, has never capitalized on this piece of important state history. I suggested that if AT&T wants to build a 14-story cell tower downtown, then having a huge Missouri flag fluttering at the top would be at least one attempt to claim our rightful heritage...
Something spooky is going on, and I know what it is (07/26/13)
Don't panic, but something strange is happening to Cape Girardeau, and I think I have an explanation. Remember last year's drought? Remember the storm patterns as low-pressure systems and weather fronts moved across Southeast Missouri? I told you then something wasn't right. But now I think I can put my finger on the reason...
Why, it's so hot you could ... something or other (07/19/13)
It's hard to be in Missouri in July without thinking about how hot it is. In reality, though, what we're really thinking about is the humidity. Folks who come to Missouri from other, less humid, parts of the world are amazed that we lifelong Missourians stay here. Why don't we have the good sense, they say, to go on vacation to places where the heat and humidity aren't conspiring to do us in?...
Destination Cape: Why we need more tourism magnets (07/12/13)
We have the Missouri Department of Transportation to thank for the best thing to happen in recent years to raise the visibility of Cape Girardeau. I'm talking about the huge Interstate 55 signs south of I-270 that show motorists which lanes lead to the River City of Roses. (I know that's not the city's moniker anymore, but I still like it way better than its current substitute.)...
And now a word from the folks at quality control (07/05/13)
My wife and I have just returned from a trip to Rapid City, S.D., which is a great central location for Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse memorial, Badlands National Park, Grasslands National Park, Custer State Park, Needles Highway, the Black Hills and many other interesting things to see and do...
The wonderful world of words (06/28/13)
Editor's note: Joe Sullivan is taking a one-week break from his weekly column. The following column originally ran on March 16, 2012. I've been a reader most of my life -- but not all of it. I remember my mother reading to me before I learned to read. And I remember Mrs. Rayfield's voice when I and other first-graders at the one-room Shady Nook School first heard:"Dick. See Dick. See Dick run."...
Vanishing dollar: ‘New Math' at River City's city hall (06/21/13)
Remember the extra dollar a month the city was planning to give us? Remember? The city, just a while ago, said our municipal infrastructure could stand to forgo a dollar a month in sewer charges. When I heard that, I got pretty excited. Careful stewardship of this dollar would produce, I predicted, untold benefits...
Adding up the costs: Garden's payback is still far off (06/14/13)
The deer food plot -- or raised-bed garden -- in our yard is producing all the expected results. Indeed, it has already attracted the neighborhood deer, who moseyed by the other night and sampled some of the golfball-sized green tomatoes. And the food plot has enticed an albino deer into the neighborhood. Last week our neighbor called to let us know the all-white deer was sleeping in her yard...
You are hereby ordered to hug your cat (06/07/13)
You are hereby ordered to hug your cat As a rule, I take the law seriously. We are a nation of laws. Without laws -- and the systems to uphold those laws -- we would be in a fine pickle. By the way, "a fine pickle" is not found in many law books. A lot of good stuff, I've found, has been omitted from our law books. The plain fact is I can't do anything about that...
Missy Kitty's toys and the salamander (05/31/13)
Missy Kitty says "Hey." Our furry friend -- often called The Little Dictator by those who know her best -- is both predictable and unpredictable. On the one hand, cats love routine. Missy Kitty knows when 5 p.m. rolls around. That's when she gets food in her dish in the garage. She knows when daylight-savings time goes into effect. It takes her a few days to adjust. Then heaven forbid if you miss that 5 o'clock feeding...
Breezes, winds, dust devils, cyclones, hurricanes, twisters (05/24/13)
Experts might disagree, but I think fear is a key factor in the survival of the human race. I'm afraid of many things. As a result, many of the things I fear pretty much leave me alone. Remember when you asked your uncle why he double knotted his shoelaces? "To keep the tigers away," he said, matter-of-factly...
Rain, sun, wind, hail - and, of course, those crazy deer (05/17/13)
On many occasions I have said I chose, for nearly half a century, to work for newspapers for one simple reason: a milk cow named Lulu. Those of you who grew up on farms know exactly what I'm talking about. For some of you city folk who don't know the difference between a boar and heifer, farm life tends to command most of your time, attention and energy...
Big money means making big, important decisions (05/10/13)
Which call should I make first? My banker? Financial adviser? Stockbroker? Lawyer? Friend with all the hot investing tips? Heirs who stand to get everything? My quandary is the result of the wonderful news that Our Fair City, the one that raided our checking accounts to pay for a sewage treatment plant that will cost millions and millions of dollars, may lower our sewer rate by a dollar a month...
So now we elect our very own anarchists? (05/03/13)
Some Missouri legislators continue to be hellbent about sending absurd messages to Washington. The latest is a law that would make it a crime to enforce federal statutes -- as yet not passed -- regarding firearms. How paranoid is that? Anticipating that the public fever is high right now regarding efforts on the national level to curb certain arms and those who would use them, Missouri's Republican legislators have pushed laws that would turn federal agents and prosecutors into criminals.. ...
Some tidbits from that stack of notes to myself (04/26/13)
Fruitcakes, downtown golf and urban hunting of squirrels, raccoons and deer all are noble causes, but when the azaleas and dogwoods bloom, it is Charleston, the Prettiest Small Town in America, that deserves all the attention. It's hard to time an event like Charleston's azalea and dogwood festival months in advance, because of Southeast Missouri's fickle weather. But the festival, held this past weekend, enjoyed gorgeous weather on Saturday...
Too close for comfort when disaster strikes (04/19/13)
My wife and I didn't know about the bombs in Boston until late Monday afternoon, because we were returning from St. Louis and listening to satellite radio instead of a station that would have had news bulletins. As soon as I mentioned the bombs to my wife, she said, "Hand me the phone," and she immediately dialed the number of our son, who lives in Boston...
1 guy minus 3 cats equals ... fewer french fries (04/12/13)
A visitor -- a plain-spoken visitor, I might add -- came in our family-room door at the same time Miss Kitty decided to try for another splash of milk. "Your cat is fat," said the visitor. The visitor wasn't being unkind. Nor was she being untruthful. The fact is, tiny Miss Kitty has become a bowling ball with four legs and a tail...
At last - news that lets you keep your Cheerios down (04/05/13)
NEWS BULLETIN Cape Girardeau city officials today announced a new program to deal with the growing deer population inside the city limits. The new program is called LDD, an acronym for Love the Deer ... to Death. "The people have spoken," said the city's Chief Poobah, referring to the referendum repealing the ordinance that would have allowed deer hunting in the city. "Let's move on."...
... But I'll be just fine, when my disability gets here (03/29/13)
It's good that the food pantry where I volunteer is able to fill so basic a need. People come, for whatever reason, to get a few things to eat. They leave knowing where their next meal will come from. "Inasmuch as you have done this to the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me."...
And those who could pay lived happily ever after (03/22/13)
Grandpa, tell me one of your bedtime stories. You want a story? Sure, I'll tell you a story. You want a knight in shining armor, or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or a hero saves a damsel in distress or a little boy who grows up to be rich and famous -- what kind of story do you want?...
First one shoe drops, then another, then .. (03/15/13)
What I'm about to tell you will sound all too familiar to anyone with hair the color of a swan's wing. You know what happens when one shoe drops? You wait for the other one to drop, too. But then there are those series of events where not-so-good things happen until there is a big pile of shoes on the floor...
Who could possibly be proud of our legislators? (03/08/13)
Perhaps there never was a time when politics was better than today. Maybe it was always screwy. Maybe we think the political process is worse today because we hear and see it functioning the instant something happens. Or doesn't happen. Our legislators on both the state and federal levels are such a disgrace that you have to wonder how they can look each other in the eye. You have to wonder if their mothers would be proud...
All these folks deserve special credit - and so little space (03/01/13)
Several folks have taken the time and trouble this past week to suggest things I could write about in this column. I like that. These suggestions indicate some of you still care -- about something, about anything, about what's good and decent instead of what is expected from the in-crowd...
After Benedict: Have you met Pope Michael I? (02/22/13)
As could be expected, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI as pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church has generated a lot of information, much of it useful, to those who care about the world's largest Christian branch. Considerable attention also has been given to trivial matters. Most every story or opinion piece I read refers to a supposed quandary of what Benedict will be called beginning March 1, when he officially becomes a former pope rather than a deceased pope...
Conserving, trailing and other matters of some import (02/15/13)
In the weeks since our representative in the U.S. House of Representatives announced her resignation, there has been some discussion about how Southeast Missouri has turned into a stronghold of political conservatism in recent years, especially in the years since Bill Emerson took the House seat as a Republican, a major shift at the time in the tide of popular voting. The Republican nominee is pretty much considered to be a shoo-in for the vacant seat...
A fable: The truth about the conspiracy in the Big Easy (02/08/13)
It's easy to create a conspiracy. All you need is Internet access and a fertile mind. This is why I am able to document the evolution of the conspiracy in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday that led to the now famous power outage -- the one officials were unable to explain days after the lights went out...
Wannabe grandpa tells a cautionary tale (02/01/13)
If you have followed these weekly ramblings, you know that my wife and I are grandchild-less. We no longer make pointed comments to our two bachelor sons. Anyone in our situation knows that's pointless. But being without grandkids can produce certain emotions and behaviors. Here is a story about how a normal grandfather-aged man can find himself in something of a pickle -- and a sour one at that. But, then, there's a happy ending...
Customer service: Either you have it or you don't - Part II (01/25/13)
Back in September my relatively new lawn mower went on the blitz. Remember? I told you all about it in a column last October. Between September and October, the dealer who sold me the mower had been informed by the manufacturer that it would not stand behind factory defects that caused my mower to croak. I was unhappy. I was unhappy that a well-known mower maker wouldn't stand behind its product. And I was unhappy that the dealer would welsh on its reputation for good service...
Joe Sullivan
River City Journal