Garden Road - July 7, 2015 This week marks two years since I first started at the ‘Times-Republican.’ When I rose for work this morning and opened the kitchen window, I thought it was cloudy outside. But it was just smoke. The sun was caught in a haze from forest fires in Canada, drawn down to us by a deep curve in the jet stream. The rivers in Des Moines continue to swell, as storm systems march out of the west on the same conveyer belt that brings the smoke. It is a repeat. We’ve seen this in 1993, 2008 and 2010—three ‘500-year floods’ in the span of two decades. The haze only makes it seem like the world is about to end. Jul 6, 2015, 14:16
Garden Road - June 30, 2015 East of Millerton on a dairy and hog farm, my friend Tony Green set up a boxing gym on the second floor of his barn. To get to the ring, you had to walk through pigs, and then climb into the loft. Green was a church kid who loved the sport of boxing almost as much as he loved God. Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield was somewhere in the mix for his affection, too.
At six foot three and a southpaw, Green’s style was distinct. Sparring with him was like a white belt fighting a black belt. He once told me he liked how it felt to get punched. He meant it. It was not said as bravado, just as fact. Jun 29, 2015, 08:36
Garden Road - June 23, 2015 It does not seem possible, but the day this paper comes out will be my son Grant’s third birthday. We found out Jennifer was pregnant later in the same year my brother died, 2011—I had told him, as we visited his home near Beaverdale and Drake University in Des Moines, that if we had another son, we were going to name him Grant. The only thing my brother said was, “That’s fine.” I am not sure if he meant it was acceptable for us to have another child, or if he was giving us permission to name the baby after him.
After forgetting to buy a pregnancy test in Centerville and not being able to find one at Casey’s General Store in Seymour on the way home, we bought one from Nessen Pharmacy in Corydon. The cashier at Casey’s wished us luck, saying she hoped it was a boy. We wondered why she said that, but she ended up being right. Jun 18, 2015, 15:00
Garden Road - June 16, 2015 When I think of Father’s Day now, I still consider first my duty as the son in that relationship. That is the role I have served in longest. It does not seem possible that five children including two stepdaughters put so much faith in my services that each year they buy me a Hallmark card. I was 33 years old when my oldest son Wes was born. My wife wondered from the beginning what part she had in his creation—though she was the one that gestated and gave birth to him—because of how similar in appearance he is to me. Yet he is not like me, and I am glad. I wish upon him all of my strengths and none of my weaknesses.
Perhaps, and I am sure the greeting card industry would second the thought, we should buy Mother’s and Father’s Day cards for each of our children instead of the other way around. Consider how much we take for granted our parents’ efforts when we are children. Yet we were merely kids, not fully capable of appreciating the obstacles our elders faced to reach the point where we were formed. Children change us as much as we change them. They reform us. The same could be said for our spouses. I should buy my wife Jennifer a Father’s Day card. Jun 11, 2015, 15:31
Garden Road - June 9, 2015 On the farm, summer gradually changed for me from a time of relaxation from school to helping my family survive. As my father did for his father, I worked manual labor without pay. Those were the rites of passage for most farm kids. Because of this, I came to disassociate hard work from monetary reward; there are other reasons for this, but it is the main incentive that I only partially link drudgery with financial success.
My dad Wes Selby loved farming. His grandfather, Doc Ingraham, wanted him to follow in his footsteps into the medical field, but that was not Dad’s thing. When my father was drafted and scored high on the military’s IQ test, they wanted him to become either an officer or a chopper pilot, but both of those paths meant more years in the Army. My father informed his drill sergeant that he couldn’t farm on military time. This inability to suppress his opinion would both help and hurt him throughout his life. He became the drill sergeant in Fort Carson, Colo., after he got home from Vietnam. You could hear it in his voice, that bass I never dared defy. He could give you a look, a cold stare that could wither. Not many people messed with him or his family. Jun 5, 2015, 15:01