Garden Road - November 25, 2014 One Thanksgiving, I learned how to juggle. It was at my uncle Davidís house in south Des Moines, with his sloping backyard that became a football field after the feast. In the dining room, my cousin Mary Alleyís husband, Keith, showed me the steps for beginning jugglers, from one ball to three balls, to keep them suspended in air with kinetic energy and rhythm. I was in junior high; however, I did not practice those steps until I was in college. Itís like learning to ride a bike. You can know how, but still not be able to juggle until youíve practiced. Then you never forget. I heard that learning how to juggle could make you more intelligent; I figured it couldnít hurt.
As a family, we always traveled to a relativeís house for the last Thursday in November. I do not recall many cloudy Thanksgivings, even when we drove to Ankeny to my cousin Loriís for a day of Atari, snow covering the ground. The snow just made the sun brighter. Nov 24, 2014, 08:39
Garden Road - November 18, 2014 Nov. 20 will be my dadís birthday. In a previous column, I stated he was born in 1946. I received a call from my mom later that day, after the 'Times-Republican' had gone out in the mail, informing me he was actually born in 1945. I believe he should have just accepted the extra year of youth.
While he was in utero, World War II came to an end, and two atomic weapons were used on civilian populations (nothing new in warfare, except for the splitting of the atom to cause death, in the same manner that God created life through fission in more than a trillion stars. Man is a poor imitator of God). He came out of the womb fighting, in the north room of my grandparentsí house, where Doc Ingraham birthed his four other siblings. When my father stalked through Vietnam, he didnít push a little button from miles up, but used a shotgun from a few feet away. Either way is brutal; the point being, my dad would never choose the little button. But he is, of course, much more of a man than some. Nov 17, 2014, 08:34
Garden Road - November 11, 2014 I found a new hero last week in Hartwell Fitzgerald, and will honor him again for his bravery this Veterans Day. A harrowing Civil War he served in, where many were lost. The soldiers lined up in outdated formations from previous conflicts, with superior firepower instead of musket balls, which increased casualties to staggering numbers. A History Channel documentary claimed that Halloween rose out of this morass, where sometimes the living, thought lost and buried in unmarked graves, marched back after the Civil War to their families. Other relatives waited for their loved ones to return the rest of their own lives, until they too joined the dead. It gave rise to ghost stories.
When I drove to the Corydon Cemetery to take a photograph of Hartwellís gravestone, which he shares with his wife Amanda, it was Halloween. I did not consider the significance of the date, that it was Oct. 31, when the dead are supposed to make an appearance to the living, and the living can get lost in the other world. A cold wind hit me in the face. A crow cawed as I walked down the hill, but when I looked up, I could not see the bird past the sun. It was strange to think that a woman born a slave is buried there. I touched the gravestone in reverence. I said a few words to the couple. The crow spoke for them. Nov 10, 2014, 08:28
Garden Road - November 4, 2014 My oldest son Wesí fifth birthday will take place next Monday, on Nov. 10. He is only beginning to learn how to read and write, so he wonít be able to appreciate the words I print here, only the gesture. He is no longer afraid of the birthday song. We have at least two straight years of videos showing Wes crying because we were singing to him. Maybe it wasnít so much the song, but who was performing it. Future generations, whose archaeologists will have access to the footage, might ponder our willingness to torment our firstborn in such a way.
Wes wanted to emerge earlier in 2009, ironically enough on Labor Day weekend. My wife and stepdaughters were visiting Minnesota, and when the crisis ensued, I left my parentsí house south of Corydon to meet up with her in the hospital in Ames. It was a foggy evening. The doctors at Mary Greeley stopped Wesí impatience. Dr. Malaki was excellent from beginning to end. Nov 3, 2014, 09:07
Garden Road - October 28, 2014 If the wooly worms are correct, this is going to be a cold, hard winter. I decided my family should get outside and enjoy the temperate weather and freedom from coats.
We arranged a play date at Walden Park around my Wayne County Hospital Board of Trustees meeting and my wife not feeling well, walking from home down East Street with a caravan of children. The color red has suffused the tree at the corner. My boys gather the crimson leaves to crackle in their hands as we pass. We try to keep the sun out of Jasmineís eyes as she reclines and allows us to push her wherever weíre going. She trusts us, to a point. If we stop, itís not long before she starts wailing. Wes was the same way when I took him for morning walks in Brookside Park in Ames. Itís like the movie 'Speed,' except that a bomb does not detonate, only my childrenís tempers if we go too slow. The rocking and the bumps must comfort them. Oct 27, 2014, 09:43