Garden Road - August 4, 2015 On my grandparents’ farm, there once stood an old barn that I do not remember. I have only seen it in photographs and in a crayon drawing by my cousin Mary Alley. When I was young, it was torn down and a new Morton building replaced it. We christened this metal structure ‘the new barn,’ and that was its name from that point forward, though my stepdaughters call it the cat barn.
When I was three years old, they poured the cement for the base outside the door. I know this happened on July 27, 1979, because that is the date written in manmade stone. There are also handprints, the largest my brother Grant’s, then my sister Angela’s, and the smallest is my own. I pressed my hand into the wet cement reluctantly because I believed it would harden instantly—a belief most likely the result of watching a cartoon—and I screamed until the adults carried me into my grandparents’ bathroom and wiped off the wet cement. Aug 3, 2015, 13:59
Garden Road - July 28, 2015 There is something to be said for second chances that our first feeble efforts could never match. For redemption you need a fall. Athletic endeavors often showcase such stories best—dynasties do not drive sports, it is the underdogs that sell tickets. The same franchise winning a championship for the fourth time barely makes headlines. The stories of Buster Douglas and Kurt Warner, though their triumphs might burn shorter in duration, demonstrate the value of perseverance. They are more memorable, timeless. They more accurately reflect the human condition.
This is the time of year we molt from the chrysalis of whatever we were before. For students, the new year will be coming soon. For young parents, that pattern has returned. We relive it through our children, and always hope for better outcomes than our own. Jul 27, 2015, 09:05
Garden Road - July 21, 2015 As I write, a spacecraft that once sat on Earth now orbits Pluto. Scientists and engineers designed a propulsion system to hurtle a camera to the edges of the solar system around three billion miles away, a probe to be caught much later in the dwarf planet’s gravitational pull. Pluto’s new satellite was launched almost 10 years ago. It takes nearly five hours for high-resolution photographs of the surface to reach back to Earth. It was a constellation of faith from our world to that distant point invisible to the eye without a telescope.
For good measure, the ashes of the late astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930, Clyde Tombaugh, rest in the NASA spacecraft. No man has ever fled so far from Earth; but no living humans made the journey. Jul 17, 2015, 14:36
Garden Road - July 14, 2015 On July 15, my daughter Jasmine will be one year old—12 months above surface, almost able to crawl onto our sofa. I love her more than the world.
Jasmine was named before my oldest son Wes was even born. It would have been his name had he been a girl. We lost a baby after that, and then Grant was born—Jasmine had to wait again. Fortunately Jennifer is fertile. Jasmine finally crept into view, if only a blur at first. At the doctor’s office the other day, Wes slouched down and said, ‘Now the mirror can’t see me.’ The mirror can now see Jasmine. Jul 13, 2015, 10:23
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