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LAKE MACBRIDE— The schedule is getting packed. Over the next few days I am taking a rest from daily blogging.
I made the first pruning cut on the apple trees yesterday. There is a long way to go to get them in shape after many years of neglect, but it’s the beginning of sustaining a life in a turbulent world.
LAKE MACBRIDE— According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January 2014 was the fourth hottest January on record. It was also the 347th consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th century average. February is expected to be the 348th. From NOAA:
The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for January was the warmest since 2007 and the fourth warmest on record at 12.7°C (54.8°F), or 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ± 0.08°C (± 0.14°F).
The global land temperature was the highest since 2007 and the fourth highest on record for January, at 1.17°C (2.11°F) above the 20th century average of 2.8°C (37.0°F). The margin of error is ± 0.18°C (± 0.32°F).
For the ocean, the January global sea surface temperature was 0.46°C (0.83°F) above the 20th century average of 15.8°C (60.5°F), the highest since 2010 and seventh highest on record for January. The margin of error is ± 0.04°C (± 0.07°F).
It is too damn hot, said as a resident of earth, located in an extremely cold Iowa winter.
LAKE MACBRIDE— Nothing has changed in the form of our state government. People get confused about this, due to an enthusiasm for the House of Representatives. There are three branches, the executive, legislative and judicial, although house enthusiasts say there are a different three, the house, senate and governor. They have it wrong.
I can understand why some get enthusiastic about the house. After all, it is our most representative chamber in a bicameral legislature. People get so enthusiastic, they sometimes forget about the bicameral part— that for a house bill to get to the governor’s desk for signature, the consent of the senate is required. Ditto in the reverse for senate bills. Behind the scenes, leadership is working on a budget, something they know has to get passed. Unlike the school aid formula, there would be consequences if the legislature ignored the statutory requirement to pass a budget before adjournment sine die. Bills without bicameral support are like so many necklaces and doubloons at Mardi Gras.
If people don’t have a relationship with state legislators, they could. The listening posts and forums are sparely attended, so anyone who shows up more than once is likely to get noticed. A visit to the Capitol? Even fewer constituents do that, garnering special treatment.
Guaranteed about any legislator is that a person will not always agree with their votes. In many cases, voting is predictable, but so much depends upon the specifics of the bill and and what leadership brings to the floor for debate. In more than twenty years, I have disagreed with every representative and senator I have had in Big Grove, although mostly I agreed with their votes. It hasn’t made much difference to which party they belonged, the nature of politics is no one gets what they want all of the time.
Iowa is currently in the filing period for state candidates, and a lot of people kick the tires on a run. Some have no idea what a campaign for the legislature involves. Others know well. I look forward to the March 14 deadline to see how our local races will shape up. With my newspaper work, I will be writing fewer letters to the editor than in previous years in an effort to avoid favoring elected officials and candidates to make an attempt at balanced news writing. I have an opinion, but will be expressing it infrequently in public. That is the price of working as a correspondent for a weekly newspaper.
What I do know and will say is that my public silence should not be mistaken for lack of engagement. Elections matter, and people should strive to be informed. I’ll be following the action in my community, and doing what I can to advance common interests. We all should be doing that… and that is an opinion I’m not concerned about expressing in public.
SOLON— When one is connected to the community, it is hard not to like Big Grove Brewery. The city council invested a forgivable loan to get them to build at the corner of Main Street and Iowa Avenue, and unlike the last microbrewery in town, this one scaled to a size to brew lots of beer, accommodate large gatherings and employ a lot of people. They opened Aug. 29, 2013. On a Thursday night, the place was packed with a five minute wait for a table.
My connections to the restaurant are many. Last night, a neighbor greeted me upon entry, handing me a glass of house beer. The subject of one of my newspaper articles was having dinner with his wife and provided positive feedback on my story. I’ve been in the kitchen delivering herbs from the farm, and three of the farms where I worked last year are suppliers. Chef Ben Smart and I share an acquaintance who gave up a job in a Washington, D.C. public relations firm to become a chef. They met at the Herbfarm near Seattle, Wash., where Smart was executive sous chef.
I’m not sure how many jobs were created by this business, but more than 40 people were in their initial staff photograph. The managing partner of the business was busing tables last night and seems to have his fingers on the pulse of the community. It’s all good, but what else would I say?
The kitchen has a high temperature pizza oven, and we each had a 12 inch pizza and took some home. She had Pizza Margherita, topped with San Marzano tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and sea salt. I had the Ham and Egg with La Quercia prosciutto, arugula, pesto, soft cooked local eggs, confit potato and Parmigiano Reggiano. We had a side order of caramelized carrots made with red onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, pine nut, arugula pesto, endive and preserved lemon. For beverages camomile tea and the aforementioned beer. Check out their seasonal menu at www.biggrovebrewery.com.
The vegetarian dishes that were on the menu last year are no longer there. Some friends came from Stone City for the roasted Brussels sprouts, which are now out of season. The dynamic of this restaurant will be whether or not they follow commercial interests, or can develop enough of a market for local, seasonal dishes to continue to be offered, including ample offering of vegetarian fare. In Iowa we like to repeat our favorite meals and dishes and the seasonal menu could get sanded off in the workshop of what sells. I hope not because a vegetarian can live on salad, pizza, side dishes and beer only for so long.
Two pizzas, a side and one paid beverage cost $45.63 with gratuity. It’s a little high for frequent dining, but a competitive price for the quality.
Try Big Grove Brewery in Solon. It’s a great place to get together with friends and celebrate from time to time. The initial energy from the opening has not worn off. Hopefully it never will as the establishment becomes part of the community.
Joint Statement by Senator Rob Hogg and Representative Bobby Kaufmann on Keystone XL Pipeline:
BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO KEYSTONE PIPELINE IN IOWA BECAUSE OF EXPECTED USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN
DES MOINES– Two Iowa state legislators– Senator Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) and Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton)– joined today to call on Congress to oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because of the expected use of eminent domain in the development of the project.
“I urge you to stand with those land-owners who do not want this pipeline running through their property,” wrote Rep. Kaufmann in a letter to Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s Second Congressional District. “The interests in oil profits should not supersede the rights of property owners.”
“It is not in America’s national interests to allow a foreign oil company to condemn American farms and ranches to take foreign oil to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global market,” wrote Sen. Hogg in a letter to Congressman Bruce Braley of Iowa’s First Congressional District. “The Keystone pipeline threatens America’s land, water, and wildlife – Congress should say no, the State Department should say no, and President Obama should say no.”
Senator Hogg and Representative Kaufmann’s letters were also submitted to the U.S. State Department in advance of the March 7 deadline for public comments on the Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal. The public can submit comments at the following web address: http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/
Download PDF of Senator Hogg’s letter to Rep. Bruce Braley here.
Download PDF of Rep. Kaufmann’s letter to Rep. Dave Loebsack here.