Potluck Luncheon

Hay Bale

It runs counter to the Western Christian tradition but employees at the home, farm and auto supply store held a potluck luncheon on Ash Wednesday.

While others were submitting to dust from a priest’s thumb, my co-workers were feasting on loose meat sandwiches, deviled eggs and Amish Wedding fare in the form of pickled green beans and jalapeno-stuffed mushrooms. Tater tots revolved under the heating element of a shared pizza-cooking appliance.

One person brought red checkered tablecloths for our industrial tables in the break room, providing a festive look to the event.

The only penitence among my colleagues was related to over-eating.

The last Chevy Cruze rolled off an assembly line at the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant yesterday. I looked at photos of workers standing around the vehicle and had to look away. Too many memories of heartbreak among factory workers I’ve known. I conducted thousands of interviews with laid off workers when we lived in Indiana. Enough to understand the look in their eyes. Another sad day in the evolution of American manufacturing in the rust belt.

After work I stopped to secure provisions at the warehouse club, comme d’habitude. A farmer called me while I was contemplating the value of pre-cut aluminum foil sheets to be used wrapping root vegetables before baking. The issue was whether I needed a restaurant-sized box of 500 sheets rather than an inexpensive roll of aluminum foil to be replaced from the grocery store as needed. The farmer and I talked about legislation before the first funnel of the Iowa legislature. After 10 minutes we hung up and I decided to wait on the foil squares. I’ve been thinking about this for over a year.

Our county political party is re-organizing tonight. The meeting starts a little earlier than normal and word is the current party chair will seek another term. He’s the mayor of a small city near our border with Linn County. If he wants another term, I’ll vote for him. In our liberal county we tend to find a new chair each cycle, whereas counties with less Democrats in them tend to keep their party chairs for much longer periods of time. The chair has done a good job including old timers like me. The main work of the county party this year is preparing for the 2020 Iowa caucus. I know the drill, and since no one stepped up in 2018, I’m planning to run it again next February.

On my way home from work I noticed a number of homes along the route displayed political yard signs for the same candidate for city council in North Liberty’s March 12 special election. Placement is on or near property where signs saying “Lock Her Up” and “Trump-Pence” continue to be displayed more than two years after the 2016 general election. A reminder that even in the state’s most liberal county the overall political color continues to be red.

The best news this week was after my initial soil-blocking efforts at the farms I feel better with no soreness to report. Now if the frozen ice-pack that is our yard would thaw, I’d be ready for spring. It won’t be long.

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