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Writing

Main Pivots

Fire hydrant at the village well.

Today is the third day of renewed effort on my autobiography. Since last winter, I lost my place. Searching for it led me down a different path, one of considering structure different from the chronological timeline I wrote last year. There are considerations.

The first part was written in chronological sequence, which is okay and will likely persist. I tell a story from history, memory, and a few artifacts from the first two decades of my life. This part of the writing was engaging. My parents and maternal grandparents did not tell a single narrative of how they came to be in the Quad Cities by 1950. My grandfather did not live there. I didn’t know my paternal grandparents who both died before I was born. Every tale about the past came in asynchronous short stories. The few times any longer narrative was woven, mostly in writing by Mother, it seemed imbued with interpretation rather than facts. If I pieced the stories together in a new narrative there would be significant gaps and flaws, both mine and theirs. Getting a chance to write my story may have biases, yet by making it mine, the narrative is more complete and satisfying.

As I begin the 2022-2023 winter writing project I need to finish the narrative I started, yet want to break it and present different threads going forward in time. There are natural breaks which I will call “pivot points.” A pivot point was a time when, in a specific place, I considered my options and made a decision about where I would take my life. Here is my current reckoning of these pivot points as I navigate through this winter’s writing.

Leaving Davenport

Most young people make a decision in high school whether to graduate and what to do next. This was complicated for me by the death of Father during my junior year. There was never a question about finishing high school. It was going to university that hung in the balance after he died.

I had begun to look at options my junior year and had discussions about them with Mother and Father. I was on a trajectory to attend University, yet Father’s death brought a pause in moving forward.

I remember the conversation with Mother clearly. It took place during daylight in the living room where she sat on the couch and I sat on the chair next to where we kept the telephone. I explained I was willing to give up university in order to stay in Davenport and help her get through the loss of Father. In no uncertain terms she told me to leave and I did.

Living at Five Points

Before I left for military service I put my belongings into storage. Some were at Mother’s house, some in storage with a moving company before the advent of commercial storage units, and I took a small amount of belongings with me based on a conversation with my Army recruiter. When I returned from Germany I got an apartment near Five Points in Davenport to figure things out. I reunited most of my belongings, including a considerable number of new ones brought back from Germany.

I reconnected with friends who stayed in Davenport. We had one of the few parties of my life at Five Points. I cooked a lasagna dinner on Nov. 25, 1979 and we sampled wine mostly from the Rheingau region of Germany where I lived. I was a terrible cook yet dinner was eaten. At the end of the evening, I cut up my military ID card recognizing it was the official last day of my active service. We toasted the event with shots of Jägermeister.

At Five Points I felt like youthful times were ending and weighed what to do next. I decided life in Davenport was not for me and that was that. I was eligible for the G.I. Bill, applied and was accepted to graduate school, and in Summer 1980, moved to Iowa City and never looked back to my home town.

Marriage

After finishing graduate school in May 1981 I went on a trip down south to visit friends from the military. I evaluated returning to military service and decided visiting those who stayed after their initial enlistment would give me an idea of what it was like. I drove my yellow Chevy pickup to Fort Benning, Georgia, Fort Rucker, Alabama, and then to Houston where I stayed with a buddy who went to work for Exxon Oil Company. After the trip, I decided to stay in Iowa City and find a job.

At 30 years old, I recognized that I hadn’t found a mate, and would be unlikely to do so unless I worked at it more than I did. Iowa City offered the best opportunity in the state for people like me, so I got an apartment on Market Street and found a job. It was a complicated time, yet one of the main decisions was to settle in and see if marriage would be possible. We married on Dec. 18, 1982. I remember being at the church like it was yesterday.

Empty Nest

When our child left home in 2007 for a year-long internship with the Walt Disney Company in Orlando it set things in motion to be who I am today. My interest in the paid work I had been doing since 1984 waned. I wanted more from life. With our child a two-day car trip from home, I began to look at options. On July 3, 2009 I left work for the transportation and logistics company that employed me for almost 25 years.

Transportation and logistics has been part of who I am from the time I got my first newspaper route in grade school until I left paid work at the home, farm and auto supply store permanently during the pandemic. The decision to end it as a career in 2009, while still young, was hard to make. I’m glad I did it. The company bought me one of those big sheet cakes and I brought cupcakes baked by a neighbor working from home the next day. I got a phone call from the owner, and looked around at what I helped build for the last time.

I remember sitting in the car in the parking lot after my shift. I sat for a while in that moment. I turned around and exited the parking lot the back way, an exit I had never before used. That pivot made the difference in who I am.

Hard to say if this is a final list of pivot points. As always, writing a post helps me formalize what had been vague notions floating through my consciousness for a while. Now I better figure out where I left off last winter.

Categories
Writing

Thanksgiving 2022

Peak migration. The noise of hundreds of waterfowl could be heard throughout the neighborhood. The big flock can be seen in the distance.

The lake is crowded with waterfowl stopping to rest during migration. We often take it for granted this exists, even if the noise of their gaggles can be heard inside our house. I saw them swimming during yesterday’s walk along the state park trail.

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday created by President Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1863 during the Civil War. He proclaimed,

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving… And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

National Park Service website. Written by Secretary of State William Seward. Proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln.

We Americans seem to be condemned to live in the shadow of the Civil War in perpetuity.

Today I am thankful for readership gained for my public writing. It is difficult to determine precise numbers because my main publication places here, on Blog for Iowa, and in a number of Iowa newspapers for whom I write letters to the editor and opinion pieces, each have quirks of reporting that obscure how many people saw my work. I do know 2022 was a good year for viewership.

Blog for Iowa

My most read post was a letter of support for Iowa gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear. It was the fourth most viewed post on the site this year. It was my effort to call attention to the race when most news outlets minimized her candidacy. A shorter version was published in the Des Moines Register.

Also popular was a post with Democrat Elle Wyant’s press release announcing her candidacy to represent House District 91 in the Iowa legislature. Her campaign benefited from the mention because there was so little information available from formal news outlets early in the campaign.

I published a series of posts about Carbon Capture and Sequestration in Iowa in 2021 and a couple of those posts did well again this year. It is a popular topic for our readers. New posts, cross-posting Sheri Deal-Tyne’s Physicians for Social Responsibility article on the subject, and my recent update were well-received.

Continuing my work with Thom Hartmann’s publisher, I reviewed two of his books this year, The Hidden History of Big Brother in America and The Hidden History of Neoliberalism. I also interviewed Hartmann and posted the audio recording.

In 2022, I posted 34 times at Blog for Iowa.

Newspapers

I lost count of how many times my letters and opinion pieces were published in Iowa newspapers this year. The Quad City Times has daily circulation averaging 54,000 so when I published there, the reach was the greatest. The next most significant places were in the Cedar Rapids Gazette (my local daily newspaper) and Des Moines Register which each have average daily circulation of about 33,000. The other newspapers are important to my work, yet less in reach.

Publishing a letter in the newspaper is a tribal affair. From time to time people reached out via email to complain to or compliment me. When we write in public, we take what we get. Most telling is when I am with people in real life. I get comments, mostly positive, about them seeing my letters. I usually thank them and suggest they could also write a letter. I make it a practice of posting a version of my letters on this blog as a way to be sure I save a copy.

The most important letter I wrote may be to the Des Moines Register, titled, “The Second Amendment is not Good Enough for Republicans.” It was about the public measure to enshrine strict scrutiny into the Iowa Constitution and have an impact on law-making about gun control. I opposed it, yet it passed.

Journey Home

Journey Home is my home base where I post daily when I have a topic. My most popular posts this year, in descending order by number of views, were,

With Thanksgiving comes awareness that winter is approaching. This winter will be the second where the majority of my writing goes off line and into my autobiography. I am thankful to have had a life worth living and to be passing my stories along to our child. I’m almost ready to go.

Reflection about what we are doing comes naturally at Thanksgiving. It is something I’ve done since before leaving home in 1970. I don’t know what the new year will bring except for hope. We should hold hope close and go on living.

Categories
Writing

Toward a Productive Winter

Migratory birds on Lake Macbride.

On Monday I created a Mastodon account on the epicure.social server. It is a small space on the internet and one never knows if “small” will survive. I don’t plan to leave Twitter until the bitter end or when I croak, whichever comes first. Mastodon is my insurance policy, a place to go if I need one. If the server fails, I can move to another Mastodon server. Having networked multiple servers is a feature of Mastodon.

Christopher Bouzy, creator of BotSentinal.com posted, “Twitter will not be relevant two years from now. No platform can survive catering to one group of people, and once journalists migrate to another platform, Twitter is done. And if you think it won’t happen, ask MySpace how things are going.” Bouzy is not wrong, although he has an interest in starting a Twitter substitute platform and therefore is biased.

In any case, there seems to be significantly less Twitter traffic in my timeline. The same is true for other social media platforms I follow. People just are not feeling it right now. This is good for productivity as I move indoors. Fewer distractions facilitate a more rapid growth toward a solid 4-5 hour daily shift of writing.

Ambient temperatures are forecast to reach the low 50s this afternoon. I scheduled a walk along the lake trail. Getting enough exercise is a winter issue, especially once snow flies. I take advantage of every opportunity to exercise that presents itself.

As time moves toward winter, how we spend it changes. With thoughtful planning we can be productive and perhaps useful to others. Productivity is what I most hope for between now and the end of the year. With hope comes value in society. That’s something we need now more than ever.

Categories
Writing

Cookbookery

Sorting Cookbooks

This photo represents about half my cookbook collection. None of these made the first cut represented by what is visible on bookshelves in my writing room. What the heck am I doing?

Going through them is not the same as sorting them. As I make and look through each pile, I have thoughts about how to use them. The categories are beginning to appear.

Mostly vegetarian

There about three dozen books devoted to vegetarianism or with mostly vegetarian recipes. I categorize myself as mostly ovo-lacto vegetarian and my spouse is vegan, so these are of particular interest. There are also books with instructions for how to prepare almost any vegetable imaginable. The best of these will be keepers and the others will be sold, donated or given away.

Culinary reference books

By this I mean books related to cooking yet are not comprised mostly of recipes. For example, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential is in this stack. So is Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Hervé This. Some of these will go into my main library as reading material. A few may go on the cookbook shelf to be built for the dining room.

Souvenirs and memorabilia

When I was in Texas, I bought a souvenir cookbook with recipes from Texans. When I was in Georgia, I got a similar volume written by Georgians. There is a book about cooking potatoes presented as a gift. I’m not sure how many of these memories remain important. Once I have a pile, I’ll have to go through them and decide.

Books of yearning

Some books, by their title or cover or introduction beg to be examined more closely. Eating Cuban by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs is one of them. The Greens Cook Book by Deborah Madison is another. I yearn to spend an afternoon with books like these to dream about culinary invention.

Community cookbooks by geography

The City of Solon near where I live makes a cottage industry of community cookbooks. There is one for the one-room school house and one for the PTA, along with several others. A new one gets published regularly. Our home cuisine is so different from these recipes, I’m not sure of their relevance to our kitchen garden. The most interesting cookbook is titled The Solon PTA Cook Book with “Favorite Bohemian and American recipes.” The advertisements all have two and three digit telephone numbers which were phased out by 1920. No one currently living would have submitted a recipe, so that opens it up for use in my writing. On the back page of the cookbook, readers are admonished, “Aw shucks Mom. Put that cook book away and bring the family up to Lowell’s Cafe for a delicious steak, chicken or fish dinner.” Lowell’s Cafe is now part of history.

Community cookbooks by broader geography

Community cookbooks that were published outside Iowa can be first to go. It seems unlikely I will write about Mont Clair, New Jersey, for example. The question is where do I draw the line? A community cookbook from Ely or Mechanicsville might be keep-able. Most of the ones I have from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City are likely not. If I was a part of a community that wrote a cookbook, like the American Trucking Association maintenance council, I may look through it before disposition.

Appliance cookbooks

When we buy major appliances like refrigerators, ranges, and countertop appliances there is often a cookbook inside it. I have a stack of these. I don’t plan to keep any of them. Too much to read in too little time.

We have company coming over the weekend, so whatever I get done needs finishing by tomorrow. As I go through them all, the last thing I feel like is cooking something. Good thing there are leftovers in the refrigerator.

Categories
Writing

Cold Weather is Here

Cold weather set in.

Since ambient temperatures dropped below freezing, I haven’t left the house very much. I’ve been reading, writing, cooking, and working on a few small projects. I wasn’t ready to bunker in.

I gave up on picking up more garden mulch with the mower. I disassembled the grass catcher and put it in place on the shelf. I also moved the electric snow blower closer to the garage door. With the subcompact Chevy Spark there is a lot more room in the garage. Step by step, I’m getting organized.

The small ceramic heater running next to my chair is doing the job of keeping my writing room warm. I hung a blanket on the door to retain heat, and that is doing its job as well. Now it’s time for me to do my job of writing.

Where does my writing get noticed? When I post on Twitter, the response can be huge. Yesterday I posted,

Thus far there have been 3,872 impressions and 154 engagements. That is a lot.

When I post on Blog for Iowa, it garners many more views than here. Before the midterms I posted about Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear and the post got 507 views. That, too, is a lot.

Year to date this site got about 8,000 views, with the leading sources being search engines and the WordPress Reader. Thanks so much WordPress community for following me.

Now that cold weather is here, my in-person contact with humans reduced noticeably. I don’t like it, yet here we are. Hopefully my writing will improve and bring with it better cooking, reading, and a cleaner, more organized home. Despite the calendar suggestion we have another month of Autumn, it feels like winter is here.

Categories
Writing

Update on Iowa CO2 Pipelines

Field Corn

While driving to the Democratic office in North Liberty after a shift of door knocking, I passed a seemingly endless line of black tank cars waiting to be loaded with ethanol or corn syrup in Cedar Rapids. That Iowa’s vast agricultural promise, countless thousands of acres of fertile soil, would come to this is saddening and frustrating. As a state we’ve become entrenched with what we know (i.e. corn growing) and don’t want to consider alternatives. Such entrenchment is why Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is being proposed in Iowa to support the ethanol business.

Art Cullen cut to the chase in a July 15 Storm Lake Times editorial, titled “Pipelines Will Happen,” saying, “The pipelines will get buried. The Iowa rainmakers will get theirs as we pretend that we are addressing the planet being on fire.”

While Cullen may be right, the corn ethanol business and CCS make no sense in 2022.

Johnson County Supervisor Jon Green expressed his skepticism in an email:

My introduction to CCS was in Wyoming with the Two Elk project.

The first thing I learned was this has been tried many, many times, with millions of dollars of public money chasing these technologies. I have yet to learn of a single project that worked at a scale sufficient to make the technology feasible. So I begin from a position of deep mistrust when someone comes along and says they can magically make it work.

But let us set those concerns and experience aside: even if these projects do exactly what they promise, the effects will be small (in terms of carbon reduction, although the tax incentives are staggering) and only provide incentives to continue producing ethanol, a carbon loser.

I realize we can’t just flip a switch and electrify the entire country tomorrow, but every dollar we invest into pipelines is a buck that could’ve been used for solar panels or wind turbines.

Nov. 14, 2022 email from Johnson County Supervisor Jon Green.

When I wrote a series of posts about CCS a year ago, it was a process of personal learning. Since then, it became increasingly clear that the technology doesn’t work well enough to meet its promise, as Green said. It is a big money game in which the rich get richer and the opinions of Iowans may be faithfully recorded on the Iowa Utilities Board website, yet in the end will be ignored without considerably more uproar than we are seeing now.

Des Moines activist Ed Fallon has been following resistance to CO2 pipelines and is more optimistic.

When the first of these pipelines was proposed by Summit, proponents were sure it would be a slam dunk because Iowa corn farmers love ethanol. What Summit underestimated was the depth of resistance among farmers to having their land forcibly taken through eminent domain. In fact, farmers’ opposition has proven so strong it’s quite possible these pipelines will be defeated. That’s especially true if landowners, farmers, and other opponents continue to stand together.

Nov. 13, 2022 email from Ed Fallon.

From my experience with S.A.F.E. (Saving America’s Farmland and Environment) in 2013 I understand how business proposals centered around land use can be defeated. In that campaign MidAmerican Energy proposed to build a nuclear power plant near Wilton on prime farm land. When farmers organized around stopping the plan and formed a coalition, even Republicans like Jeff Kaufmann came on board and the plan was stopped. Fallon’s comments are consistent with my experience in Wilton. The difference is the CO2 pipelines will run for hundreds of miles instead of on a specific, limited parcel.

Use of eminent domain to construct CO2 pipelines is to some extent, an Iowa issue. Sheri Deal-Tyne, who has been researching CCS for the last year explains:

Eminent domain is certainly at the forefront in Iowa and other Midwest states. We in the Midwest are being targeted for these projects because of the relatively “pure” stream of CO2 that comes off of ethanol production. This pure stream means it is cheaper to capture carbon at an ethanol plant than it is at a coal plant. Eminent domain is going to have less meaning in places like Texas and Louisiana.

Nov. 14, 2022 email from Sheri Deal-Tyne.

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, the Iowa Utilities Board will hold a meeting to discuss federal preemption pertaining to CO2 pipelines. This is an important meeting as Deal-Tyne explains:

The December meeting on preemption is important because currently there are no federal regulations regarding the siting of the pipelines. This is handled at the state level, and varies by state. The Pipeline Safety Act is relatively new, and CO2 pipelines were added as an afterthought. Following the Satartia, Mississippi accident, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued for new rule making around CO2 pipelines, as well as scientific research in to what the safety protocols should be. But at the project level, the companies are claiming that there are regulations and that they are following them. Currently Summit has argued that the IUB does not have authority to consider safety issues because it falls under Federal jurisdiction. (this is where the preemption comes in).

Nov. 14, 2022 email from Sheri Deal-Tyne.

A year after first writing about CCS, the core issue remains: getting to a decarbonized environment means ceasing the production of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The persistence of desire to perpetuate ethanol production in a decarbonized environment by collecting and burying CO2 would be a possible solution if the technology worked. It doesn’t. It hasn’t yet worked despite millions of dollars spent to make it work. There is no prospect that it will. That’s why I say CCS and corn ethanol make no sense.

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Writing

After the 2022 Midterms

Arriving home after my last shift of knocking doors before the midterm election.

The United States finished voting in our Nov. 8 midterm elections. The results for the U.S. Congress will not be known for a while. Some states passed laws that delay counting absentee ballots until the polls close. It could take days. Not here in Iowa. A spreadsheet of initial election results from the county auditor waits in my inbox. I looked at enough races last night to know the results were not good for Democrats.

Our county party set a goal of creating a 32,000-vote margin in the federal and state wide races to offset Republicans in other parts of this increasingly red state. They fell well short with the U.S. Senate race going to Michael Franken in our county, with a margin of 27,130. It was not enough and Chuck Grassley won his race handily statewide. Johnson County is an irrelevant blue dot in a sea of red.

Democrats did poorly across the state with Republicans sweeping the governor’s race and all five federal offices, according to the Secretary of State election results website. With 97 of 99 counties reporting, State Auditor Rob Sand leads in his race. He would be the only state-wide Democrat to win. Long-time office-holders Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald were both defeated by their Republican opponents. Two counties (Warren and Des Moines) in the First Congressional District have not reported, yet it seems clear from what is in that Mariannette Miller-Meeks will be reelected. All counties reported in the other Congressional Districts.

I spent most of election day poll watching. It became evident early in the day there would be no need to protect the vote. Two of the poll workers had been doing this work for more than ten years and their personalities are of the kind that don’t stand for malarkey. I remembered the poll supervisor from the 2020 election and she did an excellent job of organizing the site and keeping the lines moving, when there was a line. I heard of no voter protection issues county-wide.

This was a hard defeat for Iowa Democrats. Where we go from here is an open question. Some have suggested that a couple of substantial Democratic donors (Fred Hubbell and Jack Hatch) along with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack might pick up the pieces and rebuild the party in the mold of what existed when Vilsack was governor. That would be the wrong direction. We can’t go on like we have been and the politics of Iowa before Obama doesn’t exist any longer.

For now, I’m going to accept the reality that Iowa hasn’t been a swing state since 2016. There is another post coming after I analyze our county election results.

Categories
Writing

Front Moving In

Front moving in on Nov. 4, 2022.

The dry spell broke yesterday with an inch of rain. It’s not enough to slake our thirst, yet was welcome. I got a walk in before it started.

On the final weekend before the midterm election I’m already thinking beyond it. Democrats have a chance in some of the races, so seeing how the statewide effort concludes is paramount. After that, it’s back to writing.

My blog posts are more first draft than polished pieces. I find myself editing them for the 24 hours following when a post goes live. With autobiography there are significantly more edits and rewrites. It takes a different frame of mind and results in a better final product.

Writing a chapter of autobiography begins the same way as short form writing, by getting a story down on a document, usually on the computer. During edits, true idea development occurs. Both my understanding of the subject and the narrative improves as a result of each rewrite.

This winter’s writing session will include reading what I’ve written thus far. I won’t get bogged down in rewrites at this time. I want to tackle the next sections which include time at university, a trip to Europe, military service and graduate school (1970 – 1981). Part of this period is reckoning with my home city and making the decision to leave permanently. It was one of the richest times and is well documented in journals and papers. Because of increased historical record, there is more research and work to do finding everything and pulling it together.

I just finished reading Alice Wong’s memoir Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life. It is the sixth memoir or autobiography I read this year and by far the most engaging. The reason is the subject of a disabled person’s life is so different from mine. The use of fragments of edited previous writing and essays is an issue I’ve been dealing with in my autobiography. Should such texts be included unedited, or edited for clarity? It was useful to see how Wong handled it.

It does not seem necessary to present a single narrative in chronological order, hanging details of my life on a timeline like one would decorate a Christmas tree. At the same time, that narrative technique seems important during the period leading up to my leaving home in 1970. It continues to be needed until I finished graduate school, which marked the end of my formal, youthful experience and education. After that there are diverging threads (marriage, fatherhood, work, politics, creativity, and living in society for starters), too many to attempt to tie together in a single chronology. They all proceed from 1981 until the present.

Another thing is I don’t want to write that much about people still living, especially family. Each person’s memories are different with different emphasis. Sorting that out in a memoir doesn’t seem important. While I will write descriptions of specific events, I seek perspective, not truth.

Rain is forecast until I begin my shift of political canvassing this afternoon. I’m not sure how to dress. I know I’ll be thinking about writing while walking from door to door.

Categories
Writing

Vote on Nov. 8

Woman Writing Letter

As the midterm election approaches, my hope is everyone eligible to vote will do so.

When I served in the military the disgrace of President Richard Nixon was on my mind. With Nixon gone, I didn’t care who won the 1976 election. While shipping overseas to serve in an infantry division during the Cold War, I hoped everyone back home did their duty and voted. I was ready to accept the results of the election.

This year there are candidates on the ballot who continue to say the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. What malarkey! I will accept the results of the 2022 midterm election because I understand our elections are secure and honest, and every vote that can legally be counted will be. In Iowa we are very good at running elections.

Nov. 8 will be here before we know it. Make sure you do your part, study the candidates and the proposed constitutional amendment on the sample ballot, and vote. It is the least we can do to secure our democratic way of life.

~ First published in the Marengo Pioneer Republican on Oct. 26, 2022.

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Writing

Road to Everywhere

Single ingress/egress for the place where we live.

The coronavirus pandemic changed our family’s lives. It goes without saying the pandemic had us withdraw from society. I left paid work, quit all but utilitarian travel, spent more time at home, and downsized our operation to being a one-car family with a newer, smaller automobile. Change is not finished. The pandemic is not finished either, although it is being normalized.

When I consider leaving the property it is about trips to retail merchants, on political errands, or to visit family or friends. That is it. I did my traveling for education and adventure when I was young. Career work with a large transportation services firm had me traveling as well. We took a few vacations when our child was young. These days, when driving along the single egress from our home, I seldom leave the state. Usually a gallon of milk accompanies me on the trip home.

While the chip and seal access lane to our development is a road to everywhere, is it really if we choose not to travel it? Going left at the main road takes me to the dairy store, to my dentist, to political friends in Iowa County, and to the airport. A right turn takes me to town, to the clinic, to the county seat, to shopping, and to visit family. It is a much bigger world than that. I know, because I have been there.

I may plan a trip for recreation or learning. The Stanley Museum finally opened on the University of Iowa campus after being flooded out and permanently evacuated from its previous home along the Iowa River in 2008. Maybe I’ll visit and try not to get grumpy about repatriating all the African artifacts Maxwell and Elizabeth Stanley brought back from their travels. After all, seeing Joan Miró’s A Drop of Dew Falling from the Wing of a Bird Awakens Rosalie Asleep in the Shade of a Cobweb inspired me to learn more about the artist and eventually see him making a film in Saint-Paul de Vence in 1979. I have no desire to see Jackson Pollack’s Mural, which was a gift to the museum by Peggy Guggenheim. So maybe there is a possible non-utilitarian trip in the future.

For now, I appreciate the opportunity to walk along the road and take a photo on a beautiful fall day. That is travel enough in a time of pandemic.