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High: 50°F ~ Low: 41°F
Friday, Nov. 28, 2014
Wild crops, and how to tame Missouri's chiggers (07/11/14)
Back in the day, in the Ozark hills over yonder, the bounty of the wild yielded a good portion of what we ate. For example: In the spring we went looking for greens, which grew along the roads and fields around our farm. I had no idea we were eating weeds. My mother's family and her mother's family had always gathered greens. With enough bacon fat and vinegar, they were downright tasty...
Celebrating freedoms -- and still waiting for more (07/03/14)
Today we celebrate our nation's many freedoms. But are we truly, totally free? Of course not. Certainly we have escaped, as a model for the world, so many of the bonds that enslave too many people around the globe. But we still can't open a package of AAA batteries without uttering a few choice words...
Let me explain, please, in terms no one will ever possibly understand (06/28/14)
After a church dinner last Sunday, a fellow parishioner said he had a topic for my next column. There's nothing I like better than suggestions for columns. Sometimes I run a little dry, and these unexpected offers to help are always welcome. So, said Charlie, why don't you write a column about the Ameren bill. Maybe, he said, you could find someone who could explain it to us...
When the nearest phone was nine miles away (06/21/14)
I came this close -- this close! -- this week to yelling at the driver in the car in front of me at the wait-and-sometimes-go intersection of Broadway and Kingshighway. The driver -- could have been a man, could have been a woman -- was clearly in a snit because of a cellphone. The device either wasn't showing any bars or wasn't responding quickly enough to jabs on the keyboard. More than once the driver threatened to throw the phone into the street...
If the customer gets too smart, what happens next? (05/17/14)
It's hard to say when all this started. Maybe you were paying attention and have a better notion about exact dates. Let's just say that some time ago a funny thing started to happen. I know. I know. Lots of funny things happen all the time. But this is a particular funny thing that I've been trying for a long time to figure out. And now that I think have a clue about what's going on, I'm worried...
Missy Kitty's toys and the salamander (06/02/13)
Missy Kitty says "Hey." Our furry friend -- often called The Little Dictator by those who know her best -- is both predictable and unpredictable. On the one hand, cats love routine. Missy Kitty knows when 5 p.m. rolls around. That's when she gets food in her dish in the garage. She knows when daylight-savings time goes into effect. It takes her a few days to adjust. Then heaven forbid if you miss that 5 o'clock feeding...
Rain, sun, wind, hail - and, of course, those crazy deer (05/19/13)
On many occasions I have said I chose, for nearly half a century, to work for newspapers for one simple reason: a milk cow named Lulu. Those of you who grew up on farms know exactly what I'm talking about. For some of you city folk who don't know the difference between a boar and heifer, farm life tends to command most of your time, attention and energy...
So now we elect our very own anarchists? (05/05/13)
Some Missouri legislators continue to be hellbent about sending absurd messages to Washington. The latest is a law that would make it a crime to enforce federal statutes -- as yet not passed -- regarding firearms. How paranoid is that? Anticipating that the public fever is high right now regarding efforts on the national level to curb certain arms and those who would use them, Missouri's Republican legislators have pushed laws that would turn federal agents and prosecutors into criminals...
Too close for comfort when disaster strikes (04/22/13)
My wife and I didn't know about the bombs in Boston until late Monday afternoon, because we were returning from St. Louis and listening to satellite radio instead of a station that would have had news bulletins. As soon as I mentioned the bombs to my wife, she said, "Hand me the phone," and she immediately dialed the number of our son, who lives in Boston...
At last - news that lets you keep your Cheerios down (04/07/13)
NEWS BULLETIN Cape Girardeau city officials today announced a new program to deal with the growing deer population inside the city limits. The new program is called LDD, an acronym for Love the Deer ... to Death. "The people have spoken," said the city's Chief Poobah, referring to the referendum repealing the ordinance that would have allowed deer hunting in the city. "Let's move on."...
After Benedict: Have you met Pope Michael I? (02/24/13)
As could be expected, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI as pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church has generated a lot of information, much of it useful, to those who care about the world's largest Christian branch. Considerable attention also has been given to trivial matters. Most every story or opinion piece I read refers to a supposed quandary of what Benedict will be called beginning March 1, when he officially becomes a former pope rather than a deceased pope...
A fable: The truth about the conspiracy in the Big Easy (02/09/13)
It's easy to create a conspiracy. All you need is Internet access and a fertile mind. This is why I am able to document the evolution of the conspiracy in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday that led to the now famous power outage -- the one officials were unable to explain days after the lights went out...
Customer service: Either you have it or you don't - Part II (01/26/13)
Back in September my relatively new lawn mower went on the blitz. Remember? I told you all about it in a column last October. Between September and October, the dealer who sold me the mower had been informed by the manufacturer that it would not stand behind factory defects that caused my mower to croak. I was unhappy. I was unhappy that a well-known mower maker wouldn't stand behind its product. And I was unhappy that the dealer would welsh on its reputation for good service...
Looks like a storm is coming...or maybe not (12/30/12)
Weather forecasting has come a long way since my childhood on Killough Valley in the Ozarks over yonder. I guess. Forecasting is a lot fancier these days, what with computer models and dazzling electronic displays of radar showing a tornado heading for your house...
In the bustle of the season, watch out for what's going on (12/02/12)
I know most of you are too busy to bother with very many non-shopping details, but life without shopping goes on, believe it or not. What follows is an attempt to offer you some guidance. Not shopping advice. I am the last person you would ever want to consult about shopping. Still, there are some preparations you can make for the realities in life that will save you a great deal of bother...
Warning: Twinkie crisis is just around the corner (11/18/12)
The news earlier this week from St. Louis was grim: Hostess Brands closed three bakeries in the Big City. It's bad enough that 365 bakery employees lost their jobs. It's bad enough that the plants were closed because of picket lines set up by striking members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union...
Missy Kitty, in our time of need, becomes MediCat (11/04/12)
The doctor listened to my lungs and heart. I don't know what he was doing, because my distress was in my throat. Small explosions were being set off by unidentified terrorists. Each blast resulted in spasms of coughing intended to quell the enemy. As it turns out, I'm terrible at fighting wars...
A good week - one worth reliving (10/28/12)
There are times when it would be good to have a rewind button for our lives. Last week was one of those. My younger son was home for a visit. He couldn't have picked a better time. The weather was good. The autumn colors were spectacular. The apples were ready to be turned into apple butter. And we found a persimmon tree loaded with fruit, so now we know what winter will be like...
May I help you? Yes. And no. (10/21/12)
Customer service: Either you have it, or you don't. Good service is the hallmark of any reputable company. Bad service ruins it for everyone else. We tend to dwell on the unpleasant experiences and too often fail to acknowledge that good customer service is out there, in abundance...
So, Columbo, have you ever been to western Kansas? (10/14/12)
Monday was a holiday. Sort of. For some. But not everyone. It was Columbus Day. I take that back. It was not Columbus Day. It was the Monday on which Columbus Day was observed this year. Columbus Day is today. Except for everyone who went to the wild Columbus Day parties last Monday. Were you invited?...
No, that's not the way it goes (09/22/12)
I come from a long line of storytellers. They told stories about their lives. They didn't care much for made-up stories. Telling each other about the mundane events of real life kept them busy enough. They were literal storytellers. I, on the other hand, tell all kinds of stories. ...
No azaleas or dogwoods? So what? (04/29/12)
Folks in Charleston, Mo., know how to have fun and provide a good time for anyone showing up for the annual azalea and dogwood festival a month after the blossoms have peaked. Have an extravagant lawn party, for example, one where the women dress up and wear fancy hats and where the men wear blazers and straw boaters. What fun they were having last Saturday while tour buses idled up and down the beautifully manicured streets...
Music, more music and a memorial (04/22/12)
Shortly after my wife and I arrived in Cape Girardeau 18 years ago, we were invited to a party in one of the restored and renovated jewels of the city's historic homes. There was music coming from the living room, piano jazz. It was wonderful. It was classy. It was special...
What's the Latin word for 'work'? (04/15/12)
With the exceptional weather we've had here in Southeast Missouri during late winter and early spring -- not counting the scattered frost in some areas this week, things that bloom have put on a truly dazzling show. One conspicuous absence in this colorful display has been the blossoms that should have appeared on the massive, healthy wisteria that covers the trellis at the end of the tool barn alongside our house...
This you must read for yourself ... (04/08/12)
Some things bear repeating. That's a lesson most of us learned as students. That's a lesson Gary Rust convincingly teaches with his column of collected thoughts from other notables and not-so-notables. In the past few days, there have been a couple of items in the Southeast Missourian that bear repeating. If you missed them the first time around, you'll learn something. And if you've already read them, I think you'll enjoy them again...
Retired SEMO instructor still making marvelous music (03/25/12)
There are, give or take, 39,000 residents of Cape Girardeau. Last Sunday afternoon nearly 200 of them were comfortably seated in the newly expanded and remodeled reception area at Chateau Girardeau for something so special that you have to feel a little sorry for the 38,800 folks who weren't there...
The wonderful world of words (03/18/12)
I've been a reader most of my life -- but not all of it. I remember my mother reading to me before I learned to read. And I remember Mrs. Rayfield's voice when I and other first-graders at the one-room Shady Nook School first heard:"Dick. See Dick. See Dick run."...
Today is a good day to thank a teacher (03/04/12)
If I have accomplished anything in life, I owe an enormous debt to the many teachers who have influenced me. My mother was a teacher. She taught in one-room schools in the Ozarks over yonder in the 1950s. She wound up teaching at schools with names like Shady Nook, Mill Creek, Otter Creek, Dale and King. ...
This is how it all starts ... (02/26/12)
There has been some fallout since I recounted, last week, the massive clean-out of our basement, during which over a week more than four decades of accumulated stuff was sorted and sifted and regrouped and disposed of. It seems we aren't the only homeowners whose basements have been taken over by gremlins that breed like rabbits...
Opening those long-packed memories (02/19/12)
The hardest work I've ever done is cleaning out my mother's house after she moved to an assisted-living home. The second-hardest job I've ever completed is cleaning out our own basement. My mother's house was filled with 40-plus years of keeping almost everything, including nearly half a ton of canceled checks and bank statements dating back to the 1950s. You never know, she would say, when you might need something like that...
Pressing issues in Cape Girardeau (01/29/12)
Many Cape Girardeans have taken an interest in two important issues of late: dress code revisions in the public schools, and a plan for turning the downtown portion of Broadway into a more aesthetically pleasing thoroughfare. That's good. Too often important -- and expensive -- decisions are made with little public input. It's good to know that there are still some issues that will ignite public debate...
Missy Kitty's decorating tips (01/22/12)
What I'm about to say will come as no surprise to the lovers and owners of cats. If you do not like cats, or if you prefer dogs, please stop reading and move on to something that means more to you, like a rousing game of fetch. That will be loads of fun for the two of you...
Pursuing the dream of a good night's sleep (01/15/12)
My wife and I have been on a quest for several years. We have been pursuing an ever more elusive good night's sleep. Since all the mattress salespeople say reaching our goal depends entirely on finding the right mattress, we have given them plenty of business. We believe mattress salespeople to be honest and forthright. We have to. We don't know squat about mattresses...
The signs of changing seasons (01/08/12)
Seasons come and go, and six days into 2012 we already have a sense of how the seasons bring change. And, like all seasons, we expect familiarity. Soon, daffodil shoots will poke up through the ground, signaling the approach of spring, my favorite season. Meanwhile, we can see signs of other seasons ending and beginning as the new year takes hold...
Noble fruitcake (12/18/11)
You really didn't think you would make it all the way through December without my annual appeal on behalf of the much maligned fruitcake. You surely know by now that I am probably the world's foremost champion of the noble fruitcake. Sad to say, I sometimes believe I am the ONLY champion...
Close the border (10/23/11)
Deer hunting in Cape Girardeau? The city's leaders are giving it serious consideration. As the spouse of someone whose sweet disposition has been overtaken by a killer instinct, thanks to our growing deer population, I understand why the city might want to allow deer "harvesting" (which is the polite way of saying killing)...
Autumn's best (10/16/11)
If you hurry, you can still make it to the hills to see the fall colors. You might have to drive "a fur piece," as they say in the Ozarks over yonder, especially if you want to see brilliant scarlets and dazzling golds. My wife and I drove home from a week in Virginia at the end of last week. We came through North Carolina on purpose to seek the Great Smokey Mountain. As it turns out, they are as beautiful as we remembered from previous trips...
Missy Kitty and catnip (10/09/11)
Almost anyone who is owned by a cat will not likely find anything startlingly surprising in what you are about to read. For thousands of years domesticated cats have been developing their special abilities to confound human beings. But sometimes humans take the upper hand...
More from the asylum (10/02/11)
Americans' approval ratings for Congress are barely in double digits -- far lower than similar ratings for President Obama. The nation is in a crisis of enormous proportions. Too many Americans are out of work. The nation's debt continues to climb to staggering levels. Signs of leadership have all but vanished. Political partisanship has all but immobilized our executive and legislative branches of government...
Catching up (09/11/11)
The cat's rules: Now that things are starting to settle down at the Sullivan house (we're happy to report my wife's health has much improved in recent days -- thank you to all who have included us in their prayers), Missy Kitty, the new cat, has decided it's time to lay down some rules for her human keepers...
The social knot (07/31/11)
A lot of so-called experts seem to be saying that all the high-tech doodads used to communicate these days have created a social network that ties us all together. I say, What have these people been smoking? As some of you will recall, my wife and I gave up our phone, the one that thought it was smarter than God, and switched to a phone that is slightly more intelligent than a golden retriever...
Wiping out debt (07/10/11)
America's politicians are wrangling over the nation's debt ceiling, which hovers around $14 trillion. First off, politicians know nothing about wise stewardship of the U.S Treasury. If they did, we wouldn't be in this mess. But here we are, in a money crisis so severe there is talk of defaulting on our country's debts...
Birdieballs and matrimony (06/19/11)
You might want to squeeze in a practice round this weekend for the First-Ever Sixth Annual Louis J. Lorimier Memorial Downtown Golf Tournament and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet, which is the following weekend -- 1:30 p.m. June 26, to be exact. Practice round? Of course you can. ...
Let it be (04/17/11)
A few weeks ago, I told you about the cellphones my wife and I had found. These phones do what cellphones are supposed to do. They send and receive phone calls. Period. These cellphones are not representative of the technological wizardry of modern hand-held devices that do remarkable things. It just happens that my wife and I are not remarkable people, nor do we need remarkable machines that fit in our pocket or purse...
The ocean's fury (02/13/11)
Thanks to the Internet, I scan about a dozen papers a day. If I see something that interests me, I go to that paper's website and read the story. Sunday morning, there was a headline on the front page of the Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon that made my heart stand still. It was a story of tragedy, and it brought back memories nearly 40 years old...
Listening in (01/30/11)
OK. I'll be honest. I eavesdrop. These days it's easy to do. Individuals -- diners in restaurants, shoppers in stores, pedestrians on your daily walk and even churchgoers occupying the pew behind you -- talk openly about private matters. They do this on cell phones, of course. And when the phone reception is spotty, they talk louder, just the way we do when we're speaking to a foreigner who doesn't seem to understand what we're saying. We assume, instinctively, that louder means plainer...
The boss cat (01/23/11)
On an a cold, wet, gray morning this week, Miss Kitty is curled into a tight ball -- about the size of a basketball -- in her wicker chair in the family room, the wicker chair with the soft cushion and a towel neatly arranged to collect whatever Miss Kitty sees fit to remove from her fur during the course of a day...
Legal aide (01/16/11)
You know how it is when you face a day of legal uncertainty. Remember Anita Bryant? And don't we all feel nutritionally superior when we slurp down a glass of OJ every morning? That's the way it is with knowing the right thing to do when matters of law cloud our horizon...
Bad news week (01/09/11)
After 45 years of newspapering, I now read newspapers like everyone else: mostly day-old (or older) news that is chosen mostly for its friction factor or its shock value. Two stories making national headlines this week gave me pause. Is this the best the news media can do in providing useful information?...
Making holiday memories at regional destinations (01/02/11)
This being start of a new year, it also means our Christmas present has left Cape Girardeau. Younger son surprised us the week before Christmas by flying home from Ireland, where he has lived the past 10-plus years. He has been home before, but such trips are rare -- and wonderful...
Free stuff (10/17/10)
The perfect storm of freebies occurred this week. I have to tell you: I like this keep-your-money cloudburst. Here's what happened: I took my car to my favorite automobile dealer to have the oil changed. After waiting a respectable amount of time, the service manager told me the car was ready. And, he said, there would be no charge, because every fourth oil change is free...
Good memories (08/29/10)
Much has been said about Wally Lage since his death last week. Those who knew him understand the generous and kind accolades that have been fittingly heaped on him. For those who didn't know Wally, it would be difficult to explain all the reasons he was such a special person...
Deerstalkers: Ready, aim ... (07/12/10)
Since I wrote about the status of our cotton crop two weeks ago, very little has changed as far as the weather is concerned. The Missouri Crop Progress and Condition Report for the week ending July 4 gives an update of how the cotton situation continues to deteriorate. Within a week?s time, we went from the condition of 9 percent in the very poor and poor categories to 14 percent. The factor that is responsible for this is the lack of rainfall...
Thanks, officers (06/20/10)
The issue about pay increases within the Cape Girardeau Police Department is a complex one, and I don't pretend to fully comprehend it. But I can say this with certainty: Whatever our police officers are making -- even with the raises they seek -- it isn't enough...
Sleep Please... (05/30/10)
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. -- Leo J. Burke A while back there was a story about a lad who fell asleep on his school bus and wasn't found for hours. Several years ago I remember a story about a man who woke up from a nap on his living room sofa and realized his house had been blown away by a tornado...
Out and about (05/07/10)
Today's editorial, on the other side of this page, offers just a glimpse of the events, happenings, performances and celebrations on tap this weekend and the rest of May. It's great to know there are so many choices. One thing that may not be on your radar yet is strawberry season. Sweet, juicy strawberries are being picked by nearby growers, and this year's crop seems to be tastier than ever. Find your favorite patch and enjoy...
Spring beauty (04/18/10)
I'm only going to say this once, so listen up. If you haven't made plans to visit Charleston, Mo., this weekend during the annual dogwood and azalea festival, shame on you. Charleston's broad residential avenues are lined with lovely homes surrounded by dazzling displays of flowering trees and shrubs, not to mention the tulips, irises and wisterias thrown in for good measure...
Shut-ins awe (04/11/10)
If you go to Ironton, the county seat of Iron County in the Ozarks over yonder, you get three towns for the price of one. Arcadia is on the south end, and Pilot Knob is on the north end. And if you're in Ironton, you also are close to three of Missouri's state parks: Taum Sauk, Johnson's Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks...
A good movie (03/14/10)
Writers for movie mags call it rom-com, the cinematic genre over which Sandra Bullock is the reigning queen. Bullock's regal stature has been honed by her many entertaining romantic-comedy performances with their predictable plots. This year's Oscar for best performance by an actress went to Bullock for her role as a compassionate Memphis do-gooder in "The Blind Side." Hers was not the best effort, considering the performances by other nominees in the same category, but who doesn't like watching a Sandra Bullock movie?. ...
A cat's life (02/07/10)
Miss Kitty, the calico cat who lives with us, has us figured out. And we continue to discover more and more about our constantly shedding purr factory. Because she is partly an outdoor cat, Miss Kitty keeps her claws sharp and ready to use. Too ready, sometimes. When she purrs, her paws knead the closest soft surface -- usually my midsection -- and her claws etch interesting patterns into my skin...
One ringy-dingy (01/31/10)
I'm a bill checker, and I'm proud of it. When I get a bill, I take a close look to make sure I know what I'm paying for. Sometimes the sender of a bill makes an honest mistake. This is easy to fix: a simple phone call, a pleasant conversation, an apology and an immediate adjustment. Thank you very much...
Satisfied customer (01/24/10)
Things aren't like they used to be. I hear that a lot. The words are usually spoken by someone with hair my color. For us, "used to be" is measured in decades. For the pre-bifocal set with most of their internal organs intact, "used to be" was Tuesday...
Show me the $ (09/20/09)
I am for progress. And I like historic buildings. Yes, it's possible to be for progress and preservation at the same time. The trick is to not let one impinge on the other. So, yes, I think the improvements along Broadway that Southeast Missouri State University has made are for the better. I do not miss the business buildings that were there before...
Another talk for students (09/13/09)
It's hard to say, for certain, what hidden menace lurked in the pep talk President Obama gave to young students on Tuesday. Millions of Americans, however, imagined something sinister. Many of them chose to excuse their sons and daughters from listening to ... ...
Get out. Enjoy great weather... (08/30/09)
As usual, everyone is talking about the weather. What a year it has been, going all the way back to the first week in March, when spring arrived. This has been one of the most bearable years, weatherwise, in recent memory. Let's not get spoiled. The weather always changes...
R. Joe Sullivan
R. Joe Sullivan