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Remember the song “Grandma got run over by a reindeer?” It’s a holiday anthem dedicated to the violent demise of a beloved relative by the crushing of caribou hooves. Despite the song’s catchy beat (and homicidal message)…I have to confess that I’ve never been clear as to the moral of the story. It could be any one of the following: • Don’t let grandma drink eggnog and walk home unsupervised. • Beware of Santa. He is a vicious bloodthirsty criminal, and not to be trusted under any circumstances. • If someone passes away during the holidays, it is best to prethink the ethics of the gift policy as the dilemma to keep or return unwanted trinkets can be overwhelming. OR… • It’s time to get new relatives when one’s grievance period includes football and drinking beer with Cousin Mel rather than planning a lovely memorial service. It was GRANDMA, for…

I am a Child of the 80s. Unlike the 60’s Child, my youth was devoid of LSD and “special brownies.” (Unless you count Grandma’s…and I’m pretty sure all of her ingredients were legal.) I also missed out on the disco craze and mood rings of the 70s. Although I view this as a positive, believing polyester leisure suits violate any sense of propriety and dignity one might possess. Instead I was raised in the era of the Rubik’s Cube (I had to peel the stickers off in order to solve it!), Michael Jackson (pre-skin bleaching and nose job), and Atari, which I maintain is one of the greatest gaming systems ever created. Before Fortnight, there was Pong…and Pac Man and Donkey Kong…and my personal favorite Burger Time. I challenge you to name anything more rewarding than building a perfect digital hamburger without being crushed by a giant bun. However the…

I was raised on a rural Iowa farm. This meant that my childhood revolved around food. (It also revolved around walking beans, Atari, and the local Pizza Hut jukebox.) Growing up, we didn’t have this wimpy “breakfast, lunch, dinner” stuff we see nowadays. Instead we ate FIVE meals a day plus a nighttime snack. This equated to breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper, and a big bowl of ice cream before bed. For you city slickers (or Weight Watcher members), this concept may exceed your comprehension and alloted caloric points . But to break it down… Breakfast was a hot meal consisting of eggs and some sort of fatty meat. Then came a mid-morning lunch of cold meat sandwiches, homemade cookies and coffee. At noon, dinner was a hot meal with meat, potatoes, and bread & butter sandwiches. Repeat with another mid-afternoon lunch of cold meat sandwiches, homemade cookies and coffee.…

My husband and I recently celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. 24 years…That is one year away from a quarter century. I repeat…a quarter CENTURY! (Translation: We are old.) To celebrate, I’d like to say that my husband purchased me one of the “traditional” anniversary gifts. You know…40 years is ruby. 50 is gold. 60 is diamonds. (Seriously? Is it necessary to wait 60 years to get diamonds?) But guess what 24 years is…Musical instruments. Yep. I did not think there was anything less romantic than the traditional first year anniversary gift of paper. At least paper is practical! But musical instruments? Hey honey, I wanted to let you know I was thinking of you so I got you this tuba. Or a clarinet. Because nothing says love more than something from woodwinds family.(Quick side note…I did find another wedding registry that recommends “stone” gifts to commemorate one’s 24th anniversary. The…

Quick…What do these three things have in common? The Iowa Hawkeyes, Country Music, and San Francisco. If you replied that you despise all three, that is the wrong answer. (Although I may give you partial credit for disliking San Francisco. Seriously… Crooked streets, the “summer of love, ” and just existing in a state that now bans straws. STRAWS! How could the Iowa Roadie ever drink her beloved dirty girl scout drinks without a straw?) Anyway there are actually two correct answers to the above quiz. One is former University of Iowa Hawkeye quarterback CJ Beathard, who now serves as the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. The other right answer is his brother Tucker Beathard, a singer/songwriter who scored a #2 country hit with his song “Rock On” a couple of years ago. Let me explain something… If the Iowa Roadie had a top ten list of favorite…

There is a practice known as “bar hopping” that refers to visiting more than one bar in a single evening. This nomadic lifestyle is most common in college students on spring break. As I am seasoned well beyond the ramen noodle & wet t-shirt years, I prescribe to the more sedentary “bar plopping,” which is the nightlife equivalent to nesting. I find a place I like, plop myself down and remain there all night. I honestly do not know how loyal patronage can be a bad thing. But evidently it labels me as “boring” and “lame.” SO on a recent trip to Cedar Rapids, I decided to forego my stationary habits and just go with the flow. (My anxiety level went up just writing that statement.) Now if you recall, a previous Iowa Roadie blog described an afternoon luau at “Just Coz Tavern” in Cedar Rapids. Remember…potluck by the pool…

Last week, the Iowa Roadie took a little fishing trip up north to Leech Lake in Walker, Minnesota. (Although to be considered a fishing trip, one actually has to catch fish.) According to the last census poll, Walker boasts a population of 941 people. That is its WINTER population. In the summer, the population multiplies like an amoeba, and the town swarms with both tourists and mayflies. (In all honesty, if I lived in Walker, I might prefer the mayflies! My limited experience with the tourists is that they meander. Meander means “to walk VERY VERY slowly and take up the entire sidewalk.”) So rather than run down the slow amoebas (anyone know the plural for amoeba?), my husband and I decided to have a drink in Cafe Zona Rosa where happy hour was just beginning. This was a terrific find, because all drinks are ½ off. So our chips,…

My husband wants to be a cowboy. Seriously. In real life, he is a computer geek. But secretly he longs to ride the open range unencumbered by the pressures of modern life (mainly his wife who keeps insisting he visit new little dives). So when the Iowa Roadie spotted a new bar and grill by the name of “Stampedes” in downtown Mason City, it seemed to be a win-win situation. Per Iowa Roadie rule #2, we moseyed up to the bar and sat down. (Recall that the bar typically has the best service and allows you the most opportunity to visit with other patrons.) My husband ordered a beer, and I embarrassed him by ordering a “dirty girl scout.” Now I confess, it is a tad awkward to order a beverage which seems to defile such an upstanding group of young ladies. But this drink tastes like a thin mint.…

Aah…the beauty of huge snowflakes falling softly to the ground, creating a glorious white carpet, pure and splendid enough for royalty. The comfort of curling up under a heavy quilt with a good book in one hand and a cup of steaming hot cocoa in another. Gazing at this natural beauty, one can only be awestruck by the serenity of it all, and contemplate one thing…WHO TICKED OFF ELSA? Because this Norman Rockwell scene is not set in December or January, or even any month resembling winter. It is mid-April…time for flowers and birds and all things NOT winter. But instead, the Iowa Roadie is shoveling snow for the third weekend in a row and cursing Elsa, the Disney queen who magically transforms the world into ice and cold. Let me say…that trick is best saved for animated feature films. Instead of a garden tiller roaring to life outside my…

I recently invited you to join me on a road trip across Iowa. Surprisingly, many of you listened (I’m used to my kids ignoring me) and clicked “follow” on my last post. So now we are traveling en masse across the state, ready to conquer all things bacon together. However before we head out, I need to clarify a few things about the journey ahead. First of all, my husband and I like to stop at dives. By “dive,” I mean a small town establishment full of local character. You know…it’s that place that everyone stops talking mid-sentence about grain prices to turn and look when you walk in. Understand that dives regularly serve one of two things: deep-fried food or homemade pie. Maybe both if you’re lucky. Most dives also serve alcohol, and so in most cases, my husband will serve as our official “beverage taster.” Second rule on…

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