[ {"id":"e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3","type":"article","starttime":"1484475300","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-15T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Taking time off for my knees","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/taking-time-off-for-my-knees/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/taking-time-off-for-my-knees/article_e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"I first went to a\u00a0doctor about knee pain in 1984. Nothing much to do about it, she said. Your\u00a0family has a history of arthritis so you probably will,\u00a0too. And she was right. It's now been about 30 years of fussing about my knees, first the\u00a0left, then the right. As health maladies go,\u00a0it's certainly way down on the list. Sore knees won't kill me.\u00a0It's not cancer or kidney\u00a0failure.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["walker","arthritis","knee","medicine","malady","cancer","co-worker","kidney failure","freelancer","pain"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"e91e8297-adfe-565e-a974-3d0fa5bd41a3","body":"

I first went to a\u00a0doctor about knee pain in 1984.

Nothing much to do about it, she said. Your\u00a0family has a history of arthritis so you probably will,\u00a0too.

And she was right. It's now been about 30 years of fussing about my knees, first the\u00a0left, then the right. As health maladies go,\u00a0it's certainly way down on the list. Sore knees won't kill me.\u00a0It's not cancer or kidney\u00a0failure.

And given that\u00a0I sit a lot at my\u00a0job, I can function. My dad, a farmer, did not have it so easy. He was constantly on his feet.

But, I finally\u00a0decided to have my knees replaced. My first surgery was Wednesday and the second will be in February. I'll be off work nearly three months, which is\u00a0daunting to me.

In the meantime, co-workers and freelancers will write stories for this section. That will be good. You'll get new topics and\u00a0fresh perspectives.

I'll let you know how it goes.

"}, {"id":"b134d2bd-7514-58c0-8e92-05cbebba60e0","type":"article","starttime":"1483870500","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-08T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Learning, reflecting on the high seas","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_b134d2bd-7514-58c0-8e92-05cbebba60e0.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/learning-reflecting-on-the-high-seas/article_b134d2bd-7514-58c0-8e92-05cbebba60e0.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/learning-reflecting-on-the-high-seas/article_b134d2bd-7514-58c0-8e92-05cbebba60e0.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Among my Christmas emails was one\u00a0titled\u00a0\"9 years and not counting.\" It was from Wendy Kall, wife of my husband's lifelong friend Dave Kall, a 1970 graduate of Davenport\u00a0Central High School. Until nine years ago,\u00a0Dave and Wendy worked for a Florida public\u00a0school system, he as a teacher and she as a counselor. When\u00a0they qualified for retirement, they\u00a0decided to follow a long-held dream to set sail and explore the\u00a0world.\u00a0\u00a0","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wendy kall","new zealand","dave kall","counselor","island of new zealand","panama canal","online blogs","teacher","caribbean","elysium","davenport central high school","florida","economics","education","politics","fleet","fiji","boat","email","country"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801","description":"Wendy Kall","byline":"","hireswidth":612,"hiresheight":816,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/c9/4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801/586fcbf5945f1.hires.jpg","presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"612","height":"816","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/c9/4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801/586fcbf597831.image.jpg?resize=612%2C816"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"133","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/c9/4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801/586fcbf5a6d33.preview.jpg?resize=100%2C133"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"400","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/c9/4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801/586fcbf5a6d33.preview.jpg?resize=300%2C400"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"1365","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/c9/4c959c43-3906-58fd-ac84-709a7420b801/586fcbf5a6d33.preview.jpg"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"b134d2bd-7514-58c0-8e92-05cbebba60e0","body":"

Among my Christmas emails was one\u00a0titled\u00a0\"9 years and not counting.\"

It was from Wendy Kall, wife of my husband's lifelong friend Dave Kall, a 1970 graduate of Davenport\u00a0Central High School.

Until nine years ago,\u00a0Dave and Wendy worked for a Florida public\u00a0school system, he as a teacher and she as a counselor. When\u00a0they qualified for retirement, they\u00a0decided to follow a long-held dream to set sail and explore the\u00a0world.\u00a0\u00a0

They presently are in New Zealand, where they have permission to stay for two years. They began their journey in Florida,\u00a0sailing the Caribbean, traveling down the\u00a0coast of Central America, making their\u00a0way through the Panama\u00a0Canal and, island by island, sailing\u00a0to New Zealand in a 44-foot sailboat named Elysium.

Wendy's emails, Dave's online blogs and\u00a0their stories told in person during periodic visits back to the Quad-Cities\u00a0leave me slack-jawed.

When the two are in port,\u00a0a portion\u00a0of their time is spent doing chores much as they would do\u00a0on land\u00a0\u2014 laundry, cleaning, buying and making food, reading, listening to podcasts.

Other time is spent exploring and experiencing the places in which they find themselves.

In Fiji, for example, Dave taught\u00a0in\u00a0a local school that was just introducing science as a\u00a0subject. He gave instruction in\u00a0the scientific method \u2014 how to construct a hypothesis, test it with an experiment, analyze the results and draw a conclusion.

In another place, they helped rebuild\u00a0a school\u00a0destroyed by a hurricane.

Wendy's emails share their observations.

\"Into our\u00a09th year of cruising now, we have visited countries and cultures different from our own,\" she writes. \"I have found myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can count! Comfort zones are seductive, and 'bubbilicious.'

\"Yet having experiences out of my comfort zone renews energy, offers new perspective and expands my world view.\"

The Kalls also report finding\u00a0common ground with\u00a0people they meet, both natives of the countries they visit and other \"cruisers.\"

\"There are things that divide us for sure, but so many more things that bring us together,\" Wendy writes.\u00a0

Amid the\u00a0accounts of exploration and reflection, there also are those that speak to the dangers they face. There are just two of them, after all, so what if there is an accident or health issue and one becomes incapacitated?

The open sea still has its pirates \u2014 people with real guns who might want to rob a lone boat.

There\u00a0is a\u00a0need to avoid sailing too\u00a0near\u00a0countries whose politics are openly\u00a0hostile toward the United States, lest they encounter hostilities themselves.

And always there is the ocean itself. Getting from one place to another on the high seas requires courage, brains, planning, hard work and a dependable boat.

The trip from\u00a0Fiji to a northern island of New Zealand, for example,\u00a0took 11 days with total mileage of\u00a0roughly 1,000 nautical miles.

There were a few periods of calm, but \"the rest of the time we were clawing our way southward with relentless southerly swells, along with many other cross swells,\" Wendy writes.

\"Bashing to windward is noisy, rough, raucous, and scary at times. When we come off a wave, sometimes there are small bangs or big bangs and if a wave hits in a particular spot, loud pops causing some consternation. At one time, we heard a 'different' noise and identified it when we found one of the controls from the stove had flown off\u00a0and landed on the floor about three meters away!

\"Offshore passages require a 24-hour watch, and with just two of us that means sleep deprivation will occur, the challenge being to stay as rested as possible in case both people are needed to attend to something. When those moments happen, they don't sneak up but roar loudly.

\"Our watch schedule at night is three hours on, three hours off, then two on, two or so off. \"

And there is beauty.

\"We experienced a full moon, or near full, the entire passage,\" Wendy writes. \"It lifted my spirits. It is important to keep up the spirits and not become too dispirited, for instance, screaming, 'Will we ever get there?!'\"

I learn a lot reading Wendy's\u00a0emails.\u00a0There's a lot to think about, too.

The way she concludes her emails always makes me stop.

\"No hurries, no worries.\"

Definitely thought-worthy.

"}, {"id":"d50ee9c5-6550-5014-a2a4-190ac75b5951","type":"article","starttime":"1483265700","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-01T04:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Learning new things in the new year","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_d50ee9c5-6550-5014-a2a4-190ac75b5951.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/learning-new-things-in-the-new-year/article_d50ee9c5-6550-5014-a2a4-190ac75b5951.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/learning-new-things-in-the-new-year/article_d50ee9c5-6550-5014-a2a4-190ac75b5951.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Happy New Year! If you've already made your \"resolutions\" for 2017 and don't have \"attend CommUniversity class\" on your list, please consider adding it. CommUniversity is a\u00a038-year Quad-City tradition in which informal classes are offered every Sunday afternoon during February at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, all of them taught by area experts.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["communiversity inc.","augustana college","rogalski center","st. ambrose university","class","islam","education","american football","super bowl","monologue","participant","literature","saad baig","scene","america"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"32d6187f-92bc-599e-bdc3-3841fca67630","description":"Imam Saad Baig","byline":"Mohammed Abdul Hadi","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"mugshot","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1000","height":"729","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32d6187f-92bc-599e-bdc3-3841fca67630/5865c5441377b.image.jpg?resize=1000%2C729"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"73","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32d6187f-92bc-599e-bdc3-3841fca67630/5865c5441377b.image.jpg?resize=100%2C73"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"219","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32d6187f-92bc-599e-bdc3-3841fca67630/5865c5441377b.image.jpg?resize=300%2C219"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"746","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/3/2d/32d6187f-92bc-599e-bdc3-3841fca67630/5865c5441377b.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"d50ee9c5-6550-5014-a2a4-190ac75b5951","body":"

Happy New Year!

If you've already made your \"resolutions\" for 2017 and don't have \"attend CommUniversity class\" on your list, please consider adding it.

CommUniversity is a\u00a038-year Quad-City tradition in which informal classes are offered every Sunday afternoon during February at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, all of them taught by area experts.

This year, there are 32 classes, including those in which you can learn to knit, quilt, take digital photos, keep a writer's journal, speak Spanish, bind a book, do brush writing, paint with acrylics and do t'ai chi ch'uan.

Three different sessions of yoga are offered, including one aimed at would-be teachers.\u00a0

Other classes in the\u00a0personal enrichment vein are\u00a0astronomy, birding,\u00a0the shamanic journey, the life and art of Georgia O'Keeffe and the psychology of marriage.

In the area of the unusual, there's a class for would-be comedians.\u00a0\u00a0Titled \"You're Acting Funny,\"\u00a0participants will\u00a0study partner scenes and monologues and\u00a0have an opportunity to perform\u00a0at New Ground Theatre, Davenport, in early March.

\"Masculinity in America\" examines competing versions of what it means to \"be a man\" in the United States. This is intriguing because that phrase carries a lot more and different baggage than \"to be a woman.\" Why?

The novel\u00a0\"Billiards at Half Past Nine,\" the theses of Martin Luther, Islam, Celtic insights,\u00a0Israeli history, mythological references in space and King Tut are other\u00a0topics.

Full class\u00a0descriptions may be found at\u00a0communiversity.org.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Each year's session begins with a keynote speaker. This year it is Imam Saad Baig, director of religious affairs at\u00a0the Islamic Center of the Quad-Cities, Moline.\u00a0Baig has a bachelor of arts degree in\u00a0religion from Augustana College and completed divinity studies at the Darul Uloom Zakariyaa Seminary in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a concentration in Arabic and Islamic studies.

\u00a0THE PARTICULARS: Classes will meet 2-4 p.m.\u00a0Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26. On Feb. 5 only, the keynote will begin at\u00a01 p.m. in the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose.\u00a0Check-in for classes will also be at the Rogalski Center.

The cost of the program is $40; checks should be made payable to CommUniversity and sent to: CommUniversity Inc., c/o Augustana College, Education Department, 639 38th St., Rock Island, IL 61201.

Registration also may be made online at communiversity.org.

If you are a past participant, you should receive a hard copy of the brochure in the mail. If not, send an email to katiehanson@augustana.edu or call 309-794-7259.

If nothing else, attending classes on Sundays in February will help ease the shock of there being no NFL football to watch on TV. (Yes, the Super Bowl is Feb. 5, the first day of class, but you'll be home in plenty of time for the game.)

"}, {"id":"88706cd5-4e6d-5428-bb4d-bc91fdf46338","type":"article","starttime":"1483250400","starttime_iso8601":"2017-01-01T00:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"bill-wundram":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram"}],"application":"editorial","title":"WUNDRAM: My cherished waste basket","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/article_88706cd5-4e6d-5428-bb4d-bc91fdf46338.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-my-cherished-waste-basket/article_88706cd5-4e6d-5428-bb4d-bc91fdf46338.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-my-cherished-waste-basket/article_88706cd5-4e6d-5428-bb4d-bc91fdf46338.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Here I am, delighted\u00a0with my two favorite Christmas gifts. They were in big packages. One was a My Pillow; the other was a waste basket. You know about My Pillow; you likely\u00a0have been numbed by all the TV commercials. Even our dog, Molly, likes My Pillow. I\u2019m comfortably overjoyed. I think it will make me live to be at least 110.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["mechanics","building industry","advertising","commerce","brochure","waste basket","lid","molly","pedal","kitchen"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":5,"commentID":"88706cd5-4e6d-5428-bb4d-bc91fdf46338","body":"

Here I am, delighted\u00a0with my two favorite Christmas gifts. They were in big packages. One was a My Pillow; the other was a waste basket. You know about My Pillow; you likely\u00a0have been numbed by all the TV commercials. Even our dog, Molly, likes My Pillow. I\u2019m comfortably overjoyed. I think it will make me live to be at least 110.

That second prized gift was a personal waste basket. Waste baskets have made inestimable contributions to mankind. Pause here for a few seconds and tear off my today\u2019s bit of trivia and throw it away. Where else would you throw it except in a waste basket? I find there are fewer conveniences more important than the waste basket. Whoever invented the waste basket deserves the honor of knighthood.

My own personal\u00a0waste basket\u00a0in my bathroom fulfills a dream. It is a classy thing with a chrome foot pedal that raises the lid. It is the only mechanical waste basket in the house, and the pedal lid will keep Molly out of it. She can\u2019t get the tissues to play with. My wife is jealous of my swell new waste basket. She has a wicker basket that must have survived our moves to a half-dozen houses.

IN MY OFFICE,\u00a0at the edge of my rolltop desk, is a dull gray plastic waste basket. I write endless, meaningless notes, and I throw them into my waste basket along with things like half of an Illinois road map and a brochure from an Ida Grove, Iowa, company that makes real street cars.

I could live without all the new inventions, like\u00a0cars that are supposed to drive themselves or stop by themselves before bumping into the vehicle ahead. I could do without zippers; buttons always worked good enough and never got jammed. But I could never get by without a waste basket. There is satisfaction in wadding up and throwing away papers that you didn\u2019t need to begin with and tossing them into a waste basket.

We never seem to have enough waste baskets in our house. We have only one kitchen waste basket, a controversial receptacle under the sink. Helen and I have an ongoing debate as to what goes into it.

WHEN THE MAIL\u00a0arrives, there are brochures for leather recliners with no interest accruing until the Fourth of July. Such brochures end up in our living room waste basket, an artsy thing that seems to match a wall of our kitchen wallpaper.

I have two waste baskets in my home office. They automatically fill themselves with things like 2004 snapshots of couples I don\u2019t know fishing in Lake Mishetonekwa, and Whitey\u2019s gift certificates that have expired and a free meal at Riefe\u2019s, which closed last year.

Thinking about the wonder of waste baskets brings to mind a practice long gone, which is absolutely better for the environment: Today\u2019s young people\u00a0have never had the\u00a0thrill of being assigned to burn the waste basket trash out by the alley ... but\u00a0not too close to the garage.

"}, {"id":"c8b6cfec-055e-5c4e-a78e-d6359cb461d2","type":"article","starttime":"1482818400","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-27T00:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"bill-wundram":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Wundram: Sad to see Christmas end","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/article_c8b6cfec-055e-5c4e-a78e-d6359cb461d2.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-sad-to-see-christmas-end/article_c8b6cfec-055e-5c4e-a78e-d6359cb461d2.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-sad-to-see-christmas-end/article_c8b6cfec-055e-5c4e-a78e-d6359cb461d2.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"\u00a0A lull sets in around the house after Christmas. The holly-jolly wrappings have long been cleared from the living room floor and stuffed into big plastic bags. Only the bows are saved\u00a0\u2014 maybe. I\u2019m saddened. When all is neat and tidy, it is finis, the end of another Christmas season. I prefer to just leave all the empty boxes and paper on the floor. That makes me believe that Christmas is lasting for at least a week. I hate to have Christmas end.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["violin","christianity","economics","wrapping","floor","convertible","lutefisk","christmas","norway"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"c8b6cfec-055e-5c4e-a78e-d6359cb461d2","body":"

\u00a0A lull sets in around the house after Christmas. The holly-jolly wrappings have long been cleared from the living room floor and stuffed into big plastic bags. Only the bows are saved\u00a0\u2014 maybe. I\u2019m saddened. When all is neat and tidy, it is finis, the end of another Christmas season. I prefer to just leave all the empty boxes and paper on the floor. That makes me believe that Christmas is lasting for at least a week. I hate to have Christmas end.

A rush to the rescue

We appreciate that the holiday season brings out the best in all of us. I watched a fine bit of kindness emerge at the side door of the big First Presbyterian Church in Davenport. The annual Christmas concert was over in the early evening darkness. We sat in a friend\u2019s car, waiting for the motor to warm.

\u201cThere\u2019s trouble at the church door,\u201d I worriedly said. A member of the orchestra was alone and having difficulty getting out. She was disabled, but doggedly carried her violin and a stool. Held in her teeth was a cushion for the stool and a sheaf of music under one arm. My Samaritan friend and his wife\u00a0leaped from their car, running to help just as the church door closed on her. Suddenly, an associate appeared from inside to \u201crescue\u201d the violinist. The violinist passed by our car, smiling and nodding thanks for their intended assistance.

We\u2019re all good and kind. But I think the kindess mood was hurried on this holiday night.

What price, glory

In my days, I have been commended with plaques and scrolls and other undeserved honors, but nothing quite so appreciated as this. In a Quad-City Times obituary last week for Stella Mae Golden, 91, Bettendorf, it was stated, \u201cShe enjoyed reading Bill Wundram\u2019s column.\u201d

In praise of secrecy

This man, as I best understand it from Quad-City Salvation Army officers, quietly visited their Davenport office. He wanted no hoopla or publicity.\u00a0\u201cHe just came in and said he wanted to give a cash gift for Christmas,\u201d said one of the officers. The benevolent giver had a check for $20,000. It was to be divided, $10,000 to the \u201cSally\u201d on the Iowa side of the Quad-Cities and $10,000 to the Illinois side.\u00a0

A little white lye \u2026

I vowed to never again bring up that ghastly dish, lutefisk, but I couldn\u2019t escape at the annual Christmas feast of the Quad-City Sons of Norway. The menu called for \u201cThe finest serving of Norwegian Lutefisk\u201d that had been soaked in lye and baked in butter. Lutefisk was accompanied by music from the Sons of Norway Psalmodikon Players. In the \u201cold country\u201d of Norway, the violin was banned as the devil\u2019s instrument, so the fiddle was cut down to a single string, called a psalmodikon. Eight Sons of Norway in these parts make lively psalmodikon music. It eases the awful essence of lutefisk.

Off we go!

On the last day of this year, we plan to escape the miserable Quad-City snow/ice/ cold. We\u2019re flying to Florida for a few months to thaw out in our little condo. My little red PT Cruiser convertible is already down there, waiting for us. It will forever stay there. Handy, when we return.

"}, {"id":"19d2d9a5-d093-57d7-99ad-a9bf87770c32","type":"article","starttime":"1482704100","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-25T16:15:00-06:00","sections":[{"alma-gaul":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul"}],"application":"editorial","title":"At Christmas: It's all good","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/article_19d2d9a5-d093-57d7-99ad-a9bf87770c32.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/at-christmas-it-s-all-good/article_19d2d9a5-d093-57d7-99ad-a9bf87770c32.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/alma-gaul/at-christmas-it-s-all-good/article_19d2d9a5-d093-57d7-99ad-a9bf87770c32.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"My husband and I have two\u00a0grown children,\u00a0a normal-size family nowadays, so you might not think it\u00a0would be difficult\u00a0to settle on\u00a0a time to celebrate Christmas. But this year, it\u00a0has come down to this: 8:30-10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29. An hour-and-a-half. No other date in 2016 works because of work schedules or previous travel plans among the six of us\u00a0\u2014 six because our daughter has a sweetheart and our son has a wife.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["christmas","skype","post","gift","economics","internet","bettendorf","commerce","drink","recipient","tree","food"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"19d2d9a5-d093-57d7-99ad-a9bf87770c32","body":"

My husband and I have two\u00a0grown children,\u00a0a normal-size family nowadays, so you might not think it\u00a0would be difficult\u00a0to settle on\u00a0a time to celebrate Christmas.

But this year, it\u00a0has come down to this: 8:30-10 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29.

An hour-and-a-half.

No other date in 2016 works because of work schedules or previous travel plans among the six of us\u00a0\u2014 six because our daughter has a sweetheart and our son has a wife.

So at 8:30 on that day,\u00a0four of us in Iowa will set up a computer in our familial living room in Bettendorf and will Skype with the two in California.

In the background in Bettendorf, my 5-foot ficus tree will be decorated with multi-colored Italian lights, and we will have food and drink on the coffee table.

Then we will open a small number of gifts that we have\u00a0purchased online using links that we emailed to each other,\u00a0then had delivered to the recipient. (The recipients were in charge of wrapping their own gifts.)

Once\u00a0the presents are opened, we will send each other our love and say goodnight. We all work the next day.

This picture may not be\u00a0what I remember from childhood, but it is\u00a0us. And it is\u00a0good.

Merry Christmas.

"}, {"id":"a7e2e680-cc59-5584-94d9-a027dd9a41ee","type":"article","starttime":"1482645600","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-25T00:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"bill-wundram":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Wundram: Why, this is Christmas!","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/article_a7e2e680-cc59-5584-94d9-a027dd9a41ee.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-why-this-is-christmas/article_a7e2e680-cc59-5584-94d9-a027dd9a41ee.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-why-this-is-christmas/article_a7e2e680-cc59-5584-94d9-a027dd9a41ee.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"(With updating, versions of this column have appeared each holiday season for a dozen years.) The house on this Christmas day will be quiet. Our children, now adults, have long since left the nest so there is melancholy without them. Oh, how much I miss the children. Helen will read a book, mesmerized by the crackling of a blazing fireplace. I will hear the whimper of December wind in the big pine trees around our deck. Our life is now a condo after living in six (that\u2019s true!) houses in\u00a0our 64 years of marriage. A different one for each decade. But that is our way of change. We miss living in a house, but doubt we will ever tackle another.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["christmas eve","christianity","medicine","helen","christmas","building industry","joy","tradition","al vandermeer","christmas tree"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":4,"commentID":"a7e2e680-cc59-5584-94d9-a027dd9a41ee","body":"

(With updating, versions of this column have appeared each holiday season for a dozen years.)

The house on this Christmas day will be quiet. Our children, now adults, have long since left the nest so there is melancholy without them. Oh, how much I miss the children.

Helen will read a book, mesmerized by the crackling of a blazing fireplace. I will hear the whimper of December wind in the big pine trees around our deck. Our life is now a condo after living in six (that\u2019s true!) houses in\u00a0our 64 years of marriage. A different one for each decade. But that is our way of change. We miss living in a house, but doubt we will ever tackle another.

Once, we had three ceiling-high Christmas trees in our big home, the Bettendorf one with pillars wrapped like candy canes. But now we are down to two small trees. I looked in our storage room, and after our last move, I couldn\u2019t find the ornaments made by Tim, Becky and Peter when they were in grade school.

This was\u00a0almost the year we would do without Christmas, as Helen recovers from pneumonia. She is yet to fully recover, so had no time to shop, which is her favorite pastime. I am coughing, too. There will be few wrappings and fewer surprises this day.

ALWAYS, Christmas is a time for quiet thoughts ... of life and love and stars and dark skies. The liturgy of the\u00a0Rev. Al VanderMeer, one of my favorite preachers, still sounds in my ears from a long-ago Christmas Eve service: \u201cThe deepest need that people have is for love ... from God and from other people.\u201d

Al and I once talked of life and living it for others. He spoke of a friend who was slowly dying of cancer. One side of her hospital room was a wall that looked to be papered with Christmas cards. Friends who came to visit buffed and painted her nails to cheer her sad heart. Next door in the hospital, a woman lay dying, too, in a room barren of even the simplest of poinsettias and not a visitor. It was Christmas for both of these women, but it did not seem right to die at Christmas time. The bells should wait.

As is my tradition,\u00a0on Christmas Eve night I\u00a0settled into my green leather\u00a0 chair. Our little dog, Molly, surely was curled up in a furry ball alongside me. Dreaming by the fireplace, I turned up a sentimental CD, \u201cI\u2019ll be Home for Christmas\u201d and read, another tradition, Eugene Field and his poem, \u201cChristmas Eve\u201d ...

Deep lies the snow upon the earth,

But all the sky is ringing

With joyous song, and all night long

The stars shall dance, with singing.

AS ALWAYS, I think these hectic\u00a0days\u00a0how we expect too much of Christmas. It would be nice to spread the joy through the year. I would like to take Christmas a little at a time.

I know that I fell asleep in my green easy chair on Christmas Eve. And this morning, I rubbed my eyes to awaken and smile, \u201cWhy, this is Christmas day!\u201d

"}, {"id":"36a5b51d-06d4-5849-a315-cc70bcf15e12","type":"article","starttime":"1482472800","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-23T00:00:00-06:00","sections":[{"bill-wundram":"news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Wundram: Wedding ring lost, found","url":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/article_36a5b51d-06d4-5849-a315-cc70bcf15e12.html","permalink":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-wedding-ring-lost-found/article_36a5b51d-06d4-5849-a315-cc70bcf15e12.html","canonical":"http://qctimes.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/bill-wundram/wundram-wedding-ring-lost-found/article_36a5b51d-06d4-5849-a315-cc70bcf15e12.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":0,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"It happened before the deluge of snow, with an ending that left everyone as happy as an unexpected gift under the tree. Steve Suiter could not tolerate the\u00a0piles of leaves in the front yard of his Bettendorf home. He told his wife, Ann, that something had to be done. He would rake but needed help. \u201cGo ahead,\u201d she suggested. \u201cFind someone to help.\u201d So, he enlisted two chums, Wes Kuehl and Ron Lieby of LeClaire, to come on over with their rakes.\u00a0","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["steve suiter","botany","gardening","agriculture","apple","hedge","ron lieby","food","ring","wes kuehl","squirrel"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","revision":6,"commentID":"36a5b51d-06d4-5849-a315-cc70bcf15e12","body":"

It happened before the deluge of snow, with an ending that left everyone as happy as an unexpected gift under the tree.

Steve Suiter could not tolerate the\u00a0piles of leaves in the front yard of his Bettendorf home. He told his wife, Ann, that something had to be done. He would rake but needed help.

\u201cGo ahead,\u201d she suggested. \u201cFind someone to help.\u201d So, he enlisted two chums, Wes Kuehl and Ron Lieby of LeClaire, to come on over with their rakes.\u00a0

Wes and Ron, it should be noted,\u00a0are guys who run around with metal detectors, always hoping to find some treasure. They were hopeful of finding something of value under all those sticky-wet leaves in Steve\u2019s front yard. After all, he\u00a0was a\u00a0 banker.

\u00a0It was awkward raking for the three guys. The goal was to fill five of those big\u00a0yard waste bags. They raked until their backs ached, quitting after filling four bags.

Steve\u00a0cleaned up and went to lunch at Sneaky Pete\u2019s. Washing his hands in the restroom, he glanced down and realized his wedding band was missing. The water was cold and so were his hands, so he reasoned that the chill caused his\u00a0ring finger\u00a0to shrink and the\u00a0band had\u00a0slipped down the drain. Restaurant staff tried to retrieve the ring, but couldn't find it.

Wes and Ron insisted that they return to the Suiter home, wandering the lawn with their metal detectors, searching for the ring. \u201cWe\u2019ll find it,\u201d Wes promised.

Wes and Ron suggested, over Steve's protests, that they empty the four big bags of leaves on the driveway in a treasure hunt for the ring. They clawed through the mountain of leaves. Noting was found.\u00a0But Ron shook the fourth bag. Plink, from the bottom,\u00a0Steve's ring dropped to the driveway.

He\u00a0was ecstatic. \u201cIt was a simple gold band that hadn\u2019t been off my finger in 30 years of marriage,\u201d he said. He offered Wes and Ron generous rewards. They refused. Instead, the reward money went to the LeClaire Civic Club.

Once more, hedge apples

A few months ago, I\u00a0wrote about the pleasures and pains and uselessness of hedge apples that shared names like Osage oranges and hedge balls. I\u2019m still getting mail.

BRIAN TUGANA of Clinton says, \u201cI share with a neighbor a row of Osage orange trees and hedge apples that are abundant. For the past couple of\u00a0years I\u2019ve created a winter food cache for squirrels, opossums, etc. I mound Osage oranges, walnuts and cut-up pumpkins and cover with a layer of mulch. After the snow flies, it\u2019s fun to watch the squirrels dig in to what looks like an igloo to get their pick of the day. The hedge apples are popular not only for the inside, but for the fleshy outer covering.\u201d

DAVE SEARL, head gardener at the Quad-City Botanical Center in Rock Island, writes: \u201cI demonstrated to a group how to use hedge balls and pomegranates together for holiday table centerpieces. The two colors contrast well along with the evergreen cuttings.\"

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