Random thoughts on a cold December Sunday


Some lessons are never forgotten.

Tom Steinbach
Tom Steinbach

I know I’ve written about this before, but it sticks in my head whenever it gets really cold, which it did today. Temperatures in this part of Iowa have stayed below zero all day. But it didn’t seem so bad as I ran from errand to errand. As I drove around, picking up groceries, walking to an appointment downtown and then shoveling snow from the sidewalks, all I could think was: The sun’s shining and the wind’s not blowing. It’s a beautiful day.

It made me smile, because I don’t know how many times my dad, Tom Steinbach, told me and my brothers that as we grumbled about helping him chore in the cold when we were boys. When you grow up on a livestock farm, snow always has to be shoveled and plowed in order to feed the cattle and hogs. You can’t unload feed in a bunk that’s full of snow. Water often had to be thawed so those cattle and hogs could drink. Those are jobs that can make someone who is used to being indoors pretty cold pretty quick.

Maybe it was the act of shoveling snow, but I could hear the old man’s voice in my head today even more than normal and even though he’s been gone for eight years. Boy, it’s hard to believe it’s already been that long. But he was right. It was beautiful today. Would have been even better had he been here to help shovel.

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colvin-and-earle-albumI follow the quarterly magazine and website No Depression, the journal of roots music, on Facebook, which is where I saw a listing the other day of its readers’ favorite 50 albums of 2016. There is a lot of great music on this list — some of it by artists who are familiar, some of it by artists you’ve maybe never heard of or heard perform. (Side Note: We saw Mandolin Orange perform a couple of years ago at River’s Edge Gallery in Muscatine. Thanks, Joel and Linda.) It’s a mix of alternative country and alternative rock mixed with the blues and bluegrass among other genres. And it’s hard to argue with Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth in the No. 1 spot. I really like the album’s third track, Keep It Between the Lines.

Based on what I’ve listened to so far, though, my favorite on the list is Shawn Colvin’s and Steve Earle’s self-titled debut album as a duo at No. 43. You’re Right (I’m Wrong) has garnered the most publicity since the album was released in June. My favorite is their cover of Tobacco Road.

Good stuff.

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blogAn alert from WordPress indicates today is my seventh anniversary as a blogger.  Happy anniversary to me, I guess. But this blog sat mostly dormant for a couple of years after I started it and I didn’t really use it much until about five years. Even then, I’ve been kind of sporadic. Thank you for sticking around and reading what shows up here whenever something shows up here.