Articles written by Tom Palen

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 By Tom Palen    Opinion    September 23, 2023 

Road Rage

I went to South Hy Vee yesterday to get Granny Smith apples for the pie I made for a fundraiser. When leaving the grocery store, I turned north onto Quincy Avenue. There was some congestion ahead of...


Going the Full Mile

I do it, and I'm not the only one who does. People who drive muscle cars or ride motorcycles will understand. When passing through the tunnels on Highway 61, I like to accelerate a little (sometimes...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    September 9, 2023

A Perfect Day

I watched a beautiful sunrise over Lake Superior during my drive to Duluth. I was returning the sander we had rented to finish the hardwood floors. "Darn! I forgot the extension cord." The cord was...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    August 11, 2023


I was heading home, eastbound, on the long stretch of I-94 through Montana. I saw a sign for a rest area two miles ahead. "I'll stop there," I said. After a long day of driving, and well into the...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    July 29, 2023

Rocks and Shells

I like big bodies of water. So far, I've only visited two of the Earth's four oceans. I've also walked many large ocean inlets: the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound, and the Bay of Fundy. I enjoy the saltw...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    July 22, 2023


Some things change, and some never will. Whether change is good or bad depends on what’s changing. The other day I looked for hours for the key to the padlock on the hitch of our Scamp trailer. I al...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    July 8, 2023

Ben Franklin and Rhubarb

When I think of July fourth, several things come to mind; first and foremost is Independence Day. I can only imagine the courage it took to sign a document telling the king your intention to separate...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    July 1, 2023

Fluff Pie

I love baking pies. I have my favorites and a list of other people's favorites. I occasionally try something new, even making a pie I've never heard of. Over the years, I have made pies for many...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    June 24, 2023

The Flower Box

I love wood and all its beauty, especially species with bold grain. Quarter-sawn oak is one of my favorite woods. When we remodeled our house, all carpeting was replaced with real three-quarter-inch...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    June 17, 2023


I was on a road trip recently, and as it does occasionally, my GPS took me the wrong way. Sometimes this can be frustrating – other times, it leads to new adventures or allows me to meet new people....

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    June 10, 2023

Hamilton Beach

My wife and I enjoy going to garage and estate sales to see what we can find. Once in a while, I'll come across something I just can't live without, so I buy it and take it home. Unfortunately, I'm... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    June 3, 2023

Green Glasses

I reached into the shower to turn on the water. Next, I removed my pajama pants, dropped them on the bathroom floor, and stepped into the shower. Usually, I would put the pajamas in the clothes...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    May 27, 2023

The Smelt Fry

My neighbor Penne sent me a message: "Hey! Asking a favor: would you check if there are still tickets for the Green Door smelt fry on May 20; and, if there are, buy two for us? Obviously, we'll...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    May 20, 2023


While living in Iowa, my girlfriend and I visited the North Shore a few times yearly. Finally, I proposed marriage to her on the shore of Lake Superior. As a result, our wedding and honeymoon were on...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    May 6, 2023


In our quest to find the perfect couch, Melissa and I stopped by a furniture store just off I-35W while on our way home from Minneapolis. When we first walked in the door, we were greeted by a lady...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    April 29, 2023

Welcome Back, Old Man

Last fall, I harvested the fruit from our daughter's apple tree. I decided to try my hand at starting an apple orchard from the seeds. Before heading south for a few weeks, I placed the seeds on a...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    April 22, 2023

Nacho Cheese

There was a shortage of dairy products in the 1970s, so then-President Jimmy Carter poured money into the dairy industry to stimulate increased production. Dairy farmers responded and were soon... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 18, 2023

New Boots

I am often asked why I moved north in my fifties, a time in life when many people want to move south for the warmer climate. The answer is simple: I don't do so well with heat, especially combined... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 11, 2023

Firehouse Mutt's

I was nearly speechless after just one bite of the Brunswick Stew from the buffet. But let's be honest: I'm a radio guy; when was a radio guy ever kept speechless? "This soup did not come from a...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 4, 2023

The Far Side

I couldn't find the item I was looking for, so I asked for help, "Hi, can you tell me where you keep the…." John interrupted. "It's on the other side of the store," he answered monotonously. "How...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 25, 2023

The Step Van

“You look a lot like your brother Newell,” she said. “Pardon me,” I asked. Aunt Di repeated, “You look a lot like your brother Newell.” She was looking at a photo my sister Theresa had...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 11, 2023

Who knew?

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad and me, even though you can't make us out in the photo. I don't know the exact date; my sister Barbara took the picture. We had been down to visit in...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 4, 2023


"You need a haircut," she said. I looked in the mirror and what I saw made it impossible to argue with her. "I don't have time to get a haircut" was my best comeback. So I got in my van and drove to t...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 25, 2023

Flying Things

I was surprised the kite flying festival on the beach wasn't canceled due to high winds coming across the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, I know it takes wind to fly a kite, but these were very strong. The...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 21, 2023

The Pen

I'm sure you've come across this person or even know them personally; Mr. or Ms. Buttinsky. They are annoying! Last week I went to the building material store for supplies. The store was hectic, and...


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