Articles written by Tom Palen

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 By Tom Palen    Opinion    April 20, 2024 

Asking Questions

We bought our house in Minnesota almost 10 years ago. Planning to do a complete remodel, I gutted every room in the house. Naturally, while they were open, I tried to think of everything that should g...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    April 13, 2024

Flat Tires

The first flat tire I changed was on my sister Barbara's car. We worked at the Runway Café in Ottumwa, Iowa; Barb was the manager, and I worked for her. Barb was going to run into the bank to get chan...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    April 6, 2024

All Your Eggs in One Basket

Just the other day, while walking through Walmart, I noticed their Easter supplies were marked way down. I stopped to glance at the selection. I noticed the PAAS egg coloring kits. Wow, I remember tho... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 30, 2024

Car Notes

My daughter drove a small Chevy Cobalt during high school. One day, she drove my full-size Ford pickup southbound on Church Street. She felt crowded by a car in the center lane, so naturally, she move...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 23, 2024

Better than Before

Dad often said, "If you borrow something or use something that doesn't belong to you, always leave it in better condition than you got it." I try to follow this rule, even when I rent equipment. I...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 16, 2024


As a kid living in Madison, Wisconsin, I was naturally a Green Bay Packers fan. During neighborhood football games, I dreamed of someday replacing Bart Starr as the Packers quarterback, but that was...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 9, 2024

Don't Kick the Car

I still remember the name of the color, Glencoe Green, from Chrysler. It was beautiful, deep metallic green, so dark that most people thought the car was black, but in the sun, oh, did that car sparkl...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    March 9, 2024


The topic has been debated since shortly after the discovery of chocolate; should brownies and chocolate chip cookies have nuts or no nuts? I think they should have nuts – but walnuts, pecans, or almo...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 23, 2024

Chicory Coffee

Just the other day I was going through the cabinets in our kitchen and came across a can of chicory coffee that Melissa and I picked up on a trip to New Orleans. I was going to throw it away as the...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 9, 2024

Hospital Corners

Someone had to do it. "I don't have opposable thumbs; I can't do it," said Edgar Allan, the black cat. "Make the dog tell her, she's the one who did it." Good grief! I had just finished my shower. I d... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    February 3, 2024

White Out

I've heard and read stories from people about traveling in the recent snowstorms that hit the Midwest. Still, I feel like I've driven in worse. The year was 2014. It was just a little before 3 p.m. I... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 27, 2024

Double Dipping

For my northern friends, the Canteen in the Alley is a very small restaurant in Ottumwa, Iowa. It seats 16 people on stools around the horseshoe counter. A canteen sandwich is a loose meat hamburger.... Full story

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 20, 2024

Lab Experiments

It was in seventh-grade science class at Schenk Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin. Our teacher, Mr. Anderson, looked like a scientist. His hair was combed back with Brylcreem, and he wore black...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 13, 2024

Duct Tape and Snickers

I've heard it, and I'm sure you have, too. If you and I have both heard it, then most likely everyone knows it, and if everyone knows it, it must be true: You can fix almost anything with duct tape....

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    January 6, 2024


Sydney let her daughters open one present each from under the Christmas tree before dinner. I watched with curious interest while my six-year-old granddaughter wrote on her new drawing tablet that...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    December 30, 2023

The Smartest Man in the World

I opened my documents file of all the stories I had written, then typed in the search bar: "Tom is the smartest man in the world." The computer searched my stories for a few moments and returned with...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    December 23, 2023

The Shark

I was getting ready to go to bed when my dog Nova Mae brought a stuffed toy to me; she wanted me to throw it for her. "Nova, baby, it's bedtime," I said. She gave me a pleading flash of her sweet...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    December 16, 2023

Advanced Forgiveness

Hotdogs are not a staple in our refrigerator, but occasionally, I will pick up a package. Last Friday, while I was grocery shopping, I noticed hotdogs were on sale for only ninety-nine cents. “Wow, t...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    December 2, 2023

Average Joe's

Drive south across the Blatnick Bridge, going from Duluth to Superior. At the end of the bridge, take your first left, turning on Fifth Street. Continue driving for about eight blocks, and you will...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    November 25, 2023

Good Humor

I drove to Duluth late on Sunday afternoon to do some Thanksgiving shopping. It was that time of day when I needed my headlights, but it was still light enough that they didn't seem very effective. I...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    November 18, 2023

Ken Identity

Frankly, the woman scared me, and I don't know why. She was an older lady with gray hair and glasses. Her heels clicked with rhythm as she walked swiftly over the terrazzo floor. There was always a sc...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    November 11, 2023

Bench Seats

Northern Minnesota is somewhat known for cold weather, but what is cold? Cold is nothing more than an opinion. For example, since moving to the north shore, the coldest day I've experienced was...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    November 4, 2023

A Half Dog

I opened the refrigerator, looking for the hotdogs. I found the package near the bottom of the drawer with lunchmeats and cheese. "Hmm, only one left," I said. "Perfect! I only wanted one."...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    October 28, 2023

Chocolate Cake

I love baking pies and rolls but I especially like baking birthday cakes. (It means there's a party coming.) My birthday is November 15th, and my sister Patti's birthday is the 21st, just six days...

 By Tom Palen    Opinion    October 20, 2023


The man stared blankly, almost in a daze, through the heat lamps that hung over the glass shield above the steam table while waiting for the next customer. "Excuse me, sir," I said. The man snapped...


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