There often is more to tale behind columns

Published 10:03 am Friday, May 24, 2013

Column: Notes From Home, by David Behling

When one writes a column like Notes from Home regularly for several years, every so often stories aren’t quite finished when the writer (and readers) get to the final sentence. Sometimes there’s more that happens. Sometimes the more that happens is expected, and sometimes it is not.

One such story involves something I wrote a couple of weeks ago, about overreach by DFL politicians in St. Paul. It’s an example of a story that continued in expected directions at the ending of the tale, and there will surely be consequences.

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Take the recent decision legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota. It’s something that I support, mostly. It’s the timing that brings the consequences, some of which are already clear: Important budget decisions forced into the final 48 hours of the session; no reform of tax code; no decision on raising the minimum wage; background checks for all gun purchases sacrificed to maintain party unity; failure of a substantial bonding bill and the construction jobs it would have brought.

There are doubtless additional consequences to the decision on gay marriage that can’t be foreseen at this point, as the opponents of gay rights of any kind continue to react out of fear and prejudice.

Another overreach concerns the vote to legalize another union for government workers and contractors. What taxpayers (and families) do not need is more tension and controversy in home-based care for young children or disabled adults. If we want to pay a fair wage to those workers — the de facto caregivers for those the rest of us are too busy to take care of ourselves — injecting the adversarial factor of a union will not produce the desired results. It seems likely to swing the voters back to politicians who don’t believe in government subsidies for those programs in the first place.

Other stories that continued to evolve relate to columns I wrote long ago but are still unresolved, like speed limits and traffic control on some of the streets in Albert Lea.

Once upon a time, I questioned speed limits and traffic control on East Main Street, by the interchange with Interstate 35 and the truck stops.

At this point, seeing (and almost being) in so many near accidents and hearing about actual collisions, I have to ask is it going to take motorists dying before we accept that this is a dangerous stretch of roadway? Combine slowly turning and slowly accelerating semis, multiple driveways and lots of traffic coming off I-35 and a speed limit of 50 mph just doesn’t seem safe.

Nor does it seem safe to have a posted speed limit of 55 mph on the section of U.S. Highway 69 that runs past churches, businesses, homes and the entrance to Wedgewood Cove in the southwest corner of Albert Lea.

But enough about the sordid stories of politics and policies.

Sometimes a story goes in completely unexpected directions after it’s published, but more because of the way it’s interpreted than in what was the intended focus. Some readers take a detail or side issue or an example in a story and make it the whole focus. There’s not much I can do about that.

Then there are personal stories that go in unexpected directions, like the one about Peaches, our insane cat. We were unable to cure her of her need to spray our furniture and books. So she was banished, sent into exile at a dairy farm.

It was a difficult decision; even though it meant we weren’t having to execute her, we spared her life at the cost of exile for a creature who had been a family member for 10 years. The barn, according to our vet, is relatively comfortable, heated in the winter, and the farm family provides food and water. She can spray all she needs to and find plenty of places to hide.

That’s all to the good, but I miss her weight on my legs at night and the way she always managed to find a way to snuggle her way onto the most inhospitable of laps. At least her story gets to continue for a while yet; may she live long and prosper in her new home.


David Rask Behling teaches at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, and lives with his wife and children in Albert Lea.