Issue #321 November 30, 2016

Like Out of Nowhere

remember when we forgot the feel of snow?

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

First it’s the dry, white flakes wisping around the sidewalk, icy crumbs gathering in the cracks. The sky is cold and colorless, but the snow, the first of the year, turns a boring afternoon in late November into something to talk about ...

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Issue #320 November 16, 2016

Counting With Your Feet

losing the rhythm but staying on track

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I used to count how many steps I took within each sidewalk panel. Because walking home from school was so boring. The counting became a chant inside my head, and sometimes this chant fell down into a whisper, tumbling from between my lips as if I’d stuffed too many sugar cubes into my mouth ...

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Issue #319 November 2, 2016

Miss Direction

hey, not all those who wander are lost (almost)

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech

My wife is so good with directions it frightens me. On the other hand, I’m so bad with directions it frightens her. If you were to superglue a blindfold onto my wife’s eyeballs, throw her into a helicopter, fly her into the heart of the Amazonian jungles ...

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Issue #318 October 19, 2016

Halloween Scenes

stories of yore from Octobers in Eau Claire

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

A boy in 1980s Eau Claire is so excited by his He-Man Halloween costume he can’t stop looking at it. It includes a stiff plastic mask with a thin elastic string tied around the back, with holes for each eye and each nostril ...

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Issue #317 October 5, 2016

The Best of Me (2016)

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was something else

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The votes are in, the polls have been slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it is with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2016 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll.

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Issue #316 September 21, 2016

Repercussions

still feeling the rhythm of my old band classes

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

Deep in Northwestern Wisconsin, you will find the tiny town of Webster. Just outside of Webster, out in the woods, there is a house. In the basement of this house ...

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Issue #315 September 7, 2016

Trailing Off

chasing shadows along an old Wisconsin railway

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

They say the crews of men who built the railroad tracks running through Northwestern Wisconsin would dance. As the legend goes, their hand tools were manufactured down in Chicago ...

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Issue #313 August 10, 2016

Overgrown

August is a time for tangled branches and rebellion

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

Maybe it’s because we never had sidewalks. Or a curb or a gutter. Everyone’s lawns just rolled right up the blacktop, no fancy concrete to separate the two ...

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Issue #312 July 27, 2016

Swat in Hell

something really bugs me about summer in Wisconsin

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I have hairy forearms. You wouldn’t stare at them if you were seated next to me at a restaurant or anything, but close inspection, you’d discover I maintain a robust, masculine forest or arm follicles. The same is true for my legs. So if I’m sporting a T-shirt-n-shorts combo ...

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Issue #311 July 13, 2016

Anting and Raving

when ants get organized, retreat is the only option

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I was super-freaked by the sheer variety of these ants. The diversity. Small ones. Big ones. Really big ones. Fat ones. Cute ones. Black ones. Brown ones. Reddish ones. And a certain kind of ant I only saw once or twice but will never forget because they were black like the absolute absence of joy ...

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Issue #310 June 29, 2016

Strawberry Moon

when rare events build common ground

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

In the days leading up to the last full moon, children were seen meandering through the downtown farmers market holding cardboard flats piled high with strawberries ...

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Issue #307 June 1, 2016

Second-Hand War Stories

how I sold a chunk of my childhood for seventy bucks

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

Like many men my age, as a boy, I was required by federal law to love Star Wars. For those of you who are too young to remember these laws, it’s time for a history lesson ...

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Issue #306 May 18, 2016

Bygone Derby Days

my racing days are long over, but their lessons linger

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

I achieved one of the few truly great victories in my life back when I was but a foolish youngster, mesmerized by the high speed, high risk, highly splinter-ridden world of Pinewood Derby Car Racing ...

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Issue #305 May 4, 2016

Public Private

finding a secluded space in the middle of the city

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I thought I was all by myself. Just me and the dark springtime water rushing along the banks. But a man came rambling from the trees ...

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Issue #304 April 20, 2016

Snowflakes and Cereal

cold mornings are still bright mornings

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Sunlight filled the backyard. We were going to have a good day. Probably. The sky swelled with electricity, a wall of screaming blue yanked up behind a mess of tree branches towering ...

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Issue #303 April 6, 2016

The Spurn Lane

lessons learned on the cold, harsh highway of life

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Like most people who have just narrowly avoided a car accident with one or more idiot drivers, I got huffy. Very huffy. The people I wanted to yell at were well on their way down the road, happily clueless to the rage they’d induced. I felt so helpless ...

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Issue #302 March 23, 2016

Why the River

local waterways show us strange things in the spring

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I’m pretty sure we saw a full size bed floating down the Chippewa River last week. My wife and I had just driven onto the Madison Street bridge when she immediately saw it. And since I have the eagle-eyed eyesight of a very old, very handsome, very blind eagle who can no longer fend for itself ...

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Issue #301 March 9, 2016

Worth Its Weight in Cold

this winter still has a lesson or two to teach

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

I took my kids to a playground near our house on a Saturday towards the end of February. In most seasons, the playground is a little dead on Saturday afternoons, and we’ve usually got everything ...

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