Issue #351 Feb. 7, 2018

The Best of Me (2018)

this year’s Best of the Mike Paulus Poll was a doozie

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

The votes are in, the polls are slammed shut, and the tallies have been tilly-tallied. So it’s with great pleasure and excitement that I present to you the results of my 2018 Best of the Mike Paulus Poll wherein I polled only myself. Strenuously. What follows ...

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Issue #350 Jan. 24, 2018

Why the Hell Would I Drive to Chippewa?

maybe it’s time you explored the rest of the Valley

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

The other day I was trying to figure out what you call someone from Chippewa Falls. I settled on “Chippewa Fallsian.” Sure, it sounds like a rebel assassin from Star Wars, but I think it works. We’ve been ...

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Issue #349 Jan. 10, 2018

Blinking at the Dashboard

it’s cold outside and that makes all the difference

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I sit here blinking at the dashboard because I can’t believe my engine started. It’s something to smile about. On a Friday morning while the sky is dark and the temperature is 16 degrees below zero and ...

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Issue #348 Dec. 27, 2017

When Push Comes to Shovel

this winter, I bid adieu to my favorite inanimate friend

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I never gave it a name. And the name of a thing is so very important. It was just always there, hanging in the garage, year after year, patiently waiting in reverse hibernation for winter to come. It came alive in cold weather. It lived for the snow ...

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Issue #347 Dec. 13, 2017

Snowing Is Half the Battle

living with the threat of a crusty Brown Christmas

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Brown Christmas. It’s the absolute worst. Sure, there are far more important things about which we can complain, or even try to fix, but no snow in late December? It just doesn’t feel right ...

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Issue #346 Nov. 29, 2017

An A Christmas Story Story

don't shoot your eye out with this holiday classic

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It’s the very end of November, so have you watched A Christmas Story yet? No? Did you hear that it’s the very end of November? You better get on that. Make some popcorn. Call some friends. Make a ho-ho-holiday night of it. I’ll pass ...

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Issue #345 Nov. 15, 2017

Dark Fields

when we used to shine a beam into the night

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

We used to see more than 40 of them, sometimes more, out in the fields under the deep, starless sky. My shoulder aching, my fingers freezing, I leaned out the truck window and held the spotlight as high as I could. Every year ...

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Issue #344, Nov. 1, 2017

Booked on a Feeling

an ode to local libraries and the people who love them

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It smelled weird, I can tell you that. Today the Internet has labeled this particular odor “old book smell,” and book lovers love it. But when I was young, it was just weird. ...

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Issue #343 Oct. 18, 2017

Fearful Thinking

a small collection of scary thoughts

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

I used to imagine people picking up the brooms my mother left behind at every house in which we had ever lived, maybe wondering why they were there, leaning up against a counter or standing silent in the closet ...

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Issue #342 Oct. 4, 2017

Store Is Hell

lessons learned from grocery adventures

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

It has come to my attention that many of my most vivid childhood memories happened in a grocery store. Grocery stores just seem to hold a special significance in my life. Is that weird?

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Issue #341 Sept. 20, 2017

It's Coming in the Air

when everything is about the change

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The forest smells different today. It smells like it’s dying. Because it’s beginning to die. The grass is dried out and it’s giving up, turning yellow, fading away. Right now it’s warm under the sun, but tonight the stars and clouds will creep across the sky, pushing a chill across the cornfields ...

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Issue #340 Sept. 6, 2017

Sod Goals

just one more reason autumn makes me happy

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I spent seven summers working for a local landscape and excavation company. They start you out laying sod. My first day on the job, I walked up to my boss – standing there in his work boots ...

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Issue #339 Aug. 23, 2017

About August

a quick look at summer’s final third

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Janae Breunig

I’ve been seeing them all summer long. Each morning, I get up and stumble into the kitchen to grab a glass of water at the kitchen sink. I look out the window ...

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Issue #338 Aug. 9, 2017

On the Hook

the adventure of fake fishing in a church parking lot

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

It may surprise many of you to learn that I attended local Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way through my senior year of high school. Or maybe that doesn’t surprise you, maybe that makes ...

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Issue #337 July 26, 2017

Heat Lightning

staring at the horizon all summer long

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

The heat lightning was sorcery to us. Some kind of rare devilry quietly bursting across the midnight horizon, raving over the dark, distant pine trees. It just didn’t stop. Hundreds of electric blossoms, pink and white, flaring up inside a mountain of clouds ...

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Issue #336 July 12, 2017

Beyond the Rocket

let us not forget that other notable slide o’ yore

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

Yes, of course I liked The Rocket Slide. It was my everything. And by “it was my everything” I mean “whenever my mom took me to Carson Park between the ages of maybe 5 and 8, maybe five or six times each year ...

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Issue #335 June 28, 2017

Can You Believe It's Magic?

summertime in Wisconsin is a season of many wonders

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Sarah Denis

I know it’s summer – and not because some dumb calendar told me so. I know it’s summer because Wisconsin has passed through the rain of spring, softly enduring its time of blooming, emerging on the other side all lush and green. We’ve got lush for days up in here.

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Issue #334 June 14, 2017

Rain Will Fall and Take It Away

on the river banks, below the streets, under the trees

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

You could call it a waterfall in that it’s literally falling water. But I told my kids to stay out of it all the same, especially the hole at the bottom where the water had collected into a milky puddle ...

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Issue #333 May 31, 2017

Shrub Me the Wrong Way

What can one do when confronted with offensive hedgery?

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

When my wife and I moved into our little house on Eau Claire’s Eastside Hill, the place came with a few things in need of fixing up. The windows needed new paint. The attic needed extra insulation ...

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Issue #332 May 17, 2017

Carni-Fall

running down some county fair flashbacks

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner

I can’t remember exactly why we ran across the carnival grounds that afternoon, but I doubt it was my idea. I rarely feel the need to travel faster than a light trot, yet there I was, chasing my cousins ...

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