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Stories to Remember. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. On our best days, any of us might forget why we went into a room. But for those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other mental deficiencies, memories are more elusive and become even more precious when recovered. A partnership between the Iowa City Public Library and Iowa City Hospice is designed to help those who suffer from these mental blocks remember.

A Spot of Tea in Warren County. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Donna Hardin and her daughter Spenser began hosting authentic English teas at their home in the New Virginia countryside as a first step in what they hoped would be a trip to England. They established Miss Spenser’s Teas in 2005 to give visitors a true English cultural experience.

Incubating the Arts. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Incubators can be a great tool for both individual business start-ups and broader community development. A dual-purpose incubator is exactly what the Bucktown Center for the Arts in downtown Davenport intends to be — a supportive environment for promising artists, which at the same time draws people into the city.

Valuable Venue Restored in Corning. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. At one time Iowa had 1,500 opera houses. Roughly 300 of them still exist, with only 50 to 75 in use today. In the opera house heyday, Corning boasted three of those entertainment venues. Last spring Corning reopened one of its opera houses after a 10-year restoration project. The Corning Opera House, built in 1902, has since become a regional attraction. At least half of the audience comes from outside Corning and Adams County to enjoy everything from musicians and illusionists to wedding receptions and reunion parties.

It Makes a Village. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Lorraine Williams has been on a mission. Make that two missions. For nearly a decade as the proprietor of Café Dodici in Washington, Williams has aspired to delight customers with a creative cuisine that is both healthful and delicious. She’s also set out to make the southeast Iowa county seat a destination community.

The Sound of New Music. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. “Promoting new American music is a passion for me,” says Ryan Haskins, conductor of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra and the inspiration behind the orchestra’s innovative Composer of the Year award, which is now in its second year.

Back on the Map with Mucha. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. After the 2008 flood, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library building in Cedar Rapids was moved 480 feet northwest and 11 feet up. Now it’s back on the map, not just because of the move — which was monumental — but also because of the exhibit of art by famed Czech artist Alphonse Mucha that marks the grand reopening.

An Iconic Tower Is Part of Dubuque’s Past and Future. Story by Mary Gottschalk, photo by Bobbie Russie. In this 21st-century world of precision munitions, it’s easy to forget that lead shot was once formed from molten metal poured through a copper sieve and dropped from a considerable height into a tub of water far below. A visible reminder of that early technology is the 120-foot-tall Shot Tower in Dubuque, one of only seven such towers left in the United States and the only one west of the Mississippi. That unique piece of Dubuque’s history was documented during the renovation of the limestone and brick Shot Tower, a five-year project that won a Preservation at Its Best award from Preservation Iowa in 2011.

The Cowboy on the Hill. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. The silhouette comes into view between Westside and Vail as travelers drive along the Lincoln Highway. High upon a hill a cowboy kneels in contemplation by a lone grave, his horse waiting patiently. The wooden figures make up a modern monument to love by Westside farmer Rick Vetter.

Crash and Learn. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. College kids with a bit of wanderlust have couchsurfed for decades, sometimes building their travel itinerary on the availability of sofa space. The informal strategy has now evolved into a worldwide business with operations in 253 countries. CouchSurfing — a network in which no money changes hands — offers a way for visitors to learn the ropes of a new city and for locals to offer hospitality to a wandering stranger. Activities for CouchSurfing members range from sharing a meal or an afternoon hike to overnight accommodations (and sometimes extended stays).

Buildings with Vision and Curves. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Iowa is a land of practical people. Much of the land is divided into one-mile squares and subdivided into tidy rectangles. It stands to reason that the barns Iowa farmers build would be just as neat, making good use of no-nonsense right angles. More than 200,000 barns once dotted the Iowa landscape. Only a handful — about 160 or so —broke the rectangle mold. A few of those barns, such as the Charles Knapp Round Barn in Calhoun County, were truly round, but the “round” designation also includes hexagon and octagon shapes. George Washington built a 16-sided version in 1793.

Living History. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. You’re a runaway slave in 1853, trying to escape bondage. Whom can you trust? How can you elude slave catchers? Can you make it to freedom? Or will you be captured and sent back? The African American Museum of Iowa invites students and adults to get closer to the experience of escaping slaves as they traveled Iowa’s Underground Railroad. “Our Journey to Freedom program is activity- and education-based,” explains Michelle Poe, museum education director.

For the Birds. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Each breeding season since 2008, volunteer birders and wildlife biologists have gone “atlasing” in 791 designated 3x3-mile blocks distributed across the state to document nesting birds. The Iowa Breeding Bird Atlas is a concerted effort to collect information on the distribution and nesting habits of all Iowa birds with the intent of improving the state’s ability to manage and conserve wildlife.

The Little Red Bug. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Consider yourself lucky if you’ve ever seen a Doodlebug. “Our best estimate is that only 1,000 or so are left,” says Vern Ratcliff, cofounder of the Doodlebug Club of America. That’s a small fraction of the 40,000 bright red motor scooters manufactured in Webster City between 1946 and 1948 and sold as the Western Flyer, Wheel Goods, or Hiawatha but known simply as “the Little Red Bug.”

Over the Top. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. Most county fairs are held in July and early August so they can send their winners of 4-H and FFA competitions to the State Fair in mid-August. But the Clay County Fair isn’t like most county fairs. In fact, it isn’t like any other county fair.

Four Days in September. Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk. The War of 1812 reached Iowa soil in September. In what is now known as the Siege of Fort Madison, the 36 soldiers who manned the fort held off some 200 Winnebago and Sauk warriors for four days.

130 Years of Dust: Scottish stonecutter John Rowat immigrated to Iowa in the 1870s to help build the Iowa State Capitol building. When finished, he founded Rowat Cut Stone within eyesight of the gold dome.

Zoning In: Living well can add years to your life. That’s the message of the Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) — a collaboration between Wellmark, Hy-Vee, and the Blue Zones Project (based on the nine principles of healthy living defined by best-selling author Dan Buettner).

High-Altitude Beanbag Toss: pilots compete in seven races at Indianola, Iowa’s National Balloon Classic. Balloonists compete to reach marked targets and drop flagged beanbags closest to the centers.

Biking for Bronze: The League of American Bicyclists ranked Iowa sixth in the nation for bicycle-friendly communities in 2011.

The Capture the Heart of America contest encourages photographers across the country to train their lenses on the nation’s agricultural story, including those chapters written in the 37-county Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area.

Travel Iowa Your Way: A new Iowa Byways website will soon provide details on the communities, attractions, and events along each of Iowa’s 11 designated scenic routes.

Pulling for Bragging Rights: Tug Fest is arguably the longest tug-of-war in the world, using a 2,400-foot rope that weighs 680 pounds. It’s the only known tug-of-war to close down a major world river — the Mississippi — pitting teams in Le Claire, Iowa, against teams across the river in Port Byron, Illinois.

The Garden Train That Could: Model trains become a hobby on a grand scale when track is laid in the backyard.

The Heart of Iowa Wine Trail. Mary Granneman is a VIP. A very important person, yes, but more significantly she’s a Very Important Picker. Two Saints Winery of St. Charles bestows the title on those who help with the grape harvest each fall.

All content © 2014 The Iowan/Pioneer Communications, Inc., and may not be used, reproduced, or altered in any way without prior written permission.