Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Great Adventure

I WARNED YOU last week that this week’s Mine Creek Revelations would be more about my trio’s trip Out West to see the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, etc.
We left town on a Saturday morning and headed west thru De Queen to Antlers, Okla., and shortly afterward we got on the Indian Nations Turnpike. If you ever duplicate this route, take a zipper bag full of quarters for the toll booths. I believe the state of Oklahoma separated us from about $7 by the time we got off at Henrietta. We headed west on I-40 all the way to the Grand Canyon.
Our route took us through Oklahoma City and out into the panhandle. Before we got to the Texas line we had seen hundreds of spinning windmills.
We stopped at Amarillo for evening meal and decided to spend the night. It was here that something great happened — we could not get a room.
We tried many, many places in Amarillo, and a helpful night clerk even called other motels. Nothing, nada, nein.
Well, we’ll just keep driving and get a room in Tumcari, N.M., I told the clerk. Her response: “Sorry, but on a Saturday night you won’t find a room anywhere.”
We kept driving and at a wide, greasy spot in the road called Vega, Texas, we saw a motel sign far off the highway. We took a chance, and drove the half-mile to the place.
It was the motel from hell but they had a room.
We slept fitfully, worried it might be like this all the way to the Grand Canyon.
Something wonderful was when Julie decided to call ahead and get us a room for two nights in Winslow, Ariz., more or less in the middle of some of the things we planned to see. We were aware of a nice hotel in Winslow because we stopped there for breakfast on that previous trip.
The hotel’s name was La Posada. Julie called, and reserved the last big room that was available for two nights. Something wonderful.
La Posada means inn, guest house or lodging. The hotel was built by a man who commissioned a string of pre-Great Depression lodgings along the Santa Fe Railroad connecting east to west. It’s Spanish hacienda style, with desert gardens, a museum, art gallery and a gift shop loaded with silver and turquoise hand-made jewelry.
It also includes the Turquoise Room, a fine dining experience at all meals. One night I had a vegetable platter which included 10 different veggie dishes, few of which were familiar to me. One night I had buffalo flank steak salad with pickled beets and other strange stuff. Can I tell you that it was all so delicious?
Even Carsyn abandoned her finicky ways and sampled new foods. The restaurant prides itself on preparing organically-grown ingredients. Most of the stuff was grown or raised locally. My buffalo came from North Dakota.
Rooms were small and old, but well-restored. Lots of tile and southwest Spanish styling. The rooms were also named after famous people who actually spent the night in THAT room. We were in the Janet Napolitano room — she’s former Arizona attorney general, two-term governor, and now President Obama’s National Security Advisor. Next door was the Lauren Hutton room. Down the hall was the Doublemint Twins room. Also, rooms were named for John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, and many other luminaries of many fields. Many had stopped there while traveling on the Santa Fe.
I’d get up early and take coffee out to a bench in the garden which is located right by the railroad tracks. I mean RIGHT BY the tracks. There was a cool early breeze, and lots of birds singing and squawking. The ‘garden’ featured herbs and plants that survive in a semi-desert environment.
Winslow is mostly famous for the Eagles rock song mentioning “Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” There is a corner downtown devoted to this song. In the window of one of the buildings is a painted reflection of a girl driving a flatbed Ford as per words of that song.
Staying in La Posada was most definitely one of the high points of our trip. We drove farther west on I-40 and spent a day at the Grand Canyon. Returned to La Posada and actually drove through a ‘dust devil’ full of flying sand and tumbleweeds.
On the last morning we drove to Meteor Crater, less than an hour away.
When we got our fill of that awesome place, we headed back east. Along the way Julie called ahead and we got the last room in Santa Teresa, Texas. We’ll always ahead try for advance accomodations on future trips, a lesson learned on our Great Adventure of 2014.
From Santa Teresa we retraced our route in a driving hurricane. Vicious winds and heavy rains. Finally, in Oklahoma, we drove out from under the bad weather and cruised on home. We had wisely accumulated quarters in the plastic bag to facilitate our passage through toll booths on the Turnpike.
Arkansas really looked good and green.
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SWEET DREAMS, BABY

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: ‘That’ deep hole

GREAT ADVENTURE 2014. This will probably take more than one column. Those of you who were anxiously looking for another treatise on J-Turns will just have to be patient.
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Hey Carsyn, I asked my granddaughter and traveling companion, what is the longest word in the world?
She, being a bright 11-year-old, searched her vocabulary for longish words, but finally told me she didn’t know.
This is actually an old joke from a ‘Boys Life’ magazine issue of many eons ago. The answer is ‘Smiles’ because it’s a mile between the first and last letters. Get it?
And the biggest smile was on my face at the farthest point of our trip. I had seen the Grand Canyon twice before, but neither Carsyn nor daughter Julie had. So, as we approached the safety fence barrier at the South Rim Visitor’s Center overlooking this Wonder of the World, I was watching their faces instead of looking out into that great expanse. The look of amazement on those precious faces was one of the great rewards of this, our fourth, Great Adventure. Our first view of the canyon was at Mather Point, about a five-minute walk from the visitor’s center.
“Oh my gosh,” Julie raved, ”I have seen this so many times on TV and in movies, but I had no idea it was so huge!” That’s the general reaction. Carsyn just quietly took it all in.
We spent a day driving up and down the South Rim, getting out of our buggy to partake of new vistas. Each one was thrilling. We could have ridden the free shuttle buses to all points, but opted to drive ourselves.
There were so many experiences in addition to the huge views and colorful landscape.
We noticed the sound of the wind as it whipped up and down canyon walls. We listened to the birds, particularly those giant ravens. One park guide pointed out a ‘dogfight’ in progress between a peregrine falcon and a turkey buzzard. He said people had reported seeing a California condor gliding around nearby. There were bluebirds, huge bluebirds.
We noticed the smell. It’s like heated pine resin. Heated because the air temp was in the high 90s. We needed to buy water at practically every stop.
We noticed the visitors. On our trip to Mt. Rushmore two years ago I thought the place was covered up with visitors from abroad. But that was NOTHING like the Grand Canyon. I know we heard people speaking in German, French, Hindu, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese, and surely some other languages that I didn’t recognize. There were even some people speaking Long Island and Bronx.
The final stop was at a place where someone built a stone observation tower waaaaay back in the 30s. I huffed and puffed my way up the narrow winding staircase to the fourth floor, telling myself I had to see and do everything because I’d not be back this way again.
I made Carsyn promise that she would bring her own children and grandchildren to see the Grand Canyon and the other wonderful places along the way of our 2014 Great Adventure.
Our canyon adventure took up most of a day. We were staying about 150 miles away in Winslow, Ariz. As we drove out of the park we saw a number of vehicles pulled over to the side of the road. Fearing that there was an accident I approached slowly. But, people were pointing into the woods. We looked. It was a mammoth elk, rubbing his velvety antlers on a hardwood tree. He scarcely took notice of us.
Smiles.
THERE WERE other worthy places on our trip. On the way to the Grand Canyon, we stopped off in New Mexico to see Bandaras Volcano and Ice Cave. From there we drove through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest national parks. These were places Julie and I had seen before but without Carsyn. Now she was old enough to understand. And remember.
Our base of operations was in Winslow, Ariz., not too far from the Grand Canyon and the other item of our affection: Meteor Crater. After checking out of our hotel we drive the short distance to Meteor Crater and spent the morning. And when we were done our buggy was already turned toward home.
Smiles.
The drive was 2,865 miles.
In my next column, I will tell you about the drive, itself, and the wonderful place where we spent two nights.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Holding bacon under cold running water will reduce its shrinkage.
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HE SAID: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, essayist and poet
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SHE SAID: “A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.” Lana Turner, actress
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: We Meet Again

MOVIE TRIVIA: Legendary screen lover Rudolph Valentino’s real name was Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Pierre Filibert Guglielmi de Valentina d’Antonguolla.
And that’s not as hard to spell as some of the names I see on school honor rolls these days.
Or on the court docket. You rarely see the same name at both places.
What? You’ve never heard of Rudolph Valentino?
Truth is, I’ve never seen any of his movies, but he — like me — has the reputation of being a great romantic.
I’m too modest to speak further on this topic.
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DURNED IF HE DO.
DURNED IF HE DON’T.
I ran breathlessly into a downtown business. “Who is in the white Chrysler outside?” I asked as soon as I could catch my breath.
“It’s my car, young man,” a rather stern matron spoke up. This lady seemed strangely familiar to me but I just couldn’t quite remember where I’d seen her.
In my usual polite way, I informed her that I could tell from the angle of the Chrysler’s front wheels that she had made a J-Turn into that parking spot.
“So what?” she responded.
In my usual polite way I informed her that making a J-Turn in the Central Business District was a serious offense, and that she was lucky that my mayor hadn’t gotten around to deputizing me otherwise she’s be holding a traffic ticket.
As soon as I could catch my breath again, I told her in my usual polite way that IF she had indeed been presented that traffic ticket, she’d have to post a sizable cash bond or at the least put on her Sunday go-to-meeting clothes for a date in Judge Steel-Gunter’s court where there is very, very little mercy shown to J-Turners.
“Young man, I don’t put up with much from riff-raff such as yourself,” she huffed.
And that was when I remembered where I’d seen her before.
Both of my regular readers may remember a column in which I described picking up the car keys that I had dropped on Main Street beside my buggy. A few months earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to bend over and scoop up those keys. But since I had been attending the flexibility class at the hospital, I now felt like I could just bend over and grab those keys off the asphalt.
I took a deep breath, bent from the waist and reached for the keyring.
I had no more than touched those keys when I heard a stern voice:
“Young man, are you mooning me?”
Yes, I was.
I was so ashamed that I unlocked my buggy and drove away without meeting her stern gaze.
And now the fates had presented me a chance to get even with that awful humiliation.
I got my cell phone and tried to reach the mayor in hopes that he’d deputize me over the phone.
No such luck. He was out in the chicken houses, a city hall person told me. “And he don’t take his phone  in there with them chickens because the ringtone upsets them.”
I told the lady that her luck was holding, but that surely I’d be deputized by the next time she dared to pull a J-Turn in Nashville, Howard County, Arkansas, USA.
“Young man, my sister’s nephew is mayor of this town, and I’m going to tell him how crazy you are,” she said.
So, if she’s telling the truth I may have hurt my chances at getting deputized any time real soon.
But I will not give up hope, and I ask all my Facebook Friends to tell the mayor that the stern ole lady is greatly exaggerating what I may or may not have said to her in the heat of the moment.
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MAKING SENSE. Let me repeat my suggestion about your vote in the November General Election. If you see a candidate’s print or television ad, and he or she appears to be running against someone other than their opponent, consider giving your support to the opponent. I like it when a candidate runs on his or her own merits, not capitalizes upon hatred of an officeholder from another state. In virtually every case, a candidate can do nothing to prevent anything or undo anything that Pelosi or Obama or Limbaugh or Glenn Beck have said or have allegedly done. The candidate and his/her ad agency doesn’t think much of your intelligence.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: When you eat celery you are technically exercizing. Eating and digesting celery requires more calories than you can get from the celery.
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HE SAID: “How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Theodor Seuss Geisel
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SHE SAID: “The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author and aviator
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Fence Fisheees

PUBLIC SERVANTS. Gathering information for this week’s article on school board elections, I needed some information for school districts which are mostly in two other counties — our friends at Umpire, now a part of the Wickes School District, and our friends at Blevins, which now includes a part of the former Emmet School District.
Although the school districts themselves are primarily responsible for school elections, the county clerk’s offices are great sources of election information. I usually go there first because they are most accustomed to getting election questions from pesky newspaper guys.
Here in Nashville, our clerk, Brenda Washburn and her folks were most helpful. They looked up all the info I needed to write about school district elections in Nashville, Mineral Springs and Dierks.
Up in Polk County, where the clerk is Terri Harrison, her staff looked up and shared with me everything I needed to know about the election as it concerns the former Umpire School District.
I called Hempstead County. The clerk there is Sandra Rodgers, a former state representative. I got one of her employees on the line, but she couldn’t be troubled to give me any information about the Blevins School District. She was helpful, though, by suggesting that I call the Blevins School Administration office for the information. Supt. Billy Lee and his folks were most helpful. Supt. Lee, in fact, took pains to explain how to fill a seat when no one runs for it.
The assistant clerk in Hempstead County is probably on break, now, or I’d call her up and suggest what she should do.
I officially invite her to come to Nashville and make a J-Turn in front of the Leader office. I’ll be the plump old guy out front shooting at her car (if my concealed permit comes in soon, and if the mayor ever gets around to deputizing me).
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MY NEAT HOBBY.
Last year I gave a Alabambamama artiste waaay too much money for something ‘cute’ to hang on the fence around my pool. It was a fish, possibly a bararararacudddda fish, painted REAL rustic in non-fish colors.
But, touristas are real easy to separate from their money when they’re in exotic locations like Gulf Shores.
I really liked the idea. The fish hung on my fence until the first freeze, then it went inside a storage room. On the first suitable patio night of the spring I brought it out, hung it and proclaimed that winter was over.
I kept looking at that fish and finally began telling myself that I could do better.
I talked with several folks about acquiring the roofing tin, or cutting the design. I knew I could figger out a way to properly hang the fish on my fence.
Then, one day as I was picking up a fine BBQ lunch, Trish Lingo told me that her hubby, Eldon, might be willing to cut me a fish. Eldon, you see, dabbles in making gaily-painted flowers and other folk art stuff from sheets of roofing tin.
Eldon and I talked. And history was made. First, I had to pick out a fish design. I found one, but it was only about 2-inches square. I took it to Nashville Primary School art instructor Mike Eudy who drew it ‘up’ to scale — about 24 inches tall by 28 inches long.
Eldon not only cut me six fishes out of roofing tin, he also put on some hangers and punched a hole where the fish eye would be. He gave me bolts and washers for the fish eyes. I got some paint and went crazy. The result will probably set the art world back 30-40 years.
I washed both sides of the fish, even scrubbing the facing side with some clorox cleanser. I sprayed each fish with primer, then turned my imagination loose with orange, yellow, olive, light blue and dark green spray paint.
Any day now I expect to read that I’ve been awarded the Nobel Art Prize. Is there such a thing? If so, my fence fish surely deserve some recognition.
Come to think of it, reckon there is a Fence Fish category at the county fair? If there’s not one here at the Howard County Fair I could always take my art to Hope. I’ve got lots of influence in Hempstead County.
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MAKING SENSE. Let me repeat my suggestion about your vote in the November General Election. If you see a candidate’s print or television ad, and he or she appears to be running against President Obama , radio host Rush Limbaugh or U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, consider giving your support to that candidate’s opponent. I like it when a candidate runs on his or her own merits, not capitalizes upon hatred of an officeholder from another state. In virtually every case, a candidate can do nothing to prevent anything or undo anything that Pelosi or Obama or Limbaugh or Glenn Beck can do or have allegedly done. The candidate and his/her ad agency doesn’t think much of your intelligence.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last that long.
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HE SAID: “It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.” Honore de Balzac, novelist
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SHE SAID: “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: J-Turn ally

LAW ‘N ORDER.
If you’ll read this week’s District Court report you’ll see our town’s first recorded ticket for ‘texting’ while driving. Congratulations to the officer who caught it.
Also, a woman approached me this week to deliver her official comment on my campaign against J-Turns. She said she had previously been ‘ambivalent’ about my campaign until recently when she was  foxed out of the last parking spot in front of the Sharpe’s store by a J-Turner.
Now she’s firmly on my side against these flagrant criminals.
Well, not completely.
When I asked her to bring political pressure on Mayor Billy Ray Jones to deputize me so I could give tickets for J-Turns, she said she approved of that but she didn’t want me to be armed.
I should drop my effort to get a concealed weapon permit, she explained (I had reasoned that showing off a sorta concealed weapon while wearing a snazzy uniform would make me look more formidable to the J-Turn criminals, and would therefore influence them to cease this nefarious activity).
She said that instead of a concealed weapon, I should get a whistle. That’s right. A whistle.
“Lady,” I huffed, “In Arkansas there is no such thing as a concealed whistle permit.”
I think it is important for the mayor to deputize me so I can get to work quickly. We’re obviously losing the war against J-Turns. Just stand out on the sidewalk in the Central Business District and keep count.
In all seriousness, though, it is REAL important to put a halt to texting while driving.
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TO THE DISTRESS OF some persons and the delight of others, there is an effort underway to put on the November General Election ballot an issue which would make the retail sale of alcohol legal in ALL Arkansas counties.
Bootleggers, churches and owners of liquor stores on county lines are fighting it, a person in the Alcohol Control Board told me Thursday. Some supporters are trying to gather about 78,000 signatures required to put the issue up for a popular vote.
I had actually called the ABC to get information about another thing. A normally good source of information told me that each ‘dry’ county could only have a certain number of private clubs licensed to serve alcohol. This source told me that two Nashville churches had ‘bought up’ all the remaining private club license spots for Howard County. Currently, there is only one private club in the county legally serving alcohol to members — that would be the Eagles Aerie in Nashville.
BUT the spokesperson at the ABC told me that he had worked in the agency for more than 20 years He said he had heard this rumor practically from his first day on the job.
There is NO LIMIT for the number of private club licenses, he said, therefore there is no truth to the rumor that churches are buying up private club permits.
He did say that the number of alcohol retail sales outlets in a wet county is limited by the population of that county.
And that is probably where these two stories got confused.
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MANY MISTEAKS. I stoopidly believed a bunch of Yankee ‘scientists’ when I wrote a column about ticks a couple of weeks ago. ‘They’ said that there were only six species of ticks in Arkansas, and they listed them in an article about the coming danger of ticks this summer.
The left off the most important species of tick: the Damn Tick, or sometimes called That Damned Tick.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS.
On my Tuesday night paper route drive to Newhope (one word) two weeks ago, a full-grown bobcat loped across the road. Then, last week, at almost the same spot, a dark fox with a long tail ran into the bushes. The setting sun left me just enough light to see the animals.
I typically see lots of deer grazing on the sides of the road. But, also last week, there was a tiny, spotted fawn standing not three feet off the asphalt. I hope it’s mom was okay.
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MAKING SENSE.
Let me repeat my suggestion about your vote in the November General Election. If you see a candidate’s print or television ad, and he or she appears to be running against President Obama or U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, consider giving your support to that candidate’s opponent. I like it when a candidate runs on his or her own merits, not capitalizes upon hatred of an officeholder from another state. In virtually every case, a candidate can do nothing to prevent anything or undo anything that Pelosi or Obama can do or have allegedly done. The candidate and his/her ad agency doesn’t think much of your intelligence.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: In the 60 ‘s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.
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HE SAID: “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” Peter Marshall, twice chaplain of the U.S. Senate
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SHE SAID: “Human relations are built on feeling, not on reason or knowledge. And feeling is not an exact science; like all spiritual qualities, it has the vagueness of greatness about it” Amelia Barr, British novelist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Bird Learning

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.
Nearly a third of the food produced by developed countries goes to waste, according to a United Nations institute which studies how to feed a hungry world.
These folks are looking for ways to naturally extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables, and not poison us humans in the process.
Seems to me that more and more people are concerned about what we are doing to the environment with pesticides and other lethal applications.
It is a shame to toss out food if there are hungry people elsewhere.
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MY MISTEAKS. Mentioned here recently was a recent UAMS grad, daughter of Dr. John and Patricia Sayre of Nashville. Dr. Catie Ross is no longer that little-bitty girl. She’s married; the mom of two; and she’s beginning her Family Practice medical residency at Jonesboro, July 1.
ALSO, gulp, Gayla Lacefield’s hubby who accidentally locked her out of their house one recent frigid morning, is JACK, not Ray. You also read about that incident here. Maybe I oughta change the name of the column to Mine Creek Errors.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS.
My patio fence now has a frequent bluebird visitor. This brilliantly-colored bird sits on the fence with its back turned to me (when I’m sitting on the patio, birdwatching). Sometimes it has a bug or something in its mouth. I can’t be sure. It never takes seeds out of the birdfeeder because bluebirds apparently prefer live prey — like bugs and worms. But this bluebird does something else: It chases squirrels. It also sometimes chases other birds when they crowd in at the birdfeeder.
I did not know that bluebirds were aggressive until I ‘googled’ the subject.
All of ‘my’ birds have drastically reduced their number of visits since I poured the feeder full of birdseed from a discount store. Not enough sunflower seeds in the mixture, I’m guessing.
My granddaughter took over one of my patio duties, and put out raw, unshelled peanuts for the bluejays  when she visited this past weekend. I don’t know if it makes any difference or not, but I usually loudly call out ‘Bird’ when I put out the peanuts. When I do that the jays immediately begin flying in for their daily dose of peanuts.
I told Carsyn to call out ‘Bird’ to see if they would respond. And they did. About a half-dozen jays immediately swooped in after she poured a big Dixiecup size serving of peanuts on the little patio table where the birds are accustomed to being served.
A few years ago when I first began putting out peanuts, the cardinals would come and watch mournfully as jays took all the nuts. The cardinals would sometimes try to pick up a nut, but their beaks were just too small.
Now, however, they have learned to pick up and carry off peanuts. They have to do it quickly before the jays dominate the serving table.
One male cardinal likes to hide in a Boston fern which hangs on the patio. There’s no nest in the fern. The bird just gets in there under a frond and spies on the humans who are sitting nearby.
My granddaughter is just totally amazed by this community when she visits. This time, we were enjoying a cheeseburger at Center Point when a tall gent ambled over to our table and said “This must be Carsyn. I’ve read about her in the paper.”
Or at the city park where there is a tall maple tree with a sign that proclaims it was planted in her honor. Right beside the tree is a bench dedicated to her Gran.
All that, plus bluejays that swoop in when she calls “Bird,” makes this a magical place in her mind.
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MAKING SENSE.
Let me repeat my suggestion about your vote in the November General Election. If you see a candidate’s print or television ad, and he or she appears to be running against President Obama or U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, give your support to that candidate’s opponent. I like it when a candidate runs on his or her own qualifications, not capitalizing upon hatred of an officeholder from another state. In virtually every case, a candidate can do nothing to prevent anything or undo anything that Pelosi or Obama can do or have allegedly done. The candidate doesn’t think much of your intelligence.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
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HE SAID: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Jimmy Dean, C&W singer and sausage-maker
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SHE SAID: “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” Martha Washington, First Lady
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Ticks, Ticks and More Ticks

CONGRATS to two local scholars who received their medical degrees in the recent UAMS graduation ceremonies.
The grads were: Dr. Catie Sayre, daughter of Dr. John and Patricia Sayre of Nashville; and Dr. Dean Turberville, son of Rick and Debbie Turbeville of Nashville.
Somehow, UAMS did not send a list of grads to “The Leader,” and for that we say “Take two aspirin and see me in the morning if this condition persists.”
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WONDERFUL NEWS.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is warning us Arkies that there will be a lot of ticks out there this summer.
THRILLING NEWS.
A guy in Oklahoma died of a tick bite recently. Must’ve been a really big tick. What is significant here is that it happened in Oklahoma, just a hop and skip away.
EXHILARATING NEWS.
There are six species of ticks in Arkansas, and none of them can call the Hogs. Just joking. But not joking about there being six species of ticks.
I thought we had just one kind. The one with a white spot on its back. The kind that can give you Tick Fever.
The Arkansas species are Lone Star Tick, American Dog Tick, Blacklegged Tick, Winter Tick, Gulf Coast Tick and the Brown Dog Tick. One way you can tell them apart is that the Gulf Coast Tick has a bikini-shaped mark on its back. The newspaper story made no mention of another tick I’ve heard of: the Seed Tick.
A spokesman for the university told the Associated Press that “winter weather doesn’t kill the insect.”
Did you read that, all of you people who wanted some really, really cold winter weather so that the bugs wouldn’t be so bad this summer? I hope you’re happy. We suffered through some really cold times and it didn’t do one bit of good. I hate cold weather almost as much as I hate ticks.
I do have one good tick story to tell you.
My family hadn’t lived here long. I was probably in the third or fourth grade. My brother, Jim was (and still is) two years younger, so he was probably in the first or second grade.
Our dad wanted to go up to the north end of the county to get a picture of the old resort hotel ruins at Baker Springs. He ordered us to go along for the ride.
A gent everyone called Uncle Jack Manasco met us and walked us in to the site. It was early summer, so Jimmy and I were wearing shorts. Uncle Jack peeled a short supple pine limb from a tree and suggested we do the same.
“You just whip your legs with the pine needles and it’ll keep the ticks off,” he explained.
But NOOOOOO. We were far to smart to do that. We walked in to the ruins. Swampy took his picture.
We walked back to our vehicle, and bade farewell to Uncle Jack.
We didn’t get a half mile down the road from Umpire when Jimmy and I began squirming and crying piteously. What’s wrong with you boys, Swampy asked.
“We’ve got these little brown bugs all over our legs and they’re biting us,” we whined.
Sure enough, we were covered in ticks.
Our dad knew he wasn’t going to be able to drive all the way home with our whining, so he stopped at the next creek crossing and told us to take off our pants and go get in the water.
“But Dad, we can’t,” Jimmy and I moaned together. “There are girls down there in the water.”
 He wouldn’t relent, and so my brother and I stripped to our underwear and quickly ran down to the water. The cool North Howard County creek water helped, and we managed to pick off a couple hundred ticks.
Trying to protect our modesty we ran back up the bank of the creek where our station wagon was parked. Swampy was standing there scratching his legs. I remember that Jimmy and I managed to supress our laughter at seeing his discomfort. We were young and ignorant of ticks, but we weren’t foolish, either.
Somehow we survived the drive back to Nashville. It only seemed like it took two days. And we didn’t get tick fever.
But let me tell you, if you have to walk into the woods this summer be sure to take a pine bough with you. Whip your legs with the pine needles and you’ll be okay.
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MAKING SENSE.
Let me repeat my suggestion about your vote in the November General Election. If you see a candidate’s tv ad, and he or she appears to be running against President Obama or U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, run to that candidate’s opponent real quick. I like it when a candidate runs on his or her own qualifications, not on   capitalizing upon hatred of an officeholder from another state.
It is a real shame how ‘uncivil’ our poltics has gotten.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
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HE SAID: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France
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SHE SAID: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Maya Angelou, poet
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Meteor shower disappointment

GREETINGS. How many visitors to our city park, last Saturday, realized that they were being greeted at the gate by a state senator? Larry Teague and Budd Dunson were ‘manning’ the front gate as volunteers from Howard County Search and Rescue.
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BUMMER. That ‘great’ meteor storm we were going to experience Friday night and early Saturday morning was a real disappointment.
No one knew whether or not it’d be worth staying up for, because the Earth had never before gone through the debris trail of this particular comet. One online skywatching site even gushed that we might see as many as 1,000 shooting stars per hour.
Sure got my hopes up.
I went out to my patio chair at 12:49 and stayed until 1:30. Not one shooting star.
None, nyet, nada, nein, nolo.
Went back out at 2:30, 3:49 and 5:03, and the sky was overcast each time.
So, I did not see one meteor. Remember, if it strikes the ground it’s a meteorite; otherwise, it’s a meteor.
This summer daughter Julie and I are taking Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy (who will be 11 in early July) to see the Grand Canyon. But, we are going by way of Meteor Crater in northern Arizona because Julie and I went there four years ago and were just flabbergasted by the place. We want Carsyn to see it.
But, as our rim walk guide told us when we were there before, the place could more correctly be called “Meteorite Crater” because it struck the ground. And, boy, did it ever! The crater is two miles around and one mile across. The ‘tour’ takes you out 1/4 mile along the rim on a narrow trail. There’s a fragment of the original meteorite on dispay in the lobby of the Meteor Crater gift shop which is perched on the rim of the crater. The piece of sky debris is about twice the size of a bushel basket, but it weighs a ton because of its dense metallic make-up.
If you are ever anywhere near, by all means go to Meteor Crater. And take the tour. It’s free, but it’s a challenging walk.
If you can make yourself look away from the bottom of the crater, you can see snowclad mountains in the far distance. That is Arizona for you.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. Seen in my neighborhood recently by reliable informants — a white skunk. On my morning walk recently I did see one that was mostly white, but do not think it was albino. Let me tell you, this skunk smelled like every other skunk I’ve had the misfortune to experience.
Remember the rule: If you see a skunk, assume it is rabid.
I bought a sack of birdseed on sale at our local big discount store. The birds won’t touch it. The feeder has been full for three or four full days. Normally I have to fill it every other day.
The content of this particular sack of birdseed includes practically zero sunflower seeds which seem to be the birds’ favorite.
Also seen in neighborhood recently — by one of those crazy people who get up in the middle of the night and go for a 5-mile run — a Momma fox and her kits. Jeremy Mounts said that one kit got separated from Mom as he approached the group out on a road near the football styadium. The kit ran to bushes on the other side of the road.
Tommy asked himself if he was brave enough to run between Momma fox and her baby.
But he was going too fast to slow down, apparently, so he just sucked it up and ran between them without being attacked.
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ARKANSAS’S #1 GREEN THUMB. Attention gardeners: Mark calendars for Tuesday, July 15, when horticulture specialist Janet Carson will be in town to give a FREE program on “Continuous Color All Summer Long.”
Janet is practically a TV star and a newspaper columnist legend because she shares interesting information on gardening.
The program will be at 10 a.m. at the Extension Homemakers Club Center on Second Street in Nashville, and the public is invited.
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WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.
Our town’s Tim Freel, administrator out at the Howard County Children’s Center, serves on the board of directors of a state agency which looks for ways to market recycled materials. Recycling is a win-win situation.
Tim sez that roofing shingles can comprise up to 3% of ‘hot mix asphalt’ material.
Because we had that bad hailstorm here, recently, some company oughta be able to find the Mother Lode of roofing shingles, juuuuust slightly tenderized by the falling chunks of ice.
Remember, when you take your aluminum cans, cardboard, old paper and office trash, and plastic out to the HCCC recycling center, you not only keep this stuff out of our landfills, you also help the HCCC make a little money to serve their clients.
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.
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HE SAID: “”If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Thomas Aquinas, theologian
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SHE SAID: “Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” Margaret Walker, African-American poet
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Locked Outside

WHEN YOU NEXT see Ray Lacefield, congratulate him on surviving his recent narrow brush with certain torture at the hands of a truly dangerous person.
Ray left home for work, last Friday morning. As usual, he locked the doors of the house, and closed and locked the garage door before driving away secure in the knowledge that his dear wife, Gayla, was safe.
Meanwhile, up in their ‘bonus room’ over the garage, Gayla was retrieving some stored items which would be needed later in the day where she works — at the Howard Memorial Hospital’s celebration of National Hospital Day.
She heard the door close and lock. She heard the garage door open and then slam shut. She heard her dear hubby drive away.
She finished gathering the things she needed, and she went down the outside stairs, and only then did she realize that her dearest hubby had locked her out of the house.
It occurred to her that her keys and her cell phone were safely, but unfortunately, locked away inside the house.
The garage door was locked, but it wouldn’t have done her any good even if she could get inside.
It occurred to her that her only option was to walk to the neighbor’s house and borrow their phone so as to notify her dearest hubby about her predicament.
Ordinarily it would be a nice walk to the neighbor’s.
But Friday it was just barely above freezing. She was in her pajamas.
And barefoot.
Worse. “My hair was all mashed up and I looked horrible.”
Even worse. The road to the neighbor’s is gravel.
I’m trying to picture Gayla. In pajamas, with her hair mashed up. Tiptoeing down the gravel road.
It may have been near freezing, as I said, but I’m betting  rolling off her in great clouds.
Perhaps she was muttering a bit.
Luckily, the neighbor was home, and Gayla was able to call Ray at work.
Unfortunately for him, he had to drive home and face her. I’m betting that he didn’t comment on her mashed hairdo.
When I heard this story, I did not have the courage to ask if Gayla waited on Ray at the neighbor’s house, or if she had to tippytoe back home on that gravel lane.
And just who is it who sells such sharp rocks, anyway?
Gayla relayed this story to her friends at work later in the day. They were in the hospital cafeteria enjoying fish and coleslaw, and I shared the table. I occasionally asked Gayla to expand on some point of her story — for example, what did she mean by her hair being ‘mashed up?’ It finally dawned on her that I might have been extracting information for a Mine Creek Revelations revelation.
I have been warned, and just by telling you this I have placed myself in the same dangerous zone with Ray.
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I MISSED THE annual Rusty Relics Antique Tractor Club big event out at Roger and Lesley White’s place, Saturday. But I have a good excuse. I had a chance to go to the 30th annual Greek Food Festival in Little Rock with daughter and granddaughter. Normally, the tractor and the Greeks don’t coincide, and I’m able to participate in both.
I’ve attended probably 7 out of the last 8 Greek festivals, and every year I learn something new.
This year I learned that the Scottish Dancers were participating at the festival for the first time.
How do I know this?
The male Scottish dancers wear short dresses called ‘kilts.’ The dancers don’t know yet that if you are dancing on an elevated stage, and if you are wearing a kilt, you shouldn’t turn your back on the audience and bend over. I don’t care how long the kilt is.
This occurred to several hundred people out in the audience. I’m hopeful that after the performance someone talked to the Scots.
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THAT SMELL. Honeysuckle and privet. Two lovely smells which are a part of this time of the year. A friend of mine says it smells like the end of school.
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IS ANYBODY ELSE getting tired of politicans who are running against officeholders from California or other states instead of comparing themselves to their own Arkansas opponents?
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WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks, months, maybe years, unless they know your email address..
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HE SAID: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving, author and diplomat
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SHE SAID: “Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Virginia Satir, author and family therapist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: The Thing

A nice visit Saturday with my cousin in Natchitoches, La., led to this gem from our past.
There were six of us cousins, ranging in age from 12 (me) down to 8 (him), and we talked our moms (they were sisters) into letting us attend our first scary movie. The movie was “The Thing from Outer Space.” It was in black-and-white, and it was about some Air Force guys stationed in the Arctic.
Somehow, somebody discovered a huge Flying Saucer imbedded in the ice. The airmen flew to the site and landed beside the UFO. They tried to blast their way into the saucer. The saucer was destroyed, but the body of a very large humanoid creature (obviously the pilot) was found encased in ice. It was loaded into the aircraft was brought back to the airmen’s base.
Now for my story.
My brothers and cousins and I walked down to the Elberta Theatre. It was summer, and it was still daylight outside when we went in to the cool dark. We acted so brave, but some of the younger ones were already whimpering and clutching the older ones when we pushed through the curtain at the top of the aisle. We got seats about halfway down.
We were just fine through the cartoon and the previews of coming attractions. But then “The Thing” music started.
I swear someone on our row moaned out loud, and I’m not sure it wasn’t me.
The movie began. I could scarcely breathe. When the airmen brought the frozen creature back to their Quonset Hut and put it under an electric blanket I swore I’d never be in the Air Force because they were far, far too stupid.
Drip. Drip. The ice melted, and you knew what was going to happen. The Air Force dummy had his back turned to The Thing when suddenly a shadow fell over his shoulder.
He jumped up and ran out of the room.
To this very day if I hear scary music like that from “The Thing” I have to look over my shoulder.
Onscreen, the airmen began searching rooms for the creature. It was killing sled dogs and people.
Of course there was a love interest. The officer-pilot in charge of the unit had the hots for the Doctor’s Daughter, a modest maiden who brazenly smoked cigarettes in front of the men. There was a Perfessor who of course was arrogant and uncooperative and he didn’t want to kill the creature even after it had killed some airmen.
The search continued through the base until the group reached one door. When the door swung open, the monster stood there roaring. The airmen had to push the door close, and boy, it was a struggle!
At this point, me and my group dropped to the floor (the Elberta floor was sorta sticky, but that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested), and we crawled on all fours to the  theatre lobby. We took off for home at a dead run through the dark, we were all crying piteously.
Once before when I wrote about this I said that the single bravest thing I ever did in my life was to slow down so that the little kids could catch up. It’s true.
We arrived back home at 303 College Street and stayed around in the back yard for awhile so that our mothers wouldn’t be suspicious because we were home so early.
Even so, standing out there in the dark, we strained to hear if The Thing was creeping up on us in the dark.
It would 25 years before I saw the end of the movie. And the Perfessor got what he deserved. The Doctor discovered that The Thing was closely related to a carrot and lived off blood. His Daughter and the Pilot fell in love and got engaged in front of all the other survivors. The Thing was electrocuted and burned to a crisp. And the news service writer/photographer who was a member of the group sent a story back to his headquarters. “This is a message to America,” he said. “Watch the skies. Keep watching the skies.”
Makes my skin crawl just to imagine him saying that again.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS.
On my walk early Sunday, two squirrels fell out of a tree 20 feet off the ground. They were fighting and never missed a lick even when they slammed into the rain-soft dirt under the tree. The fight continued for a good two minutes and one finally gave up and scampered off to another tree.
There are a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood just now. Our John Balch says it’s my fault for wishing bad things for our neighborhood cats. “No there’s no one around to keep the squirrel population down,” he says,
Sooner or later, Louise Fox will return for a few squirrel dinners and things will be okay again.
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A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: Energizer Bunny arrested; charged with battery.
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HE SAID: “It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.” Confucius, philosopher
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SHE SAID: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Audrey Hepburn, actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Newhope (One Word)

NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER.
Brand new shiny green and white highway signs proclaim “Newhope.”
One word.
Signs are up on east, west and south sides where highways enter that community.
Credit goes to Parker Westbrook who agitated a friend at the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department until that friend (or, former friend) managed to get the signs swappped out.
Both of my regular readers will remember Mine Creek Revelation columns about New Hope/Newhope, and Postmistress Jo-Lee Westfall who researched the subject and learned that one of her predecessors had arbitrarily changed the name of that nice place.
The ‘old’ two-word New Hope signs placed by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department just confused things. I’m sure the ‘new’ ones will clear up everything.
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CONGRATULATIONS to Jacquelyn Cuellar, a Nashville first grader, who won third place in the recent writing contest sponsored by the Arkansas Education Television Network and the Public Broadcasting System.
Her entry was entitled “The Day at the Circus,” and it was accented with some swell original drawings.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS.
Sitting out in the warm sun on my patio, last weekend, I happened to look up when I was crossed by the shadow of a bird which passed overhead.
It was one of ‘my’ Mississippi kites. They’re back, so the population of smaller birds, mice, snakes, lizards, bats, etc., is in jeopardy, again, until October.
Later in the day, a duo of the sleek gray birds flew lazy circles in formation. Probably just for my entertainment.
I wish I could train them to hunt squirrels. A family of squirrels is terrorizing my patio birdfeeder these days. It took them several weeks to discover that the tube was full of delicious seeds, and that they could bully the birds away from the banquet.
I’m not good enough with my trusty Daisy Red Ryder Signature 1988 Model BB rifle to keep them away from the feeder for very long.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. A rat about half the size of my shoe, curled up on its back — dead — in my patio landscaping. What killed it? Old age? Certainly not a Daisy BB.
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A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is a seasoned veteran.
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HAVING A SENIOR BLADDER is no fun. However, it can be helpful from time-to-time.
Like late Monday night and early Tuesday morning when that very bladder awakened me from my slumber a few times.
Instead of grumbling, I headed out to the patio and found a chair. I sat in the comfortable chair and watched the heavens for at least five minutes per bladder visit.
And never saw anything of the ‘Eta Aquarids’ meteor shower. Not one shooting star. Nada, nein, zilch, nillo, none, etc.
The event was not expected to be anything significant, other than that the shooters were debris left in the trail of Halley’s Comet. Earth passes through the field twice a year, according to ‘Space.com,’ and the celestial crossing is supposed to produce a few meteors.
Watching for the Eta Aquarids is mostly just a sentimental exercise anyway because, after all, this is dust of Halley’s Comet!
Back during the 1986 visit, I went out in the backyard. I laid down on a quilt in the darkness and just barely managed to find Halley’s through my powerful binoculars. It appeared to be just a smudge in the sky, but I was thrilled to see this space visitor which barrels by Earth every 75-76 years. Sometimes it’s bright and fearful; sometimes it’s just a faint smudge. Just my luck.
Halley’s is due back here in about 2061. A few people get to see it twice in their lifetimes.
While I did not see any meteors early Tuesday morning, I did hear something scratching around in the bushes, once. That visit to the patio might have been juuuuuust a teeeeeeny bit briefer than the others. We’ve had a skunk, lately.
But, hope springs eternal. I heard that somewhere.
‘Space.com’ also tells us that there may be a fantastic meteor display later this month.
On the nights and early mornings of May 23-24, the earth will plow through debris left in the trail of Comet209P/LINEAR. That name is impressive, isn’t it?
The authors tell us that there may be as many as 1,000 shooting stars per hour.
On the other hand, the experts also say:
“… or the anticipated fireworks may fizzle out.”
The skywatchers always leave themselves a way out of declarative statements, don’t they?
Of course, it’ll probably be overcast here.
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J-TURNS. Don’t get me started. We saw a 1-ton white truck pull a reverse J-Turn right in front of our office, Tuesday morning. Then, it sped off to the north.
One loyal reader says I’m going to kill the remaining downtown business if I keep up with this war on J-Turns. War? This hasn’t been a war. Just wait until the mayor deputizes me. THEN you’ll see a war!
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HE SAID: “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th President
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SHE SAID: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Oprah Winfrey, entertainer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: If ever deputized

OBAMACARE. After taking quite a licking from political opponents, the Affordable Health Care Act may be getting well. Or at least feeling better.
The Christian health clinic at Mena is closing, and according to a newspaper article, organizers say it is because almost all of their formerly-uninsured ‘patients’ now have health insurance. Now they can go to the hospital or see a physician. The Mena clinic has lost so many patients that it has opted to close. And that’s a good sign, I guess.
Here, my buddy Bill Blakely says that the Howard County Christian Health Center has seen a big drop in the number of patients, also thought to be due to the number of people who have signed up for Obamacare. “We have no intention of closing, though,” Brother Billy sez.
One good thing about Obamacare and the Christian health clinics is that chronically sick folks are no longer using the hospital emergency room for primary health care. The fact is that a lot of those people weren’t paying for the medical care they got at the ER, and the burden fell upon the hospital.
I am not smart enough to know if ‘Obamacare’ is good or bad, but I don’t know of anyone who didn’t think the healthcare industry didn’t need a prescription.
I had a perfesser in college who used to say “A mediocre plan put into action soon enough is much better than a great plan put into action too late.”
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J-TURNS. Every time I ask Mayor Billy Ray Jones about deputizing me he acts like I’m from another planet. I’m willing to undergo special training on weekends and will even pay for my own uniforms if I can find anything at an Army surplus store in my size.
I am totally dedicated to ending J-turns and sagging in our town. At least in the central business district between the Post Office and the railroad tracks.
I got an anonymous phone call the other day. The caller wanted to know if I was the “J-Turn Policeman Wannabee,” and said I needed to undergo emergency psychiatric treatment. “You’re flat fixated on J-Turns,” the caller shouted before severing the connection. When people used to want to end a telephone conversation emphatically, they’d slam the receiver down. But now most calls are made with cellphones and if you slam them down hard you frequently have to go visit the phone store again. So, usually now you just hear a ‘click.’
The way I see my deputized duties is this: I’d stand out on the sidewalk watching up and down the street for J-Turn criminals. When someone turned across oncoming traffic to get to a parking spot I’d jog to the vehicle (well, maybe I’d walk at a brisk pace) and give them a ticket.
As I have told you many times, a J-Turn ticket will cost you a total of $145 in fines and court costs when you go before Judge Steel-Gunter in District Court. So, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. I heard that somewhere.
As I have also told you many times, there will not be very many warning tickets issued. Only my closest friends and the sauciest women drivers are eligible for warning tickets.
I’m not sure whether or not I should be armed, but I plan on renewing my permit for a concealed handgun before I actually accost criminal drivers. You can’t be too careful, is what I always say.
My colleagues at “The Leader” office say they want to leave work early on the day I begin enforcing the J-Turn law.
It’s a great sacrifice on my part, I know, but I accept the heavy responsibility of enforcing traffic laws for the area of downtown Nashville from the Post Office south to the railroad tracks.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. Another part of the alley building behind the leader collapsed Monday morning. When it fell, thousands of bewildered bats were shaken from their deep slumber and swarmed into the bright morning sky. They are looking for a home, right now. For awhile the sky was literally black with bats.
And I keep looking up to see if the Mississippi kites have returned for the warm season. Thought I heard one the other day but I was underneath an oak canopy and couldn’t see whatever was flying overhead.
On a Sunday afternoon drive to Bowen Access on the Little Missouri River in Pike County, I spotted an enormous hawk sitting nonchalantly on a highway sign. Looking for a lizard, snake, mouse or even a bat for din-din.
Predator birds do us so much good; why did I shoot my BB gun at them when I was young?
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A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: When chemists die they barium.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening the mail: Making a new aluminum can takes the same amount of energy as running your television set for 3 hours. It’s one more good reason to recycle.
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HE SAID: “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” H. G. Wells, Sci-Fi author
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SHE SAID: “Any time people come together in a meeting, we’re not necessarily getting the best ideas; we’re just getting the ideas of the best talkers.” Susan Cain, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: The Smell of Fish

THERE HAVE BEEN 28 benefit bass tournaments sponsored by what is now Husqvarna. All except the first one have been on Lake Greeson, and the proceeds benefit the Howard County Children’s Center. The money is important to HCCC because only income from donations and events can be used for capital improvements to benefit the center’s special clients.
Saturday, I roused myself early enough so that I could go up to SWAHA landing to watch the boat launch, and I lucked into an invitation to ride out from the marina on a barge to witness the launch. “You’re in for a treat,” one volunteer told me.
Boy, the lake smelled good. It’s the smell of water and fish and mud. And I confess that I like the smell of the motors. Don’t know why.
HCCC supporter and board member Alfred Neeley is the traditional ‘launcher’ for the boats. Fishermen draw numbers for launch positions. The boats putt-putt out just a little way so they’ll have a straight shot up the lake when their number is called.
Alfred uses a bullhorn to call out the numbers and the boats scoot away from the launch area two-by-two. The launch is in the dark, and the boat’s lights make quite a show against the darker backdrop of piney hills and a barely-blue sky. The noise of the powerful motors would raise the dead.
There were about 90 boats in Saturday’s launch; at least Alfred stopped calling numbers after 91. By the time they were all headed north on the lake, the barge was pitching like we were in the middle of the Atlantic.
I noted that there were at least two boats which had only one fisherman. Alfred explained that some fishermen didn’t want to split any of the prize money. “They won’t win anyway,” he explained. “Since a boat gets to keep the six best fish, boats with two fishermen have twice the chance to land bigger fish.” Makes mathematical sense.
I also noted that there were several boats with man-woman teams. Probably husband-wife, or boyfriend-girlfriend. Bosser and bossee. And yes, the winner team was a husband-wife from Nashville.
I also noted that fishing boats do not resemble my father’s. His was a square-nose ‘Fisherman’s Dream” with a stubborn, used 3.5 HP Evinrude motor. One of the tournament’s volunteers said that many of the boats had $20,000 invested in electronic equipment alone, not to mention the boats, big motors and deluxe trailers. Whatever! I’m glad that people still enjoy fishing, and that we have Millwood, Dierks, Gillham, Ouachita, DeGray and Greeson so close by.
But back to the tournament. The launch barge was piloted by Gene Stinson who normally runs the recycling program at the center. Gene said that there have been very few times when a boat or team has been disqualified or penalized. Also on the barge were HCCC employee Larry Copeland who saved the day (or morning) when he fixed the stubborn bullhorn. Also along for the ride was Matt Smith who said he was out fishing for votes.
The launch of 90 boats took about 20 minutes, and then the barge returned to its marina slip. I yakked a few minutes more with some HCCC folks, then headed home.
One other thing: Lots of the fishermen were locals, but lots of them lived far enough away so that they either camped or stayed in local motels in order to be at SWAHA in time to draw for launch positions. The tournament is good for our local economy.
It is also one of the three main fund-raising events for the center, which is a glorious institution here with a looooooong history of serving developmentally-disabled persons ages toddler thru senior adults. There’s the Rainbow Learning Center which mixes handicapped and non-handicapped kids in a pre-school environment. There’s the sheltered workshop where the clients can make a living. They get life skills classes in how to have productive lives. And there are living facilities so that the clients can have a life away from home when they become adults.
We are so blessed to have the Howard County Children’s Center. And the people who make it work.
The other two fund-raisers? One is coming up soon in May — the telethon which is nominally sponsored by the Rotary Club, and features interviews, videos and talent spots with clients and parents. It’s on the local community and religious programming television channel.
The other big fund-raiser is a golf tournament in October.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: The National  Institutes of Health has just released the results of a $200 million research study completed under a grant to Johns Hopkins University.
The new study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it..
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HE SAID: “I don’t know why my brain has kept all the words to the Gilligan’s Island theme song and has deleted everything about triangles.” Jeff Foxworthy, comic
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SHE SAID: “Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.” Minna Atrim, writer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: End of Winter

WINTER FOREVER? So many of my friends love cold weather and hate the summer, I hate to alienate them by saying I think it’s time for this winter to go away.
It’s April, for goodness sake. I’m old enough so that I worry when temps drop too low in the spring. Peaches, you know. Although, in a passing conversation recently, orchardist Tim Jones said he was more leery of hail than of a freeze at this point.
We’re in an uncomfortable spot. Lots of pollen on the ground and on your buggy, but it’s too early in the year by traditional reckoning, and cold at night for you to plant landscaping flora.
Some mornings it’s even cold enough so that there’s a bit of frost on rooftop shingles. So, moms still have the lingering question: How warmly do I dress my child in the morning since I know it’ll be in the 80s by noon?
I’ve had to mow my yard twice and the grass hasn’t even emerged yet. I’m only cutting down dandelions and other weeds, and this year, some kind of clover with purple blooms. My aged riding lawnmower doesn’t like it one bit. It was already dreading hauling my bulk around the yard anyway (it is entirely possible that my actual weight slightly exceeds that maximum which is recommended by the mower’s manufacturerererer, but that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested).
Our community’s dogwood trees are in their full magnificence. Until last year I had three dogwoods, but they succumbed to the heat and drought. And the fact that I forgot to water them occasionally. So I take joy in the dogwoods in neighbors’ yards and the wild ones that hang like white clouds under the canopy of the dark woods out in the countryside.
But I do still have azaleas which are about burst into bloom. You’ve waited too late to drive past and see the Japanese Cherry Blossom tree which my daughter gave me for my birthday in 2001. Its pale pink blooms now carpet the ground in my front yard. But they’re vanishing fast.
The side yard flowering quince — which I planted strictly as a salute to landscape gardeners of ancient times — has bid farewell to its red blooms already. The limbs still have green leaves but the fungus will take them soon and the limbs will once again be bare. The fungus doesn’t kill the plant, however, and it will shake itself back into red and green life next March, Lord willing.
And now time has caught up with all the yard chores I promised myself I’d do over the winter.
Pruning and trimming. Hauling off the leaves and pinestraw that has been there since 2002. Lots of things. Oh, well, it can wait until the winter of 2014-15.
In the meantime, I’ve declared an end to winter. Some guests and I were bundled up on my patio recently, huddled around the firepit as close as we could get without bursting into flames. We were all complaining about winter and how it was hanging on. Some of them were complaining that I wouldn’t let them go inside where it was at least moderately warm.
I was struck with inspiration. Went inside and retrieved a large metal fish which I like to hang on a patio fencepost. I brought the fish inside last December when weather got cold. It’s one those things that Gulf Coast people cleverly use to separate Arkies from their money.
The fish is cut from old corrugated tin roofing. It is in the shape of a large (3-foot) fish and is painted yellow and red and green. It has a large bolt and washer for its eye.
I paid $60 for it and it probably cost some Alabamamamer $6 to make.
Anyway, I declared (for all the good it did me) that winter was officially over, as I hung the fish on the fence.
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DON’T FIGHT ME! Am I the only one who shouts at his clothes? Sometimes I just can’t get my foot out of the pants leg. Or, am unable to put my arm through the sleeve because the sleeve is wadded closed. Sometimes I just cannot get my socks on straight and they squeeze my toes. Or, I’ve struggled with a belt for 30 minutes only to discover that I slid it through the belt loops and it was wrong-side out.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. I heard that somewhere.
When I struggle with clothes I sometimes shout “Don’t fight me!” I shout it loud, too.
If anyone is out for a morning walk and is within a half-block of my house, surely they can hear. And they gotta be wondering who I’m fighting with.
Well, I’m fighting with clothes.
In the first place — I’m mad because they keep shrinking.
In the second place — I’m mad at them because they fight me.
In the third place I was already mad at them in the first place.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
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HE SAID: “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford, industrialist
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SHE SAID: “Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez, novelist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Fun at the Gala

A NICE CROWD and a terrific time Saturday night at the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation Gala.
As I get older and crankier, I complain more about having to put on a coat and tie for events such as the gala. It was nice, however, to see friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers dressed to the teeth. The Roaring 20s theme was a nice touch. I was surprised at the number of men who got into costume. I figgered the ladies would get into the spirit. Congrats to those of you for getting into the spirit of the gala.
This was the first HMH-Foundation gala not organized by Freda Davis who retired last year. New HMH-Foundation director Amelia Moorer stepped right up and delivered a home run of her own.
The ‘gaming’ tables were operated by a Little Rock company which does such things for fund-raisers, Amelia told me.
The food and music were really fine. The late Ramon Wilson’s vintage car made a nice decorative touch and was a background for many photos. Lots of Ramon’s and Nelda’s descendants were in the gala crowd.
There were some political candidates in the crowd including our town’s Nate Steel, candidate for Attorney General, who brought a special lady friend with him.
On the horizon is the annual Junior Auxiliary tasting brunch this week — they’re calling it a ‘Tour of Italy,’ but I can’t stop calling it the Evelyn Ramsay Tasting Brunch out of habit. That’s possibly because I grew up a half-block from her house, and I worked next door to her husband.
We’ll have the HCCC Bass Tournament and the Telethon, the Peach Blossom Festival, Relay for Life and pretty soon it’ll be time to Stand Up for America. What did I miss?
Our community puts on some pretty impressive events. When you see a town that CAN’T put together a festival or gala, you are looking at a town that’s in trouble. The events are a barometer of leadership and enthusiasm emerging from the citizenry.
In my view, the very fact that the event continues to exist is as important as the money which is raised for the good causes.
My congratulations to all who worked to make the gala happen.
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DUBIOUS ANNIVERSARY. Hard to believe that the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened 25 years ago up in Alaska. According to an article in LifeScience, you can dig a hole on the beaches of Prince William Sound and still find puddles of crude oil.
Until the bad spill in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of years ago, the Exxon Valdez (11 million gallons) was the worst in U.S. history.
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PARDON MY fixation on things. In addition to ‘sagging,’ J-Turns, the spelling of cemetery and the appropriate use of the apostrophe, I am fixated on the universe and things that twirl around in the heavens.
It is not my imagination that in the past very few years there have been enormous discoveries. If I watch a television program about space, and it was copywrited in 2008, much of the information is old and wrong. ‘We’ are learning so much, so fast.
The latest thing to stupefy me is the possible discovery of yet another planet. This one — if it exists — is dark and huge, I mean big, and it is waaaaay out there past the former planet Pluto. This planet is so far out that it takes 10,300 years to orbit our sun.
I have enjoyed the revival of the ‘Cosmos’ series on one of the satellite tv channels. It’s modeled on the old Carl Sagan series, and it is hosted by a likeable guy named Neil deGrasse Tyson who is a black guy from New York City, of all places. Heck, in NYC you can’t even see the stars because of ground light clutter. Tyson’s story is fascinating in itself. I am so glad that we’ve got all those telescopes and smart people like Dr. Tyson studying the stars. For me, it validates the Creation.
I am not bright enough to comprehend the vastness of the universe. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. In my religion classes as a child, I was taught that there are some things we just cannot understand. That’s why they are called ‘mysteries.’ We will understand some day when we are called by the Almighty.
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HEARD FROM. David Rauls suggests that I get over my fixation with J-Turns. He sez that recently an 18-wheeler made a J-Turn in front of him in downtown Mineral Springs. “I wasn’t upset; just in awe of his driving abilities.”
I haven’t changed my mind. I am still urging the mayor to deputize me so I can give tickets for J-Turns and ‘sagging’ in downtown Nashville.
And I think I’d look swell in uniform.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: For high blood pressure sufferers — simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins [remember to use a timer].
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HE SAID: “He that is discontented in one place will seldom be happy in another.” Aesop, Greek slave and philosopher
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SHE SAID: “In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be educated.” Margaret Halsey, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: J Turn Justice

I’M STILL WAITING  on formal notification from the mayor on my request to be deputized as a fully-recognized member of the Traffic, Parking & Fashion Police Association (TPFPA) for our town’s Central Business District
My purpose is to help rid our town of ‘J Turns’ on Main Street.
Last week in Howard County District Court, a Nashville woman was fined $145 for making a J Turn. If you don’t believe me, look at the District Court article in this week’s paper.
There’s an average of almost one case each week in the court docket, therefore — assuming the ticketed driver doesn’t repeat his or her traffic crime — we’re cutting down on the number of J Turns in a slow but steady manner. I am sorry that we don’t have graduated sizes of fines for second and third offenses. First fine: $145. Second: $285. Third: $1,000. Hit ‘em hard and you don’t have to hit ‘em often, is what I say.
The whole purpose of increasing amounts of the penalties is to prevent repeat offenders. There may be some serial J Turners out there and we all have an obligation to stomp them out. Mercifully, of course.
Warning: ‘We’ (and by ‘we’ I mean me and my fellow deputies with the TPFPA) are going to get you if you make a J Turn.
As soon as I get my concealed weapon permit renewed, I’m going to begin the printing vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers I have helpfully written down every time I’ve seen yet another traffic criminal make a J Turn. Both of you can check this column weekly to see the list when I begin publishing those numbers and names.
I know you’ll think I’m getting fixated on this, but twice-a-day I now walk both sides of Main Street between the railroad tracks and the Post Office looking for vehicles whose front tire angles indicate the driver made a J Turn into the parking spot. I’ll make a mental note and be on the lookout for those vehicles in the future.
When I get deputized I’ll probably also have to get a swell uniform so everything will look real official. If I give you a ticket, just suck it up and pay for your crime. Also, does anyone know where I can get a swell 2XL uniform? Preferably pants with an expandable waist.
As I mentioned before, I’ll be fair but firm in giving tickets for J Turns. As usual, only a very few warning tickets will be given — they are reserved only for the sauciest women and to people who are generous donors to my Peanut M&Ms Crusade.
Let me assure you that these fine people have learned their lesson and will never J Turn again.
We have an obligation
The TPFPA is also on constant alert to catch someone ‘sagging,’ otherwise why would ‘Fashion’ be a part of our official name?
There are absolutely no warning tickets given for sagging. That’s because we have no mercy for male saggers,and because saucy women just don’t go in for wearing their pants way down below the tops of their undies.
Given the popularity of thong underwear among today’s saucy women, if they got into sagging we would then encounter major distraction problems for downtown motorists.
Let me put it this way. A saucy woman wearing thong underwear and ‘sagging,’ might cause an otherwise law-abiding motorist to make a J Turn so as to get a better look. This motorist would then surely call a Traffic, Parking and Fashion Police Associate to report the infraction and thus insure public safety and tranquility.
Afterward, this motorist would probably turn himself/herself in to the TPFPA because making a J Turn under any condition — even in pursuit of a saucy female sagger — is still a no-no.
If I witnessed such an occurrence, whom would I ‘ticket’ first? The J Turner or the Saggerette?
Don’t test me, is what I say.
A lot of people don’t know this: the U.S. launched a secret spy satellite, Tuesday. The device will focus on downtown Nashville and provide assistance in our efforts against J Turns and Sagging. My personal thanks to President Obama for his support.
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COULD’T HELP but notice that Hempstead County officials aren’t near as good as Howard County officials at keeping roadsides free from litter. Once I solve the problem of J Turns and sagging, I might just turn my attention to litterererers.
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CATFISH REUNION. About two dozen guys from five consecutive classes at NHS during late 50s and early 60s got together at Camp Albert Pike last weekend for a catfish fry and lying contest. Isn’t it amazing, one guy asked, that after this much time so many would gather like this? The group included one guy who had come from Houston, another from north of Dallas. Others traveled respectable distances, too. The host, a member of the NHS class of ’60, has these shindigs twice a year. Almost every time we’ve lost a friend since the last time we met.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.
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HE SAID: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” George Carlin, comic
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SHE SAID: “Don’t be afraid of missing opportunities. Behind every failure is an opportunity somebody wishes they had missed.” Lily Tomlin, actress and comic
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Lottery Winner

TO ANSWER your first question, the store that sells a winning Arkansas lottery ticket receives an amount equal to 1% of the winner’s prize.
 TO ANSWER your second question, those ‘scratch-off’ lottery tickets can cost up to $10 per card, depending upon the number of scratch-off spaces, the prize, and the payoff odds.  There are lotsa games on colorful cards.
TO ANSWER your third question, I’m not going to interview Norman Johnson of the Paraloma community located between Mineral Springs and Ben Lomond because I figger he’s got friends and relatives and perfect strangers coming out of the woodwork since news got out he’d won $500,000 on an Arkansas Lottery scratch-off. They all have sensible suggestions as to how he can best divest himself of that windfall.
The winning scratch-off ticket was purchased at B’s Quick Stop in Mineral Springs where Mr. Johnson has been a weekly customer for lottery tickets. When the Arkansas Lottery began a couple of years ago, I went down to B’s and got a picture of the first customers buying their tickets. And they were lined up to buy them, too.
If you buy a ticket at B’s, you’ll probably buy it from Delagene Byers, the proprietor, or her twin sons Blake and Brock, who take turns at the checkout counter. Last Friday, Brock told me he wasn’t sure exactly who sold Mr. Johnson the winning scratch-off.
I’ve gotta tell you that Brock was also a little nervous at the battery of questions from a nosey newsman. He’s normally pretty quick with a quip. He’s also more accustomed to taking my money for one of Delagene’s low-cal steak sandwiches.
While I talked with Brock, there was a steady stream of customers, most of them coming in for a softdrink and a lottery ticket. I talked to one guy who purchased a handful of scratch-offs. He tucked them into his jacket pocket. “Aren’t you going to scratch them?” I asked. Nope, he answered, it’s bad luck to scratch them off inside the store. He took his tickets and drove away, but not before telling me that he had once won $20,000 in the Texas lottery scratch-off.
TO ANSWER your fourth question, I don’t buy scratch-offs, but I do occasionally contribute a couple of bucks to the scholarship lottery fund through one of the other games when the prize gets really, really, really big. In my heart I know that there’s not a chance I’ll win $673.6 million, but then I remind myself that somewhere, someone IS going to win that obscene amount of money.
And, of course, my main object is to help deserving Arkansas kids with the scholarships. Honest.
Usually the lottery office announces that someone at Waldo or Walnut Ridge, or Dermott has won a big prize. Not so often towns from down our way.
So, congrats to Mr. Johnson and to B’s.
TO ANSWER your fifth question, B’s prize for selling that winning scratch-off was $5,000.
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ST. PADDY’S DAY. It was Monday and I forgot to wear green, of course. Luckily, no one pinches your cheek, anymore, if you forget to wear green.
Up in Boston, which is the Irish stronghold of America, the ‘Irish’ got to hold their traditional parade despite threats from many — including City Hall — if parade organizers did not allow a group of Gay Lesbian Bi-Sexual Trans-Gender (GLBT) marchers. The Samuel Adams beer folks, in fact, withdrew their financial support because the marchers were not allowed.
The parade is privately-funded, and organizers get to decide who gets to march and who doesn’t.
I think the GLBT marchers were mostly concerned with calling attention to their desire for acceptance, not for honoring St. Patrick or the Irish. I’m sure there have been plenty of fine folks who were BOTH Irish and GLBT. The kernel here is that if the GLBT folks had put on some green and had been more intent upon honoring St. Paddy and the Irish, they wouldn’t have met with opposition.
This little bit of wisdom is from someone who has never, ever made anyone mad. Honest.
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YOU CAN BE EXCUSED if you do not fully understand the big scientific announcement this week that scientists now have a better idea about the “Big Bang” which they say launched the universe 13.8 billion, that’s a buncha zeroes, years ago.
The theory is call ‘cosmic inflation,’ and it’s complicated because it involves space-time gravitational waves. My own theory is that this may or may not have been the way the Almighty caused everything to happen.
I will attempt to explain their other guys’ theory
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
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HE SAID: “It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.” Honore de Balzac, French playwright
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SHE SAID: “We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself — your own house — which we never do.” Marina Abramovic, artist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Obituaries (Week of March 17, 2014)

Ed Allmon
Ed Allmon, 93, of Murfreesboro, died Monday, March 10, 2014.
Survivors include: his wife, Dolly Allmon; sons, Jerry Allmon and wife, Cathy, Donnie Allmon and wife, Twyla, and Ricky Allmon and wife, Barbara; daughters, Ann O’Donnell and husband, Mike, Linda Stinson and husband, John, and Delores Marsh and husband Steve; a stepson, Kenny Harrison and wife, Lisa; also grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
He donated his body to the Medical Education & Research Institute in Memphis.
Arrangements are by Hot Springs Funeral Home.
Online condolences at hotspringsfh.com.
Brenda Buckley
Brenda Buckley, 54, of Delight, died March 13, 2014 in Nashville.
She was born July 16, 1959 in Colorado Springs, Colo., the daughter of Phillip Parks and the late Judy Thompson Cason.
She was a member of the Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Pisgah, Ark.
Survivors include: her husband, Roger Buckley of Delight; two daughters, Kristina Reid and husband, Adam, of Kirby, and Holly Womack and husband, Derrik, of Nashville; two brothers, Phillip Parks Jr. of Emmet, and John James Parks, of Genoa; a sister, Vickie McCoy of Dallas, Texas; also grandchildren.
Visitation was on Sunday March 16, 2014 from 6-8 p.m. at the Latimer Funeral Home Chapel in Murfreesboro.
Funeral services were Monday March 17, 2014 at 2 p.m. at the Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Pisgah, with Bro. Curtis Abernathy officiating. Burial followed in Bowen Cemetery near Delight under the direction of Latimer Funeral Home, Murfreesboro.
Betty Lou Gilbert
Betty Lou Gilbert, 80 of Cross Roads, Ark., died Sunday, March 16.
She was born July 20, 1933 in Hempstead County, the daughter of the late Sherman Roberts and Lillian Roberts Hickerson.
She attended the Old Liberty Church.
She was preceded in death by her brother, Richard E. “Sonny” Roberts.
Survivors include: her husband of 71 years, Charles William Gilbert of Cross Roads; a son; Charles William Gilbert, II , and wife, Patty, of Cross Roads; a daughter; Charlene Ort, and husband, Randy, of North Little Rock; a brother; Sherman Roberts of Cambridge, Mass.; also grandchildren.
Visitation was 6-8 Tuesday, March 18, at Brazzel/Oakcrest Funeral Home, 1001 South Main Street  Hope.
Funeral services were Wednesday, March 19 at Old Liberty Church in the Crossroads Community. with Randy Ort and Bro. Charles Hawley officiating. Burial followed in Westmoreland Cemetery at Cross Roads.
Madden Beckett Smelser
Madden Beckett Smelser was born on February 26, 2014 in Hot Springs, the son of Jade Blaauw and Anthony Smelser.
He died March 14 at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Funeral Services were scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at Holly Creek Baptist Church in Dierks, with burial to follow in Greens Chapel Cemetery near Dierks under the direction of Latimer Funeral Home, Nashville.
Visitation was 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at Latimer Funeral Home, Nashville.
Send an online sympathy message at latimerfuneralhome.com.

Mine Creek Revelations: My Lenten Denial

ANIMAL CRACKERS. My bones tell me it’s still winter and there’s some cold still ahead for us, but on the last several nights I’ve heard bullfrogs croaking. And on my Tuesday night drive to-and-from Newhope last week, I saw no fewer than six plump raccoons run across the road in my headlight beams.
There were already a bunch of dead skunks on the hardsurface.
Animals are on the move in celebration of the promise of spring.
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NO J-TURNS. Fined a total of $145 last week in District Court last week was a guy who couldn’t  resist turning across traffic to grab a Main Street parking spot.
Somehow people are slow to learn that J-Turns are illegal in downtown Nashville. If you are spotted by a bonafide Nashville policeman while making a J-Turn you will most likely get a ticket and a date in District Court.
No so fast! Right outside our window, Friday, folks in our office saw a white Chevy Traverse back out of a parking space on the east side of the street, then make a J-Turn into a spot on the west side practically in front of “The Leader” office. This was technically a capital and cursive J-Turn, but I’ll bet that it is just as illegal as the lower case printed one.
The driver was a Murfreesboro lady, I’m told.
In the future I’m going to give license numbers.
Just wait ‘til the the mayor grants my formal request to be a deputy city policeman, thereby authorizing me to take charge of Main Street traffic and parking.
I’ll be fair but firm in handing out tickets for J-Turns. Sorry, only my closest friends and the sauciest women will get warning tickets.
And sagging. Congrats to the Mineral Springs City Council for passing a ‘sagging’ ordinance.
It’s disgusting, anti-social behavior.
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LEFTOVERS. Forgot to tell you in last week’s column that because I stopped my pickup truck and turned its nose to the east so that Arabic Loretta Garmin could do her Muslim prayers, my GMC pickup is now listed as a convert to Islam in the US Census.
What I’m really worried about is whether or not Arabic Loretta will become a suicide bomber determined to take down some vital American institution.
Like the Peanut M&M factory. Oh boy, wouldn’t that be terrible!
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I HAD INTENDED to give up sweets for Lent. That lasted until early Wednesday afternoon on the first day of Lent. I had stayed with my Lenten denial for a solid three hours which more or less reveals my total lack of self-control.
So, I had to fall back on ‘Old Reliable’ for Lenten self-denial. I’m giving up insects as food.
You think I’m kidding?
According to an outfit called LiveScience, some ‘experts’ are looking into how we’re going to feed the world’s population of 8 billion-plus, and they’ve decided that we need to start eating insects.
Some students at a university in Montreal, Canada, even won a cash prize for inventing a way to make nutritious flour from insects.
And a UN agri committee is seriously looking into ways to get the world’s population to eat insects.
Well, for one thing, they say that caterpillars can be boiled in salty water like crawdads, then sun-dried. Mmmmm!
And, if our local exterminators will just leave us a few of them, termites can be steamed in banananana leaves.
And grubs. We’re not talking about my dirty clothes, we’re talking about that underground white thingy that is so delicious when crisped over glowing charcoal.
And grasshoppers — roasted with garlic and squirted with tart juice from a lime.
And the African palm weevil is big enough to be panfried. Mmmm. Pass the hushpuppies, please. Who said there was a food shortage in Africa?
And stinkbugs. You thought they had only one use? Wrong. You remove the head which is the source of the stink, then you can cook them or eat them raw, like oysters. Next thing you know there will be ‘stinkbug bars’ in New Orleans.
And, the article closes, “mealworms are hard to beat.”
Yes, they certainly are.
I can see only one remaining question: Would a properly cultured gentleman prefer red or white wine to go with his sun-dried mealworms?
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CANCER GAS CARD update. We’re about to surpass the $31,000 mark in gasoline vouchers handed out for cancer patient travel expenses since late 2007.
We had some good news and some sad news this week. First the good news : One of ‘our’ gas voucher-users got a clean bill of health from her doctor. Hooray!
But our friend Sherlene Sands finally lost her battle. What a fine lady; always cheerful! Peace to her family, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such wonderful people among us.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading stuff on the Internet: To avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables, get someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.
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HE SAID: “Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool.” John Mason Good, scientist
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SHE SAID: “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Atoomi Boomba

I HAVE MENTIONED once before that the Garmin device which ‘tells’ me how to drive to places is nicknamed Loretta. I chose to hear a woman’s voice because I am accustomed to being bossed around by women, okay?
But on the way back from Mt. Magazine last week, I decided just for fun to get adventurous with the Garmin (the device, not Loretta). I remembered that when I first turned it on for the set-up I was given the choice of languages: French, Spanish, German, Japanese, English, Arabic.
So on a whim on my way home, I thumbed back to that spot and changed the language to Arabic.
One of the worst things I ever did.
I was driving along enjoying the instructions in that really awful-sounding language, when suddenly Arabic Loretta ordered me over to the side of the road. The words sounded sorta like a chicken being sqwushed under a steamroller.
Okay, okay you’re asking yourself how did I know that Arabic Loretta wanted me to turn off the highway since I don’t understand either Arabic or sqwushed chicken all that good. The answer is that when a foreign language is being spoken by the Garmin, there are English subtitles on that little bitty screen.
The Garmin’s screen got my attention because Arabic Loretta was shouting something that sounded like “Atoomi Boomba, Atoomie Bomba!” Surely she’s not threatening me with an atomic bomb, I said to myself nervously.
I decided not to argue, and I pulled onto a side road. Then, Arabic Loretta ordered me to turn the nose of my pickup truck toward the East.
I looked at the screen and the English subtitles explained that I was now facing Mecca, and would be for the next five minutes while Arabic Loretta did her Muslim prayers.
This happened twice more on the way home, until I finally wised up and switched back to English. I’m glad she didn’t find out that I stopped for a BBQ pork sandwich. And bought a lottery ticket.
How do you say “recalculating” in Arabic?
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MUCH OF THE WEEKEND was spent traveling, with or without the assistance of Loretta.
First, I went to Mt. Magazine for a newspaper meeting. It was fairly balmy before I started up Arkansas’s highest mountain, but by the time I reached midway there were icicles hanging from roadsigns. Also halfway up the mountain I had to pop my ears. Same on the way down. The top half of the mountain was completely engulfed in thick fog, Saturday, when I was in a hurry.
From Mt. Magazine I headed east to Maumelle for the musical event of the year.
Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy, age 10, was singing the role of Dorothy in the Pine Forest Elementary School’s fifth-grade production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
The iconic American musical is observing its 75th anniversary this year, and there’s stuff about it everywhere on television, on the Internet and in newspapers. Even at the Oscars. Seems to me that I saw something about the last ‘Munchkin’ dying a few years ago.At any rate, I do believe that everyone who was in that movie has now followed the Yellow Brick Road to that great Emerald City in the sky.
Or, they went to be with the Wicked Witch of the East, She’s probably in Austin, Texas where (as both of you know) the Devil lives 11 months of the year. Even the Devil can’t stand Austin in August.
Without going into too much detail, Miss Murphy was the star of the show. She was the darling of the audience, of course, and she acted and sang splendidly. Judy Garland would have been proud.
That’s the non-biased opinion of her grandfather.
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A LITTLE TROUBLE. Sure hope we can get this cleared up before the next emergency.
A building in our alley partially collapsed and when people reported that the gas line was broken and spewing, the police radio dispatcher couldn’t get in touch with the gas company at its own listed number for emergencies for upwards of a half hour.
In the meantime, gas fumes filled businesses on the west side of the 100 block of North Main Street. Police even came by to tell folks to evacuate. Luckily, there was no explosion that I know of.
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I TAKE FULL CREDIT for the last two thrilling victories by the Hardwood Hogs.
I did not watch any of either game — beating Kentucky at Lexington, and beating Georgia at Fayetteville.
I always say: When the going gets tough, I go outside. And so, for the past two games, I’ve sat out on the patio trying to be patient.
I know that I’ll not know the game outcome until it’s posted somewhere on the Internet.
This — I agree with you — is a huge and noble sacrifice on my part, but I am a team player and am willing to do whatever is necessary so that the Hogs win.
It will be tough, but I will employ the same strategy when the football Hogs run through the ‘A’ next fall.
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HE SAID: “Don’t get up from the feast of life without paying for your share of it.” Dean Inge, author
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SHE SAID: “Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.” Willa Cather, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Lindy’s nite flite

WHAT ARE THE most famous names in American aviation?
Orville and Wilbur Wright, of course, and next would be Charles Lindbergh who made the first flight across the Atlantic and became an international hero.
I did not know that four years before his historical flight to France, Lindbergh made his first night flight right here in Arkansas.
This little nugget was made known to me by the Navigator who suggested that seeing the historical markers at the site would be a worthy Arkie Road Trip (Navigator, being a schoolmarm, had read in an actual book that at Lake Village — waaaaaay over in the Arkansas Delta — there was reputed to be a historical marker and a monument at the very spot where Lindbergh made this flight).
The story.
Lindy was ‘barnstorming’ his way across country toward Houston, Texas, April of 1923 (no other date given), when he developed engine trouble and landed in a field outside of Lake Village in Chicot County. The field was formerly a golf course, and the clubhouse was sometimes used as an inn.
The aviator fixed his airplane and offered the landowner a flight. Nope, he wasn’t interested. Lindbergh did give rides to a number of local people, and he accepted an invitation to spend the night at the clubhouse. After dinner, he noted that it was a very clear night and the moon was exceptionally bright. He decided to see the place from the air, and again he offered to take the owner up.
This time the man said ‘okay.’ They flew over the town and Lake Chicot and the nearby Mississippi River for about 15 minutes, and then landed without a problem.
And that was Lindbergh’s first night flight.
The Arkie Road Trip.
There’s no way of getting around this — it’s a four-hour haul across south Arkansas: Nashville to Prescott to Camden to Monticello to Dermott to Lake Village. Loretta, my trusty talking Garmin device, led us there.
We found the official Arkansas Welcome Center at Lake Village and they told us that we were actually very close to the flight site. We grabbed a sandwich, then drove up the narrow old river road. It never strays far from Lake Chicot, an oxbow lake that once was the channel of the Mississippi River.
Almost hidden between modest houses was a lot bounded by a low hurricane fence. Not much parking space. Several unlocked gates. There was a tall granite oblisk which noted Lindburgh’s flight.
And crumbled behind the oblisk were the ruins of the clubhouse.
And between the oblisk and the highway was a black metal historical marker which told a bit more about the event.
So, we made a four-hour drive to Lake Village, and spent a good 15-20 seconds taking pictures for Facebook and reading the inscriptions.
Then it was back on the road. There was something else we were looking forward to: A stop at the White House Cafe in Camden. This place has been around forever. It is several buildings linked together in an old part of town. At one time they bragged that they had practically every brand of beer in the world to wash down their famous Mexican dishes and steaks. Now, I don’t think their libations come from farther away than St. Louis.
The Navigator and I have made several previous stops at the White House. You’ll recall our Arkie Road Trip to Arkansas Post, site of Revolutionary and Civil War battles. You’ll recall our Arkie Road Trip to the WWII Japanese Internment Camp at Rowher. You’ll recall our Arkie Road Trip to see Civil War battle sites at Poison Springs and Jenkins Ferry.
What? You don’t recall. Well, those trips had something in common — a stop at the White House on the way home.
The owner of the White House recognized us and asked us where we’d been that Saturday. Wow, the Navigator really must have made an impression on the previous visits!
We yakked with the owner and her other customers for a bit, and we split an order of nachos. We got back on the road with hopes of getting home not too long after dark. And we would have, too, except that we saw a sign pointing down a narrow gravel road to the ‘Seven Devils Wildlife Management Area.’ Neither of us had ever heard of it, and that was precisely why we took a 30-minute detour.
Seven Devils was a serendipity (pleasant surprise). We’ve had a number of serendipitous encounters with people and places on our road trips, and we’ll probably have a bunch more.
One of my rules now, is that the road home must go through Camden. With a stop at the White House.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. In the tall dead grass of a pasture just north of Mine Creek Nursing and Rehab Center, recently, a magnificent Bald Eagle defended some kind of hidden carcass from other carrion-eating fowl. The white head and tailfeathers are stunning. The wingspan is incredible. Hard to believe that some people like to shoot at our National Symbol.
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HE SAID: “Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.” James Naismith, inventor of basketball
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SHE SAID: “It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” Amelia Barr, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Whiteside Hall

I CAN REMEMBER exactly where the portrait hung.
I’m talking about the large oil painting of John Garrett Whiteside, the man for whom our town’s ‘oldest’ high school gymnasium was named: Whiteside Hall.
He is still probably the most famous man ever to come from Nashville even if you never heard of him.
The portrait hung to the right of the old stage. It was placed high on the wall in the space between the stage and the exit door (which I never once saw used, anyway).
According to the Howard County Heritage Club book, the portrait ended up in the museum. But, of course, the museum has been closed for years. I’ll try to find out if the painting is really there, but I have always heard that it just disappeared.
The old gym is now used by the Nashville Parks and Recreation Department for youth basketball, and I’m glad it hasn’t just been abandoned.
John Garrett Whiteside went to Washington, DC, in 1907, and he served as secretary to various congressmen, senators and for agency committees for 40 years. This was in an age when there were only 96 senators, and he was frequently called “the 97th senator” because of his influence.
According to “The Encyclopedia of Arkansas,” the congressman who was in charge of writing the declaration of war for WWI buttonholed Whiteside because he could type as a result of his previous experience as a Arkansas court reporter. The congressman dictated the declaration, and Whiteside typed it and hand-delivered it to President Woodrow Wilson for his signature.
And when our nation entered WWII, Whiteside again typed the declaration of war and delivered it to the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signature.
He had a connection to other significant documents, including typing our nation’s ratification of the United Nations charter in 1945.
He died in 1947. I do not know where he is buried, but I’d like know if any of you have this information. He was married to a Prescott girl, maiden name Biggs. I once spoke to his nephew who was a Little Rock lawyer. He didn’t remember a lot about his famous uncle, but had always heard about him.
Whiteside Hall was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
By the way, that old gym stage also served as the band hall until a separate cinder block building was finally built for the musicians. The rock group, Styx, once played a concert on that gym stage. They autographed a paddle which they found while rummaging through a PE teacher’s desk which was in an offstage office. Just like Mr. Whiteside’s portrait, the Styx paddle has disappeared.
I do not know the statute of limitations for rummaging through a teacher’s desk.
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VOLUNTEERS KEEP the wheels turning in every community. I see that Billy Hardin, Joe Dallas and Chris Sweat are new volunteers on the board of the Howard County Cattlemen’s Association, and Chris will serve as president. Jim Hood is secretary/treasurer for the cattlemen for the eleventy-third time. He’s served in that capacity since the invention of Herefords.
I recently tried to convey my admiration to the volunteers at the annual 4-H Foundation Super Bowl smoked meat sale, but the food kept getting in the way.
It’s a good thing to take note of the people who keep wheels turning in our community. From baseball/softball moms and dads, Scout leaders, school boards, Band Boosters, the Pink Ladies at the hospital, just to name a few. Great volunteers are everywhere you look.
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ANIMAL CRACKERS. On a rare clear afternoon with moderate temperatures, last week, I sat out on my patio and worked on my tan.
Incredibly thick clouds of blackbirds flew overhead. The birds made no noise other than the whoosh generated by thousands of flapping wings. There were so many birds I wondered how people can estimate their number. Anybody got an idea?
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WHICH ROLE TO PLAY? An outfit from Virginia — The American Shakespeare Center — will put on two performances at Historic Washington State Park. The two-and-one-half-hour performances will be on Friday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 1, beginning at 7:30 each night.
On the first night the troupe will perform “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and they will do “Othello” on the second night.
There’s a problem. One actress will unfortunately not make the trip from Virginia, and so the group needs someone to play Desdemona, Othello’s wife.
Someone has suggested that Mrs. Claus might be persuaded to take the role since she is such a ham anyway.
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HE SAID: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare, playwright
Ever been to Old Washington, Bill?
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SHE SAID: “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.” Anne Morrow Lindburgh, author and aviator
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Bronco tortellini

HONEST. I only joined Facebook so I could see pics of my granddaughter which my daughter frequently posts. Now I’ve worked my way up to six ‘friends’ and keeping up with their activities on Facebook keeps me worn out.
Some of these people apparently don’t do anything other than ‘post’ on Facebook. Half of them post recipes with delicious-looking pics of dishes. The other half puts up messages that Obama is taking us straight to Hell where the devil will take our home machine guns away.
I tend to read the recipes more often than the other stuff. I’ve even tried fixing some of the recipes.
Last week someone posted Tortellini Soup. It sounded simple. Maybe even good. And I needed something new to fix for Super Bowl Sunday. (I don’t know what tortellini is and I can’t read Italian, but I figured I could find it at the store. Wrong!) [Also, worrying about what to fix for Super Bowl Sunday tells you something about the excitement level in my life right now, but that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested.]
The recipe called for frozen tortellini pasta; Italian diced tomatoes; some chopped fresh spinach; a box of vegetable broth; and cream cheese. Other than that, all I needed was a crockpot. I found mine and scoured it clean with acid and steelwool.
Then I went out to get the ingredients.
Walmart didn’t have any frozen tortellini. I pushed stuff around in the frozen food box and blocked the aisle until a group of employees asked me to leave the store.
I went to Brookshire’s and they didn’t have any frozen tortellini either, but the manager said that I could probably substitute a bag of frozen egg noodles. Made sense to me. Then I went looking for Italian-style diced tomatoes. There was no such thing at Brookshires. I moved cans around on the shelves and blocked the aisle until a group of employees asked me to leave the store.
Went back to Walmart and there is just no such thing as Italian-style diced tomatoes. So, I settled for a couple of cans of diced tomatoes with basil and oregano and garlic because that sounded kinda Italian.
At home, I assembled the ingredients.
I apologize for taking so long with this story. And forgive me if I weep occasionally.
I got out my ‘new’ $1.95 can opener which replaced the one I broke last week. But it wouldn’t open the can of diced tomatoes. I tried opening the can with a beer can opener which someone helpfully left in my driveway. I punched holes in a circle around the top and poured the tomatoes through the jagged edge. To my horror I realized that a tiny shard of the tin can had fallen into the crockpot. So, I threw away the whole batch.
Went back to the store and got another can of diced tomatoes and a new $8.95 can opener.
Unfortunately, the new can opener didn’t open a can any better than that cheap one. I went to a neighbor’s house and she skillfully opened the can.
Now I was finally ready to put the ingredients together again.
I chomped the cream cheese into little pieces. Then I poured the tomatoes and vegetable stock into the crockpot;
The last thing I did was the spinach. The recipe called for a ‘small bag.’ No other description. Was it a small zip sandwich baggie, or was it a 30-gallon trash bag? I decided that a handful of spinach would be enough. I washed it and started chopping.
And sliced my left thumb to the bone. By golly, that blood and little bit of meat will just make my tortellini soup better, I told myself.
Actually, the soup was pretty yucky.
Also, I’m fairly sure that the cream cheese kept the dish off the Weight Watchers approved list.
Because of all the trips to the food stores; the ingredients; the replacement ingredients; the can opener; the replacement can opener; not to mention the antiseptic and bandage for my thumb; plus the replacement chopping knife for the @#$%* knife I threw into the trash can — this soup probably cost me about $20 per serving.
Next time I’ll stick to reading the posts about Obama and Hell and machine guns.
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BULLETIN: The burn ban in Howard County has been lifted.
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BEAUTY. Shina Sumler, a soph coed from Nashville, is among the contestants in the annual Miss Henderson State University Pageant this week. Good luck!!
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
It was another weigh-in I had to miss, this time due to the chamber of commerce banquet Monday night. Probably not much change in my weight over the last week. There were some good days and then there was the Super Bowl. Munch, munch. Don’t remind me about the tortellini soup.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
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HE SAID: “Scientists announced that they have located the gene for alcoholism. Scientists say they found it at a party, talking way too loudly.” Conan O’Brien, entertainer
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SHE SAID: “I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.” Phyllis Theroux, writer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Centennial anew

CABIN FEVER. Went to the doc last week because I just couldn’t get over a cough and sore throat. Did I mention I felt lousy? I believe this was a respiratory infection that was making the rounds in our community. Since it made me feel so bad, I’m amazed that it didn’t kill hundreds who weren’t in my splendid physical condition.
I spent the entire weekend whining and moaning on my recliner in front of the television. Left the house exactly two times for a grand total of 30 minutes, and that was to pick up hamburgers.
A lot of the time I spent hoping some drug-crazed psycho would break down the door and attack me with a machete and put me out of my misery. I’m telling you, I felt bad.
As I said, most of the weekend was spent on my recliner with the TV droning.
But something really nice happened. I came across a satellite channel which was broadcasting the entire 12 episodes of one of my all-time favorite TV mini-series, “Centennial.”
I watched the whole thing except for the times my cough syrup made me drop off for a short medicated snooze.
Centennial. I had forgotten how much I liked the late Alex Karras in the role of Potato Brumbaugh. And there was another former football player who had a role. Former UCLA quarterback Mark Harmon had a small but nice role as an Army officer with a conscience. Harmon is now my very favorite TV character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS special agent.
Centennial is one of the seven or eight James A. Michener books I’ve read. I have not been disappointed in any of them.
I believe that in all of his books, Michener starts out giving the reader a thorough lecture in geography, geology or history which has a place in later developments. I read once that he had a huge force of researchers for his books.
Centennial was the story of the development of the West focusing on a spot in the grasslands which became the mythical town of Centennial, Colorado.
At this point in my life, I like happy endings. Michener just does not give you those. In several of the episodes the villain wins. But that’s pretty true of life, isn’t it?
One of my very favorite books is “The Source,” a Michener book about religions and cultures in the Middle East. The ‘source’  in “The Source” is a spring which trickles out of a cave. Civilizations develop and dissolve, settlements grow up and crumble around that spring during the passage of centuries. The book is ‘historical fiction,’ and a lot of real life characters pass through the walls of the settlement. The book is about the people who lived there. It’s about the formation of religions and what the Hebrews owe the pagans, what the Christians owe the Hebrews, what the Muslims owe the Christians and Hebrews. It’s about our inhumanity to each other and today’s headlines of that area would fit perfectly in the story.
Off the top of my head, some other Michener books I’ve read include Texas, Tales of the South Pacific, Chesapeake, Caravans, Space, Hawaii, The Drifters, Return to Paradise, Sayanora, Something Else and Something Else.
So I am grateful in a way for my sore throat, because I am now inspired to go back and read the Michener books I’ve missed.
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THE 12TH MAN. The unique thematic ‘12th man’ began at Texas A&M mucho years ago. They just pick some guy out of the student body and let him play on kickoffs, figuring, correctly, that it gets the aforementioned student body more involved in the game.
So, I was surprised to see Seattle Seahawks fans unabashedly waving 12th Man flags in one of the playoff games.
Recently, I read where the Seahawks pay Texas A&M $5,000 per year to use ‘12th Man.’
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
Since I didn’t exercise for the six days that I was sick, and since I did nothing but graze on things that are not exactly on the Weight Watchers approved list during that time, I expected nothing but bad news at Monday night’s weigh-in.
What I got, though, was a weight loss of 5 pounds over the past 2 weeks. You’ll recall that I missed last week’s weigh-in because I was at the MLK Celebration.
I think I’ll run out and order a pizza with fries.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: The Eisenhower interstate highway system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are to be usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
Remember a few years ago when the pilot of a private single-engine airplane had to land on a straight stretch of Highway 870 west of Dierks? A nearby landowner let the pilot park his airplane on his property, and he took off without incident next day.
I have been corrected: My colleagues at ‘The Leader’ say that it happened “many” years ago, not a few years ago.
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 HE SAID: “I’m facing Niagara Falls – the wind and the mist and the dark and the peregrine falcons – and I’m going to stay focused on the other side.” Nik Wallenda, tightrope walker
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SHE SAID: “If a man is truly in love, the most beautiful woman in the world couldn’t take him away. Maybe for a few days, but not forever.” Eva Gabor, actress
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: My hand is blue

AN INVITATION TO KEEP the speeches short. Our town’s Nate Steel, who is a candidate for Attorney General of Arkansas, recently attended the renowned Gillett Coon Supper for the first time. The hallowed event is held in the Gillett High School gym in political years and it raises money for the local football booster club. No statewide politician of either party would dare miss the opportunity to be seen there.
Political candidates are allowed to speak, but are told that they can talk only as long as they can keep their hand in a bucket of ice-water.
That was just a ploy to keep speeches short, Nate says. And it worked.
Nate said he tasted the raccoon and it was “terrible.” It was served with some orange stuff and some yellow stuff. After tasting the ‘coon, attendees are allowed to switch to more traditional fare. Nate said that there were a bunch of men there wearing coonskin hats, and they were really there to eat raccoon, not to hear politicians with blue hands.
He’s been to lots of interesting events on the campaign trail, he reports.
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WELCOME TO OUR TOWN. Nashville will be host to several state high school athletic events beginning in few weeks. Many visitors and many opportunities to make a good impression of our town.
Feb. 26-March 1 — Class 4A South Regional Basketball tourney.
May 9 — Class 4A State Track Meet.
May 9-12 — Class 4A South Regional Softball tourney.
May 15-17 — Class 4A State Baseball tourney.
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VIETNAM VETERANS should mark Friday, Feb. 14 on calendars for the 15th annual Chili Cook-Off which benefits area veterans projects. Former Nashville police chief Larry Yates and I have attended most of the previous 14 chili cookoffs which are held in the student union building at Texarkana College.
My mouth is still burning from last year. And the year before.
An interesting tidbit in the recent newsletter of the Texarkana Area Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America: In the 2000 US Census, more than 9 million persons falsely claimed to have served in Vietnam. The newsletter states that the problem of ‘been there wannabes’ is a problem for all eras of veterans, but for some reason is worse for the Vietnam era. Why would someone claim to have served if they really didn’t. Sorta like cheating at golf, or Solitaire.
No offense, Texarkana, but I’m taking that 9 million figure with either a dash or a handful of salt.
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EXCELLENT. A coed from Nashville is doing something unusual at Arkansas Tech University. Caitlin Joy Lewis, daughter of Joe and Melanie Lewis, is majoring in graphic design, and her minor is Japanese. How hard can that be?
She’s hoping to go to Japan to further her studies.
I have enough trouble with computer programs in English, and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to learn that durn stuff in Japanese.
She recently made the Dean’s List at Tech.
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THEY’RE BACK. Seen in town, last Wednesday, was Bob Lewis who was a banker here before striking off for Missouri about seven years ago. Bob and Marilou are living in Hope where he is still in banking. Bob had quite a sense of humor. Rumor has it that he is the smallest football lineman ever to play for the SAU Muleriders. Marilou worked many years in the circuit clerk’s office here.
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
Because I went to cover the MLK Celebration, Monday night, I was unable to attend weigh-in. I am sure the lying digital scales at home don’t know what they’re talking about because SURELY I haven’t gained THAT much weight in just one week.
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MY HEART IS STILL THUMPING. Couldn’t mail my check to the electric company Monday because of the holiday, so I set it aside on my dining table with all of the other debris.
On Tuesday morning I collected trash from inside my house; dumped it into the trash cart; set the trash cart out streetside.
When I left for work Tuesday I looked for the envelope so I could put it in the mailbox. Where was it? Nowhere to be seen. I tore up the house, and then remembered putting the trash cart out. Went out in the frigid dark and shone my flashlight down into the fragrant depths of the cart.
You know the rest. Luckily, I could reach the envelope without dumping the entire contents onto the street.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: The Eisenhower interstate highway system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are to be usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.
Remember a few years ago when the pilot of a private single-engine airplane had to land on a straight stretch of Highway 870 west of Dierks? A nearby landowner let the pilot park his airplane on his property, and he took off without incident next day.
I have been corrected: My colleagues at ‘The Leader’ say that it happened “many” years ago, not a few years ago.
●-●-●
 HE SAID: “Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” Thomas Paine, one of America’s founding fathers
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SHE SAID: “One glass of water doesn’t equal another. One may just appease the thirst, the other you may enjoy thoroughly.” Jil Sander, clothing designer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Deputize Me

THERE SEEMS TO BE some public support these days for mandatory drug-testing of persons who apply for unemployment benefits or other public assistance.
In fact, such a law was popularly enacted in Florida, but a Supreme Court (either Florida’s or the nation’s — I don’t know which) shot the local law down as being unconstitutional. Made too much sense, I suppose. I don’t want to humiliate or penalize persons who are in unfortunate situations, but neither do I want my tax dollars to enable any illegal or anti-social activity.
But still, mandatory drug testing something that’s probably coming. I believe we’ll finally begin to see such legislation appear in other states, even Arkansas.
Something else that might be coming is legalization of marijuana. It’ll happen for no other reason than M-O-N-E-Y in the form of business income. Witness all the activity in Colorado when it became legal there a few weeks ago.
Bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.
Lots of people tell me that if the marijuana measure gets on the Arkansas ballot, it’ll pass. I’m not so sure, but I think we should be prepared anyway.
If the law passes and marijuana becomes legal, I guess it would be sold from state-licensed emporiums, like out in Colorado. That way the state could pick up a few bucks by taxing the sale. And by requiring permits to sell the weed.
It seems to me — and I have instructed my local state senator on my feelings — that if the marijuana law passes, we need to have a law so that anyone who tries to buy marijuana should be drug tested first.
Doesn’t that make sense?
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MY PET PEEVES — ‘J Turns’ and ‘Sagging.’
In the district court report printed this week, one 21-year-old gentleman was fined $100 plus costs for wearing his pants so low that his undies were showing. It cost him a total of $145.
I don’t see so many ‘J Turns’ anymore, so maybe drivers are catching on. Let me repeat what has been written here earlier: It is against the law in the city of Nashville to make a J Turn in the downtown area, and it is against the law in Nashville to wear your pants below your hiney.
However, Friday morning someone in a red Chevy Avalanche made a J Turn in front of me in the 100 block of North Main Street.
I am going to ask the chief of police to deputize me so I can give out tickets to dangerous offenders such as this.
The problem with me being deputized is that I might have to give myself a ticket for making an ‘Editor’s Rolling Stop,’ a harmless traffic manuever which I, at one time, thought was okay for important people like editors to use when they were on their way to do something important. You know, stuff that editors do. Of course, an Editor’s Rolling Stop is not nearly as offensive as a J Turn. Trust me.
I was stunned to learn that the Editor’s Rolling Stop isn’t actually legal. Worse, I discovered that police would quietly overlook a state senator who occasionally made an Editor’s Rolling Stop even though the aforementioned senator wasn’t qualified by being important like an actual editor.
If I were deputized I’d probably have to give myself a warning ticket and a stern caution.
The state senator wouldn’t be so lucky. His unauthorized use of the Editor’s Rolling Stop would cost $145 in district court, just like the J Turners and Saggers.
Justice is blind. I heard that somewhere.
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MY MISTEAK.
A caption under a pic last week erroneously stated that the coldest temperature ever recorded here was zero degrees on two occasions.
WORNG! See my ‘mea culpa’ elsewhere in this issue of the newspaper, along with a little more information about the gathering of ‘official’ weather data for the National Weather Service.
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WEIGHT WATCHERS.
Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
At weigh-in Monday evening, I was lashed after the scales lied and said I had gained XX pounds. How disappointing after last week’s great weight loss of 0.6 pounds. The truth is that I richly deserved the upward move of the figures on the digital scales, but I’m going to continue to try to do better. Pass the nachos, please.
Two friends of mine were determined to lose weight and get into better shape for the new year, so they went and signed up at a local exercise joint.
“Have you lost any weight?” I asked. Their answer was “Nope” but it turns out that they hadn’t actually gone back and taken actual exercise.
One of them, however, did say that he had driven past the health club on numerous occasions and had focused his thoughts on the healthful benefits of exercise. They were both depressed that they hadn’t lost weight and were also pretty mad about false advertising.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: “Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a ‘Friday the 13th.’
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 HE SAID: “Honesty is something you can’t wear out.” Waylon Jennings, musician
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SHE SAID: “I only use my sick days for hangovers and soap opera weddings.” Kate O’Brien, novelist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: To Pikeville

A SATURDAY ROAD TRIP.
It was high time for me to ‘run up’ to Pikeville and make sure everything was alright on Lake Greeson. And besides, our area was supposedly in for a stretch of real winter weather during which I might not want to get far from the recliner and the fireplace if I had a fireplace.
I tricked the Navigator into going with me and we set off early in the afternoon under dreary skies.
It had been well over a year since I drove ‘up’ to Pikeville which — for those of you who do not go to ‘the lake’ — is a pleasant wooded peninsula on the west side not far from Narrows Dam. It’s not far as the crow flies, but by road it’s an adventure.
It’s never been easy to get to Pikeville. Roads were graded occasionally by the Corps of Engineers in the past, but even after it had been graded as smooth as they could get it, the road stillmcrawled over big sharp boulders which eliminated cars and other vehicles that were built too close to the ground. Also, even in August there some mudholes covering the width of the road, and those muddy waters frightened away some motorists.
I didn’t mind the bumpy, muddy trip because it kept foreigners from taking over one of our Arkansas attractions.
But the Fed cutbacks have really changed the place. The Corps (or someone) has even taken down the wooden signs which formerly helped you stay on the right road. I’ve made the trip enough times so that I could find the way, but in all honesty this time I did catch myself wondering which way to turn at some of the forks.
In addition to removal of signs, the Corps has eliminated the occasional road-grading. Every sharp boulder in the road is now pointed up at your oil pan. Those boulders were there before the road was so they ain’t going away. Plus, the woods have encroached enough so that it’s almost a one-lane road.
Every time I came to a mudhole, Saturday, I worried cowardly whether it might have a firm gravel bottom or a — gulp — treacherous muddy one.
On the way in, we met four ATVs riding in a group. They were on their way out. Other than that, there was no hint of humans. By the time we got to a picnic table overlooking the gray water, the sun was already getting low in the sky. From the picnic table we could look ‘up’ the lake and see Chimney Rock; or look the other direction and see the dam. Brrrrr. The water looked so cold!
Our stay at Pikeville was brief because I didn’t want to challenge mudholes or the faintly-remembered road forks in the dark.
The Navigator promised that she would get out and push me out of a mudhole if we got stuck. Somehow that didn’t make me feel better. I’m not saying she’d lie.
When we reached the dam I noticed again the red sign that warns motorists that stopping is not allowed for the next quarter mile.
Really, as if some dynamite-laden terrorist would read the sign and obey (“Achmed, we can’t blow up the dam today because we might get a parking ticket.”)
Even in the drab of winter, our state is magnificent. For one thing, the piney woods smell wonderful. Driving down those roads, the scenery is salted with occasional clumps of some bush with red berries mixed among the evergreens.
And I am forever hopeful of surprising a bear or lion crossing the road. Haven’t done that yet, but I do frequently come across deer or turkeys.
Saturday, my encounter with a fine deer was too close for comfort. I’m sure  he said the same thing.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “Why does a round pizza come in a square box?”
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Not great news this week although I did managed somehow to lose 0.6 lbs. putting a halt to the rebound of my weight over the last few weeks.
I can think of a few things that contributed to that modest rebound: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. Also, when restricted to my home during cold bouts I tend to graze. It’s a hard habit to break. But I intend to stay with WW and get my lying digital scales headed in the right way again.
In the aggregate, I have lost a little over seven pounds. At one point I had lost nearly11 lbs.
Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street.
Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
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HE SAID: “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” Albert Ellis, psychologist
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SHE SAID: “Self esteem comes from doing something and accomplishing something.” Shari Lewis, entertainer
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Sailor’s Curfew

O come, all ye faithful
O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels!

 

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.
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THIS CHRISTMAS CAROL is the product of two Englishmen. The words were first written in Latin (Adeste Fidelis), and the tune was composed in the mid-1700s.
This is the first Christmas in many years when one song didn’t get between my ears and refuse to let go. In the past I’ve seized upon traditional songs or newfangled ones. I’d hear a song once on the radio, and then I was hooked.
Last year it was a song by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme (Oh, the weather outside is frightful), but Eydie went and died since then. My favorite Christmas songs are the traditional ones sung by some children or a capella by a large choir.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
Christ might have been born on Dec. 25, and he might have been born in April or July. It doesn’t matter, does it?
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I AM VERY SORRY, but I cannot resist telling you one personal Christmas story. On Christmas Eve 1964 I was standing the ‘mid watch’ (that’s from midnight until 4 a.m.) in the hangar bay of the USS Yorktown which was tied up in a Japanese port. Either Yokosuka or Sasebo. I can’t remember everything. The weather was cold as it usually is in Japan in December.
Most of us enlisted sailors had a curfew. Seems to me that we had to be back aboard by midnight or maybe 1 a.m. Anyway, curfew came and went and I walked my watch around the aircraft stored in the hangar bay. Things were quiet until some pore old sailor came stumbling up from the pier. He had possibly had a drink or two. As he approached the officer of the deck and the duty chief petty officer he was informed that he was late, and would be in just a wee bit of trouble.
Then the guy did something truly stoopid. He pushed the chief aside and ran into the dark insides of the ship.
“Go catch him,” the chief told me. In those days I could actually run, and I managed to catch the guy as he hid in a berthing space. I knew it was him because I saw some feet sticking out from under a blanket and those feet were wearing shoes.
So another sailor and I hauled him back to the officer of the deck, and they put him on ‘report.’ A few days later I had to be a witness at his Captain’s Mast (a trial). The captain busted the guy down a couple of pay grades, and sent him to the brig for a few weeks.
I’ve asked myself many times why I didn’t just tell the chief and the officer of the deck that I couldn’t find the guy. I still can’t give you an answer. I guess I just did what I was supposed to do.
After all, it wasn’t a big offense, but what made it bad was that he pushed the chief. Even on a ship as big as an aircraft carrier, you can’t go long without seeing every other sailor on the ship. For weeks it seemed that every time I turned around the Marine detachment was marching the brig’s inmates somewhere. That pore old sailor would catch my eye and telephathically send a messge: Why didn’t you just tell the chief petty officer of the watch that you couldn’t find me?
We humans never learn. It’s what we do after we’re caught that makes the offense worse.
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THANK YOU to somebody at Bluff Springs Church where a new sign pointing to the cemetery correctly spells cemetery. Not cemetary. I’m almost as fixated on the spelling of cemetery as I am on the correct use of the apostrophe.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Because this issue of “The Leader” went to press late Monday afternoon I couldn’t report on my weight loss/gain of the last week. The same will hold true for next week. But I’ll be back in January to confess how it’s going. Unfortunately for my digital scales, I’ve been going through a period of grazing. Both of my regular readers will remember that I wrote about the scales flashing messages instead of my weight. “Oh, it’s YOU again,” is the favorite message. My experience has been that the digital scales lie, lie, lie because I couldn’t possibly have gained THAT much weight.
Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow.
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HE SAID: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
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SHE SAID: “Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself, the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.” Ann Landers, advice columnist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Farewell to Icon

Away in a Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.
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THIS CHRISTMAS CAROL is one of the most popular in the English-speaking world. The words and tune were assembled from various sources over a considerable period of time, but the lyrics were first published in 1884 by an American religious publishing company. The tune has erroneously been attributed to the reformer Martin Luther, but a version of it may have been composed in his honor hundreds of years after his death. Imagine someone singing it to you, and enjoy.
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JIM HILL. Our friend was the son of a postmaster; grandson and great-grandson of state legislators. So, he already was inclined to some kind of public service when he moved back to his hometown.
Jim was buried last week. The church and visitation were bursting, and the governor spoke at his funeral.
Our Jim didn’t just become a state representative and a state senator, he became a GREAT state representative and state senator. His service to our area and his constituents would be hard to measure, but he also made friends and admirers in all corners of our state.
I loved his wit and his storytelling skills. He was incredibly underestanding about Arkansas affairs, and I would describe his knowledge of the world as being ‘encyclopaedic.’ He’d chuckle at my use of that term, but then he would gently make fun of me for using it. He had a way of bringing you back to earth.
Eagle Scout. Marine. Outstanding Alum of Henderson State University. Cattleman. Servant on many important boards and commissions. Few people have affected the lives of so many people as our friend, Jim.
I treasure the picture I took of him in his tractor on a hot summer day. He stopped bailing hay so that I could snap the pic. He has a cell phone to his ear. At that very moment he was Acting Governor of the State of Arkansas because he was President Pro Tempore of the Arkansas Senate, and both the governor and lieutenant governor were out of state. The cab of his John Deere became the Governor’s office.
I brag on him even though as a hellion teenager he kept some people awake on summer nights by ‘racking’ those loud exhaust pipes on his old black Mercury under the lights at the downtown tennis court.
Peace to his family, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.
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THE GEMINIDS Meteor Shower. I’ve gotten skittish about telling both of my regular readers about coming events in the heavens, so I didn’t mention the Geminid Meteor Shower which occurred late last week. When I’ve written lavishly about some cosmic event, it either turns out to be a dud, or we are overcast.
But just on the off-chance I might see some Shooting Stars, I went out on my patio at 3 a.m. one morning. Cold? I swear it was probably warmer in Greenland. I wore several layers of clothing, and sat out in a patio chair with my eyes upturned until my neck ached. This was one whole night before the best period began for seeing the meteors. I may or may not have seen several small, incredibly brief ones. And then there was one fine lime green shooter which went westward from straight overhead down to the 3 o’clock position. A fine sighting, and one good enough so that I could go back to my warm bed. People in other parts of the U.S. have reported great and multiple sightings. It would be just my luck they have a winning college football team, too.
I’m still in deep depression that Comet ISON disintegrated when it went around the sun. Just like the Razorbacks disintegrated when Bobby Palarmo’s Harley went around that curve in the Ozarks (I’m still trying to forget Bobby’s real last name).
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.”
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Unbelievable but true story emerges from Monday evening weigh-in. Lost five pounds last week, meaning that I have overcome the weight gained during a 2-week Thanksgiving eating binge. Weight loss total now is about 11.5 lbs. since initial weigh-in on Oct. 28.
I went out and celebrated with a pizza and fries.
Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow. Just kidding.
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HE SAID: “We are all so busy and so frantic that we don’t take the time to appreciate the stuff that surrounds us.” Nick Veasey, photographer
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SHE SAID: “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” Joyce Maynard, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: Watching Weight

By Louie Graves
Joy to the World
Joy to The world! the Lord has come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
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THIS CAROL is the North America’s most published Christmas song. Words were by an English hymn writer and were first published in 1719. The words were based upon Psalm 98, and actually refer to Christ’s triumphant return rather than to his first coming. The music is thought to be adapted from Handel’s “Messiah.”
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RE-ELECTED. Bruce Jackson of Lockesburg was recently re-elected to a term on the Arkansas Farm Bureau board of directors. Congrats and thanks for your service.
AND NOMINATED. Among the nominees for Class AA offensive football player of the year in Arkansas is Austin Kirkpatrick, the fine quick-footed quarterback of the Gurdon Go-Devils. He is the grandson of Jimmie Lou Kirkpatrick and the late Dale Kirkpatrick of Nashville. Congrats, and thanks for reminding me of Dale.
AND THE TRADITION continues. It’s been mucho years ago that JJ White began gathering Christmas cards to take to nursing home residents. She’d usually also include a small gift for each resident. She and her ‘helpers’ are doing it again this year. Sign a few Christmas cards and drop them off at the big box in front of Tollett’s Gifts (Melinda Bennett’s store) before Dec. 17. Thanks to JJ and Melinda.
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LET ME REPORT on the activities of the gasoline voucher project for cancer patients. Cancer has a devastating impact physically, emotionally and financially on the patient and family. My late wife and I discovered that. But we also discovered absolute wonder when some friends approached us and said “Don’t you buy gasoline.” They knew our buggy was making four and five round trips to Little Rock each week. They pooled resources and paid for our gasoline during the last months of her struggle. It meant a lot to our stretched budget, but meant even more to us that people knew about and cared about what we were going through.
After Jane died and I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself, I looked for a way to show my appreciation for our blessings. It came to me that I could help other people — via the gasoline vouchers — on their expenses going to doctor appointments, chemo and x-ray treatments, blood transfusions, etc., related to cancer.
I began raising money and purchased gasoline ‘cards’ with a local convenience store. I get the money from many sources — a Sunday School class, a Bible study group, youth groups, and other sympathetic citizens who have themselves experienced cancer expenses. These are people who care about the burdens of their fellow human beings and want to help. This is not charity — I have discovered that there are many people who are looking for ways to show support.
When a cancer patient or their caregiver comes to our office prior to making a trip for treatment, we give them a certificate or voucher for $20 worth of gasoline at Road Mart. The nice folks at Road Mart give them a soft drink to make the trip a little easier. It’s just more of people showing that they care.
As of the last time I exchanged cash for gas tickets with the folks at Road Mart, this project had raised more than $30,000 for the purchases. Every penny that comes in is used for the gasoline purchases. There is no audit or tax deduction. I keep it as simple as I can. Of course, the cancer patients and their families are also in our prayers.
If you are among those who have helped keep this project going — thank you, thank you. And if you know of someone who has to make trips for cancer treatment, send them to us for a gasoline voucher.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.”
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FILE THIS AWAY for next June or July when we’re desperate for a rain. All we need to do is have Gary Dan call his building renovation crew to come back to York Gary Autoplex for an outdoor project and it will rain, rain, rain every day they’re here.
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Like George Washington I cannot tell a lie. Gained 2+ pounds since last weigh-in, bringing my total weight loss to 7 pounds since re-joining WW. a little over a month ago Of course, this time period includes the aftermath of Thanksgiving and some absolutely lousy winter weather days  in which I couldn’t go for my daily 2-mile walk because I’m far to smart to go out in freezing temps. That left me a whole weekend to sit around and graze. I’m back on track again and expect to shed those pesky pounds.
Weight Watchers meets in the activities building at Ridgeway Baptist Church out on Peachtree Street. Weigh-in begins at 5, with lashing and flogging to follow. Just kidding.
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HE SAID: “The big artist keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools.” Thomas Eakins, artist
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SHE SAID: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth, author
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

Mine Creek Revelations: A Second Helping

By Louie Graves
OUR THANKSGIVING meal was to be at night, so at midday Thursday, daughter Julie and I went out in search of a modest burger to hold us until turkey time.
Nothing was open in Little Rock. Nothing. Not a McD’s or Burger King or Sonic. Zilch. Nada. Nein.
“Let’s look for a Chinese restaurant or some Mexican place,” I wisely suggested. “They’ll be open because immigrants don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.”
Wrong!
There’s only one ethnic group which still dislikes Thanksgiving, I would come to realize.
That would be Native Americans, because that particular holiday just reminds them of when the foreign devils came and took away their country and slurred their image by giving college sports teams names like Indians, and Warriors and Seminoles and Redmen.
Little Rock has only one Native American restaurant. It’s named “Sitting Bull’s Eat Shop.”
It is located in a large complex of horse skin wigwams downtown near the Presidential Library, and Thank Goodness it was open on Thanksgiving Day.
Sitting Bull’s Eat Shop wasn’t the perfect answer to our hunger, as it turned out.
Our tummies were growling as we threw back the flap of the teepee and tiptoed into the darkness inside.
“How! Circle your wagons and sit on the floor,” the Maitre d’Brave told us.
The menu was extremely limited. It had no writing, only crude pictures. Prices were listed in Wampum, not Dollars. Or, you were invited to trade trinkets for food. Ten percent more trinkets for groups of more than 8.
You could choose from buffalo horn soup. Pemmican burgers. Chipmunk jerky. Hawk eggs. Armadillo. Large and small dog, of course, and some other stuff you don’t want to even hear about.
We were seated on some fragrant bison skins on the floor.
“Hi, I’m Little Feather and I’ll be your waitress today,” a young woman said. She told us that in her tribal language her name meant “Small fluffy thing with quills pulled from bird’s backside.” She was wearing beaded buckskins and had a wicked-looking tomahawk tucked into her belt.
What’s the vegetable of the day? I asked.
“Corn,” she answered. “You call it corn. We call it maize.” (I know some of you out there will recognize this comment from an old TV commercial)
I selected the campfire-broiled prairie dog, extra crispy. Julie decided to try a half order of frog smothered with cattails, and a side order of tree stump slugs. While we were waiting for the screaming prairie dog to be skinned, we inspected our surroundings.
We were in the restaurant’s Little Bighorn Room. It was decorated with jawbones and scalps and had a large autographed picture of Tonto sitting astride Scout, his trusty pinto pony. There was a very large “Wanted: John Wayne” poster. Also, there was a large Washington Redskins NFL poster with a wide red stripe painted across the name.
Sitting Bull’s Eat Shop had both peacepipe smoking and non-peacepipe smoking sections, and we were unfortunately in the smokers’ room. A thick blue haze hung heavily in the air. It smelled vaguely familiar, like an Italian cooking herb or alfalfa. There were lots of customers, but we were the only ones not wearing warpaint and loincloths.
I’m sorry that practically every eating place feels obligated to offer some form of entertainment these days. Sitting Bull’s Eat Shop was no different. Right after the woven straw baskets containing our food were placed on our laps, a six-piece combo began thumping drums and blowing whistles. A man wearing elk antlers danced.
“Hey, hey, heya ha ha ha,” they chanted.
Outside, it began to thunder and rain.
“Happens practically every time he sings that song,” Little Feather chuckled as she stabbed our ticket to the floor with a war spear.
Since I was fresh out of wampum, I had to use a credit card. “Or we could work out a trade for some firewater and repeating rifles,” Little Feather slyly suggested.
“Ugh! Great White Father in Washington no like me give’um you firewater and rifles,” I told her in sign language, but I did leave an extra beaver pelt for a tip.
As Julie and I walked single-file toward the wigwam exit, Little Feather yelled “Stick around. Bingo starts in the Happy Hunting Ground Room in just a few minutes. We’re giving away a Chevy Silverado today.”
Maybe next Thanksgiving, I answered.
“Nah, we’re gonna start closing on holidays,” she said.
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THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.”
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FILE THIS AWAY for next June or July when we’re desperate for a rain. All we need to do is have Gary Dan call his building renovation crew to come back for an outdoor project and it will rain, rain, rain every day they’re here.
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WEIGHT WATCHERS. Unable to write about how I did over the past two weeks because of the conflict with Nashville’s Christmas Parade and Holiday Lighting in the Park. Also, last week’s weigh-in was cancelled by weather, and of course, Thanksgiving played a major role in whether I lost or gained weight. You’ll have to wait until next week to find out.
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HE SAID: “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” Tecumseh, Indian chief
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SHE SAID: “Thank God we’re living in a country where the sky’s the limit, the stores are open late and you can shop in bed thanks to television.” Joan Rivers, comic
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

MCR: Clark Kent’s Beard – Special Krypton blades needed for a close shave

OH, THE THINGS THAT come to me in the middle of the night!
Okay, I know that Superman’s REAL name was Kal-El, and that he was born on the planet Krypton. I know that his daddy, Jor-El, scientifically ciphered out that Krypton was going to explode, and he stashed little Kal-El on a homemade tiny baby rocketship. In my dream Jor-El looked a lot like that actor Marlon Brando, but that’s another story.
I know that the tiny baby rocketship ended up on the planet Earth where Kal-El was raised by a nice Kansas couple and was renamed Clark Kent. His adoptive father looked a lot like that actor Glenn Ford, but that’s another story.
I know he maintained a low profile during his schoolboy days, and he never, ever took advantage of the girls even though he could look right through anything with his X-Ray Vision.
I know he grew up and moved to Metropolis and got a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper where he somehow managed to keep Lois Lane from figgering out his real identity even though she was REAL determined. Lois looked a lot like that actress Margot Kidder, but that’s another story. Also, Clark couldn’t have been too smart if he wanted to be a newspaper reporter.
I’m guessing that Superman — er, Mr. Kent — finally started getting older.
I’m guessing also that he had to alter that skintight uniform just a bit at the waist, and he found some REAL STRONG dye to keep his hair (or at least the hair he had managed to keep) jet black. He probably had to comb it over that bald spot so he could keep the curl hanging perfectly over his forehead.
I’m guessing that he could no longer jump over tall buildings in a single bound unless he limbered up and groaned real loud. I’m guessing that he began flying slower and sometimes he forgot to properly signal that he was gonna make a turn.
What I DON’T know — and I think this is pretty important — is how he stayed so clean-shaven. Really, even a Gillette quadruple blade razor lubricated with Porter’s Lotion Shaving Soap probably couldn’t whack the whiskers that grew out of the face of the Man of Steel.
That leaves just a few alternative answers to this important question.
Maybe he didn’t even have a beard. But, come on, this is Superman and he probably had a barbwire beard tougher than Mike Tyson’s.
Maybe he was able to concentrate real hard and make the whiskers withdraw into his face (After all, you’ll remember that Lex Luthor was Superman’s sworn enemy and he didn’t have a hair on his head. Lex looked a lot like that actor Gene Hackman, but that’s another story).
Maybe Superman had a razor with a blade made of Kryptonite and somehow it was able to whack those whiskers.
In my dream I asked him about the beard.
He told me that he didn’t have a beard because he was afraid he’d end up on Duck Dynasty.
I always thought Superman wasn’t afraid of nothing.  But this was out of his very own mouth. I promise.
I wanted to ask him if he ever used his X-Ray Vision on Lois, but I woke up.
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SAGGING. Nashville is serious about this. A 20-year-old Mineral Springs guy was fined for the offense last week in District Court. See our court report this issue.
He was fined a total of $145 which includes court costs.
Gentlemen, pull up your pants.
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WEIGHT WATCHERS report.
I decided to go back to WW when the digital scales in my utility room began displaying tacky messages instead of numbers.
“Oh, it’s YOU again,” it once flashed in red letters when I stepped aboard.
My WW starting point was on Monday, Oct. 28 when I weighed XXX.X lbs.
Unfortunately, the weather forced cancellation of the Monday weigh-in this week. I’m almost positive I would have lost another pound or two. Or, maybe have gained juuuuust a little wee tiny bit. The bad news is that the next weigh-in will reflect what I did for Thanksgiving. No matter what it is, I’ll blab.
Weight Watchers has moved its meeting place to the Activities Building behind Ridgeway Baptist Church out on the Prescott highway. Weigh-in begins at about 5:30 with lashing and flogging to follow.
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NEXT WEEK. Since I’m having Thanksgiving dinner at night this year, I’ll go back to the Native American restaurant in Little Rock for Thursday noon lunch. I’ll give you a full report. Hopefully there will be something on the menu acceptable to WW Fearless Leader especially since she claims to be part Cherokee.
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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email:Hershey’s Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.”
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HE SAID: “Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have left me.” Anatole France, novelist
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SHE SAID: “I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect.” Madeleine L’Engle, novelist
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SWEET DREAMS, Baby