Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Life in the Fast Lane

I HATE TO DISPEL the notion some of you have about the sizzling quality of my life. Some of you believe that I live in a whirl of excitement accompanied by luscious damsels, going to meetings with important and rich people, and constantly on the move making mucho trips to exotic places.
Well, I do drive my pickup truck to some far off places. Like Buckner, Arkansas (Pop. 37), where Eddie Cobb and I once got lost for 45 minutes on the way to a football game. Buckner is so small it don’t even have an EZ Mart or a Mexican restaurant. It does, however, have two paved streets, but one of them is a state highway.
And, I’ve been to Bodcaw. Bet you haven’t.
But not all is glitter and glamour in the life of a newspaper columnist.
Take Saturday, for instance. It was an exciting day by my standards.
It started off with a trip to Walmart where I bought some Comet cleanser and some sponges.
I scrubbed my shower stall thoroughly with the aforementioned Comet. This was between 6:30 and 6:52 in the morning.
This is where the story really gets interesting.
I thought my shower stall was gray, but it wasn’t. It was really white underneath a certain amount of grime. But it’s scrubbed sanitation white now, and I’m hopeful that it will remain that way for another 8-10 years.
Best of all, the Comet left my shower stall smelling forest fresh. Even better, Comet now comes in a tall can with 20% more cleanser.
It’s hard to beat the thrill of scrubbing the bathroom on a Saturday morning.
My day even ended with excitement.
I came down with diarrhea that afternoon, but that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested.
Too much excitement isn’t a good thing.
OUR TOWN’S great problem continues to be illegal ‘J-Turns’ in the central business district. This is serious because it flies in the face of a law adopted by the city council more than two years ago. Our city fathers and mothers wanted to stop drivers from cutting across oncoming traffic in order to get to an open parking spot on the other side of the street.
J-Turns first came to Nashville in 1987 when a bigshot from New Boston wanted to drop off a big bag of trash and he spotted a downtown trash can.
When he cut across Main Street to get to the last open parking space in front of the Merle Norman Studio, he nearly ran over a pore ole widder woman. It gave her a case of the vapors and it took her three whole days to recover.
Stirred by that incident, and purely out of the goodness of my heart, I volunteered to be a Deputy J-Turn Ticket Officer. I applied to get my concealed handgun carry permit renewed, and out of my own pocket I purchased a camouflage uniform from an Army-Navy Surplus store (The only uniform that would fit my waist was a leftover Air Force uniform in pink, but that’s another story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested).
A Facebook Friend offered to buy me a chrome police whistle only if the city would issue me a real badge. That’s the equivalent of a 50-50 grant, I suppose.
It soon became obvious that the mayor was ignoring my generous offer, perhaps preferring to put his attention on minor items such as the city budget, the construction of a new sewer plant, and our town’s water needs for the next 20 years. Good intentions, however, are not going to stop J-Turns.
This recent rainy spate has made me realize that I am also going to need a yellow slicker suit to wear on wet days. I’m not young enough to stand out in the rain for long hours in order to catch some Texan trying to zip across Main Street unnoticed.
Standing out in the rain like that will give you diarrhea.
HEARD FROM. Juantez Calley shares my problem with squirrels getting into the birdfeeder. She suggests that I put some red pepper in with the birdseed. “It doesn’t bother the birds but the squirrels sure don’t like it.”
I don’t mind if the squirrels drop in for an occasional snack, but in reality they just take over the feeder and splatter food everywhere. I hate to see the songbirds sitting mournfully and silently on a fencepost watching the squirrels hog the feeder.
I also hate to think about what might spring up in my landscaping from the seeds that were spilled out of the birdfeeder.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) a forwarded email: Due to earth’s gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000 meters.
HE SAID: “I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a picture I’d buy a painting.” ANDY ROONEY, tv news commentator
SHE SAID: “The popular idea that a child forgets easily is not an accurate one. Many people go right through life in the grip of an idea which has been impressed on them in very tender years.” AGATHA CHRISTIE, novelist

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Can Brainwaves Defeat Squirrels?

ANIMAL CRACKERS. One of our town’s fine, fine surgeons, Dr. Luis Barandiaran, has a regular visitor.
He hears a knocking, maybe more like a scratching, at a side door and he knows who is outside.
The visitor is a bright, bright squirrel that has learned to make a house call at the doctor’s door and be rewarded with a peanut or a pecan. These visits amuse Dr. B and he gives a treat to this clever squirrel. The critter actually comes inside the door a few steps in order to get the treat.
The squirrel is lucky Dr. B is a vegetarian, otherwise — squirrel stew.
GOT ANOTHER squirrel story.
Friday was a significant day in addition to being Good Friday.
Friday, April 2, 2015, was the day I officially surrendered to my own squirrels.
I have tried every trick known to people who try to feed birds only.
I have spent thousands of dollars and welfare stamps on squirrelproof bird feeders.
I have hung those aforementioned squirrelproof bird feeders on poles which have been liberally greased to prevent traction by little squirrel feet.
I have even hung those aforementioned squirrelproof bird feeders under the eaves of my house where it has to be virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a dadgum squirrel to get to the birdseed unless it could arrive by helicopter.
Yet, they always find a way. Not only have they found a way to get to the bird feeder, they have actually knocked it to the ground twice, spilling all the goodies which were meant for the birdies. The last time they knocked the bird feeder to the ground it broke apart.
I’m not buying another one. And to the sweet little birds I just have one thing to say: ”Tough luck!”
Be mad at the squirrels, not at me.
This rehashing of Animal Crackers reminds me that my patio woodpecker is back, and has renewed its attack on the metal mirror which hangs on my fence.
IT TOOK SIX phone calls to various Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department offices before I could find someone who would speak to me ‘on the record’ about the Adopt-a-Highway sign just north of Temperanceville Baptist Church on Highway 278.
The sign says that the next mile is kept litter free by the Southwest Arkansas Paranormal Society.
I am naturally gifted with both modesty and Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), and I shouldn’t have to ask. But I did. Who are these paranormal people who are keeping our highways so pristine? Do they know I am thinking about them?
A lady at one undisclosed highway office said she could neither confirm nor deny that such a group exists. I threatened to reveal her identity. “What if I wrote that I got answers from a lady whose name begins with a D and ends with a W?” She said it was not fair because the paranormals’ thought-transference they could fill in the blanks with no trouble. And they might also come get me in the middle of the night. She also said she would tell her husband.” He might come get you, too,” she growled through clenched teeth.
Nothing lasts forever. That’s another clever saying that I just made up.
Picking up the litter was a good idea; but not one that was easy for the paranormals to keep. The top guy at the AHTD told me that the sign is coming down because the paranormals haven’t exactly been setting records picking up litter.
The guy at AHTD did say that the Adopt-a-Highway program saves Arkansas taxpayers a bundle because even with volunteers Arkansas must spend $5 million a year to keep roadsides presentable.
He hung up on me when I suggested that maybe the paranormals already know who was throwing out litter, and they could become litter informants.
If I ever get deputized to give out tickets for J-Turns in downtown Nashville, maybe I can also be an undercover roadside litter detection officer on weekends.
(This is a veiled threat to the mayor of the city of Nashville: If he persists in delaying deputizing me, I might just offer my services to the sheriff full-time and forget about the war on J-Turns.)
SUDDEN SPRING: Was it just my imagination or did we leap into green spring real fast? A week ago there was just a little green fuzz on tree limbs. Now they’re nearly completely leafed-out. I love the contrast in greens at this time of year. By late June all trees will be the same shade of green. Pine.
And don’t get me started on pollen.
DON’T MISS one of our community’s iconic events. Friday, from 11-1, is the annual Evely Ramsay Tasting Brunch put on by our Junior Auxiliary chapter. They take donations and turn the money into great projects for youngsters.
HE SAID: “Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, emperor
SHE SAID: “I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again.” JOAN RIVERS, comedienne


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A Fly in the Car

FRIDAY, MARCH 20 is officially the first day of Spring.
I fully expect to look out my window that morning and see that the grass is already knee high.
What are some of the side-effects of the voluminous rainfall we’ve had? Well, in addition to the previously mentioned grass, I’ve had a fly inside my buggy for the past two days. He says he’s an advance scout. I believe him.
Skeeters. Reckon they’ll be bad? As bad as at Ashdown? Naw.
A SURE SIGN of the End Times: Eddie Cobb is a grandfather.
INTERNET SURFING. I came across “Archaeology,” a publication by the American Archeological Society. There was an article about rock art created by Commanche warriors.
Heck, their stick figures aren’t any better than mine.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE. The new state commission which was mostly appointed by the legislature and the governor, and whose budget is approved by the legislature, has okayed a 150% pay increase for the legislators.
Boy, our new Republican legislature is really getting serious about reducing government spending. For everyone else.
Yes, a 150% pay raise. Plus retirement and insurance coverage which I’ll bet is better than anything you can afford.
And somehow, Amendment 94 which extended legislative terms and promised to end gifts and drinks and dinners from lobbyists has many loopholes. Amendment 94, incidentally, was referred to the voters by the legislature.
There are still lots of freebies for the Ledge from special interests seeking to influence the lawmakers.
HERE IT IS five months after the death of Bill Fritts, and people still get weepy thinking about the deceased ‘best friend’ of so many.
Saturday morning’s memorial to Bill drew more than 50 or so people to “The Source” store showroom on Main Street. The memorial gathering was supposed to be a part of the kickoff for the 2015 Relay for Life — entirely appropriate because of Bill’s support for the event and the Cancer Society. But bad weather cancelled the Relay kickoff ceremony.
Nothing could cancel the gathering to honor Bill Fritts, though.
I was there in the capacity of a newsman and as a great admirer of Bill Fritts.
One of the best public speakers I know — Randy Hughes — was the keynote speaker, and Relay organizer Joanna Howard said that there was talk of organizing a Relay for Life team named in honor of our Bill. Friends and family members shared memories of Bill, and it was both a joyous and a sad time.
Peace to his family and ‘best friends, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening the mail:
When we line up for a race, why do we count to three?
Because the count to three is the least amount needed for our brain to establish timing.
The time needed to count One-Two establishes the rate for how quickly we get to Three.
I guess it’s the same for:
“On your mark. Get set. Go.”
What about:
Woooo. Pig. Soooey.
IN ANOTHER NEWSPAPER. From “The Way it Was” feature in Monday’s Texarkana Gazette was a jewel subtitled 50 years Ago: “Coach Ralph Bell awarded letters to 11 girls for the 1964-65 basketball season. The Lady Hornets have had a successful season, with 17 wins and 6 losses. Receiving blankets were Pam Norwood, Joyce Palmer and Carolyn Winchester. Receiving sweaters were Brynda Nutt, Elaine Wright, Becke Corbell, Rosa McCauley, Lynnda Winchester, Becky Bridgeman and Cheryl Jones. Sherry McCullough received a jacket.”
Thanks to the Gazette for letting me reprint this. I loved seeing those names again, especially that of the late, wonderful Ralph Bell who coached and taught for many decades there. A year ago or so, a friend spotted an item in the same column mentioning my great-uncle.
I’ll bet some of those girls still have their Lady Hornet blankets.
IN TOWN. Seen in our town last Thursday was Greg Bourns, former president of what was then Citizens National Bank, now Bear State Bank. Greg is living up in the Ouachita Mountain elevations of Mena and he is still in banking.
Lots of people don’t know that the quiet and modest Greg was a U.S. Marine Corps jet fighter pilot.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) someone’s forwarded email: In ancient times strangers shook hands to show that they were unarmed.
HE SAID: “Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” JOHANN WOLFGANG von GOETHE, writer
SHE SAID: “When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor.” ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, First Lady

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: In Awe, Again

IN AWE. As award presenters made their comments about the persons who were about to get the awards, last Tuesday night at the annual Nashville Chamber of Commerce awards banquet, once again I was just floored at the wonderful things some citizens do for our community.
Congratulations to our community’s Freddy Horne, Kristy Vines, Cheryl Power and Reeder McCullough on their awards; and a big ‘thank you’ to the presenters whose speeches caused me to appreciate again some wonderful citizens we lost in 2014 — Bill Fritts and Dr. Robert Sykes, who received memorial awards.
Notable that the people who presented the awards, and the people who received them, almost all commented that they were so happy to live in a community like ours.
The comments got me to thinking where the honored citizens hailed from, and that is the reason for the ‘angle’ of this newspaper’s story about the awards given out at the annual Nashville Chamber of Commerce banquet. The ‘angle’ is that many of the winners were not homegrown.
For some reason this town has been blessed with a double serving of liveliness.
‘We’ no sooner had enjoyed another successful Scrapper Showdown, than it was time for the chamber awards banquet, which was great. Then it was time for the Howard Memorial Hospital Foundation gala, also great. All events were well-attended and were successful fund-raisers. And none of that just happened. We are blessed with talented organizers, volunteers, and people and businesses to support those efforts.
What’s left to enjoy as a community this spring? Well, the Junior Auxiliary luncheon, for one, Husqvarna’s annual benefit fishing tournament and the Rotary Telethon, the latter two to benefit the Children’s Center.
What am I stoopidly leaving out?
There have been all kinds of recent and successful fund-raisers and events to benefit organizations and individuals. And there will be more. It’s that kind of community.
I am just floored, and grateful.
HEARD FROM. Former Scrapper Bobby Jones, who is also a former MS football Hornet assistant coach, remembers a great Hornet, the late Elwood Brooks, who got a scholarship to play at UA and later transferred to Henderson where he was an exceptional hurdler on the Reddie track team.
Bobby reminded me of an Elwood story (and, let’s be honest: there are a BUNCH of Elwood stories). He once returned a punt about 120 yards for a touchdown for the Hornets. He received the punt in his own end zone, zigzagged around behind his own goal from sideline to sideline a few times, then managed to find enough daylight to scoot upfield. Not many people could catch Elwood once he got going. Can you imagine how the opposing coach felt when he saw Elwood evade tacklers and squirt into the open? Can you imagine how the Hornet coach felt as he watched Elwood run around in his own endzone?
Practically each week someone recalls another Scrapper, Hornet, Rattler or Outlaw who went on to play a lot or a little football as a Razorback. Tell me whom I’ve missed. I’ll print the compiled list soon.
I DON’T KNOW MUCH about art, but I know what I like. That’s paraphrasing somebody famous, isn’t it?
One artist whose work is not exactly at the top of my list is Pablo Picasso. Just too strange for my taste, and I’ll be the first to admit that my taste might be just a teeeny bit strange in itself.
But a lot of people really like Picasso. Really, really like him.
They like him so much that Picasso is the most stolen artist of all time, according to an outfit called the Art Loss Register.
A total of 1,147 of Picasso’s paintings have been stolen at least once. Many of them never recovered.
And that reminds me — another thing that makes our community unique is the Elberta Arts Center. My sincere thanks to the volunteers who keep the place going.
And — speaking of art — I am also reminded that a Fabulous Fishee from the Fin Fence of Fame was among the items up for grabs in the silent auction at the chamber banquet. I heard (it was a silent auction so the amount was whispered) that it sold for thousands of dollars. Maybe that is an exaggeration. Just a teeensy bit.
Picasso used oils and sable hair brushes from la-tee-da fancy art supply places.
The artist who produced the Fabulous Fishee used spray paint and masking tape from Home Improvement Center and Western Auto.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) someone’s forwarded email: If you get into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day.
HE SAID: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” HENRY DAVID THOREAU, American author and philosopher
SHE SAID: “I believe that you should gravitate to people who are doing productive and positive things with their lives.” NADIA COMANECI, olympic gymnast

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: In The Sky

LOOKING FOR HOGS. Spurred by a Facebook request from Danny Power, a Nashville native now forced to live in North Carolina, I’m compiling a list of locals who played football at the University of Arkansas. The list grows slowly.
So far I’ve heard about Ronny Blakely, Jared McBride, John L. Shaddox, Michael Benson, Billy Wepfer, Dr. Mage Honeycutt, Charles Sharp, Craig White, Mark Stavely and Tyler Serrano. Some of these were regulars; some were on the practice squad.
Of course, Scrapper LaMichael Pettway is the most recent signee and we hope he has a great career, earns his degree and represents his hometown well. I don’t think Coach Bielema will let him put a Scrapper Star on the side of the red helmet.
Something is tickling my memory about Bobby Cowling, a West Sunset Street Scrapper, who played (I’m sure) at Rice, and maybe also played at Arkansas (that sort of things happened in those days, and Bobby was well before my time).
But I also asked for names of other area football greats who went on to wear the Hog hat, and the list includes Marlin St. John of Dierks, Stanley Mitchell of Mineral Springs, and Steve Birdwell and Ray Terrrell, both of Murfreesboro.
Ayers Field at Dierks is named after an Outlaw great, James H. ‘Red’ Ayers,who was the first athlete in Razorback history to earn letters in four sports in a single year. As a sophomore, he played halfback for the football team, was on the conference champion basketball team, was an outfielder on the baseball team and threw the javelin on the track team.
Tell me others.
I’m sorry I didn’t note the exact time, but to the best of my knowledge, something really strange happened at about 8 p.m. Wednesday of last week.
I was sitting on my patio with a couple of friends, and we were enjoying a flickering firepit and brilliant conversation. Our attention turned to the stars in the clear sky. After a bit, my friends turned their attention back to the firepit, but I kept looking upward.
And that’s when I saw something like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
It lasted about a second and a half, I’m guessing. It occurred directly overhead.
This is what it looked like (and if by chance you saw this please let me know): It was as something like a flare dropped straight down from the heavens. There was no meteor ‘trail’ crossing the sky. Whatever this was suddenly got three or four times larger and turned bright yellow. Then it disappeared. There was no sonic boom or any explosion sound. My two friends missed it altogether.
I was so impressed with the event that I found my way to an online site called the American Meteor Society. They ask for reports of ‘fireball’ sightings. Maybe that’s what I saw. I answered their questionnaire as best as I could. Now they are looking for confirmation of what I saw and ….. “we’ll get back to  you.”
Whatever it was, I’ve not seen anything remotely like it in my many, many years of amateur skywatching.
And I have not heard back from the American Meteor Society.
SOMETHING GOOD has come from that meteor that streaked across Russian skies two years ago before exploding and causing lots of damage and injuries.
Some perfessers lots of smarter than me say they STILL don’t have any idea where the meteor came from.
Some astronomers and eddycated folks are so worried about the meteor’s surprise visit that the European Space Agency will try to form an early alert system to look out for  threatening meteors and astroids.
I hate it when perfessors on those TV shows about asteroids say “not IF an asteroid hits Earth, but WHEN.”
LA LA LAND. Out in California, the state senate is having to lay off employees.
At the same time, however, they are spending more than a half-million bucks for updating cars for the senators to drive around Sacramento when the senate is in session.
When the senators return to their home districts, they have other state-owned vehicles.
Since it seems that our state legislators are taking pretty good care of themselves, too, I hope that they don’t notice California’s ‘economizing measures.’
I thought that Amendment 94’s intent was to stop lobbyists and deep-pocket organizations from buying influence with legislators. It didn’t take long for the sharks to find ways around the intent of that law.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded emails: Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.
HE SAID: “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER, researcher
SHE SAID: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, author


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Hogs from Here

HEARD FROM. Nashville native Danny Power is living in retired splendor in North Carolina but keeps up with his old hometown and the Razorbacks. He was excited to read that Scrapper LaMichael Pettway had signed with the Hogs, and he wanted me to research other Scrappers who put on that red helmet with the Hog on the side.
He asked this question on Facebook and I gave a brief answer. It was uncharacteristically brief because I didn’t know much. Other FB readers from here joined in with names.
Off the top of my head I could remember Ronny Blakely, Jared McBride, John L. Shaddox, Michael Benson, and I remembered, vaguely, Billy Wepfer who played for both the Razorbacks and the US Naval Academy long, long ago. Other names suggested were Craig White and Tyler Serrano, both of whom were on the UA practice squad.
So, let’s expand this list. And I’d like names of other area football greats who went on to wear the Hog hat. I do remember the late Marlin St. John of Dierks and Stanley Mitchell of Mineral Springs. Steve Birdwell of Murfreesboro was in school there during my days on campus, and another Rattler was Ray Terrell who attended last year’s reunion of the 1964 National Champs team. Ayers Field at Dierks is named after an Outlaw great who played at UA. His first name is just out of my mental reach but his nickname was “Red,” I believe.
Tell me of others who were Razorbacks.
Danny, incidentally, was NHS class of ’64; retired after 20-plus years as Navy pharmacist. He sez in his career he was mostly attached to the Marine Corps. He’s from a great Nashville family. The Power kids included, in descending order, Glen, my classmate Bobby, Jimmy, Danny, and sister Mary who lives with Danny in NC. Glen and Jimmy are deceased and were much-honored citizens of our town. Bobby retired at Bentonville where he was the high school bandmaster.
HEARD FROM, too. Another bird-and-mirror tale. It was related to us at ‘The Leader’ office, Thursday, by Ida Kesterson of Dierks. She said there was once a determined bluebird that kept after the mirror on her vehicle. She didn’t say, but I’m guessing that the mirror finally won.
PEACE, AT ANY PRICE? Someone asked me if I had officially surrendered in my effort to bring J-Turn drivers to justice. Nope, just taking a break. I can’t help but notice that the number of J-Turns has NOT decreased. If someone were to get a ticket from a Nashville officer, they would have to appear in District Court  where their fine would be forgiven so long as they did not sin again.
The intent was to gain some time so that drivers could become educated that J-Turns are forbidden on Nashville’s Main Street between the Post Office and the railroad tracks.
The problem is that Nashville police are no longer giving J-Turn tickets, so no one is learning the ‘hard’ way that it’s against the law.
I promise to resume the war.
HEAVENS, YES. That incredibly bright planet which rises shortly after sunset is Jupiter. If you’re up real real early next week, and you look at the waning sliver of the moon, you will also see Saturn nearby. I confess to being ignorant about stars, planets and the universe, but that doesn’t keep me from being curious and appreciative of the Almighty’s handiwork.
I haven’t tried to find Comet Lovejoy in recent weeks, and I suppose it is no longer visible. It was a thrill to ‘find’ it amongst all of the other wonders in the night sky.
HOW SICK WAS HE? Well, I didn’t die but it was a close call. I did not have the flu but was down with some kind of epizootic for more than a week. I’m still possessed by a persistent cough.
When I’m sick I eat constantly and I am compelled to do housework. Really. Since I’m already feeling bad it don’t make me feel any badder to dust, mop, vacuum and generally clean. This time I even wiped down cabinet faces in bathrooms and kitchen with some kind of fragrant oil.
Felt good enough to get out for fresh air Saturday, and took a drive up to the Cossatot River State Park Natural Area, one of my favorite places. Navigator and I drove down the dusty, narrow roads to the Ed Banks Access low water bridge (which is closed) and we sat out in the sunshine for about an hour until the cold wind made us admit our cowardice.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded emails: The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.
HE SAID: “The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look or heartfelt compliment.” SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, author
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

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Roadrunner duh

HEARD FROM. Patsy Young read last week’s thrilling Mine Creek Revelations masterpiece about the woodpecker seeing itself in the mirror. In that MC Revelation, I asked readers if they had any personal tales about animals and mirrors.
She recalls that one warm afternoon perhaps 15-20 years ago — maybe longer — her father, the late Fletcher Harris, left the driver’s side window rolled down in his venerable Dodge pickup truck which was parked outside the family home up in the Fellowship Community.
She says that a roadrunner (this was back in the day when we actually did have birds such as roadrunners and quail in these parts) walked up to the truck and leaped upon the window sill. The bird proceeded to admire himself or herself in the adjacent mirror. It would do this for awhile, then it would sorta pace back-and-forth on the widow sill. Patsy thinks this may have been some sort of mating ritual dance performed to please the bird in the mirror. The Harrises have always been Baptists and don’t hold much with dancing, though.
The bird visited Mr. Harris’s Dodge pickup’s window sill daily “for months and months, maybe even a year,” she recalls. The Harris family would gather on the porch in the evening to watch the charming routine. Back-and-forth it would go; then, stop and admire itself for awhile before resuming the back-and-forth.
Then the bird was gone, just like our roadrunners and quail of today.
Where did they all go? Companies spraying? Coyotes? Fire ants? Radio reporters?
Your guess is as good as mine, and probably better. It’s fine to have a roadrunner that admires itself in a mirror; it’s even better if you’ve got a dancing roadrunner.
And I repeat my invitation for you to tell me about an animal and a mirror.
rATTLEr. Really? For both of my Pike readers.
MORE ANIMAL CRACKERS. I have continued to observe ‘my’ redheaded woodpecker and its antics at the stainless steel ship’s mirror which hangs in the corner of my backyard fence under a loquat tree.
At first, this bird just flung itself at the mirror. After a day or so of this, the redhead began clinging to the side of the mirror and pecking at the reflection.
One evening I watched until nearly dark and the bird never left. Never let up.
Finally, another bird — either its mate or a friend of the family — joined my woodpecker on a branch of the loquat. The duo sat together for a few minutes then they flew off together. It was if the second bird was saying: “They’ve sent me to bring you home.”
But the next morning when I put out peanuts for the bluejays, the woodpecker was back under the loquat, hellbent upon destroying that intruder in the mirror.
When Patsy Young told me last week about her father’s roadrunner, her husband, David, almost ripped the phone from her hands so that he could tell me that last year — this occurred at at least two homes in the Fellowship community — dozens of cardinals flung themselves at windowpanes until they died.
Thanks for that cheery bit of information, David. With an outlook like that you ought to write children’s songs.
AND SOME MORE Animal Crackers.
Earlier this week up in Pennsylvania, ‘Punxsutawney Phil’ emerged from his den and saw his shadow. By tradition that means we’ll have six more weeks of winter.
I say it’s high time we took out a contract on that overgrown rat. I’m ready for spring. Seems to me that several people told me that the persimmons had ‘spoons’ inside the fruit this year, meaning that we would be shoveling snow. As usual, the snow prediction was wrong.
And I’m still waiting on Tiny Lewis to bring me his Official Honeysuckle Lane Old Oak Tree Winter Weather Prediction for 2013-2014. As Tiny always sez, the best way to keep your winter weather prediction from being wrong is to to ‘forget’ to give the prediction in the first place.
FURTHERMORE: a loquat tree is a hardy decorative relative of the lemon tree. It sometimes has fruit which resembles lemons.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded emails: Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.
HE SAID: “I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with the greatest caution.” WERNHER VON BRAUN, rocket scientist
SHE SAID: “When all the world appears to be in a tumult, and nature itself is feeling the assault of climate change, the seasons retain their essential rhythm. Yes, fall gives us a premonition of winter, but then, winter, will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring.” MADELEINE M. KUNIN, governor of Vermont and diplomat

Mine Cree Revelations by Louie Graves: Mr. Squirrel’s Trip

ANIMAL CRACKERS. Mr. Squirrel was already in a bad mood when he set out from the treetop nest on the way to Louie’s backyard birdfeeder.
He was in a bad mood because Louie had cut down some pine trees in the side yard last fall. Those trees and their long sturdy limbs had provided Mr. Squirrel and his relatives with an Interstate to the backyard birdfeeder for several years. Now the trees were gone, and it meant he had to climb down from his treetop nest in Louie’s neighbor’s yard; follow a safe path along the ground — always being alert for those sneaky dogs — then climb back up on Louie’s roof to get on the Interstate. From there it was a fairly quick and relatively safe trip along the top of the patio fence; past the colorful fish Louie had hung there in summer months; under the lowquat tree in the corner and suddenly he’d be at the birdfeeder. Dinner time.
Bless his heart, Louie kept the birdfeeder full of sunflower seeds. Most days, anyway.
Mr. Squirrel always ran the fencetop route pretty quick. When he could, he stayed on the flat horizontal board which linked the fenceposts. It was about a foot under the tops of the fence planks which were on both sides of the board.
This meant that Mr. Squirrel was safe from any winged predators and he remembered the scary tales Momma Squirrel had told about one of his uncles being plucked from the top of a fence post by some huuuuuge bird with beady eyes and bad breath.
Mr. Squirrel loved those sunflower seeds. He wouldn’t hesitate to run off any of those little chirping birds fluttering around the feeder. Mr. Squirrel could shinny up the slender black birdfeeder pole; grip the birdfeeder tray and help himself to the seeds.
When his squirrel tummy got full he just climbed backward down the pole. He dashed to the corner of the patio fence and climbed up the entrance ramp to the Interstate.
He made the trip several times each day. And he wasn’t the only one. Cousin Squirrel and his whole family also were plump on sunflower seeds.
One day something terrible happened when Mr. Squirrel climbed the birdfeeder pole. As he climbed up the pole to grip the feeder tray, some kind of sticky substance got all over his paws. It was sticky and yucky and he couldn’t grip the pole. That doggone Louie had smeared gobs of vaseline on the pole.
For several days Mr. Squirrel moped around on the ground, eating what few seeds those danged little birds spilled.
Then, being a clever squirrel, he realized that he could hang upside down on the fence by griping the board with his back paws. He’d dangle himself just above the tray with the seeds. Once again he could eat to his heart’s content.
That worked for awhile but then that doggone Louie smeared more vaseline on the fence plank.
Mr. Squirrel landed on his punkin head the first time he slid down the fence. That’s why he was mad.
Just give me some time, he said to himself smugly. I’ll figger out how to get to those seeds. There’s not a human or bluejay I can’t outwit.
Just a note about Mr. Squirrel. One of his ancestors invented the Squirrel Two-Step. That’s the dance they do when they are in your lane of traffic and can’t make up their mind which way to run. A-one, and A-two, and A-one and …..
rATTLEr. Really? For both of my Pike readers.
MORE ANIMAL CRACKERS. A few years ago I was given two mirrors which had been salvaged from an old navy vessel and sold at a garage sale somewhere down in Texas. I guess the giver figgered I needed the mirrors because I served in the Navy (little did she know that the Navy has been trying to take back my Good Conduct Medal).
I hung the mirrors on the fence around my pool. One of them was hung in the clear; one was under a tree which grew over the fence. They serve no purpose other than to reflect light and the blooming landscape during appropriate months.
Sunday I heard a racket in my back yard. Went outside and watched in amazement as a woodpecker squawked and squawked, and attacked its own image in the mirror.
I’ve seen robins do this before, but never a redheaded woodpecker. The bird was tireless … and fearless. It never won an encounter with the bird in that shiny stainless steel mirror, but it never backed down until I scared it away.
What kind of birds or animals have you seen that attacked their own images in a mirror or windowpane?
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded emails: The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.
HE SAID: “I wake up in the morning, I do a little stretching exercises, pick up the horn and play.” HERB ALPERT, trumpet player
SHE SAID: “For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.” REBA McENTIRE, singer


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Never Forget Him

JUST NAMES ON the cold gray monument.
Our county veterans’ service officer, Milton Puryear, promises to loan me a book about a local sailor who was killed in WWII.
The book, “A Blue Sea of Blood,” was published in 2008. It is subtitled: “Deciphering the Mysterious Fate of the USS Edsal.”
Aboard that Navy destroyer when it disappeared in late February or early March of 1942 was Sam Cassady of Nashville. Our country still doesn’t know what happened to the ship. Doesn’t know exactly when it it slid under the waves of the South Pacific in the Java Sea.
Reportedly, the Japanese navy picked up a few survivors; interrogated them; and then executed them. Other survivors were reportedly left to their fates in the water.
“I’m sure his family held out hope that he’d walk out of a Japanese prisoner of war camp after the end of the war,” Milton told me.
Shortly after the war was over, though, the sailors of the Edsal were all officially declared dead by the U.S. government.
His death wasn’t the last that the family would suffer while defending our shores in WWII.
On Howard County’s courthouse lawn monument to our war dead, Sam Cassady’s name is only one line away from that of his brother, Elvin, who fought in Europe with the Army.
Elvin’s outfit got to within 40 or so miles of Berlin late, late in the war. Just two days before his outfit was ordered to stop advancing, he was killed by artillery fire. That would have been in 1945. “Hitler was still alive at the time,” Milton notes. The Americans were held back so that the Russians could enter Berlin first and take their savage revenge.
On the book cover of “A Blue Sea of Blood” is a photograph of the crew of the USS Edsal, wearing their immaculate ‘dress whites’ and clustered around the front gun mount of the ship. The faces — they are still so young and excited. Milton doesn’t know if Sam Cassady was in that group pic.
Those soldiers and sailors like the Cassadys were just boys. How would our lives be different if they had survived and raised their own families and helped form our community? If the Cassadys had survived the war they would now both be very old men. Instead, they are forever fuzzy-cheeked boys who had dreams of a normal future.
The brothers and their compatriots were all heroes we should never forget.
COMET LOVEJOY. It was a real struggle to find.
I had a good idea of where it was supposed to be, but could not find it for the longest. For several clear nights over and over without success I scanned the area where it was supposed to be. I used two different pairs of binoculars and also with the naked eye. The latter could have been my problem. I had read that the comet was the same brightness of any of the four stars that make up the cup of the Big Dipper. Wrong. Maybe someone else could have seen it with the naked eye but not me.
Finally, Friday night, I sat in a comfortable patio chair and used binoculars for one more sweep of the heavens. I was at the point of giving up.
And there it was. A greenish smudge just west of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades). I went out again Saturday night and looked at the spot again just to make sure my imagination wasn’t tricking me. And there it was again.
Both nights my viewing time was about 9:30 and the comet was practically directly overhead. Hope that helps you find it.
Lovejoy is now traveling away from our sun and will disappear soon. Won’t be back for about 8,000 years.
rATTLEr. Really? For both of my Pike readers.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. Killed by my heavy left foot in our office, Thursday morning, was a scorpion. I described it as a giant mankiller, but our John Balch said that it was teeny-weeny and that I was a ‘sissy’ for stomping on it so gingerly two times. Heck, I was afraid it would sting me through the thin sole of my worn-out shoe.
AND on my night drive to Newhope last week I witnessed another large owl fly low across the road, caught in the beams of my headlight.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded emails: Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn’t smoke unless it’s heated above 450F.
HE SAID: “How far that little candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, writer
SHE SAID: “Maturity: Be able to stick with a job until it is finished. Be able to bear an injustice without having to get even. Be able to carry money without spending it. Do your duty without being supervised.” ANN LANDERS, advice columnist


A Double Shot of Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves

A Foodie Tradition (Dec. 31, 2014)
BROCCOLI CASSEROLE. That is my small family’s tradition for Christmas dinner. It’s something we got from Jane’s father who always insisted on a giant steak, baked potato and broccoli casserole instead of what I had been accustomed to — which was basically a replay of Thanksgiving dinner.
One thing we learned over the years here is that apparently lots of people want broccoli casserole at Christmas. At least that’s what we told ourselves every year when the available supply of frozen broccoli so quickly disappeared from freezers of the succession of grocery stores we’ve had here since 1970. One year, in fact, we did without the casserole because there was no broccoli left in town.
We learned from that experience. Several weeks before Christmas each year, Jane or I would beat the rush and bring home several packages of frozen broccoli. At some point, it became hard to get good broccoli. The only stuff available was usually some unknown brand, and the package contained just barely-recognizable scraps of broccoli plant stems. Newvertheless, the tradition continued.
Since 2007 I’ve taken Christmas dinner at daughter’s place and she’s always taken care of the broccoli dish. But this year we decided to do Christmas here. “I’m already looking forward to the broccoli casserole,” daughter said excitedly over the phone. “You pick up the ingredients and I’ll fix it at your place.”
Dread crept into my head: What if there’s no broccoli in town? What if there’s only a miserable selection of offbrand, unrecognizable broccoli stems?
This bothered me so much that I got up in the middle of the night and drove to Walmart. I saw some packages of broccoli. Grabbed two. Then I saw more packages by another brand two steps down the aisle. “What the heck, I’ll get a bunch of broccoli.”
Later that day, when most adult humans were up, I called daughter to tell her that I had bought a bunch of broccoli. She had me read the label. It said that the broccoli was ‘steamable,’ and that scared her. What if it’s not the right kind? She’s not exactly the broccoli casserole expert her mother was.
So, in the middle of the next night I drove out to Walmart again and got two more packages of broccoli. There was no mention of steamable on them.
Two days later I was doing my usual grocery shopping at Brookshire’s when I noticed packages of broccoli in the freezer. Old compulsive Louie bought two more packages.
If you’re counting, that’s eight packages of broccoli which I’ve stuffed into every corner of my refrigerator’s small freezer (it’s the only freezer this bachelor has).
Christmas came and went. Daughter and granddaughter came and went. Julie fixed a great broccoli casserole. I made her promise not to mention that we still had four packages of broccoli in the freezer because I had heard some people out in town grumbling about not being able to find broccoli this year.
Well, there was one thing I could do with all that broccoli. I had saved a recipe for broccoli cheese soup which I saw on Facebook (remember boys and girls, don’t believe every thing you read on Facebook, email or Twitter). The recipe said this was delicious, and that was a lie.
I started assembling ingredients for crockpot broccoli cheese soup and I was not the slightest bit worried about having enough broccoli.
So there I was in my kitchen, Saturday, cubing cheese, dicing onions and chopping broccoli feverishly when a truly unfortunate thing happened.
Truly unfortunate.
Old college pal Eddie Cobb dropped by to modestly share some of his immense wisdom. We stood and talked while I put the ingredients into the crockpot.
On his way out the back door, Eddie observed that the soup would cook a lot faster if I plugged the crockpot into the electrical outlet.
YEAR END REPORT on the cancer patient gasoline voucher project. There’s no audit and no tax deduction. I gather funds from some generous friends, a Sunday School class at Immanuel Baptist Church, a neighborhood weekly Bible study group, and others.
The funds are for cancer patients’ travel expenses to chemo, x-ray, lab, etc. When Jane and I were making two and three trips a week to Little Rock, some friends came forward and started buying our gasoline. We appreciated it so much.
After she died, I decided do the same for others who were in that situation.
Since then the project has given away approximately $35,000 in the vouchers. Along the way we’ve seen some people cured, and we’ve also lost some. It’s an emotional thing.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded email: The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.
HE SAID: “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” NEIL GAIMAN, author of comic books
SHE SAID: “Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.” MELODY BEATTIE, author
Teased By A Comet (Jan. 7, 2015)
IF YOU ARE LIKE ME and are fascinated with doings in the night sky, then you have already heard about Comet Lovejoy which is reportedly making its appearance in our south sky. The moon is bright, and it is our greatest enemy in sighting the comet. And, drat it, practically the whole time Lovejoy will be with us we’ll have to contend with the moon.
Except on nights when when it’s overcast. Which is usual, just my luck.
Right now, Lovejoy is supposed to be as bright as the dimmest of the four stars that make up the ‘cup’ of the Big Dipper.
Supposedly, if you look south somewhere under the feet of Orion the Hunter you can see Lovejoy. For some reason it doesn’t have much of a tail. If A.J. Higginbottom was still here he could explain it clearly to us.
Wednesday night of this week is supposed to be the time of best viewing. Lovejoy will be at its closest to Earth — only 44 million miles away. That’s 44,000,000. Lovejoy made its last pass by Earth more than 11,000 years ago, astronomers say.
And, that missing tail usually helps us tell the difference between a comet and a star or planet.
I hope to live long enough to see a couple more comets. When Haley’s Comet made its rounds back in 1986 I went out in my back yard and laid down in order to have a steadier platform for using the binoculars. I found Haley’s Comet but it was mostly a pale smudge in the sky. Either that, or I was looking at something on the lens of the binoculars.
Then we had the comet Hale-Bopp back in 1997 and it was visible for about 18 months. It made a glorious and gradual pass across our sky.
Comet Lovejoy, by they way, is named for the feller that discovered it. He lives ‘down under’ in Australia and has to hold on to the earth for dear life lest he fall off.
My binoculars. They’re about 50 years old. I bought them at a Royal Navy store in Hong Kong. See, I had a few bucks left on the day before my ship was due to leave port. There was no reason to save the greenbacks because there was nothing to spend them on when we were at sea. I walked up and down the aisles of the store and spotted the binoculars. Bought them because the price exactly matched the money I had left in my bellbottoms.
HOOK ‘EM HECK. I am still marveling that Arkansas beat Texas in that bowl game.
After all, we WERE playing against Texas, a team that almost always beats us. We were playing deep in the heart of Texas. In the SOMETHING-SOMETHING Texas Bowl. And our players had to wear a SOMETHING-SOMETHING TEXAS BOWL patch on their uniforms.
I mentioned to some friends that even the television announcers seemed to be from New Boston or Hooks. All they could talk about was Texas, Texas, Texas, and they gave practically no credit at all to the Razorback team which was absolutely creaming the Longhorns out on the field.
Absolutely the best way to close out the year: Watching Longhorn fans streaming out of the stands during the fourth quarter.
I got so excited that I went out at midnight and re-hung the Razorback banner over my front door.
rATTLEr. Really?
BYE, BYE BUTTERFLY. Several different groups are asking the government to declare the Monarch Butterfly an endangered species, saying that in the last 20 years we have killed off 90 percent of its population.
One perfesser says that the loss, in human terms, would be like killing every living person in the U.S. except for those in Ohio and Florida.
The reason is apparently genetically-engineered plants. Bigtime farmers are now able to spray for weeds without killing the desirable plants. Those weeds include Milkweed which is the only thing Monarchs and their caterpillars will eat. The midwest is virtually without Milkweed now and the Monarchs have a hard time living without food. The midwest is also the Monarchs’ main route on their annual mating trip to Mexico.
I ordered some Milkweed seeds from an online nursery, and Dr. John Hearnsberger brought me some wild Milkweed seedpods from one of his trips to fight pheasants in Iowa.
I plan on putting the seeds out in the spring in hopes to attracting Monarchs to my yard.
For those who do not know, Monarchs are the large orange and black butterflies we used to see fluttering through our town.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading (and believing) forwarded email:  Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.
HE SAID: “Those who gave thee a body, furnished it with weakness; but He who gave thee Soul, armed thee with resolution. Employ it, and thou art wise; be wise and thou art happy.” AKHENATON, pharoah of the 18th dynasty, Egypt
SHE SAID: “My New Year’s Resolution List usually starts with the desire to lose between ten and three thousand pounds.” NIA VARDALOS, screenwriter and producer


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Truth in Emails

You’d line up maybe 8-10 people. Person Number One whispers a short sentence into the ear of Person Number Two, and tells them to pass it along just as they heard it.
It starts out something like: “Bobbie drove his dad’s old pickup truck to Walmart to buy a bottle of bleach.”
Anyway, at the end of the row of participants, the last person would repeat aloud what had been whispered in his or her ear.
It usually came out something like: “Bowling at the old Walmart was a neat package of dust but dad killed Bobby because he spilled it in his Ford.”
Sometimes people did this in a classroom at school (or church) to teach the danger of repeating gossip. Or, believing gossip.
Stories get told wrong, or are heard cockeyed. Then they’re told again with the changes, and are told again. Slightly adjusted each time. Falsehoods come to be believed. Someone’s reputation is ruined. Only bad outcomes are produced by gossip.
Well, the NEW gossip is Twitter, ‘texting’ or forwarded e-mails, Facebook or any of the other ‘social media’ where, unfortunately, many people often take anything posted as the real truth. Even if they have no idea who the real author is.
I am an old geezer who finally stopped resisting social media, and I am dumbfounded at some things people totally believe and forward as the truth. I’m thinking back to election time.
The decline of the public’s faith in mainline news media is accelerating this tumble of our culture. I am still stunned that a once-great newspaper, the “New York Times,” felt it needed to print the address of that white policeman accused in the death of a young black man in Ferguson, Mo.
In My Humble Opinion (IMHO) the only need the “Times” had was its desire to stay ahead of other media and individuals who were broadcasting, printing, texting or twittering stories about the Ferguson tragedy.
I no longer watch network television news except for sports and weather. That’s because the media, especially television, has a vested interest in keeping Ferguson-type events on the front burner. The more controversial, the better they like it. They can sell more ads, see?
I get my national news from reading (I know this sounds crazy) CNN and the BBC. I tend to trust Associated Press and local news items I read in the “Texarkana Gazette,” but I believe that other statewide newspapers might skew stories some. That’s IMHO.
I realize I’m preaching to the saved. I probably don’t have many 14-year-old readers. They are the ones who are in that Gossip Game line.
I SMUGLY COMMENTED to someone that surely this was one of the most rainy of years. Luckily, I did not send it by email or that error might have been forwarded as the truth. Or stated as a fact on Facebook.
The truth is that since 2000, there have been six (6) years wetter than 2014. I realize we’ve got a few days, yet. Nothing has been close to the year 2009 when a tiny bit more than 80 inches of rainfall was measured in the backyard of the radio station here. So far this year, we’re slightly under 56 inches. That’s quite a difference.
Still, after the recent drought years it is nice to see ponds, lakes and creeks full.
HEAVENS ABOVE. The viewing of the Geminids Meteor Shower this past weekend was reportedly impressive elsewhere. But here, our skies were overcast or it was foggy at night and early morning.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading e-mail: Gold is the only metal that doesn’t rust, even if it’s buried in the ground for thousands of years. Now, I wonder if this is true.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. Driving down a dark rural road near Columbus, last Friday, when a very large whitish owl flew across the highway in front of me. Since it was flying on an angle mostly toward my buggy I had a good look at its ‘face.’ Its eyes were enormous and black.
And by the way — no offense — anything which is anywhere near Columbus can accurately be called rural.
HE SAID: “As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.” CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE, theologian and author of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Do people still read his great tale any more?
SHE SAID: “Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.” LUCINDA FRANKS, writer


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Hate for ‘Horns

WELL, IT DIDN’T take very long to spoil my jolly mood after Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma in overtime.
I groaned as soon as it was announced that Arkansas would play Texas in the Texas Bowl, whatever/wherever that is. I groaned because I am a loyal fair weather fan, and I dread playing the Longhorns because I know what will happen. Seen it too many times.
Somehow, someway Arkansas always manages to fold when the other team is wearing burnt orange. I admit I suffer from a serious inferiority complex when dealing with anything Texas.
My good mood was already precarious because of the Razorbacks’ recent basketball collapse (one loss was to a team which had been beaten this year by Winthrop — WINTHROP!) but I reminded myself that it was only basketball.
Being a loyal fair weather fan I can tell you all about the UA’s coming roundball season: We’ll lose a lot of games that we should’ve won; we’ll lose all of the road games; and we won’t make the NCAA Tournament once again. And even if we do get in the ‘big dance,’ a team like Winthrop will eliminate us by 40 points.
I wish the Hogs would play someone else in the bowl game. West Virginia. North Carolina State. Old Dominion. Winthrop. Anybody but the ‘Horns.
If we were playing West Virginia or whomever, I could sit down and enjoy the game no matter the outcome. I could even tolerate losing, which is what would probably happen, I’m fairly positive.
I am a loyal fair weather fan, I told you.
But since we’re playing Texas, every play is important. Every penalty is crucial. Every dropped pass is Ebola or worse. When Texas is driving to go ahead late in the game I’ll have to go out on the patio and watch the leaves fall into the pool. I get too nervous when the game is as important as it will be when we play Texas.
And why should I be so nervous? I already know what is going to happen.
AT THE LAST SCRAPPER game of the year I was seated behind an employee of the Arkansas Highway Department.
I remembered a question that had been perched between my ears for several months, and I naturally interrupted his concentration on the game to ask.
How come some creek name signs are posted on the left side of the bridge and not on the right where the lane of traffic is?
Huh? he answered.
He thought about it for awhile and then turned around to give me his answer: Nope,  he said, the signs are on the RIGHT HAND side of the bridge.
I couldn’t help notice where the green signs were posted during my drive up to Newhope and back on the following Tuesday night.
Muddy Fork. Sign on the left.
W.B. Fallen Creek. Sign on the left.
Fallen Creek. Sign on the left.
I turned around in the Post Office parking lot and headed back toward Nashville.
Fallen Creek. Sign on the left.
W.B. Fallen Creek. Sign on the left.
Muddy Fork. Sign on the left.
The signs on the RIGHT side must be over other bodies of water. Or either perched between my AHD friend’s ears and lodged in his imagination.
Maybe somebody out there knows why the signs are placed as they are. And maybe that same person can tell me if anyone has seen The Gurdon Light lately.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading e-mail: If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. This is the time of year when we frequently see rivers of blackbirds bobbing and weaving over the treetops. On my walk Saturday morning, a looooong black wave flew over my heard and settled in some neighborhood trees. They surrounded one lonesome crow which was already sitting in the tree. A funny thing about those blackbirds. When they fly overhead they’re silent. As soon as they land they put up a din of chirping and squawking.
When the crow had enough of the massed blackbird and their noise it flew away, and the huge flock of blackbirds immediately also rose from the cluster of trees. They did not follow the crow.
FOR THE FIFTH YEAR in a row, Sophia is the most popular name for newborn girls. For the second year in a row, Jackson is the most popular name for newborn boys. (Source: LikeScience)
HE SAID: “There are some people who want to throw their arms round you simply because it is Christmas; there are other people who want to strangle you simply because it is Christmas.” Robert Staughton Lynd, sociologist
SHE SAID: “Giving is a really big thing around Christmas, as well it should be. Christmas is about giving, and it all stems from the greatest gift the world has ever received — the gift of Jesus Christ.” Monica Johnson, screenwriter


Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A Serving of Crow & The Gurdon Light

Serving of Crow, Please
I’LL HAVE A large helping of crow, please.
Well, my anti-Hog rant last week has presented me with an opportunity to dine on the traditional dish of roasted crow, just before Thanksgiving.
Both of my regular readers will recall the golden words about my disgust for the Hogs and being a loyal fair-weather football fan.
A week or so earlier, part way through the Georgia game, when my disgust level was at a two-year high, I went out into my front yard and ripped up the flagpole and the swell Razorback flapping flag. Then I took down the banner which was hung over my front door. I threw the flag and flagpole into a dark corner of the storage room, and I wadded up the front door banner and put it with the dust bunnies under a chest. I said that I’d put them back up IF Arkansas somehow managed to beat Ole Miss last Saturday.
Make that an extra large helping, please.
Sunday afternoon I hung the front door banner again. Then I went out into the middle of the front yard and pounded a length of steel rebar which I had used to support the flagpole. Took some old garbage bag ties and snugged the flagpole to the rebar.
I heard an unmistakeable Hog call. It was a neighbor who had watched me get down on my knees to affix the garbage bag ties to the flagpole.
Unfortunately he then went inside and therefore was unable to observe me trying to get back on my feet. Being old, stiff and rotund, I finally had to lay flat on the muddy yard and roll to the front steps where I managed to grab aholt of a shrub and pull myself up to a standing position. I was quite muddy and was gasping from the effort. I looked for my neighbor and thank goodness he apparently didn’t observe this performance.
30-0. It was worth it.
Sunday night the wind blew the flagpole over. I’m not getting down on my knees in the mud again, so I’ll have to come up with some other way to hoist the Hog banner.
But my congratulations to the coaches and players for getting that SEC loss monkey off my back.
In the newspaper’s football picking feature, however, I have picked Missouri simply because after that Georgia loss I vowed never to pick the Porkers again.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading e-mail:
Glass takes one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times.
MY BUCKET LIST. I have removed overseas sites from the list of places that I want to see before I die. Among them — the Pyramids in Egypt; the Sistine Chapel in Rome; the Taj Mahal in India; and Stonehenge in England. I just will not fly anymore because it is too much trouble here in the USA, and it is too dangerous elsewhere.
I regret that I won’t see those places.
So, I must content myself with seeing places in the USA where I can drive. In 2015 I hope to see some of the National Parks out in Utah. Either that, or some showgirls in Vegas.
There was an article about one of my abandoned Bucket List sites in the Texarkana newspaper, Sunday. I had no idea that more than 6 million visitors each year walk through the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling and the other precious art.
So many visitors breathing in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide changes the atmosphere inside of the old building. The chemical change in the air has resulted in a ‘whitening’ of the frescoes. Vatican officials apparently had kept news of the damage to the ceiling secret until a solution was found and applied. The Vatican has also installed new air condition and filtration systems, along with some sensors to detect when dangerous high levels of pollution and moisture occur. Such is the responsibility for possession of these universal treasures. If you visit the Sistine Chapel, you might be asked to share in the responsibility for maintaining the treasures. American Express and VISA accepted.
The officials have also announced that in an effort to cut down on the painting pollution they will not let more than 6 million visitors a year trapse through the chapel.
My late uncle Jack Graves used to encourage me to go see the chapel while I was young enough for the journey. He had seen it a number of times. I always pleaded poverty and a shortage of time.
If he was still here I could use the cutback in number of visitors as a reason for not going.
HE SAID: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu, Chinese poet and philosopher
SHE SAID: “My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.” Phyllis Diller, commedian
The Gurdon Light
THANKS TO the Scrapper players, fans, coaches, cheerleaders, the marching band and school administration for another swell football season. The whole state knows Nashville for its football excellence, community support and good sportsmanship.
Our team played hard, but they just ran into a buzzsaw in the playoff quarterfinal game.
There is no disgrace in losing to a team like Dardanelle. I’ll predict they’ll win the class 4A championship.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading e-mail: Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.
AN ARKY ROAD TRIP. Had daughter here for Thanksgiving and she suggested that since the weather was so balmy, Saturday night would be a good time to go look for ‘The Gurdon Light.’
I’ve made about a dozen trips to those infamous railroad tracks outside of Gurdon, and Julie has been with me on about four of them. My first trip to see the light was with our own John Balch about four years ago. We really saw something. It was like a bright white lantern swinging side-to-side, and it appeared to be coming down the tracks in our direction. John said that if it continued to move toward us he was going to push me down and outrun me back to the safety of our buggy which was parked out on the highway.
Then a few months later, I made a trip with Julie and former police chief Larry Yates. We sat out on a railroad trestle about a half-mile down the tracks for about an hour. The only thing we saw were some tiny, blinking pale blue lights on the banks of a small creek. They were unexplainable, so I guess technically we did see the ‘Light.’ It just wasn’t the bright, white, scary one.
Julie and I made several other unsuccessful trips to the tracks over the years.
This past weekend she was in despair about finally seeing the Light, So, even though I wanted to watch Alabama whup Auburn, Saturday night, I found myself on the dark road to Gurdon.
We went through Antoine and turned onto State Highway 53 at Hollywood. It’s a good but dark and curvy road which eventually takes you over the Interstate. After that crossing, you stay on the road for about three miles until you come to the place where the railroad tracks USED to cross the road.
The tracks have been taken up, now, and the railroad ties have been tossed aside into the ditch. You can tell, however, where the tracks used to be. There is a convenient parking spot. It’s much easier to walk down the railroad bed now because it’s just fairly smooth gravel. We crossed two trestles and they were still in good shape. On the old roadbed, however, weeds sometimes brushed against our hands. Was it weeds, or was it some creepy creature reaching out for us? We we were both jumpy, anyway, no matter  how brave we acted. We walked through odd pockets of air where the temperature dropped at least five degrees. Really noticeable.
The track bed takes you past an old cemetery, and that doesn’t help. The air was really fresh and we could smell the trees. Overhead, the stars were bright when they weren’t hidden by scudding clouds. The quarter moon was so bright that we could walk without using our flashlights.
We had agreed to limit our stay to a half hour, and that time finally came without us having seen anything. It’s funny how the walk back to the buggy always seems so much longer than the way in. We occasionally glanced back over our shoulders just to make sure we weren’t missing a Light show.
On the drive home we both found ourselves scratching invisible bites, so there may have been some little critters out there in the dark.
I told Julie that I was fearful that the nearby clear-cutting, and the removal of the iron rails and old ties might have changed the atmosphere of the place so much that there are no more Light sightings.
If you know of anyone who has seen the Light in recent years let me know, please.
HE SAID: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Vince Lombardi, football coach
SHE SAID: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe, author


A Double Dose of Mine Creek Revelations: Feeding Monarchs & Piggy Confession

By Louie Graves
Feeding Monarchs
I AM NOT AWARE of any candidate who ran for office with the intent of bringing down our country or state. Some of them had philosophies that were quite a bit different from my own, but I believe even the most stupid of the opposition only wanted a better state and nation.
So, I congratulate all who put themselves (and their families) up for public inspection in the recent General Election. Thanks to those who won and thanks to those who didn’t.
This column did not ‘endorse’ any candidate; I recommended some personally, however. All three lost. They were still the best candidates, in my humble opinion.
So there.
I will admit that voting a straight ticket is the best way to send a message to the ‘ins’ that you don’t like what’s going on.
There’s one remaining ticklish problem for some of you.
In this county there were 1,017 people who voted against our town’s Nate Steel in his unsuccessful race for Arkansas Attorney General.
Through the power of the press I have obtained the names of those persons, and I have helpfully turned them over to Nate’s mother.
Expect a visit, soon.
KEEPING UP WITH former residents. Roy Reaves, once president of what was then Citizens National Bank here, has been elected chairman of the Board of Trustees at Harding University where he went to college eons ago. Tall Roy has been on the Harding board since 2007.
According to a school news release, he’s retired and living in Russellville.
THE GOOD EARTH. A short piece abut Monarch Butterflies in this column last week inspired our town’s Dr. John Hearnsberger to bring back some Milkweed seed pods from his trip to South Dakota where he went to fight the pheasants.
John says that milkweed is prolific in South Dakota, and he plucked some specimens out of a roadside ditch and brought ‘em home in a Walmart sack. He gave me a few pods which I’ll put out in my side yard. He says he’ll plant the rest out at his acres in hopes of attracting Monarchs next summer.
Monarch Butterflies and Caterpillars eat only milkweed. The gradual disappearance of that plant is said to be one reason Monarchs are in decline.
After I wrote the piece, I also ordered some Milkweed seeds from an Internet outfit. Instructions are to go ahead and plant them now in about 1/8-inch of soil so they can get comfortable before Spring.
If you want a few seeds, contact me. Milkweed reportedly makes nice little flowers, and neither attracts nor harms other critters.
HEARD FROM. County Veterans Services officer Milton Puryear sez he liked comments in this column last week about birthdays for the military service branches BUT he points out that I didn’t mention the oldest military branch.
According to Milton (who should know because he was probably there) the Colony’s Militia — now the National Guard — was born Dec. 16, 1636. That’s 139 years before those upstarts in the US Army, Milton sez.
SORTA LATE but important. In the August graduation exercises at UCA, John Tyler Floyd of Nashville received his Phd. in physical therapy. The school’s news release came this week.
A COMPLAINT. Monday, Nov. 10 was the 50th anniversary of the first airing of “Gunsmoke.” My ole college roomie Eddie Cobb wants to know why this isn’t a national holiday.
Marshal Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, Festus and others are Eddie’s heroes.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. Out on my morning walk at about 6:15, Monday, I startled a deer which was browsing in Bobby Dillard’s yard in my neighborhood. It was a big doe. When she spotted me she took off through Brent Pinkerton’s yard on her way to the woods. It’s not the first time I’ve seen a deer in the neighborhood.
MORE ANIMAL CRACKERS. Getting ready to step into the shower Tuesday and luckily I looked down.
There, just waiting for a chance to bite my foot was a spider. A big spider. HUGE. MONSTEROUS.
It was as big as the hubcap of a crewcab Chevy up at Gary Dan’s place.
I washed it into the drain with a flood of hot water. And then watched the drain the whole time I showered. I was nervous that the beast would crawl up out of the drain and bite my foot.
I’m not kidding about the size, either. It was big enough to have a Tom Cotton bumper sticker across its backside.
The only good spider, snake or scorpion is a dead one.
HE SAID: “Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world. Constantly color your picture gray, and your picture will always be bleak. Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to lighten up.” Allen Klein, author and speaker
SHE SAID: “Scientists have demonstrated that dramatic, positive changes can occur in our lives as a direct result of facing an extreme challenge – whether it’s coping with a serious illness, daring to quit smoking, or dealing with depression. Researchers call this ‘post-traumatic growth.’ Jane McGonigal, author and game designer
Piggy Confession
It was not until there were only about three minutes left in the fourth quarter before I could relax and enjoy the Razorback win over LSU.
Why? Because I am a loyal fair-weather fan. And I was confident deep in my heart that ‘we’ would find a way to give away the game.
I usually start off the college football season by putting up a swell Razorback flag on a pole in my front yard. I also hang a Razorback banner on some hidden hooks over the front door entrance. I know for a fact that the Razorback flag is ‘swell’ because I had to pay so much for it. Sometimes I go a step further. I have four magnetic Hog signs that are put lovingly on the doors and tailgate of my buggy.
And I always go even further and wear my ‘lucky’ Razorback shirt, pants and cap.
But this year I sank into a deep despair because the team just could not avoid shooting itself in the foot and pulling defeat from the jaws of victory each week.
Finally, this loyal fair-weather fan had had enough.
Sometime during the loss to Georgia — before the game was even over — I stormed out and ripped that flag out of the ground, and tossed it unceremoniously into a dark corner of my storage room. The banner? It came down and it is still wadded up with the dust bunnies under a chest-of-drawers in the guest bedroom.
I watched the LSU game wearing blue and green plaid lounge pants and a green t-shirt. Nothing Razorback or red in sight. Or out of sight, either. I even put green food coloring in the Weight Watchers cheese dip.
I can’t believe I’m such a shallow fan. After all, I’m an alumnus and I live only 100 yards away from Liz Honey who sings those songs on ‘Youtube.’ Her snappy, patriotic lyrics are so full of hope and confidence that Arkansas will eventually prevail.
She has been the kind of fan that the UA athletic department, the coaches, other loyal fans and players dearly love.
Bah! Humbug and Humhawg, I say these days
I’ve watched the team through about eight head coaches, and I cannot remember a team that came from behind to win late in the game.
But I’ve been in the stands or clinging to the radio when we’ve lost a few. I sat in the stands for ‘that’ loss to Texas. Yes, ‘that’ one.
Please, don’t ask which other late losses. I can’t recount them without breaking into tears.
If by some miracle the Hogs defeat Ole Miss, Saturday, I promise to go back out and put up the flag. I’ll hang the banner over the front door again. I’ll get out the magnetic signs and will wear freshly-washed Razorback duds. Red peppers in the cheese dip.
That will guarantee a loss to Missouri the following week.
Remember, I said I was a LOYAL fair-weather fan. And superstitious, too.
The European Space Agency deserves a lot of credit for managing to land a probe on a comet after a 10-year journey.
Unfortunately, the whatchamightcallit that was supposed to secure the Philae Lander to the surface of the comet didn’t work, and the lander bounced a ways into space before setting down again about a half-mile from the original landing point.
Unfortunately, the new landing spot is in the shadow of a cliff and the solar batteries cannot recharge.
The upshot is that after traveling (I believe) about 4 billion miles and 10 years, the lander might not be able to send back discovery data as hoped because sunlight cannot reach the solar panels.
Still, what an accomplishment! The comet is 317 million miles from Earth, but the Europeans had to ‘slingshot’ it around Earth and Mars a few times to make it catch up to the comet.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. Both of my regular readers will remember last week’s column in which I wrote about a gigantic spider which I washed down the shower drain before it could attack my foot.
Well, Monday morning that sucker climbed back up out of the drain and it was as mad as the LSU fans were Saturday night. Also, if you can imagine, it was wearing swim fins on each of its eight feet.
I washed it down the drain again but I fully expect to see it again. Next time it may be armed.
The only good spider, snake or scorpion is one that’s on its back in the middle of the road and hasn’t moved for 12 hours.
HE SAID: “Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.” Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher
SHE SAID: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Dr. Marie Curie, scientist

Finally….The Election is Over

By John R. Schirmer
Leader Editor
Because this week’s Leader was printed Tuesday afternoon before the votes were counted, here are some random thoughts about the now-completed (thank heaven) 2014 General Election.
As you can tell, we’re kind of glad it’s over. At least the awful TV commercials are gone. We don’t have to watch them any more, and we don’t have to get news releases from candidates telling us about their wonderful commercials and asking us to write a free story about an ad which they are paying TV stations big bucks to run.
That’s right. We received a host of e-mails touting the brand new TV commercials by certain candidates and asking us to run the news release telling all about the 30- or (horrors) 60-second spot. Note that they didn’t say anything about buying a newspaper ad, only that they wanted free publicity for the big-money TV commercial.
It’s amazing how quickly those e-mails can be deleted. Sometimes, we’ll admit, the sender gets a terse reply along the lines of “Buy a newspaper ad before you ask for a free story about a TV spot costing thousands of dollars.”
We’re happy that there won’t be any more commercials telling us that a vote for …. (fill in the blank) is a vote for Obama. It’s quite an accomplishment for one person to run for different offices in so many states, including Arkansas, but that’s what some wanted voters believe.
Watch TV for five minutes, and you discover that Obama apparently ran for governor, U.S. senator, attorney general, Fourth District Congress and who knows how many other offices in our state alone, much less the rest of the country. Kind of makes you wonder how he could run from job to job in one state, then from state to state to run from job to job.
It’s good for him that he can’t run for re-election as president in 2016. He’d be too tired from all these other campaigns. For somebody who will never be on another election ballot, it certainly seemed like he was on lots of them.
We’re glad we won’t hear more out-of-state commercial narrators warning us that only their candidate can save us from “federal overreach” or, alternately, an “overreaching federal government.”
Oddly enough, the golden-throated announcers didn’t define “federal overreach.”
Did they mean federal loan programs that help thousands of students attend college each year? Did they mean federal highway programs that bring in lots of money and lots of jobs to lots of states? Did they mean federal Pell grants for college? Would they take back the overreaching government’s money for SmartBoards and other forms of technology in the nation’s public schools? Did they mean programs for farmers and assistance to hospitals and law enforcement and ….?
Well, that’s enough. The commercial producers who couldn’t find Arkansas on a map if they had to do so are gone now, along with the money that the campaigns paid them.
One last thing. We’d like to share our reaction to a few comments about our town, “little Nashville,” which appeared in Saturday’s issue of the statewide daily newspaper.
The lead editorial, in case you missed it, endorsed the opponent of Nashville native Nate Steel for attorney general. No surprise there. We’re hard put to remember a time when said paper endorsed a member of Steel’s party.
The surprise came in the references to Steel’s hometown. Noting that Steel had asked his opponent to release details of her state employment, the writer said that “this same Mr. Steel has been in no rush to release details of his own employment as little Nashville’s city attorney.”
We’ll admit to being a bit miffed by the “little Nashville” reference to our town but decided we were being too sensitive and went on to read the remainder of the lengthy document. A long paragraph or so later, the writer allowed as how he is “all in favor of Arkansas’s struggling small towns, those wide places in the road like Nashville and Dardanelle ….”
Okay, so we’re not exactly a big city, and some of us are proud of that. But “struggling”? Funny, but we didn’t know that we were struggling. When the Arkansas Economic Development Commission came to town in 2012, members said it was one of their best visits ever.
Companies considering places in which to locate often look at a town’s other industries, hospitals, schools and churches. Our industries seem to be doing quite well. The main area in which they might be “struggling” is enough finding workers to fill all of their positions. They have been known to bus people in from other locations to work at our plants. Maybe that’s a struggle. If so, it’s a nice one in which to be engaged.
Is our hospital struggling? If we remember correctly, voters approved a small sales tax increase a few years ago to fund a new facility which plenty of other small towns would love to have. Of course, the administration and doctors would like to have more patients, but Howard Memorial is doing quite well. Financial reports have set records in recent months. One new doctor is coming in December. Others are expected to be on the way. One new medical office building has already opened on the HMH campus. Another is set to begin construction shortly. The Private Option has been a great help to this hospital and others in Arkansas. Howard Memorial is rapidly building a reputation as a leader in rural health care.
Churches around town seem to be doing well. A nice new building on the Murfreesboro highway is about to open for one local congregation. Others have also added members and expanded their facilities in recent years. They are involved in numerous projects to make the community a better place. Some of these congregations are new to their work in the area; others have a long history of service and ministry. All appear to take the admonition to “go and teach” seriously.
What about schools? The Nashville School District is about to start on the last phase of a $15-million facilities improvement program. The district added seven classrooms at Nashville High School, constructed a new cafeteria and media center at junior high, renovated the existing high school building and built Scrapper Arena. Bids for the final phase will be opened Thursday. This was all done without a millage increase. In fact, the Nashville district hasn’t had a millage increase in more than 20 years, a tribute to fiscal responsibility on the part of the district’s administrators, school board and teachers.
It might be good for those who don’t understand the rest of the state do a little traveling. They would find people who work together on areas of common interest. They help each other. They don’t always agree, but they’re all still residents of the same “little” towns and do what they can for their neighbors.
Maybe some of those who constantly criticize without offering suggestions for improvement should come pay us a visit. They might find that our “wonderful, small town” has a lot to offer.
And we’re all glad that this election is over.


Mine Creek Revelations: The Good Earth

By Louie Graves
Leader staff
THINGS I LEARNED from opening the mail.
Happy birthday wishes and a snappy hand salute on service branch birthdays:
Nov. 10, 1775 — US Marine Corps.
June 14, 1775 — US Army.
Aug. 4, 1790 — US Coast Guard.
Sept. 18, 1947 — US Air Force.
Dec. 13, 1636 — US Army National Guard.
Oct. 13, 1775 — US Navy. Obviously the most important of the service branch birthdays.
Nov. ??, 2014 — Nashville, Ark., Independent J-Turn Militia.
All of this saluting and military talk reminded that recently, a good ‘ol Army boy, Scott Millward, brought this real-old Sailor some wood for the firepit.
“Just say it’s from one veteran to another veteran,” Scott commented as he lay the last stick on the pile.
And this also reminds me that on Tuesday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, there will be a ceremony at the monument on the courthouse lawn in Nashville. Other places are planning veteran events, too.
THE GOOD EARTH. For the first time since I planted it about five years ago, the Flowering Quince in my side yard has a bunch of lovely red blooms in the fall. Out of ignorance I used to say that the plant was Japonica which was wrong, of course. Japonica is a completely different plant.
Robert Nannemann got me a Flowering Quince and I followed his instructions for planting.
It has bloomed before, but only in the spring.
Flowering Quince has fallen a bit out of favor because some kind of fungus makes the leaves fall off soon after they have emerged in the spring. The plant itself is hardy, though,and it obviously doesn’t need leaves. You see them often at old homesites and in cemeteries. Jimmy Dale says that people used to plant them beside forsythia (Yellowbells) because of pleasant yellow/red alteration of color in the spring.
Also blooming — and smelling heavenly to high heaven — are my yard’s three Cape Jasmine bushes. Sometimes called Gardenias. Never called Japonica.
IT’S NOT WORKING. I don’t know what the district court or the city of Nashville is doing to educate the public about J-Turns but I have to say: IT’S NOT WORKING!!
There. I said it again.
The court began forgiving J-Turn offenses a few weeks ago after hearing from the police chief that the public wasn’t aware that it is against the law to turn across traffic into a parking spot in downtown Nashville (the Central Business District). The mayor was in apparent agreement. So they met with the judge and softened the policy.
The first few offenders who got tickets were awarded fines and court costs amounting to about $145.
After hearing from the cops and the city, the judge began forgiving offenders. Now, if you get a ticket for making a J-Turn, you still must make a District Court appearance but you will not be fined. If you do not show up for court you’ll have to pay the fine.
Then, if you foolishly make another J-Turn and get caught, you’ll have to pay the fine for BOTH offenses.
So when will the warning season come to an end?
My opinion is that there is not even a tiny risk that you will get caught making a J-Turn.
My question: Who and how are ‘we’ educating drivers NOT to make J-Turns between the Post Office and the railroad tracks?
Whatever ‘we’ are doing isn’t working.
I see about a half-dozen J-Turns every day.
I’m not just going to wait around for ‘we’ to do something.
I am forming my own J-Turn Militia. So what if the mayor won’t deputize me? So what if the State of Arkansas won’t renew my concealed sidearm permit? So what if I’ve already outgrown the swell Army-Navy Surplus camo uniform I acquired at my own expense? So what if I don’t have a genuine badge?
So what?
Me and my militia will begin giving out tickets real soon. And there will be very, very few warning tickets given. In fact, I am the ONLY member of the J-Turn Militia authorized to give warning tickets.
THINGS I LEARNED from listening to my barber.
‘Baby’ shampoo isn’t the mildest. In fact, it’s strong so that it can help get rid of an infant’s “Cradle Cap,” whatever that is.
It’s the additives that make other shampoos strong.
I’ve learned many things from listening to my barber. Unfortunately, I cannot repeat much of that stuff here.
Another of my worthless observations that, these days, the cradle cap is worn backwards. Even by infants.
FIREBALL FRIDAY. Anybody else see great, bright meteor at about 7:09 Friday night? I can’t find anything about it at the usual skywatching news sources, but it was one of the best meteors I’ve ever seen.


HE SAID: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison, inventor
SHE SAID: “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Ann Landers, ‘advice’ columnist

Mine Creek Revelations: Monarch Journey

By Louie Graves
One critter I do love is the Monarch Butterfly, and I regret to tell you that I’ve seen very few of them this year. They are now supposed to be migrating through our area.
Last week an article in the ‘Texarkana Gazette’ said that there has been a serious loss of habitat along the route of their annual migration to Mexico, and butterfly-observers are worried.
Monarchs fly ‘back’ to Mexico, mate and then return north to have chillins and die.
An article in the ‘Arkansas Democrat Gazette’ suggests that butterfly lovers plant ‘milkweed’ which the article said is the only thing Monarchs will eat. Somebody tell me how to plant milkweed and if-or-where I can get seed. Oh, yeah, if there’s a downside to having a bunch of milkweed in your landscaping please let me know.
The rhythms of nature reassure me of the hand of the Almighty.
IT HAS BEEN a typical Arkansas late October. In the morning you need to wear your insulated camo coveralls, and by noon you can go skinnydipping.
MANY OF US lost a hero last week when Bill Fritts died.
I’m not sure how long he battled cancer — he just didn’t talk or complain about it. But, I know he fought for maybe two decades. He was also a hero to my late wife, and Jane often reminded herself of Bill’s enduring positive nature when she was having her own struggles with the disease. He inspired her.
This is my lasting mental picture of Bill Fritts. Ramrod straight and muscular. Courageous. Grinning and sharing good humor even when he must have felt terrible, or if he was under assault again from this relentless enemy.
The very way he lived his life inspired us all, and we should not forget him. I hope you’ll join me in remembering him with a luminary at our community’s 2015 Cancer Society Relay for Life.
Peace to his family, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.
Last year, the principal at my granddaughter’s elementary school in Maumelle was a very polished young woman named Yolanda Thomas. We knew her here as Lynn Coulter, a NHS cheerleader from Center Point. I visit with her mom, Doris, when I go out to Center Point for a Red Cross blood drive.
This year, my granddaughter’s EAST Lab instructor at the middle school is Mary Ann ‘Candy’ Yates Riggan, who has roots at Center Point and is first cousin to retired police chief Larry Yates, and therefore is related to all of the Center Point Yateseseseses. Her dad was Haskell Yates.
JUST A FEW DAYS after his birthday, another product of Center Point, NHS grad Ken Bissell, announced the official launch of his first book, “Many Sons To Glory – The John Prock Story.” Ken’s book is about the inspiring life of late Harding University head football coach, John Prock, who was there from 1964-87. You can order the book by going to www.manysonstoglory.com.
Ken was my sports editor when we worked at another Nashville newspaper. He has his dream job, nowadays. He’s at Harding U., a place he always loved, and he is in the working media, a place for which he was well-fitted.
I modestly take a lot of credit for his development.
ON A SATURDAY drive up around Cossatot River Park and back, the Navigator and I stopped at the old ‘Lost’ Ralls-Brown Cemetery which is down a dusty lane on a hillside back in the piney woods off Mineola Road near Umpire. I wanted to show her the grave of Nathaniel Ralls who died in 1875. He was a veteran of the Black Hawk Indian Wars, serving in a regiment of Illinois volunteers which put down that uprising. The grave has a new bronze marker furnished by a Texas family member who re-discovered and fixed up the small old graveyard.
One of Ralls’ fellow soldiers in Regiment VI was a lanky guy named Abraham Lincoln.
On the aforementioned trip we stopped for awhile at the closed low-water bridge at Ed Banks Access. We had to sit in the shade because, even though it was late October, the sun was quite warm. There were just a few people camped nearby. We could hear them singing and playing a guitar sometimes when the wind didn’t ruffle the leaves too much.
We visited with a park ranger, and stayed until flights of gnats ran us off. We left and drove along more narrow gravel roads from there to the Brushy Creek Access upriver closer to Wickes. That place was also nearly deserted, and had lots of shade. No gnats.
“It’s amazing how many Arkansans don’t even know these beautiful places exist,” the Nav said. True.
HE SAID: “That’s the irony in the work: the best stories are the worst things that happen. My best times were somebody else’s worst.” Michael Connelly, crime novelist. (Michael Connelly is my favorite living author. I qualify that by noting I haven’t read Ken Bissell’s book, yet.)
SHE SAID: “The culture used to move relatively slowly, so you could take aim. Now it moves so fast, and is so fluffy and meaningless, you feel like an idiot even complaining about it.” Susan Faludi, author

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: A Vote for Nate

Walking in the dark early Tuesday morning, I saw something move toward me from a bush beside the road.
Then, mercifully, it turned away and ran back in the bush. It was, my dear friends, a real skunk. I do hate skunks. And remember, when you see a skunk you should automatically consider that it is rabid. It’s about the only thing that can make me break into a run that early in the morning. Later in the day I will run for M&M Peanuts.
MORE ANIMAL CRACKERS. I do hope that the deer hunters in the Muddy Fork/Fallen Creek area north of Nashville and south of Newhope have a banner hunting season. I want them to clear out the deer population, many of which graze nonchalantly on the shoulder of the road when I make my Tuesday night paper route trip to Jo-Lee Westfall’s post office in Newhope (one word). I never fail to see about a dozen on the 44-mile round trip. I’ve had one close encounter with a deer, but I’ve never (knock on wood) hit one with my buggy. And that’s why I want the hunters to significantly reduce the deer population around the Muddy Fork.
IN THE HEAVENS. Some big doins’ this week, all out of our sight. A spaceshot from India got pics of Mars and the comet which spun around our red neighbor before being slingshotted back into deep space. All told, there were seven Mars surface vehicles from the U.S., India and European space agencies which are crawling over the planet’s surface and which reportedly managed to get some photos of the flyby. It’ll be a few days before the pictures get back to Earth and are processed. NASA isn’t as fast as Walmart.
The comet is named Siding Spring, and it is being followed closely by its sister comet, Aluminum Siding. Just joking.
The scientists were excited about Siding Spring because they believe it is the first time it has gotten close enough to our sun so that it reacts to the heat. They’ll get to see it happen. This comet was supposedly formed several billion years ago. It was safely waaaay out there in something called the Oort Cloud but got bumped off course by a passing star about a million years ago.
What I want to know is: If the scientists know all this about Siding Spring, how come can’t we find Jimmy Hoffa?
And how come we can’t come up with a simple recipe for homemade M&M Peanuts?
This reminds me that Thursday night is planetarium night on the Henderson State University campus. Show starts at 7 and get there early to let hour eyes adjust. No one is admitted late.
I AM SO DISAPPOINTED in the political campaigns this year. Both sides (and their rich invisible supporters) have produced some really objectionable TV ads and postal mailouts. Lots of outright lies, stretched truth and innuendo. I’m tired of it.
So, I am taking the high road. I will only say good things. My hope is that you will vote FOR someone, rather than AGAINST someone.
I do more than get disappointed; I get MAD when I see the outrageous ads saying negative things about Nate Steel. It also worries me that somebody way off can pump more than $1 million into a campaign here, not knowing either candidate. And, really, not even caring about how the people of Arkansas will be served by the winner.
You can join me in proudly voting FOR Nate Steel in the race for Arkansas Attorney General. We have first hand experience with Nate. He was an excellent deputy prosecuting attorney. He was an excellent counsel to the Howard County Quorum Court. He was an excellent member of the Arkansas Legislature who got along just fine with both sides of the aisle. I’ve heard he was pretty good as a Scrapper football lineman, although the latter is the opinion of his mama.
But he needs your vote because there are some people out there who are honestly worried that he is Obama’s ‘lapdog’ and they will vote for Nate’s opponent for no other reason.
Nate is by far the most qualified to serve the people of Arkansas. When you see the candidates side-by-side the difference is really obvious.
Now we have a chance to elect a good man to the office of Attorney General. If you’re not voting for or against someone simply because they have a R or a D after their name, Nate Steel is a good choice.
WINTERING YOUR PLANTS. Been reading some suggestions to follow if you’re going to bring some ‘outside’ plants into your home for the winter.
First, get rid of bugs. How clever.
They suggest washing the underside of the leaves carefully. Soak the pot in lukewarm water for about a half hour. This brings bugs to the surface of the soil and you can pick off the little darlings. Let the pot drain well before you take it inside.
But what do  you do with the bugs? I remove them with a leftover pair of Chinese chopsticks. and Skwush ‘em real good!
HE SAID: “My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.” Billy Connolley, comedian and musician
SHE SAID: “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead, anthropologist and author

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Arctic M&Ms

ANIMAL CRACKERS. Anybody know if we’ve ever had ravens in these parts?
I’ve seen extra-large crows at least twice in the last week. I mean, EXTRA large! There were two perched on the railroad tracks just north of Mineral Springs, possibly waiting to headbutt an oncoming freight train.
And I saw some other really large black birds cavorting through the trees north of Ozan, Monday morning. These birds were just zipping around. It looked as if they were chasing each other for the fun of it. Buzzards don’t play like that.
THE SPEAKER at the Rotary Club last week talked about the Emerald Ash Borer which is wiping out the Ash tree population of America. We don’t have a lot of Ash around here like some other states. But Ash is dear to our hearts because it is the wood that baseball bats are made from. Used to be, Ash was used to make golf clubs. That’s how the club got the name ‘wood.’ Even though those clubs are now made of exotic metals, golfers still refer to them as ‘woods.’
Because most of us cannot tell the difference between Hickory, Pecan or Ash, all kinds of firewood are quarantined at certain state and federal camping sites. Unsuspecting hunters or campers might accidentally import the borers into a new area.
The speaker at Rotary said it was thought the bug got here from Asia in wooden shipping cartons.
KINDA LOST among all of the big football upsets last weekend was Bauxite’s win over Ashdown. It might be the first ever win for Bauxite over an ‘old’ District 7-AAAA team other than the teams like Fountain Lake, Waldron, and Mena which have lately been shuffled in and out of the conference.
And Mena handily whipped Nashville’s nemesis Malvern.
We’re not even mentioning what Fountain Lake did to our Scrappers. Who saw that coming? Why, it’d be like Bauxite upsetting Ashdown!
The upsets continued Saturday in the Southeastern Conference. In this newspaper’s football picking graphic from JR Schirmer, Eddie Cobb, myself and a guest picker, I had my worst picking weekend ever. Was correct on only four of the 10 games.
There were few good things in football last weekend. Texas and Michigan both lost. That helps my outlook. And Southern Cal got beat on a Hail Mary with time expired. Couldn’t happen to a better team. And Penn State also got beat. That’s always good.
I AM SO DISAPPOINTED in the political campaigns this year. Both sides (and their rich invisible supporters) have produced some really objectionable TV ads and postal mailouts. Lots of outright lies, stretched truth and innuendo. Nate Steel is a ‘lap dog’ for President Obama? Really? Who thought that up?
So, I am taking the high road. I will only say good things.
It’s easy in the case of James Lee Witt, candidate for the U.S. Congress. He’s a former county judge of Yell County, and then later managed the state’s Office of Emergency Services for then-Gov. Bill Clinton.
He did such a good job that when Clinton went to Washington, he took along James Lee and had him run the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He did so with efficiency and without scandal. So, he’s got experience and a good reputation.
Now we have a chance to elect a good man to the U.S. Congress. If you’re not voting for or against someone just because they have a R or a D after their name, James Lee Witt is a good choice.
BAD NEWS for dieters. I went in a convenience store last week and surrendered to a terrible temptation for M&M Peanuts. I bought a bag. It was $2.42 for a demitasse bag of the treats. At that price I will do better to make my own, I said to myself.
I’ve been looking on the Internet for a recipe. You can get a recipe for a nuclear weapon or for something to clean your headlight covers or how to humanely kill the precious little bugs infesting your landscape bushes, but science hasn’t yet come up with a simple, useable formula for homemade M&M Peanuts.
GREAT NEWS for dieters. Scientists have discovered that the loss of ice in the Antarctic has caused a change in Earth’s gravity. As a result, we all weigh less whether or not we’ve been dieting religiously.
Or enjoying store-bought M&M Peanuts.
And in the Arctic, last week an unaccompanied freighter completed the journey across the top of the globe, from Eastern Canada to Alaska, for the first time. It’s all due to loss of Arctic ice. The journey is 40% shorter than through Panama Canal, so other freighters will surely try to duplicate the trip.
It’s still icy in the Arctic. This particular ship can break through five feet of ice.
I could, too, if there were M&M Peanuts on the other side.
HE SAID: “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you’re riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” Bob Marley, musician
SHE SAID: “Getting out of the hospital is a lot like resigning from a book club. You’re not out of it until the computer says you’re out of it.” Erma Bombeck, columnist

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Woodpile Rattler

ANIMAL CRACKERS. Anybody know if we’ve ever had ravens in these parts?
I’ve seen extra-large crows at least twice in the last week. I mean, EXTRA large! There were two perched on the railroad tracks just north of Mineral Springs, possibly waiting to headbutt an oncoming freight train.
And saw some others cavorting through the trees north of Ozan, Monday morning. Buzzards don’t play like that.
RALLY FOR THE REFUNDS. I am trying to find a good place to have the rally of persons who got a ticket for a J-Turn and paid the full fine in District Court. This was before the city of Nashville and the court last week began forgiving persons who commit the offense.
I’m guessing that some bigwigs got tickets and the city is bending under pressure.
I was so pleased when Nashville policemen started giving out tickets for J-turns a few weeks ago. After all, if you read the story in this week’s ‘Leader,’ you’ll see the city council adopted the ordinance in September of 2012. That’s two years, isn’t it?
This also probably means that the police department isn’t keen on the mayor deputizing me for J-Turn duty on Main Street.
I won’t be needing my swell camo uniform and badge. And I’ll stop complaining about whoever it is who is slowing down the application process for my concealed handgun permit. And I’ll stop begging the mayor to give me a swell badge and deputize me in an impressive public ceremony.
There’s no need of going to all that trouble now, since all is forgiven if’n you get a ticket.
“Slap on the wrist! Don’t do it again because the next time we really, really might give you a real ticket.” That quote is me imagining a J-Turner getting a stern lecture.
Anyway, it seems unfair that some people paid the full fines, and some people don’t have to pay at all. And that is the reason I am organizing the Rally for the Refunds.
And nothing has slowed the number of J-Turns in downtown Nashville.
I WAS AWAKENED at precisely 3:25 a.m., Sunday, by own screaming. I had been dreaming, again, about that Arkansas player tripping the Aggie and the ensuing penalty wiping out a sure score which would have won the game.
Why, oh, why won’t my feeble brain let loose of that dream.
Anyhow, at 3:26 I was standing out on my patio looking at the stars when a looooong lime-colored shooting star arc’d from south to north. It was breathtaking. And it reminded me that whatever happened in Dallas was just a game.
ARTICLE IN the “Arkansas Times” tells us that local bladesmith Jerry Fisk was visited recently by Jesse James, the outlaw car and motorcycle builder and ex-husband of a Hollywood actress whom he must’ve made really, really mad for no other reason than he chased other wimmen.
Anyway, Mr. James has a new program on the Discovery Channel called “American Craftsman” and he goes around interviewing people who make things by hand.
Can you imagine? Mr. James was out at Jerry’s place, and Jerry didn’t invite his favorite newspaper columnist to sit in on the conversation?
I reminded the “Times” that Jerry brags he graduated 9th in a class of 11 at Lockesburg High School.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. No names will be mentioned here because I am unsure about the Statute of Limitations for killing a rattlesnake (No, not the ‘Statue’ of Limitations; I think it is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC). I’ve heard the little reptilic darlings are a protected species, and any person who kills one could be facing penalties perhaps even more severe than for a J-Turn in downtown Nashville.
Well, some people would get a ticket; others would be forgiven. It all depends upon whom you are.
Anyway, I don’t want to stir things up. So, I hope you can follow this story.
A man in Mineral Springs named XXXX watched as his beloved dog, XXXX, barked and inserted his nose into the woodpile. The dog suddenly yelped and jumped backward obviously in pain. Upon inspection, Mr. XXXX noted two bloody puncture marks on XXXX’s nose.
He tore apart the woodpile and found a rattlesnake. This member of the protected species measured — after being rearranged by Mr. XXXX’s shotgun — more than 5 feet long. “Where’s there’s one, there’s others,” Mr. XXXX repeated the oft-told tale. So he dismantled the woodpile. Found and dispatched 18 — that’s eighteen — baby rattlesnakes. They also met untimely deaths at the hands of Mr. XXXXX.
His pooch wasn’t doing so good, so Mr. XXXX took it to the vet where, unfortunately, the canine friend died.
This sad and scary tale leaves me with a question: If Mr. XXX’s name gets out will he face one or 19 charges of killing a protected species?
I repeat this story in hopes that you’ll be careful if you dig in a woodpile.
And that reminds me to tell you that my anonymous benefactor has obviously been too busy this fall to bring me a modest stack of rattlesnake-free firewood for my firepit.
HE SAID: “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Robert Frost, poet
SHE SAID: “Happiness is like a cloud, if you stare at it long enough, it evaporates.” Sarah McLachlan

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Fun in Spa City

BECAUSE OF MY vast knowledge of the back streets of Hot Springs, I was able to get us to a parking place really, really near the stage on the next-to-last day of the Jazz Festival in Hot Springs, Saturday.
Saturday’s event was free and was held under the Regions Bank ‘bridge’ over Bridge Street real which is near the Convention Center. The area under the bridge is big enough to shelter twin stages for the bands, and lots of folding chairs for the audience. Purveyors of those noxious adult beverage had to set up tents outside the bridge cover.
The twin stages enabled organizers to set up one band while the preceding one was finishing its one-hour show. It was a good idea — no ‘dead’ time. We seamlessly slipped from one band into another.
This was my third year to go to the festival; my second one with the Navigator, who freely offered her advice on how to get around in Hot Springs.
A guy who was sorta the emcee said that this was the 23rd year for the festival, and I’ll just take his word for it. I don’t believe he was alive yet when the first one was held.
One year we heard big jazz orchestras from Henderson, Arkansas Tech, UA-Monticello and one other Arkansas school I can’t remember, now.
Only UA-Monticello was back this year. Our judgment at the time they all came to the festival was that UA-M’s band was the best. I was surprised, my apologies to UA-M alumni for not having high expectations.
We stayed long enough to hear four bands this year. I do love live music. Country, soul, oldie rock, jazz, classical — everything but rap which I do not consider to be real music.
Three of the bands we heard had horn sections. The exception was a foursome of Fayetteville hippies. Their band featured a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist and a guy who played the vibraphone. Their music was all original. All very good. The vibes player held two mallets in each hand and managed to play harmonies.
We looked forward to hearing the Arkansas Jazz Orchestra — mostly the same big musical group which played a couple of concerts in the Nashville City Park about 10 years ago. One of the guys in the trumpet section was Nashville native Mike Copeland. I talked to him after their set. He said he had taught music at Bismarck schools for nearly 30 years and was getting close to retirement. He also teaches my niece who goes to school there.
Ya gotta eat some time!
Navigator and I had split an order of French fries earlier, and decided at some point that it was high time to leave the music and go up Central to the ‘new’ Fat Jack’s Oyster Bar. We’ve frequented the original Fat Jack’s in Texarkana, but just hadn’t gotten around to trying the Hot Springs location. So we went there and split a couple of appetizers before getting on the road home.
Fat Jack’s was pretty neat, but it could be better. He needs something in the way of decor — possibly a Fabulous Fence Fishee hung on the wall.
We were back in time for the Razorback kickoff.
Arkansas won; LSU lost; Michigan lost; Missouri lost. The only way the day could have been better was if Texas had also lost, but the ‘Horns didn’t play.
MY MYSTEAK. Last week I mis-identified a picture of a guy fixing a BBQ sandwich at the Pack the Park event in Nashville. It was Rick Lacefield, not Wakefield. I’ve been having trouble with those Lacefields as several of you have reminded me.
MY REWARD. Got up just a little earlier for my usual morning walk, Monday. And, the day is considerably darker, now, at 5:30. Am I stoopid for getting up so early and walking? I asked myself. But I had been out less than 10 minutes before I saw two looooong, golden shooting stars. I had forgotten — that’s one of the rewards for getting out of bed early.
SALT OF the earth. You often hear that description, and it is an apt one for the late Joe Stuard of Dierks who served his community and fellow man by volunteering on the town ambulance service, fire and rescue department, chamber of commerce and with police.
Joe died Saturday far too early at age 61. See obituary in this issue.
Peace to his family and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. There was no joking in “The Leader” office, Monday morning, about our Pam McAnelly’s pickup truck smelling like a skunk. Out of four vehicles lined up in her yard during the weekend, hers was the only one drenched by a passing polecat.
I said there was no joking and I meant it.
HE SAID: “I believe that if one always looked at the skies, one would end up with wings.” Gustave Flaubert, French writer
SHE SAID: “It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” Amelia Barr, American writer

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: The Geezer Celebrates

REMEMBER IN THE first half of the football game against Auburn when Arkansas looked pretty good? Then we didn’t show up for the second half?
Well, Nashville police may be using the same strategy.
For two days recently they ‘worked’ downtown Nashville and gave out a bunch of J-Turn tickets. That ended after about a day and a half in which the officers could have worked themselves into exhaustion. And could have scribbled completely through their ticket books.
Seriously. You can’t stand on the sidewalk anywhere between the post office and the railroad tracks for 15 minutes and not see several J-Turners.
Why did the police quit?
In just a few minutes standing at the Regions Bank corner I saw:
A yellow Hummer making a J-Turn into a handicapped parking space in front of the post office. A well-used black four door pickup making a J-turn in front of McLaughlin Insurance. A white Toyota J-Turning in front of the chamber of commerce. A white Tahoe at the accountants’ office.
I could go on and on. Two days of ticketing did not slow ‘em down a bit.
There may be salvation on the horizon. As soon as some of those J-Turners who got tickets cough up their fines in District Court the city might be able to pay for my swell badge. The mayor could then deputize me and I’ll go about saving our town from J-Turns.
Here is my pledge: I will not relent. I will not give out warning tickets except to good friends and those ladies who flutter their eyelids at the arresting officer.
And let me add something here: Congratulations to those drivers in downtown Nashville who do NOT make J-Turns. The great majority follow the law and exhibit common courtesy.
THE OCCASION OF my 71st birthday brought distinguished visitors during the weekend. Daughter Julie and Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy, age 11, were here and we had hoped to be able to take a swim in my pool.
But you know what happened to the weather. In two days the water temperature in my pool fell by 11 degrees. Only a seal or an Eskimo could stand to be in the water for long.
So, I broke out my firepit. It had been covered with a small tarp and stuck in a patio corner since last March. I still had a few sticks of firewood left over, so we had a swell campfire Saturday night.
There is just something real nice about dancing flames on a cool, dark night.
I was pretty tightfisted with the firewood, however.
It’s time for my unknown benefactor to bring more short sticks of firewood. I’d be willing to swap a “Get Out of a J-Turn Ticket” coupon for a small stack of cured hardwood.
THE OCCASION OF my birthday also brought a cake to our office. Blue writing on white icing: “Happy Birthday to the Old Geezer.”
I’ll be getting even with someone over that.
MARK THE DATE. Saturday, Sept. 27, Mineral Springs Church of Christ will host its fourth annual “Great Give Away.” Everything is free: baby clothes, car seats, dishes, purses, shoes, toys, etc.
Hours will be from 8-noon. Big, big crowds in the past. An unusual and wonderful project.
JOKES AND TALENT. On stage at the Pack the Park event, Saturday, Elementary School art teacher Mike Eudy joked about performing for crickets. Well, there wasn’t much of an audience at the time. Another former resident, Clay Franklin, also performed. I confess I didn’t recognize Clay who nowadays hides behind a silver beard.
But Eudy’s songs were notably musical and clever. Home grown lyrics about Messer Creek and family get-togethers and food fare for country folk. He can sing and dance and joke and tune and play the geeeetar all at the same time. That’s what I call talent.
Mike is currently leading the teachers weight loss competition at his school.
The Pack the Park event raised funds for restoration of the museum. Thanks to all who worked on the project.
Notably present was Jeremy Ross of Hollywood who is a candidate to replace our town’s Nate Steel in the State Legislature. Jeremy had his wife, Lori, and son, Turner, with him to oooooh and aaaaaah over the beautiful cars on display.
ANIMAL CRACKERS. Our area’s Mississippi Kites have flown the coop. Sometime last week they stopped circling the breakfast table in southwest Arkansas and flew off to wherever it is they go in the ‘off season.’
It seems to me that they left earlier this year than in years past. Reckon it means fall gets here sooner?
HE SAID: “Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.” Henny Youngman, musician and comic
SHE SAID: “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.” Katharine Hepburn, actress

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Blue Ribbon, Baby

NOT WANTING TO DRAW too much attention to myself, I hired only a small mariachi band to accompany me to the Howard County Fairgrounds, Sunday afternoon, to retrieve my entry in the art competition. When I entered my fine work of art in the fair competition earlier in the week  I was warned sternly that I had to retrieve it between the hours of 2-4 Sunday after the fair closed if I ever wanted to see it again.
NOT WANTING TO pay the full price for a mariachi band for the two hours, I contracted with them only for 2:00-2:15. I did insist that they wear their colorful uniforms, thinking it only right for the seriousness of the occasion. And we didn’t march out there from the high school parking lot as had been my original plan. Instead, we assembled in the parking lot at the LP gas place across the highway from the fairgrounds. They only had enough time to play one song by the time we crowded through the door into the fair building.
I was unable to complete my business with the fair committee before 2:15 and so I had to dismiss the band. But they did play one more number to congratulate me on winning the blue ribbon. Even so, our entrance was most impressive and I do believe the fair committee will encourage me to enter more art in the competition next year.
NOT WANTING TO let the Fabulous Fence Fishee to slip into oblivion I now modestly inform you that it is on exhibit at “The Leader” office, 119 North Main Street, open often during normal business hours on Mon.-Fri. just in case you and the kids want to come down and see an actual blue-ribbon work of art.
Well, when you win a blue ribbon you also win a handsome cash award from the fair committee. This is in the form of a check which you get AFTER you have produced your receipt stub and a valid photo ID.
When the band stopped playing I reached into my pocket for the receipt stub.
But all I could find was a cancelled Arkansas Lottery ticket. The lady at the desk was very understanding, and after I rounded up a half-dozen people who could not avoid vouching for my identity, the fair committee let me pick up the Fabulous Fence Fishee AND the check for $2.50.
“Don’t let the livestock gate hit you on the rump on the way out, sport,” one of the committee ladies called out after I ran around modestly showing all the red ribbon winners what a blue ribbon winner got.
BIRTHDAY WALK. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, then my birthday is only five days away and you are running out of time to select an appropriate gift.
Both of my regular readers will recall last year when I walked the railroad tracks from the Tyson mill to Mineral Springs. Why? It’s hard to explain, but it goes back 60+ years to a time when a bunch of us boys rode our bikes to MS and back. I noticed that the rails went parallel to the highway for a ways before disappearing into the woods. I always wondered what was in there, and vowed that before I was 70 I’d walk those very tracks. So last year I prudently decided to make HALF of the walk from Nashville to Mineral Springs. And I’m glad I did. It’s hard to walk on railroad tracks.
This year I decided I needed to walk that portion which I didn’t walk last year. I didn’t want to wait until birthday weekend, so I did it this past Saturday.
The Navigator was kind enough to follow me to the mill crossing where I left my buggy. She then dropped me off at the Farmers’ Market. I got on the tracks and headed west. This was about 8 Saturday morning.
A lot of the tracks aren’t used anymore and weeds are getting tall. They are also full of chiggers.
I hiked through town and soon was out in the country behind the old Scott lumber mill. There’s a disappointing amount of trash along the route. How on earth did a plastic chair get out there on the side of the tracks about a half-mile from town? I know some of the old railroad ties in the ditches must date back to when the GN&A steam engine went to Ashdown and back.
I saw a couple of rabbits and some butterflies. Heard some birds and one gunshot.
It was getting pretty warm by the time I stopped on the trestle over Coleman Creek. The creek is lovely with long gravel bars on either side. I could see what appeared to be a large pool on the north; the creek burbled through bushes and disappeared on the other side of the bridge. I remembered that, before the sewer treatment pond was built on its banks, Coleman Creek had a fairly popular swimming hole — Miner’s Hole, we called it — just south of the Highway 27 bridge.
This leg of my walk was much shorter than the walk I took in 2014. That one took about three hours. This time, I was standing at the back of my buggy in less than half that time. But sweat had completely my shorts and t-shirt.
“I’ve got railroad walking out my system now,” I told the Navigator when she checked up to see if I had died.
HE SAID: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison, inventor
SHE SAID: “If the world’s a veil of tears, Smile till rainbows span it.” Lucy Larcom, poet

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: County Fair Art

NEVER BEFORE have I entered anything (livestock, squash preserves, embroidery, etc.) at the Howard County Fair. But Monday I strutted out to the fairgrounds with one of my Fabulous Fence Fishees tucked under my arm.
A Fabulous Fence Fishee is a roofing tin cutout of a tropical fish. I paint the thing and give it an eye made out of nut-bolt-washer (it only needs one eye).
It’s not an original idea. I paid about $60 for one last year at a Gulf Shores turista shop, and thought “Hey, I could do this.”
I’ve made about 8-10 of them this past spring and summer. I hang ‘em on the fence around my swimming pool. Hence the name.
Out at the fairgrounds, County Agent Jean Ince helped me with the entry form and told me in confidence that it was a surefire ribbon winner. “Don’t tell anyone I said this, though,” she whispered, “because the judging is supposed to be fair.”
The only complaint came from a member of the fair board who said that the fair really couldn’t afford to hire round-the-clock armed security needed to adequately watch over this valuable work of folk art.
You only have a couple of days remaining to go out to the fair and get a glimpse of the Fabulous Fence Fishee.
WHILE I WAS at the fair building, Monday, a local feller sauntered up to me and asked if I had a badge to wear if I ever got to be on duty as a J-Turn Deputy.
Heck, I hadn’t even thought of a badge. Here I was — worried about my Army-Navy mismatched surplus camo uniform and my long-awaited concealed handgun permit, and I hadn’t given a thought about a badge.
I really need one.
And, maybe that’s the reason the mayor hasn’t gotten around to deputizing me for J-Turn duty. He’s probably waiting for my official badge to arrive in the mail and the city will present it to me at an appropriate ceremony during a meeting of the City Council.
Now that I think about it, I’m almost sure that’s the reason for the delay. I know it can’t be for a lack of public support. He’s probably hearing from people all the time, urging him to go ahead and and swear me in and let’s put an end to this nefarious criminal activity.
I’m not asking for special treatment, but I really think that Judge Jessica should let me reserve a boxseat in her District Court courtroom on Thursday afternoons.
She will not let me bring my handgun into the courtroom (assuming the State of Arkansas ever gets around to renewing my slightly-expired concealed carry permit). She has agreed, however, to let me openly carry a heavy duty chrome police whistle. “But you cannot blow the whistle while court is in session,” she warned sternly.
I wonder if the judge would let me hang a Fabulous Fence Fishee — and blue ribbon –  in her courtroom.
ONE OF MY favorite sites on the Internet is livescience.com. This week they have an article under the headline: Can octopuses be cultivated for food?
I already have a sensible answer: “Why?”
MORE FOOD. A couple of guys from Iceland are about to start marketing an energy bar made from ground-up insects. The BBC reports that these food inventors call their product the “Crowbar.”
I believe it was named after the device which is needed to pry apart the jaws of consumers.
A BANNER SEEN in the Howard County Fair Parade.”Crime Don’t Pay.”
And neither do grammar classes.
ANOTHER BIRTHDAY. I’m just a week or so away from my 71st birthday and I’m planning another walk on the railroad tracks. My birthday falls on a Monday and my girls are coming for a visit on the weekend of the 13th. So, I’ll take the stroll either early, Sept. 6, or late, Sept. 20. Last year I walked from the Tyson mill to the RR crossing in Mineral Springs. This year I plan to walk from the Farmers’ Market to the Tyson mill. That way I will have walked all the way from Nashville to Muleshoe on the tracks. Don’t ask why; I don’t have enough time to explain.
You’re invited to walk with me but don’t slow me down.
HE SAID: “Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” Andy Rooney, radio and television commentator
SHE SAID: “Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.” Urusla K. Le Guin, science fiction author

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: J-Turn duty cop

I KEEP HEARING from people who hope things start to move more quickly on my deputization to give out tickets for J-Turns in downtown Nashville. Not everybody wants me to be armed. But, they mostly agree that it would be nice for me to be in some kind of uniform.
Now, I may have gotten a subtle message that the City of Nashville is not so enthusiastic about my volunteer service.
A city officer was seen on duty and on foot in the Central Business District, Monday morning, nabbing a covey of J-Turn criminals red-handed. With him on duty there was no need for me to take pictures of the cars, or to confidentially provide license numbers to police. From what I can tell, the officer did a land-office business.
Not all news is good news for my pursuit of J-Turners. Judge Steel-Gunter has declined to reserve me a box seat in her courtroom, saying I’ll just have to sit out there with the public and take my chances on encountering an irate J-Turner who has just had to cough up $145 for the traffic ticket. See, there are some people who blame me for putting the attention on J-Turns.
Plus, the judge says, even if the State of Arkansas renews my concealed handgun permit, she will not let me be armed in her courtroom.
She will, however, let me openly carry a chrome police whistle.
I wanted to put up an education booth at the Howard County Fair, but the fair board has nixed that idea. The board was reportedly afraid that my booth would win a blue ribbon and they’d have to have their picture taken with me.
I am also suspicious that one or more of them may have committed a J-Turn recently. I’m not naming names. At least at this point. But it would be better for all if they’d just go ahead and let me have a booth. Near the kitchen and a long way from the livestock pens.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Gov. Mike Beebe who has had the good sense to name Deb Tackett of Nashville to the Arkansas Early Childhood Commission. Deb is the principal at Nashville Junior High School. Her appointment expires July 1, 2017.
 And she is married to former-County Judge Max Tackett. The latter experience is a real big part of her familiarity with early childhood development.
Eleven-year-old Ethan Gunter has been playing golf since age five, regularly beating his dad, Tem, on the Nashville Country Club links this summer. On Aug. 20, Ethan scored an ‘ace’ — a hole-in-one. He was playing with three others on #1 and because of his age he hit from the ladies tee, making the hole 105 yards.
Did he have to buy a round for the house afterward?
Nashville assistant police chief and criminal investigator Amy Marion hit an ‘ace’ Sunday during the annual Three Ladies Team Scramble golf tournament at the Nashville Country Club.
Amy was playing with her teammates, Jane Witherington of Nashville and JoAnn Johnson of Idabel, plus another team of three when her tee shot on the par 3, 13th hole rolled into the cup on that big wavy green.
It was Amy’s second hole-in-one. The first was at a really-challenging golf course at Las Vegas in 2009.
She says she’ll have the ball framed — it was signed by the other ladies. The ‘ace’ won her a $100 prize from a bank, and it (naturally) won the prize for closest to the hole.
This is where her accomplishment gets complicated.
Amy’s husband, Larry, is also a criminal investigator with the Nashville Police Department. He’s also a reknowned golfer and he’s had three — THREE — aces (as a former Gurdon Go-Devil he wouldn’t fib). He says he’s got to get busy because it just wouldn’t do for Amy to catch up.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE to relate one more thing about my swell trip out West in June. Early, early one morning I sat in the garden of the La Posada Hotel watching freight trains roll through Winslow, Ariz. The trains slowed down to a crawl as they passed through. I sipped coffee and watched birds fly around the high desert garden. A train crept (creeped?) by and lo-and-behold there was a semi truck trailer on a flatbed railcar. It was an SRT (Southern Refrigerated Transport) trailer out of Texarkana, Ark. Company is now owned by an old Saratoga boy. Small world.
Don’t die without seeing the Grand Canyon. And while you’re out there, stay at La Posada and see Meteor Crater.
HE SAID: “I don’t like to commit myself about heaven and hell — you see, I have friends in both places.” Mark Twain, humorist
SHE SAID: “We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we want to be.” Lauren Hutton, actress

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Oath of Office

THEY WERE PRACTICALLY foaming at the mouth.
Two supporters of ‘J-Turns’ savagely turned upon this innocent columnist at last Friday’s Farmers’ Market. They foolishly think J-Turns are alright and both professed to make use of that particular maneuver when visiting the central business district. Further, they ‘double dog dared’ Nashville officers to give them tickets.
One of the J-Turn supporters challenged me to confirm a single accident attributed to a J-Turn. “Just think of all the gasoline I’ve saved by not driving around the block,” she said.
What do they want, facts?
If you’ll go through the District Court docket in today’s newspaper you’ll see that a woman had to pay $145 because she made a J-Turn at the wrong place. It was also — and obviously — at the wrong time because a police officer was there to see it. The police just do NOT give J-Turn tickets based solely upon the vicious gossip and unverified claims of other citizens. Believe me, I know.
Let me restate that I intend to begin posting vehicle license plate numbers in this column just as soon as the State of Arkansas gets around to renewing my concealed weapon permit.
Of course, any day now I expect the mayor to officially deputize me for the legal issuance of traffic tickets for J-turns. I am puzzled because every time I mention this subject he gets a faraway look in his eye and he ignores the topic at hand.
I am almost positive that it is the concerns of his office that are distracting him.
What I’d like is a big public ceremony for the deputization. I visualize the Scrapper Band in attendance and an honor guard of Nashville police officers to fire a 21-shot volley. Jimmy Dale can give the invocation if he promises to make it brief.
Then the mayor would call me up to the podium. I’d proudly march up in military cadence in my fine Army-Navy Surplus Store makeshift uniform. I would stand at the mayor’s side in such a fashion that all in the audience could see my ‘concealed’ weapon.
Then the mayor would swear me in.
The Boy Scouts will burn at least one discarded Old Glory.
Back to the oath of office. I’ll write it later and publish it in this space before the big event, but you can expect that it will be a fine literary effort that will make up in length the time normally taken by Rev. Dale’s invocations.
I fully expect to have coverage by state newspapers and televisions, plus about 30 hot moms who will be there with phones that take pictures.
I’m going to see if the Navy’s Blue Angels will do a ‘fly over.’ There will be refreshments following. You must show a photo ID in order to collect your donut.
Since I’ll be a public servant soon, I don’t want to start out by keeping secrets from you. This is my secret: When I finally found a pair of Army-Navy Surplus camo pants that would fit my waist, I had to have Matt Smith hack 10 inches off the inseam.
Other than being kinda large in the leg, I think they’ll look swell at the swearing-in.
GET WELL. His buddies at the Farmers’ Market say they are missing Joe Dallas who was a regular participant in previous years with produce from his great garden north of Nashville. Joe’s been absent from the shed this year due to some health issues.
Many moons ago Joe raised goats for an agri PhD from India who was working here for the poultry company then-called Mountaire. The doc wouldn’t eat beef or pork due to religious reasons. But he would eat goat or lamb.
It so happened that I was going up to visit some friends in Little Rock who had just recently been released from prison. They said, “Bring food, you moocher.” And it was true that I’d sometimes just show up on their front porch and stay for a weekend, eating out of old KFC boxes. Well, maybe I exaggerate a bit.
This time Joe sold me a kid goat and had it butchered. The late, great Joda Nelson smoked the animal and cut it up into principal chunks. He even threw in a quart of his famed BBQ sauce.
I took the goat to Little Rock, and my friends and I lugged it to a bunch of parties where other recently-released prison inmates commented on how good the meat was.
One asked: “What is it? Beef? Pork?”
Naw, it’s goat, I said.
About half of them went out on the porch and threw up.
But some wanted to know if they could take a few ribs back to their own apartment.
In those days you could also get a BBQ goat sandwich at Guy Green’s stand out on the way to Ozan. Mmmmm, good and good for you.
HE SAID: “If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?” Robin Williams, comic
SHE SAID: “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton, American novelist

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Welcome Ebola

THESE STORIES about the Ebola Virus are scary. One brilliant — simply brilliant — television news commentator said that it could very easily spread worldwide.
Well, us American dummies are doing our best to help spread Ebola.
We’ve brought home two Americans who have the disease. At least one of them was a doc who was over in Africa fighting the spread of Ebola.
But if it is so dangerous and contagious, why did we bring Ebola to our own shores?
The docs who have the most experience of anyone in the world treating Ebola ARE ALREADY IN AFRICA.
The best facilities for treating Ebola ARE ALREADY IN AFRICA.
These two Ebola cases are the first ever in the Western Hemisphere. And we brought them here. Welcome.
So who made the decision to bring home — at expense of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars — two cases of Ebola? (The aircraft with the Ebola ‘isolation chamber’ can only haul one patient at a time, meaning it will have to make two trips.)
I regularly hear from a few people who will say ‘It’s Obama’s fault,’ because they blame him for for everything from the Texas drought to Alabama’s winning streak over the Razorbacks.
I cannot believe we just invited Ebola into our own home.
The person who made the decision should be forced to watch soccer for 24 hours.
Got a thing in the mail from my insurance provider saying they had been reliably informed that I might have just a bit of a hearing problem.
I just quickly scanned the mailout. I thought it said I’d get a free hearing test to find out if all those people who said I was deaf as a post were right.
So I set up an appointment early last week.
I arrived at the hearing an hour early as is my practice. The early arrival was okay because I had two hours of paperwork waiting. I filled out the questionnaires (yes, plural) while sitting in a tiny uncomfortable chair in a cramped waiting room. I had to use my own pen.
Then ‘they’ told me that the hearing test would be $75, not free as I had assumed.
Then ‘they’ put me in a soundproof booth and gave me some earphones. They would not let me take my new Igloo cooler into the booth. And did not believe me when I told them I was only kidding.
I sat for while in silence. It was roaring in my ears.
Suddenly there was a beep in my left ear. I looked through the window at the tester who shrugged as if to ask: “Did you hear something?”
“I heard a beep,” I yelled through the window of the booth. The tester got up, came into the booth and jerked the headphones off. “What did you say?” she shouted. “You’re ‘sposed to push the button if you hear a beep.”
Well, I heard a beep, I said.
“Congratulations,” she snorted. “Now get out of here.” The tester and a couple of assistants grabbed me by the arms and dragged me to the front door. The door closed and I heard a lock click. I’m not totally deaf after all, I guess.
Well, it wasn’t quite that simple. The tester told me that, after taking all of their tests, my best bet to understand what people were saying was for everybody around me to
She added that if I was ever tempted to have my ears checked again she hoped I would consult some other company. One that gave away bamboo windchimes with the sale of a hearing aid.
I’ve heard those windchimes before and you can’t hear ‘em.
CONGRATULATIONS to Gov. Mike Beebe for having the good sense to name Parker Westbrook, formerly of Nashville and now of Little Rock, to another term on the State Review Committee for Historic Preservation.  Appointment expires June 30, 2018.
BY THE TIME YOU read this column, Wednesday, the European Space Agency will have placed a satellite in orbit around a comet with an unpronounceable name. The satellite will study the rock from afar until November when it will launch a small craft which will actually land on the surface. The ESA’s spacecraft has been headed toward this comet for 10 years. It has traveled over a billion miles and was whiplashed around several planets to gain velocity.
It amazes me how ‘we’ are smart enough to create a pinpoint landing on a comet millions of miles away in outer space but we are stupid enough to bring Ebola in our front door.
HE SAID: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Martin Luther, theologian
SHE SAID: “It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” Amelia Barr, writer

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Headbutt Howdy

I HEREBY PROMISE to never, ever pick up debris from my yard again. I’ve cleaned up three or four times this spring and summer, only to have another — and worse — storm strike right on the heels of my work.
This time I lost a large Pine in the corner of my yard. It fell across electric, cable and telephone lines and snapped a SWEPCO pole. Half the town was out of electricity, and they all blamed me. Just because I picked up debris after that earlier July hurricane.
One thing I will not do is pickup sticks in the failing light. Sticks almost all look like snakes. The ones that do not look like snakes are most probably snakes. They’re out, after this last storm, and they are not in a friendly mood.
But back to my Pine. Several years ago I called the utility and suggested they might want to take down the tree because it looked diseased and had a decided lean. It would likely fall across electric, cable and telephone lines, I said.
The voice on the other end of the phone said that, ‘yes,’ the company had already spotted the tree and agreed it needed to come down. He said that a tree company would come by and cut down the tree at no cost to me.
What about the tree when it’s on the ground, I asked. His answer was: “It’s yours.”
But I’m just a pore ole widder-man living off tips from my paper-route, I protested.
Tough, he said, the tree is yours after it’s cut.
My smartmouth took over, and I advised him that we would just let the tree stand until Hell froze over or until the tree got blown over in storm and fell across his lines.
And so it did. Me and my smartmouth apologize to the neighbors.
In all seriousness, my gratitude to the men and women of SWEPCO, REA, AT&T, cable tv, tree companies and the clean-up crews who have worked in sometimes miserable conditions to restore normal life here in paradise.
BEAUTY & BRAINS. Congratulations to Gov. Mike Beebe who had the good sense to re-appoint Suzanne Davidson of Hot Springs to a four-year term on the Arkansas Arts Council.
If her name is familiar it is because she’s a 1965 NHS grad; daughter of Jimmy and Vanita Davidson. Her dad was USAF pilot who came ‘home’ to ranch. Suzanne says he was one of the organizers of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association. Suzanne is also an elected member of the Hot Springs Board of Directors.
FIRST CAR. What was yours? Mine was a used Chevrolet Corvair that I bought from Bobby Dillard with a wad of US Savings Bonds I had stashed away during my hitch in the Navy.
Chevy stopped making the Corvair, and I believe it was an omen for when Chevy quit making the Corvair just a few years later.
The Corvair got me almost all the way through school and then I bought a Volkswagen Fastback. Then VW dropped the Fastback.
Over the years I have delivered the Kiss of Death to several other model vehicles.
I had a Ford Bronco. Ford quit ‘em. A Bronco II. Bye-bye.
A Chevy van.  How long has it been since you saw a Chevy van?
Had a GMC Jimmy. Can’t get one today.
Had a medium-size Oldsmobile. Hah! A great car but General Motors quit the Oldsmobile altogether.
Had a Pontiac Bonneville. A great car but General Motors quit the Pontiac altogether.
My latest is possibly my favorite vehicle of the whole list of ones I’ve owned. It’s a GMC Canyon, a small but roomy four-door pickup that gets comparatively good gas mileage and is very reliable and comfortable. GM quit making them a year ago, but promises they will resume this fall.
If so, it will be the first one of my deceased vehicle models to return from the dead.
I was talking recently with another owner of this particular model vehicle. He pointed out that you never see one of them on a used car lot. “It’s because the first owner can’t stand the thought of selling his vehicle,” my friend opined.
HOWDY! Fistbump. High five.
Oh, those English! Some perfessers at Aberystwyth University in Wales think we’d be better off if we stopped handshakes and instead used ‘fistbumps’ as a greeting. Handshakes transfer 10 times the amount of bacteria as fistbumps, the perfessers say. Even high-fives are better than handshakes, transferring five times less bacteria than the latter.
Next, the perfessers will tell us that headbumps transfer the least amount of bacteria.
HE SAID: “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” WALT DISNEY, cartoonist
SHE SAID: “Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” JANE AUSTEN, writer

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Lawman’s J-Turn

HEARD FROM, and on an important topic, too.
A local man, let’s call him Mr. X, has written to say he observed a law enforcement vehicle making a J-Turn at precisely 9:37 a.m. on Friday, July 18.
Apparently Mr. X would like for me to make a semi-legal citizen’s arrest of the officer based upon this information (X helpfully included a description of the police vehicle and the location of the crime in order to assist me in this endeavour).
I have bad news for Mr. X. After reading his complete description of the event, I have determined that the J-Turn was made on a side street. J-Turns are illegal ONLY in the Central Business District — five downtown blocks — on Main Street. J-Turns are perfectly legal — although equally disgusting — on side streets and in Center Point and Nathan.
And in defense of those persons who drive law enforcement patrol vehicles, I personally witnessed a Nashville city officer stop a car and issue a ticket for a brazen J-Turn made right in front of that officer and myself.
I am still waiting on the mayor to deputize me so I can issue tickets for J-Turns and relieve local officers of some of their burden.
Also — and I hate to whine — apparently someone has contacted the powers-that-be and has opposed the re-issuance of my concealed handgun permit. That is enough to slow down the whole process and I must tell you that I am getting just a bit testy about all the delays.
I’ve managed to scrounge a uniform from an Army-Navy surplus store that will fit. Although in my case, whenever I find pants that have a suitable number of inches in the waist, then I must remove about eight inches of trouser length. They just don’t make uniform pants like they used to!
As long as I’m getting properly uniformed, I might just buy a few medals and pin them on my chest. The medals, uniform and the slightly concealed handgun plus the natural stern look on my face ought to deter J-Turners.
And while I’m at it, I am still miffed at the woman who was opposed to me being armed whilst making J-Turn arrests. She suggested that I get a chrome police whistle, instead of a Glock.
As I told her: “Lady, there’s no such thing as a concealed police whistle permit in Arkansas.”
Over the past 100 years, humans worldwide have become about 4 inches taller than their ancestors. Also, the World Health Organization sez that ‘we’ are living about 47 years longer now than ‘we’ did at the dawn of the 20th century.
I’m not saying anything about what the World Health Organization sez about the average weight gain of the world’s average person during this particular century. No sir, not one single word.
The height and lifespan gain are all attributed to better nutrition, better medical care and medicines, and SAFE DRINKING WATER. My emphasis.
Hasn’t the W.H.O. ever heard of the miraculous medicinal powers of M&Ms?
I see where Texas is now looking into desalinization of sea water as a possible way of solving their water shortage. Thank goodness they’re no longer talking about foxing us stupid Arkies out of our water. Except that they’re already taking southwest Arkansas water from Lake Millwood to east Texas towns via a large pipeline over the Red River bridge at Index. They’ve been doing that for years under the guise of water for Texarkana, Ark., which is  then treated and sold to several towns in east Texas.
I want something in return for our fine water. Like, a few more good Lone Star State football and basketball players for the Razorbacks.
MY BACK IS plumb wore out from all the congratulatory pats I’ve received since winning the Best Humor Column award again in the Arkansas Press Association “Better Newspaper Contest.” The most important award, of course, was the General Excellence Award which ‘The Leader’ won for the second time.
We compete in the weekly newspaper division.
Mine Creek Revelations has been a first place winner three times, not bad since we only began competing in the contest in 2008. Got a couple of runners-up awards in some other years.
The winning columns were about wetting my pants (2014); Thanksgiving dinner in an American Indian restaurant (2013); and the Mules that saw Paree (2011).
One thing I have learned is that bribes to contest judges are important. My entry is always accompanied by an unobtrusive envelope containing a few bucks and some Walmart coupons.
HE SAID: “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” HENRI NOUWEN, clergyman and psychologist
SHE SAID: “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot — it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” MAYA ANGELOU, poet

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Holding bacon under cold running water will reduce its shrinkage.
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
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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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

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).
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.
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.
WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Don’t worry about old age; it doesn’t last that long.
HE SAID: “It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.” Honore de Balzac, novelist
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

Mine Creek Revelations: J-Turn ally

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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

Mine Creek Revelations: Bird Learning

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.
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.
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.
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.
WITTY AND WISE STUFF FROM my friend out Corinth way: Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
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
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

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.”
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture is warning us Arkies that there will be a lot of ticks out there this summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HE SAID: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France
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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
HE SAID: “”If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Thomas Aquinas, theologian
SHE SAID: “Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.” Margaret Walker, African-American poet

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.
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.
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.
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?
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..
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
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

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.
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.
A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: Energizer Bunny arrested; charged with battery.
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
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

Mine Creek Revelations: Newhope (One Word)

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.
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.
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.
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.
A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is a seasoned veteran.
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.
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!
HE SAID: “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th President
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

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.”
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.
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?
A PUN FROM my friend out Corinth way: When chemists die they barium.
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.
HE SAID: “Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.” H. G. Wells, Sci-Fi author
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

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.
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..
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
SHE SAID: “Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.” Minna Atrim, writer

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.
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.
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.
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
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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
HE SAID: “He that is discontented in one place will seldom be happy in another.” Aesop, Greek slave and philosopher
SHE SAID: “In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be educated.” Margaret Halsey, author

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.
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.
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.
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
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

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.
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.
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
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.
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
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

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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
HE SAID: “Happiness consists in activity. It is a running stream, not a stagnant pool.” John Mason Good, scientist
SHE SAID: “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.” Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia

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?
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.
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.
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.
HE SAID: “Don’t get up from the feast of life without paying for your share of it.” Dean Inge, author
SHE SAID: “Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.” Willa Cather, author

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.
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.
HE SAID: “Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.” James Naismith, inventor of basketball
SHE SAID: “It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” Amelia Barr, author

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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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

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.
BULLETIN: The burn ban in Howard County has been lifted.
BEAUTY. Shina Sumler, a soph coed from Nashville, is among the contestants in the annual Miss Henderson State University Pageant this week. Good luck!!
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
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
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

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.
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.’
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.
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: “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
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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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

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?
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.
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.
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: “Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a ‘Friday the 13th.’
 HE SAID: “Honesty is something you can’t wear out.” Waylon Jennings, musician
SHE SAID: “I only use my sick days for hangovers and soap opera weddings.” Kate O’Brien, novelist

Mine Creek Revelations: To Pikeville

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.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “Why does a round pizza come in a square box?”
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.
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
SHE SAID: “Self esteem comes from doing something and accomplishing something.” Shari Lewis, entertainer

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.
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?
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.
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a “Friday the 13th.”
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.
HE SAID: “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet
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

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.
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.
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.
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).
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.”
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.
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
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

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
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.”
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.
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.”
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.
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.
HE SAID: “The big artist keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools.” Thomas Eakins, artist
SHE SAID: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth, author

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.”
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.
THINGS I LEARNED from reading email: “The highest point in Pennsylvania is lower than the lowest point in Colorado.”
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.
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.
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
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

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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