I Suppose I’ll Still Like Apples in 6 Years

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have planted countless flowers, shrubs and trees in my life.

Kim loves to garden, and she thinks I love to dig holes, so it’s a natural fit.

Although she normally spearheads the planting projects, I must admit I enjoy it in moderation.

I have transplanted rose of Sharon bushes all over the yard. They sprout up on their own, and I have learned that they never do so in the right place.

We also have a burning bush that likes to procreate, and I have scattered its saplings here and there around the backyard.

We have 8,000 or so varieties of plants that came from Kim’s mother, just like we have a healthy collection of aunt somebody’s variegated something-or-anothers.

Sometimes a planting project is my idea, though. I dug up a couple of cedar trees from the farm my father grew up on and planted them at the house. And as we speak, I am planning a midnight raid to Mama’s old house to dig up some of the iris I loved looking at as a kid.

Planting is rewarding, but it’s hard work.

Many years ago, we nearly died from planting 27 bushes in one day to form a shrub around the swimming pool. Thankfully, the third degree sunburn was there to take my mind off my muscles which felt like rusty log chains the next morning. The only body part I didn’t strain that day was my brain.

We still refer to that experience as the “27 red tip day” in our house. It lives in infamy. I measure all physical pain using the 27 red tip day scale.

We’ve been gardening forever. We planted a tiny garden outside our apartment the first year we were married, and we haven’t missed many — if any — years since. Ours is a city garden, nothing big. I wouldn’t want to tackle a big garden anyway, you know, because of the moderation thing.

Grant got interested in it to the point where he had his on smaller garden a few years. His had better soil. That must’ve been it. I predict once the bug is inside you, it stays there. We’ll see.

Right now, however, we have 121 heirloom tomato plants we grew from seed. One hundred and twenty-one, no joke. I just counted them. I don’t know what we’re going to do with 110 of them, but we’ll figure out something.

I said all that to say this: we’ve never planted a fruit tree. 

I’ve always wished I had fruit trees, but I don’t. And that’s my fault, because I always say it will take too long before they bear fruit.

I guess I have short attention span syndrome. Or maybe I think I’m going to develop apple-infect-ivitis or some other dread fruit-related disease.

How many years ago would I have enjoyed the first apple or peach if we had planted a couple of trees the first time we talked about it?

Decades. Just fewer than three, but decades nonetheless.

I think about it often.

I’m thinking about it now because Kim visited with our 80-year-old neighbor outside last night who said she is going to plant a fruit tree.

I wonder if our neighbor has been putting off planting fruit trees for 50 years? Even if she has, what an inspiration she is. We should all aspire to see the glass half full with such gusto.

Kim said, “That’s the kind of 80 year old I want to be.”

Me, too.

Now, I’m not going to go in some kind of broad-sweeping, tear-jerking “what might’ve been” direction. Thankfully, I don’t have too many regrets.

But unless I change my mind, I am going to plant a couple of fruit trees.

I’ll let you know in 6 years how they turned out.

The Sad Election We Can’t Ever Undo

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThis election was a disaster.

The results will affect the entire world for generations.

How could we get it so wrong?

I’m sorry, wheelbarrow. Boot, you had a good run. And thimble, oh, thimble. We will miss you.

By now you’ve probably heard that these three classic Monopoly game pieces were voted out in an online contest and replaced by a tyrannosaurs rex, a duck and a penguin. More than 4 million people from 146 countries voted.

The internet strikes again.

This is ridiculous.

First of all, the T-rex is scaly instead of smooth like the rest of the pieces. Plus, it looks like it could eat the car in one bite.

The duck is billed (sorry) as a rubber duck, but it’s not rubber. If it were rubber, at least that would make it a little cooler — the way the rope is made out of plastic in Clue.

I’ve never understood peoples’ fascination with penguins in the first place. And the Monopoly penguin has this smart aleck, narcissistic look on his face that reminds me of the selfies people take when they go to the beach.

While we’re changing the iconic pieces, why stop there? We could get rid of the Scottie dog and the car and replace them with a vape pipe and a cellphone. Why not make one out of plastic that looks like a Kardashian? 

I’m sure the move was a marketing ploy to make the game appeal to younger people.

In trying to accomplish that, we ended up with an animal that became extinct a million years ago, a duck that won’t float and a bird that lives on the ice and swims instead of flies.

It could’ve been worse, if you can believe it. 

Also on the ballot were a computer, a bunny slipper, an emoji face and a monster truck for heaven’s sake.

Can you imagine if the inventor of Monopoly were reincarnated to see a monster truck spewing carbon monoxide all over St. James Place?

I’ve got an idea. Let’s not stop with changing the pieces. 

Let’s jack up the price of Boardwalk to a $12.2 million and turn it into a mixed-use development with a Chili’s in the parking lot.

Let’s cave into pressure from MoveOn.org and change the name of Oriental Avenue to something less offensive. While we’re at it, let’s change the name of Marvin Gardens, simply because Marvin Gardens is a dumb name in the first place.

We could gentrify Baltic Avenue. And we need to anyway, because it is only a block from our new domed stadium we built for our new NFL team, which we plan to pay for with the revenue from Luxury Tax.

Oh, wait, I forgot. We eliminated Luxury Tax and shifted that burden to the working poor who play Monopoly.

I mean, how are we going to afford a skybox if we have to pay a Luxury Tax?

Monopoly is a classic game. It was created in the early 20th century and reflects the period.

The thimble, wheelbarrow and boot are all signs of the times.

I always liked to think these pieces represented peoples’ lifestyles. They should be preserved.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.

The next time I play Monopoly, I’m going to get the red convertible from the Game of Life, I’m going to stick a blue peg in the driver’s seat for me. Then I’m going to get the prettiest pink peg and stick her next to me.

Then I’m going to get two more blue pegs and two more pink pegs to represent our two kids and their two friends who they insisted on bringing on the trip because my Hawaiian shirt embarrasses them.

That’s what I’m going to use as my Monopoly piece, and I am going to beat the stew out of whoever is the T-rex, the rubber ducky and especially the penguin.

Just land on my redeveloped mixed-use Boardwalk and see what happens, Mr Penguin.

And don’t even think about eating at my Chili’s.

Beware the Ivy of March

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIn my backyard sits an old bed sheet with a heaping pile of pulled weeds on it.

It’s been there for 9 days. It has endured a couple of rains and even a snow.

It needs to be dragged down by the road for the public works truck to pick up, but no one in my family is probably going near it any time soon.

This pile consists of last year’s dead day lilies, some blackberry stalks and various other weeds.

And somewhere in all those tangles lurks the meanest poison ivy vine the world has ever known.

Mother nature spent all winter breeding this weapon of mass destruction, and take a wild guess where she decided to test it out.

This new strain of killer weed must be invisible; neither Kim nor I ever saw it. On the other hand, we didn’t know we needed to be on the lookout for poison ivy during the first week of March.

We worked for a couple of hours. When I came in, I thoroughly rinsed my hands and arms. It felt so refreshing, I rinsed my face. I rubbed it thoroughly with my hands, then I rubbed it some more with a paper towel.

I didn’t realize I was saturating every square inch of my bare skin with poison ivy oil.

I’ve had poison ivy plenty times in my life. Always before, the symptoms were rows of little clear blisters on my arms or legs. They’re a temporary annoyance more than anything else — never a whole lot worse than mosquito bites.

Not this time.

It took two days after my run-in before the blisters started appearing on my arms. A day later, the rash broke out on my nose, cheek, chin and neck. That’s also when my eyes began to swell.

By the fourth day, my face looked like I had been sparring with Floyd Mayweather. My left eye was swollen to the point that I could see my own eyelid from the inside.

Both arms had several beet-colored, half-dollar-sized blotches.

Kim came away with some, too. She got it on her arms and even a little patch on her forehead. I rarely beat her at anything, but I won the poison ivy challenge in a runaway.

I finally gave in and sought professional help because calamine lotion was only making this stuff mad and more ornery.

The doctor sent me home with 14 days worth of pills, a $100 tube of ointment and a package of cookies.

The cookies, actually, were my idea. When one goes to the doctor, that person deserves a treat. For the record, it was a toss-up between Oreos and army men.

Naturally, I felt the need to explain myself to everyone I saw. More than once I sensed someone thinking, “Why won’t this hideous, one-eyed man stop talking to me?”

My face looks better now, but it’s not completely back to normal. My eye still itches. I don’t think the blotches on my arms will ever heal, even after one Benjamin Franklin amount of ointment.

Every time Kim tells the story to someone she says, “I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture. I should’ve taken a picture.” I’m a little concerned by how much she wanted to preserve the hideousness. 

Poison ivy isn’t contagious, which is the good news.

The bad news is, the oil from the plant stays on whatever it touches for a long time. I threw away my trusty White Mule gloves I’ve had for probably 30 years.

I used the nuclear holocaust setting on the washer for my clothes, and I’m still afraid to touch them.

Then there’s the problem of that pile in the backyard. Public works runs again in 3 days, so I have some time to figure out how I’m going to get it to the road.

Regardless of what I do, I’ll be cautious. I don’t want new army men that badly.

Watching April Might Be Hazardous

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThe internet has created yet another viral sensation.

This one is long-necked, spotted and 15 months pregnant.

She is April the giraffe.

By the time you read this, April may have had her bouncing bundle of joy. Then again, she still may be pacing in her stall at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY.

If you’re not familiar with April, you can get to know her as she goes through the final days of her gestation period.

Just log on to aprilthegiraffe.com, and you can watch her through the stationary camera as she eats, sleeps, walks or just stands there — which she does most of the time.

In the stall immediately behind her is Oliver, the father. This is Oliver’s first calf. It’s April’s fourth trip around the block. I didn’t know this, but a baby giraffe weighs 150 pounds and is 6 feet tall at birth.

Occasionally, a zoo handler — a giraffe whisperer, I suppose — will come in the stall to check on April. Who knows what they do while they’re in there.

Here’s what I do know, though.

Thousands of people all over the world are watching April so they can see the baby giraffe be born.

Since this is a family newspaper — and since such things make me squeamish — I won’t elaborate on how I see it unfolding, but I don’t see any way it can be pretty.

I have a little experience with the miracle of birth within the animal kingdom.

I was probably 7 or 8 years old when daddy bought a herd of black angus cattle. Every day after he got home from work, we drove to the farm to check on them in the summer and throw out some hay bales for them in the winter.

I don’t really know why he got them in the first place. And I sure don’t know why he thought it would be a good idea to have another farmer’s bull come over for a play date one day, but he did.

Of course, one of the heifers got pregnant. (Yes, I realize that was the plan. Don’t email me.)

Somehow or another, daddy knew when she was close to delivering.

I thought I might sit out that trip, but oh, no, that wasn’t happening. This was something I needed to see, from what I was told.

When we got there that evening, the pregnant heifer was not with the rest of the herd. We set out to look for her.

A few moments after we started walking the perimeter of the field, we could hear her mooing.

It wasn’t a regular moo. It was the moo you moo when your quarterback throws an interception in the 4th quarter. It was the moo you moo when you drop the shampoo bottle on your toe.

It was also the moo you moo — which I unceremoniously learned— when you’re having a calf.

I’m not quite sure how I thought it would look. I certainly wasn’t expecting the stork to bring it wrapped in a pink blanket. And I knew it wouldn’t look like a Disney adaptation suitable for Saturday morning cartoons.

But I wasn’t expecting it to look the way it did.

Now, here’s why I’m concerned for the people watching April.

In homes, in classrooms and in cars idling at red lights all over the world, people are going to witness a big, big giraffe give birth to a big, big baby.

And if giraffes are anything like black angus heifers, it’s going to be gross.

Are trauma counselors on standby? Are parents ready to explain what’s going on to their impressionable youngsters? Are parents ready to see it themselves?

Privacy is pretty much a thing of the past nowadays. Even in our most intimate moments big brother seems to be watching us.

Not even a pregnant giraffe is immune. 

I probably won’t be watching, though. I’m still trying to unsee my first live birth.

How We Act When our Potatoes are Stiff

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI simply deplore mean people.

We were at lunch the other day at the place with the fireplace where the servers wear brown aprons with their names and stars embroidered in gold.

You know the place.

A woman was at the table next to us, sitting alone, reading a hardback book with a tan and lavender cover. She was probably in her late 60s.

She looked like a nice person reading a nice book. Since I admire anyone who preoccupies themselves with a book instead of scrolling on their phone, I automatically read lots more nice things into her.

I soon realized she was dissatisfied with her mashed potatoes.

I didn’t hear what she said, but I could hear the server apologize as she brought a replacement serving.

I didn’t think much about it until a manager appeared.

“I understand you didn’t like your mashed potatoes,” he said.

She snapped back, “We could lay brick if ya had any.”

What a jerk.

So the person I thought was sweet grandma was actually Mommie Dearest.

She sneered and shook her head while the manager groveled and tried to make make up for the horrible, unspeakable injustice the place had piled on top of her.

For the rest of the meal, I was rooting for the manager to snap, come back with a brick and crush her plate with it before throwing his name tag into the sweet tea pitcher and going to Montana the way he’d dreamed about since the first day he put on those rubber-soled shoes.

He didn’t, and naturally, I didn’t expect him to.

Sometimes I think mean people are happier than people like me and the brickless restaurant manager.

You’re probably the same way. There are lots of us other-cheek-turners out there.

Things people say, do and — of course — post on Facebook get under our skin, and we tend to let them overstay their welcome in our minds.

I once saw a humorous T-shirt that said “contents under pressure” on the front. I still regret not buying it.

Some years ago, I interacted with someone on a daily basis who could say the meanest things. Rarely did a week go by when someone didn’t incur her wrath.

She was a decent person, and I liked her more than most people did. But far more often than not, I thought she could’ve handled situations with a little more finesse.

I always wondered how people with mean streaks could sleep at night.

Then one day, it hit me.

It’s because they let off the steam on a regular basis.

That “contents under pressure” T-shirt doesn’t apply to them, because they don’t ever give anything a chance to build up.

It’s not an endearing quality, but I’ll bet Miss Mashed Potato Breath slept like a baby while relishing the zinger she put on the manager.

We see meanness everywhere — in traffic, on social media, at work and countless other situations in everyday life.

I don’t think anyone would deny it’s getting worse, given our national political climate right now.

I guess there are just more things to be mean about than there used to be.

It’s not my style, though. I don’t think it ever will be.

I’ll normally eat the mashed potatoes, whether I like them or not. And when the server asks me how they taste, I’ll say “fine” 99 times out of 100, regardless of whether or not they would double as mortar.

You probably do the same thing. Most people do. We’re the grease on the cogs of society — keeping someone else’s day from stinking simply by keeping our mouths shut.

I say we stay the course and not let people like Miss Mashed Potato Breath change us.

Look! You Never See That in the Neighborhood

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comOn our way home from the office one evening last December, a herd of deer — probably 10 or more — meandered across the road in front of the car right smack dab in the middle of our neighborhood.

It was a rare and unusual sight, but it didn’t hold a candle to what I saw on the way home yesterday.

I know you’re probably thinking I’m going to say Elvis or a UFO or the police SWAT team trying to talk someone off the roof.

This wasn’t anything like that. As I rounded a curve I saw a bunch of kids playing soccer in a vacant field.

There must have been 12 of them — maybe 15.

It didn’t hit me initially, then I started trying to remember the last time I saw kids outside playing a pick-up ballgame of any kind. I couldn’t. 

Our ever-growing reliance on technology has replaced the ball and bat, and I don’t understand how anyone could see that as a good thing.

When I was growing up, the kids in my neighborhood and I engaged in at least one pick-up game of football, basketball or baseball just about every day. We were born before the soccer generation.

We showed up, we chose up sides, and we played until our tongues hung out of our parched mouths.

We had access to organized youth sports, but I much preferred doing it this way. Our uniforms were shirts and skins. We didn’t have a schedule to stick on the refrigerator. Nobody’s dad was a volunteer coach, and nobody’s mom brought snacks. We didn’t have a team outing to the cheapest pizza buffet in town at the end of the season, because the season never ended.

Scraped knees and elbows were our participation ribbons.

The lessons we learned were invaluable.

We learned sportsmanship. In baseball, we shared our glove with someone on the other team if he didn’t have his own, or if his was being used as second base.

We had no officials, obviously. So we had to learn to compromise. This was usually punctuated by the team losing the argument saying, “Let the babies have it,” but it was compromise none the less.

We learned at least enough responsibility to know to go home when the streetlights came on.

We learned tolerance. If the most annoying kid in the neighborhood was the one who owned the football, then he was tolerated. And if he played his cards right, sometimes he even got to play quarterback.

We learned that wounds of all types eventually heal, and bruises fade from purple to green to yellow before disappearing completely and being quickly forgotten.

I don’t remember if we actually ever said, “rub some dirt on it,” but we had hundreds of opportunities.

We learned time management, which meant cutting the yard early in the morning before the game commenced.

I think the main thing we learned is sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And sometimes you just have to agree to disagree about who won and who lost.

There was always a tomorrow. There was always another game.

We were healthy, we were skinny, we were tanned, and we were happy.

Kids today are missing that experience. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good video game. In fact, we had video games — and other indoor activities like board games and cards — back in those days, too.

That’s what we did when it rained or if it was so cold the basketball turned to stone.

Although I could, I am not going to go on some big, long rant about kids these days spending too much time locked in their bedrooms in the dark staring at a screen.

I just don’t understand why it is more fun to play a game on a computer than in real life.

I would give just about anything for one more day in that vacant lot. I miss it.

Those kids playing soccer yesterday will miss it one day, too. And they’ll be glad they had it.

A Burger and Shake is Easy Enough, Right?

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI rarely get a hamburger from a restaurant, but when I do, I like to have a milkshake with it.

To me, it is the ultimate pairing.

The burger and the shake — chocolate of course — create a kind of magical tasty synergy that few other food combinations can match in my book.

I don’t care if it’s 12 degrees below zero. If I’m standing in front of a counter with a big menu behind the employees’ heads, and if I’m ordering a hamburger, I’m getting a milkshake with it.

Yesterday was one of those rare occasions when I found myself at a little independent burger place I like.

While I was waiting for the people in front of me to finish ordering, I could see the styrofoam cups in three distinct sizes next to the milkshake machine.

I ordered my burger and a medium chocolate shake.

“We only have small and large.”

“But, you have three sizes of cups.”

“We put milkshakes in these,” she said, pointing to stacks of clear plastic cups.

I asked to see the sizes, and she held up two cups — one in each hand.

They looked identical.

“Aren’t they the same size?”

“No, they’re not.”

I sincerely thought maybe she had bet a co-worker that she could prove I was the most gullible person on the face of the earth.

“They look like they’re exactly the same size.”

“Well, they’re not.”

“Then I’ll take the large,” I said, pointing to the one in her right hand.

“That’s the small.”

This really happened.

For the record, I have no idea if I ended up with the small or the large.

Maybe the young woman working the counter was just confused, and I can see how she would be. Back before she was born, it was easy to order a drink from a burger place, because there was only one size. And, under the golden arches for instance, it was 7 ounces.

Now each place has a half dozen different sizes, and even the smallest is too much. The biggest of the big ones are downright colossal.

It’s impossible to remember from place to place how big each size is.

At fast food joint A, a medium may be 22 ounces.

At fast food joint B, if you order a medium, it gets delivered to you by an employee wearing one of those back-support belts furniture movers wear to lift a hutch.

And, most places don’t even have a size they call small anymore. I guess that’s because we’re in America and implying that you can’t swig down a drink big enough to have high tide twice a day would be seen as a sign of weakness, I don’t know.

I cannot even imagine ordering a large drink these days. I guess it comes on a forklift going beep-beep-beep as it rumbles into the lobby.

Huge drinks have been around awhile, though. I didn’t realize it, but 7-Eleven actually introduced its famous Big Gulp way back in 1976. Nowadays, the Big Gulp is the smallest of all the Gulps.

Just in case you don’t frequent 7-Eleven, they have five Gulp sizes.

The biggest is the Team Gulp which gushes to the tune of a whopping 128 ounces. That’s a gallon, ladies and gentlemen. 

The Team Gulp comes in a container with a handle and a screw-on lid. Maybe you’re supposed to share it with, oh, 10 or so people.

I realize that what started out as me making fun of a place not having a big enough difference between their two sizes of cups suddenly turned into me complaining about drinks being too big.

I just wanted to tell the milkshake story. The rest was just bonus drivel.

No need to thank me. The next time you see me, you can just buy me a milkshake.

You pick the size.

Thanks to Atlanta, I Had to go to England for Good News

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThis is one of those good news, bad news days.

The bad news is, my idea for this week’s column started fizzling around 9:30 last night when Atlanta began the process of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the Super Bowl — thereby dashing the hopes of long-suffering Falcons fans and millions of other people everywhere who don’t like the Patriots very much.

For the record, count me in the latter group. I’ve never been a Falcons fan, but I rode the bandwagon for 4 hours last night.

But that’s the bad news.

The good news is that Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 65 years on the throne this week.

Yes, I had to reach across the big pond for the good news, but I found some, and I think it is worthy of mentioning.

The queen is the only British monarch ever to serve for this many years. When she was crowned, some guy named Winston Churchill was Britain’s prime minister.

I didn’t know it, but Elizabeth was never supposed to be queen in the first place. My knowledge of British royalty is about as extensive as the average American commoner, I suppose.

Here’s how it happened.

Elizabeth’s uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, who was from the United States and had already been divorced twice.

Elizabeth’s father then became king. His name was Albert, but when he started feeling the whole Buckingham Palace crown-and-throne thing, he adopted the name George VI.

He died in 1952, and suddenly, at 25 years old Elizabeth was crowned queen.

To put some perspective on this, in 1952 the US was fighting the Korean War and 50,000 people died from polio. Harry Truman was president.

“Singing in the Rain” was released.

An article about Elizabeth from NBCNews.com summed up her longevity by saying, “Decades of duty have defined the queen. She has traveled more than a million miles, visited about 120 countries and met with 12 U.S. presidents.”

One of the reasons I find this whole story so intriguing is because of the way the queen has always presented herself. She is the personification of grace and decorum in a world lacking grace and decorum.

She has ruled, as the NBC piece put it, “65 years without publicly saying anything inappropriate.”

I hope she never gets a Twitter account.

I feel kind of sorry for Prince Charles, though, who has been heir apparent to the throne since 1952 (you know, Korea, polio, Truman, blah, blah, blah).

I’m sure he loves his mum to the ends of the earth, but you surely know he is ready for the big promotion. No 68-year-old man wants to be called prince anymore.

I feel your pain, Charles. In a past life, I had the same job title for several years, and it gets a little stale after a while.

He probably calls the queen every morning. “Hello, mum, how are you feeling today? Oh, drat. I mean, that’s wonderful. Have you smoked those cigars I gave you yet? No, I don’t want to play tennis with you again today. Let’s go get cheeseburgers instead.”

Of course, in today’s world, not even 65 years of dignified service earns you respect from everyone. One British political faction wants Elizabeth to abdicate the throne on her Sapphire Jubilee.

One British newspaper, wrote, “… having celebrated her 90th birthday last year and suffering a heavy cold over Christmas that caused her to miss church, questions are being raised as to how long she can continue in her role as head of state.”

Seriously? The old gal phones it in one Sunday in 65 years, and people want her to quit?

Hang in there until you’re 100, queen.

If things go the way they look like they’re going, you might see a Lombardi trophy or two in Atlanta.

Still Waiting on Snow After All These Years

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI grew up just inside Tennessee on the Alabama border.

It never snowed much down there. And when it did, we rarely ever got out of school because of it.

I mean rarely to the nth degree.

I cannot express to you how much I wanted a snow day every now and then. I worked hard. I deserved one. Plus, every other school system around got them.

Therefore, every time the weatherman said the S word, I would be called to duty.

First, I would get my hopes up. That was the easy part. It happened almost instantaneously until I was about a junior or senior in high school. By then, I was cynical; but in the elementary school years, I was a bouncing bundle of enthusiasm.

Second, I would send up a little prayer. I didn’t ask for much. Is asking for enough snow to cause school to be called off such a tall order? I wasn’t picky. I would’ve taken ice, sleet or even freezing rain. We didn’t have black ice in those days. And for the record, I still don’t know what that means.

Third, I would ready my battle station, which meant putting a stool in the utility room so I could sit while I looked out the door for that first flake to waft into the beam of the back porch light.

When snow was in the forecast — during every commercial break all evening long — I would run to the utility room, flip on the porch light and fully expect to see hundreds of huge, wet, fat snowflakes falling to the frozen ground and piling on top of each other like a big thick blanket.


No precipitation was bad enough. Rain was even worse, because it was just a tease — especially since our outdoor thermometer was stuck on 33 every school night from November to March.

The weatherman would always backpedal. Here’s how the progression would go: early on, he would say “snow”, then he would say “rain possibly changing to snow,” then he would say the dreaded “little or no accumulation,” followed by — you guessed it, the snow-day death knell, “higher elevations.” 

Oh, Lord, to live in those mystical “higher elevations,” or Narnia if you’re CS Lewis.

I was desperate. 

I even toyed around with the idea that if Mother Nature wasn’t going to cooperate, I could step in.

I’m not sure if it was accurate or not, but our school principal was widely rumored to have the power to call off school on those rare occasions when it did snow.

I recall thinking how some of us could go to his house under the cover of darkness, take his hosepipe and squirt water on the ground and bushes around his back porch to make him think it had iced over when he looked out his back door.

For the record, I still think it would’ve worked.

Now, I live about 150 miles east and just about 10 miles farther north from where I grew up.

The other night, the meteorologist — with his millions of dollars of equipment, advanced degrees and experience — called for the possibility of snow.

Actually, he started mentioning it 2 weeks before when a little bitty fickle storm system started forming somewhere in the Midwest.

Right on cue, though, at dark that night I went to the back door and flipped on the light — the same way I have for more than four decades.

I went back three or four more times.


By 9 p.m., I could see the moon. On twitter, I learned that the higher elevations had received some accumulation.


Of course, school had already been called off, simply because the meteorologist said the S word.

Or, maybe a group of young patriots went to the principal’s house, turned on the hosepipe and took matters into their own hands.

Early Spring Cleaning of the Idea File

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comPeople ask me all the time how I come up with such great ideas for this column week after week.

Okay, nobody ever asks me that. I just wanted type it and see how it looked.

The other night, however, someone did tell me they liked my column, “Diary of a Madman.”

I told them “Diary of a Madman” was an Ozzy Osbourne record, but I appreciated the compliment nonetheless.

I keep a running list of column ideas using the Notes app on my phone. Regardless of what I’m doing, when I get an idea, I will whip out my phone and type it in.

It took me a couple of years, but I finally came to realize that the old, “Oh, I’ll never forget that idea” approach never works. I always forget it, regardless of how impactful it was at the time.

Sometimes, however, I look back at these notes and wonder what I meant by what I hurriedly typed. Other times, I know what I meant, but there isn’t enough substance there to justify 700 words.

Since the weather is acting like spring, I decided to do some spring cleaning and declutter my idea list. Here are the entries I’m getting rid of:

  • “Kickoff to Summer. What changes?” I think I got this from a television commercial last spring. I have no idea where I thought I would go with this.
  • “Cub Scouts.” I have fond memories of being a Cub Scout. Each Tuesday after school during my second grade year, we would pile into the back of the den leader’s station wagon and go to her house for the meeting. We did crafts and took field trips. Sometimes we went out in the woods and learned about the outdoors.  Once in Cub Scouts we did a skit about famous explorers. I gave a stellar performance as everyone’s favorite Icelandic trailblazer, Leif Erikson. Broadway never called, but the crowd in my school cafeteria was abuzz, I am certain of it.
  • “I can’t wait until 2032. That’s when our peppermint candy will be gone.” We’d been to Sam’s. If you need a starlight mint — I mean if you ever need one — I’m your guy.”
  • “Listening to loud music. (I have three entries that say this).” I think I wanted to pontificate that at least when we listened to loud music back in my day, it was music worth listening to. I know that sounds curmudgeonly, but I just find the current releases pretty slim pickings these days.
  • “The Constitution isn’t a salad bar.” I believe I could do a whole book on this, but you probably came here to escape politics for a minute, and I’m not going to disappoint you. However, I do reserve the right to revisit this one at a later date.
  • “The world would be a better place if everyone had a cast iron skillet.” I truly believe this, but not enough to come up with 700 words to convince you of it.
  • “Cookie sheet will not fit in oven.” Yes, I bought a cookie sheet that was too long to fit in the oven. I don’t take all the blame for this. Who on earth makes a cookie sheet that doesn’t fit in a standard-size oven?
  • “Buying food out of the back of a truck.” This may have had something to do with the farmers market. I love supporting local farmers directly. Hopefully, the weather during the growing season of 2017 won’t resemble the weather in the Mojave desert as much as it did last year.

There  you have it — my complete list of ideas that either didn’t make the cut or were complete mysteries to me.

I guess you’ve figured out by now that I didn’t find anything in my so-called good ideas I wanted to write about this week.

It happens to me sometimes.

I’ll bet it even happens to Ozzy too from time to time.

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