Thursday, April 23, 2015

It's about time - April 22, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 22, 2015

April Showers bring May Flowers.  I read that this phrase goes all the way back to the mid 16th century.  It seems that a poet and farmer named Thomas Tusser wrote the book “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry” and in the April Section, the following poem was written:  “Sweet April showers do Spring May flowers.”  Does this simple two-line poem with obscure origins mean that April is the rainy season and May is the beginning of Spring and all the likely new flowers growing in the meadows?  Sure, why not?  Widely accepted, right?  So, is rain good?  Well, sometimes.  I remember another little two-line poem:  “Rain, rain, go away; come again another day.  So, sometimes spring showers may be troublesome – like when they cause a baseball game to be cancelled or when you get caught without an umbrella and get your clothes soaked.  Or, even worse, when the rain comes down in buckets and causes flooding.  When I was a boy, Spring floods were common.  This was a primary reason for the erection of the dams that help to keep our riverfront cities from being flooded.  As I recall, the last major flood in Calico Rock, when the river water was over the railroad tracks, was in 1951.  There have been a couple of occasions when the water covered a portion of highway 5 for a day or two, once in the early 80’s and again about 25 years later.  Video of the last flood, when a house was washed off its foundation and  floated downstream to be demolished when it hit the highway 5 bridge, made every national news channel.  You can still catch this video on YouTube (yes, that’s Peggy’s voice in the background).  But, spring showers are a wonderful thing – they help plants grow!

And, did you know that even lightning can help plants grow?  A flash of lightning gives off enough electric energy and heat to make oxygen and nitrogen combine into nitrates that mix with the rain to fertilize the plants.  Amazing how nature works.  Way back in the 1920’s, two enterprising song writers were inspired to write a song that was made famous by a popular singer of that era, Al Jolson.  The chorus of the song went like this:  Though April showers may come your way, They bring the flowers that bloom in May; And if it’s raining, have no regrets; Because, it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets.  And when you see clouds upon the hill, You soon will see crowds of daffodils; So keep on looking for the bluebird, and listening for his song, Whenever April showers come along.  Give yourself a treat and listen to Al sing this wonderful little ditty on YouTube.  Better yet, check out the video, “The Jolson Story,” and listen to some of his other famous songs.  He was quite an entertainer, performing sometime in blackface.  This would be unheard of in these times.  I remember that one of his most requested numbers was “Mammy.”  From a kneeling position, he emotionally declared, I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles, My Mammy.  They don’t write songs like that anymore (did I hear a “thank goodness”).  Well, things do change as well as likes and dislikes, varying from one person to another, from one age group to another, from country/rock to the golden oldies.  And, the seasons change, sometime dry, sometime wetter than normal.  Patience through the most unpleasant times, like April showers, will eventually lead to beauty, like May flowers.  Remember this on those rainy Spring days.  Speaking of time (we were, weren’t we), tomorrow, April 24th, is a huge day for you techies.  That is the day that the new Apple IWatch goes on sale.  Now I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you readers have already pre-ordered one of these marvels.  Shades of Dick Tracy!  I was a big fan of this comic strip detective when I was growing up.  That item on his left arm was his wrist-radio that he used to communicate with police headquarters.  Such fantasy, we thought.  Never happen, we said.  Well, it has, and all of you will want one.  It’s like having a miniature IPad on your wrist.  Want to send a message to someone?  You don’t need a querty keyboard, just speak the message and your watch will recognize your voice and type for you.  Take and send photos.  Listen to music.  Get phone calls.  Get maps.  Ask Siri a question.  And, of all things, you can even get the correct time of day.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What goes around...... April 9, 2015

As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 9, 2015

Totally shocked! That is the way that Brenda responded to the last Ramblings column in which I wished her a “Happy Birthday” (her 60th, by the way).  I replied to her text, “Mission Accomplished.”  Now, before I go any further (or is it farther?), I must assure everyone that I do not have a single “get-even” bone in my body.  Sometimes things just fall into place at the right time without any outside assistance.  Maybe I should tell the entire story from the beginning.  When Brenda was about six weeks old, I received my army discharge papers so we loaded up the car and headed for Arkansas.  Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that the trip across Kansas in a non-airconditioned  vehicle with two women (Anita and my mom) and an infant daughter  was pretty stressful.  But, after a two-day journey of almost a thousand miles, we arrived at our destination, Calico Rock, Arkansas.  We set up housekeeping in a small rental house on First Street, remained there for two and a half years until we moved into a new home on Red Lane that became our dwelling for the next 45 years.  Steve was born a few weeks later so our family was complete.  Meanwhile, I was keeping busy at the City Drug Store on Main Street in Calico Rock and, in 1969, we built a new drug store at the corner of Park Street and highway 56.  The year that Brenda graduated from high school, we made a trip back to Colorado.  We thought it was a great idea but Brenda was totally disinterested in seeing where she was born (she was in love).  After a couple of years in college, she and Jack were married (strictly by coincidence on the day Elvis died, August 16, almost 39 years ago).  Both graduated and became school teachers.  After several years, Brenda decided to go back to college and graduated from pharmacy school in 1984.  She and Jack purchased the family business in 1988 and I became semi-retired.  (Since I am a rambling sort, it sometimes take me a long time to get to the point of my remarks, but here it is).  It was another of those days that I’ll never forget.  It was March 20, 1991.  I was puttering around the house when Anita asked if I would run down to the corner grocery and get a loaf of bread.  I said, “sure” so I jumped into the car and went to make my purchase.  When I came out of the store, something caught my eye.  There, in large block letters on the drug store sign across the street, begging for all of the world to read, was the announcement:  REED IS 60.  Being as good natured as I am, I took all the kidding in stride and vowed to just let it pass.  Fast forward to last December.  I was transferring all the birthday and anniversary dates from the 2014 calendar to the new one when I came to Brenda’s birthday.  I noticed it was on a Thursday so I checked to see if it was a Ramblings day.  Sure enough, it was.  The moral of this story is, “Don’t mess with old dad.”  OK, enough of that.  We had a great OFC meeting the last of March.  It was our annual birthday meeting where we invite the spouses.  Several of us have March birthdays and we had 100% attendance plus two guests, Shelby’s son and wife from Boston, for a record total of 14 present.  We sang “Happy Birthday” to George since he caught up with me on that date, making four of the six members the same age.  Thankfully, both Shelby and Harold had birthdays before the end of March, becoming the seniors of the group again.  By the way, Harold and Pat celebrated their 60th anniversary on the first day of April.  We were still in Colorado when they married, but my mom wrote us with the news that this popular young couple had tied the knot, and that they had been properly shivareed.  I’m sorry that we missed the festivities.  Anyway, to round out this issue, I think I have mentioned before that Shelby and Beth both love to read.  He reads non-fiction, she reads only fiction.  I also love to read but, for various reasons, have slowed down a lot.  However, I visited the library and checked out a book recently, a best-seller fiction tome, also made into a movie.  It was about a “girl” that was “gone.”  I should have stopped on page one.  The author insisted that she use the “F” word every other sentence it seemed.  The movie is R-rated, of course.  Shelby says that he reads to expand his knowledge.  I’m moving back to non-fiction.