Clock not alone in fear of change

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

“I need something that only you could provide.”

“What’s that?”

Email newsletter signup

“Your absence.”

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: We have speed bumps in parking lots. We need them on highways.


My brother Donald has an atomic clock. The clock claims to be the most accurate of timepieces. It works great until it needs to change for Daylight Saving Time. The clock automatically updates for DST. The time changes but it is not correct. It’s five hours off. The clock doesn’t find change easy. It’s not alone.

I grew up with an outhouse. To be factual, I didn’t really grow up with it. The outhouse was grown when I first encountered it. My mother wanted a shorter walk when nature called — an indoor toilet. My father wasn’t in any hurry to make the change and threatened to move the outhouse indoors. Eventually, the outhouse moved away.


I curled once. Not hair or with a book, although I’ve curled up with a good book countless times. I’ve curled up with a bad book many times. The curling I participated in was the sport of curling. It involved brooms, stones and people who knew what they were supposed to do and did it. I wasn’t clear on what I was supposed to do. I knew that I was meant to deliver stones to a certain place on a sheet of ice. I thought that would be easy. After all, I had spent years picking rocks from farm fields and had an uncle who once passed a kidney stone. I found curling to be an enjoyable experience and like so many things in life, much harder than it looked.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

I didn’t do much traveling as a boy. My parents were homebodies. We traveled for weddings, baptisms, confirmations, anniversaries, big birthdays and funerals. So many funerals that I became a connoisseur of funeral potatoes (tater tot hotdish). I may not have wandered often, but I could tell a town. Each town had its name on the water tower and a giant grain elevator looming as a sentinel. To those of us tethered to the prairie, those were welcome signs. I measured distances by the number of towns between start and destination.

“How many more towns?” was a familiar query from my perch in the backseat.

Café chronicles

“How are you doing?” I asked a patron in the Mountain Market in Haines, Alaska.

“As a liar, I’m doing great,” replied the furnace repairman. “I love this time of the year. When women get cold, they come to see me.”

Shower to signature

I sign e-mails, “May happiness be your shadow” before adding my name. Someone asked how long I’ve been doing that. I told him that I’d been signing things that way before there was a thing called e-mail. I’m a shower thinker. Moments of clarity and inspiration flourish under a showerhead. The pulsating water frees cognitive resources that remain hidden otherwise. Perhaps the signature came to me there.

Meanwhile in the town of Two Bits

The car limped into the gas station. One wheel was riding on the rim. The station was the only place for miles that could fix tires.

The driver got out of the car and said, “I have no idea where the spare tire is on this car. Can you help me?”

“Sure,” said the proprietor, M.T. Tank, without taking his eyes off Wheel of Fortune on his dusty TV.

“How much do you charge?” asked the driver.

Smiling as he watched Vanna White flip over an L, M.T. replied, “What difference does it make?”

My neighbor

Old Man McGinty, the youngest Old Man McGinty ever, said that he knew he was getting old when he began to believe that he who hesitates is probably right.

Meeting adjourned

If you cannot be kind, be vague.