The Year of the Big Six-Oh
2004 was a typical year -- some ups and downs, and lots of in-betweens.
JANUARY: I'm scheduled to teach three computer courses at Ozarka College during spring semester, but one of the courses is canceled. I now have less money but more free time to spend it.
FEBRUARY: Our troops have been in Iraq for a year now, taking potshots from trigger-happy hotheads who want us to go home. But we can't go home until they stop taking potshots at us. It's basically a Mexican standoff without the Mexicans. Winning a war is a lot like winning an earthquake.
MARCH: My mother breaks the same leg she broke in February of the previous year, this time below the knee. Usually she stops by once a week or so to help me with my vegetable garden, but once again this year I have to do all the work myself. Why does everything always happen to me?
APRIL: The pollen count is high and my allergies are in full throttle. I plant the garden -- 13 tomato plants, six pepper plants, lots of cucumbers, and some dill. My mother doesn't like the way I laid it out and complains that I didn't plant enough dill. Nevertheless, she's still willing to share the produce once it's ready to be picked.
MAY: Spring semester ends at Ozarka. I release 22 students into the cold, cruel world. They all seem eager for new challenges. I don't have the heart to tell them that challenges can often be irritating.
JUNE: My brother and his wife from Colorado come for a weekend visit. This is the first time I've seen my brother in 18 years. He's still taller than I am, but I'm still smarter and better looking. Some things never change. The vegetable garden takes a hit, probably due to the unusually heavy rains. Most of the cucumber vines are dying. Once again, my mother finds fault with my gardening. I consider breaking her other leg.
JULY: Last July, I was awarded first place by the Arkansas Press Association for best humor column written in 2002. This year, I was awarded second place for the same category for columns written in 2003. Referring to my submission, the judge commented, "Too funny -- wonderful rhythm." I can't quite figure out how a humor column could've been "too funny" but vow not to be quite as humorous in my humor columns next year.
AUGUST: I celebrate my 60th birthday by going into a deep depression. I'm now on the downhill skid of life. I've probably been on a downhill skid for years but failed to notice. I'm scheduled to teach two classes at Ozarka during fall semester, but one of them is canceled. My plans for acquiring the Minnesota Vikings are put on hold.
SEPTEMBER: The folks building a house down the road allowed their two large dogs to roam freely into my yard and viciously attack my dog. I managed to break it up before they killed him but he was badly torn up. I had a talk with the folks and they promised it wouldn't happen again, but their dogs continue to show up on my property. I'm stuck in an awkward position with few alternatives. Moving to Saskatchewan isn't an option.
OCTOBER: The hard drive on my PC crashes. I'm forced to buy a new Dell and start over. Many of my backup files can't be restored. I have an overwhelming desire to find the guy who invented computers and beat him with a stick. My dog senses my anger and leaps into my lap to comfort me, breaking a lamp in the process.
NOVEMBER: George Bush is elected for a second term as president over some guy from Massachusetts. This time there were no hanging chads. Bush promises to rid the planet of bad elements and bring the world closer together. To many people who don't watch old John Wayne movies, this seems like a contradiction.
DECEMBER: Santa stops by again this year. I get a basket of fruit, a green sweater and a pair of white socks. I wanted a brand new Corvette and a pile of cash, too, but it wasn't meant to be. Maybe next year. 2005 will probably be another typical year -- some ups and downs, and lots of in-betweens. That's fine by me. But I can do without any more new neighbors or birthdays ending with a zero.