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Columns

  • Hoping to share 'good tidings of great joy'

    The Christmas season is a time of joy. Great joy, in fact, if you read the King James Version of Luke’s account of the Messiah’s birth.

    If that’s so, why are so many people miserable?

    Crowded parking lots and shopping frenzies put many of us on edge. Then there’s the extra hussle and hassle to fit in work celebrations, family gatherings and extra decorating, extra cooking and extra cleaning necessary to stage the perfect holiday.

    Holidays can be a burden, leaving some folks feeling more pooped than pumped.

  • All I want for Christmas is my nip and tuck

    Back in 1944, while teaching music in public school, Donald Gardner asked his second-grade class what they wanted for Christmas. Noticing how almost all his students answered him with a lisp because they had at least one front tooth missing, Gardner sat down and wrote the song, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”

    Unfortunately, at least for many youth, it takes much more than two new front teeth to fit into the norm physically; it takes a nip here and a tuck there.

  • Getting reacquainted with Grandpa on his 100th birthday

    Dec. 10, 1911, a century ago, my grandfather was born.

    A powerful figure in my childhood, the image of my grandfather remains fully formed more than two decades after his death.

    He awoke before dawn daily to milk cows and tend to farm chores before putting in a day’s work at Fort Knox. He had big features that probably seemed bigger because of his bald head. A strong man with huge, powerful hands and a forceful personality to match, he enjoyed a rowdy argument about as much as he enjoyed a good laugh.

  • Stressed by holiday frenzy? Calm, common ground is possible

    “What part of Christmas do you find most stressful?” I asked my secretary the other day.

    “The shopping,” she said, without hesitating. 

    The traffic --t rying to find a parking place, struggling to drive from one store to the next -- and the crowds, rushing to get in line, scurrying by other shoppers -- all come with the shopping. It’s an all inclusive non-bargain.

  • Rules about openness should not be drafted by closed minds

    You don’t let wrongdoers write the law.

    Think about that. You wouldn’t let a persistent speeder set the speed limit, a drunken driver determine the legal alcohol level is and you should not let an open-record violator say what should and should not be made public.

    Yet that’s what some in state government would prefer.

  • Judge-executive answers: Whose government is it?

    Many residents incorrectly view county government as just “the government for the unincorporated areas” of the county. In reality, county government provides virtually the same services to every person – city and rural residents alike. In contrast, city governments provide additional services, or increased levels of service, to residents living within their city limits.

    Services provided by county government include:

  • Complicated family communication

    Getting a telephone call from by sister during the work day prompts an immediate emotional reaction. Seeing her name on the cellphone’s display screen brings a quick surge of tension and the beginnings of a knot in my stomach.

    It’s not that she always calls with bad news. It’s usually no big deal. But if she’s calling, it’s probably urgent, particularly if the call comes during the work day.

    We don’t call each other often.

  • Cycle of life and of hope seen in garden graves

    “You’d better get what’s left of your garden in; we’re going to have a hard freeze tonight,” Glen, my gardening mentor, warned me several weeks ago. 

    And so I carried in the tomato vines, picked the peppers and salvaged what okra was left. In the garage, they now are ripening so fast that some are beginning to rot before we can get them eaten.

    My wife tolerates my boastful proclamation: “It’s November and we still enjoy the garden,” as if this justifies the time devoted to working the ground this past summer.

  • Learn to treasure the night before Thanksgiving

    I’ll take the night before Thanksgiving over Christmas Eve any year.

    Christmas Eve is a tired ol’ day, worn out by the flurry of activity preceding it. By the time it arrives, usually too soon, it’s all out of breath as it plops its burden of stress and strain —  last minute shopping, checklists, nagging questions (Did I get her the right gift? Will it fit him? Should I have just given the kids money and been done with it?) — at your doorstep.

  • Isolation and inconvenience from construction ends

    Living close to work is ideal.

    I have been a commuter and you can have it.

    Typically, the drive from house to office takes about five minutes. It’s even quicker if the single traffic signal along the route decides to cooperate. That’s not enough time to hear two country songs, which explains while I’m no longer in tune with music coming out of Nashville.