×

Burton Cole column

Let’s get ready to laugh — or groan

Hey, it’s National Humor Month! Let’s celebrate with grins and giggles — or possibly with corny groaners. Author and humorist Larry Wilde founded National Humor Month in April 1976 to bring public awareness to the therapeutic value of humor. And really, after 2020, we need a couple ...

The peril of spring cleaning

The great philosopher William Morris once advised: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This is probably why the two most dreaded words in the English language for me are “spring cleaning.” I never know if I’m going to make the ...

Lessons learned in the driver’s seat of an old Allis-Chalmers

Everything I needed to know in life, I learned driving an orange Allis-Chalmers tractor. At the time, it felt like some of the most boring, sweat-soaked days of my teenaged life. Dad refused to trade in the old Allis for a modern farm tractor with an air-conditioned cab and built-in stereo ...

Sour, salty and hot: Jelly bean favorite flavors reflect the national mood

This may sound un-American, but I detest jelly beans. A few decades ago, we elected a U.S. president who kept a jar of Jelly Belly beans on his desk. I have been suspicious of politicians ever since. “You can tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jelly beans,” ...

Contradictory wisdom of the ages wrestles for sense

“Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life,” she said. She was hinting that I should wear something besides my “air-conditioned” but comfortable sneakers with my 20-year-old suit. I don’t do well with hints. “If Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly in the end, ...

Surprise! You’re flying to Parts Unknown

One year later, we are so eager to go somewhere that we’ll pay good money to go anywhere that isn’t locked up at home. Qantas airlines in Australia is banking on it. Qantas is now offering mystery flights. It’s simple. You plunk down a minimum $737 for economy class or $1,579 for ...

Life smoother in the bumpy days of dirt roads

I grew up in the era of dirt roads. Dirt roads were our most prolific crop out in the country where I grew up. My family lived across the road from one. My siblings and I and the neighbor kids churned up clouds of “smoke” on our bicycles as we practically jarred out our brains with hours ...

‘Wrap rage’ keeps Burt from helping struggling reader

Faithful reader Ron Reid cried out for help. He probably meant to send his urgent plea to someone else. Generally, I’m the last person someone in trouble hollers to for rescue. “Help! Save me!” a person dangling from a limb mysteriously growing out of the side of a cliff would yell. ...

Frogs inspire hoppy thoughts

We tiptoed to the ditch, then counted the number of frogs leaping from the grassy bank into the water. We always stopped to study the frog ditch on our summer walks. “That was the life,” I sighed. “Sunning myself in the grass, snapping flies out of mid-air, and snoozing ...

The check’s not lost … just give it time to materialize

Dear County Property Tax People, My check might be a little bit late. See, I put it in a safe place so I wouldn’t lose it and, well... I’m having a bit of trouble finding it. It’ll turn up. Possibly when I’m digging through the refrigerator to find the ketchup or when I’m pawing ...

Oh look, a horse and a truck — here comes an idea

“How do you come up with an idea for your column every week?” she asked as we walked to our cars. I tried to blush. “You’re amazed by all my great ideas?” She shook her head. “If you have great ideas, how come you don’t use those instead?” “Yes, well...” I cleared my ...

Call of wild hard to hear inside RV

As winter wears on, we’ve been pining for another camping trip. Only this time, Terry and I want to rough it in a 45-foot RV with air conditioning, full kitchen, shower and large-screen TV. We’re still adventurous in our 60s. But the ground’s grown a lot harder over the last half ...

Beguiling button jar holds childhood memories

I started life as a boy. So did my brothers. We’re still boys at heart — only in our 50s and 60s, we do a lot less climbing, crawling, jumping, falling and fighting. Our shirt buttons are safe. But as active hooligans growing up on a farm a half-century ago, buttons forever flew. We’d ...

Scouring the planet for a lick of common sense

I don’t suppose you’ve noticed, but the world’s gone crazy. I suspect that’s because we’ve misplaced our common sense and can’t find it anywhere. We’ve checked under the rug, behind the dresser, in the couch cushions, even on the floor of the car, and there isn’t a scrap of ...

Standing at edge of crankiness

It’s not your imagination. People really are angrier these days. Why are we so downright crabby? For starters, politics, the pandemic and persnickety people. Possibly parsnips too, but no one’s tried to feed me any of those things lately. Parsnips make me cranky. Just about anything is ...

Quoth the dreary year of 2020: ‘Nevermore’

It’s the most listful time of the year. By that I mean we are pummeled by plenty of lists popping up everywhere reviewing the year that was 2020. Top songs of the year, top stories of the year, movies of the year, books of the year, events of the year, famous people departing in the year... ...

Coconut has largest house mammal as pet

We have a cat. Rather, my wife has a pet. The cat has me. Last night, I sat in my easy chair watching wildlife on Animal Planet when our all-white, barely-more-than-a-kitten named Coconut issued an order. “Ah, listen to her cute little meow,” Terry said. There was nothing cute or little ...

Get groovy and feel the nostalgia for yesteryear, Daddy-O

How did we get so mixed up over nostalgia? By definition, nostalgia is a yearning to revisit a past period in one’s life. That leaves out my junior high school years. Speaking of which, when I was in junior high, once or twice a year, we would have ’50s Days, in which we all came to ...

Wiggle your fingers at these numbers

There has always been the notebook. My earliest memories of family trips — other than bouncing all over the back seat with my little brother — are Dad reciting the odometer reading and the number of gallons the gas station attendant had just pumped into the car. Mom recorded these in the ...

Holiday books need side of chocolate

The post warmed me more than a mug of hot chocolate: “In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, then the tradition is to spend the rest of the night reading and eating chocolate.” I don’t know if this is true, but it sure ought to be. Which books should we give? Mine, ...