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Burton Cole column

Escaping chores spoiled by COVID-19

I’ve never gotten around to installing the baseboards in the living room. I meant to do that shortly after moving in — 20 years ago or so. You tend to notice subtle details like that working from home. “More like glaring,” my wife, Terry, said. “When are you going to put those ...

Cope with crazy coronaquips

Don’t bother busting out of quarantine — everything is shut down. All the toilet paper’s been hoarded, so I hope you found fast-food napkins stashed in your glove box. Remember the relief when you knew you’d never again have to diagram a sentence or multiply fractions? Yeah, well, ...

I have a lot to do … it’s time for bed

“What’s that quote about distractions?” she asked. “Something about monsters and bugs.” I picked up my smartphone — actually, I already was holding it; the thing seems to be stuck to my palm — and tapped the screen. “Life is a hailstorm of distractions. It’s not the monster ...

I promise to love, honor and confuse

Marriage is the match of two people who promise to confuse each other for the rest of their lives. Hardly a day goes by without Terry and I heaping such blessings upon each other. We’re marriage experts. “Why is there an empty pickle jar in the refrigerator?” Terry yelled. “I left it ...

The great philosophers of the world think of March

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” No, wait. Wrong Charles Dickens quote. Or possibly not. I tend to mildly mangle all those quotes about the month of March. The first one I learned was pinned in construction paper letters on a bulletin board in the Monroe Elementary ...

Residential stability allows feeble and ugly furniture to breed

The stability of life has overcrowded my house. Decades ago, I lived a migratory life. Every three years, I uprooted my belongings and set off for a new apartment or a different rental shack. Every three years, I shoved boxes, bags and trunks into one of two conveyances — a truck or a ...

The truth about monkeys, iguanas and bathtub gin

The great philosopher Mark Twain once penned, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” Here are several real-life oddities I discovered perusing the unvarnished truth the last couple of months. * When the village of ...

If you can hear this, quit sending me earwax ads

Like most aggravations, this one is my wife’s fault. Whoops, that didn’t come out right. I am so going to hear about this. Or maybe not. That’s how the problem started. Terry’s such a soft talker that I miss the occasional word or two. “It’s not occasional,” she signaled with ...

Living with antiquities, rarities and vintage whatzits

I grew up in a museum. I didn’t know it was a museum. No one ever stopped for a tour. If they had, we boys would have trundled them to the barn, handed them pitchforks and told them the interactive exhibit began behind the cows. Kids can be creative when it comes to getting out of ...

Cole gains force field against stupidity

The more I age, the more my immunity to peer pressure matures. It’s like gaining a force field against stupidity. Oh, sure, I still do plenty of stupid things. My wife keeps a catalog of them. I am still a guy, after all. It’s just that when I do stupid things now, it’s because I want ...

Grumpy Grammar Guy begs you: Stop abusing apostrophes

As a recovering copy editor, few things get my goat as much as the misplaced apostrophe. Walk down any street in the U.S. of A. and you’re likely to see signs like these: • Professional Sign’s & Lettering • Fried Oreo’s • Valentine gift idea’s • Radiator Cover’s Made ...

People milk idea of zebra cow and moo-ve past methane

If I believed everything I read, I’d think that cows are evil, bent on destroying the world by bovine burps and flatuence. I grew up on a farm in cow country, and trust me, the cows had nothing on us pack of boys when it came to burps, gas-passing and other odoriferous hobbies. I do not ...

My hat is lost forever! Wait, Terry moved it again

“I need a new knit hat for winter,” I told Terry. “Mine disappeared.” “Isn’t it on the hat holder by the door?” she said. “That’s where I put it. But it’s not there.” Terry walked to the back door. She plucked my knit cap from the far left side of the tray. She dropped ...

Predictions of flying cars fall short

In the supposed words of the great philosopher Yogi Berra, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” That quote’s also been attributed to Mark Twain, Niels Bohr, Casey Stengel, Robert Storm Petersen and Samuel Goldwyn, among others. With a past so unreliable, is ...

Get yourself a bowl of cold cereal and check the mail

It was so odd that my wife called me at work: “You got a letter in the mail.” “You rang me up to tell me about yet another credit card offer?” “No,” she said. “Your cousin Cindy. She sent you a letter. An actual letter with an envelope, a stamp and everything.” “Weird,” I ...

Just hire a chimpanzee to remodel your kitchen

Science once proclaimed that what separated homo sapiens from all the other critters was that humans were the only creatures who fashioned and used tools. (Humans also are the only creatures known to use credit cards and hold committee meetings. You may think your executive committee is made ...

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Has any kid ever poked an eye out? His, hers or anyone else’s? That was the No. 1 threat parents gave to make us quit doing something: “Don’t run with that stick in your hand. You’ll fall and poke your eye out.” “Keep throwing those balled up socks like that and you’ll poke ...

Spit-shined and ready to grow up with wife’s advice

I am my wife’s oldest son. I don’t know when the transformation happens but it’s an affliction most husbands suffer. One moment, our wives chat about how they fell in love with our boyish charms. The next, they’re spit-washing cereal off our cheeks and ordering us to tuck in our ...

’Tis the season for baggy pants

’Tis the season to break out the holiday wear. I don’t mean ties imprinted with Santa’s chubby cheeks and red and green sweaters littered with snowflakes. Let’s wait until December for that. I’m talking about pants that are two sizes too large and sweatshirts marked 3XL. If they ...

Introverts unite! Separately. At home. With a nice blanket.

My phone rang the other day. I held it in my hand and stared at the screen. “Aren’t you going to answer it?” my wife asked. “I... I...” I gulped. “No.” “You don’t recognize the number?” she said. “Sure. It’s Ralph. But I need at least 30 minutes to psych myself up to ...