The Observer, Dec. 31 

O come all ye faithful. A childhood friend of The Observer's returned home for his brief annual visit the Tuesday before Christmas. Since his company is always in high demand, the old gang decided well in advance that this year we'd designate a time and place to make sure we spent some time together, instead of playing the usual catch-him-if-you-can-while-he's-home game. We reserved a row of tables at a bar, with the sole objective of turning a Tuesday night into a six-hour weekend throwdown. For awhile, time stood still, and the only outsiders who existed to our 20-plus wrecking crew were our Herculean cocktail servers and anyone who got in our way in the fast lane to the bathroom. It was a bit like The Big Chill without the funeral. All was right in the world, flash floods be damned.  

Then came Wednesday. We got a phone call about another guy, someone we'd known only five years, someone 10 years younger, an elementary school art teacher. He'd died in his sleep, about the same time in the early morning hour our celebratory group was paying a mighty bar tab.

No parent should have to bury his or her child, and never on Christmas Eve. Mother Nature didn't give two damns; no reprieve from the rain came that day. Mud, heavy sheets of rain and miserable howling winds added to the hollow mood.

In a little outdoor pavilion on cemetery and church acreage, we heard the pleas of grieving parents and his childhood friends: Make peace with your loved ones. Hang on to your old friends. Catch them while you can.


The Observer is here to tell you that you need to get your gutters cleaned out regularly if you don't want to stay up all night, and we do mean all night and into the next day, in the next record-setting downpour emptying from a tall plastic wastebasket a couple hundred gallons of rainwater that you captured from a leak down the wall with a system of tin foil weirs, all the time hallucinating about ways to capture the rain and drain it out the window through a garden hose stuck into a flower pot (which you finally actually attempt just at the time the paper boy turns up, so that you say good morning to him while you are sticking the hose through a screen into the house only to later discover the pot-hose idea doesn't work) and having to stand in water deep enough that sweeping it into (another) wastebasket is the only way to control it and keep it from running into the living room, ruining the wood floors, the Christmas presents, furniture feet and your life.

Just get the gutters cleaned out, OK?


The Observer can't vouch for Herman van Amsterdam — though we Googled him and found he'd authored a book on Holland, now out of print — but we don't see any harm in passing along his request to us asking for old photographs of the Bollenstreek (the Netherlands' tulip-growing area).

His message to us said he wanted photos taken by touring Americans during the middle part of the 20th century — from the 1930s to the 1960s — “to write a book about the ‘lost' past of this famous Holland landscape.”

Van Amsterdam says the Bollenstreek has changed so — from industry and residential development — that he needs the photos to reconstruct what the tulip fields once looked like.

This is vaguely depressing to The Observer, who's never visited Holland. Is it too late to see masses of the flower that so fired-up 17th century Europeans that they went broke to buy a single bulb? Has the time of the tulip passed?

Typical. We missed the ivory-billed woodpecker, too, apparently.
If you have old snapshots of your family tiptoeing, as it were, through the Bollenstreek, Van Amsterdam would like to communicate with you. His e-mail is h.v.amsterdam@casema.nl.


In the What Nonsense department, our friend relates this story about her local grocery store:

She discovered that the cranberries she'd bought at the grocery store were mush. On her return to the store, she saw why: They were in the direct path of the water sprayer that keeps the veggies cool.

She hailed a store worker. Your cranberries are being ruined, she said. His reply: He couldn't move the sprayer.

To the obvious suggestion that the berries be moved, he couldn't do that either. It's traditional, he said, to place the cranberries next to the celery.

If you want good cranberries, the gentleman said, he'll get them out of the cooler in the rear of the store.





Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

  • Every secret thing

    The Observer came into the office on Tuesday morning, not quite bright-eyed or bushy tailed thanks to Daylight Savings Time jetlag, to find our colleague Benji Hardy conked out asleep in yet another colleague's office, Benji having pulled an all-nighter to bring you, Dear Reader, this week's cover story.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015

Most Shared

  • Welfare for the wealthy: More reasons to VOTE NO on ISSUE 3

    Voices on the left and right are lifted against Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment to send tax money to private business and corporate lobbyists.
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said

Latest in The Observer

  • Playing catch-up

    What with the big, clear-the-decks Road Trip issue last week — which we're sure you stuffed immediately in your motorcar's glove box, turtle hull or catchall, for when you get a hankerin' to gallivant — The Observer has had two glorious weeks to Observe since the last time we conversed.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Old Gray Lady rides again

    There was a reunion of Arkansas Gazette employees last Saturday night, nearly 25 years to the day it was shut down.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Thrifty

    The Observer is a known and incorrigible haunter of thrift stores. Some weekends, with Spouse in tow, we'll make the rounds of every Goodwill store in three counties, driving them on a carefully pre-planned circuit so we can stop midway and get coffee at our favorite little place.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Road Trip Arkansas

    • Hunter . I see what you mean... Charles `s comment is unimaginable... I just got…

    • on October 25, 2016
  • Re: The Arkansas ale trail

    • just before I saw the draft that said $7003 , I didn't believe that...my... friend…

    • on October 25, 2016
  • Re: Youth movement

    • Best of luck. Will look forward to watching the results with high hopes for him.

    • on October 24, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation