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Mine Creek Revelations: College Dangers

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YES, I AM STILL HERE looking out my window on Main Street, and I am jotting notes for the very important speech I will give to my granddaughter as soon as this virus lets up.

I began writing about Miss Carsyn Elizabeth Murphy in this column when she was just a toddler.

Time flies, and this fall she will be a freshman in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas where her mom, grandfather, grandmother and a multitude of aunts, uncles, and cousins have gainfully matriculated (I only use those big words and stilted phrases to impress you).

There are many things I really, really need to warn her about — in addition to NOT hanging out with the likes of her uncles.

Among the serious dangers I plan to warn her about:

Giant jigsaw puzzles.

I am ashamed to tell you how many times I cut a class because I just HAD to fiddle another hour or two with the pieces of the giant jigsaw puzzle that had taken over the dining table of my apartment. I was afraid if I didn’t work on it my roomies might finish it off.

Well, an hour here, an hour there and pretty soon you’ve got a D in Western Civilization.

Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that giant jigsaw puzzles are an important part of a good college education.

For one thing they can contribute bigly to your knowledge of geography. I’ve worked challenging puzzles of scenes from the Grand Canyon and Mt.Fuji and the Leaning Tower of Eiffel.

And science: A jigsaw puzzle of the liftoff of the Space Shuttle.

And social studies: A jigsaw puzzle of the French Quarter

What about human development? I once coveted a jigsaw puzzle of Victoria’s Secret models. Nowadays, however, Victoria don’t have any secrets. But my friend who had the Victoria Secret jigsaw puzzle wouldn’t part with it. “I stole it fair and square, man,” he explained.

Finance/economics. Well, there’s no known jigsaw puzzle that can help with those. You’ve got to borrow a monopoly game for that. Put up a place on Ventnor Avenue; rent it high. Pass Go; collect $200.

And another thing I need to warn Carsyn about:

Playing cards

I could have retired for real five years ago if I had a dollar for every hand of Hearts or Texas Hold’em I played. Not to mention recovering every dime I lost playing those games. I never learned to play Bridge otherwise I would’ve figgered out a way to lose dimes there, too. Life and college were just too short to waste on learning to play Bridge. Also, I tried and was short on the intelligence needed.

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ANIMAL CRACKERS. I may have bored you with tales about ‘my’ Bluejays, and, if so, my apologies. I have often expressed amazement that I had to reach this advanced age before I could appreciate nature and animals — especially birds.

Especially Bluejays. Last week I read more about Jays. They are members of the Crow family and are among the smartest of birds. In our country their range is from Cananananda to the Gulf Coast.

Daily I put out handfuls of raw, in-shell peanuts which I lay atop a low table on my patio. I like to watch as they swoop in 2 or 3 at a time and take turns diving down from the fence to that low table. Some of the Jays — not all of ‘em — can stuff one peanut down in their gullet, and hold another in their beak. Then they fly away to somewhere.

They do love those peanuts, and I learned they also love acorns. Other birds love those peanuts, too, but they generally don’t mess with the Jays on the feeding table.

Males and females look alike. When nesting the male generally gathers the materials and the female builds the nest which is usually in the crock of a tree limb.

But they also often build more than one nest. If a predator shows up at one nest the Jays just bop over to another. Sorta like the lake houses some of my rich friends have.

Amazon.com loves me. I order things I don’t really need. Last week, for example, I ordered a spiral of wire that somehow holds those raw, in-shell peanuts. I’ll let you know if the Bluejays love the new feeder as much as the advertising copy said they would.

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MORE ANIMAL CRACKERS. On a sunny, mild afternoon last week I observed three large birds spiraling above my block. I watched for awhile and realized I was seeing a species I had not seen before — the Golden Eagle.

I’ve seen plenty of Bald Eagles. Their white heads and tail tips are so visible and distinctive.

But these birds looked to be dark brown, not black like Buzzards.

Their wingspan looked to be wider than mine, and the distance from leading to trailing edge of their wings was quite noticeable. Huge!

Three of them circled at different altitudes. Meanwhile, neighborhood cats, squirrels and other birds were noticeably absent.

For the 23rd year I have vowed to look at the sky every day so I’ll know exactly when the Mississippi Kites return. Good intentions.

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HE SAID: “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Willie Nelson, musician

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SHE SAID: It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.” Betty White, Golden Girl

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SWEET DREAMS, Baby

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