The Root of all Believable

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money sack

The Root of all Believable

“I don’t care too much for money…” John Lennon sang, but that’s easy for a member of the Beatles – who was rolling in it – to say. “Money can’t buy me love,” he adds, but that’s not entirely true, and just adds insult to injury for us of modest means. Money can buy you all kinds of companionship if you’re not very picky, although my wife has pointed out that companions are like wine: money will allow you to pick good ones over the cheap types you used to hang out with.

As it turns out, even if you are not looking for love outside your significant other, money might be needed to stay in the game. When my doctor wrote my first prescription for performance enhancing pills some years ago, he said, “I bet you never thought you’d be paying for sex, did you?” He paused, and then thoughtfully, “Of course we always have, you know…flowers, dinner, drinks, theater…”

Mae West hit the nail on the head: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor – and rich is better!”

We don’t play the lottery regularly, but now and then as our supermarket purchases are being checked out, I glance at the customer service desk and see it’s manned. I check my wallet, find a single or two and buy a ticket. At home, along with an evening glass of a lower-priced wine, we play the popular game of what we’d do with a multi-million dollar prize. After we have factored out allowances for kids, grandkids, other close relatives and favorite charities we examine our own pipedreams. New car maybe…better wine, for sure…move to a big house in a gated community or restore our 30+ year old house and stay in a neighborhood we like? Pretty tame stuff, really. Maybe it’s just our lack of imagination. I’m sure we have friends who could suggest several ideas – probably even offer to help us realize them. I’d pick those pals carefully, though.

Some years ago I hired a contractor for some work and enjoyed his company well enough to have a beer or two with him when the workday was done. When he found out I was a writer, he suggested that I might be interested in his story.

“I made a million dollars and lost it,” he said.

I told him I didn’t think his story was that unique – that lots of people have made fortunes and lost them.

“I’ve done it three times,” he said.

I happened to be acquainted with him during one of his financial troughs, but not long after, he divested himself of his property and holdings, and was probably back to seven figures after those deals. He headed for Florida. I wished him well, but if his karmic sine wave holds true, he is probably cutting bait on some fishing wharf in the Keys by now.

 

Chuck and Heidi Thurston live in Kannapolis, NC. You can find their books on Amazon and help make these their happy years by buying them. The lottery thing hasn’t worked out so far.

Code Yeller by Chuck Thurston

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air pollution

Code Yeller

A few years ago, my wife and I volunteered to man a booth at a health and nutrition fair. Our bunch was pushing the value of fruits and nuts. After we had done our shift and our replacements had taken over, we wandered around to see what other good advice was available.

Not far from our booth was one that dealt with air quality. A young lady was passing out literature and answering questions, so we dropped by to see what we could learn. How are things in our neck of the woods? Not very good, it turns out.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, with its million plus population, is just a few miles to our southwest. In this area a million population probably translates into about twenty million vehicles once you total up cars, pickups, motorcycles, trail bikes, ATVs, various watercraft and riding mowers. Our prevailing winds in this latitude are from – wouldn’t you know it – the southwest. In 2011, the EPA ranked Charlotte as the 10th smoggiest city for the second year in a row.

“But, there is a nearby area just as bad!” our young lady chirped. “Rowan County!” In fact, in 2011, Mecklenburg County was ranked number two in health risks from criteria air pollutants and Rowan was ranked a respectable 4th in the state!

Now wait. Rowan County is just to our north. Big parts of it are bucolic fields and woodlands. There are probably as many cows as people. How could this be? Well, the roaring traffic’s boom from I-85 traverses the county on the east side and I-77 does the same on the west. It is a geographic bowl where stuff tends to settle, it is downwind of Charlotte – and there are all those cows.

And we poor citizens of Cabarrus country are right in the middle of this. We never used to pay a lot of attention to the Air Quality Index until Heidi began having problems with asthma. Even after that diagnosis, we didn’t think that we would have to worry until the AQI got into code red. We have since decided we aren’t going to spend a whole lot of time outdoors once it reaches yellow. That is occurring more often these days and a good part of the summer air is…lousy. What to do?

gas-mask

Heidi has been putting a wet washcloth over her nose and mouth to make the journey from house to car and car to supermarket. She keeps it in a plastic bag in her handbag. I told her that it might be handier if I just brought her a gasmask she could use for these short treks.

“They look terrible,” she said.

“We could decorate it – kind of like hockey goalies do their face masks. Might even give you a little air of mystery.”

“It would scare the great grandchildren,” she said. “They’d be fine with a wet washcloth.”

I hadn’t thought of that.

Chuck and Heidi Thurston (cough) live in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Their books can be found on Amazon (hack, hack). They are currently working on new projects when time and oxygen allow. (hack, cough).