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New Year Reflections

Upsides and Downsides

The new year celebrations are always occasions for reflections upon the past and for the making of promises of improvement that will never be kept. The mournful thing about the new year is that with each new year you are one year closer to the grave. The upside is that you are one year further away from being a teenager. On balance it is a win.

Mr. B.

My friend Deborah has a dog, a 120 black lab named Bridger, whom she calls Mr. B when she is seized with that surplus of sentimentality that women bestow upon their pets and their children. She feels that it would be a good thing for me and Mr. B to be friends. Perhaps it is a good thing; I have so few friends who rest their paws on me and drool.

The truth is that I am a hopeless sucker for domestic pets and they know it. I have no pets of my own; the only pet I ever owned (or permitted to own me) was a large black and white cat that followed me home one night and adopted me. It is just because I am petless that I can afford to be shamelessly indulgent with other people’s pets. It is the grandparent principle – I would have been an excellent grandparent had I but had children.

As it happens, Deborah’s office is across the street from the post office. When I walk to town I usually stop at her office for a chat. Before conversation, however, comes the obligatory walk. Deborah brings the aforesaid Mr. B to her office. At some time in the past I made the error of taking him out for a walk. Dogs are quite shameless in their sense of entitlement; there is no such thing as a single walk; once walked, walked everyday. Thus it is that when Mr. B spots me outside the door he grabs his leash in his jaws and and dances with anticipation upon my entry.

No doubt these little walks are good for me. It is kind of dogs to be so solicitous of the welfare of their humans.

Five gallon buckets sold here

One of the oddities of our land of consumer palaces is that there are objects that are ubiquitous that none-the-less one can’t seem to purchase. Such is the case (at least in these parts) with five gallon buckets – more precisely, five gallon buckets with lids.

What would I want with such a thing, you may ask. (I doubt that you would ask, but you may ask. You have my permission to do so.) The answer is that I needed one, preferably two, to hold bird seed. (Why one can’t plant bird seed and raise a crop of birds has always been a mystery to me.)

Once upon a time my mother had purchased two five gallon buckets containing bird seed. When the contents thereof had been consumed by the local avian parasites that battened upon her generosity she filled them anew with more bird seed. The lids, you see, are a necessity because the buckets are stored in the garage which is distinctly not rodent proof. Indeed, over the decades rodents had chewed on the bucket rims in the attempt (often successful I suspect) to get at the contents therein. When I took over the operation of the house I remarked to myself that the buckets should be replaced.

Thus it was that I made an interesting discovery; stores do not sell empty buckets with lids. (Home Depot will sell one any number of buckets sans lids as paint buckets.) There are any number of buckets for sale that are filled with construction goop, e.g., joint compound and paint. These were of no use to me. It would have been excellent if I could have purchased a five gallon bucket of bird seed, but it seems that bird seed is no longer sold that way – at least not in these parts in this millennium. To be sure, my search was desultory. Purchasing new five gallon buckets with lids was never high on my priority list. It just seemed odd that I couldn’t buy one.

So it went until one Saturday when Deborah (she of the big black dog) and I made a jaunt to Sioux Falls to raid the palaces of consumption found there for material needed in renovating her fixer-upper from hell. Sioux Falls, you see, lies on the border between the great land of consumption (aka Amerika) and rural South Dakota. It is a three hour trip there and another three hours back; a day trip shopping is quite feasible albeit a bit tedious.

We left early in the morning (quite the most shocking part of the trip), arrived in Sioux Falls, and spent the day happily filling her SUV with things. By the end of day we were exhausted with shopping and the SUV was full. We decide to eat. Alas, it was time for the evening meal and every restaurant seemed to have a long waiting line. After striking out sevral times we said the hell with it; we would hit the road and dine in Mitchell.

Mitchell is one of the major cities of South Dakota, which is to say that it has a population in excess of 10,000. It is the home of the Corn Palace, a bit of pseudo-byzantine architecture decorated with friezes made of corn. There is nothing quite like it anywhere. Mitchell also lies on interstate 90, which we were travelling on our way back to Highmore.

In due course we arrived at Mitchell and left the interstate to investiage the culinary offerings of Mitchell. Deborah, who was serving as my trusty native guide in this matter, knew of a good steak house. We made our way there only to discover that it, too, had a long line. We were not discouraged. On our way we had noticed a small Chinese restaurant that did not look overly full. We went back to it, parked, opened the door, and entered. There we were greeted with a hand lettered sign that read:

Five gallon buckets for sale. With lids!
Needless to say we ate dinner and I purchased a pair of five gallon buckets. My new bird seed containers proclaim themselves as containing Kikoman’s Soy Sauce, but none-the-less they hold bird seed. If perchance you, dear reader, are in need of a five gallon bucket with a lid, my advice to you is to take interstate 90 to Mitchell, South Dakota, and visit that Chinese restaurant.

This page was last updated January 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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