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2014 looks bright, shiny on showroom floor



January 08, 2014
Here we have a spanking new year in 2014 that is full of the promise every January brings. And was I ever ready to trade in that old year.

2013 began with shiny new wheels and an engine that purred like a cat with quart of cream. The economy looked ready to throw away its crutches, companies were flush with cash and they were ready to spend it.

The drought looked ready to call it quits as Lake Lanier was more than half full as spring began. And for the first time in years, I looked forward to seeing my yard raise more than just dust.

Yes, 2013 was all tricked out with chrome wheels, a snazzy paint job and a V-8 with a supercharger under the hood.

This should have been a break-out year. Of course, we all made big plans for 2013. This was the year business bounces back, the stock market really gets on track and I get my yard back in shape. I could have hung a sign out on my mailbox to say "Pigpen lives here," and my neighbors would have said, "Tell us something we don't know."

And then the spring rains came. And they came again. And then, they came some more. You would think somewhere in the Eternal Plan somebody would be in charge of spreading the wealth around.

We got rain in March, in April, in May – which was all to the good. But all of June and into July?

One by one, the fireworks displays were cancelled. We postponed the neighborhood Fourth of July party for a week. Then two.

Then we said (over) optimistically, the third time's the charm and proclaimed to celebrate the Fourth rain or shine. We were like losers at Vegas trying to double up to get even. There was more water around the pool than in it. Eating a hotdog in a soggy bun is like … well the imagery says it all, doesn't it?

Then came August, and I had given up on ever getting a tan. Thought about building an ark, though. This was getting really depressing.

That was about the time we started paying attention to what the hard cases in Washington were threatening. It seems the politicos had to sharpen up their swords and rattle their brains in what has by now become the annual playground stand-off that national politics has evolved into.

It goes like this:

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah."

"Oh Yeah?"

"Yeah!"

"OH yeah?"

"YEAH."

"OH YEAH?"

"YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT, BUDDY!"

"OH YEA …

Well, you get the picture. Just as the stock market was poised to really break out of its shell and get those IRAs back riding the bull, Congress does the one thing guaranteed to put ice water in the veins of Wall Street.

"We're gonna let it all fall down."

"Oh Yeah?"

"Yeah!"

"Oh …

You heard that one already. Well at least this time, they finally shut up. And what happened? Wall Street rose to heights no stockbroker has gone before.

Meanwhile, it got to be Thanksgiving and it stopped raining. Hooray. Of course, my yard now has wadis where continuous rivulets gouged out trenches in my front yard. All that seed is now doing wonders for my neighbor's yard downstream.

Of course at Christmas, the good old days are gone. The days of pacifying my grandsons with a Tickle Me Elmo and a football are long gone. They have moved on to bigger and better (i.e. more expensive) things.

The twins are 11, and I don't know how to shop for them anymore. I was safe with Tripp. Get him a couple of video games and ear buds for his smartphone.

However, his brother Chase is the Beau Brummell of the sixth grade. He sports a wardrobe that is worth twice what is hanging in my closet.

When I was Chase's age, I would have screamed in pain if I got athletic socks for Christmas. Of course in my day, they didn't cost $20 a pair. He tried explaining what he wanted, but I just begged off.

"How about I just give you a C-note in a brown paper bag," I asked.

"OK. Cool, Papa."

So here we came to the end of 2013. The valves were knocking, the rings were shot. The transmission is ready to fall out and the dents are too numerous to count. But that's OK. There is 2014, sitting there on the showroom floor.

I'm going to be more careful with this one. I won't go over 35, and I'll change the oil every thousand miles just to be safe.

I hope each of you got a good deal on your trade-in. You know how it is. They knock down the price of the new one a little, but then they stick it to you on their price for the old one.

So have a Happy …

"Hey you, watch the paint job! Don't scratch it. This model has to last the whole year, you know."

Executive Editor, Appen Media.
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