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The Observer, Oct. 25

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A friend writes:

“I helped give the PSAT at Central High School last week, and among the 120 juniors in the library was a student from Northeast Arkansas. He had asked to take it at Central because he had a hog at the State Fair that was to be judged in competition a few days later. I asked him which he was more nervous about, the test or his pig. He said he guessed he'd have to say his pig.”

***

We did some maintenance on Casa del Observer last weekend. Of course, that meant making half a dozen runs to that temple to busted thumbs, Home Depot. After three years of off-and-on home improvement efforts, the guy who runs their plumbing department could legally list The Observer on his taxes as a dependent.

Standing around near the exit at HD, waiting for Spouse to pony up for whatever ungodly-expensive items we needed to make the bathroom sink function again, The Observer sauntered over to a small, laminated poster near the sliding doors. On it, for the benefit of employees, were photos and descriptions of the items most often shoplifted from Home Depot stores. Surprisingly, it was all big-box stuff: power drill/flashlight/skill saw combo kits; framing nailers; a pressure washer so heavy it actually had wheels on it (“HALT! Is that a Milwaukee model DW745 reciprocating saw in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?”)

Last but not least was the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up item: The GE Home Security System.

Hey, thieves gotta sleep at night too.

****

We've observed Little Rock's crime wave not so much with fear as with helplessness.

The Observer installed an alarm system (paid for, not stolen) after a second burglary forced the purchase of a third round of TVs and computers.

Our next-door neighbor had an alarm system long before we did. It didn't stop a home intrusion robbery a couple of weeks ago.

Last Saturday, neighbors two doors up the street headed to the gym about mid-morning. Not long after they arrived for their workout came a cell phone call that police were at their house, responding to a burglary alarm.

Alarm systems are very sophisticated. The security company was able to tell my neighbors that someone entered their back door moments after they left and exited the front door five minutes after entry. Enough time to check TV cabinets and leave before police arrived.

Flat screen TVs apparently have been a boon to the burglar. Much easier to carry.

***

Much has been written praising flawless fall days, most of it by more skillful hands than The Observer's. But we can't let a weekend like the last go unremarked upon simply because others are more poetic in their descriptions of cloudless azure skies and warm, hair-whipping breezes. We must sing, however much the tune may drone.

The joy was more intense for us on this particular weekend because we'd had near-misses with glorious weather all month long: Stuck inside when the sun was out, free to play when the rains came. But this Saturday, not even Fussy Babe could keep us confined. The Observer packed him and his accoutrements into the car, picked up his thankfully unfussy aunt, and headed for what we will no doubt be calling the Big Dang Bridge once Fussy Babe learns to talk.

The Observer's sister — in better shape and with more stroller-pushing experience under her belt — took command of Fussy Babe's wheels and set off up the ramp at a pace that can only be described as furious, nattering about firm butts while our own jiggled along as fast as it could. Up and over we went, Sis pointing out all the manly scenery we somehow, sadly, quit noticing somewhere along the way, and coasted to a stop under the shade of the pavilion at the base of the northside ramp. Fussy Babe was demanding a bottle, and our calves were demanding a rest.

So we sat, and soaked in the azure and the hair-whipping and the sound of kids playing by the river and the snippets of conversation from passing walkers. Sunny-and-75 is infinitely more precious in fall than in spring. You don't want to miss any part of a day like that, not with months of unremitting rainy-and-45 staring you down.

“Whoop!” came a call from a passing biker. “Sure is windy today!”

“Whoop!” we hollered back as he disappeared down the trail. It was that kind of afternoon.

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