Reader Curt - Empty Nest, by Curt Swarm


I was asked to be a reader at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library—me, an ex-drunk and former class clown reading to little kids.  Really?  It was in honor of National Read Across America Day.  So, okay.  The kids were really cute, and paid attention.  I enjoyed the experience immensely. 

In attendance for the reading was a bigger-than-life dinosaur and Dr Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.  The children's (and adult's) book I chose to read was Mt. Pleasant Author and Educator, Denise McCormick's, “Never Mind the Monkey Mind.”  It's a Number One International Best Seller on Amazon in the categories of Self-Esteem and Self Respect, Schools and Education, Philosophy, and Zoo.  I'll take-and-tell-you, I had the monkey-mind chatter going on in my head before the reading--”I will blow this,” “My voice will crack and pop like an old man,” “The library will be sorry they asked me to be a reader.”  However, while practice reading at home, I took the advice of the book and started telling myself, “I can do this,” “I'm a good reader,” “If the library asked me, they must think I can do this.”  By repeating these, what Denise McCormick calls, “positive affirmations,” I convinced my sub-conscious mind that I was a good reader, and then my subconscious mind convinced me.  It worked!  Of course, the dinosaur and The Cat in the Hat were a big help.  And there were three other readers to share the load.  The kids and parents were terrific. 

Denise McCormick will be doing book signings at the following places in Mt. Pleasant from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Fridays: April 1, Brown's Shoe Fit, 108 S. Main St.; April 8, Lillian Grace Boutique, 120 S. Main St.; and April 15, Jane Anne Boutique, 520 S. Grand Ave.  Books will be available there. 

On another note, I have an Android cell phone, and recently purchased an Android watch to go with it.  It makes me feel techie.  I only had the watch a month and it quit taking a charge.  Grrr.  I stomped back into the Android store and they said the Android's were famous for battery failure and what I really needed was an i-Phone with an Apple Watch.  My heart stopped.  I don't do change well.  However, when they tried to input the transaction into their computer, it wouldn't process.  A sign?  They sent me home to apply for a replacement watch on my insurance plan.  The insurance plan wouldn't work either.  What's going on?  Frustrated and wore out, I decided to power the watch down and try again the next day. 

The following day, I was about to try the insurance plan again, when I decided to power the watch back up and see if by some strange microchip quirk, it would accept a charge.  It did!  The ole shut-off-and-turn-back-on fix works every time! 

Has spring sprung?  Robins are a sure sign of spring.  I finally saw my first robin out by the barn.  However, there's a surer sign of spring—a bank of trumpeter swans in the cornfield near our house.  What a sight!  (Swans on the ground are a “bank.”)  And to think trumpeter swans were nearly extinct a few years ago. 

When I spotted the swans, I was standing in our wind break of Colorado Blue Spruce.  The sun was shining and the temperature was topping out at a beautiful 70 degrees.  I heard a strange popping noise, like popcorn.  It was the pine cones expanding in the sun.  I've heard of corn growing so fast you can hear it popping, but I didn't know pine cones did also.  A quick Google check confirmed that, indeed, the pine cones were expanding so fast the seeds were popping.

I wouldn't get too excited just yet and think spring is here to stay.  We still have boys' state basketball tournaments to go through—which can bring heavy blizzards, with our kids stranded in Des Moines.  And I remember a few years back when we got hit hard with snow and ice in early April.  We are way under our normal snowfall amount for Iowa. 

Just saying.   

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, find him on Facebook, email him at, or visit his website at

Curt Swarm, editorial, Empty Nest, Library, opinion, Pen City Current, Sunday, trumpeter swan


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