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By Staff | Dec 30, 2016

Our little blue ball has completed another revolution around its local star, so it’s time to pause, look back and say, “Whoa! Where did that year go?”

This past year was stuffed with big league news, such as Minnesotan Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for literature. Bob took a pass on accepting the award in person, which some saw as arrogance.

But I think Bob simply wanted to avoid any possible contact with lutefisk and thus opted not to visit Scandinavia in December.

Many major news outlets agree that the biggest story of the year was the release of my book, “Dear County Agent Guy.”

Well, OK. This may not have been a huge story everywhere. But it was certainly major news at our house.

One of the most pleasurable consequences of having a book published is going on a book tour. A person could scroll through the photos on my iPhone and get the impression that my wife and I did nothing but go, go, go.

We certainly went places, but getting there often involved a lot of sitting around at airports.

The book tour took us from the rarified air of the Colorado Rockies to the gumbo-thick humidity of midsummer Arkansas. We met many interesting and memorable people along the way, most of whose names we have forgotten because we are getting older and our memories aren’t what they used to be.

I decided to grab the book tour with both fists and enjoy the heck out of it, even though I still find it somewhat astonishing to be called an author. I’m just a dissipated dairyman noodling on a computer.

There were times when I felt like a hard-core carnivore at a vegan convention. For instance, I was invited to be on some discussion panels with other authors. Many of these writers were extremely educated and would utter things like, “As I was saying to my PhD English Lit class the other day, the quote, ‘To be or not to be’ should be considered with both an esoteric and intrinsic purview, taking into account the confabulations of egotistic asceticism.”

When my turn to speak came, all I could offer was, “I get a lot of inspiration when I go for a walk on our township gravel road with our dog, Sandy. I get even more inspired when our cat, Sparkles, comes along.”

At a book festival in Cincinnati we were situated next to author Teddy Kremer. Teddy, who was born with Down syndrome, was given the opportunity to be an honorary batboy for the Cincinnati Reds.

This led to national media exposure, being featured on a Topps baseball card and, with help from a co-author, Teddy’s book, “Stealing First.”

Throughout the festival, Teddy demonstrated levels of enthusiasm and aplomb one might normally associate with a television talk show host. He greeted passersby effusively and displayed an extraordinary talent for connecting with children.

It came as no surprise when Teddy sold all the books he brought with him that day.

My wife and I attended a number of book signing events over this past year. At some of them we were busier than a mosquito in a flyswatter testing facility; at others, we had to stave off boredom by counting the freckles on the backs of our hands.

One of the liveliest times we had was when I addressed the National Association of County Agricultural Agents convention in Little Rock, Arkansas. Numerous county agent guys and gals chatted with me following my talk and told me how much they enjoyed my presentation.

It’s a good thing this doesn’t happen on a regular basis or my head would soon swell to the size of a hot air balloon.

The organizers of the NACAA convention gave my wife and I bags of swag.

“Holy cow,” exclaimed my wife as she hefted her bag, “What’s in here, a brick?”

Yup. There was a commemorative brick shaped like the state of Arkansas at the bottom of our bags. Among the swag were bags of rice (Arkansas leads the nation in rice production) and shrink-wrapped sweet potatoes (because we are sweet people, I guess.)

“What are we going to do with it all?” asked my wife.

“Keep it!” I replied. “If we get stranded at the airport we can survive on sweet potatoes and rice. And if there’s a scramble to get seats on an outgoing flight, we can ‘accidentally’ drop the bricks on competing passengers’ toes, which would buy us enough time to sneak aboard the plane.”

All in all, we had had a very agreeable year. And on the outside chance that they are reading this, I have a message for the Nobel Committee: I love lutefisk.

Just saying.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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