Scott Hollifield

Here we are at Day 846 of the pandemic, give or take a day. That’s the way it feels at times, as grim news continues to roll in.

We lost John Prine, my favorite songwriter. I discovered him when I was a kid first learning music. I borrowed an album from the public library featuring a cover photo of some guy in blue jeans and a work shirt sitting on a bale of hay.

When the needle dropped, that guy blew my mind and he continued to do so through his most recent album, “Tree of Forgiveness,” released 47 years after he sat down on that bale of hay and changed my world.

As Prine said in the song, “Bruised Orange,” “a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter” so we’d do well to focus on the good in the world.

Many readers have helped me do that over the last week.

Wendy Edwards sent me what she described as a “true story about commas” after I referenced my English major past and experience with the punctuation pause:

“Years ago I was on the phone, trying not to be distracted by a dog and cat chasing each other in circles between the kitchen and living room, while the bird was screeching. Picture if you will, a kitchen table with pens, pencils, papers, a computer, etc.

“Suddenly, it became quieter. Just the sound of the cat batting items off of the table onto the floor. The dog was still panting from the run and smiling merrily, because this is a new game to play. Cat knocks down, dog destroys. Divide and conquer.

“I bent down to pick up the items strewn on the floor, which apparently it looked to them like I was joining in the fun. Josie, the cat, pushed things further out of my reach; Sandy, the cocker spaniel, hastily took off with whatever could fit in her mouth. Click, chomp, click, click, chomp, I reached to get what is in her mouth, but not in time. Gulp. Cat still pushing things away from me, I scramble to salvage it all.”

Days later, Wendy returned to the scene of the crime to reassemble her computer keyboard and came up with a missing comma.

Call to emergency vet: “My cocker spaniel ate a comma key. Do you think she will be OK? It was a few days ago. Will it harm her intestines? A comma key from my new laptop. I’ve only had it a couple of months!”

Call to computer fix-it guy: “Can you order a key for a laptop computer? Year. Brand. Oh, no I don’t need the whole keyboard, that’s almost as much as I paid for it! I just need a comma. My dog ate it.”

I don’t know what the computer fix-it guy told Wendy but I imagine the vet said, “This too shall pass.”

And this from Jill Harwell:

“I look forward to your piece in the Hickory Daily Record. I do have one thing I would like to share with you and your readers during this unusual and difficult days. It brings so much comfort to me. While we are to wash our hands many times a day for our own safety and others, I say The Lord’s Prayer which takes 20 seconds. It’s a privilege to speak to My Heavenly Father throughout the day. Thank you for being uplifting through your articles. I appreciate you.”

Thank you, Wendy and Jill and everyone else out there for reading. Stay safe. As John Prine said, I wish you all the best.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C., and a humor columnist. Contact him at

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