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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Something More Lucrative Than Writing

Lorri claims that I have a bad tendency of watching a television show and then formulating random, seemingly life-altering decisions based on what I have just watched. They are only "seemingly" life-altering decisions because I never actually follow through with any of them (or so she says). For instance, we recently watched an episode of  some restaurant makeover show, after which I proclaimed that I was going to open my own restaurant. Another show I watched was about hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I have since been obsessed with the notion, despite not actually enjoying the trek from the living room into the kitchen to fetch a snack.
Lorri has even begun to assign a number to them when I announce a new idea. I'll be like, "Honey, I've decided that I am going to canoe the entire length of the Mississippi!" After having enjoyed a show about a similar expedition.

"That's  number 874," she replies...but in a tone that suggests a certain amount of, shall we say, snooty condescending superiority, suggesting that I never actually follow through with any of my big ideas.

Also, I'd like to add here that her numbers started quite randomly in the six hundreds somewhere and therefore are both arbitrary and capricious on her part to begin with. I am reasonably certain that the real number is actually much lower and probably in fact remains well under 500.

Whatever the real number is, she was equally unmoved when I started watching the television shows about people who go out with metal detectors and dig for buried treasure and announced my intentions to do the same (way back in the 700's, so it isn't anything, you know, flighty, and has been around in my mind for a while at least).

My Hero
What she didn't know, was that ever since I was small boy, I have been obsessed with the idea of metal detecting and finding lost treasures. My hidden passion was further driven by seeing a guy while on vacation last year plucking coins and lost gold from a sandy beach. Seeing him, I felt inspired. He was really out there doing it, living the dream.

Naturally, I couldn't just run out and buy a metal detector though, what with so much negativity surrounding my hopes and dreams. So, I did the next best thing; the very thing that fathers have been doing since the beginning of time. I bought one for each of my adult sons for Christmas and waited for one of them to lose interest...or start working out of town long enough for me to borrow one of them.

Then, last week, it finally happened. My son, Jesse, was working out of town and had haphazardly left his metal detector in my dad's barn (apparently with the intention that I should borrow the thing while he was away). So, I did just that. Thanks, Jesse! Treasure was soon to be mine...

At the foot of a hill on my parent's farm is rumored to be the site of one of the oldest settlements in our county. I waited for Lorri to go to work one morning, smiled and nonchalantly waved good-bye, and then hurried to get my digging clothes on and get out there. Something incredible was just around the corner.

Immediately, I got a hit on the detector. I dug with a small spade to the depth of two feet and hit something. I dug until the hole was even larger and revealed a solid metal structure with a slightly rounded top on the end that flattened out as it went along. Fast forward two hours later and I had exposed the top of a six foot long piece of metal, two feet wide at the middle. There was a chunk of squared quarried rock above it. I knew then that it must be a metal casket. I was perplexed about what to do. Should I bury it back and forget about the body on the property? I decided that I should expose it and call someone. If it was a forgotten soul, then they should be better kept, I surmised.

Who knows what lurks beneath the metal lid? I cleared away the rest of the dirt from the edges and tried to pull it up with the shovel. It wouldn't budge. I had to step into the hole with it and grasp the thing with both hands. Scenes from a hundred bad movies played in my head and I lifted it up and peered inside...

There was nothing but dirt. The "coffin lid" as it turned out, was an old rusted water heater (circa 1950's) that had been cut in half the long way (probably for use as a feed trough for cows) and then flattened out in the middle until it was shaped...well, a lot like a casket lid. Filling the giant hole back in accounted for another hour and then it was time to hurry back home and do chores to create the appearance of having spent the day doing useful things before Lorri got back. 

That night, I watched in awe as a star from one of the metal detecting shows produced a chunk of gold from the earth. I quietly decided that metal detecting would be my route to riches and success and I didn't give her the satisfaction of saying it out loud so she could say, "number 875." No. She would find out soon enough when she came home to discover me counting out gold coins at the kitchen table.

The farm that we live on once was host to rodeos and there is still an arena behind the house. Prior to those days, the house was owned by a doctor in the 1920's. It is the perfect historical place where lots of people spent time to dig. So, I dug.

What I ultimately discovered was not necessarily the treasure that I was seeking, but a treasure of knowledge that archeologists might benefit from.

For instance, it might be useful to archeologists studying our civilization, to know that people who attend rodeos have a tendency to drink a lot of beer. They also apparently used to have an inclination to simply throw their cans on the ground. Also...and this is useful to know...the old cans had little tabs on them that could be pulled off and thrown onto the ground in a different direction.

***Note for fellow treasure hunters. Beer cans and beer can tabs are made of aluminum. Unless you spent $2,000 on your metal detector, it will make the exact same high pitched beeping sound for aluminum that it does for silver coins.

Here is my final tally:

37 beer cans
33 beer can tabs
17 pop bottle lids
11 chunks of aluminum foil
4 unidentifiable chunks of rusty metal
1 brass drawer pull handle that I had originally misidentified as a gold watch fob
1 hot wheel car from 1980 (missing two wheels)
1 top of an old wood cook stove
1 rusted horse hoof file
1 top of an old mason jar

High Value Items:

3 pennies dated between 1970 & 1974
1 dime dated 1974
1 Kennedy half dollar dated 1971, leading me to assume that the 1970's were a time when people had more money than they knew what to do with and were simply throwing it around in the air like confetti.
1 silver dime dated 1947 and valued at $4.00!

All said, my total profit was valued at $4.63, and all of that for just twenty hours of my time. That is more than twenty cents an hour, or about three times what I have earned (per hour) writing books in the past. So, writing may be finally behind me as I permanently move on to greener and more lucrative pastures.

And, when Lorri came home and got to see my newly discovered riches...you're probably wondering if she wasn't eating her words from before, or feeling bad about having poked so much fun at me in the past, right? Or maybe she would just be overwhelmed with joy for me?

Well, she wasn't. It was almost like she didn't even care at all about my time or my excitement or my discoveries. She was only complaining about something. I don't even remember what it was about. I think it was something about the yard...

Thanks for reading!



  1. At least he's keeping busy, Lori. It's not like he's laying around the house drinking beer and belching or being useless or something.

  2. Check into that Kennedy half-dollar. If I recall correctly they had actual silver in them until 72.

    You should definitely inform her that searching for treasure has to be stricken from the list of "things I say I'm going to do and don't".

    You've won, really. Any time she gives you grief about not doing the things you proclaim you're going to do, you can site treasure-hunting as proof that sometimes you follow through :)

    1. Thank you, Grizwald. I shall inform her of my victory, and congratulate her for having chosen to spend her life with a "winner" like me. And I do look forward to flaunting my success as a treasure hunter in her face in the near future when she attempts to degrade my idea of becoming a ghost hunter.

      Also, I will check into the Kennedy Half Dollar because if I can get my average rate of pay up from twenty cents an hour to around thirty cents or so...I'm never going to work again.

      Thanks for reading!


    2. It's obvious neither Grizwald nor Buzz have been married very long. They still think they can win. They haven't talked to us old guys.

  3. I bought my son a metal detector when he was about 10 and he spent his whole summer searching for treasure. We all got caught up in the excitement and he actually found a gold chain that was worth about 30 bucks. Good luck in your lucrative new business! I hope you were kidding about your writing career being behind you.

  4. I wouldn't say that writing is behind me entirely, Megan. Only that we have a very big yard...so, postponed is probably a better word.

    As always, thanks for reading!


  5. Buzz...I think our wives are conspiring! Tracy doesn't believe that I am going to put together the best gold dredge Nome, AK has ever seen! Or that I can hunt alligator with the best of them in Louisiana...or that these storage auctions will be our next big windfall...or...or....

    1. Tim! What can I say, brother? I can only quote the Frank Sinatra song That's Life, where Old Blue Eyes shoots it straight and says that, "...some people get their kicks... stomping on a dream."

      Dream stompers, Tim. That's what they really are. Imagine what all we might have accomplished if we had more supportive women in our lives? The sky is the limit, really.

      And don't get me started on storage auctions. I'm not even allowed to watch those shows any more.

      Thanks for reading, Tim!


  6. Dude! You are just searching in the wrong places. You need more fertile fields. Try the pasture! Immensely enjoyable read! And I agree, it would be more profitable for me than writing has been so far!

    1. The pasture? Where do you think I found the rusted horse hoof file?

      Thanks for reading!


  7. Buzz, you are sooooo funny! I love your writing. where do you come up with the cool photos? I would like to do that with my blog.

  8. Maggie! Well, Maggie, I normally do not reveal my trade secrets or sources...but for you I will...just this once. But you have to swear to secrecy. Now lean in close and I will whisper it into your ear. Ready? I steal them off of the internet. There. Now, let's just keep that between us, shall we?

    As always, thank you for reading, Maggie!


  9. Buzz, seems to me that you HAVE finished something. You finished a novel. Mine's still in the "wonder if there's a way to put my keyboard on auto-pilot through the middle" mode, or "wonder if I can finish a novel using mental telepathy."

    I hear that beaches in tourist locations are a gold mine for buried coins...or lost flip flops.

    1. Carmen, judging my the backgrounds of every picture that you've ever posted on your blog, your entire life is in a tourist location. I'll be right down with the metal detector and stay on your couch long enough to find a trunk load of gold bullion. For putting me up, I'll split the finds with you evenly (you can have all of the flip flops, or at least until I find a matching pair).

      You can do it, Carmen. Just keep writing the damned thing. Push through and write it! Remember, I've read your manifesto on feminism and spitting out a fiction after that ought to a breeze...an ocean breeze!

      Thanks for reading,