Archived Story

Batt: To be a person is to have a story to tell

Published 10:01am Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

“I’m headed to Geneva.”

“It’s a good day for it.”

“How far is Geneva?”

“From where?”

“Never mind. Does it matter which road I take?”

“Not to me it doesn’t.”

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: those who forget the past have a difficult time finding their car in a parking lot.

I’ve learned

The softer the bread, the harder the butter.

Not to point a finger until I’ve offered a hand.

If you are holding all the cards, they haven’t been dealt yet.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

It was hot. I sat under an oak tree, waiting for the house to cool enough to make sleep possible. A fan whirred in my bedroom. It provided white noise more than anything. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d be diagramming sentences and slicing frogs.

I’d heard a visitor say, “I have to get home in time for the news.”

I don’t hear that said much anymore. TV news is never-ending now.

People scrambled to prepare a snack or go to the bathroom during the commercials. TV news wasn’t a must-see event in my family. Radio was big in those years and not just in popularity. The radio was often a large appliance. We listened to WCCO Radio regularly while I was growing up. WCCO was a powerful, statewide station that provided news and weather and more weather. I listened to that station because it told stories. Isak Dinesen said, “To be a person is to have a story to tell.”

Cat tales

A gray cat begs at our front steps. It’s friendly, but not ours. I wish it would go home. It wants food from me. The feline has decided to switch servers.

I feel guilty about not rolling out the red carpet for the cat. I’d like it to live indoors, but I don’t need another cat. It reminds me of the man who cheated his business partner out of $1,000. One night, his conscience bothered him so much that he couldn’t sleep. He got out of bed, wrote a check, and placed it in an envelope addressed to his old partner with a note reading, “I haven’t been able to sleep because I cheated you out of $1000. Here’s a check for $500. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the other $500.”

The bumper sticker said

A work van passed me. It advertised “Superior Flopping.”

That wasn’t the real name. The Superior part was actual, but I made up the Flopping portion. I think the modest people who were around for my boyhood would have found it difficult to name a business Superior anything, unless it was in Superior, Wisconsin. The best they could have come up with would have been “Not Bad Flopping.”

Not long after the van superiorly passed me, I spotted some bumper stickers.

“On your mark, get set, go away.”

“Sorry for driving so close in front of you.”

“I’ll bet Jesus would use turn signals.”

I read a “Wall Street Journal” article about a car sporting a bumper sticker reading, “I brake for fish.” The story was about the Amphicar, a German import produced 1962-67. There were about 4,000 built and around 500 survive. I rode in one once. The driver drove it right into a lake. The car was capable of hitting 70 miles per hour on land, but only 7 miles per hour in water. I was floating in the propeller-driven auto when we were passed by a bullhead.

Did you know?

Chicago allows a $50 surcharge to riders who vomit inside a taxi.

The percentage of American households with a microwave rose from 82 percent in 1992 to 97 percent in 2011.

Nature notes

Rick Mammel of Albert Lea asked how small birds can eat large sunflower seeds. Goldfinches are capable of handling sunflower seeds too large for some other species of a similar size. A goldfinch holds the seeds with the long axis parallel to the beak, which has cutting edges that crack the hull. A chickadee uses its feet or a crevice to hold the seed like a vise while it hammers it open. Black-oil sunflower seed is the most popular of the bird feeder fare. The outer shell of a black-oil sunflower seed is thinner and easier to crack than that of the gray-striped sunflower seed and the kernel from a black-oil seed is larger than one from a gray-striped.

Meeting adjourned

Kindness doesn’t need a reason.

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