Bald-headed jay not unusual

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club meeting:

“I broke the mirror in my house two years ago.”

“Have you had any bad luck?”

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“Well, I haven’t seen myself in two years.”

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: A boy’s greatest period of growth is the month after his parents have purchased new school clothes.

My neighbor

My neighbor, Old Man McGinty, is actually the third Old Man McGinty to live on the farm. His grandfather was the first and his father the second. Being an Old Man McGinty is a family business. Once upon a time, the second Old Man McGinty placed a phone call to my family. People named Old Man McGinty don’t make many phone calls. His call came during a terrible snow and ice storm on St. Patrick’s Day. He said that he wanted to call while the telephones were still working because up the road, the poles were coming down.

Why men don’t shop

I bought a small toy. It was enclosed in a plastic package that required me to buy a tool to open. It came with a diet plan in which I lost weight trying to open it. I broke two fingernails and every law but jury tampering attempting to open the package. I nearly resorted to lethal weapons before chewing through the plastic and freeing the toy. I had to use the martial arts skills of a sushi chief. I know the packages are in place to make my life better but they might not be able to do that if they drive me crazy in the process.

From the family files

Not all beloved casseroles go to church potlucks. My mother whipped up fabulous hotdishes. As a boy, I didn’t always trust a hotdish. Mom occasionally tried to sneak things that were good for me into hotdishes. I would ask my mother what was in a pile of hotdish on my plate.

Mother would reply, “Eat it and you’ll find out.”

A visit

I stop at nursing homes often. It makes me feel worthwhile. I visited a friend in his room—a streamlined reminder of his life. He had whittled his life down to the things worth hanging onto; jettisoning things until his belongings fit into one small room.

He said, “Can you believe it? I have all of this and I don’t have to do any yard work.”

Nature notes

“Why does a blue jay in my yard look like it’s bald?” The jay may have lost its head feathers due to a post-breeding molt. This occurs when birds replace worn feathers with new ones after the summer breeding season. When this happens, birds might remain featherless on portions of their bodies for a period of days or weeks. Typically, the bird is not threatened by the loss of its head feathers. Give the bird the phone number for the Hair Club for Birds.

“I saw the biggest wasp I’ve ever seen this summer. What could it be?” It sounds like you might have seen a cicada killer wasp. It is about 1.5-inch long, with a black body with yellow stripes. Cicada killers nest singly in the ground. When they tunnel out in late summer, they leave small holes behind. The males, who have no stingers, emerge first and pick a territory. The females follow a few weeks later and they mate. After digging a deep nesting burrow in the ground, the female stings and paralyzes a cicada, placing it in the burrow. She lays an egg in the body of the cicada. The egg hatches into a larva that eats the cicada, spends the winter in a pre-pupa stage, and becomes an adult the next summer.