Al Batt: Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Published 8:20 am Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I have a pet spider.

A pet spider? Where did you get a pet spider?

I found it on the web.

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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:
He who hesitates is not only lost, he will always be driving the car ahead of me.

I drove the speed limit because I had just read the police reports in the newspaper. I didn’t want to be a part of that group.

When I read the lengthy police reports, I didn’t recognize a single name.

When I read the obituary page, which included three obituaries, I knew all of them.

I’m in no hurry to be a part of that group either.

Church bulletins

 I’d sit next to my mother in church. She used that little pencil, similar to one used to keep score in golf, to underline things and to write notes in the church bulletin. If the pastor said something remarkably enlightening, she jotted it down. The bulletin itself was brimming with important information.

At home, she acted on the things she’d highlighted in the bulletin. Those who were ill received cards from my mother. Nursing home residents received visits. New parents received congratulations. That church bulletin inspired genuine concern and action.

The bulletins have been reduced in size. Perhaps privacy concerns have diminished the sharing. I remember when newspapers shared hospital admittances and the purchasers of new vehicles. Times have changed.

We shared the peace in church the other day. It’s when we each take a moment to greet those around us. It typically involves a handshake, but there is an occasional fist bump or wave.

The crowd was light, so I had to do some walking in order to greet enough people to appease my need to greet. I became a free-range sharer of the peace.

Then I sat down and underlined things in the bulletin with a small pencil.

How are you doing?

 I could smell food wherever I walked and wherever I didn’t walk at the fair.

I like dill pickles. I like dill pickles a lot.

I base my fair food purchases on a comparison to dill pickles. If I don’t think a food would taste at least as good as a dill pickle, I don’t eat it.

As I strolled the fairgrounds, people asked me how I was doing. I try not to complain. People either don’t want to hear about my complaints or they are pleased to hear that I have some problems. So my reply is typically, “I’m swell.”

Tom Benson of Hartland said that when people ask him how he’s doing, he sometimes answers, “If I was a cowboy and living home on the range, I would probably give you a discouraging word.”

A visitor to my hospital room asked me how I felt.

I looked at all the tubes, wires and monitors attached to my body and said, “I feel over-accessorized.”

Petting bumble bees

I petted a non-aggressive bumble bee on a flower. It was a thrill for me. A minor annoyance to the bee.

A number of insects mimic bees. Some robber flies mimic bees in order to capture them. Other mimics do it for protection. It’s a way for them to buy insurance. This is called Batesian mimicry, a form of biological resemblance in which a noxious or dangerous organism, equipped with a warning system such as conspicuous coloration, is mimicked by a harmless organism. The mimic gains protection because predators mistake it for the dangerous critter and leave it alone.

  Flies are one of the most common bee mimics, not just of bumble bees, but of other bees, too. There are two simple ways to tell a fly mimic from a bee. Look at the wings. Bees have four wings, flies have two. Look at the antennae. Bees have elbowed antennae, while many flies have short or extremely thin antennae. If you can’t see the antennae, it’s probably a fly.

The bumble bee I petted had bulging pollen baskets. If you’ve noticed orange or yellow clumps on the hind legs of bees, those are pollen baskets gathered from flowers visited during foraging. After a bee visits a flower, she brushes pollen gathered on her body toward her hind legs and packs the pollen into her pollen basket. A little nectar mixed with the pollen keeps it together and the hairs in the pollen basket hold it in place.

Petting busy bees equipped with pollen baskets is the bee’s knees.

Meeting adjourned

Life is short. Be kind.