Al Batt: I should have been paying more attention

Published 7:04 am Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

There is something wrong with this chili.

That’s not chili. It’s oatmeal.

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Oh, well, then there’s nothing wrong with it.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I was having one of those bittersweet days. I was sad and happy at the same time. A friend had died much too young. And I was thankful for my wife Gail, who has been my secret weapon in my battle against cancer. She has made the difference. My love for my bride warmed me, but the day was cold enough that soup sounded like the perfect food. Minnesotans practice the three E’s of cold weather survival. Escape, Enjoy or Endure by eating soup.   

“What is the soup-of-the-day?” I asked the server.

“Order it and then you tell me,” she said with a smile.

It was vegetable beef. I think. Leaving the cafe, I began searching for my car keys in my pockets. Finding them, I fumbled them. I heard a thud as they hit the ground in the dark parking lot. I could have employed my trustworthy tiny flashlight to find them, but it was attached to the keychain. I should have been paying more attention. A Harvard study found that we spend 46.9 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing.

Halloween can be good and frightening

According to, the best Halloween candies are, in descending order: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (the landslide winner), Snickers, Twix, Kit Kat, M&Ms, Nerds, Butterfinger, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles and Hershey Bar. The worst Halloween candies listed from the 10th worst to the worst are: Mary Janes, Good & Plenty, Licorice, Smarties, Tootsie Rolls, Peanut Butter Kisses, Necco Wafers, Wax Coke Bottles, Candy Corn and Circus Peanuts. My brother Donald enjoyed Circus Peanuts. That sort of thing can happen in the best of families.

In local news

Massive air spill at balloon factory.

When asked why he builds his own furniture, man replied he had no IKEA.

The Eat Around It Cafe received complaints about misplaced apostrophes in its alphabet soup.

Shopper puts a pumpkin down while finding her car key. The pumpkin was stolen. Law enforcement officials remind shoppers to never let their gourd down.

A travelogue

I travel here and there for speaking gigs. While in England, I discovered that the British say “Sorry” four times more often than Americans. Americans say “Thank you” four times more than the British.

Nature notes

There were two deer in the yard. They were drinking from a large bird waterer. They drink it dry regularly. Not a drop of moisture remains. It was as dark as 5 a.m. gets as our house cat Purl stared out the window at the deer. Her tail became bigger and bigger. The appearance of deer is subject to interpretation.

I enjoyed my daily treat of a Honeycrisp, which isn’t the most popular apple in the U.S., trailing Gala and Fuji in sales, but more Honeycrisp trees have been planted in recent years than any other variety, according to researcher Rich Marini, a professor of horticulture at the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Between bites of that delicious apple, I watched an eastern screech owl that had been rousted from its roosting site by upset songbirds. Screech owls, approximately 8 or 9 inches long, have a varied diet that includes small rodents, insects, worms, bats, frogs, tadpoles, lizards, fish and birds.

I’d driven by a sign that read, “Wildlife Refuge.” There was a dead deer lying near it. The deer had almost made it. Speaking of refuges, many rats take refuge in Chicago. According to Orkin, Chicago is the U.S. city with the most rats. It’s followed by New York and Los Angeles. Minneapolis-St. Paul is 12th on the rattiest list of cities.

A doctor from England told me that he was stunned when he saw a cardinal here. I told him I feel the same way.

The multi-colored lady beetles arrived in the yard and buildings at the time of the soybean harvest. They aren’t as bad this year as they have been other years. I take solace in that.

It’s time to make sure there is an ice scraper in the car. My wife and I worked in Haines, Alaska, one winter when it received 32 feet of snow. That’s feet, not inches. That was too much snow. I said so, but the weather didn’t care enough about what I thought to listen.

In gratitude

My thanks to the Austin Audubon Society and the Friends of the J.C. Hormel Nature Center for allowing me to speak to such fine folks.

Meeting adjourned

“Praise does wonders for our sense of hearing.” Arnold H. Glasow. Be kind.