Al Batt: Good day measured by the success of a granddaughter

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

Just one.

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What is it?

To stop hanging around people who ask if I’ve made any New Year’s resolutions.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: I stopped at a bakery and at a meat market on the same day. I took in over 500 calories just by inhaling deeply. That was a good day. But it didn’t come close to the day I watched my granddaughter Joey set the record for the most points scored by either a girl or boy basketball player at New Ulm High School.

She did it by sinking a free throw. As it swished, I leaped from my seat. My heart out-leaped me. Disney could have hired me. I was Goofy. I had a smile like a wave across a slop-pail. I’m proud of her. She works hard at everything she does. Every experience has a value, but having a grandchild like Joey is priceless.

Let’s make a dill

We used to have chickens. I liked having them around. When a chicken walked by, I’d say, “There goes a chicken.” I miss saying that.

I’d miss dill pickles, even though they don’t do much walking past, if I no longer had them. When I was going through some medical treatments, only three items tasted good to me: Mashed potatoes, iced tea and dill pickles. My brother-in-law (Doug Bushlack) and I discussed the gifts to the tastebuds provided by pickled asparagus, pickled eggs and pickled pig’s feet. I expressed the opinion that the greatest disappointment in the pickle realm is when one mistakes a sweet pickle in disguise for a dill pickle. I seldom expect the unexpected when eating pickles. When that happens to me, I yell like Al Pacino.

I flashbacked to a day when I was having lunch with my father at Vivian’s Cafe. The worst food I ever had there was wonderful. The soup of the day was a creamed version of yesterday’s soup of the day. I sampled a sliced pickle, hoping it was dill and not a sweet one disguised as a pickle. Sweet pickles made me say, “Ish!” It was dill. It was good.

I had to share both my happiness and relief with someone. I saw Bud Wilhelm. He worked with my brother and his daughter was in my grade school class.

“Hi, Bud,” I said, all friendly like.

My father nearly spit out his beef commercial.

“Don’t call him that,” he whispered, much too loud to my thinking.

“Doesn’t he like his name?” I asked.

My father gave me a look as if I had ticked on his tac toe and said, ”To someone your age, he’s Mr. Wilhelm.”

We all grow up or do we?

When I was his age, I was making forts out of sofa cushions, avoiding injury from a woodburning set and marveling at how intelligent Bullwinkle was. He was skiing off the roof of the house. Downhill skiing. One of his siblings tattled on him. His father had this talk with him, “If you’re going to do that, don’t let your mother catch you.”

That boy has grown up. Kind of. This year he was late getting to the family Christmas party because the local gas station didn’t open until 10 o’clock and he needed to buy Christmas gifts.

The mother of that young man once gave her daughter an excuse slip for missing a day of school that said to excuse her child for no apparent reason. It worked.

Nature notes

I watched a northern harrier (once called a marsh hawk) hunt on the wing, coursing in a wobbly manner low over the ground. It was likely searching for voles. Unlike other hawks, it relies on a sense of hearing as well as vision to capture prey. The northern harrier is a long-tailed hawk with a white rump patch. It nests on the ground.

Woodpeckers drum on resonant wood to declare their territories. Listen for chickadees singing “fee-bee,” another sign of the days becoming longer. Increasing daylight causes the blue jay to sound its pump-handle call, sometimes called the “spelunker” call. I’ve been hearing the hooting courtship calls of great horned owls in the night. The calls are deep, soft hoots with a stuttering rhythm, “hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo.” The female is larger than her mate, but the male has the deeper voice.

Meeting adjourned

“Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own.” ­— Adam Lindsay Gordon