Al Batt: ‘A TV remote would have been nice’

Published 5:39 am Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Your last name is Batt? Any relation to Al Batt?

I am Al Batt

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It’s a small world, isn’t 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 read in Business Insider that McDonald’s serves about one percent of the world’s population daily. Trying to avoid the crowd, I joined family at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was filled with people who regularly remembered their passwords. Buffalo Wild Wings was originally called Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck. They offered beef on weck sandwiches. Weck is kummelweck, a kaiser-like roll. The company shortened its name to Buffalo Wild Wings, with the acronym BWW pronounced: “bee-double-you,” which was shortened further to “B-Dubs.”

There were TVs everywhere. They got in the way of one another. Each displayed a sporting event. I asked a server how many TVs there were. She thought 80, but she wasn’t sure. That seemed high, but I wasn’t sure.

The meal came with silverware. A TV remote would have been nice.

The cafe chronicles

There were fenderbergs on the highway. They are clumps of ice, snow and slush that accumulate under a vehicle’s fenders. I stopped at the cafe to wish everyone a happy New Year, but everyone wasn’t there. I ordered a peanut brittle on whole wheat sandwich. They were out of those. A sister-in-law had given me lefse for Christmas. I went home and ate peanut butter on lefse. It was scrumptious.

The Shepherd and Ingeborg

I sat at my desk as nice weather swirled about outside. I had more work to do than I could shake a stick at if I were the kind to shake a stick at work. I listened to Frederick Forsyth’s “The Shepherd” read by Al Maitland on CBC radio as I do every year. Forsyth, known for the thrillers “The Day of the Jackal” and “The Odessa File,” leaned one word perfectly against another in the story. A Royal Air Force pilot was headed home from Germany on Christmas Eve 1957. Fog set in, radio communication was lost, and he found himself flying over the North Sea without navigational aid. Hope was nearly lost when a ghostly silhouette of a World War II de Havilland Mosquito airplane rose from the mist below him. It’s a breathtaking Christmas mystery with remarkable imagery. If I’d have been standing up, I’d have had to sit down. I’ll not spoil it by divulging more.

In an unrelated event from years ago, Aunt Ingeborg called to tell me of going to Duluth to get an award for her accomplishments as a teacher. Ingeborg was someone who fed an opossum on her front steps because she worried about it. I had a photo of that animal hanging on a wall in my office until my wife found a better place for it. Back to Ingeborg’s call. She described the bus she rode in, meals, venue, weather, and award ceremonies (there were no airplanes involved) before mentioning the man seated next to her had died on the trip home. She buried the lede. She said the pleasant fellow told a couple of jokes and then he up and died. I thought of the song “Mr. Bojangles,” “He spoke with tears of 15 years how his dog and him traveled about. The dog up and died. He up and died. After 20 years he still grieves.”

Nature notes

I pay attention to the things in my yard. Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” She also wrote, “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

I spied with my little eye, snow and a deer in the distance. One of them was looking my way. High numbers of deer reflect a productive landscape. One study found a white-tailed deer will eat over 600 plant species and 3.5 percent of its weight daily.

A bald eagle flew overhead. The DNR estimated there were 9,800 pairs of bald eagles in Minnesota in 2017. A 2018 survey found nearly 1,700 bald eagle nests in Iowa.

I busied myself providing room service at my bird feeders. I remember seeing evening grosbeaks some winters. I don’t see them in my yard anymore. Those handsome “grocerybeaks” displayed prodigious appetites.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is no official difference between hills and mountains. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names once indicated the difference was a mountain rose at least 1,000 feet above its surrounding area, but this is no longer applicable.

Meeting adjourned

“Kindness is the sunshine in which virtue grows.”

— Robert Green Ingersoll