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Al Batt: The key to Rockin’ Robin

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Could I borrow $495?

I loaned you $500 last week.

I know, but I’m doing much better now.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: It’s April. That means spring has had time to hide. More snow! Is that what we pay taxes for? Weather can be a joke nobody gets.

Time moves fast and time moves slow. Days bunch together. I’m learning to pace myself. Life is good — I’m not living on sardines and lima beans. The clinic sends me helpful emails to remind me that if I sneeze into an elbow, it should be my elbow, not the elbow of a loved one or a stranger. I hope the Toilet Paper Fairy has visited you. Homes need more of the stuff because more games are being played on the home field, so to speak, than before. My neighbor Crandall called to tell me that he hadn’t taken a shower in nearly two weeks, but his hands have never been cleaner. He’s eating in a new restaurant called his kitchen. He hoped there would be a baseball season this year. It’s doubtful due to the chronic spitting involved.

Remember the good old days of a couple months ago? Boy, those were the days. I miss walking into a restaurant and being asked, “Table or booth?” It was a choice between a chair or a sofa. I generally opted for the tush cushion. I have no isolation blues, but I haven’t had much practice being secluded. My parents never grounded me. Why would they want to subject themselves to the presence of a surly teenager any more than they had to? I was the baby of the family, so they’d already given up on having a perfect child.

I grew up being admonished for any indication of sloth. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. I heard that often. It wasn’t from the Bible, but sounded as if it should be. Maybe that’s why I don’t idle well.

The mail brought a package from a Nebraska reader. It contained an MIA bracelet bearing the name of Sgt. Michael Batt who died on March 16, 1969 in Vietnam. He died on my birthday. I had two cousins killed there. I suspect Michael, an Ohioan, was what my family refers to as a shirttail relative – a distant one. His death saddens me.

The joke department

A caller asked, “What is red and smells like blue paint?” I didn’t know the answer. “Red paint.”

Another called to ask what you get when you cross a pitbull with a rabbit. I got that one. A pitbull.

In local news

Podiatrist charges by the foot.

Man insulates his house with drugstore receipts.

The lines at the Molasses Museum move slowly.

Nature notes

Bruce Armstrong of Hartland asked how robins find worms. Sight is the key sense. Dr. Frank Heppner, an ornithologist, used sensitive equipment to record the low-frequency sounds made by burrowing earthworms. He found that robins ignored those sounds. Years later, two Canadian scientists published conflicting findings. They discovered robins couldn’t find buried mealworms if their hearing was compromised. Hearing might work in concert with vision — or not.

Barb Bruns of Mankato asked why a robin was flinging itself at a window. The bird might be employed by a window cleaning company, hired to drum up business by soiling glass. Hey, a bird has to put food on the table. OK, the bird doesn’t have a table. All the more reason he needed a job. But it’s likely doing what birds of many species do. When a pair decides on a nest site, a surrounding area becomes their territory and they aggressively protect it by driving away other birds of their species. When a male robin spots another male, a chasing fight ensues. The dominant male gets a mate, the nesting location, the territory and the area’s food. When a territorial bird, sees its image in a window’s reflective surface, it perceives its mirrored image as a rival and tries to drive the other bird away. A real robin would leave, but the reflection remains. Being persistent and stubborn, the robin continues to attack. If you want the robin to stop, block the image. Put a piece of cardboard or plastic cling on the outside of the window where the bird is attacking. Soaping the window works. This may cause Martha Stewart to shudder, but, in most cases, you’ll need it only until the shadowboxing robin thinks its worthy adversary has departed.

Meeting adjourned

Spread the love one kind word at a time.