• 59°

Batt: Is it COVID-19 or are we in the Twilight Zone

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Zoom Meeting

I got everything done on my list of things to do today.

How many things were on the list?

Just one — make a list of things to do today.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: Life is neat, but not gaudy. I’m staying busy. Washing my hands for 20 seconds every 20 seconds fills a day. I’ve cut my list of things to do to the point where I can see both ends. I can’t remember that ever being possible before. New things have become familiar and old things have become strange. We’re all in this together — albeit 6 feet apart.

“How are you?” we ask, politely inviting good news. “Are all you all OK?” is a brief meditation of good wishes. Life isn’t normal and it never has been, but we might be living in a “Twilight Zone” episode.

I mowed the dandelions as they watched the sun. Dandelions open early like a bakery. They adjust to mowing and flower on shorter stems. I pushed the mower under the lofty pole holding our brand-new security light bulb. It was exciting to see it (I’m easily entertained) and I tried not to compare it to the old bulb.

My wife gave me a mocha bar for my good work and, thanks to time spent together bonding while sheltering in place, I felt comfortable enough to tell her I don’t like peanut-mocha cake bars. I never have. If she’d had made it, I wouldn’t have said anything. My mother bought them for me too. I never told her of my dislike. It’s hard not to appreciate gifts.

The phone rang and I answered it

A customer of this column called to ask if I’d been to Whittier, Alaska. The town, named after the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, is an hour south of Anchorage. The road between the two cities includes a 2.5-mile long, one-lane drive through a mountain tunnel that closes at 10:30 p.m. If you’re late, you sleep in your vehicle. I’ve visited this beautiful place and watched black-legged kittiwakes, dainty gulls, peel off rock walls before taking flight. Whittier has a year-round population of 220 and challenging weather. The windy location gets 22 feet of snow and 16 feet of rain annually, yet school isn’t canceled for good weather. About 80 percent of the residents live in one 14-story building (that includes a clinic, convenience store, B&B, church, post office, police department and city hall). A school is connected. The rest of the population lives in a smaller apartment complex. There are no single-family homes.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

I was playing chess with my shop teacher and had decided to ask him how he’d lost a joint’s worth of finger. Just as I was going to do that, he sent a classmate to the lumberyard to get a board stretcher. That was funny only because he hadn’t sent me.

I’ve learned

I thought I’d have spare time while sheltering in place, but I don’t. I have a Fitbit instead.

All the world’s problems can’t be fixed with duct tape.

To put things in the places where I’d first look for them.

If it says one size fits all, it’ll lie about other things too.

Thoughts while mowing the dandelions

I’ve grown to dislike and distrust political polls. They’re as welcome as my cooking.

Your cellphone provider has ways of making you talk.

It’s impossible for a fish to follow in its father’s footsteps.

A farmer doesn’t get dirty. He’s like math homework. He shows his work.

As I look out my window, I’m thankful for Winthrop W. Window, the inventor of the framed glass.

Nature notes

There are collective nouns for warblers: bouquet, confusion, fall and wrench. The most abundant warbler I see is the yellow-rumped warbler, nicknamed the butterbutt for obvious reasons. It winters farther north than most warblers because it can digest the wax in berry coatings. It gleans insects from vegetation, ground, air and even spiderwebs. It will eat suet and peanut butter.

Common grackles sometimes nest in loose colonies, exhibiting limited territoriality except in the immediate area of a nest. Ogden Nash wrote this: “The grackle’s voice is less than mellow. His heart is black, his eye is yellow. He bullies more attractive birds, with hoodlum deeds and vulgar words, And should a human interfere, attacks that human in the rear. I cannot help but deem the grackle, an ornithological debacle.”

Meeting adjourned

You make all the difference. Be kind.