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Al Batt: Keep what you know close

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

My wife threw a surprise birthday party for me.

Were you surprised?

I sure was. I’d forgotten it was my birthday.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: No one is fit for the times. I move about as if the world’s paint would never dry. My ballot was mailed Monday. I received it on Wednesday. My gratitude to the County Auditor’s office and the Post Office for their excellent work. The garden is being put to bed. It did fine. The peas weren’t as good as I hoped. It was a half-pea ending.

The wind whistled through the pines. They must have been high-pitched pines. When I lived in Minneapolis, a neighbor told me he liked to rake leaves into separate piles according to tree species. He had three trees. As near as I could tell, they were of the same species. I didn’t tell him that. A secret to getting along is to not tell everything you know.

I loved listening to “Peter and the Wolf” when I was in grade school. The teacher played a record of it on a record player. I know, weird, right? I listened to it recently, hoping it’d be the day’s secret sauce. Hygge is a coziness that makes a person feel content and comfortable. The Danes borrowed the word from the Norwegian. I felt relaxed and centered, as if I were wearing comfortable fuzzy slippers if I were the kind to wear comfortable fuzzy slippers. I settled into a chair that fit me. I had a cup of hot tea and a good book. “Peter and the Wolf” played, life was good. Then a multicolored Asian lady beetle flew into my tea. A kamikaze flight that befouled my beverage. These beetles secrete a strong-smelling, yellowish liquid from their leg joints. The liquid can stain light-colored surfaces and destroy a fine cup of tea. I guess I’m not meant to be too comfortable.

Weird Al

A few years ago, I journeyed to Darwin to see the largest ball of twine rolled by one man — a 17,400-pound, 12-foot high and 40-foot around sphere showcased in a plexiglass-sheltered gazebo. Francis Johnson, a master whittler who crafted working pliers from wood, created it in 1950. Johnson spent four hours each day for 29 years rolling twine. In 1958, Johnson traveled to New York City to be on the TV show “I’ve Got a Secret.” Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” tried to buy the ball, but was rebuffed. Weird Al Yankovic sang “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”

The ball was better than the Mall of America, which gets 40 million visitors annually. Johnson died from emphysema. He never smoked. I hoped it wasn’t the twine dust.

The candy corn crop looks good this year

The more the scarier. We have Halloween because there aren’t enough nightmares to go around. Why have Halloween? For the candy, of course. And the chance to say, “Trick or treat, smell my feet. Give me something good to eat.” The favored candies are M&M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, Starburst and Skittles. My favorite is Swedish Fish. Then there is Candy Corn and Circus Peanuts. I realize that taste buds differ from one human to another, but those two taste like someone sprinkled sugar on things they’ve found behind the sofa cushions. There is a Turkey Dinner Candy Corn with green beans, roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, ginger glazed carrot, sweet potato pie and stuffing flavors.

Nature notes

1. Raccoons and skunks dig into lawns in search of grubs. Raccoons do the most damage and roll back sod in their quest. Skunks are more likely to tear clumps out of the grass.

2. Indian summer is a short period of above normal temperatures occurring on sunny, calm, and hazy days following fall’s first frost.

3. The first deer rubs on trees show up around the middle of October.

4. Woolly bear caterpillars (woolly worms) crawl across roads. Folklore maintains that the narrower the black band on a caterpillar, the milder the coming winter will be. The wider that band, the more severe the winter will be.

5. Someone will swear he isn’t turning on the furnace until he has numbness in his extremities.

6. People will channel the flannel.

7. House sparrows chirp cheerfully. The ingenious spatzies have learned the skill of opening automatic doors of stores by fluttering in the right spot to activate electric-eye sensors.

Meeting adjourned

The bad news is that the world is out to get you. The good news is that it hasn’t gotten you yet. Be kind.