• 21°

Al Batt: Ringing bells for the SA

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m sorry I hurt your feelings when I called you stupid.

I appreciate the apology.

I wouldn’t have called you stupid if I’d have thought you didn’t know.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I’m dodging and weaving my way through each day, just as you are. Life can be a suitcase without a handle. Life is a matter of getting used to things and a string of giving up things. I started ringing bells for the Salvation Army when I was a young meathead. Last year, as an experienced meathead, my wife and I rang for 32 hours, plus some extra hours when the scheduled ringers didn’t show up. There was a rash of that last year. The year before, we rang 40 hours, plus standing in for others. Forty hours has been our norm. One year, I rang 36 hours in three days. Another year, I rang while getting chemotherapy from a bag strapped to my midsection. I’m not writing this as a sneaky version of “Yay, me.” I’m writing this to show how important ringing those bells is to me. After consultation with the Queen B (my wife) and medical professionals, it was suggested we don’t ring this year. I’ve agreed, but not without a whimper. I’ll miss seeing all the people, even the bah-humbug guy. My undying gratitude to all those who keep a kettle company.

It wasn’t down with going up or down

“Hey, hey. Ho, ho. That door opener has got to go,” I sang like a man who’d spent part of a day in a choir because they needed another tall guy to balance a photo of the singers. That was because I had.

The garage door opener had issues. It made the door go up or down only when inspired. It had only one job. I suspected its befuddling bewilderer had broken. I visited the company where I’d purchased the opener. I hadn’t expected them to roll out the red carpet and they didn’t. I found a guy who tried hard to ignore me before asking if he could help. He gave me the same look I give a scam email from an exiled Nigerian prince. I pretended he was happy to see me as I explained my problem. No, not that problem. The problem with the opener. I hadn’t presented it as a conspiracy theory he believed. He suggested I watch a YouTube video and take notes, gave me a dunce cap and sent me away. I considered going elsewhere but hoped the opener could be fixed. A couple of days later, I disguised my voice and called the company. They sent a repairman three times. Small parts were exchanged and the opener became as good as almost new. I press a button and the garage door goes up. I press the button again and the door goes down. How cool is that?

From the mailbag

John Beal wrote, “The two boys you mention remind me of something in my youth. Growing up in Blooming Prairie until age 10 before moving to Medford I had a friend Dale who lived in town. He would come to visit the farm where dad raised some beef cattle plus having some milk cows. Part of our made-up entertainment was to each carry a stick and see who could measure and find the deepest cow pie. No trophies were ever awarded but we sure had fun.”

Nature notes

We complain about weather forecasts, but we should complain that they are too accurate.

Canada geese flew over the yard in a lopsided V-formation, honk-a-lonking their way south. The bird feeders had been busy. If you fill your feeders, the birds will come before a storm. There was a Eurasian collared-dove, with a black collar on the back of its neck, under the feeders. It’s grayish-brown and approximately the size of a mourning dove but chunkier and with a blunt-tipped tail unlike the mourning dove’s longer, pointed tail. Males give a distinctive koo-KOO-kook call. This bird was accidentally introduced into the Bahamas in 1974 and first sighted in Minnesota in 1998.

A rooster pheasant flew from the yard. I heard him before I saw him. I was sorry to have bothered the handsome fellow. Male pheasants utter a series of loud, excited two-note calls when they flush. It’s difficult to assign a precise meaning to these cackles. Roosters also crow throughout the year. “Cow-cat,” they proclaim while making a drumming sound with their wings.

Meeting adjourned

Be happy for those who are happy.