Al Batt: Frequent visitors to the outhouse

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

What does IDK mean?

I don’t know.

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Nobody seems to know.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. The much-dreaded spring ahead. Daylight saving time should direct timepieces to be changed to noon. Noon is a nice time. It’s not too early and often involves food. I grew up with an outhouse. Between that facility and livestock, I noticed time changes more then. I wasn’t always pleased with having to use an outdoor bathroom. In Haines, Alaska, a woman sat down to use an outhouse. You’re seldom alone in an outhouse. If the weather was warm enough, ours entertained spiders. Mosquitoes, flies and mice were frequent visitors. One year, there was a skunk in our outhouse. That isn’t a pleasant memory for me. The Alaskan woman hadn’t sat for long when she felt a bite on her behind. She didn’t know what had bitten her but she screamed anyway. That brought her brother to investigate. He aimed his headlamp into the hole and saw the face of a bear staring back at him. The man and the bear both left the scene. This account made me grateful we had a skunk and not a bear in our biffy.

I heard a fellow from West Virginia talk about cow tipping. Pushing over sleeping cows. Maybe cows are feeble in that fine state, but cows don’t sleep standing up. Cow tipping is another snipe hunt. It’s not part of the real world. Now outhouse tipping, that’s a thing.

Relax the Kraken

Right before the world became digitized, we flew out of MSP Airport and landed in Anchorage. We deplaned and moved to baggage claim. Those in my tour group were tired but excited. There were but a handful of bags on the carousel. The number refused to increase no matter how long we waited. When it became apparent no more bags were forthcoming, I, being the feckless leader, headed to the baggage office to speak with a customer representative. I needed to make a lost luggage claim for everyone’s bag. There was a long line of unhappy people. They were venting their anger on a poor woman who had done nothing wrong. A bad day isn’t improved by ruining someone else’s day. I asked her what I should do. She told me that only one cart had been loaded, a plane would come later that day with our bags, and they would be delivered to our hotel in Wasilla. I informed my charges and sent them away on a deluxe tour bus. I’d wait for the luggage. The plane was late, but every bag arrived. I helped load them into a van, accompany them to Wasilla, and put them in storage at the hotel. I nearly got to bed before it was time for breakfast. I greeted everyone with, “Good morning.” It was.

I’ve learned

Old socks make wonderful napkins when you’re eating alone.

If I think I should know better, I already know better.

A woman asked if I’d give a eulogy for someone I’d never met. I wondered aloud if that would be a good idea. She said, “It’s a great idea. You’ll be unbiased.”

Many useless things become antiques because they were seldom used.

If you buy a book on animal tracks, expect it to be filled with footnotes.

If you want to keep Bigfoot away, spread Legos all over your lawn.

Nature notes

Dennis Anderson of Hartland wondered why the number of patrons to his bird feeders had diminished. Kind weather allows birds to explore the landscape and its food sources. We’re into the time of seasonal fluctuations and migrations. Birds may be as fickle as a bad prom date, but they’ll be back.

Skunks, raccoons and opossums don’t hibernate but hole up in sleeping places if the weather isn’t good for foraging or courting.

Red-winged blackbird males returned to call on territory. “No, you shut up,” they yell at the other males. The yard crows were indignant at the discovery of a great horned owl. Crows hate owls because owls love to eat crows. A pair of compact birds, white-breasted nuthatches, moved up, down and around a tree. I sometimes refer to one as a tree mouse. The male called what-what-what-what. The active and agile birds often start high in a tree and move down it headfirst, probing into bark crevices for food.

I heard the whinnying call of a woodpecker. It was a downy’s utterance — descending at the end. The rattling call of the similar and larger hairy woodpecker doesn’t descend in pitch at the end.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind. Jiggle the handle