Al Batt: A scary good likeness

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I got a newspaper insert saying a big box store was having a 10 percent off everything in the store sale.

Did you take advantage of that discount?

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No, I couldn’t afford to buy everything in the store.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I spoke at and taught classes at a Barnes & Noble store in the Twin Cities long before I’d written a book. There were a few authors there doing book signings. They gave me my own table. Several people asked me to sign the books they had purchased. I wrote, “I didn’t write this book. I wish I had,” and signed the books.

I was in an auto repair place. A guy had gotten a tire fixed. It had picked up a screw that led to leaking air. As he paid his bill, he said, “I’m always running over things.” The cashier grabbed his payment before saying, “Keep up the good work.”

The mailbag

Bob Hargis of Riverton, Wyoming, wrote, “Sign in front of a store in Alice, Texas: ‘We buy old crap. We sell antiques.’”

Helen Abramson of Duluth wrote this, “Wondering if you remember learning this when you were in grade school. April Fool, go to school. Tell your teacher the golden rule.

If she says, ‘What do you mean?’ Tell her she’s a jelly bean.”

A friend sent me a photo of a State Fair entry that had been a scarecrow carrying my name. It was a remarkable likeness. I think it garnered a top ribbon. A note was included with the photo. It read, “Did you ever look this good?”

You may be getting older if

You wanted to be an elevator operator when you grew up because you thought traveling would be fun.

You remember when the thin tread on a tire was a safety feature. You could feel it when you drove over a line on a road.

You’ve forgotten where you’ve parked your car while you’re shopping online.

The Book Club

Larry McMurtry died recently. I enjoyed his books—”The Last Picture Show,” “Terms of Endearment” and “Lonesome Dove.” If you enjoyed “Lonesome Dove,” you might like three other books he’d written about Gus and Call. “Dead Man’s Walk” covers the heroes  as young men. “Comanche Moon” contains the line “you can see to the rim of forever.” “Streets of Laredo” is the final book of the tetralogy. The line I remember most from “Lonesome Dove” is “Death and worse happened on the plains.” McMurtry owned a bookstore, “Booked Up,” in Archer City, Texas, which once housed 400,000 books.

Nature notes

I listened to The Troggs sing, “Wild thing you make my heart sing. You make everything groovy, wild thing. Wild thing, I think I love you. But I wanna know for sure.”

Inspired by that song, I moved to the light. I need windows now more than ever before. Thankfully, they require no passwords. There are wild things just outside a window that need seeing.

The window was a siren’s song that drew me outdoors. A song sparrow sang a mnemonic medley: “Maids maids-maids-put-on-your tea-kettle-ettle-ettle. Hip, hip, hip hurrah boys, spring is here! Madge, Madge, Madge pick beetles off, the water’s hot.” I recognized my privilege and walked toward mysteries and discoveries. I was nearly trampled by a pair of chipmunks in what I suspect was an amorous pursuit. A golden-crowned kinglet moved through the trees like a leaf with feathers and I was lifted on its tiny wings.

The world has a melody. Birds provide a tireless concert. When cardinal males sing, they are claiming a territory. Older males typically claim previous territories while young males move around to find open ones. I heard the rhythmic drumming of a woodpecker, hoping to establish a territory and attract a mate.

The grass was a hopeful green as a chipmunk ran up a downspout and then cheeped. Eastern chipmunks mate once a year, in early spring, usually having one litter of up to seven young born in May or June. Some females may produce a second litter if their first litter is lost.

I saw a muskrat and felt the shiver of the river. I see river otters infrequently. The otters have fur four times as dense as a muskrat’s and are able to stay underwater for eight minutes. Great blue herons nest in trees in colonies called rookeries. A nest has two to six eggs.

Meeting adjourned

“Through others, we become ourselves.”— Lev Vygotsky. Be kind.