Al Batt: A serious mother-in-law

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, April 7, 2021

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Did you fix my car?

I couldn’t. There wasn’t anything wrong with it.

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I wish I’d have known that. I could have fixed it myself.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. Once upon a time, there were more mother-in-law jokes than there were mothers-in-law. My mother-in-law was no joke. I loved her and she, the baby of six, has died at 93. Even though she spent considerable time on the brink, death startles and those we love die too soon. My son said Grandma’s love was unconditional and I felt as if I had all the legroom I needed when I was around her. We bought her a cellphone she could use for emergencies as she drove to work and back. Over the years, there was never a single emergency. She retired at 80.

The ironing board was always up in her house, except when company was expected. A sprinkler head was inserted into a soda bottle containing water. I remember it as a 7UP bottle, but my rememberer might be incorrect. Clothes were sprinkled and set aside before ironing. This helped remove the wrinkles. She spent substantial chunks of time flattening cloth. She did the Batt laundry once when we were newlyweds and hung the clothes outside on a line so they’d smell like the world should. Her dog found my beloved University of Minnesota sweatshirt intriguing and tore it from the line and to shreds. Lorraine worried I’d be angry. How could I be mad at someone who did my laundry? One of my late elders would stand by a fresh grave and say, “Well, (insert your mildest profanity here).” That’s how he moved on from a loss. How do you get over the death of a loved one? I don’t know. I never have. Part of belonging is leaving. As Dorothy did with her ruby slippers, Lorraine has found her way home. We cry, we laugh, we’re given a rainbow.

In local news

Local book club disbands after Waldo was found.

The annual discount airshow has no airplanes but plenty of air.

Enormous hole in the ground is evidence of a successful yard sale.

Local man charged with luting at Renaissance Festival.

I’ve learned

My neighbor missed eating in the cafe where he could salt his food proudly instead of having to do it secretly at home. His bucket list has one thing on it: chicken.

An antique is anything you’ve had longer than you wanted.

Don’t drink and use a Flowbee.

I had to replace my old wedding band. The singer retired.

On the internet, every day is April Fool’s Day.

The Solitary Book Club

I read “Walking my Dog, Jane” by Ned Rozell. It’s about travel and a dog. What could be better? The author said, “I took my dog for a walk last spring and we didn’t come home until fall.” Ned and Jane, a chocolate Lab that had seen him through “three pickup trucks and seven girlfriends,” walked 800 miles along the trans-Alaska pipeline beginning at Valdez and ending at Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean.

Nature notes

The grass is always greener in the Easter basket. Why do birds stand on one leg? They do that when standing on a bathroom scale. We’ve all tried that. They also do it to minimize energy loss.

Mark Sorenson of Hollandale asked why a bald eagle pair builds a second nest. There could be several reasons: A mate is lost, the site is disturbed, a nest failure or a damaged nest tree.

A song sparrow often has a dark spot in the center of a streaked breast and dark feathers resembling mutton chops under its bill. They are persistent singers throughout spring and summer. I never let their song go to voicemail. Its scientific name Melodia means “melody” in Greek.

A northern flicker, an avian anteater, fed on the ground. I heard the rattling gu-rrroo calls of sandhill cranes flying high in the sky. A pair of American kestrels flew overhead on bent wings with swept-back tips as they exchanged excited “killy” sounds. These handsome falcons nest in cavities. They resemble mourning doves when perched on a utility wire.

Paul Peters of Ceylon reported many wood ducks. The Wood Duck Society says wood ducks return as soon as ice melt occurs, with egg-laying beginning shortly thereafter and an initial egg-laying peak in early to mid-April.

Meeting adjourned

Anne McCaffrey wrote, “Make no judgments where you have no compassion.” Be kind.