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Al Batt: Sleeping with eyes wide open

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

You fell asleep in church.

Were my eyes closed?

Of course they were. Do you sleep with your eyes open?

I don’t know, I’ve never looked.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I was moving around and stopped at a big-box store because it was near me. Merchandise was strewn about the store. I took the long way to get to where I needed to get to in order to stretch my legs. The store was a tossed salad. Shoppers had placed abandoned items on whatever shelf or display they wheeled their shopping carts past. An employee was pushing one of those carts, filling it with discarded items and placing them back into their correct places. At least the shoppers’ slothfulness provided an employment opportunity. I remember being a gently misbehaving boy who grabbed something I wanted from a store’s shelf and whined to my mother about how much I needed, not wanted, the item. I was told to put it back where I’d found it. Shoppers could get exercise by putting things back where they found them. That would save them a gym membership. In 1916, the first Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tennessee. Piggly Wiggly pioneered the self-service retail model in which shoppers got their own groceries. Before that, groceries were sold at stores where a clerk assembled orders for customers.

It was a cart kind of day. I walked a trail, seeing what birds were available. The golf course across the road was busy. Golfers sitting on golf carts and looking at their cellphones.

I bloviated at a gathering in Michigan and was reminded a Yooper is an unofficial term for Michiganders living in the Upper Peninsula or the U.P. Trolls is the term for Michiganders who live below the Mackinac Bridge because trolls live under bridges. Fudgies are tourists who spend time up north where they can buy fudge.

Cardinals on the radio

A cardinal sang. Both male and female cardinals sing. I’ve been a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. It began when I was a dear boy in a dairy barn and the Philco wooden radio stationed there, one with 19 knobs and dials, only two of which made any difference (on/off/volume and station select), was able to receive the signal of KMOX, a clear channel station with 50,000 watts of power from St. Louis. I was enthralled by word pictures painted by announcers like Jack Buck, Joe Garagiola and Harry Caray. The images on the team uniforms aren’t a true replica of northern cardinals. They have yellow bills and light eyes. The real bird has a reddish-orange bill (juveniles have gray to black bills) and dark eyes.

I’ve learned

To always wave at drivers of farm tractors.

The easiest way to find something in a store is to ask an employee. Then the item will be right next to you.

The UFOs being seen are carrying billionaires from other planets.

Nature notes

I think deer eat any plant if they’re hungry enough. When I’m on the road and need groceries, I’ll head to a giant supermarket because one is usually near my hotel. Occasionally, I’ll travel the grocery aisles on sample day, a glorious celebration for the curious and hungry. If I’m not pressed for time, I’ll stop for a free sample at each sample table. I think deer are like that. They sample things to see what they’d like to eat more of.

‘You carrot chompin’, flop-eared, bob-tailed rabbit! I hope your innards turn to outards and your ears go visey-versey! I hates rabbits!’ Yosemite Sam said that. I wonder if he had a garden? I don’t hate them, but I yell at rabbits. I’m unable to wave them away as I need both hands to pull weeds and slap biting insects. I check the rain gauge to determine my watering duties. The vegetable garden needs an inch of rain per week.

Wild parsnip was brought to North America by European settlers and grown as a root vegetable. It escaped from cultivation and is common throughout the U.S. It grows 4-6 feet tall with compound leaves arranged in pairs, with sharply toothed leaflets shaped like mittens. Yellow flowers form umbrella-shaped clusters. Umbels are 2-6 inches wide and contain many small, flowers blooming from June through August. Wild parsnip is invasive and replaces native plants. Its sap contains toxic chemicals activated by sunlight and can cause burns and blisters to skin after contact.

Chewing on my thoughts

My thanks to the Albert Lea Tribune readers for bestowing a swell honor on this word herder.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind to everyone. You never know who will be on your jury.