Al Batt: Waiting for my mind to open for business

Published 5:45 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’ve developed psychic powers.

When did that happen?

Next Friday.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. Just yesterday, it had been the 10th. Now, only a day later, it’s the 11th. Go figure. Each day is a profound addition.

I’d heard of people making this mistake, but I’d never made it. I was traveling far from home and bunking in a strange hotel. My alarm clock sounded with more decibels than I thought possible and knocked me out of bed at a time earlier than when I’d gone to bed. My brain wasn’t yet open for business when I grabbed a tube of toothpaste, applied it to the brush and began to clean my teeth. I was addlepated by lack of sleep, so it took me longer than it should have to realize the toothpaste didn’t taste like toothpaste. That was because it was hydrocortisone cream that came in a tube of the same size and appearance as the toothpaste. I’d used it on my elbow that looked as if it had been polished by a cheese grater and hadn’t removed the tube from my ditty bag. I stopped brushing the moment my brain convinced my hand to stop. I used more than my fair share of mouthwash and brushed my teeth three times to get the taste of the medication out of my mouth. I checked to make sure my shirt was buttoned correctly, my shoes matched and my pants weren’t on backward before leaving the hotel. The incident with the phony toothpaste wasn’t a bad thing. I figured anything that happened to me the rest of the day would be a definite improvement. And it was.

I’d nearly collided with a shopping cart being pushed by a hurried woman talking on a cellphone while I’d shopped for the hydrocortisone cream a day earlier. She came speeding out of the cereal aisle without signaling her turn. I almost needed the cream before I’d purchased it.

Hydrocortisone cream joke

“I was stung by a yellow jacket.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ve got hydrocortisone cream to put on it.”

“Forget it. You’ll never find that wasp.”

“No, I’ll put the cream where you were stung.”

“In my backyard near the inflatable pool?”

“No, I’ll put the cream on the body part where you were stung. Where was it?” I said.

“The yellow jacket stung me on my finger.”

“Which one?”

“How should I know? All yellow jackets look the same to me.”

I’ve learned

It’s a small world unless you have to paint it.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s a dozen.

I visited a man whose wife had dementia. There should be special places in heaven and on earth for caregivers.

Nature notes

The day was a humdinger. Mother Nature had moved her world headquarters to my yard. The deciduous trees were engaged in making their leaves colorful. Virginia creeper vined in red leaves.

Nature is the ship on which I sail. There’s always something worth noticing. Large black ants hurried. Let there be ants and let there be eaters of ants like northern flickers. The male flicker has a black mustache. For an ant, a flicker is a skunk at the party.

Something plural flew past my head. Multi-colored Asian lady beetles. Maybees were on the flowers. That’s my nickname for bee mimics, flies resembling bees. This is called Batesian mimicry, which means something harmless is imitating something dangerous. Most bee-lookalikes are hoverflies that don’t sting.

Portland, a Texas city on the coast, claims it’s always feather weather there. I know that’s true, but it was feather weather in my yard, too, thanks to the white-throated sparrows scratching for grub on the ground. They took occasional breaks to whistle. Whistling is a white-throated sparrow’s superpower. A reader asked why some sparrows had tan stripes on their heads while others had white stripes. This lovely species comes in two forms—those with tan stripes and those with white stripes. Those with white stripes are the most aggressive. Males of both forms want to mate with females with white stripes, but females of both forms prefer tan-striped mates. So it all works out.

Meeting adjourned

I hiked in Colorado and heard the sounds of Canada jays (also called gray jays, whiskey jacks and camp robbers). I placed a bit of fiber bar on my palm and a jay landed on my paw and grabbed the morsel. I offered a helping hand to another and was thrilled at what I’d received in return. Have a swell day, sagacious reader.