Al Batt: The price of potato chips

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I took my car to my brother’s shop for repairs. I was afraid Jim Bob would rip me off.

Did he?

No, he said all it needed was a gallon of blinker fluid.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. Life is no day at the beach. Even a day at the beach is no day at the beach. We get winter 23 out of every 10 years. A frisky wind sent a bloodthirsty, dried corn leaf my way. I was just nimble enough to escape being beheaded by sharpened plant material. I moved out of the way in the nick of time like a lethargic matador. I’d hoped the breakneck speed of that wind from the south might blow in July.

I had lunch with five friends. I’d just spoken with a hunter who said he’d had trouble finding deer this year. The five around my table had all hit a deer in the last 12 months. Are they the reason the hunter couldn’t find deer?

I visited some expensive places during the week—convenience stores. A store clerk asked me if she could help me. I replied I was beyond help. She laughed in agreement. I watched another store employee stocking shelves. She dropped some potato chip bags. I wanted to help, but I’d have gotten in the way. I let the chips fall where they may.

Recent reads from a bookish life

“American Fire” by Monica Hesse. The author wrote,”The county burned down.” The county was Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, once the richest county in the nation, before a precipitous fall from prosperity. There were at least 67 arson fires in five months. It’s well-written and contains the first mention of steak-umms I’ve encountered in a book.

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston. The author joined a team of explorers searching for the fabled Ciudad Blanca (“The White City”), a legendary ruin hidden in the dense rainforest of eastern Honduras. Indigenous tribes spoke of ancestors who fled there to escape Spanish invaders and warned anyone who entered the sacred city would fall ill and die. The book chronicles screeching howler monkeys, flesh-eating parasites and an encounter with a 6-foot long, deadly pit viper, the fer-de-lance. There were frightening accounts of leishmaniasis, a disease caused by parasites transmitted by the bite of sandflies. I learned bananas are the best-selling item at Walmart. On a visit to Costa Rica, I was told Americans eat an average of 27 pounds of bananas per year.

Both books were page-turners.

Things I’m thankful didn’t finish me off in 2021

A multicolored Asian lady beetle stampede.

A candy corn casserole.

The humidity.

Food that’s supposed to taste just like chicken.

I’ve learned

I like shirts with pockets because I’m not likely to put them on inside out.

Few babies are named Earwig.

I grew up without a pet giraffe and that hasn’t hurt me any.

From the family file

My wife keeps our son informed of people who have died near his former home. Losses mount. When she relates sad tidings to him, he refers to them as a”morbid moment.”

My wife and I received premarital counseling from Rev. Fick. The open and honest conversations before marriage lacked three things we should have talked about. Which side of the bed do we each sleep on? Who knew that would be the side for the rest of our lives? The second thing was how to deal with thermostat control. Take turns? The last one to go to bed gets the last adjustment? And lastly, do we eat lutefisk or not?

Nature notes

“What is a chicken hawk?” The misleading moniker is applied to three raptors. The Cooper’s hawk is the one I think of first. It’s also nicknamed big blue darter, hen hawk, quail hawk, striker and swift hawk. The sharp-shinned hawk is also called bird hawk, bullet hawk, little blue darter and slate-colored hawk. The red-tailed hawk is the other one.

“This fall, something made holes as big around as a pencil in my lawn. There were no mounds of dirt and the holes went down a few inches before stopping or turning. What is making them?” A northern flicker, with its white rump patch and black bib, creates holes like your description. The woodpecker regularly feeds on the ground, eating ants and grubs.

Meeting adjourned

“I give thanks for this perfect day, miracle shall follow miracle and wonders shall never cease.”—Florence Scovel Shinn. Happy Thanksgiving. Be kind.