Al Batt: Setting goals for tomorrow

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting                  

Yesterday, my goal was to make it to today.

What’s your goal for today?   

To make it to tomorrow.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. A December tornado destroyed Christmas decorations in Hartland, Minnesota. With apologies to every English teacher I’ve ever had, that ain’t right.

I remember better than I used to. When I try to remember someone’s name—whose face I remember because faces are unique and names aren’t — I recall where they work, how old they are, where they grew up, their neighbors, their classmates, what a car they drive and the names of people I hadn’t thought of for years. I won’t remember the name I wanted to, but think of all the other things I remembered.

Bear, moose,

merry Christmas

When leading nature walks in Alaska, I appointed a nervous sort (nervous people make the best sentinels) to holler “bear” or “moose” but only when seeing a bear or a moose. I learned that the hard way. Someone asked if they should wear noisy bells on their clothing to prevent startling bears. A good number of walkers carried pepper spray. On occasion, I’d point out bear scat. Black bear dung is smaller and contains berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear dung has little bells in it and smells like pepper. If I led one of those groups today, I’d appoint one member to yell, “Merry Christmas.”

Yesterday when

I was younger

I’d bought a bag of air with a couple of potato chips in it. I was owned by a Chihuahua that was interested in the chips. To take his mind off them, I told him a joke. Here is my experience telling a joke to a Chihuahua. Me: “Knock, knock.” The canine: “Yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip, yip.”

Carnac

I attended a sheep auction in England. Before the auctioneer began his banana oil, the tailgate of a truck fell open with a loud bang, reminding me of a sketch Johnny Carson performed as Carnac the Magnificent. Carnac was a mystic from the East who psychically divined answers to unknown questions. Ed McMahon held envelopes that had been hermetically sealed and kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch since noon. Ed said, “No one knows the contents of these envelopes, but you, in your mystical and borderline divine way, will ascertain the answers having never before heard the questions.” Carnac held an envelope to his head, giving the answer before tearing open the envelope and removing an index card bearing the question. “The answer: “Sis-boom-bah.” The question: “Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.”

I’ve learned

For every snowflake that falls, someone forgets how to drive.

A rare stamp is one that must be licked.

A muffin is the SUV of cupcakes.

Nature notes

A European legend is on the night Jesus was born, a robin heard Mary’s plea to keep the fire going. The robin tossed twigs onto the fire and fanned the embers with its wings until they glowed red. The flames singed the robin’s white breast, turning it red. European settlers to North America gave the name to the red-breasted songbird they saw here—the American robin. Brits sometimes called bluebirds robins, towhees were ground robins and Baltimore orioles were golden robins. The two robins aren’t closely related. The larger American robin is a member of the Turdidae or thrush family that includes the wood thrush and eastern bluebird, and the European robin (robin redbreast) is in the Muscicapidae family with nightingales and chats. Robin is an Old French diminutive of Robert.

There are 15 crane species in the world. The U.S. has the most abundant (sandhill crane) and the most endangered (whooping crane). The International Crane Foundation (ICF) in Baraboo, Wisconsin, is the only place where you can see all the world’s crane species. ICF works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds and flyways on which they depend.

Meeting adjourned

Luigi Tarisio, born in Italy in 1796, collected violins, taking pride in rare finds of the finest quality. After he died, 246 valuable violins were discovered crammed into his attic, with one of the most treasured, a Stradivarius, hidden in the drawer of an old, rickety dresser. That drawer had robbed the world of music. By the time that Stradivarius in his collection was finally played, it had been silent for 147 years. Don’t keep a kind word crammed in a  rickety drawer of your mind. Share it.