Al Batt: A mistake to get up early

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Sorry about that.

How can you make so many mistakes in one day?

I get up early.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. In January, the temperatures can scrape the bottom of the seed corn company’s thermometer. I found it useful to add the high temperature to the low temperature of each day. It sounds and feels better. Janus was the Roman god of doors, gates, beginnings and endings. January is named after him. Janus is depicted with two faces, one on each side of the head so he can look at the future and the past simultaneously.

The vexations of ordinary life had subsided, leaving me supremely contented with a new furnace that wasn’t wanted but was needed. Not every January day is a warm winter event. They all don’t have icicles hanging from a poor roof like a wash on the line. When the weather isn’t to my liking, I consider crafting a harshly worded letter of complaint, but who would I send it to? The serenity prayer comes in handy. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

The January temperatures moved into the 40s. I got an oil change and was given a card for a free car wash. It’s hard to pass up a free car wash on a  day conducive to such an undertaking. I washed the car, getting some of the dirt off that had been on there since the Bush administration—the first Bush administration. The car wash was a busy place and the line of cars was long. The giant SUV ahead of me was slow in moving up in the line, as the driver might have fallen asleep. The land yacht had a bumper sticker reading, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you.” She needed a “Honk if I’m sleeping” sticker.

I used to write supposed witticisms for Paul Harvey’s radio show. I wrote a lot of bumper stickers like, “I think therefore I didn’t vote for whoever you voted for.” “Wall Drug” was once the most common sticker I’d see. Now that has changed to stickers like these: “Jesus would use his turn signal.” “I hate bumper stickers.” “Proud parent of an average student.” “Don’t touch me. I’m not that kind of car.”

A day in a life

I rang the bells on a gelid day. A fellow generously donated to the kettle. He wore a stocking cap, a winter coat and shorts. He was half-prepared for winter weather.

A relative I’d not seen for many years died. Every death saddens me. I tend to salve my grief with humor. She died while watching TV. I wondered what she was watching. It’d be a TV show well worth not watching.

You might be getting older if

You look forward to getting new socks.

Your road trip treats have extra fiber in them.

You keep cardboard boxes because they’re good cardboard boxes.

Nature notes

Norway rats are destructive—they carry disease and eat crops. For over 70 years, Alberta has been determined to stop rats from calling Alberta home, concentrating efforts along the Saskatchewan border, banning the animals as pets, and investigating any hint of a rat inside the province. Out of 481 rat reports in 2020, 26 were actual rats. About half of the sightings were muskrats and the rest were politicians. Rats ride into Alberta on vehicles.

Squirrels live in two types of structures: Dens, which are holes in trees, and dreys, which are densely packed masses of sticks and leaves typically located high in the forked branches of large trees. Dens, insulated with dried leaves and other materials, are preferred for winter and brood chambers, but dreys are sturdy and weather-resistant. Dreys require more maintenance. Squirrels fatten up as much as possible for winter, grow thicker coats that help keep them warm and use shivering to generate body heat. In cold weather, squirrels might share a nest in order to share body heat, but this can lead to disputes.

A Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology study found avian predators are attracted to busy feeders, but cats aren’t more active at feeding sites. Evidence suggests feeders may provide a refuge from predation. There are more birds to sound alarms and may reduce foraging time and exposure to predators.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind and listen to the stories, even if someone repeats them often. Haruki Murakami said, “People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive.”