Al Batt: Forgetting what I forgot to do

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I never buy deodorant.

Why not?

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People, sometimes strangers, give it to me.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. A Ford F-150 pickup passed me. It attempted to pass everyone in a slalom course to get to where he was going before they did. It was likely his signature move. The model name of the truck was Tremor. I shuddered as it went by. The Tremor carried no bumper stickers, but many of the vehicles it flew by did. Some were funny, some were idiotic, some were gentle, some were obscene, some were worthy of a nod or a smile and others were horrifying, but none changed my mind about anything. I wish I could wave my magic yardstick (the wand is in the shop) and turn all bumper stickers into something funny or supportive.

“Guess what you forgot to do?” my wife asked. I’m terrible at those guessing games and I’d forgotten to do many things (“forgotten” is my excuse for not doing the things I didn’t want to do), but I’d wanted to take books to a library book sale. I long ago ran out of room for all the books I possess. I’d decided to donate  my Hassler books to the sale. Jon Hassler was a writer known for novels about small-town life in Minnesota. He held the positions of Regents Professor Emeritus and Writer-in-Residence at St. John’s University in Collegeville after spending his formative years in Staples and Plainview. His first novel, “Staggerford,” told stories of small-town people facing big changes or decisions and affectionately mocked the foibles of a small-town. His books might not be for everyone, but they are meant for me. I’ll keep the two Hassler had signed for me. Next, I’ll try to find the gumption to give away the pile of beloved John Steinbeck books.

I’ve learned

Every time is never every time.

Life moves from saving steps to counting steps.

Emulate the woodpecker. If life becomes a petrified forest, keep pecking away.

Little in life turns out the way we thought it would even if we thought it wouldn’t.

Kids want to be adults and adults want to be kids.

In the news

Limbo champion walks into a bar and is disqualified.

Local baker climbs the batter of success.

Four-leaf Clover Farm declares bankruptcy after a rash of bad luck.

County Highway Department  declares “Toaster Crossing” signs to be a complete waste of money.

The Hide & Seek League says good players are hard to find.

From the mailbag

A kind reader from Darien, Illinois, after reading of my boyhood use of recycled catalogs and peach papers in our outhouse, sent me a roll of bamboo toilet paper. The packaging proudly proclaimed it hangs over and under.

Marian Bahl of Faribault wrote, “What did one snowman say to the other? ‘I smell carrots.’”

Nature notes

Why do worms come to the surface when it rains? In my childhood, I thought they did so to keep from drowning when water filled their burrows, but they can survive for a long time submerged in water. Scientists have theories about why worms engage in this behavior. One is that coming above ground when it rains allows worm tourism.

Traveling across dry ground can be difficult. Worms might move toward the surface to escape a mole and move the same way when it rains, mistaking the vibrations caused by the rain for predators.

I saw a small flock of ring-billed gulls in a parking lot. They’re called seagulls, but that name is colloquial and not scientific. They could be more rightly called parking-lot gulls, landfill gulls or french-fry gulls. This gathering of gulls enjoyed fries.

A flock of birds is one enormous eye. And it looks in all directions. A murder of crows flew over a farm field. Their name is one of the most recognized collective nouns for birds. I enjoy seeing horned larks on roadsides, which gives me an opportunity to declare, “An exultation of larks!” Other interesting group names are a murmuration of starlings, an unkindness of ravens, a parliament of owls (rarely seen in groups other than at nests) and a pitying of doves.

I’m not sure of the legitimacy of the dove one, but it’s a book title. A murder of crows is the name of books, movies, TV show episodes, plays, albums and bands. An unkindness of ravens is the title of a novel.


Meeting adjourned

“We’re all just walking each other home.” — Ram Dass. Be kind.