Al Batt: You mean fish trees don’t exist?

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

My ear is plugged.    

Which ear is it?

It’s 2022.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I stopped at a rural cemetery to pay respects to my wonderful parents. A car went by playing music so loud, I don’t doubt it cracked tombstones.

On a different day, I was just another hick in the mall. Music blasted. It was sad country. Not bad, but sad. Songs of death, drinking, deception, despondency and divorce. I’m not a great shopper, but that music made me even less of a shopper. Music impacts our sense of time and I constantly checked my watch. I’ve read a lot about how music alters our perception of a store. Better music equals more time spent in a store equals more sales. Classical music gives the perception of higher quality. Customers stayed a shorter time when the music was too loud. Music at lower volumes allowed customers to shop normally, calmed them and increased the time spent shopping and buying. It could have been worse. They could have been playing a recording of my yodeling class for beginners.

Not everyone likes the same music, of course. As the mechanic said to me, “That terrible sound you’re hearing is coming from your sound system.”

The Weather Fairy

My mother, like moms everywhere, said, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, say nothing at all.” That makes it hard to talk about the spring weather. The Weather Fairy had come and taken the weather wishes I’d left under my pillow and replaced it with nastiness.

I need to remember the weather is a volunteer. We’re not paying it a salary. I remember being a small boy wanting to impress my father with my ambition and strength. A broken pipe had created a watering emergency for livestock and I helped Dad carry water. The bucket was heavy. Even heavier with water in it. It got even heavier the more steps I put in. My father said, “You thought you grabbed the bucket with the hole in the bottom, didn’t you?” So much for being an insincere volunteer.

Proof of picture days past

We ate fish sticks in school. I thought that meant fish trees existed. Dave McKean of Alden knew better. He went to school in Freeborn. He copied the class photos from each yearbook and combined them into a single book highlighting 12 years of picture days. He gave each of his classmates one of the nifty gifts.

Frank and Ernest

For over 40 years, I was a contributing writer to the “Frank and Ernest” comic strip. Sadly, it has gone into reruns. It was my pleasure to work with two fine cartoonists on this wonderful and punderful strip. I’ll miss it.

Nature notes

Leigh Pomeroy of Mankato asked how to discourage a robin from fighting with a window. A window cleaning company might have hired the robin to drum up business by soiling the glass. Hey, a bird has to put food on the table. OK, the robin doesn’t have a table. All the more reason he needed a job. It’s doing what birds of many species do. When a pair decides on a nest site, the surrounding area becomes their territory and they aggressively defend it by driving away other birds of their species. When a male robin spots another male, a chasing fight ensues. The dominant male gets a mate, the nesting location, the territory and the area’s food. When a territorial bird sees its mirrored image in a window’s reflective surface, it perceives that image as a rival and tries to drive the other bird away. A real robin would leave, but the stubborn reflection remains. Being persistent, the robin continues to attack. To get a robin to stop, block the image. Put a piece of cardboard or plastic cling on the outside of the window where the bird is attacking. Soaping the window works. This may cause Martha Stewart to shudder, but, in most cases, you’ll need to cover it only until the shadowboxing robin thinks its worthy adversary has departed. Putting something on the inside of the window generally enhances the mirrored image. Warning: a robin intent on finding a fight will move to another window and some are more determined than others. They fought with the mirror of my car and its baby moon hubcaps. I’ve heard of them battling with gazing balls. I have an angry chickadee providing a glass act here.

Meeting adjourned

While others fear—believe. While others despair — hope. While others hate — be kind.