Al Batt: Living the days of yesteryear

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Do you know the difference between a shower curtain and toilet paper?


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Then please don’t use my bathroom.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. Not all drivers were constructed of patience as I drove to where I needed to be.

There, I visited with a fellow from Vermont. He said he was a woodchuck. Not everyone admits to being a woodchuck, groundhog or whistle-pig. In Vermont, a Woodchuck is a native Vermonter and a “Flatlander” is a recent immigrant. A Woodchuck likely chucked wood. I was a Minnesota Woodchuck as I grew up chopping, sawing, splitting, dragging, carrying, stacking and burning firewood. I chucked wood.

Back when kid intelligence was in its infancy, I came down with a raging case of fake hypochondria. Mother was off on some important mission, so Dad was left to deal with me and he had just the thing. He made “graveyard stew,” which was milk toast—toast with a pad of butter in a bowl covered with warm milk. He added cream, sugar and cinnamon to get me to eat it. It helped, I think.

I’ve learned

According to research from S&P Global Mobility, the average age of a car on US roads is now 12.2 years. I saw an abandoned shopping cart parked in the handicap space next to a 12.2-year-old car. Some people aren’t good at self-governing, but I don’t judge people as it’s not my job, but if I start, I’ll be judging the people who don’t put their shopping carts back into their corrals in parking lots. It’s your right to return them. Do what’s right. Shopping carts aren’t intended for highway use and don’t belong wherever.

Everything takes longer than it should except getting older.


I called around to find a tradesman to work on the hovel. I called two, neither one returned my phone calls. I asked a friend who knows about that sort of thing what he thought about one guy I’d called.

“He’s OK,” he replied.

Two words sharp enough to carve a turkey. It was as clear as glass. It’s another way of saying, “Meh.” That meant the fellow was nice enough but unexceptional. I dragged a pen through the guy’s name on my list of potential hires. He still hadn’t returned my call.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear in Hartland

Mark Light of Albert Lea said that when he attended grade school in Hartland, Shirley Sibilrud of that fair city brought a dead opossum (it had been hit by a milk truck) into Crystal Siblerud’s class so the kids could see what one looked like.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

Gas was 33 cents a gallon when I became a licensed driver. It was 34 cents the next year and 35 the year after. I never gave much thought to the price of gas. I gave little thought to anything. I never thought I’d ever give much thought to the price of gas. We’re not meant to know everything. I used to know a guy who named his dog Kenneth. I asked the man why he gave the dog that name. He didn’t know.

Nature notes

Why is a group of crows called a murder? The Egerton Manuscript and The Book of St. Albans, both dating from the mid-1400s, list collective nouns terms still in use today such as a charm of goldfinches, a pride of lions and a murder of crows. Crows are scavengers and feed on carrion. Folklore says crows form tribunals to judge and punish the bad behavior of another. If the crow was found guilty, the bird was murdered by the flock. No doubt a crow has killed another crow, but no trial was involved.

Canada thistle is allelopathic, which means it secretes chemicals from its roots that are toxic to surrounding plants. Canada thistle and bull thistle both have spiked leaves. Bull thistle stems have spiny wings that are absent on Canada thistle. The spines along its stem make a bull thistle look meaner than a Canada thistle. Both have pink/purple/reddish flowers, but bull thistles have much larger flowers.

We’ll start seeing more flocks of birds. A flock provides safety in numbers and keeps an eye on everything, especially you. It’s like circling the wagons of a wagon train for protection.

Meeting adjourned

“Silence and smile are two powerful tools. Smile is the way to solve many problems and silence is the way to avoid many problems.”—Everyone has taken credit for saying this. I think it was you.