Al Batt: Looking for 7 people without a problem

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2023

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I bought a minivan that holds seven people without a problem.   

That sounds good.

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Yeah, but where do I find seven people without a problem?

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. My Zamboni wouldn’t start. The wind had been reduced to a whisper, not long after a blizzard had toilet papered the yard with deep snow. The winter storm was named Olive but acted like Ole. Olive’s impact was widespread. It wouldn’t surprise me if one day, corporate entities will buy naming rights to storms. Blizzards will carry the names of snowmobile makers and rainstorms will display the monikers of rainwear companies. The snow was achingly beautiful, especially after I’d shoveled it. The snowplow wasn’t cutting through the snow like a hot knife going through butter, but sunrays brought warmth and -9°. I walked on an icy drive. Walking on a field of banana peels requires luck and skill.

I saw “A Man Called Otto.” It was a great movie about the transformation of a grumpy guy. We all know one of those. Most males have taken their turn in that role. Theater marquees are seldom as glittering as they once were and the seats are ample where they once were cramped. The lights still fade and I suppose the curtains (draperies) still part in the few theaters having them. The popcorn smells as good as bacon. That’s important as the movies are for yucks, the popcorn for bucks.

Baseball, the lightning round

I watched a baseball game one summer where the Helena Handbaskets were playing the Erie Coincidences. And then they weren’t. The game was called because of lightning. We had a lightning rod on our roof. It came with the house and doubled the dwelling’s value. It included a weather vane, with an arrow on one end and a metal pig on the other, showing the wind direction. Back when a streaming service was an actual stream, lightning hit the house. It cleaned the windows and changed the radio station.

I’ve learned

Once upon a time, Clippy, Microsoft’s animated paperclip, popped up in Microsoft Word to offer assistance: “It looks like you’re writing a letter. Would you like help?” I never took Clippy up on that offer. I should have.

Advanced technology helps, but it makes many people feel helpless.

When I was a boy, staying hydrated involved water, Kool-Aid and Tang.

Our huddled masses are football players.

Wives are right 88.97% of the time. I won’t divulge a man’s chances of being right.

It will be a long wait if the receptionist gives you a blanket and a pillow.

We should never blame someone struggling with a second language if we speak only one.

I’d never say that I’m Superman, but I’ve never seen the two of us together.

Nature notes

The red veins of spring are evident, particularly on south-facing slopes where the red colors of shrubs brighten and become more vibrant this time of the year. Deer find the twigs of red-osier dogwood fine eating. The plants (also known as red-twig dogwood and redbrush) are eye-catching. The colors of the yellow/gold outer branches of weeping willows are also enhanced chromatically. Look for deer sheds anytime the snow melts. The smell of skunk wafts on the wind when winter makes a slow slide into spring. Listen for birds heralding the oncoming seasonal changes as love is in the air—the air of increasing daylength. Woodpeckers drum frequently. Their feathered brethren—cardinals, starlings, chickadees, house finches, nuthatches and blue jays make sounds of spring. The black-capped chickadee’s whistled fee-bee song that says “spring’s here” to me. Cardinals sing any time of the year but vocalize with increasing gusto now. The male white-breasted nuthatches sing a rapid, nasal “what-what-what.” The jays make a squeaky pump handle call and starlings mingle chatter, gurgles, rattles, trills, warbles and whistles. House finches sing a long, jumbled warbling of brief notes. The birds call for us to walk, at least to a window.

I pulled into a fast-food parking lot. The lot was filled with empty spaces, so I stopped to return a phone call. The automobile stable was being visited by starlings, house sparrows and crows. Those birds love fast-food parking lots because humans are messy eaters. I saw a crow dragging a slice of pizza as another watched, likely offering constructive criticism. “Lift with your legs.” A crow will eat a pizza even if it hasn’t been run over by a car.

Meeting adjourned

Don’t look down on anyone unless you are helping them up.