Al Batt: People watching at church is fun

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Knock, knock.    

Who’s there? 

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The doorbell repairman.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

 I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. When I was a small boy, the older kids played hide-and-seek. I begged them to allow me to take part. They told me to bug off or to kick rocks. I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I wore them down. They gave in because good hide-and-seek players were hard to find. They told me to hide and they would seek. I went across the rural road to Saint Aidan’s Cemetery and hid behind a towering tombstone in the shape of a snag with a broken limb. I was a hotdog on the 4th of July for the mosquitoes, but I was a great hide-and-seek player. They never found me. It turned out they hadn’t even looked for me.

The church had alarm clock elbows

Steve Bakken and I were acolytes at the new church, which creaked and groaned less than the old church. We were young people from the congregation who had assumed the responsibilities of lighting and extinguishing the candles before and after worship services. We helped with the offering and with communion. We did what we were told. We each wore a robe and we NEVER chewed gum. We sat behind the pastor as he gave the sermon and we couldn’t help but look out at the congregation. People-watching is fun. We could tell the men who’d had a late night on Saturday. They fell asleep just as the sermon was getting exciting. They were punished for this behavior with a sharp elbow from a wife or girlfriend. Men who didn’t have anyone else’s elbow to wake them, experienced sleep jerks. Let me make it clear that they weren’t sleep jerks. They experienced sleep jerks, also called hypnic jerks, hypnagogic jerks, sleep twitches or sleep starts. 

We have a cat who loves to sleep on my lap while I’m working at my desk. When I’m not looking, she surprises me by pulling the tea bag from my cup. When she falls asleep, her head wobbles to one side like a dysfunctional bobblehead before she wakes up with a jerk. Humans wake up with a jerk at our desks or while watching the Vikings play on TV. It’s as if our bodies had a hiccup.

And in the race for the happiest state

To determine what are the happiest states in the USA, Scholaroo ( compared the 50 states across seven key dimensions: Employment, leisure activities, mental health, personal finance, personal relationships, physical health and social policies. Scholaroo found Minnesota the 7th happiest and Iowa the 26th. Massachusetts was  No. 1 and West Virginia No. 50.

I’ve learned

I won the lottery by being born here.

I visited Switzerland once. I liked it there and the country’s flag was a big plus.

Always carry a knife. You never know when there will be cake.

The band name I can never remember is The Guess Who.

Nature notes

The indigo bunting is my wife’s favorite bird and my late father called it a “blue canary.” That makes this bird a big deal in my yard. 

I know it’s dawn when the ring-necked pheasant rooster crows “cow-cat” loudly outside my bedroom window. He follows it up with a loud, rapid beating of his wings.

I was parked on the highway, waiting for a pilot car to lead me down the road. I watched turkey vultures doing an aerial ballet. Killdeer dashed across the ground. A kingfisher made a metallic sound. They were comfort birds sent to ease the stress of getting nowhere fast.

Eastern bluebirds, also called the blue robin or the blue redbreast by settlers, are closely related to the American robin. Both are members of the thrush family.

Birds have systems in place to survive as long as the weather does what’s expected. It takes a lot of insects to make one barn swallow. Barn swallows love lawnmowers because the grass munchers kick up flying insects. Oak trees have more caterpillars than most trees and provide a well-stocked pantry for many birds.

 June bugs (also called May beetles or June beetles) are common beetles ½ to 1 inch long and vary in color from reddish-brown to nearly black. The adults are active after dusk in late May and early June, and are attracted to lights at night. The clumsy fliers collide with windows and cling to screens. 

Meeting adjourned

“Kindness in ourselves is the honey that blunts the sting of unkindness in another.”—Walter Savage Landor.