Al Batt: Still shopping for others

Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

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Echoes from the

Loafers’ Club Meeting

I want socks or underwear for Christmas.

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Why would you want those things?

Because I never get what I want.

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting redux

I’m afraid I’ll get nothing for Christmas.

That’s great news.

How is that great news?

Nothing lasts forever.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. The weather was going through an awkward phase. It snowed a little. My wife is considerably shorter than I am, so it snowed on me but not her. It made sense. The forecast had been for snow at higher elevations.

It’s never too late to panic

There is someone in every family who got all his Christmas shopping done early, except for the shopping for others part. How do you know if someone did their Christmas shopping at the last minute or at the last 59 seconds? Here are some signs of someone who tried to do their shopping at a claw machine. He’s wearing an “It’s the thought that counts” sweatshirt. Spray painting makes for quick gift wrapping. He never knows what not to get people, so everyone gets a Slim Jim (nothing says Christmas like a convenience store purchase), gum, a manual nose-hair trimmer (a dollar store scissors), a bank calendar from the current year, a pet rock (a driveway rock with “Pet” written on it with a Sharpie) or bubble-wrapped bubble wrap. His gift-wrapping paper was an airsickness bag.

A swinging Merry Christmas

The Christmas preparations were in full swing. The toilet had never been cleaner and Mom had spent $87 on olives. Unopened, jarred olives will stay fresh for up to two years. I aim to educate. She had stocked up on her secret ingredient—butter. We put up a new tire swing for Christmas. That may be an odd time to do that, but the planets had aligned ideally and the perfect tire made itself available. It was a tire, a rope and a bad attitude hanging down from a giant maple tree. I know what you’re thinking. It replaced a flat tire. Well, you’re mistaken. It replaced a gunny sack swing, which was a burlap bag filled with straw. We even replaced the old rope before the tire swing was put in place. The new piece of the poor man’s playground equipment was like the new bull at a rodeo; it had never been ridden before. Yup, pardner, just like that bull except for the tire and the tree.

In the long line

His doorbell camera worked swell. He was able to watch someone steal it. I learned that while I was waiting in a TSA line at the airport with 41,953 other passengers going through security that day. They were all on my flight. I suggested to those near me that we all chip in and get the TSA guy of our choice something nice. We could find something at a gift shop once we’d cleared the line. There was no second to my motion. Instead, one changed the subject to how much safer it is to fly than to drive. I found little comfort in that. I’d driven to the airport and would have a long drive from it later.

Bad joke department

What has four letters and sometimes nine.

What rhymes with orange? No, it doesn’t.

Crossing out someone else’s name and writing yours in its place on last year’s Christmas card makes it handmade.

My dog ate some Christmas decorations and got tinselitis.

What comes at the end of Christmas? The letter S.

Nature notes

I fed a handful of peanuts to the blue jays. Vanessa Sorensen wrote, “Though temper and crest May flare Striking beauty.” Feeding the birds is a Christmas gift to me. An ancient Italian proverb said, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.” One of the significant benefits of being a birder is that it gives me something to talk about besides the weather.

A kind reader sent this quote from “Red Deer Runs in Darkness,” “It became obvious to me that nature has her own language. She speaks through the animals, the trees and the cool summer breeze. She whispers, ‘Embrace me.’ And I do.”

What should you do if you find an injured bird? Make the bird as comfortable as possible and call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, located in Roseville, at 651-486-9453. If you find an injured raptor, contact the University of Minnesota Raptor Center at 612-624-4745.

Meeting adjourned

Be kind and do right by those who call you neighbor. Merry Christmas.