My young grandson was eating some onion-flavored corn snacks and put one of them up his nose.

I related this tale to a friend, who asked a question she already knew the answer to, "I wonder which side of the family he takes after."

Perhaps this youngster will one day, after eating all the pickles in a jar, save the juice for use as a sandwich dip.

My grandson knows he's supposed to eat the snacks, which I find nasty, but he also knows that he'll get more attention if he places one in his nose.

I think he might have stumbled upon an innovative, new diet. When we want to lose weight, we stuff snacks into a nostril instead of eating them.

Camping with a cat

A friend told me that she and her husband went camping with their seven kids and a cat. They filled a Suburban the size of an apartment with people, camping supplies and a cat. The cat went along because it wasn't always easy to find a good cat sitter in that part of the world. They took along a nice china bowl for the cat to eat from. The family did that because they knew that while cats enjoy camping, they don't want to do without the finer things in life while they are roughing it.


Scarlet tanagers were regular customers to my bird feeders this spring. Dvorak included a reference to this tanager in a musical piece he wrote while in Spillville, Iowa. I think the bird's singing annoyed Dvorak. This black-winged red bird is stunningly handsome.

A masked skulker, showing a buttery-yellow color moved about the underbrush at the edges of my yard. The black-masked, tiny bird called "witchity-witchity" or "follow-me, follow-me." It was a common yellowthroat, a warbler that could never be too common for my liking.

A fellow could develop eyestrain from trying not to look at birds.

Large drops of rain turned the metal roof of the shed into a percussion instrument. On a cloudy day, the birds acted as sunshine.

What hawk?

I was working near a large facility that had installed a device that played the loud sounds of distressed starlings and the calls of Cooper's hawks. The hawks are predators of starlings. This was being done to discourage starlings from nesting there and making a mess. As I listened to the odd music, seemingly unconcerned starlings flew all about the structure. They had figured out that no hawk is no hawk, even if it is calling

One day, a red-tailed hawk followed me as I drove a tractor pulling an implement that carved into the soil. It had a red tail. Not the tractor, the hawk. Not all red-tailed hawks have red tails and a young hawk doesn't get a red tail until its second year. The hawk trailed me because I kicked up voles and mice for its benefit. I watched as the hawk caught and ate three rodents--three bland mice.

Squirrels 1, crows 0

A squirrel ran across the street in front of my car. I was driving slowly, but I reduced my speed. I didn't want to hit the squirrel. Crows in a nearby tree screamed "Hit it!" in the hopes of having squirrel for lunch. Carrion is a small part of a crow's diet. I've learned from experience that crows enjoy pet foods.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"I lost three balls today."

"Where were you golfing?"

"Who said anything about golf? I was bowling."

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors - both named Bruce - who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: I discovered gold the other day. It came out of a gas pump.

The news from Hartland

The Corporal Store (one day, it will be a General Store) reminds shoppers that the western department is on the east side of the store and that they will match all prices higher than theirs.

Cat arrested and charged with tongue thefts.

Things No One Wants Store offers a 10-for-the-price-of-1 sale.

I've learned

"Ah, ha" moments come right after "oh, oh" moments.

Forgetting where you put things is an effective exercise program.

We should listen to our bodies unless they trash talk us.

Did you know?

John Wayne was born Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907. He grew up in California and earned his nickname Duke as a child because he was always with his Airedale dog, Duke. People began calling him Little Duke. He liked that name better than Marion and it stuck.

According to the Writers Guild of America the top 10 best written TV series of all time are, in descending order, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, The Twilight Zone, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mad Men, Cheers, The Wire and The West Wing

Louisiana is the state with the highest percentage of native-born residents at 78.8 percent. Michigan is second at 76.6. Iowa is seventh (71.7) and Minnesota 11th (68.8).

Nature notes

I checked a bluebird box nesting tree swallows. There was fur in the box. I suspect it had been plucked from an eastern cottontail rabbit that had been killed on the road. Only about 1 percent of bunnies live to be two years old. A Buick bugs bunnies.

A road isn't the best habitat for a rabbit. It's bad rabbitat. Almost everywhere else is good habitat for a rabbit. Under the deck of a house is a great spot for a rabbit. It hops out from the security of that location whenever it's hungry and uses its incisors like scissors to devour vegetation.

This has little to do with anything, but a rabbit's tail is sometimes referred to as a scut. Tree swallows favor large feathers, particularly white ones, for their nests.

I surmised that the fur had been placed there by a black-capped chickadee that had considered the nest. Chipping sparrows and tufted titmice also use hair from animals for their nests. There are no titmice in my yard and the chipping sparrows would not use the nest box.

A robin's nest in a small tree teetered precariously in the strong wind. My wife tied the nest in place. The robins didn't miss a beat in feeding the three babies. It had been dry. It became wet. We all knew it would happen.

Each season of each year has its own agenda. It rained hard as I watched the mother robin spread her wings to make sure her nest of babies was adequately covered and kept dry.

Thanks for stopping by

"Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than you found it." ~ Wilferd Peterson

"Look underfoot. You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don't despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world." ~ John Burroughs

Meeting adjourned

A kind word is the voice of a smile.

© Al Batt 2013