This old house sparrow almost blends in with the snow-frosted leaves.  AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
This old house sparrow almost blends in with the snow-frosted leaves. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
I love seeing pelicans with their nine-foot wingspan flying overhead.

Maybe that is what inspired the poets.

Shel Silverstein, in "Every Thing On It," wrote, "Miz' Pelican said she loved me, And to show how much she cared, She let me set inside her beak, And took me flyin' everywhere. But then below she spied a fish, And dove - and let me fall - cr-unch, As she whispered, 'Love is grand, But lunch, my dear, is lunch.'"

Edward Lear had this to say, "King and Queen of the Pelicans we; No other Birds so grand we see! None but we have feet like fins! With lovely leathery throats and chins! Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee! We think no Birds so happy as we! Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill! We think so then, and we thought so still!"

Shel Silverstein penned "The Pelican" that goes like this, "Pickin' big fish from the seas, The pelican can do with ease, But pickin' up a tiny ant, Is something that a pelicant."

And lastly, Dixon Lanier Merritt wrote this famous bit of verse, "A wonderful bird is the pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can. He can hold in his beak, Enough food for a week! But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican?"

A deer eagle

Pat Postma of Papillion, Neb., told me her good friend, Julie Milota, also of Papillion, was driving home some years ago, when she hit a deer with her car. The next morning, Julie and Pat went searching for the deer, fearing it might have been only injured. They found the deer not far from the road. A bald eagle was feeding on the carcass. Bald eagles love venison. It was the first bald eagle Julie and Pat had ever seen.

Echoes From Loafers' Club

"I wish I were someone else."

"Don't wish that."

"Don't you ever wish you were someone else?"

"No, I like myself just the way I am."

"I wish I were you."

The cafe chronicles

It was a go-to place. A man seated at the table of infinite knowledge was pontificating about wives. He's had four of them and claimed they were getting better and better. He said his current wife is a very important part of his marriage.

The manager of the co-op said a friend of his, who is a farmer, had a few good years of farming. So good that he had to hire a bodyguard. After last year's crop, he had to lay off the bodyguard. He's worried if he has another year like that, he'll be working for the bodyguard.

On May 2 of last year, we received 18 inches of snow. I asked the group if that snow went towards last winter's snowfall totals or was added to the coming winter's records. Perhaps they gave nine inches of snow to each.

A fellow meal muncher said, "I'm older now than I've ever been. I'm as old as my tongue and a bit older than my teeth."

I've been to town

I was in a hotel far from home. I needed some things because I couldn't bring everything with me. I had no car, so I walked to the nearest retail store. A store isn't my natural habitat, but I enjoy grocery stores because I eat.

The question, "Paper or plastic?" does concern me because I'm never sure that I'm giving the right answer.

It was a big box store that I ventured into on this particular day. I bought a few things - $8.29 worth. I received a receipt that I thought would never end. Besides the receipt portion, there were coupons, specials, a survey, and a charitable request.

The young clerk handed the pile of register tapes to me, saying, "Enjoy your novel."

Driving lessons

I approached a controlled intersection. The busy crossroads had an inordinate amount of broken taillights and headlights resting on the street. I'm sure it was from a recent accident, but maybe law enforcement officers left it there as a warning to other drivers.

A scene from a marriage

I had something I had to tell my wife.

And I hated to do it.

I had to tell her that she was right.

Customer comments

Craig Reynolds from Michigan sent this written by Michael Flanders, "Spring's a lovely season, most wonderful. Missed it last year. Was in the bath."

Emily Falenczykowski-Scott of Mankato said she had no understanding on how health insurance worked until recently. This is a reminder to parents to have the "deductible talk" with your children.

Don Luben of Fremont, Neb., said the reason there are few circuses today is because they have difficulty getting clowns. Most of them are working in Washington, D.C.

Tim Engstrom of Albert Lea wrote, "Hartland is so small that the Welcome to Hartland sign and the You Are Leaving Hartland sign are on the same post."

Q-and-A

"How long do hummingbirds live?"

Male ruby-throated hummingbirds live about two to three years. Females live around three to five.

Doris Callahan of Albert Lea asked how she could discourage red squirrels in her yard.

My wife has conspiracy theories involving red squirrels. She thinks they control both gas and corn prices. The red squirrel is tiny, but aggressive. There are live traps and commercial sprays, but I don't know that either is an effective deterrent. You could try shutting down your bird-feeding station for a short time in the hopes that the squirrel would move on.

Doris Callahan also asked how to keep the water clean in a birdbath.

Place the birdbath in the shade, if possible, to keep the water cooler and fresher. Nearby trees provide branches on which the birds could preen. Clean sand or gravel on the bottom, while not necessary, provides secure footing. Arrange stones in the water for birds to stand on while drinking. This is important during freezing weather to keep the birds from getting wet. The water should be no deeper than 1/2 to 1 inch at the edges, sloping to a maximum of 2 inches deep in the middle of the bath. It's important to change the water every day or two. Birds leave dirty feathers and droppings behind, creating unsanitary water for other birds. Grackles can mess up the water by dropping their nestlings' fecal sacs into it. Algae grows quickly when the water isn't cleaned frequently. If algae starts to grow, clean the birdbath thoroughly with a stiff scrub brush and a nine to one water-bleach solution.

"What is the world's smallest bird?"

A bird that flies with 80 wing beats per second, the bee hummingbird, found in Cuba, measures a little more than 2 inches, counting bill and tail, and weighs about 2 grams - roughly the equivalent of two dimes. The largest of all hummingbirds (the giant hummingbird) weighs about 10 times as much.

"Is lawn grass the biggest crop in the U.S.?"

Last year, there were 95 million acres of corn, 76 million acres of soybeans and 56 million acres of wheat. Lawns cover about 30 to 40 million acres.

"How big is a hummingbird nest?"

If a quarter fits completely inside the nest, it's probably not a ruby throated hummingbird nest. It's too big. Hummingbirds use lichens and spider webs to construct the tiny nest. The spider webs allow the nest to expand as the babies grow. The ideal nest site is about 25 feet high on a down-sloping branch of a deciduous tree located near water.

Thanks for stopping by

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." - Lou Holtz

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction." - Rachel Carson

Meeting adjourned

Kind words help others realize how good they could be.

© Al Batt 2014