A dark-eyed junco.
A dark-eyed junco.
I attended a friend's funeral in Albert Lea. The Rev. Dwight Netzer told this story about Glenn Ruble. Glenn and his wife, Maureen, were holding a garage sale when Glenn noticed that the price tag on a statue was $5. Glenn protested that the statue was worth much more than that and suggested that the price be raised.

Maureen declined, saying that she wanted to get rid of it.

Later, a woman pointed at the statue and asked Maureen, "Would you take $50 for that?"

Maureen was surprised, but managed to sputter out a "Yes."

When the woman brought the statue to the pay table, Maureen noticed that the price tag read "$55."

Glenn had added another "5" to the price.

A meow and the night visitor

I awakened to a tumult. I staggered from bed, suspecting our two cats were up to something. They had been. The cats had caught a mouse as quietly as two cymbals would have caught one.

Echoes from Loafers' Club

"I just came from the Eagles Club."


"Of course, I remember. I just came from there."

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: most things are more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

I've learned

1. Missouri loves company.

2. You can't fight progress, but you can unplug it.

3. The stock market goes down on fears that it might go down.

The news from Hartland

Fifty-two card pick-up tournament considered a failure.

Loafer's Shoe Store has 18-inch tall fitting rooms.

Upchuck and Ralph's Coffee Emporium offers short, tall, grande and hat drink sizes.

Son of superstitious parents is 12 years old one day and 14 the next.

Reconditioned peaches on sale at the Museum of Groceries.

Laidlow Cemetery forbids dancing.

School daze

It was before the Farmer Stetson (ball cap or gimme cap) was worn in schools. It was during safer times. True, there was The Cold War and the Vietnam War, but Count Chocula hadn't yet been introduced.

A favorite school custodian always carried a tape measure so that he could see how long he'd been working.

I had nightmares of taking a final exam in a class I hadn't enrolled in - a stroll down memory lane on a path not traveled before.

I learned that to error is human, to add, combine.

Teachers confiscated the notes I passed in class and corrected the grammar.

The principal often sat in on our classes so at least one person would be able to answer a teacher's question. It wasn't our fault. Teachers were constantly saying, "Don't get smart with me." We didn't.

Cafe chronicles

I was at an eatery in a small town where four out of five people make up 80 percent of the population.

It was the caffeine talking at an uneven table as a group of locals took on fluids, sipping hot beverages. They were bound together by caffeine. Morning is a time when most folks can justify caffeine intake.

The discussion concluded that others should pay high taxes.

The table talk shifted to whether more Minnesotans live in Minnesota than anywhere else or if more Iowans live in Iowa than anywhere else. Everyone put in his two cents' worth. One put in a dollar's worth and interjected that glaciers once covered both states, but now do so only during the winter. It was the consensus that both states are growing larger due to the expansion accompanying global warming.

Why I didn't often help at my brother's hardware store

"You're sure this is the part I need?" the customer asked.

"Absolutely," I said confidently. "If it doesn't work, come back and I'll sell you another one."

Ask Al

"Why do older people make odd sounds when they rise from a sitting position?" The sounds are words of encouragement in a language only a body understands.

"What does 'gesundheit' mean?" You missed me.

"Did you milk cows?" Not only cows. I had the only chicken dairy farm in the state for a short time. It was a short-lived because chickens don't give much milk.

Effigy Mounds

The Effigy Mounds National Monument is located in northeast Iowa near McGregor and Marquette. This region is a driftless area. That means it was untouched by glaciers during the Ice Age.

Harry Truman set it aside as a national monument with a presidential proclamation. The effigies were created by Native Americans (Mound Builders) who cleared an area before using clamshells to outline the shape of a turtle, bear, eagle, bison, lizards, deer, lynx or falcons.

The Great Bear Mound at Effigy Mounds is 70-feet wide, 137-feet long, and 3 and a half feet high. Soil was used to create the mounds that were used for ceremonial and sacred purposes. Effigy Mounds has 31 effigy mounds.

Early morning junco

I saw a junco in my yard early one morning. The junco looks wintry. It's called a snowbird because it has a gray topside like the clouds of winter and is as white as snow underneath. My father said that snow arrives six weeks after the snowbird. I hope this snowbird was misguided as I saw it on Sept. 18.

Nature by the yard

Deadline-driven and unable to sleep, I stepped outside into the darkness surrounding the deck of my house. It was quiet. Not too quiet, but the harvest was taking a break and the large farm machines were silent.

It was quiet enough that I could hear what sounded like a group of spring peepers flying overhead. That would have been unlikely as the spring peeper is a frog and would need a ticket to fly. What I was hearing were Swainson's thrushes in migration.

Researchers have determined that birds migrate at altitudes typically ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 feet.

Why do they migrate at night? No human knows for certain, but here are some suppositions. Hawks are more active during the day. The weather is often less turbulent at night, making flight easier. Cooler air temperatures are advantageous as flying generates considerable heat. It's easier for the traveling birds to find food during the day. They are able to spend some daylight hours in prime foraging areas, replacing the calories they had burned in flight.

Nature lessons

The visual acuity of a hawk is likely three times that of a human.

The Asian needle ant doesn't just show other ants where a food source is. It carries or drags its sisters to the location.

While pheasant counts are up over last year, they are still 51 percent below the 10-year average.

Richard Nixon is not frequently thought of as an environmentalist. However, his Presidential signature made law of some of the most important environmental legislation in U.S. history. In 1970, Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungide and Rodenticide Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act passed. The Endangered Species Act passed in 1973 and the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974.

Meeting adjourned

A kind word is a seed that once planted, flowers. Be kind.

Thanks for stopping by

"Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life." - Joan Lunden

"There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man's spice-box seasons his own food." - Zora Neale Hurston


©Al Batt 2012