Bottled gentianPHOTO BY AL BATT
Bottled gentian


As I drove to a speaking gig in Nebraska on a windy day, I considered wind turbines. There should be a wind farm in Washington, D.C.

I listened to an actress portray a woman who lived during the Dust Bowl. She asked, "Why should we pay taxes in Nebraska? Our farm has blown to South Dakota."

She added that by 1934, the storms came so frequently that she'd learned to determine a storm's point of origin by the color of the dust - black from Kansas, red from Oklahoma, gray from Colorado or New Mexico, and yellow from Montana or the Dakotas.

Echoes From the Loafers' Club Meeting

"Where do box elder bugs go in the winter?"

"Search me."

"Never mind. I don't want to know that badly."

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: there is so much roadwork that it'd be cheaper to erect signs reading "No road work ahead" on the roads not under construction.

I've learned

Dirty dishes are patient.

To use a barber who has the same amount of hair as I do.

The good old days were when we didn't talk about the good old days.

Ask Al

"Why shouldn't I put my baby's dirty diapers in the laundry bin?" You don't want to hamper his movements.

"What is the best way to ripen tomatoes?" Keep them in your armpits. This also keeps them from being stolen.

"What is the best way to knot a necktie?" It doesn't matter if you Windsor knot, it's how you play the game.

"What do you know about rugby?" I know it's an insect found in carpets.

Ambushed by jacks

Jacks is played by throwing small, six-pointed metal pieces that are picked up between bounces of a small ball. You toss the ball into the air, pick up one jack, and catch the ball after one bounce. When you have collected all the jacks one at a time, throw them again, and pick them up two at a time (twosies). When you get to threesies, you pick up three sets of three first, then the remaining jack. Continue until tensies.

Your turn continues until you miss the ball, fail to pick up jacks, move a jack or drop a jack.

Feral jacks hid about our home, waiting to surprise unsuspecting bare feet.

I stepped on them. It still hurts.

How we spend our time

I watched a dog watch a car drive by. I thought to myself that it didn't take much to amuse a dog. Then I realized that I was watching a dog watch a car drive by.

My father enjoyed fishing. He had a tackle box full of hooks, sinkers, bobbers and a couple of lures. Many had been jury-rigged. Injured ones were wrapped in thin wire. A dairy farmer, Dad didn't have much time to fish, but he looked in that tackle box and remembered.

Lake Superior wasn't for sale

When my father was looking to buy land, an overzealous realtor showed him a slough thinly disguised as a dairy farm. The smiling salesman said, "All this land needs is some good people."

He should have added, "Who are good swimmers."

Customer comments

Harlan Lutteke of Alden recalled people salting green apples before eating.

Ric McArthur of Ontario wrote, "Don't worry about old age, it doesn't last long."

Judy Abrego of Albert Lea said, "When you step over it, that's uffda. When you step in it, that's feeda."

Tom Benson of Hartland told me that he'd gone to a funeral with Otto Sorenson. They looked at the deceased and Tom said, "He looks good." Otto replied, "He should, he just got out of the hospital.

A sweet treat

Denny Rossiter of St. Peter wrote, "My family has a half-dozen apple trees. Within the past few days, birds really tore into the Honeycrisp and Beacon. About 50 percent of the apples have been damaged. They peck out about a 2-3 cm hole, usually on the top of the apple. Surprisingly, the Haralsons and the Connels appear untouched. The trees are in the main yard just outside family room windows. We don't see birds in/out of the trees. Is it nocturnal birds? Is it a migratory bird? What has decided to share our 'fruitful' bounty?"

Honeycrisp is my favorite apple and apparently the choice of your bird visitors, too. Some birds that eat apples are robins, crows, grackles, woodpeckers and starlings. Flocks of hungry robins not only peck apples, but tomatoes, too. Starlings are in great balled bunches now and grackles gather with other blackbirds to form twisting, traveling flocks. These birds aren't nocturnal.

Nighttime apple eaters are furred - raccoons, opossums, etc. Some folks employ netting to discourage such occurrences. Good luck.

Did you know?

What do the words assess, banana, dresser, grammar, potato, revive and uneven have in common? If the first letter is placed at the end of the word and the word is spelled backwards, it remains unchanged.

The top 10 books people claim to have read, but haven't are, in descending order, "1984" by George Orwell, "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy, "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, "A Passage to India" by E.M. Forster, "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen and "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë.

Last year, Americans paid $1.7 billion to play fantasy sports.

Meeting adjourned

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness." - Seneca

© Al Batt 2013