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Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m on a fixed income.

 What does that mean?

It means that my income is fixed, but I’m broke.

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: They weren’t my camouflage pants. I couldn’t find them. I was wearing my chameleon pants. You might have a pair like them. They look one color in the shade, another color in artificial light and a third color in the sunlight. Are they green, gray or some mystery color? No matter. It’s a good thing. They go with whatever shirt I might wear.

Her name has been changed to protect the gallbladder

Here are a couple of stories I told while speaking at a Relay For Life.

When I was a small boy, I walked down the street in Hartland in the company of my mother. I love Hartland. Population 315. Everything is within easy walking distance. It seemed as big as the world in those days. A woman was headed our way on the sidewalk. My mother whispered, "That's that nice Mrs. Johnson. She’s a wonderful lady, but whatever you do, don’t ask her how she is doing because she will tell you."

Of course, being a boy, I had to do the exact opposite thing from what my mom had asked me to do.

"How are you doing?" I asked Mrs. Johnson.

She told me in excruciating detail. I learned more about gallbladder surgery that day than I had ever wanted to know.

Many people can be shut mouthed about their miseries. There is nothing wrong with that, but I remember Mrs. Johnson’s story because there is magic and power in telling your story. It’s the way we pick fleas off one another.

Cancer is a terrible but effective diet. I’ve lost 50 pounds. My cousin Vern had both knees replaced at the same time because he didn't want to miss spring planting on his farm. The recovery took a long time, which gave him time to shed some weight and lessen the strain on his new knees. One morning, he was walking across a street in Texas when his pants fell down. His wife thought it was hilarious. Vern, not so much. With that as a warning, I should be wearing both a belt and suspenders to make sure that my pants won’t fall down.

As a boy, I often wished that each day were the next Saturday. I wanted no school or Sunday School to deal with. My parents gave me great advice. Don’t wish your life away. It would go by too rapidly all on its own. I’ve learned from my parents and from having cancer never to wish a day away. I never wish this were Saturday. I never wish this were next week. I appreciate each day and never want it to end.

Nature notes

It was too hot and humid to do anything else, so I cut down the trees that were encroaching into the right of way of the road. I looked for weeds as the sweat poured off me. Lamb’s quarter, amaranth (pigweed), chickweed and chicory like to grow in rich soil high in nitrogen. Dandelions thrive in poor soil low in calcium and high in potassium. Common mullein does well in acidic soil. Purslane prefers rich soil with high phosphorus content. Quackgrass and plantain prosper in heavy clay or compacted soil. Oxalis or wood sorrel grows well in soil that is low in calcium and high in magnesium. Ash and plum trees prefer areas where I’ve left sweat.

A deer drank water from the yard. The deer population is the highest that it will be for this year.

I saw baby pheasants chasing insects on the edge of the road. It was as if they were dancing chick-to-chick.

Bumble bees nectared on flowers. Minnesota has around 20 bumble bee species. The loss of pollinators could severely impact our food production. Honey bees aren’t the only pollinator in trouble. Native bumble bees have been facing even more alarming declines across the continent. This could have severe consequences for native ecosystems and for agriculture. Bumble bees are colorful, fuzzy and nonaggressive. The Xerces Society reports that bumble bees are the most important pollinators for blueberries, cranberries, clover, greenhouse tomatoes and other crops. In addition to pesticides, bumble bees face a long list of other threats – habitat loss, climate change and diseases.

Meeting adjourned

You can be anything you want to be, so be kind.

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