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Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

You’d be really tall if you weren't bent over so much at the ankles. What size shoe do you wear?

I take a size 22 shoe.

That’s not a shoe. That’s an apartment.


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: A friend told me that his family was poor when he was a boy, but he was too dumb to know it. I grew up in a cold house in the winter. If I couldn’t see my breath, I couldn’t sleep. But we weren’t poor. How do I know? We always had food. I never went hungry. I serve on a Salvation Army board. At each meeting, I am presented with figures showing the number of families that the Army helps in one way or another. I find the numbers both impressive and alarming. There are so many people in need. We all need a helping hand. My mother was fond of telling me that we were put here to help others. I’d ask her, "Then what are all the other people here for? It seems to me like we’re getting a raw deal."


Those thrilling days of yesteryear

A friend named Rusty Olson died recently. I'll miss him. His death brought sadness and memories. His family ran the local root beer stand, which was an infrequent treat stop waiting for a young boy like me at the end of a Sunday drive.

Those were the days when I put plastic bread wrappers over my shoes and bound them at my ankle with baling twine so that I could walk through the marshy Mule Lake in my holey shoes.

I played catch with myself sometimes. I bounced a rubber ball off the side of the barn, or the front steps or siding of the house. Occasionally, I’d use a Hi-Bounce Ball.

I had a great breaking ball. All the broken windows were proof.

In college, I lived in a condemned building. The sign on the front door declared it to be unfit for human habitation. College students didn’t fall under the human category.

We shared a bathroom with another studio apartment and a kitchen with two other apartments.

I had one roommate, Rusty Olson, unless you counted the cockroaches. They were numerous, but refused to chip in on the rent.

I didn’t whine about our living quarters even though the small apartment was so tiny that it could more correctly have been called living eighths. I had to go outside in order to find enough room to change my mind. When I put the key in the door, it scratched the paint on the far wall. Or at least it would have had there been paint on the far wall.

Why didn’t I take advantage of a golden opportunity to whine? It was because a good neighbor back home, Eddie Hendrickson, had told me that when their house was being built, his entire family lived in a wooden granary.


A caramel by any other name would taste as sweet

Years ago, when department stores ruled the retail roost, I stopped at one to buy a gift. Sweets for my sweetie.

"I’d like a box of caramels," I said.

The store clerk repeated my request, pronouncing the word "caramel" in a different way than I had.

The word caramel can be pronounced in several accepted ways, including KARR-uh-mel, KARR-uh-muhl and KAR-muhl.  It’s all good.


Nature notes

  I walked the trail and listened to the warbling vireos sing. They must have formed a choir as I was surrounded by vireo voices. This bird sings well into September. Its song is a rollicking jumble of notes that sounds like, "When I see you I will squeeze you and I will squeeze you till you hurt!" Or something like that.

Hummingbirds flew and fought over jewelweed (spotted touch-me-not), occasionally taking the time to feed on the nectar of the plants. The fruit of jewelweed is a thin pod that pops open at the slightest touch, throwing seeds explosively in all directions, hence the name "touch-me-not." This is an important nectar plant for hummingbirds and the succulent stems contain a juice that brings some people relief from skin irritations caused by poison ivy or stinging nettle. It’s a fetching plant.


Meeting adjourned

"Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours." - Swedish proverb

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