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Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

You’re talking to yourself.

I know.

It’s annoying.

I know. That’s why I do it.


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: If it's true that misery loves company, how come we don't enjoy getting caught in a traffic jam? Despite rampant roadwork, I needed to stop at an Apple Store at the Mall of America. This Megamall opened in 1992 at the former location of Metropolitan Stadium where the Twins and Vikings once played. Its over 520 stores are visited by over 40 million people each year. That’s more than the combined populations of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Canada. Nine Yankee Stadiums could fit inside the Mall and 347 Statues of Liberty could recline there. It has 5.6 million square feet of building area. I reminded myself that the human body has 60,000 to 100,000 miles of blood vessels. That made me bigger than the Mall of America. I used every mile of me to find the Apple Store.


Weathering the weather

I opened the door and there it was. The weather. It was everywhere. It's always there. We put up with the weather. We dress appropriately and make good use of shelter, heating sources and air conditioning. Sometimes.

I tend to not read the weather reports until they are a week old. I like to see what the weather had been.


Cannibal sandwich

I spoke at a thing in Wisconsin. I was invited to join some fellows in a meal featuring cannibal sandwiches. An unappetizingly named sandwich made from raw ground beef on a piece of rye bread with a sliced raw onion, salt and pepper on top. Sometimes a raw egg yolk is added. Other names for the sandwich are steak tartare and tiger meat. I ate the cannibal sandwich. I’m happy to say that its digestion didn’t require a visit to a hospital's emergency room.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Tatars roamed across the plains of what is now Russia. They chopped meat, mixed in spices and ate the concoction raw. This recipe found its way to Hamburg, Germany, which became famous for its beefsteak Tatar, ground beef served with onions and spices without the benefit of a flame. When this Hamburg steak reached this country, it was generally served cooked. This is a great country! The expression "hamburger steak" first appeared in the Walla Walla Union newspaper in 1889. The steak part of the name was soon dropped and in the 1930s, the word "cheeseburger" first appeared.

I’m happy to have eaten a cannibal sandwich. I will be just as happy to not eat another one.


A scene from a marriage

"You are not wearing that shirt with those pants," said my wife sternly.

"I’m not?" I replied.

"No, they don’t go together. Plus, you have it buttoned wrong."

It was buttoned incorrectly. It wasn’t my fault. It happens a lot. There were more buttonholes than buttons. Or maybe there had been more buttons than buttonholes.

I protested. I had to. I’m a husband.

"The color doesn't matter. Any shirt I’d be wearing would be buttoned wrong."

I changed shirts.


Nature notes

As I drove along, there was another constant besides car and rural road. Wild parsnip growing in the ditches. It has been my long-time companion. Resembling a large dill plant and growing up to 5 feet tall, wild parsnip is in the carrot family and was introduced to this country in the 1800s. It was first documented in Minnesota way back in 1878. The plant has a flat-topped, five-petaled yellow flower cluster that is 2 to 6 inches wide and blooms from June to late summer. Wild parsnip is a biennial, producing a rosette of leaves the first year and a single flower stalk the second. It grows in sunny conditions in dry to mesic areas. Wild parsnip is prolific and invasive. The sap from the wild parsnip can cause painful phytophotodermatitis on skin exposed to sunlight. Unexpected red patches and blisters on skin following a walk in the woods or fields are often blamed on poison ivy, stinging nettles, insects or spiders. They could be the result of bumping into wild parsnip. Many a farmer who has baled road ditches has encountered wild parsnip for years. We made wild hay to supplement the alfalfa we fed the cows. The bovines refused to eat the wild parsnip.


Meeting adjourned

"Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much." — Blaise Pascal


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