Church basement potluck brings joy to the day

A turkey vulture would eat carrion luggage. AL BATT/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
By : 
For the Birds

I was having a great day. I wore a shirt with a pocket on it. That’s a good thing in itself, but to make it even better, I was wearing that shirt to a church basement potluck. 

The potluck was put on by folks who took bringing a dish to pass seriously. That caused me to grin like a goat eating thistles. A grin refers to a facial expression that reflects a beaming smile. When someone smiles in an unrestrained manner with mouth open and teeth visible, that’s grinning. 

A smirk is half a smile and a giggle is a partial laugh. A smirk is a facial expression that conveys smugness and scorn. It isn’t an innocent smile or the grin of a fool; it’s a sneer expressing scorn or derision. A smirk is a way to mock or taunt a person or situation. There were no smirks at the potluck.

In 1998, a study tasked participants to either hold a pen between their teeth — causing them to grin, or to hold a pen between their lips — inducing a frown. Participants were then shown cartoons and asked to rate how funny they were. The study found those who were grinning were more likely to giggle at the cartoons. 

Scientists at the University of Kansas conducted a study in which they assessed the impact of smiling on one’s physical and mental state, coming to the conclusion that making yourself smile can help lower heart rate during stressful activities. There are those who disagree, but why not smile instead? 

If you want to make yourself smile, put on a shirt with a pocket on it and attend a church basement potluck.

Echoes from Loafers’ Club 

I thought the weekend would never get here. 

Why does it matter to you? You’re retired.

I know, but I needed a couple of days when it doesn’t feel like I should be working.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I was far from home and having reading-withdrawal symptoms. I stopped at a big drugstore to get a newspaper to help me digest a breakfast. It was a huge emporium. Much too big for the likes of me. I wished it had been the size of the Rexall drugstore of my youth. 

That Rexall had a free library displayed on a large magazine rack. I’d read “Mad Magazine,” ”Cracked,“ “Classics Illustrated” and various comic books until an employee of the drugstore informed me that my free reading privileges had been suspended for the day. 

The gigantic drugstore selling newspapers was so large, I had to get a prescription just to find my way out of it.

Eating at The Eat Around It Café

It was French day at the cafe. French toast and fries. It’s an eatery where they care to please rather than impress. The food was generally regarded safe for human consumption. The waitress told me that everything is edible once.

We talked of the weather. Dangerous storms had wreaked havoc in the area. The rains had been stump floaters in the company of tornadoes and high winds. Photos of damage to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Easton found their way quickly to us. The steeple had been toppled by high winds and crashed onto the roof on its way down. I sat next to a friend at a wedding there when he’d told me he wanted his funeral held there. I reminded him that he was Lutheran. He said he knew that before adding, “But just look at that beautiful woodwork.”

We expressed proper melancholy and then one of us provided comfort in the traditional way of my people, “Well, I suppose it could have been worse.” 

Nature notes

I fall for fall each year. The leaves of the trees provide a pleasing palette. Faith Baldwin wrote, “Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”

In the 1600s, people began using the phrase “fall of the leaf” to refer to the autumn season. Over time, it was shortened to fall. The word fall comes from the Old English word feallan, which means “to fall or to die.”

Variable numbers of blue jays migrate and the distance they travel varies. Some jays might migrate south one year, stay north the next winter and then migrate south again the following year. There has been no determination as to why their migration is complicated. 

The guy from just down the road

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. Ma just gave me a jar of pickled beets. Nothing says “pickled beets” like a jar of pickled beets. Ma listens to every word Pop says. That way she can correct him more often. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that think there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t. I’m a third kind. The kind who doesn’t have everything he wants, but doesn’t have everything he doesn’t want either. I’m at that awkward age between needing to save money and living only once.”

Nature by the yard

There were a few mosquitoes in the yard for any hunter who was interested in bagging a trophy skeeter. I heard gunfire in the distance. Perhaps it was produced by a mosquito hunter’s shotgun? I heard a lecturer say that ravens recognize gunfire as a possible supplier of food.

I saw a fawn that had put on its winter coat and a lovely garter snake. Cool, fall weather brings out snakes. Flecks of fall colors were seen in tree leaves. Mahogany-colored nuts fell from an Ohio buckeye tree. I meandered past some boxelder trees. Sometimes called an ash-leafed maple or a Manitoba maple, the trees produce winged seeds called samaras that mature in late summer. A boxelder is the hypochondriac of trees. It appears to be dying, but never gets around to it. 

Jerusalem artichokes showed yellow flowers. It’s a native, perennial sunflower. Wild cucumber is beginning to abate. We don’t have kudzu here — wild cucumber, wild grapes and Virginia creeper do its kind of work. Riverbank grape (wild grape) is a native perennial with a 75-foot vine and Virginia creeper, often called “woodbine,” which is a related plant, is another native perennial with a vine reaching 90 feet in length. They are kinder than kudzu, which has a perennial vine reaching 100 feet. A native to Asia, it was introduced to this country to prevent soil erosion, feed cattle and shade porches. Once established, it can grow 60 feet in a growing season.

A turkey vulture soared overhead, likely attracted to the dead skunk on the road. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology said this about a bird often incorrectly called a “buzzard”: “They are deft foragers, targeting the softest bits first and are even known to leave aside the scent glands of dead skunks.“ 

Acorns are numerous this year. A mature oak tree can drop as many as 10,000 acorns in a year. Generally, a large mast occurs every two to five years.


Gail Batt of Hartland asked why vultures need to warm themselves in the morning’s sun. It’s because vultures are good at conserving energy. They lower their body temperatures when sleeping. In the morning, they use the sun to warm up and dry off after a cool and/or damp night. Vultures sunbathe by spreading their wings in a horaltic pose.

Meeting adjourned 

“Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks for stopping by

“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” — Wendell Berry

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt


© Al Batt 2018