Mid-Winter Mind-Wandering
The Telephone Call 
The wind whistled not only outside, but through our old farmhouse. I thought the house had been made of willow, because it certainly made the sound of a willow whistle when the winter winds blew.
We were gathered in the living room eating rattrap cheese. Velveeta.
We were waiting, not for Christmas, but for my mother to make a telephone call. In that time of long ago, before recorded voices assured us, “Your call is important to us...,” long distance calls were placed after the long distance rates dropped in the evening.
We’d gather in the living room, the home to our only telephone, and listen to the one-sided conversation. I’d smile a triumphant smile when my mother would pass along good news involving me.
Mom was no Walter Cronkite, but I liked her version of the news much better.

SHOPPINGShopping is more to men than just, “I’ll wait in the car.” Men shop to forget. What we usually forget is the shopping lists that our wives have given us.

Lumpy: “Remember last week when I told you I had a sick cow and you said that you had had a cow that had the same problem and I asked you what you had given your cow for it?”
Noodles: “Sure, I remember.”
Lumpy: “And you told me that you gave the cow lutefisk.”
Noodles: “That’s true.”
Lumpy: Well, I gave my sick cow lutefisk and it died.”
Noodles: “Mine did, too.”

It’s not a good idea to cheat.
I tried it in school once, but I got caught.
I sat behind Nancy Babcock in school. It was an alphabetical thing. Nancy was a lot smarter than I was. Because of that, I thought it might be in my best interest to copy from her test paper.
Nancy was very conscientious and when she came to a question that she didn’t know the answer to, she would write down, “I don’t know.”
On my paper, I wrote down, “Me either.”

The first rule of family reunions is that the worst cook always brings the most food.
There’s no cure for the common old.
You are getting older when you realize that your parents were right about almost everything.
The easiest way to entertain someone is to listen to them.
By law, you have to turn your headlights on when it's raining in 
Minnesota. That’s a good law, but how do I know if it’s raining in Minnesota when I’m driving in Iowa?
I watched the news on TV the other night. I learned a lot. I learned that our highways are not safe, our streets aren't safe, our parks aren't safe, our schools aren’t safe, our borders aren’t safe, but our underarms have full protection.

I walk the trail. Interpretive signage is ubiquitous. Most things that are unable to move and many things that are mobile are identified on a sign. The flowers are named. The shrubs are named. The trees are named.
I’m walking the Appellation Trail.

We lived alfresco on my boyhood farm. A chill in the air could quickly lead to being chilled to the bone. I worked for the cows and the woodstove on those winter days.
We milked cows twice a day. We fed them and we cleaned up after them.
The woodstove claimed much of the rest of our time. We needed large amounts of wood to feed a hungry stove in a drafty, aged house. We cut, chopped, sawed, hacked, pulled, hauled, carried, and burned wood. The wood came from different kinds of trees, some that I had climbed in earlier years. Each piece of wood told a story.
I loved the old trees and tried to think like a photographer so that I’d remember their beauty.
A cold day would bring my family together as we huddled near the old woodstove.
Family and fire went together.
There are days when a little heat, a kind word and a bit of understanding are needed.
Home is where the heart is.
Home is where the heat is.

Get Up
Go Back To Bed

My wife, who believes that anyone who dislikes a cat, was in his former life, a rat, has acquired a couple of kittens from an anonymous giver. I don’t think they like being cats. I believe that they want to be people. The cats study me intently. I know what they are thinking. Each cat is thinking, 

I have a file that is filled with instruction manuals.
They are all unread. Hey, I'm a guy.
I don't have a good share of the appliances that the manuals reference anymore.
When I retire, I plan to read them all--maybe.

©Al Batt 2006