It’s a small world unless you have to paint it
“Where are you going? Someplace?” a friend asked as I pumped gas.
I told him I was considering a job offer in Kenya and the opportunity to go on a safari.
He replied, “I think I speak for everyone who knows you when I say we’d love to see you go to Kenya — at least that far.”
Augustine of Hippo, who wasn’t a real hippopotamus, said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
I enjoy traveling, whether it’s real or imagined. Over 2 million people attended the past Minnesota State Fair. I imagined I’d attended that fair. The parking was easier that way. My parents visited five states and lived in three of them. They never set foot in an airplane, but traveled by book, newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, photographs, travelogues and traveler’s tales.
When I worked for Birds Eye, a company I called Clarence because we were on a first name basis, hoboes occasionally stopped by for a chat. I was pleased to hear their stories. They’d been everywhere, man. I traveled on their words.
I was a dedicated bicyclist as a boy because I had no driver’s license. Each farm had a dog, most had more than one. They guarded the farms, running to the ends of driveways to express their concern at my ominous presence as I pedaled past. Many of the dogs were large hulks with menacing barks and growls, but only one ever bit me. It was a dachshund. I hate to whine about a wiener dog, but he had sharp teeth. He was underslung, nipping my ankle when my foot was on the downstroke on the pedal. The dog was fast, but his lateral movements were clumsy. When I saw him coming, I zigzagged across the road. He couldn’t change course quickly enough to catch me, but he did foster an urge to travel.
Some folks don’t travel. I led a bus tour to Mystery Cave, said to be the longest cave in Minnesota – over 13 miles of amazing things like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils and underground pools. A couple of guys in a local cafe asked what I was up to. I mentioned the Cave. They lived close to it, but had never visited it.
Frank and Joseph Bily were brothers who grew up on a 138-acre farm near Spillville, Iowa in the late 1800s. They had an interest in carving and had carved up their school desks, which may be why they completed only five grades. The Bily brothers never traveled more than 35 miles from home. They traveled by making clocks and sharing their love of history, nature and architecture through their carved creations. They produced more than 20 wooden clocks using only hand tools and a scroll saw made from a sewing machine. From 1923 to 1927, the brothers carved the American Pioneer History Clock. The clock stood 9 feet tall and weighed over 500 pounds. Henry Ford offered to buy it for $1 million. That wasn’t chump change in those days. The brothers declined, refusing to sell any of their clocks.
I enjoyed the movie “Smoke.” It was a beguiling film centered upon the Brooklyn Cigar Company, which was the world for its owner Auggie Wren. Every morning, he photographed the front of his store from across the street. He called those photos his life’s work. “They’re all the same,” said Auggie, “but each one is different from all the others.”
Auggie traveled by noticing small changes.
Garden spiders belong to the family of orb weavers, made famous by E. B. White in his classic book “Charlotte’s Web.” Webs of the black and yellow garden spider (Argiope) can be large. Charlotte wrote eloquently in her web. Garden spiders write in their webs in a heavy silk that looks like dental floss, called stabilimentum. It may serve to hide the spider from predators, shield it from the sun, attract insects or as a visual warning to discourage birds from flying into the web.
Folklore claims that if you smile in front of this spider’s web, it counts your teeth and they’ll all fall out. There are even more dire consequences in other lore. Some say the spider writes the names of a future spouse or the next president. I checked my friendly neighborhood Argiope’s web. The stabilmentum was nothing but zigzagging W’s. Our next president’s name will be WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.
Traveling certainly makes the world smaller.
But a person can do a lot of traveling in a backyard.
© Al Batt 2018
The First Time I Ushered at St. Pat’s!
Maury, you became very well acquainted with my great friend, Duke Spautz, who passed away February 6, 2006. About 25 years ago when Duke was an usher at St. Pat’s, one Sunday when a regular usher was absent, he “recruited” me as a replacement. What happened a short time later (reminds me today) of a TV ad by Southwest Airlines: “Do you wanna get away!”
Duke whispered to me as he handed me the basket with a long handle: “Just follow me – genuflect with me up front – take the pews to the left of the aisle and you’ll do fine!”
Well, Maury, I was doing fine until I “lifted” the basket “over” a lady wearing a broad rimmed hat (to get to the pew behind the one I just collected) and – you probably guessed it – when I accidentally knocked her hat off her head!! The people around her reflexively started laughing but I’ll never forget the surprised look on her face which immediately turned to if looks could kill!! If ever I wanted a hole in the ground to appear instantly and swallow me up that was one of those moments!
Believe it or not, Duke asked me to substitute as an usher several times after this “humiliating episode” occurred and thankfully I made certain that there would be no “repeat performance”!
Much love, Grandpa
1. Who was the oldest catcher to hit a home run in the All-Star Game before St. Louis’ Yadier Molina (34 years, 363 days) did it in 2017?
2. When was the last time before August 2017 that the Los Angeles Dodgers were 50 games over .500 during a season?
3. Between the 2000 and 2017 NFL seasons, how many teams other than New England and Pittsburgh won the AFC Championship?
4. When was the last time before 2018 that the West Virginia men’s basketball team was ranked as high as second in The Associated Press Top 25 poll?
5. In 2018, Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in team history (19 years, 300 days) to score an NHL playoff goal. Who had been the youngest?
6. When was the last time for 2018 that Germany’s men’s soccer team was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup?
7. In 2018, Gennady Golovkin tied the record for most title defenses as a middleweight. Who else holds the mark?
1. Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees (34 years, 83 days old), in 1959.
2. It was 1953.
3. Four — Baltimore (twice), Indianapolis (twice), Denver (twice) and Oakland.
4. It was December of 1959.
5. Jason Wiemer (20 years and 2 days old), in 1996.
6. It was 1938.
7. Bernard Hopkins (1996-2005).
© 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.
So far so good. Iowa football got through the non-conference portion of the schedule undefeated, albeit not easy. The Hawkeye defense has been as solid as Plymouth Rock allowing but twenty four points while the offense has taken a half to get going in beating Northern Illinois and Iowa State before scoring on three consecutive first half possessions last week against Northern Iowa. Quarterback Nate Stanley found ten different receivers in boosting the passing game’s confidence headed to Big Ten play Saturday.
The 3-0 record is due in large part to an air tight defense led by the front four. Ends Parker Hesse, Anthony Nelson and A.J. Epenesa have been spectacular as a group. Epenesa is an edge pass rusher who’s spelled both Hesse and Nelson with fresh legs and has been a disruptive force with sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. The linebackers continue to be a work in progress, but noticeable improvement we’ve seen with each repetition. Kristian Welch and Jack Hockaday have settled in and Nick Niemann has been solid. As expected, the secondary’s strength are safeties Jake Gervase and Amani Hooker, but the young cornerbacks are more than holding their own.
Stanley threw for 300 yards against the Panthers but the running game too was solid with newcomers Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent carrying the load. To date, the combo has rushed for 375 yards and 5 touchdowns. First game starter Ivory Kelly-Martin should be available this week, recovered from an ankle injury.
Now comes the Big Ten, and what better way to start than with the Wisconsin Badgers, the team picked to win the West Division, with Iowa second. To say this is a game of huge importance would be an understatement. It’s a border rivalry, it’s a trophy game under the lights at Kinnick Stadium, and it sets the tone for the two month race to Indianapolis. The Hawks need to protect the home turf, because ahead are four road games out of five. The lone home date is the middle of October and Homecoming with Maryland. Buckle up.......BIG TEN FOOTBALL is here.