Our theater of seasons
The Man from Milaca — “In the land of palm trees and sunshine” — reports: “Subject: The change of seasons.
“Towards sunset, yesterday, I went for a ride. First stop: the cemetery — appropriate at Halloween. Passed some decorated homes, but not many. The cemetery was quiet, rather unkempt, weeds along the fence. I can’t help wondering why it is not maintained more meticulously.
“It is a bit odd for someone who seeks life to go to a place where the only reminders of life are engraved stones. It just doesn’t seem to be the right place to be. So, the ride continues to the east bank of the river, another five miles or so.
“Even here, life seems to be just reminders. River level is down. Current speed is down. Eddies in the flowing water are fewer and weaker. Even the trees are more bare. It is quiet. It is a somber vista, a silent movie without plot or intent.
“It seems that, even here, the life sought is merely a memory, a fleeting mist of a passing spirit.
“I gaze up and down the river — seeking what? Then, I see something, movement, not caused by wind. And a small white egret, or maybe heron, appears in the foliage of the other side of the river. It appears to be a chick, a baby. Then a second one. And a third one appears. Where is the mother? Or are these fledglings to the point where they are on their own?
“Yes, even in memories of lives past, we can find hints of new life. We just need to look a little more closely.”
Our birds, our pets, ourselves
Including: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Al B of Hartland writes: “I walked at 5 in the morning. The day was dark and warm as a killdeer called.
“At daybreak, a crow flew over. It carried a long bit of nesting material. It resembled a tiny airplane pulling an advertising banner through the sky. A pair of Canada geese flew low overhead. There was no honking, just the sound of wings cutting through the air.
“At home, the cat moved from window to window. That’s how she changes channels. She never sets a paw outdoors, so that is how she watches birds. The cat stared out the window at them. She was a part of a focus group.”
The Old Gander: “Alas, another piece of my history is gone….
“I should have seen the handwriting on the wall when I viewed a car commercial on TV. The dad says to his young son: ‘With this new car, I can help you deliver your paper route.’ The young boy looks up from his iPad and says: ‘What’s a paper route?’ ”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: It’s just possible that the young boy was reading BBonward.com on his iPad. It’s pretty ideal that way!
This ‘n’ that
The Hoot Owl of St. Paul: “Two things:
“Thank you to the person who posted about reading BB using an iPad at the breakfast table. YES! It’s a much kinder and gentler way to adjust to the new ‘print-less format’ we must get used to. (And many, if not most of us, in BB Land are OTD types, after all.) Tried it today. [Bulletin Board notes, for the benefit of newcomers: OTD stands for the exalted status of Older Than Dirt.]
“Re: Earliest memories. At age 2-1/2, there is a bit of a memory of hearing our mother yelling at our father (rare occurrence, indeed). He was in the garden. I could see rows of dark green X’s close to the house from my position, and then I heard her say: ‘We have to leave. Stop what you’re doing.’ Years later, when I mentioned the memory, our mother said that our father had been planting green-bean seeds in the row he’d dug ‘for the new renters to harvest later that summer.’ The moving van was finished, and they needed to get on the road. What she could not explain is why I was outside near the green latticework at ground level around the house.
“Later on, in the new place in the new city (sometime before my 3rd birthday), I remember being in a ‘six year crib’ and having a dickens of a time trying to get comfortable. I remember being way too hot. I was finally able to kick my feet out of the rear opening of the ‘footie pajamas’ they had put on me. The memory sticks because of the grownups’ laughing loudly and being astounded at how I could have managed that gymnastic feat.”
How far back?
Lola: “I was 3 when my brother was born. My sister (eight years older than I) and my brother (two years older than I) hustled me off to Aunt Esther’s house about half a mile away. The doctor must have been on his way, but I had no idea what was going on. After awhile, someone phoned Aunt Esther and told her that we could come back home.
“When we got home, we all went into my parents’ bedroom, and there was my mom and a baby! I cried because I wouldn’t be able to sleep with Mama and Daddy anymore. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with my baby brother, and that love continues today. (I still slept with Mama and Daddy occasionally.)”
Poet X of PDX: “I have only the vaguest of early memories, and even those are nowhere near as early as others report.
“My first memories are from around first grade and aren’t pleasant. I was small for my age,which would remain true until college. Being heckled on the bus began in first grade and in later years turned into physical bullying. (One of my strongest memories of childhood involved being hit so hard that I lost my breath for what seemed an eternity.) In adulthood I’ve sometimes wondered if that’s why I don’t even try to remember my early years.
“Early family memories are not much better. My mother was a screamer and would slap at the slightest provocation. I quickly learned (my sister, one year younger, did not) not to provoke her and to retreat into my own shell. Earliest memories of my father are him driving the car for weekend trips to his parents’, a two-hour drive each way. In those years we made that trip nearly every weekend, so my early memories are of that frequent trip, listening to the radio in the dark back seat of the car as it sailed over the flat, empty plain that is North Dakota. I never sleep in a moving vehicle, so I remember radio songs of those years and that endless black and star-studded sky. ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash was a song I remember as my first ‘favorite song.’ Google tells me it was 1963, so I was 5.
“Earliest pleasant memories involve my grandmother, always in an apron and constantly cooking, filling their house with wonderful smells and our mouths with delicious treats — soups, breads, cookies, pie, home-canned fruit, veggies from their half-acre garden, excellent German-from-Russia ethnic dishes, all made from scratch, even the noodles for the soup. I remember the dough for those noodles rolled extra thin and drying on the dining-room table between large sheets of plastic. Under the plastic was an elaborate crocheted tablecloth, also done by her along with other beautiful doilies scattered throughout the entire house.
“Grandpa and Grandma were farmers, so early memories include Grandma butchering chickens. After beheading them, she would hold on to the chicken rather than let it run around until dead, which is how my cousins’ families did it — headless chickens scattering blood everywhere they ran. I remember the heads collecting in a tub, but not what Grandma did with them. I remember she would almost immediately burn the pin feathers off the chickens and the terrible smell from that. The chickens were then immediately butchered, the undeveloped eggs a cluster of yolks removed to be included in grandma’s chicken noodle soup. They were a favorite of mine, those yolk clusters, and as Grandma’s favorite, I’d usually be the one to get this special treat.
“Each fall or early winter, Dad and Grandpa would butcher a cow to fill the freezer for winter. Dad would also hunt deer, which got the same treatment. In the cold barn, steam would come from the carcass, and I remember, too, the smell of blood. I also vaguely remember a few times going to the auction arena (in Bismarck) when they went to buy more cattle.
“A more pleasant memory: Each spring, Grandma and Grandpa made their only trip to us, rather than the other direction, to get the year’s supply of baby chicks. They came in short brown boxes separated into partitions with quarter-size holes all around. I do remember I would stick my finger into those holes and that I would be pecked. And the sound! A chorus of ‘peep, peep, peep.’
“At Grandma and Grandpa’s, Saturday nights meant a bath. Sunday mornings we would go to church. We would get in the car, though it was only a two-block trip. (They were farmers, but their property straddled the city line, with the house on the ‘city’ side and the barn on the other.) The men sat on one side of the small church, women and children on the other. The entire congregation seemed so old, and I knew some were distant relatives, I just didn’t understand all the connections. Though the traveling pastor (he split his day among a few small towns) gave his sermons in English, conversation among most of the congregation was in German.
“Grandma would always give us a few coins to put into the offering plate. She would do this by tying the coins into the corner of a fancy handkerchief. We could hold the handkerchief, but only once the collection plate had started its journey were we allowed to remove the coins. I remember that Grandma would tie those coins very securely and would often have to help undo the knot.
“On holidays, my great-grandmother would be picked up from the retirement home where she lived, two small towns away. The place had a smell I didn’t like at all. She spoke only German. When we visited her, she would always have pink mint candies to give us.
“I guess I remember more than I thought I did, and some of the memories are pleasant. I just don’t go there often, perhaps because eventually they lead to unpleasant ones: bullying, steam and blood from butchered animals, the pecking of baby chicks.”
And: Our theater of seasons
Beachbabe56: “Subject: In celebration.
“Woohoo and cheers to BB’s moving onward! I have enjoyed the stories, shared the tears, and celebrated the joys of this page for many years as a western-Wisconsin lady, but have never contributed to this Community of Strangers.
“Here’s to new beginnings all around; we moved to the Twin Cities’ northwestern suburbs three months ago to be closer to our cabin (and jobs) after commuting for 35 years. And we’re enjoying more-frequent lake views as a result.
“Here’s our cabin’s back yard a couple weeks ago, when we took in the dock for the winter!”
Email: “Bitter and Disgruntled Guy from Andover here to tell you a story about men and how we never really grow up.
“I was not on this trip, but my friend Mike related it to me. It happened last winter on a frozen lake, in a trailer for a fish house, it involved a little fishing and a lot of drinking. And dumb men. Let’s not forget about the dumb men.
“It was later in the day, and all of the guys fishing were of a certain age — meaning over 55; some in their 60s. Copious amounts of alcohol had been consumed when someone came up with the idea to see who could hold the most urine. It was decided they would use a pitcher with ounce markings on the side. Soon, everyone was in a little discomfort as the effects of the alcohol passing through their systems caught up with them. One guy was almost immediately out; he continued to use the restroom as normal the rest of the night and was barely able to pass two ounces.
“Soon there were only a few men left, and the eventual winner was lying on the couch, holding his abdomen, and rocking back and forth in pain. He eventually won with an impressive 34 ounces!
“Anyway, the guy who had to go all the time kept muttering that he was going to make an appointment with his doctor the next day to check his prostate. He just assumed he was normal, other than the fact that he was involved in a literal pissing contest. The others laughed at him and told him they hoped he would go see a doctor.
“As far as I know, he did.”
Till death us do part (responsorial)
And: How far back? (responsorial)
Miss Kitty of the Midway: “The retirement card sent in by Madame Polarfleece [BB, 11/1/2016] reminded me of a retirement card I received almost two years ago. It said: ‘Retirement is six Saturdays and a fat paper day.’ I live by that credo every day. [Bulletin Board interjects: Here’s hoping for years more of fat Sunday papers!]
“On another subject: Arbee from Burnsville‘s early memory of being bitten by a puppy [BB, 11/1/2016] brought to mind that every day when I would be getting ready for work, I would sit down by my makeup table and ‘put my face on.’ One of our cats at the time, named Snowy, loved to walk around on my dressing stool; she probably liked all the smells from moisturizers and makeup. One day, I held her up to my face when I finished, and she bit me on the nose! I was so shocked, so I bit her back — not hard, but obviously shocking to her. She just looked at me.
“She never bit me again after that.”
Life in the Direct Mail Economy
Gma Tom: “Subject: Am I the only one?
“BB has taught us that we are (almost) never the only one, so here goes my confession, plus a question.
“When I receive any amount of money, even a couple of pennies, from any charity, I pocket the change and throw away the request — my philosophy being if they can afford to send me money, they don’t need mine.
“Then there are the unsolicited charities that send me an envelope with actual USPS stamps (not a postage permit). If I have no intention of supporting the charity, I peel off the (unused) stamps to use to send a donation to a charity that I do support. Am I the only one?
“I am puzzled, however, why some charities send an envelope with a postage-paid permit and still add extra stamps, usually several 1-cent stamps. Any BB readers have the answer?”
A dispatch from Bruce from Blaine now Brooten (currently in Surprise, Arizona): “Subject: On my way.
“The journey to our winter home in Phoenix involved several interesting encounters:
“1. One morning at our hotel in New Mexico, we encountered a couple loading for their day’s journey. He had the suitcases, and she had a box covered with a cloth. Turns out they were transporting their parakeet south for the winter as well. I was reminded of when my parents made a similar journey from Minnesota to Arizona, but left their parakeet with our young daughter. It was her delight to have a bird for several months.
“2. At the same motel, we encountered nine men from Colorado who were unloading and polishing their off-road motorcycles. Seems they were going to Mexico off-roading. One shared with me that several years ago, he and a friend made a trip from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, on their dirt-bikes, all on dirt roads –- 4,700 miles. Talk about a long journey. And I was feeling the pain of a 2,000-mile trip in an air-conditioned car/chariot.
“3. The day after we arrived, the temp here in Surprise hit 100 –- unseasonably warm. And our heat pump quit and was promptly replaced. Ugh. What a surprise!
“4. We were welcomed back into the community by many of our seasonal friends, and await others who have yet to arrive. What an exciting time of year.”
Trick or treat!
The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill: “Subject: Halloween report.
“Best costumes of the night: Unfortunate member of the Donner party, Snapchat, YouTube, Wilson tennis ball and an 8-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
Elvis: “One of the trick-or-treaters who just came by, when asked what their costume was said: ‘I’m a transgender!’
“And the Mom standing in the background and holding the dog said: ‘Really? I didn’t know that!’ ”
The Oldest Sister in Stillwater: “Here is our youngest granddaughter dressed up for her treats tonight.”
Band Name of the Day: Way Too Hot
Website of the Day, from Helena Handbasket: “Subject: What I learned today.
“Psephologists are scientists who study voting systems.
“I did not know there was a name for this, or that it was even a thing.