Life as we know it
Wicki-Yah: “There is a lot of fighting going on at The Home these days. I will share a story, but have changed the names to protect the guilty. Because when you are over 100, a little criminal activity might be overlooked.
“I brought Mom a small box of nine pumpkin-shaped truffles from Trader Joe’s (adorable and delicious!). She decided to open her box of chocolates at the lunch table and began to exclaim over how wonderful the truffle she chose was. I suggested to Mom it would be kind to share.
“So she grudgingly offered one to Helen. Helen does not hear well, but she heard my mother’s tentative and barely audible ‘Want a chocolate?’ just fine.
“Mom then said since they were hers, she was going to take a second one, but would not share this time.
“So she ate a second, gloating a bit over how it good it was. Helen, her hands folded in her lap, said only: ‘I can’t hear what she is saying.’
“Then Mom asked the aide to take her to the bathroom. While she was gone, I busied myself with my iPhone. Five minutes later, all heck broke loose when Mom returned.
” ‘Helen has stolen my chocolates!’ There they were, firmly planted on top of Helen’s newspaper, which was destined to find its way to her room.
” ‘I don’t think so!” Helen snapped.
” ‘Tell her to give me my chocolates back! Give me those chocolates!’ My mother’s voice was rising to a fever-pitch, while Helen pretended she had gone absolutely stone-cold deaf, and the aide left to wash her hands (of the whole thing, I suspect).
“I suggested that Helen did not understand they were not hers, and Mom should let her have the remaining truffles. I would bring Mom a new, full one. And, if she would not let Helen have the partly full box, Helen would get the new box.
“It was a child-raising trick I had learned from her! But my mother’s question was: ‘How soon will you get back here?’
“Ugh. I meant another day, but that was absolutely not going to satisfy my mother. She continued to yell at Helen, and Helen continued to ignore her, hands now firmly gripping the box.
“I decided to let them fight it out. As I got up to leave, the aide returned to the dining room. My mother looked at her and pointed to her table mate: ‘Helen has taken my chocolates. Tell her to give them back!’
” ‘Sometimes it is like working in a Kindergarten classroom. This goes on all day,’ the aide said, rolling her eyes.
“Good thing we don’t get report cards in senior care!”
Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin, reports: “Bald eagle, Mississippi River, Pierce County, Wisconsin side — 1/2000, f5.6, 400mm, ISO 640. I hope your readers enjoy the photos of the bald eagle.”
The K.P. Chronicles
Big Bern of Cottage Grove: “Another mess-hall story of my time in the Army in West Germany, circa 1961-1962:
“Topic is … The Gray Mashed Potatoes!
“We had two duty rosters for K.P. and guard duty: weekday and weekend. Occasionally you would be scheduled for K.P. on Friday and again on Saturday. This happened to me often.
“One time, on a Friday, the cook sergeant had me and another K.P. slice potatoes for the next day’s meal of mashed potatoes. We had to halve and quarter them and then put them into huge pots. The pots were thick aluminum, about 18 inches tall and maybe 18 inches across the top. They did not have lids. The sliced potatoes were put into these pots fully immersed in water. The tops were overflowing with spuds. The sergeant had us put the pots in a walk-in cooler for overnight.
“The next day (Saturday), I had weekend K.P. The sergeant had me and a another K.P. get the pots from the cooler. I did not know potatoes left overnight exposed to the air turned ‘BLACK.’ The pots had their top layers loaded with black potatoes.
“I was working in the rear of the mess hall on pots, pans and trays. I was not in visual sight of the cooks. K.P.’s eat first, before the mess hall is opened. When I went through the line to be served, I noticed the mashed potatoes appeared to be off-white — somewhat gray. I’d been on K.P. enough times to be suspicious of anything our cooks did. I passed on the mashed potatoes.
“When I had a break, I went out back to the garbage cans, to see if any of the black spuds had been tossed out. NOT ONE! Those cooks mixed the black potatoes with the immersed white ones. I never ate mashed potatoes while I was there.
“Thank you, BB, for allowing me to share my mess-hall stories. I have another one to tell about the Pea Soup while in the field.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We’ll be here when you’re ready!
Keeping your eyes open
Mounds View Swede reports: “For many years, three photography friends and I traveled to the Boundary Waters for a four-day trip looking for fall color.
“After I developed sleep apnea, I decided I would go only where there was electricity for my CPAP machine. Three of us headed to the U.P. [Bulletin Board notes, for the benefit of those who are not from “around here”: The U.P. is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — where the natives call themselves “Yoopers”] in 2007 for the first time, to give it a try.
“We were blown away by the color that fall. We headed toward the south shore of Lake Superior and stayed in that region the whole time. Driving up the Keweenaw Peninsula on Highway 41, we discovered that the last few miles wound through a maple/oak hardwood forest, and I started taking a series of pictures I titled ‘Driving Autumn Roads.’ It helped that this section of road was freshly paved and had perfect lines painted on it.
“The last one is my favorite, and I have a 4-foot-long picture of it hanging in our family room. Sometimes I use this one to make a greeting card for someone who is retiring in the ‘Autumn of Life’ and wish them the beauty of good health, good friends and loving family.
“We returned to the U.P. several more times, but have never had the spectacular colors that we had that first trip. Some trips, the color was slower to come, or we were a little late, or it was full sun the whole time — and our best color comes from bright cloudy days. There are no ‘hot spots’ from the sun hitting certain leaves and not others, and we have better overall saturation on cloudy days. That said, some of my favorite, single-tree shots are when they are back-lit by the sun and the leaves are glowing with the light shining through them. I’ll try to send examples of that another time.
“This year has been really good for those kinds of photos in my neighborhood.”
How far back? (responsorial)
Or: Bulletin Board stands corrected
At the end of her “How far back?” report in the November 3rd BB, Booklady wrote: “Another early memory involved an older neighbor girl, whose name was also Carolyn. We used to pull each other in the little red wagon, taking turns being Miss America (1948), Bebe Shopp [Bulletin Board notes: The pride of Hopkins, Minnesota!]. We also were Roy Rogers fans, and I remember several minor altercations over which one of us got the swing that was Trigger. The other had to settle for being Dale Evans, riding Buttercup.”
We presently heard from Helena Handbasket, who (correctly) noted: “I think Dale Evans rode Buttermilk (not Buttercup).”
Our apologies to famous horses everywhere!
How far back?
Nana of Many of Woodbury: “A few months after my 3rd birthday, my parents bought their first house. There were many fine things about it, including a huge fenced back yard. Next door was a family just like ours: a 3-year-old girl named Janie and her younger sister, who was the same age as my sister. Our dads removed a section of the picket fence which separated the two back yards, and four little girls roamed freely. We had a sandbox, and they had a swing set, and life was perfect.
“Sixty-five years later, Janie and I are still friends. We seldom see each other, as she lives in Colorado now, but we keep in touch.”
Vertically Challenged: “I actually remember a lot of things from when I had to have been 2 — and earlier, I’m sure! I sometimes think I can remember a lot from that time more clearly than I can last month, let alone when all our kids were growing up!
“As others have said, I remember being in the crib.
“I remember going out to the barn where my mom would milk the cow.
“I remember going with her to take the cow down to the pasture, and I remember her letting me turn the handle in the churning jar for butter. We had an electric pump that had the long arm on the pump, and I would be able to stand on that and hold on when it was turned on, to ride up and down.
“I remember always being up early and would sit on a large rock by the corner of the house in the early mornings.
“I also remember when my brother and sister-in-law brought my nephew home from the hospital, and looking over the arm of the chair at him. He is a month short of three years younger, so I know I wasn’t quite 3.”
Life as we know it (II)
We’ve been holding this story all summer, and never seemed to find the space to publish it. Today seems like just the right day — and we hope KJ of Arden Hills has migrated with us to this new site:|
“Many of us Baby Boomers are headed toward our retirement years, and, along the way, working with parents who are aging and needing assistance. I am there, and once in a while need a ‘nature’ break. This adventure over the weekend took me, along with a couple buddies, out in our sea kayaks on Lake Superior.
“I’ve been doing trips to the Apostle Islands over the years, and decided to try the North Shore this year. With bad weather predicted for Friday, we shortened the trip to Saturday and Sunday. With fantastic weather on Saturday, which we needed since there is no protection for small watercraft, we traveled from Tettegouche State Park down to Split Rock River. Down a wet wooden staircase to the mouth of the Baptism River is where we carried all the gear and the three kayaks.
“Along this stretch of lake, we passed Palisade Head. If you haven’t stopped there, it is a fantastic cliff, with rock climbers all over it, rappelling down and climbing back up. Seeing this brings back memories of my youthful days, hanging in mid-air, rappelling down off an overhang. Now I look at it from the water side, and wonder how many didn’t do well here… It is a long way to fall.
“We made our way down the coastline to the worst campsite I’ve ever experienced. I think I may need to offer to come back with a crew and do some work. The shoreline was boulders, which is tough on the kayak as you get bounced around, and a challenge as you step out onto slippery boulders in the water. Had a great night, though, overlooking the lake while swinging in my hammock in the light breeze.
“Sunday came early, as we tried to get out and beat the predicted rain. Under clouds, large waves, and rocking kayaks, we made it out of there, only to find ourselves in building seas of 3- to 5-foot waves. In miscalculating the amount of water we might take into the kayak, we started out not having the ‘skirts’ on, which seal the water out of the cockpit. Mistake number one. We stayed close together, but I lost sight of one of the guys behind me and started to turn around to see where he was. Mistake number two, though necessary. In large waves and now too close to the shoreline while trying to turn around, I found myself catching the waves bouncing back off the shore and into the large waves coming from the east heading toward shore. Mistake number three. With my ‘skirt’ still off, I started taking on lots of water, which I quickly found out adds to the unpredictable rocking motion as it sloshed around in my kayak … and over I went.
“With quick thinking, and proper gear on, I righted the kayak, one buddy came alongside, and I pulled up and rolled back into the cockpit and pumped out the water. With a brief break on shore, adrenaline flowing, we continued on to Split Rock River, and reflected on this rather exciting couple of days.
“I think my next trip will be ‘off the water,’ and then do it again next year. What’s life without a little adventure, right?
“Now, back to visit my elderly parent, who likes to hear stories from her kids.”
Vikings win Super Bowl?
No, Cubs win World Series! Here’s what the San Francisco Chronicle’s sports page had to say, courtesy of Cubfandan:
Band Name of the Day: Mistake Number One
Website of the Day: Exploring Trader Joe’s, at exploringtraderjoes.blogspot.com