Novice SoCal hunter tries a bit of Zen in the deer stand: “Be the tree. Be the tree. Be the tree.”

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Close encounters of the natural kind, reported by B. Dazzled of South St. Paul: “Subject: All creatures great and small.

Doris G.‘s beautiful photos of the pileated woodpecker [BB, 12/2/2016] reminded me of a story I had promised myself to share with BB.


“I took up hunting at a comparatively advanced age. My first 35-plus years were spent in urban Los Angeles and Orange County, California, where there are relatively few opportunities for taking wild game. As an avid cook, free-range meat had always been my dream. In my mid-40s, a good friend took me under his wing and invited me along to try to finally ‘harvest’ some delicious venison.

“We got skunked the first year out. Same with opening weekend this year. I calculated that I’d spent about 60 to 70 hours up in trees, and I’d never even seen a single deer. I started to think that it was either all a hoax, or that I had some kind of urban myopia that prevented me from even seeing the deer that everybody else claimed to be seeing. Or maybe the animals could just smell ‘the city’ on me and knew to stay away.

“So, the second weekend, I clambered up into my stand with a sense of Zen resignation. I didn’t even care anymore, so I might as well relax into an equanimous state without goals. I told myself I would be a tree. Just a quiet, middle-aged branch swaying gently in the breeze, free from all expectations: a natural, silent part of the woods.

“After sitting up in the stand for about an hour, I found myself enjoying the antics of a female red-bellied woodpecker (interesting, in that their bellies aren’t red, but the top of their heads are! [Bulletin Board notes: They do have a patch of red on the belly; look closely next time]) whose acquaintance I’d made earlier that morning. I continued ‘being a tree’ for a few minutes, when I suddenly felt a whirring flutter against my side! I slowly looked down over my right shoulder to find that the woodpecker had landed on the butt of my rifle! What an amazing moment! I gently nudged her away, while thinking: ‘I must be doing something right!’

“Less than a minute later, a downy woodpecker lit on my left boot. I felt it, then gazed down, just as it started pecking on the leg of my camouflage bibs. I thought: ‘Wow! This will be a great story to tell when I get home!’ But when I looked up, there, about 90 yards away, was my first deer.

“Now my family has meat in the freezer for the next good long while. And I have some memories that will last a lifetime. Wish I had a picture to share of those woodpeckers, but I hope you all understand. It was sort of a Catch-22: Good trees don’t take pictures. And bad trees don’t have anything to take pictures of.”

Unclear on the concept
Leading to: Hmmmmmmmm (responsorial) (responsorial)

Gma Tom: “The tale of a German flag being flown upside-down [BB, 11/29/2016] certainly brought back memories for me.

“During the school year of 1981-82, we were blessed to have a fine German exchange student living with us through the AFS program. At the end of the school year (it was Memorial weekend), we took our student, along with his American counterpart, our son, to Wisconsin Dells for a weekend of camping and fun. The boys went on a helicopter ride, took in the Ringling Bros. circus at Baraboo, and saw a Tommy Bartlett water show. It was during the water show — when a bevy of female water skiers came by, each carrying a foreign flag — that the fun time was marred, because the German flag was being flown upside-down. Our student was visibly upset that we in the U.S.A. didn’t even know how to fly his country’s flag.

“At the end of the performance, we tried to find someone to whom we could report the error, but could not find anyone in authority to speak with. Although we told those at the ticket counter, we never did find out if they corrected the mistake.”


Booklady: “On November 22, 1963, I was a lowly college freshman. I heard the dreadful news as I was packing up my materials for a world literature class. Someone who had been watching a soap opera on the dormitory TV (yes, just one TV for an entire dorm) came running through the corridors to spread the word. The first thought was that it was some nasty hoax, but we soon discovered it was true. Classes were canceled for the remainder of the day. I don’t remember if the next day’s classes were canceled as well, but I do know many of us dispersed to our family homes for Thanksgiving.

“I know we had had a spirited discussion about JFK’s trip to Texas, and I remember feeling somehow personally guilty for having said: ‘He shouldn’t go, If he does, someone’s going to shoot him.’ It still stings.”

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Photography Division

Grandma Anne of White Bear writes: “These are photos of the sunrise over White Bear Lake, taken on November 16.




“I think this was one of the last sunny November mornings, if not the last.”

The highfalutin displeasures
Or: What is wrong with people? Leading to: Today’s helpful hint

Phil from Hill: “On Thursday, December 1, my beloved and I went to the boutique at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. We made purchases, using my credit card, from two vendors.

“As we were driving home, I got a call from my credit-card company asking about these and four other purchases that were made using my card. The three that I did not make were each for more than twice the amount of those I had made, and the other was a purchase made in Malta.

“Each of the vendors at the boutique had used a cellphone with a credit-card reader, and both had commented on how slowly all the transactions were going through.

“I believe that what happened is that someone with a credit-card skimmer was walking around gathering as much credit-card information as possible. I keep my credit card and debit card in an RFID envelope while they’re in my wallet, and these two transactions are the only ones where my card would have been exposed.

“My warning to everyone is to be very, very careful how and when you use your cards, whether credit or debit. I am now without a credit card, until I receive a new one.

“I am very grateful to my credit-card company (a credit union) for being so vigilant and getting in touch with me before more damage could be done.”

Our times

GopherLink of Dresser, Wisconsin: “I always knew that traveling by air can be taxing, but, while taking advantage of a Black Friday sale, was surprised to see the number and variety of taxes applied to the purchase — totaling nearly an additional 30 percent. Here’s the list:

“Price $256.76

“Taxes $75.64

“Tax details:

“19.34 USD US Transportation Tax

“16.00 USD Segment Tax

“22.40 USD US Security Fee

“18.00 USD US Passenger Facility Charge

“Total Price $332.40”

BULLETIN BOARD (A LIFELONG ________) NOTES: Only a ________ would notice that the itemized taxes add up to $75.74, not $75.64.

Close enough!

Now & Then

Postscript of Twenty Miles From Everywhere: “I watched the blurb on CBS News this evening about the change in lighting at Niagara Falls and remembered when I saw the falls lighted.

“It was many, many years ago, when I was 4. We were going from Spooner to Maine to pick up my brother and sister, who had spent the summer with our aunt. We stayed overnight at Niagara Falls, Ontario, and we got to see the Falls lighted. I still remember how beautiful they were.

“Wish I could see the new lighting.’

The Permanent Daughterly Record

Bloomington Bird Lady: “We always wonder about how our kids will turn out. What will they choose to do, study, enjoy, and feel passionate about as they become adults?

“Our oldest got a severe case of ‘theater bug’ in high school, and she never recovered. Upon her graduating, we even got a letter about how helpful she had been through various plays and performances — always the backstage end of theater: props, costumes and even being a stagehand, always wearing black, and moving the scenery when needed during a play. I kept that letter from her teacher and still have it.

“When we’d go to see a performance, there were always ‘things’ from our home that made their way to the stage, unbeknownst to her parents: a briefcase, a red slip handmade when ‘stretch and sew’ was popular, a few other surprises. We’d say: ‘Oh my gosh, there’s …’ — whatever, right there on stage.

“Reading a recent post about mistakes in flags, I remembered one flag that I’ll never forget. For a performance, a Nazi flag was necessary, so she made one from scratch. Where would it have come from, otherwise? It was perfect; in fact, when she brought it home after the play’s run at school, there it was, in our house. Ever had a Nazi flag in your house? I hope not. It made me feel so creepy to see that thing standing in the corner of her bedroom, kind of leering down … with the red field, and the black swastika so perfectly sewn in place. Birdman insisted that it had to go, and so did I. We already had too many not-so-long-ago memories of that era!

“Near retirement age, she’s still in the business: mostly costumes and sewing for Disney’s openings, or doing re-creations of monsters’ clothing, and is still loving the research and the satisfaction of having something she made look so exactly like it’s supposed to. Right down to an exact Nazi flag!”

Keeping your eyes open
Or: Not exactly what they had in mind

The Original Robyn From Maplewood: “This past Monday (November 28), the LOML (Love of My Life) and I were looking for something good to watch, since our typical PBS shows were on hiatus due to fundraising. He was manning the remote when we came across a movie on TCM with Kirk Douglas on the screen. It was ‘The Bad and the Beautiful,’ a 1952 melodrama with a solid cast. We watched and enjoyed this blast from the past.

“Later that evening, I was looking at the Pioneer Press’s printed TV guide from the Sunday edition and noticed the movie had been labeled ‘Badass Beautiful.’ Well, yes, Lana Turner was lovely, but…”

Our community of strangers

Momma Mouse of Woodbury: “Subject: Out with the old; in with the new.

“I was concerned that the change to an online Bulletin Board would be so foreign. Old habits die hard sometimes!

“But after a month, I am loving it! I love the photos … and in color. I also like the fact that it’s there when I have time to sit and read. I don’t have to worry about the section going out with the recycling before I read it.

“So, it’s been a great change — for me, at least. Thanks to all contributors for the good stories. Sometimes I laugh with you, and other times I feel your sadness. Keep the stories coming.

“Happy reader here.”


Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: One man’s signing is another man’s paranoia.

“The article headlined ‘Deaf club turns 100,’ on the front page of ‘LOCAL’ in Sunday’s Pioneer Press, caught my eye. It made me think of the team made up of deaf men that competes in my bowling league. I’m constantly amazed at the speed at which these bowlers communicate; it’s as if they had ‘flying fingers.’

“Every time we bowl against them, this question comes to mind: ‘What are they saying about me?’ ”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Probably not a darned thing!

In memoriam

Al B of Hartland: ” ‘I can barely hear you,’ said a friend as I rang a Salvation Army bell in a store. ‘You need a bigger bell.’

” ‘Stand closer,’ I advised.

‘He was generous in his giving. He believed what Anne Frank believed when she said: ‘No one ever becomes poor from giving.’

“He has died. I’m blessed by his memory.”

Band Name of the Day: The Flying Fingers

Website of the Day, courtesy of Scott from Eagan: “Today’s video on clog dancing in the living room reminded me of this seasonally appropriate video (although the dancing is much less than I remembered).

“Great tip on the Shorpy website [BB, 12/2/2016].”






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