‘Tis the season!
And: The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year when one of my dad’s gags backfired.
“His gag gifts were legendary in our family: the jeweled burlesque brassiere that he traded back and forth with my oldest sister, the golf clubs he stole from one of my brothers-in-law each year so the poor hapless fellow could lug them back home each Christmas Eve, the Greek goddess statues that he gave away each year. (They were too blasted heavy for anyone to remove them from his premises, so he could give them over and over again.) The most memorable, though, turned out to take 20 years of fruition before it reached its ultimate climax.
“The first year my youngest brother-in-law joined the family, he saw the tall box, and having been warned, he wondered whether he would be this year’s recipient of ‘Ingridita,’ the Greek goddess statue. He was the recipient, but to EVERYONE’S surprise it wasn’t Ingridita. It was a full-size poster of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn traveled back and forth each year in clever disguise, until the year it was Dad’s turn to return it and he couldn’t find it. He tore the house apart hunting for it, with a great deal of cussing and laments to my poor patient mother: ‘Bess, where the HELL did you put it?’
“Christmas Eve came and went, with no Marilyn. Early Christmas morning, while our kids were still looking in their Christmas stockings, my phone rang. It was my dad, chortling and whispering as he warned me: ‘Don’t let Mom know I told you this, but I found Marilyn last night. I pulled the covers back, and Bess had stretched Marilyn out in my bed.’
“My dad may have been the actor in our family, but my mom did an award-winning performance that Christmas.”
Till death them did part (responsorial)
Leading to: Not exactly what she had in mind
DebK of Rosemount: “The handsome wedding photo contributed to Sunday’s post by Hastings Crazy Quilter [right] must be about the same vintage as the one of Taxman’s parents that came into our possession after their deaths.
“One of only two known copies, that wedding photo has elicited considerable comment from Taxman’s siblings over the years. After a couple of decades, we finally picked up on the fact that these remarks were calculated to spur us into making and distributing additional copies — to share the wealth, one might say.
“So it was that just before Thanksgiving, I delivered our precious original to a well-regarded print shop in Northfield, there to have copies made for Christmas giving.
“I was feeling very pleased with myself as the shop’s young representative removed the circa-1940, sepia-toned classic from its frame. She breathed a sigh of admiration, looked up at me and (I think sincerely) remarked: ‘What a beautiful bride you were!’”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Or: Only a _________ would notice
The Swedish Statistician of Inver Grove Heights: “I picked up the Tuesday, December 13, edition of the paper across the river and read an article by Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post. He was writing about the Obamas’ decision to move to the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., after he leaves office: ‘… living in the Kalorama after leaving the White House has been popular; five other presidents have done it, among them Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.’
“If FDR moved there after office, it must be a very quiet neighborhood.”
Or: Department of Duh
Today’s nomination comes from Frosty of Linwood: “There’s an ad I’ve been seeing frequently that makes me laugh every time because it seems so nonsensical.
“A woman looks at her arm and says: ‘Is that a . . .DARK SPOT?’
“Hmm. Let’s see. Is it a spot? Is it dark? Might be a dark spot.”
Keeping your ears open
Or: Live and learn — plus: Our community of strangers
Otis from Inver Grove reporting: “Oftentimes life’s most important lessons are learned more by accident than by design.
“Today I was washing my hands in the bathroom after the movie, and I heard a mom outside the door. In a stern and frustrated mom voice we all have experienced, she said: ‘If you don’t behave, we are going home.’ Just then the dad and a boy about 4 years old came in and headed over to pee. While standing there, Dad said to the boy: ‘If you mess with the bull, you get the horns.’ In an innocent and inquisitive voice, the boy asked : ‘Who’s the bull?’ Dad said: ‘Mama’s the bull.’ In the bathroom at the Oakdale movie theater, the kid learned a crucial life lesson he will never forget and will surely pass on to the next generation.
“On another note, I have a report on our Bulletin Board community of strangers. Today while at the bank drive-through in West St. Paul, I looked over and saw a green-and-white cab with a fellow in the driver’s seat who looked as if he might also get quite a few requests this time of year to be Santa. Every once in a while, I will see him around town and wonder : ‘Could he be the famed Cab Driver of South St. Paul we Bulletin Boarders have gotten to know over the years?’ At that point I asked my wife, Missus Otis, to roll down her window and ask him. Being somewhat more reserved than myself, she refused. At this point, my bank transaction was completed, and I was not going to drive away wondering if he was the one. I reached over Missus Otis, rolled down the window and got his attention. I asked him if he is The Cab Driver in Bulletin Board. My suspicions confirmed, I introduced myself as Otis from Inver Grove and wished him a Merry Christmas and prosperous day.
“While our beloved Bulletin Board is seen in the paper only on Sundays, our community of strangers is still here every day.”
Our birds, ourselves
Reports Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Ms. Cardinal has frosty eyes this morning. The temp was 27 below.
“Makes me wonder how the birds survive in this extremely cold weather.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Many, alas, do not.
As for those that do? Sounds like a question for our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland.
Close encounters of the natural kind, reported by Twitty of Como: “Subject: The world around us.
“It was still dark and minus-17 degrees when I left home this morning (Sunday) to meet a couple of buddies for breakfast. As I turned south on McKnight Road, my headlights illuminated a coyote running west to east, St. Paul into Maplewood. He was crossing the road like he had a rocket strapped to his tail. I chuckled and drove on.
“As I was leaving the restaurant, into a fully sunlit morning, a rainbow rose up over the lowlands of the Minnesota River flats under I-494. Beautiful.
“Coming back down McKnight from Sun Ray later, I checked the rear-view mirror as I passed an open portion of Battle Creek Park. A coyote was crossing the road east to west behind me, returning to St. Paul. He wasn’t in a hurry this time.”
Our theater of seasons
Reports KH of White Bear Lake: ‘Subject: For every season, there is a thing.
“Spring is a wonderful time of year. Trees leaf out and flower. Grass turns green. The vista changes from monochrome to color. Days get longer and begin to warm. All things appearing to have been dead spring to back to life. It is a miraculous time.
“Summer is a wonderful time of year. Fruit grows on trees, gardens flourish, and flowers produce more colors than a palette can hold. There is enough daylight for all our waking hours, with some left over. The sun finally removes all the memories of cold from our bones.
“Fall is a wonderful time of year. The trees compete (or is it collaborate?) with the flowers to produce colors that inspire the use of the word brilliant. The nights chill, but the days warm as bountiful harvests take on a sense of urgency.
“Winter is — cold, dark, messy. Or is it? This year, for the first time in my life, I decided to head for the woods and find out for myself.
“The first day, after a fresh snow, I noticed tracks. Tracks of every size from mouse to deer. They were seemingly everywhere. Under a flowering crabapple tree, there weren’t just tracks; there had been a party. Deer and pheasants apparently had a late Thanksgiving feast.
“The second day, I decided to see if I could be a witness to one of these parties. I stationed myself about 50 yards away from several of these trees and then waited motionlessly. The temperature was in the single digits. After nearly two hours, I was close to falling asleep when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. In swooped a dozen pheasants. Six of them landed in two trees (females in one tree, males in the other). The rest landed on the ground under the trees. The ones in the trees began to attack the crabapples. Some they ate, and some fell down for those below. I tried not to scare them away with my gaping jaw. I was reminded of the photographer (Sean O’Connell) in the ‘Walter Mitty’ movie when he said: ‘Sometimes I don’t (take the picture). If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of a camera. I just want to stay in it.’ That, and I had left my camera in the car because it was too cold, and I hadn’t expected to see anything.
“The next day, I decided to see if I could find a deer. I walked up and down rows of trees for several miles when suddenly I spotted a deer about a hundred yards away. He looked in my direction, and I froze. (Single-digit weather with a strong breeze will do that to a person.) Even though I didn’t move, I knew he could see my breath just as I could see his. Over the next 45 minutes, I inched closer. Every time he put his head down to eat, I shuffled a few inches closer. Then he would look up, and I would freeze. This went on until I was about 40 yards away. At that point, he’d had enough of the game and loped away.
“This morning it was 19 degrees below zero. I decided to take my camera with me for a few minutes, just in case I saw something. And I did.
“I saw this lone pheasant in a flowering crabapple tree, having breakfast in the brilliant sunlight. The pheasants usually won’t stay around long enough for a photo, but for some reason, this one did. After a few shots, I put the camera away and took my stroll. I followed my tracks from yesterday and soon noticed that I wasn’t the only one following my tracks. In each one of my shoe prints was a clear print of a fox or coyote. (I’m no expert on animal prints.) Suddenly I felt like a trail blazer.
“On another portion of my walk, I noticed deer prints in my shoe prints. Then it occurred to me that they might have been following my tracks just like I follow theirs.
“When I started this venture of embracing winter, I had hoped to find it tolerable. I found that it was neither tolerable, nor enjoyable. Instead it has been exhilarating, and dazzling. Despite what the mercury said, I never felt the cold. Cold, dark, messy? Maybe. But that’s not what I’m going to remember about this winter.”
Band Name of the Day: Mess With the Bull
Website of the Day: Deciphering Winter Animal Tracks