Our theater of seasons
Madame Polarfleece: “Almost every year, if there happens to be a snowfall that is moist and packable, I make a snow woman on our deck just outside our kitchen window.
“She usually has a shelf on which I sprinkle bird seed. The goldfinches, chickadees and nuthatches flock to her bosom.
“This year, the squirrels found the feeding station. At first I thought this very fat squirrel adorning its fleece hat was so endearing, but then I noticed it had other plans than just posing for a picture; it was ripping holes in the hat, had chewed off the tassel, and was yanking on the scarf.
“Our daughter, home for the holidays, caught this video of snow-woman abuse:
“I have some polarfleece scraps in my stash, so I cut several strips and draped them over Snow Woman’s arms and over her hat, in hopes the squirrel would leave her accessories alone.
“Awhile later, I watched the squirrel scamper across the deck with one strip of purple polarfleece stuffed in its mouth. I raced from window to window to watch where s/he would go. S/he ran down the deck support, across the snow to the maple, up the maple trunk, across a high branch to a pine tree, up the pine to the top, where there is a huge clump of leaves. I’ve noticed several other squirrels following that inter-tree freeway up and down the pine and maple, so there must be a pretty popular squirrel hotel up there.
“Every day since, more strips of polarfleece offerings go missing. It makes me feel good that these opportunists have some very soft, warm purple bedding in which to snuggle on these very cold winter nights.”
Our theater of seasons
Or: Where we live
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Signs that it is Really Winter:
“1. The driver’s seat in my car is covered with tiny feathers from my down coat.
“2. Folks make sounds of longing when I mention that my apartment building has underground heated parking.
“3. When the St Paul paper published pictures of food yesterday, people gravitated to the pictures of hot soup, rather than the pastries.”
Their theater of seasons
Carolina Swede reports: “As a Minnesota native, I think it is so comical living in South Carolina when snow is on the way.
“The weather forecasters are almost giddy as they model their favorite sweaters and mittens while guessing how ‘bad’ it’s going to get. The forecasted snow storm could carry anywhere from an inch to a foot; it’s all so exciting that it’s hard to focus.
“The stores are filled with bustling customers stocking up on necessities. Panic hits because the stores have sold out of their minimal stocks of sleds, mittens, snow covers (pants), boots, etc.
“The local garage-sale sites are filled with frenzied parents shopping for sleds and offering cash that rivals the recent Hatchimal bidding wars at Christmas.
“Everything starts getting cancelled. Events that are several days away close early because of the ‘impending storm.’ Stores and offices, schools, local events — all cancel early in the day for fear the storm could start coming many hours before it’s predicted to start.
“The roads have been getting treated with brine for days. (As a MnDOT employee’s daughter, makes me giggle.)
“Warning: Everyone is asked to stay indoors when the storm hits — not just stay off the roads, but ‘stay indoors.’
“My husband and I are excited for snow and ready to get outside and play with our 2-year-old grandson. We bought him a sled for Christmas last year even though we had only one day of snow. We are crossing our fingers that we will get enough for sledding, at least one snowman, and a good old-fashioned snowball fight! We left our snowblower behind in Minnesota, but we are looking forward to putting to work the two snow shovels that we brought with us! I can’t help but remember the movers giggling at us when we refused to leave them behind.
“Bring it on, old man winter! We miss you!”
Not exactly what they had in mind
Leading to: Know thyself!
LindaGrandmaSue, “newly of St. Cloud”: “Looking over the community-education offerings this cold morning, I saw that participants of ‘An Introduction to Voiceovers’ must be ’18 years of age or old.’
“I definitely qualify.”
The Permanent Family Record (responsorial II)
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Bloomington Bird Lady [BB, 1/6/2017] hit the nail on the head when she said that reading with animation and projection are two of the key components to add to the listeners’ pleasure. My mother (my kids’ Grandma Bessie) had both. My mother had acted in hometown plays in Hospers, Iowa, along with my dad before they were married, so she had some stage experience, but she really honed the projection part due to us kids and childhood diseases.
“If scarlet fever or whooping cough or measles was in the neighborhood, we got it — usually one at a time, dragging out the quarantine time. In the ’30s, the procedure went like this: The school nurse made a house call, diagnosed the ailment, and the quarantine sign went up on the door. Nobody in or out for the duration. Our home procedure went like this: My two oldest sisters packed a suitcase and, in the dead of night, sneaked out of the house and made a beeline two blocks down the street to Aunt Ethel’s house, where she would spoil them worse than they already were.
“Daddy packed up his carpenter tools and drove across town to spend the duration at his mother’s house (a.k.a. ‘The Crabby Grandma’), where she spent the time trying in vain to clean up his language. Daddy would be nearly frothing at the mouth with ‘blankety-blank’ curses by the time he returned home. (‘The Wonderful Grandma’ died the year before I was born, so I knew what I missed only by comparison.)
“So where is this leading to the projection part? In order to read to all of us at the same time, Mother would position herself in the hallway outside the sick room. The non-sick kids would hover at the base of the stairs, hopefully away from the germs, and she would read to all of us hour after hour.
“Gosh, how I loved quarantine time!”
Vertically Challenged: “The entry from Bloomington Bird Lady and others about using different voices when reading brings to mind the story I’ve told (and once printed here in BB) about our son reading to his son when he was young.
“He would always use different voices for the characters in a book. One time, when reading a different book, grandson Zach commented: ‘I didn’t know ________ [character from another story] was in this story, too!’
“I wonder if he will start reading to his new young son the same way his dad did.”
Our pets, ourselves
And: In memoriam (responsorial)
Lulu from Hudson: “For all those who are missing a loved pet, like Dixie the Dog and Edgar the Cat (Bulletin Board, Dec. 31), I would like to suggest ‘Duffy, the Tale of a Terrier,’ by local author Gary Porter. Duffy is writing his memoirs from his new home in Paradise. It will have you laughing and crying at the same time. Good read!”
Fun facts to know and tell
Semi-Legend: “While scrubbing the tiles of the bathtub wall, I wondered which advertising person invented ‘dishpan hands.’
“Here’s an ad:
“The J. Walter Thompson agency began the campaign in 1922, according to ‘Housework and Housewives in American Advertising: Married to the Mop,’ by J. Neuhaus.
“The tone of the ads was influenced by their context: They ran in women’s confession magazines like True Story, according to ‘Brands: Meaning and Value in Media Culture,’ by Adam Arvidsson.
“Turns out the person who invented ‘dishpan hands’ was the industry’s first female copywriter, Helen Lansdowne Resor. She married Stanley B. Resor in 1917, a year after he took over the agency.
Says this account of the pair: ‘She joined Resor at Procter & Collier in Cincinnati and followed him all the way to the corporate suites at JWT, a star in her own right.'”
The workshop chronicles
IGHGrampa: “I thought I’d show you something I just cobbled together in the shop. It’s a little thing to hold small pieces of wood and pull them away from the saw blade when I’m cutting them. It’s just a couple of strips of scrap oak, shaped and glued to a small block of oak. It’s a pair of tongs. What could be simpler and more useful? It allows me to keep my fingers well away from the spinning saw blade.
“It’s shown here alongside the jig I made to hold small pieces of wood as I’m cutting them on the table saw. That has a new adaptation, as a thing to help me cut numerous small parts of the same angle and length. I’ve gotten more use out of that jig.
“I should patent it.”
Life as we know it
Outhouses and Port-a-Potties Division
Poet X of PDX: “All that reminiscing about outhouses reminded me of something I’d not thought of for a very long time.
“One set of cousins/uncle/aunt did not get indoor plumbing until I was about 12 years old, if I remember right. The old house leaned and had an uneven floor. Their old house was removed and demolished, replaced by a newer two-story structure brought in on a huge flatbed and positioned more or less where the old one had been.
“I know it was positioned more or less where the previous abode had been because of their ‘basement.’ Their old house had a small, crude basement with earthen walls, accessed by a trap door in the living-room floor over which a rug was placed. It was mostly a storage space, I think, for home-canned goods. I remember vividly how the trap door ‘handle’ was a metal ring which rested in a recessed metal-lined square.”
MsMae of the Park: “All this talk about outhouses had me recalling the time my sister and I were on a tour of the Lincoln–Tallman house in Janesville, Wisconsin. The house was built in 1855 and was quite modern for the time, featuring an indoor two-story, eight-seater privy, four seats on each floor. The second-floor privy is pictured here. Note the little step on the far right to help the smaller members of the family reach their destination.
“There’s also an interesting story about Lincoln’s stay at the house in 1859.
“If you’re ever in the area, I recommend stopping by. We had a wonderful tour.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Tale of two stories.
“There was, and maybe still is, a two-story outhouse in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Once it was shown to me back in the ’70s, I delighted in driving past and revealing it to my skeptical friends. It was in a residential area just northwest of the intersection of Highway 169 and Meridian Street. It had the same clapboard siding and was maybe six feet from the big house. The top floor was accessed by an enclosed bridge. I was never in it but hopefully it had a false back wall.
“I believe it could also qualify as the first skyway in the country, now that I picture it.”
Band Name of the Day: Squirrel Hotel
Website of the Day: Belle Plaine, Minnesota’s two-story outhouse