Our pets, ourselves
Arwen of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: A year of Annie-Cat.
“It’s now a year and three months since I suddenly got a kitten with almost no warning.
“I regretted it in the beginning. She was a little wild thing, not realizing that there was anything or anyone alive except herself (the furniture and the humans were all alike to her) and she turned our house and our lives upside-down.
“But we could not take her to the Humane Society, because we knew what would happen to her there: If we couldn’t handle her, what chance would she have with anyone else?
“The kitten had prodigious athletic talents. She would dash at full speed from one end of the house to the other, leaping through the narrow rungs of the Windsor chairs without hitting any and without slowing down. She would leap over the chairs or the dog just for the heck of it. If you threw a toy up in the air, she could leap high up and catch it in her paws like a human catching a baseball — only better, because the human uses a glove. If she was lying down and we threw her a toy, she could snag it with one paw, lightning fast. But her energy exhausted us. And if, perchance, we wanted to pet her, we could do it only at times she designated and only on her back. Even then, we often got bitten or scratched. ‘You don’t know how lucky you are to have us!’ I’d say to her in exasperation, but there was no way she could understand that.
“Since she became an adult, Miss Annie-Cat (otherwise known as the Queen of Sheba because of her imperious ways) has softened and mellowed, and now she realizes that there are other minds and other beings in the house. We even get to pet her sometimes, but only when she asks. She does sleep on one person’s bed at night and for much of the day, and loves to be completely under the covers.
“While Annie was growing, I had to think of some way to communicate with her. She was a little alien — a strange, quirky little being. I was not going to use baby talk — at least, not the ‘Who’s a widdle cutie-pie?’ variety — because that seems demeaning. Nevertheless, because of her strangeness, I fell into the habit of using bad grammar with her, which is especially odd since I was an English major and particular about the parts of speech. (Maybe it was fun to deliberately use the wrong noun-verb combinations, sort of like teenagers smoking behind the woodshed. I don’t know.) Over time, I’ve developed a little language that I use with her. It sounds like this: ‘HEL-lo, kitty-katzen! Howza kitty? Is you hungry? Does you want food? Howzabout toys? Is you a sweet kitty? Well, no. But sometimes! Sometimes you is a good kitty. Can I pet you? Yes? Don’t bite me! Nope! No bite! That’s better. Does you want to look out window? Here, I will put you there.’ And so on.
“Strange how ‘Is you hungry?’ sounds not so strange after a while. I haven’t yet slipped and used it with a human, but I might use it with cute beings such as your dog, your cat or your baby. None of them will mind that I am deliberately using bad grammar as a sort of term of endearment.”
Our theater of seasons
Blueeyes writes: “Winter was in fine form last Sunday, so we headed up north to wander around the Potholes section of Interstate State Park. Gorgeous sky and stunning views.
“Creation is a wonder.”
Our birds, ourselves
“Axel and His Dog” Division
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake writes: “Subject: WHAT DID THE BIRDIE SAY?
“Birdie with a yellow bill … hopped upon my windowsill … cocked a shining eye and said …”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: “. . . What’s that in the road . . . a-head?”
(If you have no earthly idea what we’re yapping about, please check out today’s Website of the Day.)
Our neighbors, ourselves
From Kathy S. of St Paul: “Subject: The Laundry Troll.
“In 40-plus years of apartment living, I have had a lot of neighbors: the invisible, the OK, the nice, the doofus, and the scary.
“One young guy announced, while moving out of my building, that he had learned something important. He had learned that for some people, their apartment was their home. I kid you not.
“But I think you would like to hear about a bully I once dealt with. She was far taller than I, and could probably do me great harm. I ‘met’ her when I went to use the laundry room and found both washers full of clean clothes, waiting for the owner to return. I moved the clean wash to the tops of the dryers and started my own wash. Unfortunately the neighbor came back before I left, and she Did Not Want Her Things Touched. She bellowed so loudly that she could be heard all over a 60-unit building. I did my best to act dumb and get out of there.
“This situation scared me, since the bully lived on my floor and could identify my apartment, etc. I scanned some library books on dealing with conflict, but they covered more-civilized situations. Except one book stated that people don’t just come up and slug you; they come up and start yelling before they slug you. So I decided to stay away from The Dominatrix and not talk to her. I adopted my favorite quote from Miyagi San in the movie The Karate Kid: ‘Best defense is . . . no be there.’
“After explaining my approach to friendly neighbors (some of whom had heard the bellowing) I spent the next four to five years ‘not hearing’ things she said to me, and going out of my way to be away from her. Not in a nasty way; I just did my best to not engage — and stay out of hitting distance. I discovered that silence can be very useful; the more I avoided her, the more she tried to charm me. As if!
“My last interaction with The Bellower started (naturally) in the laundry room, as I was doing my wash. She Who Must Be Obeyed came in and said that I would be happy to know that she was moving out. I was silent, but finally said she had an anger problem. ‘I do not!’ she roared. And we were off to the races.
“I grabbed the wash that was done and went to the lobby for help. The Laundry Troll lived at the end of my hallway, so she had a ‘reason’ to pass my apartment door — and running doesn’t work well when you’re lugging a big laundry basket. When a neighbor downstairs heard who was bothering me, he willingly walked my wash and me home. And yes, the bully had her apartment door open and watched me as she pretended to fold clothes in her doorway. She was having a great time.
“About then, I called the police. I wanted the harassment on record; plus, I still had laundry to get out of the dryer. Two cops showed up, and saw that the bully had closed her door. I asked the police to tell my neighbor that I did not want to be her friend, which they did. I never saw her again.
“In the movies, I would be the lovable little kid who learns karate to defeat the Source of All Evil. I prefer alert nonviolence, appropriate deafness and owning my own washer and dryer.”
Monday email from Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “I think I had my first B-M, but I don’t remember what the time limit is. [Bulletin Board says: 24 hours.]
“I am a day late in reading the St. Paul Pioneer Press, so at lunch today I was reading the ‘Sunday Life’ section, on the front page, about ‘hygge,’ which is Danish for coziness — and then, during dinner, I was reading the Sunday Parade, and on Page 4 is a short piece about ‘hygge.’ I had not heard of or seen this word before.
“Now, before you say that this word has been in the news a lot lately, we in La Crescent don’t get all the new fads, etc., until they are almost done with in the Twin Cities.
“To me, it was a B-M.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We thought you were a faithful BB reader, Birdwatcher!
If you had read Bulletin Board every day (wherever you live), you could not have made this report. In the December 15, 2016, Bulletin Board — under the heading “The highfalutin & simple pleasures … There & Here Division (or: Gaining everything in translation)” and the headline “How do Danes get through the long, dark winter? Endless loop of ‘A Prairie Home Companion’? No. Hygge!” — we ran this note from Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “My daughter posted a picture on Instagram of the candles she lit in the snow on her deck. She ended the post with the hashtag ‘#hygge.’
“That was a new word for me, so of course I Googled it. Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-gay,’ is defined as ‘the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures … friends, family, graciousness.’ Further, it is to … ‘create well-being, connection and warmth…a feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other.’ It is ‘an old Danish concept that helps Danes get through the long, dark winter.’
“I spent a few hours with my daughter at her home yesterday. We had tea, fresh pumpkin bread and cookies straight out of the oven, and good conversation. It was definitely a day of hygge.
“I think this world needs more hygge.”
Therefore: (1) B-M for you, Birdwatcher in La Crescent. And (2) Get with the program! Read Bulletin Board every day! (Just teasin’. Read it as often as you want to.)
Joy of Juxtaposition
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Call it an amusing little coincidence, but in the span of two days recently, our fair state was mentioned several times in two TV shows and one movie.
“In an episode of ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Deputy Barney Fife expresses his concerns to Sheriff Andy that Opie might be traumatized if he is allowed to see the horror pictures at the kids’ matinee, one of which is ‘The Beast That Ate Minnesota.’
“In another episode, Andy is considering taking a new job, and Barney berates him for wanting to leave Mayberry and all his friends just because some guy from St. Paul, Minnesota, calls and says he has an opening in his security firm.
“Then I watched an episode of ‘Mission: Impossible’ in which two of the agents, posing as visitors in a foreign (hint: Iron Curtain) country, tell a suspicious official they’re having a nice time and that the climate is better than Minnesota. Later, another agent, while being questioned about a secret device, sarcastically tells his interrogators to write a letter to Duluth if they want details about the device.
“Finally, in the 1947 film ’13 Rue Madeleine,’ Jimmy Cagney plays a trainer of special agents during World War II. When he ultimately sacrifices his life in occupied France, his superior officer praises the courage and bravery of this ‘tough little guy from St. Paul, Minnesota.’ [Bulletin Board interjects: Ha! Minneapolis — shut out!]
“It’s nice to know us good folks from ‘up north’ in the hinterlands have not been forgotten by the entertainment world, even if they created a beast that wanted to eat us. (Must have been the lutefisk.)”
Our theater of seasons
Writes Deb Peterson of Eagan: “This blue jay is certainly enjoying his time in the hot tub.”
Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “Subject: Youthful aspirations.
“In my preteen years, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had two choices. First, I thought: an elegant bum, driving around in a Lincoln automobile. Second; a garbage man. I thought it took special abilities to collect raw garbage, and a certain stature was achieved in accomplishment.
“A neighbor girl, younger than myself, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, replied: ‘A boat.'”
And now The Clover Kicker: “When I was a kid, 5 or 6, living in Omaha, I thought the coolest possible job in the world was the garbage man’s. Once a week, the giant truck grumbled its way down the alley — which turned out to be a dead end, there being an apartment-building parking lot at the other end, so the fully loaded truck had to come back past our garage a second time.
“In addition to the driver, two men — clad in striped overalls and hanging off the back of the truck — jumped to the ground and tipped our garbage can into a smaller, round-bottomed bucket that hung off the side of the truck (I can’t fathom why they transferred the garbage first) and then dumped the trash into the loading hamper at the back of the truck. When the hopper was full, one of the men would pull a giant lever, and the hydraulic compressor plate pushed the garbage into the body of the truck. Standing behind the truck when the plate returned to its resting place, I was engulfed in a mighty whoosh of warm, malodorous air. I thought it smelled great! I really wanted to be a garbage man.
“Current critics of the media might suggest that working 40 years in the newspaper and magazine biz meant I’d achieved my dream. And I have to admit that only inhaling the smell of melting lead and newspaper ink on a daily basis could ever rival hanging off the back of one of those giant dream machines.”
Then & Later
Watermelon Division (responsorial)
Mrs. Patches of St. Paul: “Seeing the pictures of the little girl eating watermelon,
I was reminded of this picture of my youngest sister.
“Way back, in the dinosaur era, my 4-H club (The ‘Full-O-Pep’) would have a tour of the members’ farms each year. The purpose was to look over each member’s animal before the county fair.
“At the last stop, there would always be refreshments . . . and because it was in early July, there was usually watermelon. (It was more of a treat in those days — 1958.)
“The Faribault Daily News photographer who had accompanied the trip took this picture of my sister, Bev, enjoying her slice. Though the ‘baby of the family,’ she is now over 60! That gives a clue of how REALLY old the rest of us are! Good eating, Beverly!”
Band Name of the Day: The Shining Eyes
Website of the Day: Welcome to Axel’s Treehouse!