When it’s colder than cold outside, what starts chirping inside the house?

Our theater of seasons (Indoor Division)
Including: Immutable Laws of the Universe

D. Ziner: “Subject: Nocturnal chirps.

“Recent experiences have given me greater understanding of the dreaded TINSAC (Temperature Induced Nocturnal Smoke Alarm Chirp) Syndrome.


“About 5 in the morning during our first cold snap, I heard some chirps. I’m not sure whether that was what awakened me, but it sure was what was keeping me from going back to sleep. I got up just long and far enough to make sure the offending alarm was not the one in our bedroom, nor the one in the adjacent hallway. Then I just snuggled deeper under the covers and added a pillow on my head. I should note that The Orchid Lady could just as well be called The Pillow Lady. Anything suitable for sitting, slouching, or sleeping needs to be cleared of several pillows just to use the surface as it was intended. So even in bed and in the darkness, I can just make a sweep with my arm and easily grasp one or two for sound muffling.

“It worked as desired to get back to sleep, but the house had warmed by the time I got up for the day, and the chirping had stopped. I previously thought that, once triggered, a low-battery alarm might just continue until the battery was replaced. Not so — at least with this hard-wired/battery-backup type.

“I did not have to wait long for another cold snap, which again caused chirps in the night. I stayed up a bit longer this time and determined which alarm was the culprit before going back to bed.

“Even in our relatively small house, we have seven smoke alarms. Two are easily reached. Four can be unmounted using just a step stool, and one requires either man-handling a 20-foot extension ladder or setting up my equally cumbersome, individually adjustable-leg stepladder.

“Guess which one it was….”

Yellowed journalism
Leading to: Out of the mouths of babes

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Our youngest child was born happy. She always woke up with a smile on her face, and as soon as she learned to talk, she told us so. Each and every morning, the first words out of her mouth were: ‘I love everybody in the whole wide world!’ By the time she was going on 3 and was learning the ways of the world, she added the caveat: ‘. . . except bad robbers.’ This was followed a short while later by ‘I love everybody in the whole wide world except bad robbers and Nixon.’  This was during the era that Tim Torkildson so aptly described as ‘when Nixon infested the White House’ [BB, 1/17/2017].

“When you are the youngest in the family, you don’t get sheltered from the news. Those little ones absorb much more than we generally give them credit for, so we should have seen it coming after the news broke about the Watergate burglary. One morning, she greeted us with her old version of ‘I love everybody in the whole wide world except bad robbers.’

“To our surprised query ‘What about Nixon?’ she smugly answered: ‘He is included.'”


Everyone’s a (TV) critic!
One More Cheap Shot at Golf Division

Tim Torkildson: “The only reason I have insomnia is that I can’t afford the Golf Channel.”

Clowning around (responsorial)

Elvis: Elvis appreciated Tim Torkildson‘s memories of clown school in Venice, Florida, last month [BB, 12/24/2016] and probably, like many, is also sad that the big-top circus is no more.

Tim‘s recollections spurred memories that Elvis was transported from the snowy north in December 1965 — packed into a Buick station wagon with Mom, Dad, two siblings and lots of Christmas presents — to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Venice. After three long days, we arrived at their newly purchased double-wide mobile home, right next to the newly dug Intracoastal Waterway that created the ‘island’ of Venice.

“We were a mile or more from the Ringling compound, but in the still evenings, Elvis could hear the roars of their lions and tigers. That eerie memory lingers.

“The family made one more trip south to Venice, the next winter, but then around 1968, Grandpa sold the place, as he thought Florida was getting ‘too expensive and crowded.’ (Wonder what Grandpa would think about South Florida today?) We were all sad, as we had enjoyed the beachcombing, looking for fossilized shark teeth, chasing fiddler crabs, shuffleboard, fishing, and just being in shorts, having left our snow suits and mittens back at home.

“About 15 years ago, Elvis and his former wife, after visiting the Gulf Coast many times, purchased a condo within a few blocks of the former circus grounds in Venice. The winter arena and other outbuildings were being left to rot away. Over the years, vandals and homeless people got in; eventually a chain-link fence was put around the structure. A trapeze school opened on the grounds, but that was the only activity.

“The site was problematic. Railroad access had ceased when they dug the Intracoastal Waterway. The last years had had the elephants and wagons parading through town for a mile to reach their rail cars to head north at the start of the season. It was on land that was included in the small airport’s easement, and the FAA had oversight and layers of regulations on what could or could not happen with buildings and businesses. Plus, the movers and shakers in the area really wanted to see some sort of high-end resort built on this side of town, which had been pretty well left as undeveloped parkland. Proposals and ideas floated and were quickly shot down. Meanwhile, each year more and more of the building fell apart, more palmettos and weeds grew up, and it just looked sad.

“A former circus member tried to start a nonprofit to save the arena. They had fundraisers, and always fell far short of what they needed to purchase the site, and never seemed to be able to get a step ahead of the bureaucracy or city council. In 2013, it was suddenly declared structurally unsafe and was quickly stripped down to the giant steel superstructure, truly looking to be a shell of what it was. The trapeze school kept going, but it fought for access and storage space. Valiant efforts to stop this deconstruction again were underfunded and ineffective.

“It sat looking like a giant skeleton for a year. In 2014 it got torn down by the city, with the excuse being that it looked bad, something needed to happen, and the city would not spend tax dollars on it.

“Today, as Google Street View shows, the trapeze school is still there, with a small tent up, the site is empty except for a ‘For Lease’ sign and a highway historical marker about the Circus in Venice.


“The circus sounds like it will soon be a lost piece of American History.”

Our pets, ourselves

LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud: “Subject: Cat talk.

“Sadie! Get off the counter!

“Sadie! Get down from there!

“Sadie! Leave that alone!

“Sadie! Don’t you knock that off!

“Sadie! DON’T!

“Aw, Sadie, you really are a sweetie.”


What a cool job! (responsorial)

Fudge Brownie: “Subject: When I grow up.

“I have no memory of being a kid and wanting to be something specific when I grew up, but when I was in high school, I did think long and hard about it.

“When I was a senior, I wanted to be an airline stewardess, but you had to be 21 to do that. So my bright idea was to be a nurse until I was 21. I remember telling people that . . . and looking back now, I’m sure they were thinking that I was one clueless kid.

“I’m all grown up now, and I feel like one clueless adult.

“Oh, and I ended up joining the Air Force.”

Then & Later
Watermelon Division (cont.)

Little Sister: “This early-1960s photo was taken at one of our family reunions at the lake.   It’s safe to say that no one was going away hungry.”


Keeping track (responsorial)
And: Bulletin Board stands corrected

In reply to Twitty of Como’s post on January 6 (which also ran in the Pioneer Press on January 15), about taking inventory at the Emporium department store, here’s MHS-62: “Yes, he was indeed Mr. Ford, but it was James (Jim) Ford, not John Ford. He was my dad.

“He started work at the Emporium after his gas station was torn down to make a parking lot east of the Emporium. There are probably a lot of employees who remember him. Some of you may remember Fords Super Service at 182 East Eighth Street. It was a Mobil gas station and pay parking lot. When the block was being razed, he started hauling home to Mahtomedi some of the demolition and built a barn for our three horses.

“Thanks for remembering Dad.”

Fellow travelers
Upper Midwest Division

Mounds View Swede checks in: “The U.P. has some older homes on display to show some of what life was like when the early settlers came. We stopped to take a look, since both of us had ancestors coming to America in the 1880s. I wanted to get just a flavor of what their life may have been like.


“I have a wedding certificate just like this as a memento of two of my great-grandparents, but theirs was from Chicago.


“Although the cast-iron stoves were before my time, I find myself attracted to them and the warmth they would emit on a cold morning. Central heating was not existent, I am sure.


“The simple furnishing are a far cry from today, as are the chamber pots. I’m glad we are past the chamber-pot needs.


“There were simple toys then, too — largely homemade.


“Seeing these things made the lives and actuality of my great-grandparents, who I never got to meet, more real to me. I have been trying off and on for years to learn more about the times they lived in and what it was like, including visiting the farms or land they came from in Sweden and meeting other descendants there — my distant cousins. There is a sense of joy that comes with this, and a hope that I will meet them in spirit sometime.”

Only U.

Lola: “A glaring example of misplacement of the word ‘only’: ‘Only make a $3 donation for your chance to WIN. Enter now!’

“That and the use of double negatives are like fingernails scratching a blackboard to my ears.”

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Why (not to mention how) would fingernails scratch a blackboard to your ears? (Emojis and emoticons omitted.)

What’s in a Name?
Headline Division (responsorial)

From The REF in White Bear Lake: “Reply to The Retired Pedagogue and BB’s discourse [BB, 1/15/2017] on Montreal’s goalie Carey Price and the punny headlines his play can generate:

“Should Price and Montreal center Tomáš Plekanec team up to thwart a game-winning shot by New York defenseman Travis Hamonic:



Band Name of the Day: Nixon Resigns

Website of the Day, from Semi-Legend:

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