What a week’s worth of mail can tell you: GET A LIFE! (LOL.)

Our times
Or: Know thyself!

Vapid in Vadnais writes: “I collected a week’s worth of mail today:


“One credit-card statement.

“One prescription-drug summary from my insurance company.

“One cremation solicitation addressed to my ex. (Divorce was in 1986.)

“One mortgage offer for a veteran (also the ex).

“One auto-club membership.

“One television-service solicitation.

“One television-service offer in Spanish (which I don’t speak).

“One ‘old geezer’ membership offer.

“Two offers to pick up unneeded household items.

“Three clothing catalogs for fat broads, two of which were from the same company.

“I think I need to get a life. Undoubtedly an offer will arrive soon.”

Life as we know it

D. Ziner: “Subject: Pull of a Place.

“Many years ago, I added some vacation time to a business trip to Chicago and drove a rental car around the suburb where I had lived for my first 10 years. There were a few vivid memories and a lot of fuzzy ones as I checked out the two houses where we lived and the two grade schools I attended — plus the high school where I used to go to worship my older brother as he played football and put the shot. Then I noticed that the hospital where I was born was still in the directory, so I decided to take a look. I had no intentions other than to drive by and check it off my list, but as I got closer, I had the feeling that would not be enough. I parked the car and walked up to the building and just wandered around it for quite some time. I don’t remember any strong emotions or desire to explore further — just felt an unexplained need to hang around a bit while feeling a bit familiar with the unfamiliar.

“I thought about that part of my trip many times over the years and always wondered just how much of that homing instinct — seen in so many other species — might also be part of ours. Was it only curiosity that made me explore my place of birth? Or was it something more? Maybe thousands of years ago, that homing capability was useful, but became less important over time. Or maybe it’s still there, but now covered by layers of civilization and shows up only when stimulated in some way.

“That stimulation just might have happened recently at a family reunion held in Scotland. The first few days in Edinburgh, we saw the sights by day and met with family at events in the evenings. There were many interesting things seen and wonderful interactions with relatives we knew and many we were meeting for the first time. And yet there remained a sense that indeed we were tourists in a foreign country. But then more than 40 Americans and one Canadian flew and ferried to Shetland, from which my father’s family emigrated and where descendants of my grandparents’ siblings still live. Visiting the derelict croft house (abandoned farmhouse and outbuildings with only stone walls remaining) on my grandmother’s side required a rather strenuous hike across streams (burns), lumpy heather, abrasive thistles, and sheep droppings. Sure — there was adrenaline, peer pressure, and the like, but as I stopped and watched this struggling string of relatives seemingly bent on a pilgrimage, I wondered if there was more to it.

“We later visited the area where my grandfather’s family lived, which contained buildings that had been rebuilt over the years and are now inhabited by non-family. Again, there was that feeling that I just wanted to hang around here for a while. Later that evening, at a large family and communal gathering, my Shetlander cousin, who was aware we had just visited my grandfather’s croft, knowingly whispered to me: ‘It’s a special place, isn’t it?’ I teared up and choked up and could only nod in the affirmative. What is there about a place that can do this? And this was a place without much tourist value, nor advanced billing. Neither my father nor his parents ever mentioned the old country. When the concept is unclear and the words don’t come easily, it often helps to have the point of view from a poet. Credit goes to our international reunion committee, which was fully prepared. No less than Edinburgh’s Makar (Poet Laureate) was an honored guest at a family gathering and read selections from her work.

“I enjoyed her poetry readings because of the pleasant rhythms and because I love the sound of the Scottish accent, but I really didn’t get the full meaning at that time. But several of the poems were printed and in our bag of mementos, so later on, when I had the chance to read and reread her poem ‘Haemfarin’ (Homecoming)*, things began to find order. When translated from Shetlandic, lines included: ‘. . . The pull of a place,’ ‘. . . like salmon, to shores a grandmother knew?’and ‘. . . How come this imprinting?’ I’m not sure what imprinting is supposed to feel like, but then again, maybe it’s not felt; maybe it just is. Could it be like the old, notary’s seal or a water mark where you have to get close and have the right lighting and look at just the right angle? Whatever it is, for me, this imprinting no longer comes with navigational power. I couldn’t have found the place of my birth without a map of greater Chicago. And without GPS, there’s no way I could steer a vessel from the North Sea to shores adjacent the crofts of either of my grandparents.

“I have places that pull me, but in most cases, it’s because they are beautiful, or I’ve fond memories of them, or I can still do fun things there or family members are waiting. Maybe that’s imprinting, too. The poem opens and ends with the question as to which identity ‘is the primal, the sharpest and truest: the inner heart time can’t erase.’ I still don’t have all the answers, but that eloquent question makes me feel good because, once again, I’m hardly ever the only one. And on top of it all, I can feel humble knowing the Monarch butterfly outdoes us all in its return to ancestral places.

“* From ‘North End of Eden’ (poems in English & Shetlandic) by Christine De Luca; published in 2010 by Luath Press, Edinburgh.”

Our times
Including: Our livestock, ourselves (responsorial)

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Jubilation in the Lambing Barn.

DebK of Rosemount told us how her credit-card info told a catalog company that she needs a better fence to confine ‘ramming.’

“I switched to Windows 10 last summer and was shocked by the questions I was asked. Such as (basically): Do you want us to analyze your writing style so we can tell you how you want to write that thing you’re working on? (My answer: No!)

“But I wanted to tell DebK how I enjoy her stories about the lambs. Years before genealogy became so digitized, I helped a farm woman somewhere out in the country, far from Minnesota census records. I looked up a U.S. census of Minnesota in which her relative was a married woman. The relative’s husband listed an Emma Button as a (step?)daughter, and his surname was not Button. Emma was age 13, and the census said she was born in Wisconsin. So I drove to the Wisconsin archives in River Falls and found the previous U.S. census of Wisconsin, in which Emma (aged 3) lived with her mother (and father?) and I think relatives — surname Button. For genealogists, this was a major breakthrough in those days.

“When I got home, I emailed and probably mailed the results to the farm woman. She wrote back that she took the results out to the barn, where she was supervising lambing while studying what I found. She was jubilant, and I think the Button name soon linked her to a long, already-researched family tree.

“I still feel good about this. And every time I hear about lambing, I think of her enjoying her time in the barn with the census records in the middle of the night.”


Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Everyone off the island!

“On Page C2 of Wednesday’s Sports section in the STrib, this headline and first paragraph appeared in the ‘BRIEFLY’ section: ‘Jets abandon Revis Island.’

“‘Darrelle Revis’ second stint with the Jets is over. The Jets informed the star cornerback that they are releasing him, ending a rocky second tenure with the team that was marked by a slip in play because of injuries and age.’

“Another paragraph completed the article, with no mention whatsoever of an ‘island.’

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: According to an article at espn.com: “He was a transcendent star who copyrighted his own address – ‘Revis Island.’ He was the Jets’ best homegrown player since Joe Namath. He had a chance to be the franchise’s defensive version of Namath, but Revis 2.0 was an unmitigated disaster.”

This ‘n’ that

Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “I love Bulletin Board and have learned so much from it — for example, the omar rock.


“I think I have one in my front yard. The woman who lived next door to us 30 years ago was going to be selling her home and moving into a nursing home and wanted to know if I wanted any of her possessions that she could not take with her. I wanted the rock she had in her back yard; it was round and had a hole in it, and she had hens and chicks planted in the hole. I now have that rock in my front yard, and I must go out and inspect it further to see if it looks like an omar.

“On this gloomy, foggy, dreary day, I had a great laugh when I viewed the video of the donkey baseball.

“You can’t see that in the newspaper! Those who have not joined BBonward.com are sure missing out on beautiful pictures, wonderful stories and great reads. Thanks to all who have contributed to my enjoyment.”

Signs of the times (responsorial)

Tuesday’s Bulletin Board included a report by Fevered Rabbit: “The current owner of a business in Pennsylvania told me the story of a curious sign that hangs on his front door. The incident prompting the sign happened prior to his purchase of the business, some two decades earlier. Previously the business had been owned and operated by an elderly lady.

“At that time, the Rainbow Family had chosen a nearby national forest in which to celebrate their annual gathering. Some members of the Family think clothing should be optional everywhere, all the time, and they are not afraid to demonstrate that belief.

“One day, an individual decided to visit the aforementioned business. He entered wearing a shirt and shoes — and nothing else. He jiggled his man parts to make sure the owner recognized what she was seeing.

“She was understandably aghast. ‘You can’t come in here like that!’ she told him.

“He pointed to the standard sign on the door that read ‘NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE.’

“‘I am wearing everything required by the sign,’ he responded, doing a bit more jiggling.

“That is the day the sign on the door changed to its current reading. As you approach this business now, you will see that the sign says ‘NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO PANTS, NO SERVICE.’”

We presently heard from Ola’s Lint:Fevered Rabbit’s story brings to mind my sister’s British friend and her use of British slang to describe man parts: ‘dangly bits.’

“Enough said.”

Band Name of the Day: The Dangly Bits

Website of the Day, recommended by Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “1904-1924 . . .’The North American Indian’” — photographs by Edward Curtis” http://mashable.com/2015/11/25/edward-curtis-native-americans/


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