Once a Baby Girl, always a Baby Girl?

Fun facts to know and tell (Genealogy Division)
Or: What’s in a not-name?

Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Baby Girl.


“Interesting fact: At the time of World War II, many young men had birth records listing them as ‘Baby Boy.’ Hence the requirement to name a child within X number of days. I believe the records had to be changed as the men went into the military.

“Some years back, Mom accompanied me to Steele County, where she was born. I tried to get her to authorize me to change her birth record from ‘Baby Girl,’ but she didn’t want the money spent when she had reached her 70s or so without fixing it.

“I can still tell the world that my mother’s name was Baby Girl.”

The vision thing
Our Theater of Seasons Division

Lola reported, Friday morning: “Subject: Snowflowers.

“When I saw this yesterday morning, it looked like the ground cover bloomed overnight!”


Our theater of seasons
Or: Our flora, ourselves

Mounds View Swede wrote, earlier this week (before the two-day cold snap): “Subject: Spring things are happening.

“As I get older, I try to pay more attention to the details of the annual changes and what feelings they may generate.

“It is always a relief to see the greening begin again. And for the first time, I noticed another feeling when I looked out the back at the rhubarb when it was just beginning to sprout: the feeling of gratitude. I was struck by how ‘faithful’ these plants were year after year — sprouting and providing us food with minimal input on our part.

“With about a dozen plants like this one, we have more than enough for us, so we get to share with our neighbors, too. A previous contributor mentioned rhubarb-pie season, and my wife is good at making that, along with rhubarb sauce. There was only one neighbor on my block when growing up who had rhubarb, but when I moved to Minnesota, I decided to have some, too, not knowing it was a popular plant in Sweden, also.


“Some of the plants in our back yard are volunteers, and this one caught my eye with its red tinge on the opening leaves, making an attractive cluster filled with what I regarded as enthusiasm.


“One of our friends has three magnolia trees — the kind that can survive here. It produces only these white blossoms, instead of the pink ones I am accustomed to seeing in the east, but to have them at all and flowering faithfully each spring feels like a special event. I hope our coming cold weather doesn’t harm these efforts the plants are making.


“The azaleas are pretty reliable bloomers and have hundreds of blossoms on each plant — another welcome sight.”



Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division (responsorial)

Thursday’s Bulletin Board opened with a note from Scott from Eagan: “Subject: Why a Duck (Al B Division)? [Bulletin Board notes, in case you’ve forgotten or never knew: Al B is Al B of Hartland, our Official Ornithologist.]

“We just returned to sunny Eagan from five weeks in warmer climes. During our absence, it appears a wood duck made its way down the chimney, pushed open the fireplace doors, and proceeded to party throughout the house. No real damage; just some overturned lamps and dry white party favors dropped in most rooms.

“We discovered all this last night about 1 a.m. after being dropped off by our Uber driver, and proceeded to search the house going ‘Here, ducky, ducky, ducky.’ Alas, no duck, alive or dead, has so far presented itself via noise, sighting, or smell.

“Thus brings our question for Al B: Is it possible for a wood duck to decide ‘Well, there’s nothing to eat, and I’ve pooped on pretty much everything now; it must be time to leave,’and then make it back up the chimney?”

By late Thursday evening, we had heard from the esteemed Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland: “Dear Scott from Eagan,

“This is what happens when you desert tropical Minnesota. It’s a lesson well-learned. Your presence is important to us. We need you here all winter, or a feathered chimney sweep will visit your home.

“Wood ducks are cavity nesters, typically nesting in tree cavities or manmade nest boxes. They occasionally investigate chimneys as possible nest sites.

“It’s true that one of them is Daffy, but ducks aren’t dumb. The problem is that they don’t understand chimneys, houses or how to turn on your TV. This unfamiliarity with human habitat would make it somewhat unlikely that it would go back up the chimney — but, after raiding your fridge, it might have gone back to check out the chimney cavity once more. Everything is possible.

“Welcome home.”

The Permanent Family Record (responsorial)

Friday-morning email from The Doryman of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Lemme gush a little.

The Gram With a Thousand Rules submitted quite a picture today.


“I wonder if she knows how intriguing it is to others. I looked at it for a very long time, in the way I usually reserve for a Norman Rockwell. I can see the time of day, and feel the season. It is such a real homey expression of family, and thankfully not simply a documentation of an event. A family picture that grabs you even if you don’t know any of the subjects is a beautiful little gem. Thank God she didn’t say: ‘Look over here now. I’m taking a picture.'”

There’s nothin’ like a simile!

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “A letter to the editor in the Naples Daily News was published under this heading: ‘Congress’ dog and pony show.’ After equating Congress with the circus act referenced in the heading (described in some detail by the writer), he (Richard) states: ‘It’s no wonder Congress has an approval rating slightly higher than hemorrhoid medicine.’”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: It does? Since when?

Great comebacks
Commercial Division

Dennis from Eagan reports: “I love this ad in the May 2017 issue of the (beer-) ‘Growler’ magazine, which pokes fun at Surdyk’s illegal alcohol sales on Sunday, March 12.

“The ‘Growler’ is available for FREE at many MSP liquor stores, brewery taprooms and bars.”

Life as we know it

Fevered Rabbit: “Subject: Travels.

“Grumbling Bear got his first paying job when he was 14. His last day of paid work was July 31, 2015. (He was not a golf-course caddie all those years.) We have lived the lives of nomads since then. Nearly every month, we’ve taken a major trip.

“We’ve had good excuses for not traveling some months. For example, though we had planned a trip for this past July, we had to postpone it when Grumbling Bear had an ATV accident on Independence Day that left him with eight broken ribs. It’s not very fun to travel with broken ribs. For that matter, it’s not very fun to breathe with broken ribs!

“Think of the places that wannabe travelers put on their dream trip lists. Those are some of the names we’re crossing off our lists. Our first trip included a several-day stay in Ottawa. Since then, we’ve been to Paris, Berlin, Genoa, Cairo and Mecca. Our journeys have taken us to Liverpool and Waterloo. We have visited Princeton, Harvard and Cornell. At one point, we had to make a choice: Would we go to Peru or Mexico? (We chose Peru.) The traveling isn’t over yet; we have other adventures ahead.

“We’ve had a wonderful time meeting the residents of the places we visited, and have made some friends we will do all we can to keep for the rest of our lives. We’ve made memories galore, with thousands of photos to back them up.

“It’s probably important to add this one little fact: We were able to visit all these places without ever leaving the same 1,200-mile route between our homes in Western Wisconsin and Western Pennsylvania.

“Back in 2011, I wrote to the Bulletin Board about a house listed for sale on eBay  and located in a village in Pennsylvania with which I had several family ties. The seller stated that the house needed ‘some work’; photos of it showed that was an understatement.­­ It was listed with a very low starting price and a buy-it-now price of $7,000. Grumbling Bear and I talked about buying it, but decided that though the price was right, the timing was not. Still, when I’d visit the village for our annual family reunion, I’d go past that house. I found that nobody had lived in it for many years; the sale on eBay had fallen through. Yearly it became more dilapidated.

“Through the twists and turns of life, in October of 2015 we bought . . . a different house in the same village. The house we purchased is in much better condition than the $7,000 house; we paid a higher (though still surprisingly low) price for it. This house, built in 1900, was owned for 60 years by a cousin. It sits four lots away from one of the churches my father had pastored back in the 1950s. Since I was a child, I had wanted to live in The Most Beautiful Place on Earth; this house sits right in the midst of it.

“The house in Pennsylvania needed work before we could move in. Our home Back of the Troll needed work before we could move out. So, in the months between Grumbling Bear’s retirement and now, we’ve been working on fixing up both houses, and working on moving. The Eastern Estate’s first big project required us to pull down a dilapidated garage and replace it with a large pole barn; more work awaits. Along with the fix-ups, the Western Estate needed us to sort through our dual-packrat belongings so we would not move the chaos. The barn is built; the rest of the to-do list is ongoing.

“The pattern is this: Work on fixing up the house in Wisconsin. Sort, give away, pack, load the trailer; drive to Pennsylvania. Unload the trailer, work on fixing up the house there; pull the empty trailer back to Wisconsin. Repeat.

“We have done very little unpacking or settling in. We figure we have the rest of our lives to do that. ­

“We pull a biggish enclosed trailer with a smallish old truck. That combination works best if we avoid freeway speeds and minimize traveling over big hills (we can’t avoid them all; we live in the midst of them). We have refined our route to what we think is the most efficient way possible; we avoid big cities like Chicago and Cleveland, sticking to many back-country roads. And yes, we do pass by or through all the famously named cities listed above.

“Traveling has lost its glamour for us. We look forward to being in our home out East, and being done with our home out West (as our fellow villagers call Wisconsin). I’m ready to settle in to learning how to be an Easterner.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Don’t be a stranger! Send us reports!

And be sure to spread the BB word to the lucky residents of the Most Beautiful Place on Earth.

Bon voyage to you and the Bear.

Band Name of the Day: Baby Boys Go to War

Website of the Day: Norman Rockwell in the Saturday Evening Post

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