Life as we know it
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “The middle daughter is coming over next Sunday to help me with my State Fair entry. It’s a collection of linen postcards of baseball parks from the Lou Gehrig era. That was the ’30s, when there were only 16 teams and the National League winner met the American League winner, with no consarned playoffs before the Series itself.
“I have 12 of the 14 parks. Philadelphia’s two teams shared Shibe Park, and the Cardinals and Browns both played in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. I am missing postcards from Shibe Park and Griffith Stadium in D.C.
“Here’s the message on the back of the Ebbets Field postcard. I don’t remember where I got it:
“‘According to the papers here, Cleveland is considered to be the Yankees main opposition. They think the Indians may get the pennant.
“‘Times Square doesn’t seem as crowded this year during the day. Of course at nite, around 12 it is but right now there aren’t the crowds down there that I seem to remember last year.
“‘Eddie and Robert’
“The card was addressed to Wheeling, West Virginia, and had an August 7, 1951 New York postmark. The Yankees beat the Giants in the 1951 series. The Indians would have to wait until 1954 — and then the Giants, with Dusty Rhodes, swept them four straight.
“Last year the eldest daughter got a blue ribbon, the middle daughter a white one and I finished fourth (no ribbon). Maybe this year the family will get a clean sweep, like the 1954 Giants.”
Our birds, ourselves
Grandma Connie of Scandia: “The little chickadee is picking up cat hair to ‘feather’ its nest.”
Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division (cont.)
The April 27 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?”
In the April 29 Bulletin Board, Al B replied: “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.
Shortly thereafter, we received this email: “Subject: The Curious Incident of the Duck in the Nighttime, by John Watson, M.D.
“As I entered our flat at 221B Baker Street, I quickly observed that Holmes was deep in one of his languid states, usually brought on by a lack of grist for his brilliant mind to mill.
“‘Ah, Watson,’ he intoned dejectedly as he idly flipped the pages of one of his evening tabloids, ‘the world has reverted to its common dull state. I see nothing to which I can apply my talents.’
“‘But Holmes,’ I replied, ‘there is the case of the clown-alley murder, brought to your attention by Mr. T. Torkildson. Surely, there lies sufficient mystery to keep you occupied for at least a few days. Penetrating the closed-lipped circus society should prove quite difficult.’
“‘I brought that to a close this morning,’ he said with a sigh. ‘Once I knew of the marks on the great beast’s hide, it became instantly clear it was the she-elephant that had struck down the ringmaster, using a steel tent stake. It was likely done in just compensation for years of abuse at his hands.’
“Seeing that my ruse of feeding him a problem from a popular novel had come to naught, I attempted to lead him down a different path. ‘What of the Baader-Meinhof Gang and their recent unsavory banditry? Surely it will take some time to track them down and bring a close to it all.’
“‘Ah,’ he said, “but Baader-Meinhof turned out to be uninvolved. It was a mere coincidence, made more probable by the seasonal nature of the thefts. Instances of multiple neighborhood Christmas trees being stolen during late December are not entirely unheard of. I can easily envision them rather joyously juxtaposed on either side of the miscreant’s mantelpiece. No doubt Lestrade and his ilk will soon bring the thief to justice.’
“Unhappy with my ineffectual attempt to engage him meaningfully in the realm of detection, I decided to switch to news of the day and asked: ‘Do you remember the singular incident of the missing duck and the fireplace?’
“‘Of course,’ he stated, ‘once the facts were clear, it was all quite obvious. As I’ve no doubt said before, once we eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the solution. It was highly unlikely for the duck to travel back up the chimney. But, as the learned ornithologist, Sir Albie, informed us, it was theoretically possible. You remember Sir Albie‘s monograph on the variety of chickadee calls and the corresponding droppings patterns. The man’s no fool, Watson.
“‘Everything was further clarified once we learned the pattern of ash on the hearth. Surely, the large amount of ash blown from the fireplace, with no duck prints in it, made clear that the duck’s final activity in the house was a furious and sustained attempt to get back up the chimney, resulting in eventual success. Sorry, Watson, but that problem was too easily resolved as well.’
“Not wishing to further darken my friend’s mood, at that point I neglected to tell him that I had, that very afternoon, happened upon Mr. S_____ from Eagan. He was just exiting a hansom cab near my tobacconist as I was leaving the establishment with a fresh refill for the Persian slipper.
“After exchanging pleasantries, I asked him about the aforementioned duck.
“‘Ah yes. The Duck,’ he said. ‘Sadly, the answer was a bit different than Mr. Holmes concluded. It seems that when a duck does nothing in the nighttime, it is quite likely that the duck is lying dead behind the guest bedroom dresser.'”
Our theater of seasons
Our Official Attorney, Mr. Tulkinghorn, waxes poetic once again:
“May first here again
“Winter fading, a dull blur —
“Hats gloves scarves — begone!”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul, reports: “Subject: Let the light shine in!
“The latest message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:
“’Worry is the dark room where
“’negatives are developed’”
The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I really do enjoy going to weddings and I have attended a lot of them in my lifetime. Most of them went off without a hitch, but the ones that are the most memorable are the times when things went a teensy bit awry.
“One that always comes to mind was a high-school classmate who married in a rather quickly arranged ceremony. The church was decorated beautifully, the bridesmaids looked lovely, and the bride made it all the way to the altar before morning sickness took over and she threw up in her bouquet.
“There was my cousin’s son, who caused the priest to chortle throughout the rest of his wedding ceremony simply because he and his bride had difficulty lighting the Unity Candle. After several attempts — make that dozens of attempts — to get the blasted thing to light, the groom turned to the priest and in utter frustration said: ‘Oh, s—! Let’s just pretend it’s lit. OK?’
“My favorite photo of a boo-boo was taken 70 years ago by the professional photographer my brother and his best friend hired when they married twin sisters. The four of them posed for the traditional cutting-of-the-cake photo. Lovely moment.
“When it came to the next obligatory shot, of the bride feeding the groom, my new sister-in- law performed perfectly. Johnny ate his cake.
“Her sister didn’t manage so well, and Ralph’s hoot of laughter still echoes in my ear. No audio necessary.”
Website of the Day (responsorial)
Leezy of Woodbury: “Bells — Alas.
“To read that Whitechapel Bells will no longer be cast is heartbreaking. The ringing of Whitechapels is to pure. A huge Whitechapel bell was rung at the London Olympics; I very nearly jumped into the television.
“My history with bells dates back to the 1980s. I started a choir in Woodbury with two octaves, which grew to three octaves in five months. The number of bells grew and grew over the next decades.
“The music was so much fun. Once we rang music from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ for a concert. A man who heard that piece said he wanted that to be played at his funeral. I asked when that would be. He died several years later. The next rehearsal, I pulled the music out and we rang it for him. For you, George.
Sports Driving Grandma: “Subject: Odd values, indeed.
“I’m just settling down to watch a new episode of ‘Call the Midwife’ on PBS, and it occurs to me that things are quite strange these days.
“The show is set in 1962 London and obviously is about midwives delivering babies. There is a long warning before the show starts about ‘inappropriate content for certain audiences,’ and the rating is TV 14.
“Does it seem odd that the majority of children under 14 have been exposed to all sorts of extremely explicit sex scenes, language and so on in every form of entertainment (including school), and yet the possibility that they would see the end result of all that sex — that is, the actual birth of a baby — would be too much of a trauma?
“Every time I see that ‘content warning,’ I have to wonder if anyone else sees the contradiction.”
Band Name of the Day: The Negatives
Website of the Day: Watch Full Episodes Online of Call the Midwife on PBS