14,001 things to gripe about
Or: Every party has a pooper!
Malcolm Tent: “Well, I’ve bit my tongue long and hard enough to make it bleed. I can hold back no longer.
“What, you ask, could get me so riled up? It’s this eclipse business, that’s all.
“I’ve heard the upcoming eclipse touted as a celestial event and a cosmic event by people who should know better. They’ve stirred up the masses so much that highway departments in certain states are predicting traffic busy enough to rival emergency evacuations, as people make their way to some sub-event the astronomers refer to as ‘totality’ — being witnessed along a path cutting through these states where the moon will totally (if only temporarily) blot out the sun. Special viewing glasses are flying off the shelves, and I’m sure eye clinics will be ramping up for the inevitable cases of eye damage caused by staring at the sun.
“I’m here to tell you that this is neither a celestial nor a cosmic event, but very much a terrestrial event. Want proof? Go somewhere Monday where the eclipse is not visible. What happens to the sun and the moon? Why, nothing at all! In fact, even in the path of the eclipse, nothing happens to these celestial bodies. But you must know this — if you’re aware that the sun is some 93 million miles away from both the moon and the earth. If it had a mind, the sun wouldn’t even know they exist.
“Look at it this way: You’re going to Target Field to watch a ball game. There you are, comfortably seated with a good view of the action. Then some burly 6-plus-footer with a big hat comes down and parks himself in the seat in front of you. You can’t see the field at all! Is this a baseball event? Hardly. The players are probably not aware that either of you exist. It’s more like a spectator event. And from your point of view, not a very welcome one.”
Our birds, ourselves
Rusty of St. Paul reports: “Our neighbor filled her bird feeder, and soon a blue jay visited. ‘Yank! Yank!’ I don’t know if it was signaling other jays that it was chow time or alerting them that humans were watching from two decks over. Two more joined the first, made noise and ate. One then flew fast toward our deck, but pulled up into the maple tree 10 feet away.
“I looked up what a group of blue jays is called and found party, band, scold and cast. I like scold, as their call fits this moniker.
“I was in the BWCA three weeks ago, and we had a gray jay at one of our campsites. The gray jay is the northern cousin of the blue jay and is also called a Canada Jay. I also know them as ‘Whisky Jacks,’ and ‘Camp Robbers,’ as they will come right into the camp site and steal food to eat or cache.
“Yesterday I visited my brother-in-law at his 40-acre hobby farm in northern Wisconsin. There was a swarm of hummingbirds (well, at least five) rapidly flying from his nectar feeder to a cluster of wild flowers and back. Jim told us that they feed heavily right before storms and right after. It was starting to spit rain as they fed.
“I looked up their group nickname, and it is a ‘charm’ of hummingbirds. Indeed.”
Now & Then
Sleepless from St. Paul (in Minneapolis): “Why do we hold on to forgettable and inconsequential items? They shouldn’t be the least bit difficult to throw out.
“Yesterday I came across, not one, but three Ford/Dole bumper stickers.
“I didn’t even vote for them!”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Beetle art?
“While walking around our block, I noticed this grape leaf near the walkway. It gave a good example of what Japanese beetles do. The lacy leaf has a beauty about it, though it is obviously severely damaged.
“I go on ‘beetle patrol’ two to three times a day around my raspberry patch to keep the leaves from looking like this. That is where I find them busy in my yard. I keep a bucket with soapy water near the deck stairs; I bring it to the patch so I can drop the beetles into it. They cannot escape soapy water and swim around for about a minute before becoming still.
“One of their defensive moves when disturbed is to drop, so I always put one hand under the leaf before grabbing or nudging the beetle with the other one. They usually just drop into my hand, which then drops them into my pail. Sometimes I am lucky and get two or three at a time. My record this summer is six. I haven’t kept track of how many I have caught, but I am on my third bucket. When the water surface becomes pretty solid beetles, it is time to dump it and start anew. The beetles always are floating on the surface.”
Keeping your eyes open
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I attended a National Night Out party at Indian Mounds Park on August 1st and noticed the sky was sort of funky, which was producing some interesting sky views as sunset approached.
“First, there was the sun setting behind an Indian burial mound, with the Mounds Park Airway Beacon and a jet contrail also visible.
“Next, I took some photos of the sun alone. I know it looks like the planet Jupiter, but I swear I didn’t process these photos in any manner.
“Our newly refurbished State Capitol was visible from Mounds Park, so I snapped a few pictures of it.
“And finally, the moon decided to get in on the show, too.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: C’mon in!
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:
“‘I was asked to change the sign
“‘So I did! Message Inside!'”
Now & Then
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “A bit of St. Paul history, for those who haven’t heard it:
“In about 1929, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on the lawn of St Andrew’s Catholic Church in the Como area. Because they were against Catholics — even the Irish ones.
“A then-young relative remembered seeing the cross, and the men of the parish who gathered on a nearby porch, ready to intervene if the fire spread.
“Lest we forget. . .”
Band Name of the Day: Charm of Hummingbirds
Website of the Day: Gray Jay