They’re out there!
Rancid Beef of South St. Paul reports: “Awhile back, I was driving on Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis.
“During one of the short bursts of movement between stoplights [Bulletin Board interjects: That’s a perfect description of driving on Hiawatha Avenue!], I noticed a black car in the other lane ahead of me. The side of the car was completely scraped up and smashed in. Somebody had obviously sideswiped the car, and now the owner had to drive it all banged up until he (or, of course, she) had the time and money to get it fixed. How awful!
“I felt bad for the driver and the smashed-up car.
“When I got closer to the car, I noticed the driver hunched forward in her seat. She was driving the car with her forearms on the steering wheel. In her hands, she held a cellphone, busily tapping away. Texting, I assumed. Or Facebooking. Something — only occasionally glancing over her phone to the road in front of her.
“On second thought, maybe I didn’t feel so bad for the driver and her smashed-up car.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede reports: “It was one of those perfect late-summer days when we visited Minnehaha Park. Comfortable temperatures and no mosquitoes. Not what one always finds walking in the woods and along a creek.
“We spent a lot of time just watching the creek and the river join together. Comfortable sand and skipping stones made it a fun place to be and watch.
“A fallen cottonwood tree made for a climbing gym or natural monkey bars. Humans just have to see if they can climb on it successfully. The child is still inside many of us.
“Just before you reach the Mississippi River, there is this nice area to sit in and enjoy.
“We have had many comfortable days this summer in Minnesota, and I am paying attention and enjoying them.”
Just a coincidence?
Our Official Geologist, Rock Doc of River Falls, Wisconsin, checks in: “Several years ago, an odd 10- to 12-ton boulder was unearthed from glacially transported sediments in Baldwin, Wisconsin.
“Nicknamed by the locals ‘the Holstein Rock,’ it featured enormous crystals of white feldspar as big as a human head. So distinctive was the boulder that residents viewed it as a town resource. In 2010, it was moved to a permanent display spot in front of the Baldwin public library, where it can be visited by anyone caring to detour a bit from I-94. I helped develop educational materials about the boulder and was happy to see it protected.
“I was surprised when, last week, I got a message and a photo of a boulder that appears to be a smaller twin (only about 6 tons) that was found in the Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota.
“Looking at the photos, even a non-geologist can see these are likely part of the same body, now found more than a hundred miles apart.
“Would be interested in hearing if anyone else has found anything like them.
“The culprit doing the moving was glacial ice. Impressive what ice can do, and even more impressive the chain of coincidences that brought these two rocks to light.
“P.S. The Baldwin boulder photo is mine; the Brainerd boulder image was taken by Nick Stafford of Mora. He gave me written permission to use his photo.”
Asked and answered
Or: Then & Now (responsorial)
Writes joegolfer: “Oh, how I loved to read when I was young! Still do, but it was such a passion back then.
“I remember one of the Great Blizzards that kept our schools closed for several days. I was without a book to read. The library was a block away, and I waded through piles of snow — only to discover that the library was closed. Then I trudged three blocks to our town’s shopping area to buy a book at either of the two variety stores. Both were closed! It was a long, dejected slog home.
“My other specific memory about books was the summer my mom decided I was reading too much fiction and insisted I read one non-fiction book each week to balance things out. My older brother was a member of the All About book club. Each book was a different topic: All About Rocks and Minerals, All About Planets, All About Birds, etc. I picked one of the least objectionable titles, but could not get through it. Boring!
“I quickly found a new novel to read, and that was the end of the non-fiction experiment.”
Including: Ask Bulletin Board
Vertically Challenged writes: “I can’t seem to take pictures that look as good as the ones sent in here by others, and I know you’ve had quite a few of the Painted Lady butterflies lately. I’ve tried to take a few pics, but they never turn out very well — but I did manage to get this closeup of one’s little face, which I thought was cool.
“And I love these perennial hibiscus we have that are the size of saucers. It was filled with blossoms this year.
“What I do want to ask, though, is if someone can tell me what this little caterpillar is and what it turns into.
“I tried looking, but can’t find any answer.”
Down Time Division
Tim Torkildson writes: “Subject: The little red Ford Mustang convertible.
“I stubbornly avoided owning a car until just about the age of 30. My teenage angst was expressed largely with unsuccessful comedy bits performed at high school and stolen from the classic clowns, such as Laurel and Hardy, the Banana Man, and Chaplin — not cruising for chicks in my Chevy or tinkering with a souped-up jalopy like the rest of my pimply peers, who all reeked of Bardahl.
“There was no need for wheels when I clowned with Ringling. I had a perfectly good roomette on the train; the circus bus took me to and from the arena for a quarter; and more often than not, the train was parked near restaurants, dime stores, and used-book stores. Besides, I invested in a folding bicycle that I could keep in my roomette (at least when I was not physically in it; at night, I chained it up in the vestibule.) I figured I had it made in the shade.
“Then I got married. No sane woman marries a man who doesn’t have a driver’s license and a car — but Amy did. Of course, love makes lunatics of us all — for a while. But reality finally kicked in when our first baby was on the way — so I got my license, and we bought an old Ford station wagon that ran forever, until it dropped a piston one below-zero day on a lonely country road in North Dakota.
“After that we had a succession of what can only be called, with the greatest charity, clunkers. Some ran for only a few months before giving up the ghost, and others performed yeoman service for years on end. But eventually they all pooped out on us. They were paid for in full at the time of purchase, so we just asked around whatever LDS ward we happened to be in, and somebody was sure to have an old beater they wanted to unload for a few hundred bucks.
“Fast-forward to the years after the Great Divide, when I was on my own again. I was hoofing it, depending on shank’s mare, until one day I chanced upon a snug little red convertible Mustang parked on a residential street, with a FOR SALE sign tucked in the windshield. The price seemed reasonable, so I negotiated a loan from the paterfamilias and was soon behind the wheel, with the hood down, cruising the boulevards — first as ringmaster for the Mighty Carson & Barnes Five Ring Circus, and then as publicity director for Culpepper & Merriweather. That little honey boosted my morale and self-image no end.
“The trouble began when I impatiently and unwisely forced the hood up one rainy morning, in a hurry to get to the next town before the cook tent ran out of stale donuts and hot chocolate. Somehow the canvas top sprung a leak — and touring the back of beyond, I was hard pressed to find a Ford dealership that would deign to fix it as a ‘walk-in.’ I was forever being told that it would take a week or longer to patch up. In a week I would most likely be in a different state, so I let it slide. The leak only got worse, and that season Carson & Barnes played a string of towns with descriptive names like Rainy Lake, Swampy Hollow, and Deluge City. Driving 60 miles to the next town with a persistent leak funneling down my neck coarsened my vocabulary considerably.
“During the off-season, I finally got the roof fixed, so when I started with Culpepper & Merriweather, I expected nothing but smooth, and dry, sailing.
“That year, the clowns were all from Chile and Argentina. They didn’t speak much English and drove the show trucks from town to town, so they had no private transportation. The show had a renovated school bus, painted a dazzling emerald, nicknamed the Green Frog. Several times a week, the Green Frog was made available for show personnel to go grocery shopping and do laundry. I took it a few times myself, when I didn’t feel like driving. Very convenient, I thought.
“But then my good nature got the better of me. We were playing a desolate rodeo ground out in New Mexico somewhere; the town was several miles away. And that day the Green Frog was acting up, so no one could get to town who didn’t have his own car. I offered a few of the clowns a ride in so they could do laundry and grocery shopping. They had decided to boycott the cook tent for a while, since the Mexican cook refused to make empanadas.
“Well, that started an unfortunate trend. Whenever the clowns would see me driving off the lot, they flagged me down to ask, in a combination of fractured English and frantic sign language, for a ride — sometimes to a groceria or launderia, or to a pawn shop, where they bought trumpets and trombones and other brass instruments, which they claimed they could dispose of back home for a handsome profit.
“It’s not that I didn’t like their company, but I really didn’t relish playing soccer mom for a bunch of grown men. So I became more devious when leaving the lot on my own personal errands — scouting around to make sure no one was lurking in the tumbleweeds waiting to jump out to impound my time and gas for a cerveza run. When I pulled into a new lot, I did a quick scout-around to find an alternative exit, where I was less likely to meet up with an importunate joey.
“The clowns quickly caught on to my ruse, however, and I swear they kept a lookout posted on top of the spool truck to give the high sign when they saw my little red sports car creeping stealthily off the lot.
“It just so happened that one day they bushwhacked me on my way out, grinning their ‘holas’ at me and asking, por favor, for a ride into town. Rehearsing a few bad words under my breath, I beckoned them into my car. All five. If you know anything about the Ford Mustang, you know it’s not meant for overcrowding. And these were very husky chaps. On the return trip I was just about to put my foot down — not on the accelerator, but on their mooching. Enough is enough, amigos, I wanted to say.
“Then something went kerflooey under the hood. My little red Mustang lost power, lost steering, and made a racket that would rouse a corpse. As soon as I pulled over, all five clowns leaped out, dived under the hood, held a brief consultation in hushed Spanish, and asked for my tool kit. Not being a dab hand at anything more complicated than a pointed stick, I sat back to see what they could do. Turns out they could do plenty; they made me to understand they all had their own secondhand cars back home that they loved tinkering on during the off-season. We were soon speeding down the road again like a greased rabbit; in fact, the motor now sounded better than it had in months! No need for AAA or strange garage mechanics.
“When we got back on the lot, inspiration struck. I casually asked if they’d like to keep my Mustang tuned up for the rest of the season and handle any little thing that might go wrong. ‘Con placer!’ they enthused — and suddenly I had my own pit crew. They changed the oil, checked the tire pressure, and even polished the darn thing on Sundays! And all I had to do in return was drive them into town a few times a week. That’s what you get when you cast your red Mustang upon the waters . . .”
Band Name of the Day: The All Abouts — or: The Old Beaters
Website of the Day: Bardahl