What is stranger than Zippy the Pinhead? Zippy the Pumpkin, maybe?

Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Subject: Happy Halloween.

“For many years, I’ve been growing pumpkins in my sincere little back-yard pumpkin patch here in Dayton’s Bluff. And every year, I attempt to carve some of them into jack-o’-lanterns, with varying degrees of success. Here are a few of my creations.


“In 1987 I tried to carve a Zippy the Pinhead, with questionable results.


“My 1989 pumpkins were simple designs, except that I added ears, eyebrows and a mustache to one of them.


“1995 was one of the few years I was able to grow white pumpkins.


“Who can forget the Halloween of 1991? I had some extra time that year and carved up a bunch of pumpkins that almost no one got to see because of the blizzard. The next day, I returned the pumpkins to the back yard where they had been grown, but they didn’t see the ground again until spring.”


The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “It was a dreary, rainy Halloween in 1969 as the kids lugged around their prop tepee.


“It had seemed like such a great idea when they built it. The fun decreased as it was dragged through a few puddles and became a heavy soggy mess to cart around the neighborhood.”

Our pets, ourselves

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake writes: “It’s a bird . . . it’s a plane . . . no, it’s SUPER KITTY!

“For Halloween this year, our cat, Conway Kitty, is dressing up as “SUPER KITTY.'”


Ask Bulletin Board (responsorial)

In reply to Bloomington Bird Lady, who wondered what becomes of leftover pumpkins, here’s Sheep Mom of Western WI: “We feed all our extra pumpkins to our sheep. They love them! Unfortunately it was not a good year for pumpkins at our farm, so the sheep will have to go without.

“I have also heard of others feeding Christmas trees to their sheep, as long as the trees have not been sprayed with green.”


The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Winter canceled!

“The Runabout spotted this welcome notice in today’s PP. She couldn’t wait to share. What a Monday-morning brightener!


“Before all the farmers and skiers get angry, please note that this prediction is only for a couple of more months.”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Subject: The Pioneer Press on a roll (downhill)!

“The past days have not been good ones for the copy editors at the local paper, as documented by the following:

(1) The Friday, October 27 Pioneer Press contained the most recent (that I’ve noticed) glitch. This one was a headline in ‘BUSINESS’ (Page 6A): ‘Average mortgage rates sire last week.’

“I wasn’t aware that mortgage rates possessed that capability, and it would be interesting to observe the offspring. And shouldn’t that be ‘sore’?

“(2) Sunday’s (the 22nd) paper featured an article on Page 4B with this headline: ‘Book honors brave men from state’s smallest, rural towns.’

“This sentence appeared in the body of the article: ’The Johnsons poured through available documents to find details.’

“I wonder just what they were pouring. Maybe rain, because as we know, when it rains, it pores.’”

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Breaking News . . . Johnny Mathis begins new career!

“Page E4 of last Thursday’s STrib featured this headline: ‘Mathis album covers great “new American songbook.”’

“Below the headline are two large photos — one of Johnny Mathis singing, and one of another man in a suit and tie. The caption: ‘Record industry titan Clive Davis, left, suggested the format for Johnny Mathis’ recent album, on which the signer recast popular songs such as Adele’s “Hello” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”’

“The article did not elaborate on what Mathis would be signing. I await further details.”

Mom in Boyland: “I’ve been trying to catch up on my favorite shows after my husband and I took our first trip without kids in more than 20 years.

“Of course, watching the ‘Poldark’ series involved ousting the boys off the couches, away from ‘Sunday Night Football’ and their beloved Patriots. They weren’t pleased.

“It was my turn not to be pleased. I could not believe hearing the use of improper grammar on ‘Masterpiece Theatre’! George Warleggan, a villain who attempts to rise in society, said: ‘Her and Geoffrey Charles attended the Christening.’ I understand he’s what the aristocracy considers ‘new money,’ but that’s no excuse.”

Not exactly what they had in mind

Danno, “formerly of White Bear Lake”: “Not long ago, during a visit to see our daughters and grandkids, we stopped at the IHOP on County Road 42 in Burnsville, and while mulling over our lunch menus, we noticed one of those little upright acrylic paper holders next to the salt and pepper shakers informing the customers of the daily special: ‘Half-Baked Chicken — $6.99.’

“When the waitress came over to our table to take our orders, my wife sweetly asked (albeit with a glint in her eye): ‘How much is the chicken when it is baked all the way through?’

“With a look of horror, the waitress then rushed off to ask someone.”

Our theater of seasons

October 4 email from Mounds View Swede: “With no fall-color trips this year, my fall photo journeys are local. Fortunately, I have not been disappointed. I enjoyed seeing the range of leaf colors in groups of different trees.

“One of the best was this group at our local compost site.

“One of my friends had his milkweed plant pods bursting open. Mine are still tightly shut.

“One of my favorite fall trees is a maple I pass frequently.


“I saw a great display of color in passing near Snelling Avenue in Roseville. I returned a couple of days later with my camera. Most of my view across the pond was blocked by branches, but I thought the reflections in the water made an interesting, ‘arty’ photo.


“I wondered what these vines were with the red leaves and growing up these large trees. Bulletin Board answered that for me recently. [Bulletin Board re-answers: Virginia creeper — also known as, among other things, woodbine.]


“These trees were quite large, and I can’t imagine the vines have any chance of doing them harm. In the meantime, they brighten up the dark trunks with green in the summer and lovely reds in the fall.”

Our theater of seasons (responsorial)

October 27 email from Gregory of the North: “Looking at the photos of the beautiful trees in today’s Bulletin Board brought me back a little ways.

“I can’t remember the year exactly, but it was deer-hunting season, and I was out on a stand made to accommodate a wheelchair. It was a warm day for deer-season time, and my mind wandered as I watched the rabbits, and chipmunks, and other little critters preparing for winter, hearing bird calls I couldn’t identify, and, most fascinating — the wind.

“Now wind, at first blush, might not seem that interesting, unless it’s of the storming variety. This was just gentle breeze. I could hear the leaves rustle to my left, then atop me, and finally off to my right. I remember vaguely being a Sunday-school child and learning of God passing by as a wind, and I imagine this sort of thing was what that early believer experienced. (I’m not Bible-literate enough to tell you the story, but I’m sure someone in BB land is.) I even watched the leaves, with their movement passing in waves from one tree to another.

“And while I was so distracted, a doe had wandered into my field of fire. I was startled when I saw her there, and must have made some slight noise or movement, because she stared at me, ears twitching, then bounded right towards me. It felt like she was so close that I could reach out and touch her; actually too close to get off a shot. (I won’t fire on a deer unless I am sure I can down it quickly and without undue suffering.) And then she was gone, rendered invisible by the brush. I peered through my scope, but never saw so much as a patch of fur.

“Shortly after my encounter with his possible Mom, a young (likely born that year) fawn poked its head around a bush. I looked, and saw the doe again, her attention focused on the young animal. She presented herself broadside, as the fawn tentatively left its concealment to approach the adult deer. The doe was an easy shot — about 80 yards away, with target area fully exposed — but instead I just watched as doe and fawn touched noses, then bounded off.

“That evening in deer camp, when we all tell our stories of sightings and ‘almosts,’ I told only the part about the doe leaping towards me. I didn’t want to be the butt of jeers from the other hunters.

“Later, as we were wrapping up, and getting ready to go home, one of my party — a very seasoned hunter whose freezer never lacked for venison — told me how he once saw two does standing together with one fawn. He had declined to take a shot because he couldn’t tell which was the fawn’s mother. He said he watched the animals interact and eventually wander off. Then he looked at me squarely and said: ‘That’s what happened to you, isn’t it?’ I had to admit that it had. He clapped me on the back and told me that what I had done was good. He reminded me that hunters respect their prey — and almost have a connection to them of some sort. ‘You did the right thing,’ he said firmly. Then we resumed packing up.

“That’s it. Have a very happy day.”

Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division (responsorial)

Shelly J of Farmington asked Al B to identify this bird, which she had found dead.


We didn’t hear from our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland, but Aunt Hope (and Pastor Bird) identified it, in the October 27 Bulletin Board, as a Virginia rail.

We have belatedly heard from Al B: “Please excuse the delay in replying. I was put on the disabled list at Methodist Hospital Rochester. It’s all good. I have no complaints.

“The dearly departed appears to be a Virginia rail. It’s a fidgety marsh bird whose odd call I look forward to hearing each year. One of the many interesting things about this bird is that the rail’s forehead feathers are able to withstand wear from pushing through dense vegetation. This eliminates the need for Virginia rail males to wear baseball caps.

“Thanks for asking.”

The highfalutin amusements
And: Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson checks in: “From Time magazine: ‘Google takes its emojis very seriously.

“‘Responding to criticism about the placement of cheese on Google’s version of the cheeseburger emoji, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that he would take a look at the issue immediately.

“‘”Will drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday 🙂 if folks can agree on the correct way to do this!” Pichai tweeted.’

“The cheeseburger emoji that poor Google did create
“Has caused a lot of heartburn and a bit of feral hate.
“They put the cheese beneath the meat, which ev’rybody knows
“Is not the way it’s done, except by Martians, geeks, and schmos.

“Sundar Pichai, who is boss of Googleland, has vowed
“This pasteurized protagonist will never be allowed
“To sully screens or media where pictographs are used
“Until a firm consensus on its whereabouts is fused.

“The controversy rages -— should it go upon the lid,
“Or should there be two patties with the cheese placed in the mid?
“Oh Sundar, hurry up and think of something that won’t miss —
“Before the world goes mad and ev’rybody uses this: 👿”

Today’s helpful hints (responsorial)

The October 27 Bulletin Board featured this note from The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “I’m learning that there is a dirty little secret in the Retirement Preparation industry that has left me in a lurch.

“I tried to put enough money into a 401(k); I waited to claim Social Security until just the right time; I downsized and simplified my lifestyle to a sustainable level; I even took a little part-time retirement job.

“BUT: Nothing prepared me for this! I have been deserted by my life-support specialists one by one over the last couple of years, and no one warned me. My barber, my Doctor and my Dentist have all retired, too.

“Please don’t make the same mistake. If you are in your 50s and planning for your ‘golden years,’ Seek out replacements for your future medical needs by switching to younger examples of elder-care specialists. My guideline would be at least 15 years younger than yourselves, and certainly no one less than five years younger.

“Also: Recent experience has shown me that it wouldn’t hurt to make some new younger friends, too.”

We presently heard from OTD from NSP: “This happened to me several years ago. Doctor and dentist retired. Hairdresser went to part-time — but since I retired, I can work around her schedule.

“The worst one was that my contractor/handyman fully retired. He had remodeled my house twice and was available each year after he got back from Arizona to do the little things I kept a list of. He was cutting back, but still did work for a few people on a schedule he picked. That was fine with me; he was good, and I had depended on him for almost 20 years.

“The two handymen who were referred to me by friends were in the same frame of mind — basically retired, but helping out a few longtime customers when they had time; not taking on new people, and didn’t know of any leads.

“One of the semi-retired people took pity on me and did the work needed, again when it was convenient for him. (I was fine with that.)

“Sent an email blast to all my contacts (including my lawyer, accountant, financial person) hoping someone would have a good lead. Most replied with the same problem I had: The people they used were retired/retiring, and please let them know if I found anyone.

“Don’t know what I will do in the future. I have a list of several people, but they are booked up, more work than they can handle, don’t do XYZ, don’t know of anyone who does, etc.

“I also heard horror stories of work done that was not up to even minor standards. Basement replacement window made to fit by wedging a 2-by-4 on one side is not the quality of work I am looking for.

“This could be profitable area for someone. But, as was explained to me several times, the economy is good, and the knowledgeable ones are working at well-paid construction or finishing jobs. Good for them, but bad for those of us to just need a door fixed. Hopefully I will find someone before I need a handyman again. I just keep looking. But it is a good discussion topic at coffee after senior exercise class.”

Band Name of the Day: The Johnny Mathis Signers

Website of the Day, from Doris Day: “Found via https://www.improvisedlife.com/2017/10/30/poetry-of-falling-and-flying-in-a-magical-choreography-with-trampoline/.

“Weirdly mesmerizing:


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