Our pets, ourselves (responsorial)
DebK of Rosemount: “The Happy Medium’s story of the Maine coon cat leaping onto the dining table — more specifically, onto the roast beef being served to guests at that table — brought a resurgence of the psychological pain I experienced a decade or more ago when one of our house cats inflicted a similar first-degree assault on an entree.
“The scene of the crime was one of those dinner parties for which Taxman accuses me of ‘putting on the dog.’ I prefer to think of it as putting my best foot forward. Whatever the phraseology, my preparations involved scouring the Rosemount house, hauling out the garage-sale china (a story for another time), and giving a muscular pressing to the white table linens. And, of course, preparing wine-braised lamb shanks, a dish much favored by the guests of honor: three priests renowned for their scholarliness and personal sanctity, but also for their fondness for a good feed.
“The first course — a lovely melange of baby beets, shallots, chives, and goat cheese, as I recall — was well enough received. But even as the diners tucked into their salads, they were thinking (and talking) about the main course, for the shanks were giving off an aroma that commanded attention. As soon as decency permitted, Taxman whisked away salad plates and I hied to the kitchen, where I hastily piled the steaming lamb shanks onto a large platter. Basking in a chorus of oohs and aahs, I wrestled the platter onto the center of the table. I had just seated myself and was arranging a napkin on my lap when a gray missile launched from the piano bench on a trajectory that bisected air space between Fr. English Professor and Fr. History Professor. It — our Russian Blue house cat Jackie — landed on all four feet in the tiny space between the lamb and one of the side dishes; polenta, I think it was.
“Taxman and I were dumbstruck. Fr. Philosophy Professor emitted something that might have been a mild oath, and Fr. History Professor ducked for cover. But Fr. English Professor was unfazed. Rising adroitly from his chair, he plucked Jackie from the mountain of meat, dropped the offender to the floor, and helped himself to the largest shank in the pile.”
And now Vapid in Vadnais: “Today’s story by The Happy Medium reminded me of a long-ago episode.
“My sister’s friend Joy was a wonderful cook (probably still is, as far as I know). She had invited her man friend, Gary, to dinner one Saturday night. Lasagna was prepared and placed in the oven. In a supervisory capacity was Sylvester, a Maine coon cat. He took up a position on the top of the refrigerator and waited.
“The garlic bread and salad were made, and when the timer dinged, Joy took the lasagna out and placed the pan on a rack to rest. Sylvester took a leap and landed squarely in the middle of the pan. He discovered that the lasagna was far too hot for his paws, yowled and bounded away to lick his feet.
“Joy studied the main dish for a moment. After flattening it out and adding more cheese, she heated it for a bit until the new cheese was golden — and, without an ounce of guilt, served it to Gary (who apparently wasn’t that dear to her). He had three servings, and Joy ate salad.
“Oh, the things we did in the ’70s.”
The little treasures
And: The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “All the stories about Darwin, Minnesota, and its giant ball of twine sent me searching in my dad’s photograph album.
“I don’t think my Aunt Florence won any records in Iowa back in 1910 with her 33-pound ball of twine, but she was obviously pretty proud of it.”
Only a ________ would notice!
Mattzdad of Rochester, Minnesota: “Lately there has been a Medicare enrollment-aid ad on TV with people looking at a giant hedge. They are approached by a lady riding on a piece of machinery. They call it a bulldozer.
“It is a front-end loader, not a bulldozer.”
Sleepless from St. Paul (in Minneapolis) writes: “I missed the Halloween deadline (intentional wordplay) for this submission about this picturesque cemetery. This cemetery lies at the base of a medieval Alsatian village. It may sound creepy, but I found it very pleasant strolling through this cemetery. I have more blood relatives buried here than I have walking around all of Minnesota.
“About 20 years ago, I made my first trip to this Alsatian village for some adventure and to trace some of my mom’s ancestral lines. This village lies in the wine-producing region of Alsace. One account I read states that the Romans brought the vines when they conquered Alsace in 58 AD. Julius Caesar was said to be fond of Alsatian wines.
“The Romans were later driven out by the Germanic tribes.
“There is also Merovingian cemetery close by.”
Now & Then
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: A rambling rambler story.
“I’ve built a lot of decks in my life. The last one was always going to be the last one. I built later add-ons to many of the structures, too. I call the phenomenon of roofing and screening in existing decks to become three-season porches, and then adding a deck to them, ‘Creeping Remodel Advancement Procedure’ — or C.R.A.P., for short.
“When did we become so obsessed with hanging platforms all over our homes? Probably back in the ’60s, when front porches started getting ripped off. We had a nice front porch on my boyhood home. I used to sleep on it sometimes in the summer. As I’ve reported earlier, my mother had it torn off, along with the second story. She liked the neighborhood, but wanted a modern-looking three-bedroom rambler like they were advertising on TV back then. TV changed my life.”
Our birds, ourselves
Al B of Hartland: “A doctor from England who is working here told me that he was stunned when he saw a cardinal.
“I told him that I feel the same way.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Or: Not exactly what they had in mind
LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud reports: “I’ve been enjoying all the beautiful photographs from fellow BBers. Thank you!
“Here are a couple of pictures I took at the Smithsonian, where I recently visited for the first time.
“Even the bathrooms were objects of wonder and discovery!
Life as we know it
Mom in Boyland: “Subject: Tricks and treats of aging.
“My husband and I were wondering if there’s a name for refilling your Halloween candy bowl with your kids’ freshly gathered candy, to hand out again. ‘Re-treating’?
“One of my favorite things about Halloween is catching up with people in the neighborhood we rarely see anymore. Many of them have kids who played with ours years ago, but who are now in high school and college. Lucky for us, we still have a little trick-or-treater to take around.
“This year, I was amazed at how old my neighbors are getting. The graying hair. The heavier-set builds. As we’re all about the same age, I’m sure they were thinking the same about us.
“It’s so strange how you expect people not to age since you’ve last seen them. Both a trick and a treat.”
Life (and death) as we know it
Bloomington Bird Lady reports: “After 26 years of driving our old Plymouth Acclaim, it finally entered ‘eternal life’ in the form of ‘usable parts’ as a company gave us $110 and towed it to St. Paul.
“I had asked Birdman if he had cleaned out the car’ shortly before our appointed time for towing. ‘Yes,’ he said — but I know he does not see what I can see. Carrying a flashlight, I walked out to the curb, got into the back seats, and could see many coins underneath the front seats! Wow! I am from the generation that still picks up pennies on the sidewalk, so when I saw quarters, it was like a jackpot suddenly. Now our stash of coins that we take to ‘Savings’ was $2.35 ahead.
“This car has seen a lot in its day. We bought it new, our first really new car, and babied it with frequent washing and check-ups. This was to be our one and only car for a long time. I had not been used to having a second car, so walked everywhere, or rode a bike. This might have something to do with staying healthy and fit for many years without even trying.
“Within the car’s memory must be lots of parking lots for the places Birdman worked. One of those lots (the one by the Wild Bird Store) being roofless, allowed the Plymouth to pick up many small dents from a hailstorm. We never did use the insurance payment to get the dents out, as back then we needed cash sometimes. Poor car.
“As we watched it get hauled up the street, all trussed up and with a magnetic light on top for safety on the road, we choked up a bit, as a part of our life just died. We now give thanks for its long life, and the total lack of accidents!”
Now & Then (responsorial)
Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Bloomington Bird Lady talks of the relative safety of children in the ’60s.
“Anyone remember Dennis Linehan? In 1965, he murdered a 14-year-old babysitter while he was sexually molesting her. That wasn’t his first documented sex crime. The girl he murdered was my babysitter’s classmate. Not long before that happened, I’m told there was a night when all of the dogs in the neighborhood were barking. Mom was convinced that he was out there that night, looking for a victim, unsuccessfully.
“The babysitter in question was minding her own business, and he lured her outside, first breaking the lightbulb on the porch, then ringing the doorbell. Although we idealize those days because we didn’t have a 24/7 instant news cycle, I believe that crime was still out there, but we didn’t have immediate knowledge.
“At the time, molestations by strangers were something that might hit the court system —but that was far less likely if the molester was someone known to the victim. (Molesters are more likely to be family or friends of the victim.) If the victim talked, and the parents or other adults believed that something had happened, it was typically taken care of privately, one of those vigilante posse things, or at least your dad and his friends Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson would strongly suggest the accused leave town.
“The tragedy is that so often victims were intimidated, either by the perp or the perp’s status — or their parents would shame them, because they didn’t believe that someone of that stature would do such a thing. Now we know that molesters are everywhere, deliberately getting into a position where they have (a) credibility in the community and (b) access to victims, to minimize repercussions if caught.
“My brush with some pervert was at the mall when I was 14. I had been dropped off to do my super-double-secret Christmas shopping when some older man, who I now estimate to have been in his late 30s or early 40s, approached me, acted like he knew me and asked me to go outside for a walk with him. In Minnesota. In December. I was terrified, informed him that he must be confusing me with someone else and didn’t go for that walk. Because I didn’t know what to do and had been raised not to make a fuss, I wasn’t equipped for that particular conversation.
“Remembering that, a few years ago, I was at a restaurant with a friend, where the high-school-aged hostess looked agitated — and when I asked what was wrong, she told me of the creepy guy wanting to take her picture, leering at her from the bar. She hadn’t told the manager; I told her she needed to do so and told her she had the right to feel safe at work. When I checked with her before leaving the restaurant, the manager had thrown him out because he was being inappropriate. I told her to be on the safe side and walk out at the end of the night with others.
“I don’t think that kids are educated on what to do in these situations.”
Tim Torkildson offers these glimpses of “my Sunday-morning walk.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Satan 0-for-3.
“My wife (and cat) awakened me this morning with news that the newspapers had not been delivered.
“As I dressed to fetch them from a neighborhood store, the Church Lady from ‘Saturday Night Live’ was going through my mind (for no reason I could think of), and her refrain: ‘Could it be SATAN?’
“At the store, while picking up the Twin Cities dailies, I glanced at the New York Times headlines. One caught my eye: ‘Russia-Financed Ad Linked Clinton and Satan.’
“It included this sentence: ‘One account, Army of Jesus, published an illustration of an arm-wrestling match between Christ and the devil. “Satan: If I win, Clinton wins!” the headline read.’
“That reminded me of the song by the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, “Sleeper Hold On Satan.” Recommended highly:
“A bad day for Satan.”
Band Name of the Day: Mountains of Meat
Website of the Day: 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest, Part II