Older Than Dirt
Or: The Permanent Motherly/Daughterly Record
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I’m at that age (OTD — or Older Than Dirt, for those new to the Bulletin Board) when one occasionally sees a social-media posting that asks ‘Do you remember this?’ and shows some type of object from your past, like a potato masher or whatever.
“When this happens, I often find that I not only recognize the antique object, but own one just like it — and still use it. For instance, I actually used my old potato masher over Thanksgiving.
“Recently a post about one of these ancient objects from days gone by showed a red/orange-colored pin cushion with green thread dividers that made it look like a tomato. Sure enough, I thought, I not only have one of those, but still use it.
“I was in the sewing/craft store last week and found out that brand-new tomato-style pin cushions are still being made and sold. When I saw the new ones, I recalled my old pin cushion at home, which had seen better days. It even had some sawdust stuffing leaking from a hole in it. For $3.50, I figured I’d replace my old one, and purchased the new one. I even bought a new box of straight pins.
“Back at home, I removed some quilt-tying needles from the old cushion and placed them into the new one. I stuck some of the new straight pins into it for my next sewing project. Then it was time to throw away the old cushion.
“I thought fondly of the many pins that have been stuck in it over the years as I sewed baby quilts for friends and then for those friends’ daughters.
“I remembered my mom teaching me to how to sew by hand and how I’d ask her to thread needles for me when my then-immature eyes and hands couldn’t do it. She’d lick the end of the thread between her lips to stiffen it before threading, and would hold needle and thread well out in front of her to see the minuscule eye of the needle through her bifocals.
“I don’t know; it was just one of those ‘Hi, Mom’ moments.
“It took some doing to say goodbye to that old pin cushion and throw it into the garbage. All that over a simple dime-store pin cushion. I guess I know what hoarders must go through.”
And: Out of the mouths of babes
Booklady: “Thanksgiving in the woods was a lively occasion this year. In addition to the usual suspects, we had a nephew and his family who relocated from San Diego to Wisconsin last February. Ophelia, age 1, and Clover, age 8, brought back an element that has been missing since the last group reached adulthood.
“Somehow or other during the meal, someone said there was no pie. Clover was horrified. The joke played out for quite some time, with Clover frequently asking ‘Is there really no pie?’ and various others shaking their heads ruefully, intoning: ‘No pie.’
“Finally, she had reached the end of her tether. Dramatically, she flung her hands in the air and announced: ‘What is there to be thankful for if there is NO PIE!’
“Thankfully, there was pie: three varieties, and plenty of it. I hope she won’t hold the ruse against us.”
The Permanent Family Record
Or: Our pests, ourselves
DebK of Rosemount: “Marrying a purebred Pole brought into my mixed-breed life the endearing custom of setting a place at the Christmas table for the Uninvited Guest. For 45 holiday seasons, no matter how numerous the expected diners, we have made space for that legendary drop-in Visitor. Thus far, he has failed to arrive — in the flesh, at least — in time to join the feasting.
“While our Uninvited Christmas Guest is a repeated no-show, we did — this very year — play hosts to uninvited Thanksgiving guests: about 20 members of the Pediculidae family. Having hitched a ride with the Wilmette grandkids, these party crashers kept a surprisingly low profile until about the time Taxman and I were finishing the post-pumpkin-pie cleanup.
“As soon as Sweet Caroline (she of the waist-long, thick black hair) discovered that there were Pediculus humanus capitis among us, all notions of thanking God and praising Pilgrims evaporated. Football-watching and Scrabble-playing, too, took a back seat to a full-throttle eradication effort.
“The invited guests have all returned home — perhaps a little more eagerly than usual — but it will be some days yet before we know if we were successful in quelling the invasion of the Uninvited. Until we can sound the ‘all clear,’ Taxman and I will keep close to home. However, Eldest Daughter must travel to New York City and Shanghai for business, which means that our newly minted Uninvited Thanksgiving Guest tradition may yet go global!”
The Permanent Grandfatherly Record
Her Majesty of Paradise: “As I was preparing for Thanksgiving and watching trash fill so quickly, I was reminded of my Grandpa J. He was a very fastidious man; everything in its place at all times, even in his workshop.
“Oh, his workshop; how I loved it! Everything there was organized into hand-made bins which were painted a shiny gray, as were the handles of all of his tools, the workbench, the basement floor, stairs and railings. (Incidentally, the handles of all the kitchen tools were painted white, same as all the clothes hangers in the house.)
“The wall leading down to the stairs held the broom, dustpan . . . and Grandpa’s twine system. He used twine for everything, much like we use tape today. Which brings me to my original thought: Grandpa J. would the wrap the entire week’s garbage in newspaper and tie it up with twine. The whole package was about the size of a football.”
Our theater of seasons
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Many years ago, I tried to carve a turkey design into a pumpkin using a pattern. It looked easy in the instructions and on TV. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t turn out well. I could have cooked an actual turkey in the time it took to make it.
“Then I discovered the Turkey Pumpkin Kit. According to the package: ‘It’s easy to create your own Turkey Pumpkin. It’s Fun! Kit includes one 6″ pre-painted wood turkey face and five 6” wood feathers. Pumpkin not included.’ Each wood part has a point on one end. There was a page of instructions, but they can be summarized as: Cut some small slots in the pumpkin, and stick the wood parts in. It really is that easy.
“This year I decided to get creative and used one of my homegrown pumpkins that wasn’t quite ripe, so the body was orange with a little green mixed in.”
The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Watch it! Don’t mess around with the grandchildren’s fond memories of Bessie and Jake’s Christmas trees!
“All I did was post this photo on their ‘Cousins’ page on Facebook.
“The photo was labeled ‘1917 — Ruth’s First Christmas.’ I said it tells a lot about Bessie and Jake. I said the humongous flag in the window demonstrated how patriotic they were during World War I. I praised my dad’s carpentry skills; the wooden doll bed that held up through all five of us girls. I mentioned that they really spoiled that 9-month-old baby with all the toys on her first Christmas.
“I should have stopped there, because when I said it showed their absolutely GOD-AWFUL tree-decorating style — which never really ever improved — it unleashed a flurry of protests.
“My nieces, now in their 60s and 70s, rose to their grandparents’ defense. My brother Johnny’s daughter: ‘In our mind they were always beautiful.’ My sister Nora’s daughter: ‘Oh the fun we had jumping up and down in the living room and making all the needles fall off every Christmas Eve.’ My sister Ruth’s daughter: ‘It was always a thrilling and exciting tree with small presents tied to its branches and provided memories of a lifetime and I’m glad that my mom’s first tree was just as perfect!'”
Our birds, ourselves
Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “I found a few trumpeter swans today in St. Croix County, Wisconsin.
“I hope your readers will enjoy the photos. They are a beautiful bird!”
Our birds, ourselves
And: Till death us do part
Al B of Hartland: “Two bald eagles, each in its own pet carrier, were moved to a site not far from the Chilkat River near Haines, Alaska. It was a frigid November day, and folks were dressed appropriately. Many people had gathered to see the release of two rehabilitated eagles.
“The eagles were stars. It was hard not to take a photo of someone taking a photo.
“To me, it was as if the world had been wrapped in bacon. That’s a good thing for a man who loves bacon. It was a perfect time, and it got even better. My wife had the honor of releasing one of the eagles. She did her job well. When the eagle flew, the applause was loud, easily overcoming the handicap of gloves and mittens. My heart flew with the eagle and danced with my wife’s smile.
“Love finds happiness in the happiness of others. It wasn’t all that long ago when I saw no eagles. They were ghosts. Francois de La Rochefoucauld said: ‘True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.’
“I’m a lucky man. I’ve seen it.”
Our theater of seasons
And: Our community of strangers
Thanksgiving Day email from Mounds View Swede: “Among the many things for which I am thankful is having a sunny Thanksgiving day. My neighbors’ hydrangeas were standing tall and catching the light, so I went out back with my camera to take a look.
“I hadn’t had purple coneflowers before, so wanted to see what these seed-heady things looked like. Some types of birds know to come and feed on these seeds, and it looks like some have been taken. Perhaps our bird expert, Al, can clue me in on what birds like them.
“One of my milkweed plant stalks was on the ground with its pod completely open for the seeds to get out. I assume they will give me some more plants next year, but that is another thing I don’t know about.
“And the tall grass I planted for winter decor was catching the light nicely again, so I took another photo.
“All this gave me an excuse to get up and out for a bit before getting to the chores associated with company coming.
“I hope all the BBers had a great Thanksgiving holiday. BB is one of the things I am thankful for and that I enjoy reading whenever it comes. Keep up the good work, my community of strangers. The more you send in, the less you are a stranger to me. I enjoy how much we have in common.”
It’s a small world . . .
Especially Around Here Division
Mother Mary writes: “A recent visit with friends included a discussion of booya and how we prefer most the one we grew up eating at our local or church festivals. My one friend also has fond memories of actually making booya with cousins.
“Many years later, and for many years, she hosted with her own family very fun and extravagant parties celebrating her favorite holiday, Halloween. The October timing coincided nicely with offering delicious, hot booya to her guests.
“So she contacted her uncle for the recipe. He sent her a copy of an old newspaper clipping from the St. Paul paper. Their family recipe was a submittal, many years prior, from the woman who is now her mother-in-law.”
Annals of sportsmanship?
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “In the old days of seven-man hockey, the teams often played without substitutes. If one team lost a man to injury, the other team would drop a player so the game could continue at even strength.
“And now to the Gophers-Alabama game. The teams were playing five-on-five when the Southerners lost a player to fouls. The Gophers then played five-on-four, since the Southerners did not have an available substitute. When ‘Bama lost another player to injury, the Gophers could have dropped a player rather than finish the game playing five-on-three. Which is better? To win a game, or to look good while losing?
It happens every Fall
Birdwatcher in La Crescent reports: “The Christmas-light gremlins are back!
“Every year when we put the outdoor lights away, they are all in good working order — and every year when we take them out of the closet, there are at least one or two strands that either half the strand doesn’t work or the whole strand doesn’t work.
“The only thing I can think of is that there are Christmas-light gremlins that come into our house — evidently when we are sleeping, because I have never seen them — and they destroy some of the lights.
“This year was no exception: One strand was completely defunct, and one strand was only half working. All were in working order when we put them away.”
Gma Tom: “Subject: Wondering.
“An unsolicited e-mail advertised ‘Low Cost Funeral Plans . . . No Health Check Required.’
“I laughed out loud as I wondered: What sort of heath check is usually required by funeral plans? Possibly if too heathy, one doesn’t qualify — or do they want younger applicants who will keep on giving?”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
Barbara of Afton: “Subject: Those erudite broadcasters.
“It’s almost too easy to make fun of these guys. Heard on last Sunday’s TV broadcast of the Vikings game: ‘Minnesota is knocking on the doorstep.’ Emphasis mine!
The highfalutin pleasures (responsorial)
A Lady Who Loves Little People: “Several times lately, I have found myself lamenting the fact that WCCO no longer broadcasts Twins games. I used to be high-octane fan who tried never to miss a game — even when the Twins played in California, and it was a school night. I’ve lost interest in the team since they left WCCO, and I haven’t listened to a game since then.
“When I read the first post in BB today, my heart skipped a beat! Could it really be true? In case I had misinterpreted the message, I reread the post. To make certain that it wasn’t my wishful thinking, I let several hours pass before I read it again. Third time’s a charm, and now, I am a believer!
“Thank you, BB, for spreading the fantastic news.”
Life in the Telemarketing Economy
Ginger girl writes: “Not long ago, I accidentally picked up an ‘unknown caller’ phone call. Darn! Another solicitation! After his spiel, and not wanting to be rude, I replied that I was sorry, but I was unable to give anything at this time.
“‘Oh, that’s OK,’ he replied, ‘some people give even less!’”
Joy (or Sorrow) of Juxtaposition
Clown Obits Division
The REF of White Bear Lake: “I know I’m not the only one (one never is . . . ) who reads obituaries to share, in a small way, the parts of a stranger’s life that their family offers. I was struck by Sunday’s pages, where two former clowns rested side-by-side.
“Maybe ‘former’ is the wrong word. Once a clown, always a clown, I suspect . . . .”
Now & Then
Our Living (and/or Dying) Language Division
The Farm Boy of St. Paul: “While I agree with Wayne Nelson that people seldom use the word ‘swell’ these days, I do find it useful on occasion.
“Such as when I greet a pregnant woman. First I’ll ask how she’s doing. If she says she is fine, then I like to say: ‘You’re looking swell.’
“(Note: Best done with pregnant women you already know. Who have a sense of humor. And you’re certain you can outrun.)”
Divided by a common tongue
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “(1) I always check the BBC online for balance-of-bias reasons, and this morning I found a piece on Harrison Ford’s rescue of a motorist in California who had rolled her ‘saloon car.’ A quick Google of that yielded this:
“‘an automobile having a closed body and a closed trunk separated from the part in which the driver and passengers sit; a sedan.’
“The crash happened after she drifted into the freeway ‘reservatio.’ I figured that one out on my own.
“Luckily no one was seriously injured, and the ‘Fire Brigad’ arrived quickly.
“No matter how you say it, Harrison is often a spot-on Johnny-on-the-spot!”
Band Name of the Day: The Uninvited Guests
Website of the Day: How to Make Booya