NOTE TO READERS: Happy New Year, everyone. Ours will open happily (and unconventionally), with a two-week sabbatical from BBonward.com. PLEASE do send stories and pictures during our absence. If you don’t, there will be nothing to publish when we return!
In the meantime, we invite you to visit (and Follow, if you’d do us the honor) our very unconventional Twitter feed, where we will continue to post links to material we think you’d find entertaining and informative. (No tweetstorms. No trolling. Nothing that will persuade you that you were right to hate Twitter!) The address is twitter.com/BBonward.
Live and learn!
Ramblin’ Rose reports: “Subject: There’s Always Something New.
“I learned a new word this week: jollity. It sounds just like its definition: merry mood, condition, or activity; gaiety.
“What a happy word.
“I wish everyone in BB land much jollity in the new year.”
Month at a glance
Herewith, our traditional first-of-the-yearly first-of-the-monthly report, from The Stillwater Scouter: “On January 3, 1521, Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, which excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church. It was too late.
“On January 6, 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwineson, head of the most powerful noble family in England, was crowned King Harold II. Several others unsuccessfully fought Harold for the throne. Finally, William the Conqueror beat him at the Battle of Hastings. Billy was crowned the first Norman king of England.
“On January 7, 1789, America’s first presidential election was held. Only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. George Washington won the election.
“On January 8, 1790, President George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address to the assembled Congress in New York City. There was no national debt; nor was there a national trade deficit.
“On January 9, 1768, Englishman Philip Astley staged the first modern circus, in London. Trick riders, acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other components of the circus existed, but it was not until this day that the modern spectacle of the circus was born.
“On January 12, 1904, Henry Ford set a land-speed record of 91.37 mph on the frozen surface of Michigan’s Lake St. Clair.
“The first constitution in the American colonies, the ‘Fundamental Orders,’ was adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford, Connecticut, on January 14, 1639. Roger Ludlow, a lawyer, wrote much of it. The Orders put the welfare of the community above that of individuals and was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that ‘the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people.’
“The Boy Scouts movement began in England with the publication of the first installment of Robert Baden-Powell’s ‘Scouting for Boys’ on January 24, 1908.*
*One may infer that this is a day of which The Stillwater Scouter is fond. Correctly.”
Our theater of seasons
Kathy S. of St. Paul has a “Public Service Announcement:
“Until further notice, the question ‘Are we there yet?’ has been replaced by ‘Are we warm yet?’
“To repeat my mantra from last year: Remember: We are one day closer to spring!”
Our birds, ourselves
Wild Bill of River Falls, Wisconsin: “I was clearing a dusting of snow off our driveway when I came across this pattern in the snow, likely made by a crow.
“A heart! Or maybe a double heart.
“Was this thanks for leaving out food on these bitterly cold days? Or an early Valentine for some birdie sweetheart? Only the bird knows for sure.”
Our pets, ourselves
Susan Polfus writes: “Everyone in our family is pretty much very fond of all animals. That is, except for me. I’m not a real animal lover, but all three of my children are, and my late husband was, and so somehow I’m surrounded by animals all the time anyhow!
“My daughter Kim works retail management, and of course, with the Christmas-shopping season this past month, she’s been putting in some rather intense hours. So when she is home, her dogs are very glad to see her.
“Her chocolate lab, Dodge, came and sat next to her the other night, while she was relaxing on the couch and watching a little TV . . . and she had to take a selfie, because it was just pretty darn cute the way he was resting his head on her shoulder and put his paw on her arm like ‘She’s all mine now!'”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Granny Stad of West St. Paul writes: “The December 28th article regarding the federal indictment of six members of the ‘HAM Crazy’ gang in St. Paul explained the ‘HAM’ acronym as ‘Hoes [A]nd Money.’ I am a 73-year-old grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of two, and I don’t get around much anymore, but even I know the H in the acronym should be ‘Hos’ and not garden implements. (And yes, I know what a ‘ho’ is, and so should the Pioneer Press.)
“Oh well, maybe it was just a spell-check incident.
“Happy 2018, BB’ers.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Great Minds Division (Headlines Subdivision)
Rusty of St. Paul: “What’s the wager on our paper or the one across the river running this headline on January 2: ‘Ms. Smith goes to Washington’?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Even money, we’d say.
Today’s helpful hint
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Things your grandchildren should know.
“In this age of big-box home stores, it is important to teach our progeny the pitfalls awaiting the trusting souls of the righteous. Sometimes the customers at Menards and the other home stores put stuff back in the wrong bin. Check sizes of every item. Do not trust labels!”
Today’s helpful hint (responsorial)
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “When I saw that IGHGrampa was writing about Upright Time, I thought for sure it would be the same as my late mother’s version.
“When Mom was getting on in years and people would ask her how she was, she’d say: ‘Well, I’m upright!’”
‘Tis the season!
Or: The Permanent Maternal Record (responsorial)
G’ma Tom writes: “Like Wicki-Yah‘s mother [BB, 12/23/2017], I do themed Christmas trees, rotating several themes so that each is repeated every four or five years.
“This year’s was red & gold ornaments with gold garland, which followed last year’s blue & silver with blue & green garland etc. I do a red, white & blue patriotic tree, and most fun of all is the homemade & gift ornaments, which load the tree until not a branch is bare.
“One Christmas long ago, my daughter and I made many, many red, white and red & white bows of Sasheen and other ribbon for a ribbon-themed tree. The ribbons were
saved and used again upon the rotation interval until becoming too shopworn to look pretty, then were retired. And yes, once many years ago, we had an edible ornament tree with popcorn, cranberries and decorated cookies made with a German cookie mold.
“Such fun to remember these Christmases past. I love changing my tree themes each year, but also revisiting each one after a regular interval. That way I get to use all of my ornament collection, but just not all in the same year. This was my first Christmas without G’pa Tom, but the family and I carried on the same traditions and know that he is with us in spirit.
“Happy New Year to all of my BB family of strangers.”
‘Tis the season — still!
Mounds View Swede reports: “Much of the family always gathers at my sister’s house on Christmas Eve. She takes decorating for this holiday seriously.
“The largest Christmas tree is in the family room, where we gather after dinner to do gift exchanges. With 25-some people gathering, we’ve decided to make it simpler. If someone wants to do gifting, they can bring one gift and put it in the gift pile. Then we draw numbers, and each person who brought a gift chooses a package to open. Some of the gifts are serious, and some are gags. Once a gift has been opened and shown to the group, a later number may claim it, and then the person whose gift was claimed can open another one. This eases the pressure of trying to buy gifts for many people when time, energy, and/or money are in short supply. The emphasis is then on being together for fun and enjoyment. We often exchange our Christmas cards and letters then, too.
“In the ‘Sewing’ room is a family Christmas tree with stockings or ornaments representing every family member on its branches.
“The kitchen Christmas tree celebrates winter and snow, as do most of the other decorations there.
“Every windowsill has snow people on it.
“As does any shelves.
“Poinsettias adorn the antique cabinet.
“It’s fun for me to see what has been done each year. And I am glad storing all this is not something I have to do.
“My sister’s Christmas decorations extend beyond the kitchen, of course. The entry to the family room is garlanded nicely.
“As is the fireplace mantel. And that is real wood burning there.
“Any cabinet top has something of the winter holidays on it.
“As does every bookshelf.
“I especially liked the tulip “blossoms.” They add a sense of levity and fun to all this.
“I hope the readers have had good family gatherings this holiday season.”
Not exactly what she had in mind
Or: Dumb Customer Jokes?
Al B of Hartland reports: “I was ringing bells for the Salvation Army when a woman told me that I was the best ding-a-ling she’d encountered manning a kettle.
“I took it as a compliment.”
The little treasures
Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “This photo is 100 years old or so. Even if you don’t know who these kids are, it has a classic aspect to it.
“It is a picture of my mother, on the left, and her younger brother and sister, my aunt and uncle. Mother has a boo boo on her foot. The other two don’t look to be too happy about the occasion. I can’t describe my reaction to this photo, other than to say there is something I think everyone could enjoy in it.”
Now & Then
Tim Torkildson: “Recently I stopped by Zions Bank in downtown Provo [Utah] to pick up some foreign currency for a ceramic cookie jar I keep in the living room. It is known and loved by my grandkids as the ‘goodie jar.’ For therein I have stashed all sorts of sugar-sodden items. When they come to visit, they may pick one item out of the goodie jar. But lately they have been so quarrelsome about who gets what piece of candy, and so careless in wiping chocolate on my overstuffed chairs, that I decided on a sea change for the little twerps. So I got 10 rolls of pennies, five rolls of nickels, two rolls of dimes, and a roll of quarters at my bank in the supermarket. Then I dumped out all the candy and replaced it with the coins. From now on when they visit, each grandchild can stick in one hand and pull out as much money as they can grasp.
“But I wanted some foreign coins in there, just to mess with their minds (‘It’ll be educational,’ I tell myself defensively), so I stopped by the biggest bank in Provo and asked for several rolls of Canadian pennies. The clerk heard my request with blank astonishment, then replied loudly: ‘We don’t have any Canadian coins. Who would ever use them?’
“Canadian pennies were endemic during my Minneapolis childhood, 55 years ago. They somehow seeped across the border and made their way into the cash registers of stores big and small. And they were not worth the peel of an onion. In fact, when something proved utterly worthless, my parents would growl: ‘That thing isn’t worth a Canadian penny.’
“And pennies were real money back in those halcyon days. A postage stamp was only three cents. A fountain drink at Gray’s Drug in Dinkytown was five pennies. And when my allowance ran out in the middle of the week, I always chanted the incantation: ‘Find a penny, pick it up — all the day you’ll have good luck.’ And it usually worked, too: I’d find a penny or two nestled in the cracks of sidewalks or rolled into a crevasse at an asphalt parking lot.
“The shopkeepers were rather hypocritical when it came to Canadian pennies. Harry’s Grocery, on the corner of Como and 19th Avenue S.E., gave ’em out as change without so much as a by-your-leave. But when you wanted to buy an atomic fireball and tried to give Harry five Canadian pennies, he acted like you were trying to sell him a left-handed monkey wrench.
“‘We don’t take that foreign money here!’ he’d snarl at me, barely missing my head with a swipe from his arm extension gripper. The conniving raparee.
“And take it from me: Just by feel and heft, you could never ever differentiate between a good old Yankee penny and a Canuck one. You had to look real close to see if it featured Lincoln or those darn maple leaves.
“And the Post Office would not give you a stamp for a birthday card for your grandmother if you proffered Canadian pennies. So the reason you never got that card is not my fault, Grandma — wherever you are now.
“Word on the street was that Canadian pennies were not good even for fixing the blown ceramic fuses that were so common in household basements back then — at least in my house, where appliances were plugged into extension cords that snaked out of the wall like an erupting nest of vipers.
“I used Canadian pennies as ammunition for my slingshot when aiming at the squirrels who ate all the sweet corn in our garden. Or to put on railroad tracks for the passing locomotives to flatten.
“In my 20s, I moved to North Dakota. I think North Dakota had more Canadian pennies than Canada did. No one seemed to care. So I stopped caring, too.
“Here in the present, I never did get any Canadian pennies for my renovated cookie jar. Instead, the bank clerk talked me into getting a sheaf of 20 peso bills — which I wrapped up with rubber binders. I still call ’em rubber binders, just like my Midwest parents did. So don’t get on my case, you language elitists!”
The Permanent Family Record
Wicki-Yah: “It was Christmas with Harley Man’s immediate family and their descendants today. Some 39 of us were there to pass the newest grandbaby around.
“Cousin Rachel was snuggling with him when her youngest, one of a handful of giggling 3-year-olds, galloped into the room. He stopped dead in his tracks, looked up at her and said: ‘Who is that?’
“‘This baby is your cousin Cal.’
“Pointedly, the annoyed toddler replied: ‘Drop him. Just drop him off now.’
“He waved off the other toddlers and stood watch over his mother until he was sure she would not be bringing that baby home with them.
“Safe to say at least one of the family was not enamored with the new arrival.”
The highfalutin bemusements
And: What’s in a name? (responsorial)
The December 30 Bulletin Board included a note from Peggy T of Osceola, Wisconsin: “Subject: What was wrong with Alexa?
“I got an Echo Dot for Christmas. Christmas Eve, the family was showing all the things that Alexa could answer and do.
“On Christmas morning, we could not get Alexa to talk to us, so we called our son, Dennis, and he and his daughter came down to see what was wrong after giving me all kinds of suggestions.
“Dennis starting talking to Alexa, and she answered him right away. I asked ‘What did you do?’ and he said ‘Nothing.’
“Well. it turns out we were calling her Alexis, and she did not recognize her name. Whoops!”
We presently heard from Trying for Optimism: “Peggy T’s submission regarding the Echo immediately brought to mind a link that, at a family gathering on December 22, my nieces and nephews gleefully showed to our generation. Most of us don’t even understand the need for this device in the first place.”
Band Name of the Day: The Canadian Pennies
Website of the Day (because New Year’s Day is the best day to subscribe to the every-day-of-the-year emailed links to beautiful one-minute nature movies assembled from footage by Minnesota’s own Jim Brandenburg): Nature 365, at nature365.tv