A little midwinter sunshine is always so welcome. Or, well, not quite always . . .

On the dark side . . .

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Here we go again.

 

“As I relax in our living room reading the latest Bulletin Board online posts, a blast of sinking 4 p.m. sun floods our condo. Damn! The Runabout hates this frequent dust-enhancing event and runs for her Swiffer. I will soon be reminded that the furnace filter needs changing, that the windows need washing, and that this is the dustiest place we have ever lived.

‘I hate it when she gets those bright ideas.”

Now & Then

Al B of Hartland: “The sweet in my dreams had eye surgery recently. It caused her to see two of me. She claimed that was a definite hardship.

“I remember when my mother had cataract surgery. It was different process in those days. It required a hospital stay, with mother remaining motionless in bed with a cushioned brick pillow on each side of her head to restrict movement. The procedure improved her eyesight. On the way home, she joked: ‘There are lines in the middle of the road!’ Entering her home, the first thing she said was: ‘How long have those cobwebs been there?’

“Everything went and is going well for my wife. I hope that my bride will come out of the surgeries with the eyesight of a rabid sports fan — one of those who never miss seeing a wrong call.”

‘Twas the season!

Mounds View Swede: “The family Christmas-gift practices when visiting in Missouri include creative wrapping and decorating of the presents. The scary-looking package below is an example, made for my 5-year old-grandson. He was kind of afraid to open it.

“When you opened it, it made it more scary yet.

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“As did the next layers.

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“Inside was this alligator-like mouth. When you opened the mouth, the tongue became a trigger to shut the mouth.

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“The idea was to try to toss these fish-like bean bags into it, so when they hit the tongue, the mouth would snap shut.

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“All this was created and made by the gift giver, his uncle. I enjoy the way creativity is expressed by different family members.”

Our theater of seasons
Including: The Permanent Family Record

Weezi writes: “Subject: Winters and Summers.

“Recalling Christmas times and winters:

“The program on Christmas Eve at our little Lutheran church (in what was then a village, and now seems like a suburb of the Twin Cities) was a big thing in our lives. For a number of years, our dad was the superintendent of the Sunday School program, and our mom was a teacher in it. Through the years, my three brothers and I were part of the Christmas Eve program. Like the rest of the Sunday School kids, when it was my turn, I would walk to the front of the church, turn around to face the congregation, recite my ‘piece’ and, when that was done, proceed back to my place in the pews. It was a Big Deal.

“Dad was usually laid off from his road-construction job for several months in the winter and had a part-time job sometimes at the auto/farm-implement dealership in our town, and he plowed snow when the county needed help. If these jobs were not available, we had very little money and depended on an unemployment check and food Mom canned that summer, and maybe even a small loan from the local bank. If we had the money, Dad would make fudge and his favorite, divinity.

“One thing I will never forget: One terrible winter when snow drifts along the road into town reached the electric wires, or maybe they were phone lines, and even the snow plows could not get through, my brother Bill skied about three miles into town and back for groceries (and perhaps he had other reasons, also). Wind-swept snow was so piled up that for fun we could jump off the garage roof into the drifts.

“Every Christmas Grandma O, Dad’s mother, sent us each a quarter. She had been a widow for years and lived in a small house next to one of her daughters in one of the larger towns Up North. I don’t recall my Grandpa O at all. Dad’s oldest sister lived near Washington, D.C., and was a civilian employee working for the Armed Forces as a translator, and she always sent a huge box of chocolates for Christmas. Working in a faraway place with a top-secret job, she was one of the women who opened up the world for all of us that follow. Grandparents on Mom’s side sent meat from the hogs and cattle they butchered in the fall. I could almost count on a girl’s coat that one of my cousins had outgrown, or several girl’s dresses from one of Dad’s sisters, and another sister was a wonderful seamstress and sent girl’s clothing. The only relative near was one of my mother’s sisters, and her family that moved to the ‘Cities’ in the late”40s or early ’50s. Through my life, she was so good to me so many times in so many ways; I will miss her forever. I stayed with her family in St. Paul for a short time after graduating from high school. I found work and moved to the YWCA for several months before connecting with friends and moving to an apartment.

“What a blessing that all of my aunts and uncles have been there for me over the years. I treasure the one remaining aunt.

“Recalling summers:

“I had several things I looked forward to, which probably seem strange to kids born after the 1930s. Extended family was so important. All of my aunts and uncles and grandparents were so good to my brothers and me. In the summer, we stayed with several families Up North, but mostly with our grandparents on my mother’s side and one of her brothers. My brothers helped with farm chores. I didn’t do much — during harvest took lunch and drinks to the men in the fields, collected eggs each day, picked mustard weed from the fields and ditches (for which Grandpa paid me a penny a plant). In the evening while the grownups talked downstairs, I would be upstairs in the guest bedroom with its handmade quilts and crocheted coverlets. I would put my ear near the grate in the floor between the downstairs and the room upstairs and listen. In the winter, heat from downstairs would flow through the grates upstairs to provide some heat for the bedrooms. The only phone in the house hung on the wall at the bottom of the stairs. To reach someone on their line, you cranked a little handle to ring them. You could create short rings and long rings, and people on the line knew it was for them when they heard their combination of rings.

“One summer, my cousin Marg and I stayed a week or so with an aunt and uncle who lived on a huge farm. We helped by cleaning eggs. We must have gathered and wiped a thousand eggs over the time we stayed there. [Bulletin Board notes: WARNING! Threat to contented dining, directly ahead!] We also caught chickens by using a long wire with a U-curve on the end to hook them by a leg. Then we picked them up and laid them on a leveled-off tree stump, holding them so their necks were against the stump, and, using a hatchet, whacked off their heads and threw the chickens to the side, where they flapped around headless until they finally collapsed. What a time! My aunts also put up with me one summer when my mother had breast-cancer surgery and was hospitalized for some time.

“What a great extended family!”

Cabin fever
Plus: Life as we know it

Two from Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: You know you’re bored when.

“You know that winter is getting to you when you order two clothing items online. You see that both are going through Kentucky, and you look the places up on a map. They are 118 miles apart. Both arrive on Friday.

“And yes, I just might need a life. . . .”

(2) “Subject: Why the world needs OCD folks.

“The recent bomb scare in Hawaii reminds me that the world needs a few nitpickers in key positions.

“If someone like me had been working on those bomb-alert messages, I would have been bugging my bosses for safeguards, better wording of menus and ‘Never Mind’ messages. On an average day, my tendency to dot every I and cross every T can seem unnecessary. But boy, could they have used me in Hawaii last week!

“BTW: I recommend the old movie ‘War Games’ — especially the part at the end where the computer plays Tic-Tac-Toe”:

 

Where we live (and he doesn’t) (responsorial)

Mrs. P writes: “I was looking for an email from last summer when I happened to reread a Bulletin Board from 6-13-17:

“‘IGHGrampa: “My brother in South Carolina sent me this.

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“‘“I volunteered to share our weather. In January, we will send him all the weather he wants.”’

“I wondered how the South Carolina brother is liking the weather sharing now.”

Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson‘s “Ode to Rotisserie Chicken”:

“From the Wall Street Journal: ‘The spit-roasted chicken emerged as a supermarket staple in the 1990s, paving the way for the array of prepared foods that grocery stores sell today. Now they are many grocery stores’ best-selling hot food item and a rare bright spot in an industry struggling to adapt to a shift away from packaged foods.’

“I think that I shall never see

“A bird on a rotisserie

“That I don’t find a toothsome sight —

“And normally the price is right.

“I bring one home and strip the skin

“And eat it all — I know it’s sin,

“But when you’re dealing with such baste

“You cannot beat such scrumptious taste.

“A bird and baguette near at hand,

“And I am Falstaff — fat and grand.

“No other chicken dish equates

“With what that turning pole creates!

Our times

Email from Donald: “Subject: And this was before they lost to the Vikings.

“From ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in Sports Illustrated: ‘A Louisiana man has sued the Saints, seeking a refund for his season tickets and attorney’s fees because, he argues, the player demonstrations during the national anthem caused his tickets to lose their entertainment value.’”

Till death us do part
Or: The great comebacks (Off the Field Division)

Monday-morning email from Ms. Sarcastic’s Mom of Mendota Heights: “I teased my husband last night by saying: ‘You know a football game really sucks when the man of the house switches to a Hallmark movie.’

“He retorted: ‘At least I know it’ll have a happy ending!’”

Band Name of the Day: The Big Deals

Website of the Day, from Doris Day: “A poem by Peter Engen. Long, but I liked it:
http://thesevenspot.com/articles/2018/01/22/4225_half_a_cup_of_coffee.”

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