How to battle the midwinter blues: shop projects, cheerful music, writing poetry . . . and steering clear of the “dark past”!

Life as we know it
Including: There’s nothin’ like a simile! And: Everyone’s a (literary) critic! (responsorial)

IGHGrampa: “Subject: Post-Season Blues.

“Like Tim Torkildson [BB, 2/5/2018], I often find myself fighting off the post-holidays blues.


“The holidays seem to have gotten extended. It was Christmas and New Year’s not that many years ago. Then merchants tried to lengthen the holiday mood with sales. Now it has been extended to include Groundhog Day, Super Bowl, Winter Olympics, Valentine’s Day and whatever we can add to it all.

“Will it ever stop? Do we want it to stop? I guess not.

“We all have to find our own ways to combat it all. We get into musings about our past and what made us what we are (or aren’t). My cousin who lives in Las Vegas has been writing about his times as an early-morning paper boy in Miles City, Montana, when he had to cope with very cold and snowy weather. For him, it was a very significant time.

“I think I’ve learned to avoid dwelling on the dark past, but am not very successful at it. One thing I do is go into my shop and occupy my mind at making things. Here is a pic of a couple of my recent projects.

“One is a Swedish-style sled for young children. One of my grandkids saw it in a book of woodworking projects and admired it, so I thought I’d build one. It still needs a coat of paint.

“The other thing is a Ping-Pong ball catapult. I actually made that months ago, but now I’m adding a cocking and trigger mechanism. The original plans didn’t have that.

“Another way I combat the blues is to find cheerful music on YouTube. I was going through the Andre Rieu videos. Those are nice and long, and cheerful, too.

“In the last week, I found this video. It has everything a somewhat grumpy old guy likes: cheerful, toe-tapping music, with lots of accordions, and pretty girls singing Abba-style. I like it, but it’s a matter of taste.

“I sometimes get into writing poetry. I have a bunch of this ilk.

“Traveling by Car/Relativity
“March 11, 2011

“Looking sideways out the window,
“that which is near the road,
“is going as fast as us,
“in the opposite direction.

“That which is farther away,
“is going the opposite direction,
“but not as fast,
“as that which is near to us.

“That which is farther still,
“is going the same direction as us,
“about as fast as we’re going.

“That which is farthest away,
“is going the same direction as us,
“but even faster than us.

“I wonder if Albert Einstein,
“ever thought of things like this.

“I was thinking of going mall walking, but I guess I’ll wait a few days. I like to go to lunch at a place where some of my old work cronies go. I haven’t gone for so long, they’ve probably forgotten me. Maybe I’ll go next week.

“My desk calendar says that this is Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He was born in Tampico, Illinois. He was one of our oldest presidents.”

This ‘n’ that

Chief Slippery Hands: “Subject: Superlative? Really?

“My high school had a riflery team, back in the day. When I was in 10th grade, I was number-one on the team. Since my surname is ‘Good,’ that year Good was best. The next year, a new kid on the team was number-one. His name was Beste. I finished second; thus, Beste was best and Good was better. Finally, my senior year, I was number-one again. So, Good was best, Beste was better . . . and Demrick was good.

“On another note: I took this picture last summer of a flying insect and meant to send it to BB for our resident entomologists to identify. I never got around to it, partly because there were so many other requests for help. It seems that now is a good time to ask, since it draws us back to a warmer time and serves as a harbinger of the ‘not-so-cold’ season.”


BULLETIN BOARD SAYS (AFTER CONSULTING NUMEROUS SOURCES): We are going to go out on a limb and say that’s a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail  (Papilio glaucus).

This is the site that cinched the deal: Butterflies and Moths of North America.

If we are wrong, please correct us!

Not exactly what (if anything) they had in mind

From The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: The enthusiasm was infectious, maybe even contagious.

“What a great Super Bowl game!

“I kept watching as the trophy was carried through the gauntlet of Eagles players and staff on its way to be officially presented. When I saw all the kissing of the cherished silver football, all I could think of were earlier reports of Philadelphia team members stricken by this year’s premier flu season. ( I wonder if Tom Brady had infected ball-boys attend Eagles meet-and-greets) In any event, I don’t think that was a very good idea, guys.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: If we ever manage to win any sort of trophy, we assure you that we will not be kissing it. Gross!

Help wanted
From: Our community of strangers (responsorial)

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “OTD from NSP wants a drying rack [for dish towels]:

Found something along that line. Japan is a good place for miniature items.


The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “Thinking about what OTD described: Would a pasta-drying rack work?

“I have one just like that, and it folds flat to store it. When set up, it’s probably about 12 inches long, by 12 inches high, by about 7 or 8 inches long, I’d guess.


Vanity, thy name is . . .

Papa on Elm Street: “Recently I saw a license plate that was the best I have seen. ‘2B KIND.’”

Our theater of seasons
Leading to: Perchance, to dream

Dolly Dimples writes: “I love snow! I like snow in all its manifestations: wet, fluffy, gently falling, swirling around in a brisk wind, even in the fury of a blizzard. That said, let me be clear that I do NOT like the bitter cold that sometimes accompanies the snow.

“When we were kids, we could hardly wait to go outside in the first snowfall of winter. All winter we enjoyed winter activities: sliding, tobogganing, digging snow tunnels, making forts and snowballs, snowmen and snow angels. A fence separated our yard from our next-door neighbor’s yard. When the snow was deep, we challenged each other to see who could walk on the top rail of the fence without falling into the drifts alongside it. If we did fall, we’d laugh and hoot and try again. Besides cross-country skiing, my favorite way to experience winter when I was older was to walk our little dog Roxy down the middle of the street after a fresh layer of snow had fallen. Our footprints were the first to imprint the snowy landscape, and both of us enjoyed the pleasure it gave us.

“You can see I like snow . . . but to dream about it? No way. But that happened to me a few nights ago. We’d had a 4-inch snowfall, and the accompanying wind had festooned our deck with lovely snowy mounds and shapes that took on a peaceful ambience which delighted me as I filled the bird feeder and bird bath. That night I had a dream where I was walking on our sidewalk in freshly fallen snow. Mine were the first and only footsteps in a beautiful sparkly, snowy world that stretched out all around me. As I walked along exalting in my newfound treasure, I spotted a paperboy coming in my direction. Oh, no! He was infringing on my solitude and my pristine landscape. ‘You’re walking on my unmarred snow,’ I said to him. ‘But it doesn’t count,’ I added, ‘because you are doing it for work, and I am doing it for pleasure.’ Then I woke up. Not a very logical ending to a weird dream.”

Life as we know it

In Search of a Pseudonym: “I retired last year in a ‘Take this job and shove it’ manner, and my doctor’s appointment today showed that I am very calm and destressed and low-blood-pressured and healthy. It is amazing. The last time I saw the doctor, I was in full work-stress mode, with high blood pressure, threatening tears, tight muscles and worse.

“I haven’t figured out yet what I am doing with myself, but I am very very very sure that I do not want to go back to that job.

“Our work becomes who we are instead of what we do, so I am in the midst of figuring out both who I am and what I want to do. Meanwhile, somehow half a year has gone by, and I am still just reading books and going to the gym, and sleeping in a bit, and I have no overwhelming urge to get ‘a real job.’ [Bulletin Board says: You might be surprised by how gratifying volunteer service is — particularly if those you are serving are grateful for your efforts.]

“For the first time in my life, I made a bold move and jumped without a net, and I have not looked back, and it has been great. Just do it!”

Clowning around
Or: The Permanent Rotten Kidsly Record

Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Rotten kids . . .

“My paternal grandfather was a gamekeeper on an estate in Northern Minnesota. His job, as far as it was ever explained to me by his cross-grained wife many years later, was to nab deer poachers and fish beer cans out of trout streams.

“My maternal grandfather worked for Pillsbury, and had something to do with creating a patented bleaching process for flour — which allowed him to marry a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl after walking out on my grandmother.

“Neither career appealed to me as a child. My own dad was a bartender for nearly 50 years — mostly noted for his reluctance to perform any duties more taxing than drawing beers. Patrons who dared ask for a mixed drink were told to go to hell. His career, also, held no fascination for me as I grew to manhood.

“When I attended the Ringling Clown College, and then went to work on The Greatest Show on Earth as a First of May, I thought I had hit on a job that my children, provided I had any, would love to emulate.

“Eventually my wife and I had eight children. They grew up with a father who was an active circus funnyman. But not a one of them ever evinced the slightest interest in following in my oversized footsteps. Not. One. Of. Them. Rotten kids . . .

“Instead, they became computer programmers, housewives and mothers, construction workers, supermarket managers, military veterans, and missionaries. Rotten kids . . .

“Where did I go wrong? I tantalized them with rousing stories of blowdowns and hey rubes and the origin of pink lemonade . . . I regaled them with the fascinating eccentricities of showmen like Irvin Feld and Tarzan Zerbini . . . I described in loving detail the peculiar talents of comic geniuses I had personally worked with, like Otto Griebling, Barry Lubin, and Steve Smith. And I sent them hundreds of postcards while on the road, illustrating fascinating items like the world’s deepest well in Kansas and Nevada’s fabled jackalope. Despite all this, whenever I would coyly ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up, they always answered with something disappointing such as ‘an astronaut’ or ‘a Barbie Doll.’ Rotten kids . . .

“Determined to pass on my slapstick heritage by hook or by crook, I dragooned the older kids into clowning with me during the winter hiatus — when I was able to book school shows in the Midwest. I coached my oldest son, Adam, in the whipcracker gag. I taught my oldest daughter, Madelaine, to sculpt balloon animals. And I corraled half a dozen of them to stooge for me in an original gag I created around the Sons of the Pioneers’ song ‘Cool Water.’ Every time the word ‘water’ is sung, the kids shot me with water pistols, spritzed me with seltzer bottles, and poured pitchers down my pants. Messy, but a sure fire laugh-getter.

“But do you suppose my own little darlings, the seed of my loins, enjoyed drowning their dear old dad in front of a mob of giggling fifth-graders? Not a bit. They always complained they’d rather stay home to play video games or make friendship bracelets. Their mother, bless her soul, is an accomplished musician, and our kids relished their piano lessons and singing in the church choir — but when I offered to teach them to play the musical saw, they one and all gave me the stink eye. Rotten kids . . .

“The crowning infamy occurred some years back, when we lived in Salt Lake City. By then we had our full complement of eight children, so even taking them all to a movie involved considerable planning and expense. I had wangled front-row Annie Oakleys to Ringling Brothers, playing at the Salt Palace, from my old circus compatriot Tim Holst. As VP in charge of Talent, he graciously provided the ducats to a Saturday matinee and then arranged for us to go backstage on a brief tour, including clown alley — my old stamping grounds. By then I had bowed to the inevitable: There would be no Lou Jacobs or Peggy Williams to carry on the Torkildson name and clowning tradition under the big top.

“But still — front-row seats at the circus! What normal child could resist the thrills and laughter sure to follow? I had no doubt they would be the envy of their peers, getting up close with clowns and elephants and lion tamers — what a coup for a kid! And they could boast about how their old man had been there, done that . . .

“But the little fiends double-crossed me. They all came down with the flu. So instead of spending that Saturday chortling at the antics of the Ringling buffoons and swooning over the aerial acts, they lolled about in their beds, feverish and nauseated, being served Jell-O and fruit juice by their mother, and being glowered at by me. Rotten kids . . .

“Well, as the years have lengthened and I have thickened, I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones. To bury the custard pie. They’ve all turned out pretty decent, although there’s not a putty nose among ’em. And they’re giving me grandkids now. Hmmmm. Maybe for Thanksgiving this year, I’ll dust off the old spinning plates and invisible dog leash to test the waters with them. They do say that talent often skips a generation . . .”

What this country has been needing?

RLM: “To the NFL powers-that-be:

“Here is a photo to help you resolve the team’s controversial name and logo. Keep the name, just change the logo. Easy-peasy!”


Band Name of the Day: Rotten Kids

Website of the Day: Butterflies and Moths of Minnesota



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