And: In memoriam
Thursday email from Kathy S. of St. Paul: “William Kent Krueger writes books set in Minnesota. Most of them follow the character Cork (Corcoran) O’Connor, who is part Ojibwe and part Irish. Ojibwe words sometimes appear in the stories.
“An Ojibwe word that caught my attention is ogichidaa, which an online dictionary defines as a warrior or veteran. Krueger defines it as someone who stands between evil and the people he loves.
“I like to think of myself as ogichidaa — though some folks would think that my walking stick disqualifies me. Spider-Man, I’m not.
“This week there was yet another tragedy, and at least two ogichidaas died trying to save school kids from death.
“There can be no greater love than this.”
Ramblin’ Rose: “Subject: Heartbroken again.
“I had been eagerly anticipating our upcoming trip to Florida. The promise of leisurely soaking up the warmth and sunshine was enticing. Add in a couple of spring training games, and you had the makings of a first-rate break from old man winter. All of that has changed.
“This most recent tragedy has just taken the wind from my sails. How can anyone not be heartbroken by what has happened?
“Below is an earlier submission of mine, which you printed on June 17, 2016. You could have printed it many times since. Merely changing Orlando to any of too many other cities would have told the same story.
“‘We lowered our flag to half-staff on Monday. Its posture that afternoon seemed to reflect the great sadness of the events in Orlando on Friday and early Sunday morning.
“‘One of today’s early-morning news programs had an interview with one of the students who survived this horror and his teacher, who sheltered many students. It is worth watching; listen to this articulate young man and his perspective on how we can combat these horrific acts.
“‘Perhaps I will send this to every member of Congress. It’s not likely that it would get past their administrative staffs, but it would make me feel better.'”
Fun facts to know and tell
DebK of Rosemount: “Following a Saturday jam-packed with social events — a high tea honoring the legacy of President Lincoln, a fundraising gala for the parish school, and a Minnesota Historical Society-sponsored booze-up — my friend Jean and I were congratulating ourselves on having dodged the curse of royal blood, which would’ve brought us a steady diet of this kind of thing. As I later described the weekend’s events to Cousin Linda (who is burdened not with royal blood but with a nasty case of perfectionism she likely contracted at Smith College), I had occasion to write at some length about Jean’s experience at the MHS ‘Scotch-tasting’ (sic) event. With the object of edifying the BB community, [Bulletin Board notes: or parts thereof — some of us having known these things for too many years!] I offer Cousin Linda’s response:
“‘According to the Chicago Manual of Style Online (which I just consulted) one would capitalize the phrase “Scotch whisky” but not “scotch” when used generically. During my pursuit of this topic, I also learned that “whisky” is used to refer to that produced in Scotland, while “whiskey” is used when referring to Irish or American whiskey. So, we have Scotch whisky and Irish (or American) whiskey. Apparently, you can offend those in Scotland if you misspell their beverage. No specific mention is made of how the Irish would react to “whisky” as the spelling of their brand of scotch. Maybe they would . . . simply offer you a pint of Guinness and call it a day.’”
Our birds, ourselves
Or: The simple pleasures
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “I have never been much of a bird-watcher, though I really do enjoy hearing the joyous songs of robins and cardinals with the arrival of spring. Blue jays are pretty, but why do they have to make those HORRIBLE noises. Crows are fun to talk to (I do a mean ‘CAW!’ — though people look at me in a strange way if I get caught doing that.)
“Behind the parking lot of my apartment building, there is a small stand of trees, and, in one place, a fairly deep depression where water apparently remains open all winter. The ducks love it. I have found it to be quite entertaining to watch them soar over the treetops, and then do what looks like completely out-of-control crash landings down to the pond. Of course, then they have to brag about their exploits, and there is much quacking to be heard. Oh, and that quacking DOES echo, and sometimes I quack back at them. I would guess there are 50 to 100 ‘regulars’ that fly in and out daily.”
Keeping your ears (and eyes) open
Al B of Hartland reports: “It was cold, still and quiet as I replenished the suet in a feeder, I heard an odd whooshing sound overhead. It whooshed this way and that way. I turned this way and twisted that way in order to see the cause. It was a whirling flock of birds — a graceful movement of starlings called a murmuration. I could believe my ears.”
Keeping your eyes open (before they close once again)
Dolly Dimples: “Subject: How often would this happen?
“Woke up in the middle of the night. Looked at the clock and saw it was 3:33 a.m. Took a bathroom break, went back to bed and fell sound asleep again.
“Woke up and checked the time. 5:55 a.m.
“How in the world could I in one night get two readings, each with matching numbers?Amazing.”
Now & Then
A thankfully out-of-date email from Mustang Sally of Maplewood: “When I read about the possibility of a teachers’ strike in the St. Paul School District, it piqued my interest. The article said it would be the first one since 1946. I just happen to have a couple of photos of some teachers walking the picket line at Mounds Park (Elementary) School during that strike. The school was on Pacific Street, at the corner of Cypress Street,
on St. Paul’s East Side. The building still exists and has been repurposed as a condominium.
“I attended that school from K-8, but not until a few years after the strike. However, in 2009, some classmates and I planned a 50th reunion, commemorating our graduation from eighth grade at MPS. I went to the Minnesota History Center in search of some information, photos or whatever historical data I could find about the school. The attendant gave me a folder with a paltry few photos in it and absolutely no other information. I was expecting more.
“Maybe it was fate, as some of the photos were of my classmates. There were always two classes for each grade, and in the third grade, the OTHER class put on a play. The play was ‘The Billy Goats Gruff,’ and it was recorded and photographed by an outside organization (U of M, perhaps?). There were also a few photos of the school fire, which occurred in 1937. And there were photos of the school band from 1937, in which my eldest sister played the guitar, and I had never seen those. The photos of the teachers on strike were also in that folder. The teachers were still at the school when I attended, and I had Miss Ambler for kindergarten and Miss Ahlstrom for fifth grade.
“The following blurb was taken directly from a Star Tribune article (February 3, 2018):
“‘Bundled in sheepskins, thick boots and wool scarves, more than 1,100 St. Paul teachers and principals walked out of all 77 public schools and into the 3-degree chill of picket lines on Nov. 25, 1946. Some historians consider that walkout 72 years ago the first organized teachers’ strike in the nation — although others point to a 1902 Chicago teacher’s suspension and a large protest that ensued as the first strike.
“‘Two St. Paul women, born nearly a generation apart, led the 1946 charge for higher wages, smaller class sizes and school building upgrades during the landmark, five-week walkout. Chairwoman of the teachers’ negotiating committee, Lettisha (Tish) Henderson was born Aug. 23, 1902, in Superior, Wis. Her father, Bud, worked as a foreman at a horse stable. Only a year after Henderson’s birth, Irish-born Mary McGough started teaching in St. Paul. By 1946, she was the 61-year-old principal at Jefferson Elementary School. (Principals belonged to teachers’ unions until 1971.)
“‘“Lettisha made the snowballs and Mary threw them,” recalled one longtime member of Local 28 of the American Federation of Teachers.
“‘Henderson, 44 during the strike, was a no-nonsense negotiator who chain-smoked cigarettes and skipped wearing hats most ladies donned in the 1940s. McGough, 17 years her senior, was prim, proper but equally tough.'”
Life as we know it
Tim Torkildson, yet again: “Spring has to slug its way into North Dakota, every inch of the way, slashing and punching at snow drifts that tower over homes and tugging insistently at timid crocuses until they quietly show their heads above the frost-blasted dirt. Gigantic winds rush down from the Canadian Shield, immobilizing the mating of songbirds, ruining the very marrow of hope in your bones.
“But finally the cruel hullabaloo subsides and the Garden of Eden comes forth. The world seems newborn in its innocence and freshness. The milk-white clouds drift smoothly past a warm and soothing sun. The sage explodes in your nostrils; the livestock offer a distant chorus of life; sap trickles down withered tree trunks like tears down an old woman’s cheek.
“Such days are few and precious; they should be savored and stored in the golden silos of memory.
“I remember one such spring day in Tioga, North Dakota, many years ago, when Amy and I started our family. Our daughter was just 3 years old. Our son was 2. It had been a bitter winter, with our Ford throwing a rod, the heating bill grown gargantuan and unmanageable, persistent head colds, and a long debilitating stretch of unemployment. We were broke and viewed with some distrust by our Lutheran neighbors, because we were the only Mormons in town.
“It was a Sunday afternoon. Church was long over, and a goodly portion of roast chicken and mashed potatoes resided inside our happy bellies. Amy and I were on the front lawn of her parents’ house with the kids. Madelaine collected twigs and bark to make a ‘troll house’ against the trunk of the box elder tree. Amy and I played ‘animal sounds’ with Adam.
“‘What does the bird say?’ we asked.
“‘Tweet tweet!’ he responded in delight.
“‘What does the dog say?’
“‘What does the fish say?’
“He had to think a moment about that one, then responded: ‘Blub blub!’
“‘Well,’ I told Amy, ‘I’d better get going and finish my home teaching.’
“I had several church members to visit in a 50-mile radius, and I wanted to get started before it got too dark. Widows. Members who couldn’t afford to drive down to Williston anymore for Sunday services. Oil-field roustabouts who had strayed from their moorings in Utah. I visited them each month for casual conversation, and, if they wanted it, to give them a religious message.
“But as I said the words, I realized how very badly I wanted to stay right where I was, experiencing this perfect moment with my family. Have you ever had that perfect moment with your own family, when everything is smiles and warmth and understanding? I can speak only for myself, but such moments were extremely rare in my life — and they grew much scarcer as the years crowded in.
“So I did not go see the widows or wildcatters. I stayed on the lawn with Amy and the kids until the chill returned at sunset and the muffled boom of the prairie chickens died away. Adam decided that elephants say ‘Moof,’ and Madelaine added a second story to her troll condo for visitors who were not to be eaten. Amy and I held hands, needing to say very little to each other.
“I have thought about that particular spring Sunday from time to time since then. It was selfish to stay, to neglect my church duties. But it was also a well-defined pinpoint of happiness for me and my family, one that I still recall with the tug of a smile. I wonder if Amy or Adam or Madelaine have any memory at all of that moment long ago?”
Life as we know it (responsorial)
Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “Subject: Universal music.
“Thank you to IGHGrampa [BB, 2/7/2018] for the video ‘La Banda della Musica.’
“It was indeed very cheerful music, and while listening but not looking at the video, it got me to wondering the country of origin. I’ve often thought how closely Mexican music resembles German music with the horns and accordions. Having taken Latin in high school, when it was not yet a ‘dead’ language, once I looked at the video I cleverly deduced that the band was from Italy. (‘Italiano’ was my clue.)
“Interesting how that type of music crosses so many geographic and cultural boundaries!”
Ed of Spring Valley, Wisconsin: “Response to IGHGrampa [BB, 2/13/2018]:
“Yes, escalators are bi-directional. I have experienced this several times
when a large event ended and there were many thousands of people to
exit a stadium or arena. The workers would switch all but maybe one to
going down, to facilitate the mass exit of the crowd.”
The Puppysitter: “I’m not positive if I’ll be answering IGHGrampa‘s question or not.
“I do know an escalator can be bi-directional, in that it can either go up or down. If you’ve been to the Guthrie Theater and used their escalators, you’ll know it.
“If he’s asking about whether all escalators are built with the left/right configuration: No, they aren’t. I’ve been in many old buildings in downtown Minneapolis no longer used as what they were built for (think Dayton’s), and some of their escalators didn’t fit the norm. I’ve often wandered around looking for the opposite-direction escalator and, inevitably I go the wrong direction.
The Workshop Chronicles
IGHGrampa reports: “Subject: Shop work.
“I’m between projects now, so my time in the shop was partly cleanup and searching for a new and interesting project. I finally decided on a small eight-sided box. Getting the angles right seems like a challenge.
“When I started sawing, I realized I had misplaced my push sticks. They help me push stock past the blade of the table saw, thus keeping my fingers out of harm’s way. I looked all over for them and couldn’t find them (the push sticks, not my fingers). I can’t imagine where I might have put them. There’s no help for it but to just make some new ones. They’re simple and can be made from scraps of leftover wood.
“I had a double-thick piece of plywood from an earlier project I can’t recall. I cut two pushers from it, fitted nice handles on them and sanded off the rough edges. Tomorrow I’ll glue them up and put a bottom catch on them. After making them, I decided that they’re not quite right for the job, and actually fancier than I really need. I guess tomorrow I’ll make one or two that are simpler.
“Who’d think that one could spend so much time on a little no-brainer thing like that? But I did get a couple of hours of upright time — thinking time as well.”
Please release me! (responsorial)
Plus: Our theater of seasons
Bloomington Bird Lady: “I was so happy to see there is at least one other crossword-puzzle addict amongst our BB neighborhood! Nothing better to start the day than the New York Times — especially early in the week. They seem to try too hard to make those from Thursday on through Saturday unusual. Unless I can get ‘into the mind’ of the person who made the puzzle, it’s not going to be solved easily. Also, I don’t like to
read a long definition that is supposed to be the unlocking clue for many others. Anyway, today’s puzzle was easy. Did the paper put it on the wrong day?
“Does anyone do the Sudoku puzzle? For a few years, I loved doing those, but wasted a lot of time — and not really learning anything. For the past two years, I gave up the Sudoku for Lent. Sounds lame, right? Well, if one would do something really worthwhile as a substitute for the time wasted, just think of what could be accomplished! It’s a good time to start cleaning out drawers or whatever has been put off too long. Now it’s Ash Wednesday, so the time has come.
“The thermometer went up to 40 degrees today. Can spring be too far off? I’m ready to set the ‘frosty window’ photos aside until next winter!”
Our theater of seasons
Or: The Permanent Family Record (cont.)
A message from Hawaii, from The Daughter of The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My mom recently posted some photos from my youth, when my siblings and I would make snow sculptures around the yard when the Minnesota weather and snow consistency were just right. One of the photos my mom shared, she labeled as a penguin — but said she wasn’t really sure what it was.
“It was indeed the penguin named Opus from the ‘Bloom County’ comic strip that my brother and I loved reading in the comics section on Sunday mornings.
“I carried on the snow-sculpture tradition with my own kids and enjoyed making many fun ones over the years, including Winnie the Pooh, a unicorn for my kids to ride, some non-traditional snowmen . . . and they even tried their hand at making Stitch from the Disney movie ‘Lilo and Stitch.’
“Once we moved to Hawaii, the carvings had to be made out of sand, but the kids still continued making sculptures and occasionally burying each other in the sand.
“All too quickly, as they grew older, they became preoccupied with surfing and swimming, and the sand sculpting ceased.
“We usually come to visit our Minnesota friends and relatives only in the summer (I wonder why after your frigid last few weeks), so we haven’t made a real snow sculpture in a few decades now!
This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other ‘n the other (responsorial)
Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Gma Tom wondered if anyone remembers photo albums. I do. I have some of mine and some of my parents’, including their wedding album. I also have my divorced aunt’s wedding album, which someday I’ll give to my cousin.
“Photo albums evolved over the years, from blank pages onto which pictures were affixed by use of corners that were glued onto the page and held the photo; to spiral-bound books with adhesive pages covered by plastic, which one lifted to set the photos, then covered photos with plastic again; to pages with sleeves the size of the photo, into which one would insert photos. I’m sure there are other options, but these are the ones I’m familiar with.
“Photo albums of any type have been replaced by Shutterfly, which has an online program in which one creates their photo album, then pays Shutterfly to print a book to their design. I received such a book from a friend who has a nice camera and likes to take pictures, as a remembrance of a weekend road trip we took last summer. It’s beautiful.
“Kathy S. of St. Paul mentions fur stoles made of foxes, in which the mouth of the fox clamps to the other end of the next fox. I haven’t seen a multi-fox stole, but have a similar stole made of four minks, which was quite controversial to some when I was in college. I heard commentary about the fur, but wasn’t taking criticism because the minks were killed before anyone cared.
“People forget about the sheer practicality of fur coats in the Land of Winter. There was a reason people wore fur, and unlike those in warm-weather places, it wasn’t merely to show wealth; it was to stay warm. Speed limits were lower, roads weren’t as good and cars were cold even when the heat was on.
“Recently I was at a lunch where a guest wore a fur coat, commenting that she only got to wear it a few times a year, when it’s most arctic here.
“Mrs. Patches shared a crossword clue, requesting the first name of Mr Jingleheimer-Schmidt. I’m shocked that his middle name was neglected. Whenever they go out, they hear the people shout his first, middle and last names.
“The Gram With a Thousand Rules‘ pictures of snow sculptures were wonderful. I don’t have a photo of the snow bunnies we saw on Easter one year, when Easter must’ve been early; I wasn’t quite 3, and whenever we talked about that Easter, Mom asked me if I remembered the snow bunnies we saw. Alas, I remembered many other things, but not the snow bunnies.”
The Permanent Grandsonly Record (responsorial)
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “With regard to the Wicki-Yah post describing her grandson’s list of ingredients necessary for his next project [red paint, his bike, two kites, a metal bar, wood and a piece of rope]:
“Here’s what came instantly to my mind.”
Band Name of the Day: The Other Ends