The Cubs were on the prowl. The moon was in eclipse. The East Sider was out on the deck. And who was that then, lumbering up to join him?

See world

Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “Subject: Nature? In St. Paul’s Rockin’ East Side?

“Even on the East Side of St. Paul, nature can make an appearance. Knowing that doesn’t make this city kid any less surprised when it does.

“It was a couple Octobers ago, on the night of a lunar eclipse. I had taken up my position on the deck in back of our house. I had my chair set, my tablet was charged, and headphones were in place, so I could listen to the Cubs in the playoffs while I watched the earth’s shadow move across the face of the moon.

“I was a tad chagrined that my wife and son weren’t all that interested in the celestial event. They did indulge me a couple times after my repeated requests to check out the progress, but then they’d head right back to whatever were doing. Their loss.

“As the event moved along, I caught a glimpse of movement by the back door of our house. It was out of the corner of my eye, so I didn’t quite see it right away. My brain’s first guess was it was one of the neighbor’s cats or perhaps a dog. I turned to get a better look and saw it was a raccoon!

“Look, I know raccoons aren’t that uncommon; it’s just not something I expected to see.

“I sat in stunned silence as the critter, larger than I had assumed they were, made its way onto the deck. It was moving in a large circle, with its path was taking it right to where I was seated. Evidently, it wasn’t aware of my presence.

“It was about three feet from me when I decided I had better say hello.

“‘Um. Hello. Somebody is sitting here.’

“It stopped in its tracks, and I gingerly, quietly, but quickly, stood and went into the house. I urgently gathered the wife and the boy. ‘Get over here right now! Come see what is on the deck!’ I said quietly, but forcefully. They came to the back door and looked out to see our unexpected visitor as it climbed off the deck and made its way into the back yard and then out into the night, having confirmed that nature does indeed reside on the East Side of St. Paul.”

Their theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede has received and passed along “some more photos of apricot blossoms and the recent snow in Oregon.



“I thought it was interesting that the white petal caught the shadow of the snow crystals behind it. It reminded me of the frost patterns I have been seeing here.




“Although my son and family have lived there for years now, this is the first time I am seeing apricot blossoms. His new phone takes pretty good photos.”

Mounds View Swede again, shortly thereafter: “Here are some more snowy apricot blossoms.




“This one reminds me of the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., that sometimes grew out of a larger branch or even the trunk.



“You would think that with all these blossoms, more would succeed. I don’t know how they pollinate, but if they are waiting for bees to help, perhaps it is still too cool for them.”

Joy of Juxtaposition
Comics Page Division

Semi-Legend: “Saturday’s Pioneer Press had two comic strips stacked with identical themes, and with a fairly clear target demographic.

“Teri Liberson’s ‘Pajama Diaries’ had three women drinking wine:

“Woman 2: ‘Do you think the days of moms judging moms are over?’

“Woman 3: ‘No. But I do think it subsides as we get older. We’re too knowledgeable. We’ve been through our own challenges and have enough experience to empathize.’

“Woman 1: ‘Or we’re just too tired to give a [black horizontal bar].’

“Woman 3: ‘Truth.’

“Below it, Sandra Bell-Lundy’s ‘Between Friends’ had two women over coffee:

“Woman 2: ‘When things get overwhelming, my new mantra is: I’m doing the best I can. Is that a cop-out? An excuse? Or is it a reflection of age?’

“Woman 1: ‘Who the %&$# cares?’

“Woman 2 thinks: ‘Reflection of age.'”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”

Dennis from Eagan: “You gotta love this sign today, about a half-mile from my home.


“On February 9, my wife and I went to Philadelphia for a few days to see our son. On the way to the Sixers-Pelicans game at Wells Fargo Center, we passed by this sign for Eagles fans at nearby Lincoln Financial Field’s entrance.


“Based on visiting Vikings fans’ reports of abuse by the locals there at the NFC championship game, I doubt that any of these rules there were strictly enforced.”

The great comebacks

KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: It’s all relative.

“As we were waiting to board our flight to Tucson, I mentioned to my wife that it was 34 degrees at our destination.

“Without missing a beat, she replied: ‘But it’s a dry heat.'”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: “But it’s a dry cold” would have been even better — no?

That’s about the size of it

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: The little things in life.

“As a youngster, there was something compelling to me about being served a miniature version of what usually would be a larger food item.

“I am reminded of this every time I eat a Swanson’s frozen meat pie. (The Runabout just baked a turkey one for me, and I must say that it tasted exactly like my mother’s.) If it was the very same product, doled out in scoops from a large pan and plopped on my plate, I’m sure it would have tasted decidedly different.

“Likewise, when mom made regular-sized fruit pies, I always preferred the extra filling and crust she baked in my own special tiny pie pan. Compared to a wedge of standard-sized pie, an individual little Doryman‘s pie was unforgettable.”

The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “It seemed like such a great idea at the time . . .

“The highways are filled with dirty cars right now. When I was a kid, our car was always dirty — except after a thunderstorm. Dad figured if his car was supposed to be clean, God would damned well make it rain. I remember him hand-washing his car only once, and then I was hiding in the house watching him out the window so I couldn’t hear his cursing.

“My dad’s car had been particularly dirty that day. It was the mid-’30s, when every day was dry and dusty and his big, black, boxy car was covered in a thick coating of dust. I was playing with a couple of little neighbor boys and being a little bored and looking at all the dust on Daddy’s car we decided to pretend it was a blackboard. Homer wrote his name, Eddie wrote his and I wrote mine — all in foot-high block letters. As soon as we stood back to admire our handiwork, our little brains realized that no good was going to come of this. Homer and Eddie scattered, and I scurried into the house.

“Daddy went outside shortly after that, and seeing what we had done to his car, he blew his top. He stormed into the house for some rags and a pail of water so he could wash the blankety-blank car, all the while cursing those little hoodlums for not only writing their names on his car but putting the blame on me by writing my name, too.

“I sobbingly admitted my part (primarily out of fear of what he might do to my friends when he got hold of them), and all the fire went out of my father. He hugged and kissed me for confessing and launched into tales of worse things that he had done as a child.

“He still wasn’t happy about having to wash the blankety-blank car, but he no longer thought we were all would-be-criminals.”

Then & Now

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Times keep changing — or: They’re baaack.

“When the Bulletin Board column started, I used to cut out my items that were published in it — like this one, with the names blacked out because my family members want anonymity.


“What struck me about this is how times have changed yet again. I wrote this assuming that CDs would totally replace records — which was correct when I wrote this, but is not correct now.

“To quote Yoda: ‘Always in motion is the future’.”

Vanity, thy name is . . . 

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “This personalized plate was on a Ford minivan with a female driver in the parking lot of a Roseville supermarket: ‘1-WENCH.’

“No comment.”


The workshop chronicles

IGHGrampa reports: “I might have better results on some of my woodworking projects if I’d just stick to the plans.


“I’m always thinking it will be nicer if I do this or that differently.

“Case in point: my current project — an eight-sided knick-knack or jewelry box. It’s an interesting project with angle challenges. I have to cut the sides at 22.5-degree angles —not easy with my antiquated equipment. Small errors tend to multiply over many parts. I think I’ve got the side angle challenge solved. All I have to do is trim the sides a little so they’re at a 22.5-degree angle relative to their length and a 90-degree angle relative to their height. Sounds easy as pie, right? [Bulletin Board replies: If you say so!]

“But I had to add another complication to it. I didn’t think the top looked good made from one solid piece of wood. It would look better with an octagon-shaped top made with eight triangular pieces of wood. This picture will show what I mean.

“When I do something new, I have to do some test pieces. That’s why there are a couple of things that don’t look like part of the box.

“I have to glue up the eight box-side sections next.

“I’ll keep you posted.”

Not exactly what they had in mind
Headline Division

J.L.S.: “Amazing headline in St Paul Pioneer Press, February 27, 2018: ‘Lawmakers ask Dayton to seek Real ID extension so folks can fly with driver’s licenses.’

“Those would be some awesome licenses!”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Is golf becoming a contact sport?

“This appeared in the ‘BRIEFLY’ section on Page C15 of the Sports section in Sunday’s edition of the Minneapolis paper:


“‘Jaguars giving Bortles extension’

“‘The Jacksonville Jaguars are finalizing a three-year, $54 million extension that will keep quarterback Blake Bortles under contract through the 2020 season . . . .’

“As a ‘quarterback,’ will Bortles be joining Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker as vice captains for the 2018 Ryder Cup?”

The Permanent Daughterly Record

Corgi Lover of White Bear: “One day, my husband and I took our 4-year-old daughter shopping in St. Paul’s old Golden Rule store. We found the elevators and entered one. When the door closed, my husband pushed the 3 button. We stood for a few seconds before the door opened again and we stepped out, upon which my daughter, looking up at me, asked: ‘Mommy, why did we go in that little room?’

“Today, my daughter knows all about traveling in small spaces.”

The Permanent Granddaughterly Record

Rusty of St. Paul: “My cousin’s wife was speaking of her granddaughter, Alice, who is older than 2 and younger than 2-1/2. She is smart and strong-willed.

“Alice was trying to sleep with her parents in their bed. Her father was tossing and turning and mouth breathing and snoring, preventing Alice from falling asleep. She prodded him awake and said: ‘YOU! Are annoying me! Now SETTLE down!’

“Her mother’s rejoinder was that Alice was welcome to retreat to her crib in the other room. Alice’s mom is smart and self-assured, as well.”

The Permanent Grandsonly Record

Grandma Carole reports: “My 7-year-old grandson can often have dramatic responses when told the electronics time is up. His parents remind him not to make a big deal over small things.

“Apparently he has listened to their counsel. While driving through a mining area in Colorado, father Paul noted that the terraced hill was once a mountain. From the back of the van came the question: ‘Is it a molehill now?’”

Unclear on the concept
Highfalutin Amusements Division (Juvenile Subdivision)

Peg of the North: “The story about the granddaughter and Alexa reminded me of a similar example, this one with my 3-year-old grandson.

“Leo and I were in the basement playing hockey. To get himself psyched up, Leo yelled ‘Alexa, play . . . ‘ — a rousing rock song that his brothers listen to while they play hockey. Leo commanded Alexa to play song after song, and I recognized them all.

“Finally, he asked for a song I did not know.

“I asked him: ‘Who sings this song?’

“Leo’s answer: ‘Alexa.’”

Band Name of the Day: The East Side Raccoons

Website of the Day: Why so many urban Interstates are where they are — or: Remembering Rondo’s cousins

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