You can learn to live and eat healthfully — provided you don’t die first!

Life as we know it

The Mambo King reports: “Subject: Life is good!

The Mambo King almost bit the dust about eight weeks ago.


“It was a Sunday evening, and I was sitting in my favorite chair watching TV. I started feeling some pressure in my chest, which I interpreted as heartburn and gas that would go away with a couple of antacids. Wrong. The pressure got worse, until it felt like a hippo was sitting on my chest. To make a long story short, I went to the ER, and from there was sent to University Hospital, where I was scheduled for an angiogram the next morning.

“The angiogram showed significant blockages in the cardiac arteries, and a quadruple-bypass operation was performed two days later. The surgery was successful, and I am recovering well.

“But I’ve been reflecting about how I got to the point where heart surgery was necessary to save my life.

“I had been fairly active, getting lots of heavy exercise at a volunteer gig three days a week. There had been no chest pains of any kind previously, no shortness of breath, no symptoms of any kind. My annual physical exams, including an EKG, had been perfectly normal, with the exception of marginally high cholesterol levels that were being addressed with a statin drug.

“My cardiologist said that many of his patients have similar histories of no symptoms while they run marathons, bike to and from work, or engage in other physically demanding activities. Then one day they have a heart attack and, if they’re lucky, find themselves undergoing life-saving surgery.

“The positive side of the experience is that, at this point, one can look back and try to determine if there was anything that might have been changed to avoid the near-catastrophe. And in my case, I think it’s fairly obvious: I simply got a little too cocky when I started taking the statin drug and my cholesterol levels started to decrease. I thought that this was a magic pill that would solve my problems without too much effort on my part. And so I acted as if the statin gave me a license to maintain my unhealthy eating habits: Eggs with fatty meat every morning. Cold cuts of some kind for lunch. Well-marbled meat of some kind for dinner four or five days a week. Fish occasionally and chicken, of course, but fried with the skin on. Delicious! But by doing so, I was ignoring the fact that 60-odd years of this eating pattern had almost certainly resulted in plaque deposits in my arteries. By not changing my eating habits to complement the impact of the statin drug, I was literally taking my life in my hands.

“Lesson learned. In the time since I first landed in the hospital, I have significantly altered my eating habits and have adopted a heart-healthy diet. The results have been dramatic, as a lipid profile from last week shows a dramatic increase in HDL and an equally significant decrease in LDL. My cardio rehabilitation sessions are going very well ,and I hope to be around for at least a few more years. Best of all, the recovery guidelines for cardiac-bypass patients say that one can start making full swings with a golf club 12 weeks after surgery. I couldn’t have had better timing for a heart attack, because my 12th week will be the first week of April, when the golf courses will be open and the weather should be great.

“Life is good!”


The Permanent Neighborhood Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Neighborhood watch in the ’40s?

“When we moved to the country, our lifestyle changed dramatically. Everybody was happy except Dad. He grumbled non-stop about moving to ‘The Sticks,’ and he missed his cronies he had hung out with at the corner drug store, arguing politics.

“Our house was very small, we had no plumbing, and for the first several months we had no electricity — hence, no radio! That was the hardest adjustment for my dad, but we kids had great fun exploring the wide-open land around us and skating on the cow pond across the road. When spring came, Mom enjoyed having the room to plant a garden, and Dad was finding a new set of pals.

“Our neighbors were all nice, friendly people, although there were the two who lived to the east of us. Old Bill was nice enough, but his next-door neighbor, Old Honiff? He was a strange one.

“Old Honiff was Old Bill’s pal. Bill didn’t know how to read, so Honiff read the newspaper to him out loud . . . and I mean LOUD! We could hear him across the acres. Honiff was a Nazi sympathizer and subscribed to German newspapers until he could no longer legally get them, but the thing I remember most about Honiff is the way he pointed. He was always pointing something out to Bill. He would raise his arm and point and then let it drop, and that arm of his would swing like a pendulum back and forth, back and forth, until it ran out of momentum. Fascinating. With no radio, there was not much to entertain us in those days, but the whole family came running to the window when the shout went up: ‘Come quick, Old Honiff is pointing again.’ No one ever thought to put a stopwatch on his swing, but I hazard a guess that his old arm could keep on swinging for five minutes on a good day.”

Know thy technology, know thyself!

DebK of Rosemount: “Here at St. Isidore Farm, wheels have been set in motion for the reinstallation of a land line — antique telephone technology that might be unfamiliar to younger members of the BB community. This retrogression was precipitated by the latest, flagrant evidence that I am unsuited to the care and feeding of a cellphone.

“This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Had I not been subjected to years of phone-shaming by Taxman and our grown (elitist) children, I would never have entered the ranks of phone-toters in the first place. No sooner had the phone bullies forced my capitulation — the purchase of a humble flip phone — than the troubles began.

“First, thinking that I would be more apt to embrace the new technology if I had no ready alternative, Taxman disposed of the array of wall-hung and desk-top phones that had served us for decades. He even pitched my cherry red Princess phone, an act that might have been payback for my having tossed his striped bib overalls (circa 1942) onto the pile of buckthorn we burned three or four Novembers ago. But I digress. Finding myself in a cellphone-or-nothing situation, I learned that doing without had surprising appeal.

“Not that I didn’t give cellphone use the ol’ college try. I was faithful (at first) about keeping the phone gassed up and about taking it with me wherever I went. It came with me into the lambing pen (but remained behind, buried in a mixture of straw and sheep afterbirth), into the vegetable garden (turning up days later in a tangle of quackgrass pulled from the asparagus patch), to my Chorale rehearsal (where it interrupted the singing of the ‘Credo’ of Schubert’s Mass in A-Flat, at which point I subdued the thing and left it to languish in the bottom of my choir bag for a couple of weeks).

“This kind of thing has gone on for nearly three years, long enough that my nearest and dearest no longer expect (or attempt) to reach me by phone. Since many of them write deliciously, it has been all to the good that they now communicate with me by means of epistles and (ahem) e-pistles. I’d have gone on in this happy manner for the rest of my days but for the events of last weekend.

“It happened that Taxman left to visit Eldest Daughter in Los Angeles just as the impact of Thursday’s ‘snow event’ was being felt. Knowing that the second — and more powerful — meteorological punch was to land while I would be in sole charge of farm operations, Taxman was eager to maintain regular phone contact, thereby to ascertain that I had not become mired in the snowbank outside the sheep barn or fallen spectacularly on the ice floe outside the chicken coop. Alas, several days before Taxman’s departure, my phone had gone AWOL, a situation that caused considerable gnashing of Taxman’s teeth and perhaps an elevation of his blood pressure.

“All’s well that ends well. I survived Taxman’s absence and the second snowfall. My phone was returned to me — today, actually — having been retrieved from a church meeting room by one of my former students (who humbly refrained from noting that, from the first, she’d seen this coming). And, best of all, Taxman has thrown in the towel and my cellphone with it!”

Their theater of seasons
Or: Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson: “From the New York Times: ‘Europe Was Colder Than the North Pole This Week.’

“It got so cold in Venice that the gondolas all fused

“Into a massive iceberg that left tourists quite bemused.

“In Paris icicles did grow upon the Eiffel Tower;

Parisiens put on ice skates during afternoon rush hour.

“And snow was falling thick and fast in places like Madrid;

“Flamenco dancers killed themselves when into walls they slid!

“Meanwhile in the Arctic, it was balmy as could be;

“The polar bears used sunscreen as if way down in Capri.

“This topsy-turvy weather comes when polar vortex walls

“Tumble like at Jericho, producing lusty squalls

“That swoop down upon Europe, giving residents chilblains,

“And trace postmodern doodles with rime frost on window panes.

“So next time you’re in Europe, just forget sunglasses, chum,

“And bring a fleecy blanket to keep warm your frozen bum.”

Our theater of seasons

February 28 email from Mounds View Swede: “I thought this last snowfall [Bulletin Board muses: most recent, at the time, but not last, alas] was the best of the season, coming at an ideal time — with no rush-hour traffic the next day, and on a day when the kids could go out and play in it with less chance of becoming too cold. I enjoyed seeing all my tree branches looking their best with their fresh and ample snow covering.


“And as things warmed up, I notice a lot of the sparkles in the snow and actually was able to get them to show up in a photograph this time.


“When I first looked at this section of the yard, there were even sparkles in the shadow areas, but by the time I came back with the camera, they were gone. At least I got to see them and wonder how that could happen. A fun way to end the winter show.”

Now Sally, the Cleaning Lady of Shoreview: “Subject: Don’t polar bears wear coats?

“Last Tuesday, February 27th, was a beautiful day (abundant sunshine, no noticeable wind and a high of 47 degrees), so the Semi-Canadian, a.k.a. Papa, and I went out to build a snowman. Ben, 4-1/2 years old and part polar bear, decided that there’s only one thing to do with a snowman: knock it down.

“Putting on his mom’s boots, out he went.


“After knocking it over, the next best thing to do is to fix it and do it all over again.”


Grandma Nancy: “After the recent snowstorm, our mini-sock monkeys went out to play.

“Getting ready to shovel.


“Scaling Mount Snowfall.”

Our squirrels, ourselves

Cat’s Mom of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “Subject: Tree Rats.

“We have a love/hate relationship with squirrels.

“There is a gang of five that come every day for a free lunch. I put out a bowl on the ground for them, but of course that is not enough. I had a mesh ball feeder hanging off the deck, which they discovered they could hang upside-down on and have a good meal. So it got replaced by a small tube feeder with a tray. The tray was removed, but they still hung on it and pigged out. Third version was a larger tube feeder with a different style of perches that so far has not been violated.

“Then there is the big feeder with a tray hanging from a tree branch. It has been off limits for all these years, until the alpha squirrel figured it out — he launches off the tree trunk and lands on the tray. And eats and eats.

“We live in town, but on three lots with 35 trees, it’s squirrel heaven.”

That’s about the size of it (responsorial)

Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: The little things in life.

“Thanks, Doryman, for reminding me about small pie tarts.

“My mother had grown up in a boarding school, and she never really learned to enjoy cooking. When I was a kid, she was pursuing her Master’s degree and then worked full time, and she did not have any interest in cooking homemade food. Her favorite cookbook was Erma Bombeck’s ‘I Hate to Cook Book.’

“My friends thought being at our house was cool because we had all these box foods and convenience foods around. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the homemade foods my friends’ moms prepared.

“The mother of one of my best friends was preparing a pie and some small tarts one afternoon when I was at their house. But much to my disgust, she was making a celery pie! When she was done, she asked me if I’d like to have a small tart.

“I thought of the horrid cooked celery in school-lunch chow mein and told her: ‘No, thanks!’

“It wasn’t until I grew up and lived on a farm in my hippie days that I realized what I had been offered that day: a fresh rhubarb pie tart!”

The workshop chronicles (cont.)

IGHGrampa, again: “Subject: Box update.

“I’m a liar.

“You know what they always say about liars and lying. ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, etc.’ — meaning: When you tell a lie, you have to tell more lies to cover up your original lie. Soon the deceptions become unmanageable.

“That’s how I am in my latest woodworking project. I’ve stated before that one thing you learn is how to cover your mistakes. In making that eight-sided box, I’m at the point at which my mistakes (my lies) are so numerous that it’s difficult or impossible to hide them.

“Earlier, I had decided to scrap the whole thing, just come clean and deny ever telling my lie. But, now I’m thinking I’ll just finish it up and employ another deception, sanding the hell out of it. That’s another woodworking trick. If you sand something well enough, people won’t notice the mistakes.”


Unclear on the concept



Grandma Paula: “I posted these two photos on my Facebook page, with the comment that I had forced tulip bulbs again this year and it worked very well. A friend replied: ‘That sounds mean Paula!! I don’t get it.’

“After I was done laughing, I wrote this comment to my friend: ‘I bought some tulip bulbs last Fall and kept them in my garage until early November. Then I planted them in a pot with potting soil, watered them, and put the pot in a paper bag. Then I put the paper bag in my refrigerator, on a lower shelf, way in the back, until about a month ago when I took the bag out of the fridge, removed the paper bag and put the pot by a sunny window in my living room. And now they are blooming!! It’s a miracle!'”

Band Name of the Day: The Alpha Squirrels

Website of the Day: Is this the worst idea of all time? It’s a contender!


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