Our Birds, Ourselves (Ask Al B Division)
Elvis writes: “Subject: Strange coincidence.
“Elvis is spending time down in Wisconsin with his aged M&P. Usually there are a number of wild turkeys around. Sometimes there have been a couple flocks, or hens and poults, or toms strutting around looking for love.
“Last week there were none, and Elvis was told that the turkeys had not been around all winter. (That was fine, as they usually mess up the yard during the winter pretty badly.) Flocks were still in the area, and Elvis had seen a big one about a mile away.
“Last Thursday morning, two hens and a tom walked into the yard from the woods and started eating up the fallen bird seed. They have continued to show up a couple times every day since.
“On Friday, Elvis was visiting some friends 100 miles away near Madison. In late afternoon, several turkeys walked into their yard. The friend said: ‘Yeah, they were not around all winter, and they just showed up in the yard again yesterday.’
“Maybe our resident bird expert has some hunches about this. . . .”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: That would be our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland. We will await his hunches (if any).
Our birds, ourselves
Al B of Hartland: “I birded Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas on March 25. I saw meadowlarks in all four states.
“The western meadowlark is the state bird of Kansas, decided by a vote of over 121,000 school children — with 43,895 votes cast for the meadowlark. The bobwhite finished second and the cardinal third.”
Fifteen (should’ve been Thirty) nanoseconds of fame (responsorial)
DebK of Rosemount: “Living, as we do, in the Land Beyond the Pioneer Press Delivery Area, and harboring a deep suspicion of online newspapers, I might very well have missed the reprise of Al B’s story about finding himself seated next to astronaut and moon-walker Edgar Mitchell. I’m very glad to have overcome my scruples and read Al B’s piece a second time in Sunday’s e-paper, for having done so, I am prepared to recant my previous assertion that nothing important, exciting, or noteworthy has ever happened to me. I had forgotten that once upon a time — the second semester of my freshman year at Cornell College — I, like Al B, had a brief relationship with a person of true significance. That term, Professor Herbert Hendriks’s Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday geology class found me seated immediately to the right of a fellow who would go on to become Astronaut Dave Hilmers. A sophomore at the time, Hilmers had already earned a reputation around campus as a math and science whiz. He was likely taking intro geology for fun, a sort of easy lift compared to the coursework required for his major. It was my required science course, however, so I had to focus diligently on the evolution of ox-bow lakes and the Mohs-scale hardness score for quartz and the like, all the while failing to appreciate my neighbor’s qualities of intellect and character, his very good looks and his athletic prowess.
“A few years back, I heard through the Cornell grapevine that Hilmers didn’t allow his acquisition of a degree in engineering, his military service, or even his stint as an astronaut to divert him from his lifelong goal of becoming a physician. He earned his medical degree in the mid-’90s, I believe — more than two decades after he graduated from Cornell — and may very well be practicing medicine this very day. It’s a fine ending to the story of a small-town-Iowa-kid-made-good.”
BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: He appears to have been a more-than-adequate student! According to Wikipedia: “Graduated from Central Community High School in DeWitt, Iowa, in 1968; received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics (Summa Cum Laude) from Cornell College in 1972, a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (with distinction) in 1977, and the degree of Electrical Engineer from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1978. He received a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in 1995 with honors and a Master of Science degree in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center in 2002.”
As of November 2016, he was “a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine with a commitment to global health projects.” Slacker!
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “The main article in the Local section of Sunday’s Pioneer Press was about a Wyoming, Minnesota, teenager. The headline read: ‘She’s a rising star on the shooting circuit,’ followed by ’14-year-old Dakota Johnson has sponsorships, support and nationwide success in action shooting.’
“I thought it was quite a coincidence, and somewhat unfortunate for her, that she had the same name as the actress known for her starring roles in a certain questionable film trilogy.
“Well fortunately for young Dakota, her real name is Dakota Overland, not Dakota Johnson, as clearly stated in the article. Too bad the headline writer or a copy editor hadn’t noticed that.”
Only a ___________ would notice!
Barbara of Afton: “There’s a new ad for GoDaddy. This one tells us that creating a great online site for your business is very easy. The site is for Biker Mike’s Crochet Club. It shows Biker Mike helping a woman with a knitting needle in her hand.
“My family tells me that 99 percent of Americans would not know the difference . . . .”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “The Ram pickup had this personalized Minnesota plate: ‘P WAGON.’
The Permanent Fatherly/Daughterly Record
KH of White Bear Lake reports: “Subject: Somebody’s on the right track.
“Our daughter was visiting us from New York City during Easter weekend. When we get together, we like to play cribbage while we catch up on life things. It’s not unusual to get so absorbed in conversation that we forget whose turn it is to play, or whose crib it is. But this is the first time we ever ended up in the same lane.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great?
Including: The Permanent Maternal Record (encore) — plus: The Permanent Fatherly/Sonly Record
We previously brought you this note from The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “For those people who yearn for the ‘Simple Lifestyle of the Olden Days,’ I urge you to look at the directions depicted on this advertising illustration. It was placed on the back of an ink blotter that I found in my Mom & Dad’s attic.
“This is exactly the way I remember the coal furnaces in our Minneapolis rental homes. That monster looked like a frightening, hungry mouth when my folks would open the door to shovel the coal inside.
“I have a vivid memory from one morning when I was 3. I woke up to the familiar sound of Mother stoking the furnace. When I went to find her, I noticed that our canary’s cage door was open, so I went down in the basement to tell her that the bird was out of its cage.
“On the bottom step, I caught the sight of Mother’s hefty underhanded pitch as she tossed that dead little bird into the fire. No, it didn’t traumatize me, but the horrified look on Mother’s face did when she realized that her little girl had witnessed the sacrifice of our sweet little canary to the fire.”
We subsequently heard, once again, from The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Those blasted coal furnaces were the bane of my father’s existence. His cursing could be heard from the depths of the basement to the second floor of the house as he cleaned out the clinkers and tried to get the beast to pump out some heat. [Bulletin Board notes: Straight out of “A Christmas Story”!]
“One particular blasphemous day, my brother, then age 4, took pity on him and crept silently downstairs to give him some moral support in his battle. My dad said Jonny patted him on the shoulder and solemnly lisped: ‘Won’t the thumb-ova-witch work, Daddy?'”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Vertically Challenged: “I had just finished reading ‘Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern and put it aside. One of the characters in the story was nicknamed Poppet. I went on my iPod to play my turn on Words With Friends with our daughter, and the word she had played was Popsy. I thought: That’s really a word on here? I clicked on the dictionary option on there, and it says: ‘An attractive young woman. A mid-19th-century alteration of poppet.'”
Gabby: “I’m watching ‘Psych,’ and one of the officers is drinking a cup of coffee from a bright yellow cup with a smiley face.
“I look down at the cup of coffee I’m drinking, and lo and behold, I am drinking from a bright yellow cup with a smiley face.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has been busy with his camera again: “Sunday morning’s near-record-low temps for this date produced more frost crystals on my front storm door. I took several photos, but without as much skill as previously and most were more fuzzy than I liked. I went back again later to reshoot some and caught them just as the temperature was high enough for them to begin to change back into water.
“I did notice and appreciate that many of them were shaped like spruce trees — those trees that seem to tug at my heart somehow.
“I stopped with this one once the water droplets became so dominating but I had never seen a crystal at this point of transition before— so that was appreciated.
“A couple of hours after hoping the sun would come out, it did! I like how the backlighting lightens the edges of the snow clusters and makes them stand out more.
“Even though I am also tired of the snow this season, I like what it did for photographic reasons.
“Hopefully, this is the snow’s last hurrah for the winter, but I never tire of finding beauty when it is presented to me.
“Next year, Easter will be April 21 and we are more likely to have different scene to see — probably drab! That’s usually too soon for flowers and green grass.
“Have a great day, anyway!”
Our theater of seasons
The Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: When April 1st is also Easter.
“A belated Happy Easter to all the Bulletin Board neighborhood! As spring seems to be missing in action this year, festival days like an Easter with low temps and cold winds brings a lack of Easter bonnets for sure. I counted exactly ONE bonnet during three identical services yesterday.
“Not to be deterred by odd weather, our pastor opened his sermon with the following: ‘I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but I’ve just learned that during the night, our church was vandalized by someone who broke the lower-level windows, plugged the sinks in the lavatory, and turned the water on. Now there are two inches of standing water down there.’ Older members can recall vandalism years ago, so we don’t panic (too much) hearing such things. The pastor, relishing what was to come, said: ‘I wonder why these things often happen on April 1st?’
“Relief, laughter, and a satisfied pastor — all in one minute! I’m glad our pastor has a sense of humor and uses it often.”
Jimbo of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: Spring.
“I was not happy this morning as i looked out and saw a flock of robins heading south!”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
Semi-Legend: “Subject: Gloating malaprop.
“My wife wrote a letter challenging how letters to the editor are chosen at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The editor who chooses the letters wrote [in the newspaper] today that her letter ‘is the one that bothered me the most.’
“My wife said: ‘I guess I got under his craw.’
“Here’s the excerpt:
“‘The final instance I’ll mention of notable complaint is the one that bothered me the most, because it was the one that most challenged my perception of who I aim to be and of how well I’m succeeding at my work.
“‘”Today was the day that broke this camel’s back,” the correspondent began: “another day without a single letter submitted by a woman in ‘Readers Write.’
“‘”You could say this is an exception,” she continued, “but no — I’ve been tracking. …
“‘”Every once in a while,” she added later, “I notice several days in a row where women are strongly represented in the letters, and to be honest — I have to wonder if that’s when you’re on vacation.”'”
Swedish Flowers Division (cont.) (responsorial)
Gardengoddess has supplied some more flower identifcations to go with Mounds View Swede‘s Swedish photos:
“The rock-garden groundcover is hen and chicks; some appear to be blooming. They are all of the sedum family, and many will note that the small sedums of various shades of green and gray are being seen everywhere in stores and becoming very popular house plants, as they lend themselves well to small containers and have a sort of ‘structural feel’ that harmonizes with the modern farmhouse trend in interior decorating.
“he lupines are correctly identified.
“The white long tubular flowers are Nicotiana sylvestris, otherwise known as flowering tobacco. Indeed, the leaves are huge, and the plants, which are annuals, sometimes reach to 5 feet or more, which is an amazing feat for any annual in Minnesota’s short gardening season. Seeds are easily obtainable — and even plants, occasionally. The flowers are extremely fragrant in the evening. During the day, the clusters hang downward, but as evening approaches they move outward to an almost horizontal position from the stem and emit the most lovely fragrance, very much like lilies. Once you plant them, they will likely stay with you, seeding themselves and coming up the following year — but late; not until the weather is really warm. Easily identifiable with their tiny grey felty leaves. They grow very fast and will bloom in late summer. Well worth searching out.
“The lovely white flowers with swept-back stamens that were falling from a tree is most likely Japanese honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica. It is actually a vine that clambers through everything in its path and can reach heights of many feet. I believe it also is very fragrant.”
Website of the Day (responsorial)
Toothy Grin #6 of Minneapolis: “Just want to say thank you for today’s website, which I watched through to the end — with the sound on, even! It was one of the earlier L&H films (did they look young!), and I’d never seen it before.
“I watched it about 4.30 p.m., about the same time of day that one of the local TV stations showed L&H films when I was a kidlet in the ’50s. What a treat. Thank you!”
Accidents of mirth
Leading to: The great comebacks
Rusty of St. Paul: “I inherited my late mother’s car. My wife has been driving it, so I’m not totally familiar with it.
“I was driving to work last week for the day shift (7 a.m.). I am not a morning person. I had a mug of hot tea in the cup holder between the seats. This holder has a rubber sleeve with points cut in it to hold the mug securely Too securely, I think, as when I yanked the mug out, the tea sloshed and . . . ‘Please, please let it hit the floor or the seat,’ I pleaded. Soon I felt the warm tea soak through my thin hospital scrubs, right at, should I say, ‘Ground Zero?’
“I was running about five minutes late, and there was a chance patients were waiting to see me. I got on the parking-ramp elevator, and joined a younger gal on crutches with her foot in a large splint. I knew she would slow me down if I let her off first. When the door opened, I looked at her; she had been looking at me, and she nodded toward the open door and said: ‘I can see you’re in a hurry!'”
“P.S. I apologize for the snow today, to those desperate for spring. It’s my fault. I put my Sorel winter boots away last week.”
The verbing of America
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “My middle daughter alerted me to the Twins’ new slogan: ‘THIS IS HOW WE BASEBALL.’”
We’re gonna win, Twins! We’re gonna score!
John in Highland: “Hope Springs Eternal. [Bulletin Board interjects: Or . . . Spring Hopes: Eternal.]
“It was the spring of 1987. No. 1 son and I were doing our usual Saturday-morning rounds, which included a stop at Napoleon’s Bakery for some of Sharif’s shortbread cookies, and stops at whatever garage/driveway sales we happened upon.
“A sale on Edgcumbe Road looked promising. One box contained damaged goods, including this bobblehead, which was in pieces.
“We collected its parts, paid a small price, and took it home, where Mom’s super glue was used to reconstruct it.
“Recently the improved prospects of the local ball club prompted me to take it down from its place at the back of a bookshelf and display it prominently in the living room. I reminded my son of the good luck that it had brought the Twins in 1987.
“What, me superstitious? No way!”
Band Name of the Day: Biker Mike and the Knitting Needles
Website of the Day, from Double Bogey Mike: Creative Snowmen