The Permanent Family Record
Triple-the-Fun in Lakeville: “The photo of the farmer with his horses submitted by Mike Whisler of Eagan (in the April 14 BB) reminded me of a family photo I have.
“This shows my great-grandparents, grandmother, two great-aunts, and the hired hand, along with the family’s five horses. The names of all the participants were written on the back of the photo, including the names of the horses.
“The photo was taken in 1915. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only family photo that was ever taken.
“They apparently thought highly of their horses.”
Our livestock, ourselves
DebK of Rosemount reports: “For the first time in our six years as pretend farmers, Taxman and I have pulled off a springtime lambing.
“As we flipped the calendar page from March to April, we celebrated the victory of our fencing over our ram’s inclinations — or, as Cousin Linda memorably expressed it, over ‘Clarence’s natural exuberance.’ What a cakewalk we saw in store: ewes effortlessly delivering healthy babies on dandelion-speckled pastures with sunshine aplenty to warm the newborns! What a change it was to be from the nightmarish winter lambings of 2017, when we and our heat lamps duked it out with February snow and cold!
“It turns out, of course, that we were too quick to pat ourselves on the back. Lambing began late on April 14, pretty much as we’d planned but for the fact that The Storm to End All Storms was simultaneously reaching its climax. Arrivals have continued on a schedule calculated to produce maximum wear-and-tear on the shepherds — and a half-dozen fine Polypay lambs, at last count.
“With five pregnant ewes still considering their options, I find myself reassessing my fitness for a second career as midwife to sheep. Last night took a lot out of me, you see. I’d given Taxman a well-deserved early bedtime, so I trekked down to the sheep barn alone for the twins’ (Dan and Kathleen, out of Agnes #0073) midnight bottle feeding. On the way, I made my customary rounds of the maternity ward and there discovered that Daisy (#31, daughter of Edith #0005) had delivered a fine ram lamb (Dennis, we’re calling him) smack dab in the coldest corner of the building. I put a hold on everything else and rushed into action, whipping off my coat to use as a lamb sling to lure Daisy into the heated tack room, which serves as our NICU. That went well enough, but as I led Daisy to warmth, the four lambs born during the blizzard decided to go (ahem) on the lam. They escaped from the pediatric ward into the DMZ , the buffer zone between Clarence’s pen and the lamb nursery. About 30 retired hens roost on bales of expensive alfalfa stored in the DMZ. Suffice it to say, their sleep was rudely interrupted. There is hardly anything more entertaining than watching lambs raise hell with chickens — unless you’re in the middle of a medical emergency. Little Dennis needed immediate warming, but I suddenly faced the equally compelling task of preventing those naughty ‘big’ lambs from catapulting themselves through the bars of the gate and into Clarence’s pen. (Clarence doesn’t really cotton to youngsters. He likes making them, but that’s the end of the story.) To further complicate matters, the hens raised such a fff objection to the lambs’ raid that the helicopter mamas came charging into the DMZ, intent on protecting their babies from peril.
“After spending two harrowing hours getting everyone back in their proper quarters and seeing to little Dennis’s post-birth care, I was (and am) prepared to argue that the sheep business is a young person’s game!”
Keeping your eyes open
Or: God (not to mention the Devil) is in the details
Mrs. Patches of St. Paul: “I enjoy watching many of the true-crime shows on cable TV, especially if they are about Minnesota or Wisconsin incidents.
“Recently I watched two episodes about events in Woodbury. In one of the videos, there are mountains in the background! I have driven around Woodbury a lot and have never found these!
“Of course, since I grew up around Northfield, I watched many movies about Jesse James . . . and there were mountains there, too! Minnesota must be like Brigadoon: Some features only show once in a while.”
Life as we don’t know it
OTD from NSP: “I was watching cooking shows on TPT this morning. As usual, two things were noticed: Seldom is a scraper/spatula used to get all the ingredients/product out of bowls, and the ovens look like they are never used (they are shiny and clean; racks sparkle).
“Must be TV magic.”
Not exactly what he had in mind
Including: Blinded by the lyrics
Writes joegolfer: “Subject: Not exactly what he had in mind.
“I was listening to an NPR program today. The interviewee was executive director of a trade association. In answer to a question, he started out: ‘We represent. . .’ — and of course I mentally completed the sentence: ‘. . . the lollipop kids.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We will count on you to laugh, joegolfer, when we tell you that it’s not the “lollipop kids”; it’s the Lollipop Guild!
You’ve heard it wrong your whole life — and we can assure you that we know exactly how that is.
Could be verse!
Our Theater of Seasons Division (Endless Winter Subdivision)
Jim Mills writes: “Subject: Ode to Snow in April. (Owed to Snow in April!)
“Oh cruel, malicious mockery!
“You think, because you frock our tree,
“In saint-like alb, that your intent
“Lies thus concealed? — Malevolent!
“For though the Saints are robed in white,
“Your crystal flakes are full of spite!
“How many men with aching backs
“Have all but faced fierce heart attacks?
“Great Moby-Dick I’d rather fight,
“For all his blubber’s much more light
“Than shovels full of you sure are —
“You’re heavy as a neutron star!
“Your snowplow driver always packs
“Three feet of snow in icy stacks
“Across my driveway — oh so well —
“I know he’s made a pact with Hell!
“And so, dear snow — you keep on storming . . .
“I’m now all for more global warming!”
Our theater of seasons
Endless Winter Division — plus: There & Here
Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “Yesterday — April 18, 2018 — it started snowing here in beautiful La Crescent and continued well into the evening. After all was said and done, it measured 6 inches, and although it was gorgeous with the heavy, wet, white snow on all the bushes and trees, I should be holding a golf club, not a shovel!”
luv.mom: “We were home on Sunday morning because church was cancelled due to the blizzard. Gazing out the window at the all-white scene, we saw black-clad cross-country skiers gliding past. Only time we’ve had more skiers than cars on Jefferson Avenue.”
patpat of the far north: “Subject: Spring weather.
“All the talk about snow in Minnesota has me thinking about spring in Alaska. Daylight is from around 6 a.m. to about 9 p.m., and getting longer every day. There have been reports of bear sightings in the City of Big Wildlife. Most of the snow is melted. I walked to my garden in the sunshine about 7 p.m. yesterday. The snow is gone, but the ground is still frozen. The temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s. It’s been warmer here than in the Twin Cities most of the winter.
“Anyone who wants to get out of the snow should visit Alaska.”
Osceola Opa: “I’ve been reading the stories and seeing the pictures of the April blizzard, and feeling sorry for all the fine folks of the north. About five years ago, my wife and I started spending winters in Marathon in the Florida Keys, so we haven’t seen much snow lately.
“We have always rented a condo here for six months each year, a very nice place overlooking a marina. This year we have been seeing and driving among the tremendous damage of last September’s Hurricane Irma. Most of the debris has been cleared away, but a lot of damaged buildings remain, still unrepaired. Some people have rebuilt and resumed their lives, while others have just moved on. We thought that we might buy some heavily damaged little place at a good price and, with some effort on our part, restore it to habitability. I have some skills, some tools and a lot of spare time, so this might be a feasible plan. To investigate possible renovation candidates, we have been spending the last few days going through damaged homes that are for sale. We are seeing a lot of other people’s shattered dreams and trashed belongings. Broken windows and moldy couches, destroyed trees and trashed docks. Still no final candidate yet, but the search continues. Something good may come of all this.
“So, as the people of the Twin Cities are experiencing a unique April, we are sweltering in 85-degree heat with high humidity and walking through ruined homes. Beats shoveling snow, I guess.”
Our theater of seasons
Endless Winter Division (Photographic Subdivision) — leading to: Their theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has been busy with his camera, day after day, documenting the rapid (if not always rapid enough) changes in the landscape: “I am getting tired of all the snow, like many, but I have to say I was impressed with this one. The west side of the house offered these views of how the snow collected.
“Like the frost photos I took, I have no real understanding of what goes into the snow’s ending up with these clumps on the tree branch by our window . . .
“. . . or how it made this snow wave starting to curl.
“With each snowfall, I have noticed an animal’s path across the driveway and up our walk to the front of the house.
“I have wondered each time what creature was making these prints.
“I finally actually saw it and did not recognize what it was. When I looked out the small window in our front door, without my camera handy, I saw this brown furred creature about 12 inches long with a long, leathery-looking tail. My wife Googled these possibilities, and when I saw the images, I found it was a pocket gopher. My initial reaction was one of excitement, with a ‘Welcome to “my” world’ feeling. I thought the hole in the yard was caused by a mole last year, but perhaps not. We’ll see how things go this year.
“I am at the point where I would rather not kill things unless there is a very good reason. An occasional hole is not a good reason to me.”
Mounds View Swede, a bit later: “The spruce and fir trees had the heaviest snow on them I had seen this year.
“And the wind that came with the snow formed a little drift behind the trunk of the big oak tree close to the house.
“With the sun rising due east of the house instead of the southeast, I am seeing different shadow patterns than usual. This can only happen, of course, with a late-season snow. The sparkles in the snow were much more obvious to the eye than the camera captures.
“And the snow patterns from the fir trees are more complicated than from the oak trees.
“The glistening icicles from the eave caught my eye and show up a little better than the snow sparkles.
“These little visual ‘treats’ help make the snow more interesting than burdensome.”
Mounds View Swede, yet again: “The snow on our rear deck was really sparkly, and this shot captured some of that.
“Underneath the ‘snow wave’ on the west side, I noticed some of the icicles had already fallen from the gutter.
“The warmer temps and sun helped get these icicles going.
“And I wondered, when I checked the temperature and found it was 37, how these icicles were growing if it wasn’t freezing out. Perhaps they weren’t and were just dripping now in the afternoon. I liked how the sunlight played on them.
“Little things like this make these late snowfalls not quite so bad. I hope that the birds that have come here, and the geese that are supposedly nesting now, find a way to survive these unusual conditions. Maybe some of the other contributors who feed the birds can comment on how this is working with these conditions. I would expect the feeders to be swamped with hungry birds and squirrels. If I were a feeder person, I would want a great variety of feeding choices for them to make sure they got a good balance of healthful foods. Maybe that is easier than it sounds, but that is only a guess on my part.”
Mounds View Swede, soon after that: “Subject: Here today, gone today.
“I checked on my icicles this morning and noticed how much they grew in the night.
“I wondered how long they would get.
“The snow wave was contributing its share.
“When I got back this afternoon, I went to check on them. No more wondering was necessary. Tuesday’s 45-degree temperature took care of things pretty well.
“I was happy to see the sun and its warmth, to help with the snow in the streets.
“Some of the deck snow became impaled with the falling icicles.”
And, finally . . . Mounds View Swede: “While we wait for the snow to melt and spring to begin, the azaleas out in Oregon and doing wonderfully well!
“It will be wonderful to see blooms here again. I saw some crocuses and rhubarb starting to emerge before this last snowfall and am wondering what they will be like when it melts. Hoping they are none the worse for their blanket of snow.”
The highfalutin pleasures
Leading to: The simple pleasures (Older Than Dirt Division) lost
Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: What will they come up with next?
“I recently discovered a new offering from the United States Postal Service. The ‘Informed Delivery’ option from the USPS sends you an email each postal delivery day that shows pictures of each piece of letter-size mail you will receive that day. Apparently as mail goes through their system, images are taken of the mail, and those images are forwarded to you via email or seen by logging into your account, once you sign up for the service.
“I do like this feature, as I now know when I’m supposed to receive bills, bank statements and anything else that could either be stolen from the mailbox or delivered by mistake to another person.
“The downside: I will no longer be able to participate in the old person’s ‘postal guessing game trifecta’: How many hearing-aid ads will we receive on a particular day? From which company will they be sent? And, most importantly: To whom will they be addressed — Norton’s dad or me?”
Today’s helpful hints (responsorial)
The Puppysitter: “Dragonslayer of Oakdale offered a suggestion about Ramblin’ Rose‘s missing sock. I’m sure it’s easier — and certainly cheaper — to create your own pairs from singles found in the dryer, but several years back I came across a brand of socks called Little Missmatched. They come three-in-a-pair and, in some way, always match each other, whether in pattern or color, but aren’t identical.
“I’m a fan, and am allowed to be by those who know me because I’m finally old enough to be considered eccentric. Of course, I’ve been doing the same thing with earrings for years.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “This was the personalized Minnesota plate on an Explorer in the parking lot at a medical facility: ‘LET.’
“A tennis player?’
The Permanent Fatherly/Sonly Record
Lucky Buck writes: “Subject: Memories.
“My dad used to take me to auto aftermarket trade shows. I recall one in Los Angeles. He took me to the farmers’ market. I was maybe 10 or 12, so about 1952 or ’54.
“One thing I remember was fresh-ground horseradish being ground. Clouds of vapors rose into the aisle, and I watched a group walk into the mist. Those poor people started gagging, coughing and darn near dropping on the spot. I suppose today it would be a lawsuit. Then it was just funny.
“Just remembered it was located near the La Brea tar pits. But that is another story for later.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “This headline was in Sunday’s Pioneer Press: ‘”Cuckoo’s Next” director Forman dies at 72.’ Of course the movie is actually ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ as stated in the article.”
Donald: “Subject: It ain’t over . . . ?
“I was somewhat perplexed by this (final?) score on Page 2B of the Sports section in Wednesday’s Pioneer Press: ‘NHL playoffs > Capitals 3 ? Blue Jackets 2’
“Was the game still in progress? Was a play being reviewed? Had a protest been filed? Had the ice melted?
“The headline below this information read:
“‘Caps get on board
“‘with double-OT win’
“I suppose that should clear things up, but I’m still perplexed.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: The world is more perplexing every day, in so many ways.
Lost and Found
And: The Permanent Paternal Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My oldest sister was the celebrity in our family, and there were 8-by-10s of her all over the house — but I, by gosh, had MY face on Daddy’s gearshift knob!
“He used to tell me that I went along with him every day when he went to work.
“After his cars no longer had gearshifts on the floor, he kept the knob in a drawer in the desk. I used to ask him if I could have it, and he always said: ‘Hell, NO! I may want to use it again.’
“When I became engaged, Dad proudly presented it to my future husband, who took it home and put it in one of those so-called ‘safe places.’ It finally saw the light of day when we cleaned out our attic a couple of years ago, safely tucked in that ‘safe place’ — a cardboard shoebox full of other useless treasures he had lugged from his childhood home.
“It was fun to see it again, and the memories came flooding back. I remember stepping up on the running board and climbing into that big, black automobile and sitting down between my Mama and my Daddy; I felt so important every time I looked at my picture on that gearshift knob.”
Everyone’s a (food) critic!
Or: The Permanent Maternal Record
WARNING! Numerous threats to contented dining ahead, in this memoir by Tim Torkildson: “There is something terribly wrong with the concept of a baked tunafish casserole. It grates against every aesthetic sense that mankind possesses. Like antimatter, it is not meant to exist in this solar system. Yet my mother insisted on serving it to me as a child, creating some of the most harrowing scenes of domestic anguish and melodrama this side of Sarah Bernhardt.
“Let me set the record straight. I like tunafish sandwiches, in moderation. And I can tolerate a Salad Nicoise with some tunafish in it, as a garnish. But rather than ingest a single mote of baked tunafish casserole, I would cheerfully undergo a season of waterboarding at GITMO.
“To begin with, unless canned tunafish (for that is all my mother ever dealt with, and all I can afford today) is painstakingly disarmed with a flood of condiments, such as red-wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, brown sugar, and a dab of sesame oil, it smells and tastes just like the cheapest kind of cat food. And I am NOT being persnickety about this; quoting from Wikipedia, on the subject of Canned Fish, under the heading of Tuna: ‘ . . . with the dark lateral blood meat often separately canned for pet food . . .’ So there.
“And that’s not all, boychick. Even though tunafish undergoes hours of pressurized steam cooking in the can, which kills all sorts of nasty germs, it does not guarantee the absence of histamines that can produce an off-putting fetid tang.
“Yet many a night at our dinner table, even though I moaned ‘Oh, the rancid histamines!’ my cruel mother would shove a large gooey portion of tunafish casserole onto my plate and insist I at least try it.
“Try it? I couldn’t even LOOK at it!
“My mother’s recipe for baked tunafish casserole was fiendishly simple, and calculated to raise the gag factor in any discerning child way beyond the ‘choke a goat’ factor: Fill a casserole dish with boiled egg noodles, top with a can of green peas and a can of tunafish, pour a can of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup over it, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour. The resulting abomination was always served with a side of warmed-up canned lima beans — adding severe insult to injury.
” Like many other misguided souls of that era, my mother believed that simple hearty meals, the kind that were imagined to ‘stick to your ribs,’ were good for children — that filling them up with cheap starches and carbs and processed pet food produced happy and healthy children. What it actually produced, for me anyways, was a persecution complex and an early hint of ulcers. The holy kitchen mantras of my childhood were ‘Clean your plate’ and ‘Starving children in China would love to have this to eat!’ When my older brother Billy challenged the second one of those axioms by brazenly asking ‘Oh yeah? Name two of ’em!,’ he was chased down the street by my mother with a broom. Good thing he was fleet-footed, or he’d still be picking broom straw out of his hide.
“The final showdown came one winter night in 1961, when I was a very stubborn 8 years old. My mother had tried withholding dessert as a motivation to get me to try the tuna casserole. No soap; I turned up my nose until I looked like Bob Hope. Then she tried the opposite tack, offering me TWO helpings of her luscious lemon meringue pie. No dice; I was still not interested. So now it was time for direct action. No more beating around the bush or pussyfooting around. The ukase was clear and simple: You don’t leave the dinner table until you eat some of that tuna casserole. You can stay there the whole night through, if you choose.
“I sat, arms folded in silent dissent. The hours dragged by. Dad came home from Aarone’s Bar and Grill, where he worked as a bartender. He had a glass of buttermilk and some crackers for dinner. (What injustice! He didn’t have to eat the tuna casserole!) My sisters were put to bed. Johnny Carson came on the TV. Still I sat. But my rear end was getting sore, I was terrifically bored, and I needed to pee.
“‘Mom!’ I yelled into the living room. ‘I’m gonna take one bite, that’s all!’ Barely concealing her brazen air of triumph, my mother came back into the kitchen to gloat over this historic occasion. The casserole, naturally, had long ago congealed into a cold disgusting lump. There were no such things as microwaves back then, to warm it up in. I took one small bite, chewed, swallowed, and immediately threw up.
“The resulting hullabaloo was uncomfortable, to say the least. But ever after, the dreaded tunafish casserole was interdicted and never darkened our dinner table again. It is one of the very small number of childhood victories that still warm the cockles of my heart.”
Our theater of seasons
Leading to: The great comebacks (Photographic Division) (responsorial)
Gab: “Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff brought up some beautiful pictures of our Minnesota State Fair, which took me right down memory lane.
“When I was a kid, we could park on Underwood Street, and Dad always parked right under the the big Lee Overalls that hung there on Underwood. His reasoning was if any of us kids got lost, we would know where our car was because you could pretty much spot those Lee Overalls all over the Fairgrounds.
“My youngest sister got her middle name from those overalls. When she was born, they didn’t have a girl’s name, and I asked if I could name her. Dad asked what I was thinking. I said: Charlotte Lee. He said where did you get that name? I wasn’t sure about the Charlotte part (but later learned we had a great-grandmother named Charlotte), but I knew where Lee came from. Dad told Mom it was a long name for such a tiny baby, but asked: ‘What do you think, Ma? Should we let her name the baby?’ Mom said yes, and she got her name. (I later learned there was a book named ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ but again I didn’t get the name from there.)
“The one year us girls did get lost, we went back to the car and waited. No one showed up, and Charlotte was tired and thirsty (she was about 5 or so), so we went to visit the newly open lost children’s center right up the street. I asked for paper and pen, wrote my parents a note telling them where we were, and ran back to our truck to leave it under the windshield wiper. It was several hours before our parents found us, and we later learned our uncle, who had been with us, had seen the piece of paper and thought it was some kinda ad and thrown it away. So they didn’t know where we were. The only way they found us was that about every half-hour, I ran back to the car to see if anyone was there.
“I visited the center at the top of the hill (can’t remember the name) and looked to see if they had any pictures of the Lee Overalls. But I didn’t even see any mention of them. I must be Older Than Dirt. Does any one else remember those Overalls?”
Gma Tom: “What a surprise to see, among so many other great photos of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, my mother’s Linotype.
“Unless there are others at the museum that look exactly like that one, the Linotype machine featured in today’s BB, by Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff, is the one my mother used for many years as a Linotype operator in Glenwood City, Wisconsin. That historic machine, so vital to the newspaper business in years gone by, was donated to the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the State Fair by the son of my mother’s boss, who took over his father’s business.
“What wonderful memories I have of watching mother at her trade. The memory that impressed me most was of her reaching up and grabbing the hot ‘slug’ whenever she made a typing error. She was always aware of her mistake and grabbed the incorrect letter or slug to replace it. Almost as good as ‘spell check’!
“I have a photo of me and my siblings with that machine after it was donated to the Fair. Our photo was taken at the time, about five years ago, when it was feared the newspaper museum would be eliminated by changes being made at the Fair. Luckily, they found a new site for those treasures from the past, so people like Gregory J. can still enjoy.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Gma Tom, again: “It was just yesterday that I commented on a photo of the Linotype that my mother used, which is now archived at the Minnesota State Fair Newspaper Museum . . . and today the movie ‘The Post’ arrives in my mailbox. The movie features several episodes of the Linotype machine in operation. Also, in the ‘Extras,’ Tom Hanks expounds on the machine’s features. Quite a J of J.”
Leading to: Muse, amuse
Booklady: “Life has been moving at a fast pace these days, so I wasn’t surprised to find myself telling the Lighthouse Nut that I needed a new brain. Almost immediately I amended my request. After all, would I really want to go through the rest of my life being of two minds?”
What’s in a (restaurant) name?
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: The name says it all.
“Grandma and I went to see grandson Jack play hockey at the Fogerty Arena in Blaine. The building housed both a hockey rink and a curling rink. The bar/restaurant was aptly named ‘Sticks & Stones.’”
CAUTION! Words at Play!
Lola reports: “Subject: A funny for today.
“My son sent this to me: ‘I used to be addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I’ve turned myself around.'”
Band Name of the Day: The Pretend Farmers
Website of the Day, recommended by Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “You may have already featured this website [Bulletin Board says: We had never heard of it!], but, if not, it’s hours of fun! It’s WishBookWeb.com. The creators of the site have hunted down as many old Sears, JC Penney, etc., catalogues as they could find and then posted entire catalogues. You can page through to your heart’s delight. It’s pretty cool.”