Our pets, ourselves
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “My cat Juno is a heat-seeker. She has learned that fresh-from-the-dryer laundry is toasty warm, and she especially likes the hammock effect inside my rolling cart. She’ll stay in there long after the items are freshly warmed.
“However, the time at which laundry is warm and wrinkle-free is exactly when I want to fold it, too!
“I have gotten into the habit of giving her something like a towel for warm snuggling, and then fold the rest without the handy rolling basket. Her love of this routine has gotten to the point that she is conditioned to hear the squeak of the cart wheels or the stopping of the dryer, and comes running to seek her warm spot.
“Who said cats couldn’t be taught? She is as well-conditioned as Pavlov’s dog!”
Our theater of seasons
Or: Where we live
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I like living in Minnesota. I’ve never had a desire to live anywhere else. I enjoy the changing seasons and even enjoy a good blizzard once in a while. . . but doggone it all, shouldn’t there be at least a slight hiatus between shoveling and raking?”
Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul writes: “Subject: That April snowstorm & a sure sign of spring.
“I’m sure it’s not too late to post something related to that big ol’ blizzard that blew through here a couple weeks ago, right?
“I have two pictures that demonstrate that old saying ‘What a difference a day makes.’
“The first photo shows what is a sure sign of spring at our house.
“Every spring we get two winged visitors: a pair of mallard ducks. They stop by our house for a few days each April. They’ll wander our or the neighbors’ yards, hang out in the alley behind our garage; they even like to perch on our roof. They’ll be around for a few days to a couple weeks, and then they move on.
“We know spring is here when we see those ducks.
“The first picture was taken in the morning on Friday, April 13th — the day before the big snow came in. You can see our visitors walking on the brown grass, which is just waiting to green up. There’s a little bit of snow left, but not much.
“The second picture was taken Saturday, April 14th, at about 7 p.m. It shows that same part of the yard, but, as you can see, there’s more than a little bit of snow and the ducks are gone.
“I was worried about our feathered friends. Would they find someplace to wait out the storm? Would they survive while waiting for the snow to melt?
“Yes. They managed. I spotted them a couple days ago quacking around the neighbor’s back yard.”
Our theater of seasons
Or: Where we live (responsorial)
Dave the Tape Guy of Shoreview: “My grandfather had an expression to summarize the inverse relationship reported by Kathy S. of St. Paul between the initial size of snowflakes and the overall amount of accumulation likely. That expression was: ‘Big snow, little snow; little snow, big snow.'”
Today’s helpful hint
Newport Reader: “OK, everyone, it’s time to take down the Christmas wreaths. No need to wait for the last snow bank to melt.”
What’s in an acronym?
Or: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Swedish Princess (“daughter of Grandma J. of Grant): “So . . . with all the problems associated with MNLARS, the Minnesota Licensing And Registration System, I propose we switch to one of two alternatives:
“Minnesota Street Vehicle Entitlement Network (MNSVEN)
“Minnesota Operational Licensure Enterprise (MNOLE).”
Unclear on the concept
Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “It just doesn’t add up — manufacturers who offer coupons sometimes don’t seem to understand basic math!
“Two examples in Sunday’s paper: Save $.75 on one or $1.25 on two; save $2.00 on one or $3.00 on two (same size, same exclusions, etc.). Maybe you NEED two of the item and would opt to use that buy-two coupon. I’d be more likely to try to find a second coupon if I needed two items!
“Now that I’m on a roll, I have a couple more comments about coupons:
“If a manufacturer is offering a brand-new product, why do they offer only a buy-two-and-save coupon? If it’s something brand-new, I don’t want to take a chance on buying two of something I might not like!
“Finally, I have a hunch that coupon users skew to the, say, over-40-year-old demographic. So why is the print (especially expiration date!) often so teeny-tiny, light-colored or blurred? I have really good glasses, but sometimes the ‘fine print’ is just too ‘fine’!”
Great minds . . .
Twin Cities Sports Pages Division
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Twice again: two papers . . . same headlines.
“The Twin Cities dailies doubled up on headlines in their Sports sections twice in a span of two days. To wit:
“On Tuesday, April 24, after the Wolves had surrendered 50 points in the third quarter to Houston the night before, these were headlines on the front pages of SPORTS:
“Pioneer Press: ‘QUARTER POUNDED.’ The STrib: ‘A QUARTER POUNDING.’
“On Thursday, April 26, Phil Miller of the STrib opened his account of the previous night’s Twins’ loss to the Yankees with this: ‘With a heavy mist swirling continuously and shrouding the lights, Yankee Stadium looked more like the setting for “Wuthering Heights” or “The Hound of the Baskervilles” than a baseball game Wednesday.’
“This was the headline for the piece: ‘Twins are still lost in a fog.’
“This was the headline in the Pioneer Press for Mike Berardino’s account of the game: ‘In a fog: Twins’ skid at six and counting.’”
Great minds . . .
Late Night Comedy Division
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Worth his weight in . . .
“On the evening of the birth of the latest addition to the Royal Family, two of the New York-based late-night comics had similar [Bulletin Board says: not nearly similar enough!] comments:
“Stephen Colbert: ‘The Palace announced the baby weighed just over eight and a half pounds, which is just 12 dollars in American money.’
“Seth Meyers: ‘Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton gave birth to a baby boy today. He was born at eight pounds, which works out to eight dollars and fifteen cents.’
“Who says you can’t put a price on everything?”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Donald: “Subject: Johnny, we hardly knew ye.
“At the top of Charley Walters’ column (‘SUNDAY SUPER SHOOTER’) in the Sports section of the Pioneer Press is a photo of a celebratory football team and its coach. This is the caption: ‘St. John’s football players celebrate with coach Mike Grant, in white sweater, after the Johnnies won the 1976 NCAA Division III football championship game. Among the players is tight end Mike Grant (83) who has gone on to coach Eden Prairie High School to 11 state championships.’
“Grant is indeed #83 (holding up his index finger indicating number one), but he is definitely not the white-sweatered coach. That designation belongs to John Gagliardi, who has ’the most wins of any coach in college football history.’”
Joy of Juxtaposition
The Rivermouse’s Sister: “I just read the BB of April 23, 2018. At the end of the column, there was a video of Buster Keaton’s amazing movie stunts.
“On Saturday, April 28, 2018, our organization hosted an annual Silent Movie event. This year, the selected movie was ‘Our Hospitality,’ starring Buster Keaton. This movie contains the amazing river-rescue clip that is featured in the video. The movie also depicts other very athletic stunts on the part of Keaton. Our near-capacity crowd clearly loved this movie, which was also comedic, along with the thrills. It can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube, but you won’t also have a soundtrack provided by the wonderful pipe organ that is part of the historic Mission Inn located in Riverside, California.”
Dr. Chrysanthemum reports: “Subject: “Bluetooth and Me: A Possible B-M.
“A few days ago, my wife (Mamallama of Como Park) told me about a treasure hoard discovered recently in Mecklenburg-Pomerania (northeastern Germany) by a 13-year-old. It included coins of Harald Bluetooth Gormsson, the 10th-century king who united Denmark. (Bluetooth wireless technology was named after him; his runic initials form the Bluetooth logo!) She asked if he was my ancestor. I replied that he is almost certainly our ancestor (although I couldn’t document the connection), because any European from that time who has living descendants is probably an ancestor of all living westerners. I further noted that one of Bluetooth’s sons (Sweyn Forkbeard, who may have deposed Harald and forced him to flee to Pomerania) purportedly married my putative first cousin many times removed and that one of Bluetooth’s granddaughters married the uncle of another putative ancestor.
“A few days later, I read about another Pomeranian hoard (in what is now northwestern Poland) associated with Bluetooth or his followers that was discovered in 1841 by 12-year-old Heinrich (Henry) Boldt, a second great-grandfather of Ben and Casey Affleck. Much of this hoard was reburied, and it was rediscovered in 1945 by Stefan Sielski (a few Sielskis are on my family tree).
“That’s not my possible Baader-Meinhof, however.
“My wife showed me a picture of coins from the recent discovery. Many of them bore a cross. Because I wasn’t sure if Bluetooth would have been Christian, I checked further. Yes, he Christianized Denmark, and Wikipedia identified him as a Chalcedonian Christian.
“A few hours after she asked about Bluetooth, my wife gave me a quiz from one of our local papers. The topic was countries that begin and end with A. One question asked which country was the first to accept Christianity as a state religion. Because I hesitated, she gave me a clue and said it was an Eastern European country. I knew it couldn’t be Albania or Austria (which are considered Eastern European under certain definitions). After I gave up, she told me it was Armenia. I complained that she misled me because Armenia is in Asia, although I should have been able to figure out the answer anyway.
“Later that day, when I read a little more about Armenian history, I found that the Armenian Church is a non-Chalcedonian Oriental Orthodox religion. It was one of the churches that split from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches during the fifth-century Chalcedonian Schism (because of differing beliefs about the nature of Christ). (This schism should not be confused with the Great Schism of 1054, which split the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches.)
“Now, while I can’t rule out reading about the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) and the schism that it followed it, I do not recall doing so or even hearing or seeing the term Chalcedonian before the other day. But I’ll remember it now.
“And I’ll remember Bluetooth.
“Perhaps my wife and I may even be lucky enough to find another treasure hoard if we visit our ancestral homes in northeastern Germany and northwestern Poland, although that may require the help of a 12- or 13-year-old explorer. If that happens, I’ll let you know.”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Al B of Hartland: “I was near a small wetland in Missouri. I watched a great blue heron that had caught a fish too big for it to swallow. The heron tried and tried to swallow the fish, adjusting the way it was positioned in the bill, but to no avail. The bird became a catch-and-release heron. The fish would have had quite a story to tell if it hadn’t become a floater.
“A crow flew over the wetland. It was mobbed by angry red-winged blackbirds. They flew over the crow and pecked it from above.
“Not long after that, a red-tailed hawk flew over the wetland. The redtail got the same reception from the blackbirds.
“Later, when I stopped at that wetland, a turkey vulture flew over. It received the same treatment. The turkey vulture was no menace to the blackbirds, but the redwings were on high alert and not about to take any chances. If it looked like a threat, it was treated as one.”
This ‘n’ that
From IGHGrampa: “Crow talk:
“As I was getting into my car at a strip-mall parking lot this morning, I heard this awful call. It sounded like a kid throwing the worst tantrum in the world. It was a crow about a hundred feet away. It had a big piece of dried bread crust in its beak. Having the crust there changed the sound of its call, making it more raucous and threatening.
“The previous night, I had seen a TV show on bird intelligence and problem-solving ability. So I was primed to watch the birds. Another crow joined the first one. I assumed the raucous call was for help. The two birds walked around the crust, each poking and pecking at it. They seemed to be trying to break it into smaller pieces, but it was too hard. After a minute, they paused with their heads raised. They were listening to another crow calling in the distance. Then they flew away, leaving the crust. Some other guy had found something more interesting than an old, dried piece of bread.
“I’ve often wondered why some birds like crows and gulls have such loud, raspy calls. It’s just that they’re bigger birds that get around more. They need calls that will carry farther. Gulls need a voice that will not just carry farther, but will also be heard over the sound of the waves on the beach. It’s all their own built-in P.A. system.
“As I was driving home today, I saw a train rolling along. On one car was a message, brightly spray-painted in large letters. The message was: ‘Marry me.’ It went from one end of the boxcar to the other end.
“I couldn’t help thinking about it. If it was legitimate, some guy went through some planning to make it work. First off, he had to paint it on the boxcar, which could have been dicey. There could have been railroad security people around. Maybe police patrol the area regularly. He probably had to do it at night, which may have compromised the quality of his artwork. It did look like rather artsy artwork.
“He would have had to discover when the boxcar would be passing by, so he could get his lady friend there at the right time. Maybe he worked for the railroad. Maybe she was with him when he painted it. She could have watched the proposal as he was painting it. He would also have to be pretty certain that her answer would be yes. He wouldn’t have wanted to go to all that work and planning just to have her turn laughing and say, ‘What? Marry you? No way! I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man on earth!’ What a letdown that would be.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede was busy with his camera during our short hiatus.
Report #1: “A friend who understands my fascination with blossoms of various sorts invited me to visit her garden to see snowdrops. I might have heard of them before, but had never seen one.
“This early bloomer often blooms while the snow is still on the ground, as they were when I got to see them for the first time. Like other spring plants with this tenacity, I admire them.
“Why they do this is a mystery to me. I doubt there are any pollinating insects out or anything when they bloom so early. How they came to do this is part of their intrigue.
“The nearby pachysandra looked healthy and raring to go, too.
“I gave them a mental cheer: Yay!”
Report #2: “I never realized how wrinkly the rhubarb leaves are when they first start leafing out.
“But then the leaf starts to open up more and look more like what I am used to seeing.
“I like the leaves that have a lot of red in them — another surprise for me.
“My wife has found a good recipe for making rhubarb sauce — like applesauce in consistency, but with a whole different flavor, and with a lot more fiber. We learned early on not to eat too much at one time. She also makes a great rhubarb pie for Thanksgiving. And these plants are so easy to grow and care for.’
Report #3: “While talking with a neighbor, I learned she had snowdrops blooming, too, and she invited me over for a look. After seeing these and then researching more online, I figured out a place in the back yard that might be perfect for getting them started and letting them go.
“My crocuses haven’t gotten this far yet, but I have hopes now.
“These early bloomers really help get the idea of spring going.
“And the maple buds are doing something.
“I hope it\s warm enough for the bees to take advantage.”
Report #4: “The maple buds have really turned into something! And I did see what looked like a drone bee hovering near one of them, so spring things are falling into place.
“More and more rhubarb leaves are ‘stretching’ out.
“And my own crocuses are blooming, too. When I see them, I wish I had more.
“About time to start my spring plant shopping!”
Our gardens, ourselves
Including: Unclear on the concept
Writes joegolfer: “Subject: Springtime in the garden.
“The second home we owned was the first house with a yard. (First home was a condo.) Although my parents and grandparents all had gardens of the vegetable and flower varieties, I was still a neophyte when it came to being Head Gardener.
“We moved in on July 1, so missed the spring that year. Nine or 10 months later, when we experienced our first spring, it was such a joy to smell the lilacs, but the rest of the landscape was pretty much your basic South Minneapolis lawn. There were some funny-looking things growing in the middle of the back yard, but we just mowed them down with the grass, thinking they were weeds.
“The next spring, I noticed these same funny-looking weeds in the garden next door. Our sweet neighbor ladies had a beautiful garden, with many rose bushes and other pretty flowers. So I inquired about these mystery plants . . . and that was my introduction to peony sprouts. We had peonies when I was growing up, of course, but I hadn’t noticed what they looked like prior to reaching full height and flowering.
“Apparently, the previous owners of our house hadn’t recognized them, either, as they clearly had been mistreated for quite some time.
“My belated efforts to nurture them back to health went unrewarded.”
Everyone’s a (food) critic!
Or: The Permanent Maternal Record (responsorial)
The Bulletin Board posted on April 23 included this note (with our reply) from Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: Canned cat food? No, thanks . . . had enough.
“In the memoir from Tim Torkildson printed in the April 20th BBOnward, in which he voices his distaste for tunafish casserole, he also refers to the smell and taste of canned cat food. As I read it, I wondered if he had actually tasted canned cat food. You see, I did taste the stuff, not too long ago — inadvertently, as this post by me to my Facebook page reflects (the actual name of Norton’s dad was changed, to protect the innocent):
“‘For those of you who have wondered what that stinky canned cat food tastes like, I can answer the question. My morning routine includes me taking a spoonful of a honey, cinnamon, ginger mix AND giving the cats some of their Fancy Feast Seafood Classic Pate canned cat food. I leave the unwashed spoon from the cat food on the stove so that when Beagle Norton gets back from his walk with his dad, he (Norton — not his dad) can lick the spoon which always has a little cat food stuck to it. This morning I was a little foggy and picked up the spoon, thought it was from my honey mixture and stuck it in my mouth. Surprisingly, for the way that canned cat food smells, it doesn’t have much of a taste. Or maybe I spit it out so fast that the taste didn’t kick in.’
“I should add that I love tuna casserole and just might have to make some soon. I make mine with homemade white sauce, to which I add a little cheddar cheese. It’s delicious!”
BULLETIN BOARD REPLIED: “We are as certain as we can be that someone will ask for a recipe. So: Recipe?”
We presently heard, again, from Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe (as requested).
“3 cups cooked noodles, drained and set aside while you make the sauce and topping
“½ cup soft bread crumbs (use blender or food processor to make bread crumbs from one slice of bread; I like something other than white bread)
“1 Tablespoon melted butter
“¼ cup chopped onion
“¼ cup butter or margarine
“¼ cup all-purpose flour
“½ teaspoon salt
“½ teaspoon dry mustard
“¼ teaspoon black pepper
“2 cups milk
“One 9 or 9½ oz. can of tuna (or two of the smaller cans of tuna), drained. I use water-packed tuna.
“4 oz. of cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
“Frozen peas. (I never measure. We like a lot.)
“Combine bread crumbs and the 1 tablespoon of melted butter to make soft bread crumbs.
“Sauce: Cook onion in the ¼ cup butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, dry mustard and black pepper till blended. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly until slightly thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese till blended. Stir in tuna and cooked noodles and frozen peas.
“Transfer to a 1½ quart casserole, and sprinkle the soft-bread-crumb mixture on top. Bake uncovered in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and crumb topping is golden.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “This plate was on a VERY yellow ‘muscle’ car: ‘TOPNANR.’
“Top banana, indeed!”
The highfalutin amusements
Or: Keeping your eyes open
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Say what!
“From today’s report on the progress of the Minnesota House Tax Committee regarding the Republican Tax Overhaul Plan and its deadline.
“You hearing folks that don’t need auto-generating closed-captioning miss a lot!”
Now & Then
The Mambo King: “I was going over the menu at one of my favorite restaurants and was amused, and a bit surprised, to see that one of the offerings was a ‘Teeny Tiny Tuna Tartare Taco.’ Thinking about this a bit longer, it occurred to me that there was a time when it would have been unthinkable to find tacos on the menu of a non-Mexican restaurant.
“When I started grade school in Texas, I attended a school with a student population that was 100 percent Mexican American. Part of the mission of the schools at the time, explicitly or not, was the ‘Americanization’ of the students — so along with the three R’s, we were also taught the right things to eat. A good breakfast included eggs and ham, or pancakes and orange juice, not pan dulce con chocolate or migas. And so on. At lunchtime, the students who brown-bagged instead of paying for cafeteria food went to the schoolyard to eat their lunches. Some of the kids took out their PB & J or ham-and-cheese sandwiches on white bread. The rest sat in a corner and tried to hide their flour tortilla tacos filled with potatoes, frijoles refritos or some meat, sliding the taco out of the paper bag just enough to take a bite, the way a Skid Row resident might take a swig from a pint bottle. The white-bread kids would sometimes point and snicker a bit — not enough to start a fight, but enough to make the others wish that their parents were enlightened enough to see the merits of PB & J sandwiches over tacos de frijoles refritos.
“Fast-forward 60 years. Tacos and their culinary cousins, burritos, are not exactly ubiquitous, but they are definitely a part of modern American cuisine. Migas or chilaquiles, chorizo, and huevos rancheros can be found on the breakfast menus of many restaurants, and fajitas of various kinds, quesadillas, and shrimp or octopus tacos are not uncommon dinner offerings at some fairly fancy eateries. Then there are those teeny tiny tuna tartare tacos. Amazing!
“It’s apparent that Mexican food has really caught on with the American palate, as Mexican restaurants are springing up everywhere, and non-Mexican restaurants are competing by incorporating some of the choicest offerings into their own menus. Mexican food can even be found at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Tacos and burritos, it seems, have become as American as bratwurst and sauerkraut or pizza and spaghetti. In a way, the kids in the corner of the schoolyard hiding their tacos and enduring the snickers were really the vanguard of an American culinary cultural evolution. Who would have thought?”
The little treasures
Writes Nancy Lundquist: “Subject: Memories.
“This picture of my mother always puzzled me.
“It was not at all the type of photo that my parents would have taken. I never thought to ask them about it while they were alive.
“Then a few years ago in the Bulletin Board, I saw a picture submitted by DOT of St. Paul that said hers was taken by a street photographer who gave you a slip of paper that told you where to redeem the picture.
“I was happy to find out how my mother got this picture, taken on Seventh Street in 1938. I also want to thank DOT for sharing, so that I could stop puzzling over the picture.”
Department of Insufficient Instruction
The Corgi Lover in White Bear Lake: “My 5-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter went with me to celebrate my sister’s graduation from Lutheran Bible Institute of Golden Valley.
“The wait for the ceremony to begin was a long one, and my son needed to go to the bathroom. He wanted to go alone, so I told him where the bathrooms were and reminded him to look for the letters ‘M-E-N’ on the door of the bathroom. He said he knew what those three letters were, and he proudly sauntered off, all by himself.
“Minutes later, he returned with a strange look on his face. I asked him if he had found the door with the letters M-E-N on it, upon which he replied: ‘Yes, but there were two more letters in front of the letters M-E-N.’
“I just smiled and said: ‘Glad you found the MEN’s room.’
“I only imagined the surprised look on the ladies’ faces when they noticed a male standing by them.”
The darnedest things
WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, from Little Sister: “I was volunteering with kindergartners this morning. In the story we were reading, there was a picture of two kids quite clearly playing checkers. Old fogey that I am, I was surprised by how many did not recognize the game or know anything about it. When I asked one little girl what she thought they were playing, she said, without hesitation: ‘Poker!'”
Band Name of the Day: Pavlov’s Cat
Website of the Day: