“Stand up straight! Damn it all, hold still! Quit your damned fidgeting! Hell’s bells, just put your hands at your sides! Now, look at me! OK, that should be good. Wait! Stay there, I’ll take another one.”

The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “These old photos, they keep surfacing. Just when I think I have seen them all, another one pops up.


“This one was in a box of photos which were taken over eight decades ago. It was so dark and faded, I nearly threw it out, but a second look prompted me to scan it, to see if I could clear it up. I am sorry I maligned you so, Windows 10. Once I figured out how to operate your photo app, I have been enjoying photographic miracles. All I did was ask you to ‘enhance,’ and there we were — standing in a row like soldiers at attention.


“I miss laughing WITH my siblings, but when I look at this old photo, I can still laugh AT them. Ruth at 17 is trying to look aloof and sophisticated, while Raye and Johnny seem to be stifling their amusement at some shared joke. Edith is standing so awkwardly, ready to bolt if this takes much longer. Nora and I, with our grubby, dirty knees, look like we are trying to behave, or else we were more easily kowtowed by our father’s bluster.

“Since I was only 2, I have no memory of this photo-op — but with Daddy, there were so many of them it is easy to imagine what he is saying: ‘Stand up straight! Damn it all, hold still! Quit your damned fidgeting! Hell’s bells, just put your hands at your sides! Now, look at me! OK, that should be good. Wait! Stay there, I’ll take another one.’ Etc. etc. etc.

“Thanks, Dad, for taking so many pictures.”

Our siblings, our rodents, ourselves

DebK of Rosemount: “With far-flung siblings arriving later this week for a family wedding, I set to tidying the front porch, where Significant Family Memories will be shared — and more than a few political disagreements aired.

“As I was wrapping up my labors, I was inspired to sweep under the little jelly cupboard that we keep on the porch to store grape jelly for orioles and mosquito repellent for people. When I moved the piece, I discovered a long-deceased member of the chipmunk community. My discovery was a timely one, for given the advanced state of bloating in evidence, the rodent would likely have made its presence known about the time the city-dwelling relatives settled into the porch swing to reacquaint themselves with warm-from-the-oven rhubarb desserts.

“That would’ve been a calamity on par with electrocuting a mouse in one’s toaster, as Cousin Linda recently did, thereby violating all sorts of social and culinary conventions that hold sway in Buena Vista County, Iowa.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede writes again: “With both of my computers having problems, then my camera, I have recently not been able to send in photos of the lovely spring blossoms we have been enjoying. Now that everything is fixed, I can share some of the lovely sights that our June heat in May has provided.

“The blossoming fruit trees are really going to town with their blooms. I favor the small clusters that show both the open bloom and the buds just about there.







“My next-door neighbor is growing oranges again this year. I need to watch for orange blossoms because I have never seen one before.


“I hope a more knowledgeable plant person can identify some of these tree blossoms.


“There is one tree like this in Mounds View not far from my home. I am pretty sure is is a Butterfly Magnolia.




“It’s a real eye-catcher when it is all blossoms, before the leaves even come out. But I missed getting it at that stage this year.”

Out of the mouths of pitchers

Donald: “Subject: Stating the obvious.

“From ‘THEY SAID IT’ in the latest Sports Illustrated: ‘”I was leaving pitches right down the middle and they were hitting them over the fence.” Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, after becoming the first pitcher in modern MLB history to allow four home runs without recording an out.’”

See world

Al B of Hartland reports: “As I came out of the house to fill the feeders, the first three birds I saw were a house finch, house wren and house sparrow. That seemed appropriate.

“The yard had become Goldfinch City as the chatter of the tiny birds filled the air.

“I saw a Swainson’s thrush looking something like a coloring-book robin that hadn’t been completely colored.

“Male birds sang for the ladies. An avian serenade. Orchard orioles, while their chatter is similar, don’t whistle like Baltimore orioles, but sing more like a house finch.

“Carpenters worked in the yard. Woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees excavated nesting cavities in trees.

“A chipmunk being chased by another chipmunk ran over a fox squirrel feeding on the ground. The squirrel was perturbed, but the chipmunks had quickly left the scene.”

The vision thing

Semi-Legend reports: “While standing on line for ice cream at Sea Salt this evening, I saw a boy of 4 or 5 wriggling in his father’s arms. He had on a gray T-shirt with an insignia that said ‘American Academy of Periodicals.’

“This surprised me. I had never heard of this organization, and I am somewhat familiar with the industry.

“Below the name was a three-noun slogan — not ‘Liberty, Eternity, Frugality,’ but in that vein.

“When Dad put the kid down, I saw, in block letters below the seal, what looked like ‘PERIODICAL IN TRAINING.” Hard to say, since the kid was still wriggling.

“But as I dwelt on that ‘IN TRAINING,’ I surmised that the outfit was probably the American Academy of Periodontics.

“I was close, but too brief. It’s the American Academy of Periodontology (perio.org).

“Proof that ice cream is good for the gums.”

Life as we know it

The Doryman of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Take time to stop and eat the sandwich.

“I offered the cashier at our locally owned IGA (Ptacek’s) a nickel if she could guess what I was having for dinner. She quickly scanned the English-muffin toasting bread, a plump tomato, the pound of thick-sliced bacon and head of iceberg lettuce. Hmmm, she smiled: Bacon, lettuce and tomato? BINGO!

“When I was a little Dory Boy of Windom, Minnesota my mother and older sister would fix them often this time of year. Because of the tomato, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot tongue. Somewhere between then and now, I deeply regret that Mom never said: ‘Just take a bite. If you don’t like it, you don’t need to finish it.’

“If ever there was a culinary harbinger of summer, thy acronym is BLT. Before the advent of A/C, it was a welcome comfort of humid, 80-degree-plus summer days.

“The Runabout outdid herself again tonight in preparing this seasonal repast. My mayonnaise-coated taste buds are singing Gershwin, though my daddy wasn’t rich but my momma was good-lookin’. A little over the top? Yeah, so what? It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”

Lou Costello lives on!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: I know the answer! I know the answer!

“A regular feature on Page 2A of the Minneapolis paper is ‘FAMOUS BIRTHDAYS.’ As indicated, it lists ‘Famous’ people born on that day, along with their ages. It seems that there’s been some kind of change in the format, because last Saturday’s list began with a question: ‘Who’s Pete Townshend, 73.’

“Answer: Pete is an English rock musician who’s a member of a famous group, the name of which escapes me at the moment.”

There’s nothin’ like a simile!

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “The front page of the Sports section in Tuesday’s Minneapolis paper featured Phil Miller’s account of the Twins’ win over the Tigers on Monday night. These were the opening lines of his story: ‘Creative is the word Paul Molitor uses to describe outfielder Eddie Rosario, but that doesn’t seem creative enough. The Twins’ resident daredevil, thrill-seeker and fire-eating showman had an epic night of boldness Monday, and he powered the Twins’ 4-2 victory over Detroit.

“‘Rosario frequently plays baseball like a barrel looking for a waterfall, oblivious to the danger.’”

What is right with people?

LeoJEOSP: “Subject: Fun story.

“Recently, we took a trip to the farm in Iowa. Until just a week ago, the ground was too wet and cold to, as my relatives say, ‘work the dirt.’

“One of the brothers drives over 1,000 miles to prepare the soil and plant corn and soybeans. The brother with the 1,000-mile commute owns a bar back home. The bar stays open while he is gone. No one works at the bar while he is away. The patrons drink and save the beer bottles, and accounts are settled when he again steps behind the bar. He says: ‘I have been doing this for years, and I have never come up short of money.’

“This story brought a smile to my face!

Just a coincidence?

D. Ziner: “Subject: Lookalikes.

“When I had a paper route, I carried one or two more copies than I had customers. If my memory is correct, these ‘extras’ were mandatory and each route had a certain number — probably based on the complaint history for missed delivery. And although carrier error was not always the problem, we did have to absorb the wholesale cost. Just which party benefited most from customer satisfaction and whether the world was better off from this arrangement would need Edward Lotterman to figure out. At the time, I probably did not know there was even a subject called economics and there weren’t many things 14-year old could do to get money for bike and go-cart parts, so I just ‘carried’ on.

“But I liked having an extra papers, for three reasons. One was because I folded, banded, and tossed all of them. And although I got pretty good at landing them where I aimed, once in awhile a Santa Ana gust might take one on an errant flight from which I could not retrieve it.

“The second reason was that I could start cutting and clipping the paper when I got home and didn’t have to worry about whether any family members had read it first. I did not just read the comics; I studied them, cut them out, copied or traced my favorite characters and kept a large collection for future reference. School projects that had an open subject were just about always based on the weaponry and clothing found in ‘Prince Valiant.’

“The other reason was that I was fascinated by the engagement portraits and how the couples tended to look alike. In a big-city paper like the Los Angeles Herald-Express, every week or so there might be two full pages of these announcements. I would trim between the mating faces, try to mask any revealing outlines, rearrange them all in random fashion, and present them on a large surface and let friends and family try to match them back together. I knew even less about statistics than about economics, but in my teenage brain, I felt vindicated that my hypothesis was correct that many people look — whether consciously or not — for mates with similarities. All this came back to me when I see a red-haired English prince tying a royal knot with a bi-racial woman from across the pond who shares so many features. They both seemed to also share a desire to make the world a better place. The inclusiveness seen in the wedding was a good start.”

Know thyselves!
Or: Older Than Dirt?

Peggy T of Osceola, Wisconsin: “Subject: The art of aging.

“Mr. T recently had a knee-replacement operation. I was used to leaning on him for support. Now I use a hiking stick. When he was in the hospital, we had a wheelchair date. Some of the staff wheeled us in wheelchairs down to the nursing home for a music event. That was the oddest date that I have ever had. Wednesday night, we had a cane date. We both used canes.

“Is that what dates are like as we age?”

In memoriam

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Last messages.

“On Sunday I heard that, at her request, a woman’s funeral ended with the following words: ‘I love you . . . I’m sorry . . . Please forgive me . . . I forgive you.’

“I think I would love to have met her.”

Our plants, our birds, ourselves

Sharon of Roseville: “Yesterday I posted a picture of a robin’s egg in my English Ivy plant hanging in my courtyard. Today I checked to see how long Mama Robin will have to sit on her eggs before they hatch. I know of people who would have thrown out the nest to save the ivy.

“So, it’s like this: Years ago I became aware that I was losing my hearing and got hearing aids so I could hear the grandkids. I remember standing in my kitchen the first spring day with the windows open and hearing the birds singing their love songs for the first time in years. It brought tears to my eyes.

“So that’s why I will do my best to take care of my plant, but the robins come first.

“Sometimes the things that bring you happiness cost you nothing and take no effort. You just need to stand still and pay attention.”

Band Name of the Day: Working the Dirt

Website of the Day: 

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