Not exactly what he had in mind
Al B of Hartland reports: “A friend from Hayward was sprucing up his palatial estate before his daughter’s wedding, which was to be held at the family home. He was scurrying about like a sack of squirrels.
“He sprayed for dandelions. He had neglected to clean the sprayer. It contained some glyphosate from a recent spraying. The spray not only killed the dandelions; it killed the lawn.
“What does a man do with a wedding looming and his family depending on him? He goes to the hardware store, of course. To buy grass seed? Not enough time for that. He bought some green paint and painted the dead, brown grass.
“His smile hasn’t gone dormant. It worked.”
Our poultry, our friends, ourselves
DebK of Rosemount reports: “Having failed to nail the dismount from a garden wall a week or so ago, I am currently on the Injured/Disabled List and flailing about for amusements suited to the mobility-impaired. A chain of emails from Shrinking Violet, a fellow agriculturalist and chicken enthusiast, has come to my rescue.
“Awhile back, writing as Mr. Anonymous, Shrinking Violet submitted to Bulletin Board a sheep story which launched an online conversation between us, an exchange which has ripened into friendship despite my frequent disparaging of (and refusal to use) his lackluster BB nom de plume. [Bulletin Board muses: As opposed to the ultra-lustrous DebK of Rosemount?] The depth and intimacy of our relationship is perhaps best demonstrated by Shrinking Violet’s having presented Taxman and me with a treasure trove of used pig panels.
“A kindness of this magnitude clearly requires reciprocation.
“Taxman and I might never have come up with a suitable expression of our gratitude for those pig panels if Shrinking Violet hadn’t noticed about a month ago that one of his Bantam hens was of a mind to start a family — had gone ‘broody,’ as we chicken people put it. Having no roosters on staff at his place, Shrinking Violet inquired about the availability of eggs fertilized by our more-than-willing St. Isidore Farm roosters. Shrinking Violet supposed that his Banty hen (a.k.a., ‘the cluck’) would be able to incubate about 10 of our full-sized hens’ eggs and further suggested that it would be nice to have a variety of breeds represented in the eggs we contributed to his project. So one Sunday in mid-June, on the way to our inner-city parish for Mass, we dropped off a colorful variety of eggs — including, we figured, eggs from at least eight different chicken breeds — laid earlier that same morning. As he passed the eggs off to Shrinking Violet, Taxman boasted that we could all be confident that our four roosters’ commitment to the continuation of the species would all but guarantee that every single egg was fertile.
“Two weeks into the incubation period, we received a report from Shrinking Violet, who had just candled the eggs and discovered that our roosters were not quite so committed as we’d led him to believe. Only six of the 10 eggs were ‘good.’ Taxman and I had not yet recovered from this humiliation when we learned that the six fertile eggs were hatching. Early on, it became apparent to Shrinking Violet and his farmhands that one of the chicks (called ‘#6’ by Shrinking Violet, who clearly suffers from a naming disability) was unlikely to survive. As Shrinking Violet wrote: ‘I assisted getting the head out but left the chick in the shell. Tuesday morning it was very weak and still partially in the shell. I took it out of the shell and left it under the cluck. By noon the cluck was out with her 5 other chicks, but #6 was very weak, alone in the nest. Tonight we moved #6 under the cluck out in the pen. It may or may not survive.’
“We expected Wednesday morning to bring news of the death of the chick, but instead we learned from Shrinking Violet that ‘#6 is doing so well that it is difficult to identify which one is #6.’ Later in the day came even more encouraging news: ‘#6 along with #s 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 is healthy and active.’
“Buoyed, Taxman felt emboldened to satisfy our curiosity about the breeds of the hatchlings. Given that we had provided eggs from so many different breeds of hens, we expected to hear that Shrinking Violet was enjoying the antics of a very diverse half-dozen chicks. Imagine our surprise, then, when we received the following email: ‘Tell Taxman the babies are all different colors: one black, one dark black, one pitch black, one pastel black; one light black, one faded black. Can Taxman identify what breed from the colors?’
“Sadly, we’ll be disappointing Shrinking Violet again, for neither of us can do more than to opine that he is raising a flock of feathered mutts, every member fathered by our Black Copper Maran rooster, Blackie.”
Now & Then
The Gram with a Thousand Rules writes: “Subject: Treasures from the attic.
“I am fascinated by old maps. This 35-cent Hudson map of Minneapolis contains a plethora of information. It has an index showing streets, boulevards, parks, libraries, playgrounds, public schools, post offices and streetcar lines. In fact, it has just about anything you might want to know about a city except the date it was published. (It is a mystery to me why maps seldom have a date printed on them.)
“Minneapolis had a population of 484,000 back then (whenever it was [Bulletin Board says: Our sources suggest somewhere around 1940]), and the red streetcar lines show why all of us old-timers still get nostalgic about the good old days when you could go anywhere in the city for the price of a 10-cent token and a transfer.”
This ‘n’ that (responsorial)
LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud: “Two floral comments:
“(1) Like Sharon of Roseville, I have been taking advantage of all the close-out sales on flowers. I simply cannot resist. I’m a nut for plants and flowers, a.k.a. a bloom(ing) idiot. I have also moved pots from place to place, trying to find the right combination that will not irritate my visual sensitivities. I don’t think this is an issue of too many flowers, just a low visual tolerance.
“(2) I would like to invite Mounds View Swede to come up to my fair city to photograph the beauty at the Clemens/Munsinger Gardens in St. Cloud. As a bonus, they offer Music in the Garden every other Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. As another bonus, they sell $1 root beer floats during the music.
“Life is good.”
Mounds View Swede writes: “I had the opportunity to meet a neighbor and visit his garden on Saturday. He has a large display of flowers in the front yard, side yard and back yard — blossoms I have never seen before.
“Most of the flowers are lilies, and he has about 100 varieties. I was struck by the color combinations on this first blossom.
“And seeing ruffled blossom edges was a first for me, too, though there were many more with this feature.
“This is sort of like the first blossom photo, with similar colors, but the blossom edges are much different.
“Some of the blossoms had interesting names. This one is called ‘Kisses Like Wine.’
“And this one is called ‘Worthy of Praise.’ I guess I would agree with that assessment.
“It was interesting to me to learn there were so many varieties. My neighbor has a lily-raising friend in Jordan, Minnesota, who says there are more than 20,000 varieties. I would never have guessed.”
Our milkweed, our Monarchs, ourselves
The Rivermouse’s Sister: “In response to Mounds View Swede‘s wife’s mention of their milkweed plants, I am writing to share our experiences of last summer and, to date, this summer:
“We planted four plants, then awaited butterfly visitors. Soon, they arrived, and laid small greenish-yellow-looking eggs. Then, we noticed that some of these eggs began moving, although still attached to the plant’s stem. Next, we noticed small zebra-striped caterpillars. The caterpillars ate ravenously, stripping the plant of all foliage. I despaired that they would starve before they had eaten enough to help them attain the next phase, forming a chrysalis. I called the man at our local nursery, and he granted me permission to ‘play God’ by moving these hungry caterpillars to adjacent plants that still had foliage. At last, they each formed a chrysalis. If this was a scientific treatise, I would be able to share how many days are spent in each phase. I guess that could be Googled. Anyway, as the days are accomplished that the new butterflies can emerge, the walls of the chrysalis become see-through! At last, they emerge, and the cycle repeats. I will also share that the denuded plants quickly regrow their leaves, ready for the next round. I read online that about four of these life cycles need to happen before the resultant butterflies would be part of the famous migration south at the end of summer. In the meantime, we have been able to enjoy the additional presence of Monarch butterflies in our garden area. They are joined by the honey bees from our two hives, so our garden plants have an optimum chance that pollination of their flowers will take place. Such a deal!”
Everyone’s a copy editor
Leading to: CAUTION! Words at Play!
(1) Walt of Wayzata: “From Sunday’s STrib Travel section.
(2) Raindancer of North Oaks noticed: “Subject: Only a nerd would notice.
“Copy editor wanted.
“The STrib business story today about a violation of a noncompete clause has an amusing jump-head that reads ‘Noncomplete costs ex-partner millions.’
“Would that fall into the category of ‘commerce-interruptus?'”
Indignities of age
Silver Haired Fox of Almelund: “Remember when there was an ad where they used to say ‘Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!’?
“Not much fun when it really happens
“I fell in the house, and my husband couldn’t get me up, so he called our granddaughter to help. She came over, and my husband and granddaughter couldn’t get me up, so our granddaughter called 9-1-1. It wasn’t long before firemen, a sheriff and paramedics showed up at our house. Between the sheriff and a fireman, with one pulling and the other pushing, they got me up.
“I was so embarrassed, but I was so thankful for the help.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — notes: “Subject: R.I.P., Fred.
“The latest message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:
“‘MAKE IT A BEAUTIFUL DAY
“‘IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’”
Ask Bulletin Board
Writes Arne Shulstad of Aurora, Colorado: “I am an admitted history trivia nut [Bulletin Board interjects: There’s no need to admit to that!], as well as a big fan of the Minnesota State Fair, which I attend every year.
“I am trying to remember the name of the restaurant on the Fairgrounds that was open year-round circa 1970s or 1980s. It was on Cosgrove Avenue, near the bandshell. The building has since been repurposed as the Libby Conference Center. I seem to recall that it was a Bonanza or Ponderosa restaurant, and the barn-like shape of the building would seem to confirm that. It was very unusual to have a business of any kind on the Fairgrounds that was open throughout the year.
“Does anyone remember the name of the restaurant, and what years it was in operation?
His world (and welcome to it!)
Tim Torkildson remembers: “In 1959, both Alaska and Hawaii were finally granted statehood, and my mother decided to take my two sisters and me on a train ride from our home in Minneapolis down to Red Wing in Goodhue County. The two events have no bearing on each other that I know of, but history has a strange way of getting tangled up in even the most mundane lives — and I’ve wondered if the national euphoria felt by the nation at this completion of a great pioneering work (or highway robbery, as some revisionist historians have it) didn’t rub off a little on Mom, making her a bit more hopeful that the trip she was contemplating would not end in a complete shambles. She wanted to visit the pottery stores which made the town famous among the artsy-craftsy set, and since she had a firm prejudice against babysitters in her home, we children had to come along willy-nilly. I remember she was looking for a large ceramic sauerkraut crock — not to ferment cabbage in, but to set out on the front porch with cattails poking out of it.
“She planned the trip well in advance, asking her friends Jean Brandt and Rose Ciatti to come along as well. When they both backed out at the last minute, her sunny demeanor became somewhat tarnished, and her inborn Cassandra tendencies began to emerge.
“‘Oh Jean!’ I well remember her crying into the phone on our kitchen wall, ‘you mean I’ll have to keep an eye on the kids all by myself? I was hoping you’d help out to keep them from . . . ‘ — here she glanced my way, not in a very friendly manner, and apparently modified her words to ‘. . . from becoming bored.’ When she hung up, she released a gusty sigh. She took another long, considering look at me — and it was as if I could see right into her mind.
“‘Is this little brakmaker going to cost me a fortune in broken pottery?’ I could hear her think. For I was a known felon when it came to stacking tea cups perilously high, until they fell in a smash like the walls of Jericho. I also liked to throw the good dinner plates up in the air and catch them behind my back, as I had seen Fatty Arbuckle do in an old silent film.
“Dad egged her on, the fat toad.
“‘You mean to take them kids down on the train all that way? I dunno what you’re thinking of, Ev. They’ll drive you crazy and get lost and fall in the river or somethin’.’ Thanks for that vote of confidence, father dear.
“On the appointed day, Mom got us all dressed up as if we were going to Mass. Back when Eisenhower ran things, going on a trip meant dressing up — not throwing on some dirty jeans and grabbing a grubby backpack. My navy-blue dress pants were way too short; I was beginning to sprout up like bindweed, and there hadn’t been time to buy new ones. My tan Buster Browns were buffed to a fare-thee-well. It was considered ‘cute’ for boys to wear bright argyle socks back then, and so I had on a pair that screamed at the eyes. My white shirt had about a pound of starch invested in it, so the collar felt like sandpaper. I had mislaid my belt somewhere, so was obliged to wear galluses with monkeys on them. The hated red bow tie was wound around my throat, and I took along a green hairy sport coat that apparently was made of dyed twine. If mom had stuck a fez on my head, I could have passed for a Munchkin from the Land of Oz.
“We took a taxi to the train station downtown. Steam and diesel fumes swirled about us as we boarded the Great Northern car to stow our baggage overhead and settle into the threadbare velvet seats with bright white doily antimacassars draped over each one.
“With a juddering crash we got underway, sailing past the Mississippi and endless fields of corn and wheat. At that age I was not much of a plein air enthusiast, so quickly grew bored. I wandered up and down the train car aisle, sticking my nose into where it didn’t belong, ruffling some old biddies who were jealously guarding their copies of the Ladies Home Journal from prying eyes.
“Then I discovered the water cooler at the end of the car, with the paper cone dispenser. I’d never seen anything like it before. Marveling at the great ingenuity it took to invent such a wonder, I began pulling them out one by one until I had nearly 50 — at which point some officious conductor intruded on my study and gruffly told me to return to my seat. I took the paper cones with me.
“As my sisters and I argued and shrieked over ownership of the paper cones, grabbing each other by the arm and fending off blows like prize fighters, my mother sadly shook her head. Calamity was approaching fast, her body language clearly indicated. She managed to keep her temper, tranquilizing us with a bag of CornNuts. She must have had that bag in her purse since before her honeymoon, since the kernels were nearly impossible to grind and chew; it was like eating gravel. And let me just here state for the record that Sue Ellen unfairly wound up with all of the paper cones in her sole possession — out of which she made coolie hats for her damn collection of Barbie dolls. That’s when it began to dawn on me that girls get the best of everything. I haven’t much changed my mind since.
“When we arrived in Red Wing and got off the train, Mom huddled us together for an anxious pep talk. We were not to talk to strangers, wander off, and especially NOT TOUCH ANY OF THE PRETTY THINGS IN THE SHOPS.
“She said this all in a chipper, upbeat voice — but her eyes betrayed her. They were already deeply sunken in despair. There was no way our clumsy little hands could be kept from fragile and expensive boneware. She and Dad would have to get a second mortgage on the house to pay off the imminent damages.
“I suppose you’re preparing yourself now to read all about our slapstick shenanigans in the pottery shops, and to laugh yourself sick at the immense amount of damage done by me and my siblings.
“Well, fuhgeddaboudit. We behaved ourselves just fine. I became fascinated by the jolly Toby mugs on display. But I could read the price tags, so didn’t bother to ask if I could have one. I had to wait another 50 years, until I found one at the Provo Deseret Industries store — in the exact image of W.C. Fields. I use it to keep pencils in.
“Mom got her sauerkraut crock, and we had grilled cheese sandwiches with French fries for lunch — then got back on the train and came home without further incident.
“The neighborhood ladies were waiting for Mom as soon as we got back. They were licking their lips to hear about the disaster. What had those verminous Torkildson children done now? When Mom told them the trip had been peaceful and productive and the riot squad had not been called out even once, they were thoroughly disappointed and trooped back to their homes in a squalid, heavy-handed manner.
“I don’t think Mom ever got over that trip. For once in her harried life, everything had gone as planned. For a lapsed Catholic with a deep tint of Calvinism, this was a crime that would have to be paid for in the future. And it’s certain that never again did the Torkildson children travel so quietly and behave so well when the family went on vacations or just out to Anoka for Halloween pumpkins. Just a sampling:
“I got my index finger stuck in the ashtray that was built into the back of the front seat. Dad had to drive to the nearest auto mechanic so he could take it to pieces to free my digit, and charge Dad an unholy amount.
“I had captured a bumblebee in a glass jar and surreptitiously brought it along on a drive out to Aunt Ruby’s in Edina. It was raining, the windows were up, and I decided to open the jar to see how my new pet was getting along. The rest I will leave to the reader’s imagination.
“And there was the time my dumb sister Sue Ellen dared me to squirt a long stream of mustard into my mouth and swallow it while we were at a drive-in out in New Brighton. I took the dare, waiting until we were just a block from home to spew it all back up again. Sisters are really dumb, you know that?”
Our theater of seasons
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I thought Bulletin Boarders might enjoy this photo my sister snapped with her phone on the Fourth of July, of my nephew diving off the pontoon.
Band Name of the Day: The Chicken People
Website of the Day: The “Fatty” Arbuckle Scandal (1921)