What does Birdwatcher in La Crescent approve of?

Our times
And: The highfalutin pleasures

Email: “Subject: Voting ads.

“I’m Birdwatcher in La Crescent, and I approve of my mute button!”

This ‘n’ that

Both from Al B of Hartland: “(1) I visited the South Congress Bridge, which crosses Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. It’s quite a sight seeing the 1.5 million bats emerge from the narrow crevices in the underside of the bridge. They start to come forth about 20 minutes before sundown.

“Every flying insect I encountered was nervous.

“(2) ‘Only one?’ asked the headwaiter. They are good at that. ‘Just one?’ is another common greeting.

“I wanted to say: ‘No, there are 29 more getting out of my car. We’re clowns.’

“He likely wanted to say: ‘Be sure to check out our Loser Special.'”

Now & Then

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Cause and effect.

“I read an article on the outrageous real cost of transportation today. The average commuter drives 30 miles just going to and from work each day. The time as well as cost adds up.

“I blame ‘commuter derangement syndrome’ — the mentality that I will live where I want to live regardless of where I want to work.

“My father walked to work in the ’50s. He traded in his ‘49 Oldsmobile in 1960. It had 49,000 miles on it. That number is somewhat misrepresentative, as many are these days, because he drove 10 miles round-trip every week to get a case of beer in Wilder. So if Cottonwood County hadn’t been dry back in those days, the car would have had only around 43,000 on it.

“Back then, if you wanted to work in Windom, you lived in Windom. If you wanted a better job in, say, Worthington (30 miles away), you would have been considered an idiot if you didn’t move there. Who in the world would spend an hour in their car, plus 29 cents a gallon, to go to work?

“I used this argument during the ‘Energy Crisis’ of the ’70s, but nobody believed it then, either.”

This ‘n’ that (responsorial)

Gregory of the North: “I had a similar experience to that of The Astronomer of Nininger [who brought a shotgun home from Italy in 1962, in the cabin of a TWA airliner (BB, 10/1/2018)].

“I was flying back home after a stint in Asia and was carrying a replica Samurai sword that didn’t fit in my duffel bag. I boarded the airplane, struggling to make the sword fit around me. I tried standing it up next to me (I had a window seat), but the stewardess said it had to be secured or put into checked baggage. Just then, the pilot came strolling by (I don’t know why), and he noticed the sword. He asked to see it, removed it from the scabbard, and gestured as though he were going to poke a hole in the roof. The stewardess took the opportunity to tell the pilot that I was unable to stow the sword properly and it would have to be put in the baggage area. The pilot gestured to follow him. We went up to the flight deck, the pilot still holding the sword outside the scabbard. He found a little nook where the sword could be stored securely. He returned it to the scabbard, tucked the weapon firmly in place, and told me I could pick it up when I deplaned, which I did.

“Nowadays, carrying a Swiss Army knife can result in all manner of kerfuffle. Different times, indeed.

“By the way, I wish to compliment Mounds View Swede on his photography. Some of his photos (the balsam blossoms, especially) remind me of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings.”

See world
Photography Division

Here, again, is Mounds View Swede: (1) “I went back to the nearby house that had the great variety of daylilies in June, to see what was happening now with their plants. I had seen something blooming from the street and, when I went with my camera to investigate further, found a lot of dahlias of different types.

“This first one is called Dahlia Green Door.


“I also learned that when the dahlia begins to open in the middle like this one, it is considered past its prime by dahlia judges. It still looks great to me.

“I have the name for this but can’t read my scribbling.


“This white one is called Dahlia Innocence, which kind of makes sense with the purity of its white petals.


“This very different-looking dahlia is named Dahlia Veronica’s Eli.


“And I don’t have the name of this last one, but its very different petals caught my attention.


“In talking with the grower, I was impressed with all the work these plants require. None of them are winter-hardy, and the bulbs must be dug up each fall and stored in a cold, but not freezing, environment.

“I don’t have such facilities at my house, so I limit my dahlias to those that grow from seed. I still have a nice variety to choose from, but nothing like these really large blossoms.

“I will send more soon.”

(2) “Here are some more dahlia beauties from a nearby garden.

“This first one is Dahlia Vassio-Meggos.


“The second one is Dahlia Camano Susan.


“The third one is Dahlia A.C. Rooster.


“This is another Camano Susan, further along in its bloom and starting to deteriorate, but still striking.


“I didn’t get the name for this one, but I liked that the bees were finding sustenance there.”


(3) “Among the dahlias in my neighbor’s yard were a pair of the big yellow blooms, along with a feasting bee. The variety of shapes and colors the blossoms can take is very enjoyable for me to see.


“This bloom is similar in shape, but very different in color, and also has a feasting bee.
It is called Allen’s Smoky Skies.


“This dahlia with a completely different petal arrangement, with red highlights on some, is named Tangerine Sorbet. When I Googled that name, I learned the blossom comes in quite a variety of colors and shapes.


“Another completely differently shaped dahlia, this is called ACMP.


“And for my final photo of the fall dahlia series, this one is called Varrones Chopsie-Baby.


“Kudos to my neighbor for all her work in planting and growing these beautiful plants. And she is still working two jobs!”

Could be verse!
5/7/5 Division (Illustrated)

From Tim Torkildson: 


Our pets, ourselves


The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My brother Johnny came home from visiting the neighbor farmer one day carrying a puppy. He told my dad that old farmer Molested couldn’t afford to feed him anymore, and could he keep him? My dad was having a hard-enough time feeding his family back in 1930 and sputtered that that blankety-blank Molested could afford to feed that pup a hell of a lot easier than he could. He took my brother by the hand and told him they would just have to take the pup back to the farm.

“This was before I was born, and the family story goes that a short time later, Daddy and Johnny came home, EACH of them carrying a puppy. Dad tearfully told Mom that he had to take them because that damn old Molested was going to drown them otherwise.

“My brother named the male pup Major, and my sisters named the female Nancy. Major unfortunately had an affinity for sleeping under cars and was run over several times before he met his early demise. My sisters felt so sorry for Johnny that they gave Nancy to him as a replacement, but Mother said that after I was born, Nancy became my most reliable babysitter.

“She may have been Johnny’s dog, but she was my companion for the next decade of my life.”

Heads up!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: He’s out at home!

“The front page of the Sports section in Wednesday’s edition of the Minneapolis paper featured a picture of Paul Molitor watching his Twins from the dugout steps. The headline above the photo was as ‘on the nose’ as the triple Molitor stroked for his 3,000th hit, in 1996.

“There were only two words, but they were perfect: ‘CLASS DISMISSED.’”

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Modern “analytics” have a lot to be said for them — but they surely undervalue class, if they attempt to measure it at all.

Here’s hoping Mr. Molitor gets another shot at being skipper of some ball club, if he wants another.

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Subject: Joe takes the mound to extend his career?

“It was probably a case of the headline writer getting caught up in all the excitement, but whatever the reason, the headline in the ’Twins report’ at the top of Page 3B in the Sports section of last Monday’s Pioneer Press caught my eye: ‘Belisle “at loss for words” about catching Mauer.’

“I think that scenario would make many more people speechless.”

Carp Lips of Wyoming: “Subject: Not Exactly What They Had in Mind.

“Tuesday’s Pioneer Press included the following eye-catching snippet in the Nation & World briefing section: ‘Red side still plagues Florida.’

“I’m intrigued. Is this a political issue (the Donald?)? Is Communism running rampant in the Sunshine State? Have too many sunburned tourists been doing the ‘Walking Dead’ Zombie Shuffle due to crispy skin?

“The article finally clarifies the issue as a red ‘tide’ outbreak on the Atlantic coast.

“As Gilda’s Emily Litella would say: ‘Oh, that’s very different. . . . Never mind.'”

Our times (responsorial)

In reply to Dolly Dimples (and Bulletin Board), here’s Gma Tom: “Subject: Unwanted gifts.

“Oh my gosh, Dolly Dimples really touched on my biggest ‘pet peeve.’ But she should consider herself lucky. I started getting 2019 calendars in May of 2018 and have gotten over 25 as of October 1 . . . and they are still coming. Some of the so-called charities are not happy sending one calendar; they send two — and these are from organizations I’ve never donated to. I’ve made a solemn promise to never donate to any charity that sends me money, even a few pennies, but it doesn’t stop them.

“I cannot understand why any organization would keep sending unwanted ‘gifts’ year after year when I never respond or send a donation.

“And nearly as annoying are the ‘Thank you, but please send more’ responses from the charities that I do support.”

LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud: “Subject: If Anyone Needs a Calendar, I’ve Got Plenty.


“To date I’ve received 15 calendars for 2019. Five of them are from organizations to which I donate. Ten of them are from organizations that bought mailing address lists from one or more of those to which I donate. I pass along the notepads and pens to the local school. The pennies, I shamelessly keep.

I understand there is great competition for donations, but like Dolly Dimples, I also get irritated with the volume of stuff that comes in my mailbox. And if I send $25, the next request asks for $30. I have learned to check online to see how a charity is rated and only donate to those that are using most of my donation for the cause, not the marketing ploys.

“So, does anyone need a calendar? They are quite nice.”

LindaGrandmaSue, again: “Make that 16 calendars for 2019. Another arrived today in the mail.”

Vanity, thy name is . . . 

The Mambo King: “I was driving home today in kind of a funk. The cold and gloomy sky didn’t help any. At a stoplight, I noticed that the black SUV in front of me had an unusual license plate: ‘NCC1701.’ Even though it wasn’t the regulation three letters and three numbers, the combination seemed familiar. And then it came to me. ‘That’s really cool,’ I thought. I couldn’t help smiling, and I drove the rest of the way home in a much better mood.”


You can say that again!

Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: Department of redundancy.

“Sigh. Three exclamation marks, besides.”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Vikings Division (cont.)

The REF in White Bear Lake: “Subject: A Perfect Gift … for Any Viking Fan.

“I spotted this gem near the back of the 1963 Vikings game-day program (cover price 50 cents):


“The ‘entire Vikings squad’ meant that ‘Stubby’ Eason would have solicited the signatures of Fran Tarkenton, Fred Cox, Tommy Mason, Karl Kassulke, Bill Brown, Ed Sharockman, Mick Tingelhoff, Rip Hawkins, Grady Alderman, Jim Marshall, Paul Flatley and Jerry Reichow, to name but a few of those that had made their mark in the club’s first two seasons. It may have included the scribbling of rookie QB Ron Vander Kelen, a Green Bay native who played for Wisconsin and had graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in August of that year.

“Jim ‘Stubby’ Eason was the team’s equipment manager from its 1961 inception until retiring in 1980; he died of lung cancer in 1981. A young St. Paul lad named Dennis Ryan began working for Eason while Ryan was still in high school (St. Paul’s Highland Park) and was promoted in 1981; he still holds the job. Just two Vikings equipment managers in 58 years.

“The mind boggles with what such a $12 investment would be worth now! I suspect most of the ‘young Viking fans’ that received the gift played with it, scuffed and tore it . . . and tossed it.”

The vision thing
Or: Out of the mouths of babes

JamesTheGreater: “A couple weeks after 9/11 occurred, I still felt the need to hold my daughter’s hand and walk her into kindergarten class each day. Yet, as I left that day, I did experience a bit of levity with some young boys’ imagination.

“After I had walked my daughter into her class and was preparing to leave the building, I stopped to button up and fasten my belt on my double-breasted, black trench coat. I also put the collar up before I stepped back out to the windy morning.

“As I looked out, I saw two 10-year-olds approaching the doors coming into school. As the boys neared, I quickly pushed the door open to welcome them to school and said: ‘Good morning, boys!’

“The boys appeared startled, stopped walking and looked me up and down.

“One of the boys looked at the other boy and said: ‘Who is this guy?’ The other boy whispered out of the corner of his mouth to his friend: ‘I dunno. Probably from the FBI or CIA or something.’

“And both walked past me into school nodding their heads in affirmation.

“I didn’t correct them. Yet, I never wore the black trench coat again to school. Those kids almost blew my cover as a bureaucrat.”

Our times?

Kathy S. of St Paul: “Subject: Words of wisdom.

“William Kent Krueger’s newest book, ‘Desolation Mountain,’ talks about the roles of the Mide (Medicine Man) versus Ogichida (hero, or one who stands between evil and those he/she loves). The hero is Corcoran (Cork) O’Connor, and elderly Henry Meloux is a Mide.

“My favorite part of the book appears as Cork is about to charge off to save people. Again.

“Henry announces: ‘What your head believes you are looking for is not always what your heart is seeking, Corcoran O’Connor.’

“‘Which, Cork thought with frustration, was no help at all.’

“Words for our times?

“As always, Henry is right.”

The workshop chronicles

IGHGrampa reports: “Subject: Woodworking.

“I think I owe you an update on some of my projects.


“Here are the boxes I have finished. The round one is from a few years ago. The other I finished a couple of months ago. It’s not varnished yet. I always delay that part of my jobs. That’s the part of woodworking that I don’t like so much.


“I finished this chair a month ago. It’s the same plan as one I built a few years ago. I made that one into a rocking chair. This one is just a chair. I might still make it into a rocker. I gave it a few coats of spray varnish. I don’t like the finish. It felt rather grainy after it dried. I might still give it a spray-paint finish.


“The Canada goose is what I’ve seen described as a mobile. If you pull the string on the bottom, the wings go up and down, as in flight. At first I painted it some nondescript color. After it hung in the garage a few years, I thought it should be repainted as a Canada goose. It turned out OK, but some of the colors don’t seem right.


“Then I did another bird mobile. This one is a robin. It turned out pretty nice, I think. I managed to get the colors looking pretty good.



“I decided to make some more frames for grandchildren’s art work. They’re made so the pictures can be slid in from the side or top. When I get the next picture, it can be slid in over the one that’s already there. This was an interesting little project. They’re simple enough that I could cobble up a couple out of scrap wood. These two pictures show one in progress and two finished.


“This is my next project. I have some figures of Christmas characters for the front yard. I thought this guy should be part of the group. I started it now to get it done by Christmas. He’s one of Santa’s elves. He will be about 2½ feet high and will stand with Santa, Frosty and Rudolph. He’s holding a kiddy car wheel in one hand and a little rag doll in his other hand.

“This is a fun project.”

Know thyselves!
Senior Division (responsorial)


Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “Subject: The roundabout diagram.

“I wanted to point something out about the roundabout diagram in BB.

“Look very closely at the black bubble in the lower left quadrant of the diagram. Do you see what it says there? It says: ‘SIGNAL as you exit the roundabout.’

“I swear my wife and I are the only people who use our signal as we turn off a roundabout. There’s one right by where I work, and I use it every day when going to and from the office. I don’t recall ever seeing any other driver signal their turn. Even cops!

“Come on, folks. It lets people who are yielding for you know that you are turning off, so they don’t have to just sit there and wait to see which way you are going.

“A friendly reminder.”

Band Name of the Day: The Kerfuffles

Website of the Day: William Kent Krueger





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