Trick or treat!
Uncle Buck of St. Paul reports: “Here is a picture of the cutest little pumpkin ever: little Hendrix (a.k.a. ‘Jimmi’)!”
Could be verse!
Writes Transplanted (“preparing for a Halloween romp at the graveyard in the Sunshine State”): “I could have shared these in the past. Or not. I don’t know for sure, and time passes so quickly that everything is a blur now. It gets dark too early. And things are often very silent, especially for those of us who have no hearing left.
“But Halloween approaches. It used to be one of my favorite times of year. Now, it’s more an annoyance and nuisance. Nobody shows up to the doors in a ghost town (outside of a rather small unincorporated city).
“Nights growing cold;
“Spirits now haunting the night.
“Owls in the trees
“are viewing the scenes;
“the bats prepare to take flight.
“Clowns on a rampage;
“Beware the Vampire’s bite . . .
“Graveyards so peaceful;
“winds eerily silent;
“It approaches Halloween night.
“Eerie, gloomy, quiet night
“Illuminated by a pumpkin’s light.
“Branches shake from passing ghosts.
“Evil waits where it does the most.
“Darkness reigns, make no mistake.
“Watch your walk; beware the snake.
“Stars are out, but the sky moon-free.
“The owl’s eyes open; they stare at thee.
“A bat flits by in front of you.
“If he bites, what do you do?
“Danger lurks at every turn.
“Stand and watch the bonfire burn.
“We stand in fear as darkness rests.
“The chill descends upon our chests.
“We cannot see that danger looms.
“Bats’ wings sound like sonic booms.
“The candles dim and flicker out
“While we still linger and wander about.
“Fear of the night; in ghosts we believe,
“In the realm of wonder, on All Hallows’ Eve.”
Could be verse! (5/7/5 Division)
Verses and photos by Tim Torkildson:
Our theater of seasons
And: Know thyself!
Al B of Hartland: “I visited Hawk Ridge in Duluth on a below-freezing, windy, too-close-to-Lake-Superior kind of a day. Most folks were smart enough to wear winter clothing. Only one lunkhead wasn’t that bright. I wore a light jacket and was happy to have it, but could find only one glove in my car. It was a yellow work glove for my left hand. I wore it. It should have been a two-glove day. I was chilled, but thrilled with the birds seen at Hawk Ridge.”
Our theater of seasons
Or: God’s creatures, ourselves
Bloomington Bird Lady reported: “Today I counted 10 dark-eyed juncos under the feeders! They had seen our early snow and were a lot more ready than we were! They must have been waiting for that happy surprise, but where — and what goes through the bird-brains when the snow disappears so fast?
“On my 40-minute walk when temps were so nice, a small garter snake suddenly appeared at my feet! I have not seen a snake of any size in years, and for me that was a happy surprise, too! The previous day, my shorter walk was interrupted by a flash of white coming toward me on the sidewalk. A cat? No, the neighborhood’s white squirrel, who, being curious, came right up to me. Those white ones, looking really pretty with a green grass background, seem to be enjoying our neighborhood. Guess their gray relatives are letting them eat undisturbed finally.
“We used to see way too many deer, and they are so tame. Sometimes the deer population gets a bit too large, and Bloomington will suggest not feeding them at all. They get enough bird feed to stay around, though. It was about 10 years ago that our neighbors close to Nine Mile Creek were getting so many deer in their yards that one family moved away. Their kids couldn’t play outside without stepping in the ‘gifts’ that were left by small herds.
“Last fall, there was a coyote ahead of me on the road by Dwan Golf Course. It looked like a small dog, just loping along — no collar, of course. On that same day, I saw some really ugly birds. They must have been turkey vultures. Actual turkeys are not that pretty, either, and I’ve seen them preening their feathers, looking at themselves in someone’s chrome rear bumper.
“My hope is we ‘live and let live’ with these critters in our midst. Monarch butterflies are finally starting to be seen more often. Wouldn’t our days feel rather empty if God’s varied creatures disappeared?”
Our theater of seasons
KH of White Bear Lake writes: “Subject: The pace of nature.
“For some reason, my daily, eight-mile walk in the woods seems to take a little bit longer this time of the year.”
Mounds View Swede: “The wife and I missed a week here in October to travel to Maryland — and while we were gone, a lot happened with the leaves at our house. Our maple tree in the front of the house went from mostly green leaves to mostly gone leaves. Most of the oak tree leaves fell, too.
“On a sunny day, I grabbed my camera to see what was left to capture of the fall color and found enough to satisfy my interest.
“I liked the juxtaposition of the yellow maple leaves and the red leaves of the shrub nearby.
“And this arrangement of trees pretty much caught all the colors in one photo.
“The rust-colored leaves look good in the sunlight, and this photo caught some of the shades of brown.
“This is a photo of a branch of a recently planted tree. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but I liked how the sun lit up its leaves.
“There was one flowering plant left in my garden. I admire its ability to keep blooming after the frosts have wiped out my other blooming plants.
“Morning light in the back yard let me capture a green tree and the orange/red oak leaves in the tree behind it. The few sunny days we have had really make a difference in how these leaves look.”
This ‘n’ that
From Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “The photos from Mounds View Swede are magnificent! As I read the names of the dahlias in the October 8, 2018 BB, I thought the names of the flowers were very interesting. I’m sure that if I took the time to research them, I would find some interesting stories on how they came to be named. I think some could even be eligible for consideration for Band Name(s) of the Day, although I know that by saying that, they are no longer eligible for consideration. Hmmm . . . .
“Also in the October 8, 2018 BB, Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul comments about people not using turn signals when exiting a roundabout. My biggest driving pet peeve is people not using turn signals, period — at an intersection, when changing lanes, or in a roundabout. I get SO aggravated when I sit and wait for oncoming traffic, only to have them turn without signaling, when I could have gone. And it’s downright dangerous when a car in front of you stops, and you don’t know why, and they are waiting to turn left.
“I could go on and on — but I won’t, because I’m sure BB readers aren’t among those who are guilty of these driving atrocities!”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Those who are wear hats. Fair warning!
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “I recently finished ‘Holy Ghost,’ the most recent Virgil Flowers book from (formerly? [Bulletin Board says: Yes]) Minnesota author John Sandford (né Camp). It includes Flowers’s Maxims, which I copied for my personal enjoyment. I read books from the library.
“Transplanted (in the Sunshine State) mentioned seeing turkeys crossing the road — which I also saw this week . . . in St. Paul, no less.
“This reminded me of a T-shirt mentioned in ‘Holy Ghost.’ The wearer (if I remember it correctly) dreamed of an America where a chicken could cross a road without having its motivation questioned.
Writes Elvis: “Subject: Modern times.
“Elvis was in a coffee shop this week after school had let out.
“Occupying a table for six were two female students, sitting opposite each other. Both had a phone, with earbuds plugged into it and their ears. Both had tablets perched on stands, and Bluetooth keyboards.
“Elvis was fascinated to watch the closer one, who was constantly in motion. She swiped left and right, up and down, and tapped tapped tapped on the tablet. Occasionally she grabbed the phone and looked at it or rapidly tapped and swiped on it. But the most amazing piece of this activity was seeing her use only two fingers on her keyboard — the old hunt-and-peck method. Does she really not know how to type? Or is it so natural to use two fingers on phones, tablets, etc., that she’s more comfortable doing that? We’ll never know.
“The two girls talked to each other only once the whole time Elvis was there.
“Elvis has been eternally grateful, and thanked his mom multiple times, that she made him register for a typing class his senior year in high school. Elvis was the only boy in a class full of young women who aspired to be stenographers and secretaries. He learned to type but did skip this class (it was the last period) during the week they worked on the top number row, so he’s still not very good at them. It has paid dividends during his entire life.
“But Elvis‘s dad never learned to type, depending on a secretary for his entire career, and today is still neither fast nor comfortable on a computer. Elvis had an uncle who was a reporter. This uncle never had a typing class, just journalism school, and typing must not have been a requirement, as he did the two-finger hunt-and-peck. But he was blazing fast and pretty accurate. Plus fun to watch.”
Or: Let’s be careful out there!
A recent report from The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Not All Identity Theft is Intentional Thievery.
“The Good Wife and I went out to lunch today at a beautiful golf course. Neither of us has been hooked on the game, finding hardly enough time to engage in so many other of life’s activities. We sat there, admiring the lovely greens — no, not the putting greens, but the multiple shades of green that God’s palette adds to the world around us. There was just a tinge of color starting to show, but we knew that it will be yet awhile before they explode in all their glory around us.
“This was the first time experiencing these pleasant surroundings and wonderful service as our waitress, Jo, explained the bill. It was indeed simple enough, but we asked about splitting bills for our future guests and how they might pay. This reminded us of a happening, nearly two years ago, where our credit card got switched with a neighbor’s. You see, there is a group of eight to 11 of us who go out for dinner on Friday evenings. At one of these occasions, the server brought separate checks to the table and collected our credit cards. It turns out the the card used by The Good Wife and me was from the same bank as that of another couple at the table. The light was low, creating a mellow mood, and somehow the server returned our bills and credit cards for signature. We all signed our tabs, decided where to meet the following Friday, and concluded a really pleasant evening.
“The next day was the usual Saturday: chores, errands, and the like. I ran to the local low-price general-merchandise superstore, making a frugal purchase for something like $8, using the same credit card I had used the night before. For some reason — perhaps I was just being anal — upon arrival at home, I checked my bank account online. OK, I do this a lot, but I know every penny I spend and what my balance is. Taxman would be proud of me. I was shocked, literally so, to see a charge in excess of $100 at this low-price general-merchandise superstore. Of course I went immediately back to the store and tried to resolve the problem. Surely a mistake had been made. We went ’round and ’round — no mistakes. So they asked me to please come back on Monday when someone more knowledgeable about computers would be in. Meanwhile, someone had charged a large tank of gasoline to my account. This simply cannot be. Hackers! Oh my!
“I went home and carefully examined the statement from the previous evening and those of the day, as well as the credit card itself. I found then that I had the card of my neighbor, and she must have mine. I was charging on her card, and she on mine. I guess that shows that large stores and gas stations do not carefully check your signature or even the name on the card. The Good Wife and I do now check our cards every time they are returned after leaving our hands. Our neighbor and I straightened out our finances, but little errors like this can happen. If I had not looked at the card closely — actually at the number itself (yes, I know it is anal to know your credit-card number by heart [Bulletin Board interjects: Doesn’t everyone?]) — how long would we have been charging on someone else’s card?
“Cash certainly has its value.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Carp Lips of Wyoming writes: “Friday’s paper included side-by-side stories in the ‘Local Briefing’ that really sent my head (and thoughts) spinning.
“The first stated that ‘City liquor stores report banner year.’ I recalled Seth Meyers recently deriding a certain high-level politician for his latest example of inadequacy, and then saying: ‘In a related story . . . liquor stores are reporting a banner year for sales.’
“The second article’s headline was: ‘Lime to give voters a lift.’ I immediately thought: Sure . . . if you include salt and tequila.
“I am sooooooo looking forward to the end (I know . . . briefly) of all these negative political ads flooding TV and radio.”
There oughtta be a law!
LeoJEOSP writes: “I have voted absentee for many years. I mailed my ballot on Saturday. It occurred to me that once you have mailed your ballot, you should have the right to not have to see or hear political ads.
“I am LeoJEOSP, and I have approved this message.”
Our pets, ours pests, ourselves (responsorial)
Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “Just finished reading the mouse story by LeoJEOSP. We are currently experiencing mice, which we have not had for many, many years. I am extremely afraid of mice, so this has been a horrifying couple of weeks for me. I have anxiety if I have to go down to the basement or open the kitchen cupboards, so I have my groom of 58 years doing the laundry. Everyone says mice are more afraid of you than you are of them — not true! I am a screaming idiot at the sight of a mouse, and when I read that the better half of LeoJEOSP had a mouse run up the leg of her pants, I screamed while reading that and probably will be awake most of the night just waiting for a mouse to run across me in bed. If that happens, you will probably see my obituary in the paper.
Sophie’s Dad: “The story from LeoJEOSP involving a mouse up a trouser leg reminds me of a time when mice liked to move into our house in the fall. Our ferocious cocker spaniel was always on patrol. One quiet evening, the dog sensed a mouse behind the bookcase and started the pursuit. The mouse scurried, the dog chased and barked, and Mother screamed and danced to avoid both. But mouse and dancing Mother met, to the demise of the now-flattened mouse. But the hysterics just began, and the story endures to this day.”
Our produce, ourselves
Or: The vision thing
Horntoad of White Bear Lake writes: “I cut open this squash for dinner today, and there he was, staring at me — the Scary Halloween Squash.
“Nonetheless, it was delicious.”
The Permanent Sisterly Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I can remember only one time in my childhood when my sister Ruth was furious with me. Oh, there might have been many times I was unaware of, but the cursing I received that day was memorable — and for such a little thing.
“It was in October in 1940, and Ruth had just recently been married. She was packing up her belongings to move into her husband’s apartment, and she showed me her childhood doll, Mary Elizabeth. Aunt Ethel had given it to her when she was 3. I had never seen her before, and I was fascinated. She was a celluloid doll with jointed limbs, elbows, knees, etc. I asked Ruth if I could play with her. She said I could if I was very careful. When Ruth said ‘Isn’t she beautiful?,’ I didn’t tell her that I thought she was the most grotesque creature I had ever seen, but Halloween was coming and I had plans.
“In our dining-room bureau, we had a junk drawer. What am I saying? Every drawer in that bureau was full of junk. In one of them I had noticed some black crepe paper. I got busy and turned Mary Elizabeth into the most awful-looking witch imaginable. I covered her clothing with crepe paper, replaced her bonnet with a pointed hat. I articulated her limbs to look as though she were flying on a makeshift broom I constructed from a stick and straws that I broke off the whisk broom. Oh, she was a delightful fright.
“It was a couple of days before Ruth saw what I had done to her cherished doll. The sound of her cursing must still be in the air in that big old house on Harriet Avenue in Minneapolis.
P.S. My beautiful sister then.
“Mary Elizabeth today.”
Just a coincidence?
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: How time flies (and helicopters, too)!
“On Tuesday, October 23, I was checking something on the top of the bookshelf in the den when a picture, which I hadn’t noticed since I can’t remember when, caught my eye. It was of a lovely couple standing near a helicopter in the area of the Grand Canyon. The man has his left arm around the woman’s left shoulder, and they are both smiling. The helicopter blades are whirring, and the grandeur of the Grand Canyon provides the background. ‘Was that around 2003 or 2004?’ I wondered. When I retrieved the picture, I found this at the bottom: ’10-23-03.’
“Exactly 15 years ago!
“And they’re still a lovely couple. (Take my word for it!)”
Till death us do part
DebK of Rosemount: “Ever since Taxman and I reached the age at which such conversations become all but unavoidable, I have been stressing to him the importance of examining a woman’s hands as he considers a (post-demise) replacement for me. (My theory is that a flawlessly manicured prospect would not be able to keep up my gardens or the dark wood floors in this old house.) Last evening, during my bedtime reading, I discovered that Jayber Crow, the small-town barber in the eponymous novel by Wendell Berry, was of a similar mind. Crow understood his customers ‘most of all’ through their hands, which they ‘had used . . . forgetfully, as hooks and pliers and hammers, and in every kind of weather.’
“Pleased as I am to have my long-held position endorsed by Berry, I have begun to doubt the theory. Truth to tell, I now suspect that in some cases, hands may not be the best measure of a person. I am thinking specifically of the young priest who serves the small-town parish where we worship during the week. Among locals, at least, Father has a reputation for sanctity. I’ve always been inclined to agree on that point, based on the usual indicators: dedication to duty, wisdom beyond his years, and the like. But today, as I went forward to receive Holy Communion, I discovered additional, even more persuasive evidence. As I waited in line, I caught sight of Father’s black shoes. Peeking out from beneath his vestments, those shoes were remarkable only for their heavily scuffed toe-tips.”
Life (and death) as we know it
Email: “The Bitter and Disgruntled Guy from Andover here. It has been awhile. There is lots to catch up on and much I will not be able to cover, but I thought I would drop a line to you because I miss you. I miss writing to you.
“Shortly after my last post to BB, my wife and I went on vacation to the Dominican Republic. It was beautiful. We stayed 12 days at an all-inclusive, and we lived like kings. We saw a couple get married, and we saw a man die. That affected me.
“My wife and I noticed a commotion on the beach, and she sent me to investigate because I move quicker and she knows CPR. I got over there in seconds, and there were already three Americans giving the man CPR. They would work for 30 seconds or so and then tag out, and the next person would take over. He was older, probably my age, and had tipped his kayak in the ocean and could not get it righted. Someone saw it happen, so the time from when he went under to the time he was pulled ashore was short. It did not matter.
“His name was Paul. I know this because one of the guys working on him kept saying ‘Hang in there, Paul.’ And ‘Help is coming, Paul. Hang in there with me, buddy.’ And the thing about the D.R. is that they move slow, and even the big resorts do not have the defibrillators on hand, which might have helped, and the response time to drownings is painfully slow. It might have taken 15 minutes for the ambulance to arrive — and by that time, everyone knew he was gone.
“His young teenage daughter was there, and it broke my heart to watch her father getting worked on and dying in front of her eyes. His wife had to be held back, because she wanted to rush to him and was not in a good place. Then there was the A-hole: This young kid was filming the entire thing (surreptitiously, he thought) on his cellphone. Who the hell films someone dying? I knew if I went up and talked to him, it would not end well for him; I did not want to get arrested, so I walked away and let the three heroes do their job.
“Fast-forward a couple months, and I was in Bloomington, a place I rarely go, and went to a bar where I have never been before or since.
“I ordered a beer and noticed a man, who appeared to be extremely intoxicated, try to work his way out of the bar. His wife was there; she was trying to help him, with little luck, so I went to her and offered to help. She told me he was not drunk and had just found out he was allergic to something; they just had not figured out what it was yet. It had happened to him a month before, and he was prescribed an EpiPen to help when this happened.
“Well, the bar called 9-1-1, and I got him outside — with his wife helping. Another couple people came out and eventually helped — but by chance, the week before I had talked to a friend of my daughters who is allergic to peanuts and shellfish and other nuts. I had asked her to show me how to use her EpiPen in case she had a reaction while she was visiting, so she did.
“Since this gentleman had just gotten his pen, his wife did not know how to use it. We had him on the ground, and he was going fast, so I took the EpiPen and jabbed it in his leg, and he shot up a little like Frankenstein and gasped in a huge amount of air. He stabilized for a while and then started to fade again, and we could not get him to maintain consciousness. He had two pens, so I took the other one and gave him another dose. About 10 minutes had gone by, and he was fading again. Finally a police car rolled up — taking his time, no sirens, no lights — and the officer got out, and I told him this guy was in anaphylactic shock and was going to die if the ambulance did not get there immediately. Well, they must have thought they were responding to a drunk call, because he got on his radio, and soon I heard sirens.
“The officer had oxygen and a defib unit. We hooked him up, and he did need to be shocked three or four times. The ambulance came, and I left, and I think he ended up being OK.
“That is it for my first story in a long time. I was glad I was able to help when I could, and I hated feeling hopeless when I could not. I think of Paul once in a while and the anguish on the faces of the two people who loved him. Life is precious. It really is.
“As I wrote this, I got a call from Fargo saying my daughter had to be admitted to the hospital again. She suffers from depression and has made a few attempts on her life. The doctor I spoke with was kind, and my daughter refuses to be admitted, so her hands are tied. It happens when you are over 18. She is good right now, and I will write more about that journey next time, but I thought it bittersweet that the call was made when I was writing about life and death.
Band Name of the Day: Delightful Fright — or: The Screaming Idiots
Website of the Day: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory