Their theater of seasons
Or: Know thy family, know thyself!
Mounds View Swede: “Fall color here is pretty much over, but I just received some colorful photos from my son in Oregon that he took when he visited a Japanese Garden in Portland.
“I wanted to share these as soon as I saw them and got permission from my son to do so. This first one shows much of the range of colors possible, from the solid greens to the yellows, oranges and reds.
“I liked that he caught this maple leaf resting in the long needles of some kind of evergreen.
“These fish seemed to be right in step with the leaves around them, or perhaps it is better to think the fall leaves are in step with the fish.
“Another photo showing the range of colors that are possible as the leaves reveal their inner beauty.
“I like this photo for the strong presence of the evergreens. I am drawn to them for some reason, probably reflecting my Swedish heritage. To have both the colorful leaves and the green needles together is even better.
“My mom’s father was a teacher and took classes at the Art Institute in Chicago. I never got to know him, as he passed away when I was 21 months old. My mom never said anything about her mom and dad, who both died near Easter of 1945, until I asked her to tell me about her parents before she passed away in 1989. The more she spoke of her father, the more I realized I was just like him, and that felt good somehow. In doing my genealogy research, I learned I had cousins in Sweden related to this grandfather. One of them does nature photography as a hobby. The other has his own print advertising business and is very concerned with the design and impact of his ads. So, looking at things from an artistic viewpoint seems to be a strong factor in part of my family line. And now to see my son is starting to apply some of these same skills in his photography makes me very pleased.”
The Big Red one
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I see Nebraska has a new slogan.
“I am reminded of a story I heard from a friend several decades ago. My friend was born in Nebraska and never left the state until she married. She moved to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state and wrote home telling her mother about the amazing scenery. She said the view from every window in her house was like a gorgeous picture frame. She urged her mother to come see her and see for herself how beautiful it was, but her mom saw no point in leaving Nebraska, even for a visit.
“When her mom asked her what she would like for her birthday, my friend sent her a round-trip ticket and said: ‘A visit from you!’ That worked. Her mom came to her place, and they had a wonderful time — except her mom seemed totally unimpressed with the scenery. She never mentioned a word. Finally, on her last day, my friend asked her mother: ‘Well, what do you think of the scenery, Mom?’ She said her mom looked perplexed and said: ‘What scenery? I haven’t been able to see a God-blessed thing with all these trees and mountains in the way.’
“Nebraska may not be for everyone, but it sure was for someone.”
The flu to end all flus? (responsorial)
JS the Willard writes: “Thank you, Dan Hanneman, for nudging me to watch the ‘American Experience’ (PBS) program that I recorded on January 3, 2018. The flu pandemic that killed more than 500,000 Americans (more than all the Americans killed in 20th Century wars) is now in the midst of its 100th anniversary. In October of 1918, more than 195,000 Americans died of the flu. After the November 11th Armistice which ended World War I, the horrors of the sickness quickly began to subside.
“The Sullivan side of my family lost their mother and younger brother and sister. They are buried in the cemetery in Rockford, Minnesota. It dramatically altered life for my grandfather, father and four uncles. The events were talked about only once (that I recall) while visiting the cemetery. My grandfather saved my father’s life by dipping a cloth in kerosene and swabbing his throat, or I would not have been born 32 years later.
“Life is truly fragile.”
Jane Metternich Carlson of Lake Elmo: “Dan Hanneman‘s remembrance of his grandmother who died in the Flu Pandemic of 1918 was especially moving for me. I also lost a grandmother, a young woman, to this dreadful flu. She lived in Neenah, Wisconsin. My dad, who was 3 years old, also contracted the flu. His father, my grandfather, held him through a terrible night of fever, which miraculously broke before dawn. Dad’s maternal grandmother, along with some aunts, raised him so his father could travel for his job.
“I would add a third anniversary to the year 1918. It was in October when fires destroyed 1,500 square miles in seven counties of northeastern Minnesota. Families were left homeless, and hundreds died. I highly recommend Curt Brown’s book ‘Minnesota 1918: When FLU, FIRE, and WAR Ravaged the State.’ Mr. Brown, a man I have never met, tells an amazing tale of such a horrific time only 100 years ago. Just think of how much has changed since that year.”
The Great War
Home and Abroad Division
D. Ziner: “Subject: Armistice documented.
“One hundred years ago, there was a flurry of correspondence among my relatives. This excerpt is from my Aunt Mary’s letter to my Uncle Walter, who was in the Marine Corps at Parris Island, S.C.: ‘Hip hip Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Today it will be hard to concentrate, for this is one of the greatest days in the history of the world. About two o’clock this morning the news was flashed that Germany had signed the armistice and I guess most of the people (at least in Chicago) started to celebrate then. . . . . Two people have called me up this morning about you. A Walter Pierson in the Marine Corps has been killed and they wondered if it might be you. No need to tell you how thankful I am that it isn’t.’
“Another uncle, who stayed on the home front due to physical reasons, wrote this to his Marine brother: ‘Yesterday (Monday) the town simply went wild — took me 15 minutes to get out of the mob at State and Madison, and closed office at 10:30 am. Met Margaret at noon, Mother at four, Mary later in evening and walked the streets enjoying the sights. Hats flying, confetti thrown all around, horns blowing, girls tickling you in the face, etc. etc. Started at 2:30 am and continued all day well over midnight — but today much quieter.’
“It was a few days later that my father wrote home (Lombard, Illinois) from the war: ‘Now what do you think of Germany? I told you they would soon give up when I got over here! What a mercy it is all over; there is now no danger of them starting after the armistice has run out. We got the news probably later than you did, as we were on a box car while you were probably doing some shouting around Lombard.
“‘We left Southern France on Nov. 10th, really got started on the 9th, but after walking 5 & 2/10 kilometers (have Dad figure the miles) — with a pack heavy enough for a good sized mule to carry — to the station and after waiting around a few hours they found we could not be transported for lack of cars. So back we marched again to our former billets with our baggage as usual. . . . The next morning off we went again and had better luck — nice box cars awaiting us. I was in one that had a nice “carpet” of manure on the floor. Not so hard to sit on as wood, you know.’
“My father’s accounting background and skills with numbers put him in a supply company, which may have spared him from combat missions. His Shetlander cousin’s story was a far different one — and due to a sniper’s bullet, his name is on the memorial illuminated today on the wall of the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh.
“I always knew my father, pictured here, served in WWI, but I never thought about it much until my brother and I visited his grave marker and discovered it was engraved with all the notations of a veteran. If only remembering past wars and those who fought in them would keep us from starting new ones.”
Bill Gehrmann: “Subject: Veterans also take a knee.
“I sailed to Vietnam on the Gen. LeRoy Eltinge, which was a World War II military transport ship. By the mid-’60s she was a tired old tub, but did manage to deliver about 5,000 of us Army Grunts to Nam in 28 days.
“As we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and watched America fade from sight, I did wonder if I’d ever see her again. I’m sure most everyone else had similar thoughts.
“Fast-forward about a year, when I arrived home on a military transport plane which landed in Oakland, California. There was a backup departing the cabin. Looking down from the top of the stairs, I noticed most everyone was kneeling down and kissing the tarmac.
“Needless to say, I swelled with pride and did the same.
“God Bless the U.S.A.!”
Till death us do part
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Pendleton jacket.
“During the era of the Vietnam War, members stationed stateside awaited orders to be sent on for some kind of training before shipping out. Some went on to Fighter Weapons School, others to some other flight training. When someone got their orders, pilots on the air base celebrated with a knock-down, drag-out drinking party. That sort of made things ‘official.’
“Dave had been there a year or more longer than I, so his turn came before mine and I joined in the farewell festivities. Pilots came from all corners of the base to see Dave off. It was a rather late night at the Officers’ Club, but under the clear Alabama sky, we somehow were able to find our way home. Everyone wished Dave well. In the language of Alabama: ‘You do me proud.’ He had that big Alabama grin, and it was his way to bid everyone fond farewells. He had his assignment to A-1 Skyraiders, then still a workhorse for close air support.
“I got home sometime after midnight. I don’t know if it was a few minutes or a few hours after. I don’t think I would have been able to tell the difference. That matters little. I unlocked the front door and went straight to the bedroom. It was dark, but I had traced those steps so many times that I could do it in the dark or light. The Good Wife was already asleep, so I tried to be quiet. Imagine that! Anyway, I undressed. Because of my state of consciousness or lack thereof, I simply dropped my clothing in a pile next to the closet and groped here and there for my pajamas. No such luck. But that was OK. I could just slip into the bed, a few short steps away. For once I didn’t need to wear pajamas.
“After a couple hours (maybe only a couple of minutes), I was awakened to someone knocking on the door. We lived on the Old Montgomery highway, so it would not be uncommon for someone to stop if they had automobile trouble. But in the darkness it was indeed startling. I sprang from the bed quickly. Rusty, our dog, was letting the visitor know we were certainly home. Remembering that I was unclothed, I went first to the closet to get my robe. Without turning on the lights, I was able to reach for it. It was a woolen robe, finely woven, and, even in the dark of night, I could tell by touch that was what I had in hand. I slipped my arms through the sleeves and pulled the robe tightly around me. I reached for the belt to tie it more securely, but couldn’t find it. So I clenched the robe and struggled to get to the door. The young man there explained that his auto had broken down, and he needed to call for assistance. Luckily, the phone had just upgraded from an eight- to a four-party line, and it was positioned right by the door. I still couldn’t feel the belt, so I held the robe tight and let him make his phone call. He did not have to come in the house to do that. I had turned a small light on for him to see the phone well enough to dial his number.
“He was able to see not only the phone, but also me. He did not make contact with his intended party. Instead he politely said: ‘Thank you, sir.’ And left. I didn’t think much of it at the time. When I got back to the bed, I dropped the robe on the floor and immediately (if not sooner) was asleep again. When the Good Wife and I awakened in the morning, I realized that I had a waist-length Pendleton sweater jacket on the floor next to the bed. The robe was nowhere in sight. Apparently the robe that I thought I was wearing and covering me down to my knees was the Pendleton jacket that covered me only to my waist. They hung next to each other in the closet.
“The Good Wife and I had an intense laugh about this. The woolen bathrobe felt the same as the woolen Pendleton jacket. In the dark, it would be a peculiarly distinctive feat to tell them apart. After we stopped laughing, I asked the Good Wife to promise not to tell anyone about this happening. Reluctantly, she finally agreed. I went off to my duties, and she went about her prescribed activities of the day.
“For some reason, the Good Wife, that afternoon, was playing Bridge at the Officers’ Club along with the spouses of a dozen other flight officers. I don’t know why, but I went to pick her up — and I don’t know why, but I was not in uniform. Instead, I was wearing that Pendleton jacket. The entire club burst out in laughter. In spite of her captivating charms, the Good Wife had broken the rules of propriety and shared the details of the event to everyone else at the Bridge party. Within a week, I can recall that even crew chiefs on the flight line asked about that bathrobe. In spite of the embarrassment I felt at the moment, I know that I cannot blame the Good Wife. I can laugh at it, too.”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Election Day vignettes.
“Since 2002, I have been an election judge in all our elections. I might write more on that. But one story from each election always stands out to me.
“Years back, it was the little boy with a cape. As his mother marked her ballot in a booth, he pivoted behind her — and peered over his shoulder to see how his superhero cape swirled behind him.
“This year, it was an older gentleman who slumped to the ground as he brought his ballot up to the vote tallying machine. He refused to get help until his vote was safely entered and counted in the system.
“He done us proud.”
From Grandpa Denny of Shoreview:
It just don’t add up!
Or: Everyone’s a copy editor!
Donald: “Subject: How many digits are in ‘double digits’?
“This was the headline for John Shipley’s piece on Page 4B of the Sports section in Monday’s Pioneer Press: ’Thielen’s streak of 100-yard games ends.’
“This was the third paragraph: ‘Vikings receiver Adam Thielen already had broken the NFL record for most games in double-digit receiving yards to start a season at eight.’
“Eight games in double digits doesn’t sound too impressive to me, but congratulations to Thielen, anyway.”
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 — reports: “Subject: Going right to the source.
“The latest message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:
“‘SIGN IS BROKEN . . .
“‘MESSAGE INSIDE SUNDAYS.'”
Life as we know it
Culminating in: There’s nothin’ like a simile!
DebK of Rosemount: “About the worst thing that can happen on a pretend farm is to have both of the resident pretend farmers out of commission at the same time. To avoid exactly that predicament, Taxman moved out of our bedroom a week ago, leaving me to suffer alone the manifold miseries of the parish flu. Well, not alone exactly. As always happens during one of these emergency relocations, the minute Taxman takes to a different bed, the dogs leap in to fill the void. They’re devoted caregivers, and I’m comforted by their presence during fits of coughing and ague.
“But it’s getting a little crowded in my sickbed, for Wendell Berry has been under the covers with the doggies and me for the past week. During our time together, Berry has acquainted me extensively with ‘the Membership’ of Port William, Kentucky.
“Early in my confinement — in the BB post that came to my Inbox on Election Day — I was diverted from all things Port William by a brief discussion of ‘labored similes.’ Had I been in good operating condition, I’d have immediately offered for BB’s consideration this Berry gem: Jayber Crow’s description of one of his barber-shop regulars as a fellow who had ‘as much sense of privacy as a fruit jar.’”
The Permanent Family Record
Louise of Cottage Grove (“formerly of Roseville”): “Years ago, a friend told me about a hotel in Superior, Wisconsin. I then thought that Thanksgiving weekend would be a good time to get the family together. We weren’t so many then, but we ate and enjoyed visiting and playing games in my hotel room.
“Over the years, the manager allowed us to set up a long table in the pool area where we could serve our food. For the last few years, they have provided a separate room for our meeting place, as our family was growing! I buy lots of prizes at the Dollar Store, we play various games, and the talented family members entertain us!
“A few years ago, I started to give the adults $10 to share a Random Act of Kindness with someone. The following year, everyone shares how they gave their money.
“On Sunday, I select a family member to be our worship leader.
“Our family now totals 37 people, and this Thanksgiving will be our 35th consecutive year at Superior!”
Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division
We heard from Mnbirdee of Rochester:
“Maybe Al B can help with this mystery.
“This is a picture of a robin’s nest in my brother’s tree. It is a nest made with both twigs and mud and now filled with berries.
“Did a bird fill this nest up with berries?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Al B is, of course, our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland. We sent him Mnbirdee‘s query and picture. His reply:
“Dear Mnbirdee of Rochester,
“I wish I had an answer for you. I hope your brother has spotted the collector of these berries. I’d love to know who is doing that.
“I’d guess blue jay or red squirrel. Red squirrels cache large stores of food in one place, and this is called larder-hoarding. The cache is called a midden. I would tend to make the red squirrel the primary suspect. I know that this is profiling, and I plan on feeling guilty about it.”
And on another matter entirely, Al B of Hartland: “I have a couple of spoons that I favor when eating my breakfast cereal. The spoons are identical twins. They weren’t custom-made for my mouth, so they aren’t huge, but they’re comfortable and familiar.
“Sometimes I have to hunt for one. A thing gains importance when you can’t find it.
“‘Why do you always have to use that spoon?’ asked my curious wife.
“‘I like the spoon,’ I answered.
“‘It’s no better than the other spoons,’ she added.
“I replied: ‘And it doesn’t pretend it’s better than other spoons. That’s why I like it.'”
Band Name of the Day: Not for Everyone — or: Grunts on a Tub
Website of the Day, from The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: This artist uses jigsaw puzzles, with the same die cut pattern, to make these terrific mashups