What’s the ultimate essential for a Man Cave or She Shed?

Our times

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: He shed, she shed.

“I have been watching ‘Makers’ (newspeak evolved from ‘craftsperson’) videos on YouTube a lot lately. In winter, a bear seeks the comfort of the den, and the woodworker heeds the siren call of the Makita and DeWalt.

“In a recent video, a subscriber’s comment chastised the presenter for having a dirty, cluttered shop. I instantly knew that this was a person who only thinks a lot about doing a lot.

“I admire the TV woodworking shops, with all their organization and tidiness. They are equipped with the best tools, good lighting, dust-collecting systems — and, of course, stagehands to clean up.

“In real life, there are shops where things are actually done, and then there are shops that are power-tool museums. Any project I take on seems to result in a scene that looks like the aftermath of a tornado hitting The Home Depot.

“And that brings me to what I think is the most important feature of any Man Cave or She Shed: a door with a lock on it.”

The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Lost and Never Found.

“One time when my dad was in the basement, in another fruitless search for a missing tool, he came upstairs and grabbed a flashlight, hoping to have better luck. He put in a fresh battery and went back down into that cluttered cavern he called his workshop. He came upstairs a bit later, and Mom asked if he had found what he was looking for. He answered: ‘Hell, NO! And I lost the damned flashlight, too. And to top it off, the blankety-blankety thing was lit!’

“He never did locate that flashlight, and he grumbled frequently about the fact that he had wasted a perfectly good battery.

“That Christmas, Dad was the recipient of half a dozen assorted flashlights — but I thought the prize gift was the flashlight my sister Nora gave him. She didn’t include any batteries.”

The lowfalutin amusements

Abbysgram of South St. Paul: “I had fun shopping at Walmart the day after Black Friday.

“I had many items on my list, but two of them were items I had never, ever purchased.

“One was shoelaces I had seen on a television commercial. The laces were to eliminate tying your shoes, making them more of a slip-on. I had trouble finding them, so looked for an employee to help me. I spotted two young ladies who were putting clothing on hangers. I asked: ‘Do you know if you have Hickies here?’ The look their faces was priceless. I added: ‘They’re shoelaces.’ One quietly looked up whether Walmart carried them, while the other clerk sighed in relief. Unfortunately, Hickies are available online only.

“The other item I was looking for was a lotion to soothe arthritis pain. I checked in the pharmacy area and saw many pain relievers, but not the one I had heard was very good. I asked the pharmacist for help in finding Old Goat lotion. He looked it up, and once again said it was available online. So, this Old Goat walked out of the store without her lotion or Hickies.

“I don’t think shopping online will be as fun as asking for strange-sounding items at Walmart.”

This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other

All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “I was in a large home-improvement store wandering around in search of something I needed. I’d been there so long, I’d forgotten what I was looking for. A couple of house sparrows were shopping there, too. I followed them. They flew down a long aisle and took a right turn into the bird-feeding department. That wasn’t where I needed to be. I thanked them for the suggestion and wished them well.”

(2) “Back when the big rule in my life was ‘Don’t throw rocks’ and every school nurse was an in-network provider, family friends from a big city (with a population nearing 20,000) stopped by our farm. We joined the visitors in looking at a cow. It doesn’t take much to amuse some folks. The cow, being a ruminant, chewed its cud.

“One of our guests said: ‘It looks like it’s chewing gum.’

“It looked like a cow to me.”

(3) “Life isn’t all rainbows and pony rides. I was taking a hot shower the other day, singing silently for the good of all mankind. The temperature was just right. I find a temperature I like and I stick with it. Maybe too long.

“Our shower is downstairs. Meanwhile, my wife used the hot water upstairs. You don’t do that in an old farmhouse. Ice cubes came from the showerhead. My singing stopped being silent. I might have yodeled.

“My wife claimed it was an accident.

“I’m thankful for any surprise that doesn’t necessitate a clinic visit.”

Life as we know it

Mrs. Patches of St. Paul writes: “Subject: ‘Tis the season.

“As Thanksgiving approached, I pondered (isn’t that a cool word?) the blessings I have received in the past year. Most people probably wouldn’t put getting cancer on that list, but I am grateful. I am grateful for meeting so many really great medical personnel, doctors, nurses, technicians . . . and for being able to connect with so many others who are also dealing with this frightening monster.

“Though I am no longer in remission, I still have a mission. My diagnosis is a familiar cancer in an unfamiliar area. The doctors, here and at the Mayo Clinic, had not seen this before, so anything they are learning from me will help if someone else gets this. My job is to stay well and show that it can be done!

“I feel great . . . and have not really been ‘sick’ with any of the treatments, though some had painful side effects. In fact, it is hard for me to even accept that I have cancer. I am crediting the prayers and good wishes of so many people for my good condition, and I am so grateful for all of them: family and friends and strangers.

“I have had several people tell me how I connected with their lives in my own lifetime. Please don’t wait to tell someone how important they are in your life!

“So, yes, I am thankful for my cancer and for the life I am still living!”


Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: Worth Stoping!

“My daughter finally got a chance to take a picture of this sign she’d often seen on her trips up to see us.”


Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Breaking news: Winning team has lower score!

“From the ‘College basketball roundup’ on Page 4B in the Sports section of Thursday’s Pioneer Press:

“‘Gonzaga cuts No. 1 Duke down to size

“‘Third-ranked Zags keep cool, take Maui Invitational’

“This was the fourth paragraph in the article: ‘Playing with poise and grit down the stretch, No. 3 Gonzaga turned back top-ranked Duke’s late-game charge to win the Maui Invitational title game 89-97 Wednesday.’

“‘That has to be a first,’ was my immediate reaction. ‘I wonder why it wasn’t the main story on the front page. Maybe it’s unique to this tournament.’

Later, while perusing the Minneapolis Sports section, I came across this on Page C2:



“All’s right with the world.”

Norwegians vs. Swedes

Reports luv.mom:Norton’s mom told her lutefisk story, so I’ll tell mine.

“Although we have lived here in Norsky land for 25 years, I’d not had lutefisk. So last Friday evening, we went to Emmanuel Lutheran Church’s Men’s Club Lutefisk Dinner. It was all served family-style . . . and so here comes a big platter of lutefisk — a sort of white quivering mass. I watched the people at our table to see how they handled it. Though it came with a large serving spoon, it was obvious that if you lifted a scoop of it, it would most likely slide right off the spoon. But people seemed to have a technique: You carve out a portion with the serving spoon and then put your plate right next to the platter and deftly slide it over. Easy peazy.

“Then came the great divide. If you are Norwegian, you pour hot melted butter all over it. If you are Swedish, you pour a white cream sauce all over it. I tried both, since I’m not Scandinavian at all. There was no taste either way. l guess my taste buds are just not subtle enough to detect the flavor.

“But the Swedish meatballs and potatoes and peas and cranberries and lefse were all delicious. So I made out a lovely meal. Even fruit soup for dessert.

“At the table, the conversation had to include some Ole jokes, of course. Did you hear that Ole had a family of skunks living under his house? He told Sven about it, and Sven said: ‘Well, that’s an easy one. All you have to do is throw some lutefisk under your house. Just toss it in there, and those skunks will get right out.’ Ole gives Sven’s idea a try, and whattya know! Those skunks all just marched right out of there.

“So Ole tells Sven about it, and Sven says: ‘What did I tell you? It works like a charm.’

“But Ole says: ‘Well, yes, the skunks are all gone, but now what am I gonna do with the 20 Norwegians under my house?'”

BULLETIN BOARD OBSERVES: Sven and Ole never say “Yes.” Yah, sure, don’tcha know?

Muse, amuse
Scripture Division

The Doomsday Prepper of White Bear Lake: “The Minnesota Vikings beat the Lions on November 4, only to be clobbered by the Bears in the next game.

“I was not surprised, since this was prophesied in the Bible (Amos 5:18b-19a): ‘Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light! It will be as though you fled from a lion only to meet a bear!’

“Viking apocalypse!”

BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: Thankfully, the Bible has nothing to say about the Packers — a bunch desperately in need of a miracle that even Aaron Rodgers won’t be able to deliver!

Vanity, thy name is . . . 

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “With all the excitement regarding the Minnesota football team reclaiming the axe from Wisconsin, I was reminded of a personalized California license plate I spotted on November 18th.

“My wife and I had traveled to San Diego to visit her son, his wife, and three children. Our enjoyable stay included a trip to Julian, California, an hour east of San Diego. The town is a registered California Historical Landmark at an elevation of 4,226 feet, with a population of 1,502.

“While sightseeing, I spotted a Mercedes with this plate: ‘ANAXMAN.'”

Answered and Asked

Tim Torkildson reports: “The Contents of My Kitchen Junk Drawer.


“What’s in YOUR Kitchen Junk Drawer?”

Down on the farm

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Midas Touch.

“I note that DebK of St. Isidore Farm relates to us some trials and tribulations of farm life, even that on a hobby farm. The joys of living such a life remind me of some things learned while owning and operating a horse farm — small as it, too, may have been.

“One of the necessary tasks is that of cleanup — certainly of the corrals where, at some times, horses stayed too long in one place. I learned some rules that must be heeded:

“Shovel manure when it is dry. Wet shovelfuls are just not good for your back.

“Never shovel manure with the wind in your face. Explanation not needed.

“If you use a manure spreader, drive into the wind while spreading, not with the wind at your back — unless, of course, the wind velocity is less than the speed of your tractor with the PTO running.

“I learned another rule to be added to the others when I used my old Ford pick ’em up truck to haul the manure away to be piled elsewhere. It took me quite awhile to load and unload all that organic fertilizing material. I actually felt proud that I did it all by myself. And quite a load it was. So as sort of a reward, I took that old Ford to a car wash. Now even with the manure unloaded, there were still some thin layers in the back end. The truck went through the car wash just fine. Wash, scrub, rinse, etc. Then, after the wash was complete, the air blowers to dry off your vehicle went into action. As it turned out, the manure that was washed was not washed away; it was beat down, and the dryers blew the remains up and all over the truck. It literally was covered from the front bumper to the ball hitch on the rear end with a thin film of manure. I found out that I had, so to speak, the Midas Touch. I did not have the heart to go through that car wash again.”

Know thyself!
Or: Muse, amuse

B. Dazzled of South St. Paul writes: “I think I’ve got my fortune made: working outlines for screenplays for the next several ‘Dragon Tattoo’ sequels:

“‘The Girl Who Knocked Over the Teapot’

“‘The Girl With the Wandering Womb’

“‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Moth’

“‘The Girl With Mild to Moderate Plaque Psoriasis'”

See world
Urban Division

Close encounters of the natural kind, reported from St. Paul by Dr. Chrysanthemum: “Subject: Visitors from the Wild Kingdom.

“Although we live in a pretty urban part of St. Paul, we have our share of wild visitors. Some species appear less frequently now, but overall this year we have seen more wildlife in our neighborhood than usual.

“We have had woodchucks living in the alley easement. For several years, giant raccoons would emerge from the storm sewers at night, staring boldly at cars driving past. We haven’t seen either species here for more than 10 years, however.

“Deer occasionally pass through the area, although seemingly less frequently now. I saw only one buck late at night this summer.

“We still sometimes see hawks and eagles overhead or in our trees. Owls sometimes hoot in our spruces.

“Woodpeckers still attack the utility poles, trees, fences, and wood siding, but they seem to be fewer than usual. The same trend seems to hold for blue jays and cardinals.

“Ducks waddle around every now and then, probably because they have nests nearby. (Once, a mother duck with at least 29 ducklings — almost certainly including some adoptees — sought refuge in our back yard and our neighbor’s open garage.)

“Butterflies still appear, but they are scarcer than they used to be when I was young. We see a few Viceroys and/or Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks, a Hummingbird Moth or two, and other less impressive species. Once in a while, a real hummingbird appears.

“And every year or three, I see a small toad or tree frog in our yard. Every 20 years or so, a turtle shows up on its way somewhere. We’ve helped a couple find better habitat.

“Of course, there are squirrels — a few red but mostly gray, with often one or two white ‘gray’ squirrels, and sometimes a melanistic one. (We’ve seen the white and black squirrels interacting, although I’m not sure if they were playing, mating, or fighting. This year, we have at least one white adult.) We also might be seeing a slight increase in ground squirrels/chipmunks.

“Rabbits sometimes nest in our yard. A few of the rabbits grew accustomed to us and would graze peacefully on clover and dandelions while we went about our business a few feet away. (The number of rabbits seems down a little this year, and they don’t seem as friendly. Perhaps we carry the threatening scent of our son’s pet ferrets.)

“Although some are less frequent now, the numbers of several other visitors have increased.

“The first wave was the baby toads, small and dark, and seemingly everywhere. They made cutting the lawn difficult, but I tried to avoid them. Sometimes, I transplanted a dozen or so from the lawn to safer areas. Other times, I encouraged the toads to find their own place of refuge before cutting part of the yard. Still, their numbers decreased, perhaps because many moved on, yet some almost certainly fell to my mower (I found one tiny dried carcass near the sidewalk), or to other machines and predators. Mortality rates of these amphibians are high.

“A few weeks after the toads appeared, I saw movement around our peonies. When I got out of the car, I heard peeping. I thought: Those are not baby ducks. I counted at least a dozen babies, then saw the mother turkey, ushering her chicks down the hill and into the trees and shrubs in the neighbor’s yard. The turkeys disappeared soon after.

“Shortly after, the hawks appeared, a family of three: two adults and a third, slightly smaller bird. (They might have been why the turkeys disappeared.). The hawks roosted on the wires and in the trees for a while, made a lot of noise, and flew through our yard; then they, too, moved on.”

Our birds, ourselves

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake reports: “I asked my wife what we were having for Thanksgiving and said that I wanted turkey. I looked out the window on Thanksgiving morning, and this is what I saw.


“I hollered to my wife that I didn’t mean for her to invite them for dinner!”

Now & Then

Dolly Dimples: “Subject: Tooth Fairy’s Inflated Values.

“Hmmmm. The Tooth Fairy must be financially flush these days.

“My little great-granddaughter has lost two teeth, one on each side of her two front teeth. The one on her right side was extracted two weeks ago, and she found $5 under her pillow. She lost the tooth on her left side two days ago. Knowing how much she had gotten when she lost that other tooth, I was curious: ‘What did the Tooth Fairy give you for this tooth?’ I asked. ‘Four gold dollar coins,’ she answered. Wow!

“Back in the days when my young ones lost teeth, they thought they were rich if the Tooth Fairy left a dime under their pillow — or, on certain occasions, as much as a quarter.

“Inflation knows no bounds.”

Out of the mouths of babes

Hudson Grandmama: “Rex, my great-nephew, is 3. When asked what he was thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, he said: ‘Big rocks to climb on, talking penguins and underwear.’

“I think that’s pretty much what I’m thankful for, too.”

Band Name of the Day: White Quivering Mass — or: Twenty Norwegians Under the House

Website of the Day: Field of dreams: heartbreak and heroics at the World Ploughing Championships

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