“As Neil Young would say: ‘Long time gone.'” Well, sure, OK — but still as fresh as yesterday!


Who were you then?

Here’s a Saturday email from our Official Attorney, Mr. Tulkinghorn — once again off the clock: “One of my partners turns 38 today, so I was reminiscing with her, to wit:

“December 1, 1980: I was 27 and living in a studio with polyester rented furniture in Pittsburgh, going to Family Court several times a week to argue motions.

“A big Saturday night for me back then would’ve been to go get a half rack o’ ribs at the local shack, go home and watch ‘Remington Steele’ on my 14-inch black-and-white TV while eating the ribs and drinking a couple of Rolling Rocks. Maybe smoke a cigarette or two, do some reading, then bed. As Neil Young would say: ‘Long time gone.’

“Sometimes I’d go to work all day, hit the gym at dusk, grab a burger uptown and then go to the trendy Shadyside neighborhood to the lovably shabby Lou’s, to nurse more Rolling Rocks and sit right by the rock band playing Pretenders covers. In the smoky dim haze, the lead singer looked a lot like Chrissie Hynde, I thought. She used to gaze at me longingly while singing ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong,’ and I’d go home in a complete swoon, obsessing over my old girlfriend.

“Yep, good times! 🙄”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We invite you to follow Mr. Tulkinghorn‘s excellent example. Pick a well-remembered date in the distant past, and tell us who you were then.

But be forewarned: You don’t want to get stuck there!

In memoriam

Twitty of Como writes: “I lost my son, Matt, three times.

“The first time I lost him, I wasn’t even aware of it. He went with his brother, sister, and a friend to watch the ’87 Twins’ triumphant World Series parade through downtown St. Paul. The parade ended on the steps of the Capitol — and, as I was told later, Matt got lost in the crowd. He was 14.

“When he disappeared into the crowd, the person good enough to take the kids to the parade drove off without him. I came home from work that afternoon to find he’d been left behind. I can’t even describe the ache in my stomach or the panic in my chest upon hearing my boy had been left behind.

“Fortunately Matt was bright: He knew my office was in the courthouse. When the crowd dispersed and he couldn’t find the car or the others, he walked to my office and had them page me, and I rushed to pick him up.

“If my relating of this incident sounds casual, believe me: It wasn’t. We lived in the suburbs. In his entire 14 years, he’d never spent a dime’s worth of time in the city. But he figured it out.

“The second time I lost him was my fault. He stormed out of the house in anger one dark, snowy night. We’d had a disagreement. He was 17, and he never came back, choosing instead to go live permanently with his mother. It took a month before he’d even talk to me again. The little boy I’d taught to fish and play baseball and bowl and golf had, for the most part, chosen to go on without me. It broke my heart, that did. Oh, we normalized our father-son relationship over time, but I couldn’t talk him into coming back home.

“I lost him again on October 23, 2018. I couldn’t talk him into coming back this time, either. Like before, he left us in the middle of the night, this time the victim of a massive heart attack. He was only 45 years old; tall, handsome, slim and of cheerful disposition. If you knew him, you’d never have suspected there might be a health problem lurking in him. But my boy is gone for good this time, and this time, I don’t think my heart will ever heal.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No, it won’t. Time can’t heal a wound like that — though if you let it, time does have a way of helping you live with it. Ask Peachy of Cottage Grove, who has written so searingly in Bulletin Board about the eventually upward arc of her own grief journey; she will, perhaps, direct you to The Compassionate Friends (compassionatefriends.org), where she has been finding solace since the death of her young daughter, Nina, more than 20 years ago.

You will notice, if you visit the Compassionate Friends site, that this coming Sunday, December 9, is the date of TCF’s annual Worldwide Candle Lighting:

“The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting on the 2nd Sunday in December unites family and friends around the globe in lighting candles for one hour to honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon. As candles are lit on December 9th, 2018 at 7:00 pm local time, hundreds of thousands of persons commemorate and honor the memory of all children gone too soon.

“Now believed to be the largest mass candle lighting on the globe, the annual Worldwide Candle Lighting, a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friends, creates a virtual 24-hour wave of light as it moves from time zone to time zone. TCF’s WCL started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance, but has since swelled in numbers as word has spread throughout the world of the remembrance. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten.

“Every year you are invited to post a message in the Remembrance Book which will be available, during the event, at TCF’s national website. The Remembrance Book will be open to post a message Friday, December 7th, through Monday, December 10th. Photos can be posted on our Worldwide Candle Lighting Facebook page.

“The Compassionate Friends and allied organizations are joined by local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries, and community centers. Services have ranged in size from just a few people to nearly a thousand.”

You have our most heartfelt sympathy, Twitty.

See world

Missy from Lino Lakes: “Breathtaking view from my chilly early-morning walk with my dogs.”


’Tis the season!
Including: The Permanent Sonly Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: A Christmas Story.

“The Not So Magic Cape:

“When my kids were little, my sewing machine got a regular workout keeping them clothed, but it was the surreptitious sewing before Christmas that added an extra challenge. I never wanted them to see the new flannel nightgowns and pajamas that were always waiting on their beds when we came home from my folks’ on Christmas Eve, so I had to do my secret sewing when the kids were at school and the preschoolers were taking their naps.

“It was usually a last-minute sprint to the finish line, but one year I succeeded in putting my sewing machine away a full two days before Christmas — and that was when 4-year-old Johnny started talking about how much fun it was going to be when Santa gave him the Superman cape he had asked for. What? Wait just a darn minute! Where did that come from? I hadn’t heard about any desire for a Superman cape.

“My husband, who is the antithesis of Scrooge, thought I should just open up the sewing machine again and whip one up in a jiffy. We sure wouldn’t want to disappoint the little guy, would we?

“I dug around in my sewing supplies and found a hunk of red terrycloth, a drawstring, a couple of unopened packages of yellow rickrack and a partial package of yellow bias tape — enough to sew a large S on the back. I trimmed it with the yellow rickrack — which I know made it lose all Kryptonian authenticity — but it looked pretty cute and Johnny was thrilled. He wore it around the house all Christmas Day, and when it came time to get ready to drive across town to see his paternal grandparents, Johnny told us his plan. He would fly the 12 miles across town. To be on the safe side, he thought he had better fly just above our car in case he wasn’t quite sure of the way.

“He tied his cape on over his snowsuit and told us he was going to get a head start; he planned to hover around for a bit until we were ready to leave. We watched him strut down between the banks of snow on each side of the driveway looking for the best spot to get airborne. At the end of the driveway he paused and rose up on his toes, flung the cape out behind himself and give a little bit of a jump.

“After several minutes of repeating this procedure, he came dejectedly back in the house and muttered: ‘Too much snow. Not enough wind.'”

’Tis the season! (Mele Kalikimaka Division)
And: Here & There

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “This afternoon’s snow had people saying it was as if we were inside a snow globe.

“For those wanting to Think Hawaii this Christmas:

“My favorites are ‘Santa Arrives by Canoe at the Outrigger’ and the ’22nd Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade.'”

’Tis the season?

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Cookie time — or not.

“Are you tempted to try the holiday cookie recipes appearing in magazines or newspapers this time of year? You know the ones: mouthwatering ingredients, almost too beautiful to eat! It’s been 66 years now of hearing ‘Let’s make a batch of those. They sound really good.’ Birdman is definitely a cookie lover, so I read the recipe — and of
course it calls for some exotic ‘something’ that I don’t recognize.

“Years ago, as a new mother living in a rather cramped apartment, with a baby who had colic (shudder) and did not sleep a whole lot, I decided to make some filled cookies: those hearty, more-than-one-bite kind with an outer layer of plain dough wrapped around a date filling.

“All was going well. I’d made the outer layer, cooked the date filling, and was ready to put the two together for baking. Birdman would be so proud of me!

“I’m not one who uses bad language, but I can tell you that I really wanted to that day. Try to put date filling on a nicely laid-out cookie while holding a screaming 2-month-old on your hip. That’s the only way she would shut up a bit, so I struggled bravely on, squirming kid still crying.

“Time passed slowly;  the cookies got put together and baked; Birdman loved them. (He had better love them.)

“But I swore that I would never again bake filled cookies, and I have not!

’Tis the season!

And: What is wrong with people?

Vertically Challenged writes: “So . . . I’ve been doing some Christmas shopping and came across these two ‘gems’ — both found at the same big-box store. Two things:

“(1) Who decorates their tree with these kinds of ornaments?


“(2) What were they thinking with this game?! 😳🙄 Weird!


Our times
And: Ask Bulletin Board

We promised Auction Girl of PI that we would put her query to the rest of you: “What can I do for money, now that it’s a $35/hour minimum fee to have someone babysit Mom while I ‘take some free time’ away?

“I am 50, just back to the family home, about 100 miles from the auction-house job and former home place. My day schedule has to be fluid, because someone has to be there to help with pivot transfers from bed to walker to toilet, to walker to wheelchair to table, etc. I can’t exactly schedule calls of nature, now. Mom needs to have a bath now and then, too. She needs only transfer help — but imagine for yourself how you’d feel if you needed to book ahead one day for a bath. Yeah, I thought so.

“The upshot is: Mom is still able to be home if I help her stay uninjured. She’s unable to ‘care for’ her needs solo. I’ve not made over $200/week since around 2008, and Dad, who has saved for their old age, will be effectively bankrupted (and without a house) in less than a couple years at the rate of $5,000/month for assisted living or 24-hour in-home care. I want to work, but find that it’s a ‘luxury’ to buy the time I have to be ‘away’ to do a conventional job.

“I haven’t got Internet service from their house, and cell data is as expensive as buying a Certified Nursing Assistant for the week. Is there something I can do for money while caring for a vulnerable adult? If there’s a good option, I would be willing to set up some kind of Internet service (provided the job would cover it, and essentials like gasoline and a few food items; I’m not greedy).

“Any ideas out there? I’m out of them.”

Our times
Or: Hmmmmmmmm

Donald: “Subject: Better than drawing straws?

“From the ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ section in Sports Illustrated: ‘An English soccer referee was suspended for using Rock-Paper-Scissors instead of a coin flip to determine which team would kick off in a women’s game between Manchester City and Reading.'”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: What? Is Rock-Paper-Scissors too violent for the powers that be? Would they have suspended the ref had it been a men’s game?

Very strange, in any event.

Now & Then

The Happy Medium: “Growing up on the Wisconsin farm, we enjoyed our home-grown apples in one form or another: apple pie, apple strudel, baked apples with ice cream, and Mom’s special apple dumplings.

“Each fall, we all helped pick the apples before any fell from the trees, causing bruises. For the most part, we were successful.

“Once the apples were picked, we carefully wrapped them in newspaper and stored them in the cool basement. Even when the apples were wrapped, some started to go bad. That was when Mom would tell us: ‘Eat the bruised apples first.’

“Today, we joke: ‘When we were young, we ate bad apples all winter.'”

Our theater of seasons
5/7/5 Division (Illustrated)

A trio of First Snow haiku from Tim Torkildson:




Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Otis from Inver Grove: “My mother planned a birthday celebration for a Saturday night  at Boca Chica. She chose this restaurant because they had a ‘Mariucci band’ that serenades diners on Saturday evenings.

“When she told me this, I wondered if the ‘Mariucci band’ comes in playing the University of Minnesota Rouser. As the Gophers defeated Wisconsin and took home Paul Bunyan’s axe while the band was performing, maybe they should have broken into the Rouser!”

Not exactly what they had in mind

PH of Maplewood: “Let’s hope the TPT interns — not the full-time employees — are writing TPT’s Facebook posts. I laughed out loud at this TPT Facebook post Sunday, 12/2/18.


“Never-before-seen? The people who attended performances didn’t actually see them?”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Lola. with emphasis added: “Unclear on the concept, or they really need a proofreader.

“In this morning’s Pioneer Press: ‘Number of uninsured children down in 2017

“‘WASHINGTON — The number of children in the United States without health insurance increased last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to a new report that highlights potentially worrisome backsliding in pediatric care.'”

Fellow travelers (responsorial)

Toothy Grin #6: “To Mounds View Swede:

“‘Sounds” as though it was a wonderful trip!



“The white flower is a columbine.”

Fellow travelers (encore)

Mounds View Swede: “Here are some more flowers, etc., that I was finding on Götland.

“I thought the lighting was just right to capture the gentle shading of these petals.


“I was glad to see a pink lady’s slipper was included in the garden display, and it was identified as coming from Minnesota.





“Another familiar sight was this mallard.


“I enjoyed seeing both the new things and the things that we have here, too. It makes me feel more connected to my ancestral home.”

Band Name of the Day: The Pretender Pretenders — or: Bad Apples

Website of the Day:

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