And in the news today: Comparing Canadian and American health care . . .

Then & Now
Plus: Know thyself!

Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Plus ça change.

“After five days away, the mail had piled up. In the pile, an Atlantic magazine (I subscribe). The December issue. I began reading it.

“It had, among other things, a letter to the editor from Ontario comparing the Canadian and American health-care systems, a report on people who cross the border from strict Iran to looser Azerbaijan in order to have some fun, and a story that said men could learn a few things from chick flicks by Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers. It had an online video component; I made a note to check it out.

“The issue also had a look back at Ralph Waldo Emerson, a founder of the magazine, which has a storied history. [Bulletin Board hopes: No pun intended!]

“I was enjoying the issue, which had a timeless quality. Then, around page 85: ‘Books of the Year.’ The year was 2009.

“I checked the cover. December 2009 issue.

“In college, a few decades ago, I picked up a copy of the Christian Science Monitor and read the entire issue with interest, then discovered it was exactly 1 month old.

“Maybe time is slowing down as I get older. That’s it.”

In memoriam
Including: What is right with people?

December 7th email from The Bitter and Disgruntled Guy from Andover: “My cousin Patty died yesterday. She was only 59.

“It was only a couple minutes ago that we were kids playing in the public pool in Pine Island, although in truth it was about 45 years ago. Time is vicious when you get older; it screams past you in an instant. Think about this: The year 2000 does not seem like that long ago, but I was in my 30s . . . and when I look at it that way, it was a lifetime ago.

“Patty was losing a lot of weight a few months ago and went to the doctor. At first they did not know what was going on, and they chalked it up to stress. Well, the ‘stress’ was not getting any better, and she went back and they did all kinds of tests (the Mayo Clinic is great at testing [Bulletin Board interjects: For our money, the Mayo Clinic is pretty great at everything]), and they finally figured out she had Stage 4 stomach and liver cancer. Huh.

“She went through one round of chemo and then made the decision that whatever short amount of time chemo offered, it was not worth the side effects, so she wanted to go into hospice care when it was time.

“Well, the doctors at the Mayo wanted to fix things, and she had trouble finding one who agreed with her. They prayed on it. It is hard being a patient in a hospital, because you are a thing to fix, not a person.

“Anyway, one day a doctor came into her room and told her to scoot her legs over and make room. He sat on the bed next to her. He took her hands. He looked her in the eyes, and he talked to her. He understood she did not want chemo and said that he would get her on medications for the pain and discomfort. He got up to leave, and she asked him to be her doctor, and he said he would, and he left. They Googled this doctor and discovered that he is the head of oncology at the Mayo. Isn’t life amazing sometimes?

“So we did what people do. We made it a point to see each other a lot this past summer. Picnics, get-togethers, lunches, etc. I talked to her on Facebook a lot, and when I saw her, I told her I would give up the hugs all the time. I am stoic, and known for not hugging. I hugged the hell out of her every time I saw her. I told her I loved her. I sent her notes about growing up with her. It was good.

“So I knew the end was coming. I opened up Facebook today and saw a post from her daughter letting us know that Patty died last night. Patty was at peace with dying; her family was not ready to let her go. She was incredibly strong in her weakened state and showed no fear. She was happy because she would get to see her mom and dad again — and Elvis. She loved Elvis. I imagine Elvis in heaven doing meet-and-greets for millions of people.

“Anyway, I am sitting here with tears down my face. This is the first time that I have lost a cousin, someone of my generation, and it sucks. Cancer sucks, the pain her family is feeling sucks, and not being able to talk politics with her sucks.

“I am going to miss you, Patty. I am going to miss you. I love you and thank you for being in my life.”

In memoriam (responsorial)

Lady Dee of Moorhead: “Heartfelt sympathy: Twitty’s eloquent words speak to Matt’s being loved deeply and fiercely. It is all a parent can do. Would love to offer a virtual hug so that Twitty of Como knows that his pain is felt and that he is supported in thoughts and prayers.

“And to Bulletin Board for your beautiful response — kind and compassionate.

“Both entries touched me deeply today.”

Life as we know it

The Astronomer of Nininger: “This month celebrates so many notable occasions in the history of humanity.

“For ages, since the mythological stories of Icarus and Daedalus, the dream of flight had eluded us until the Wright brothers, on December 17, 1903, helped us to ‘slip the surly bonds of Earth’ and to ‘dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.’ (The poem ‘High Flight’ by John Gillespie Magee is known by virtually all aviators, describing these intimate perspectives of flight.)

“I am reminded of my first solo flight, down in Enid, Oklahoma, more than 50 years ago. I’ve maintained my proficiency in both powered aircraft and sailplanes. And each time I go up, I do so, not just stolidly by the book, but more like strapping the airplane onto myself so that I am actually flying, not just along for the ride. Maybe this exuberance will fade someday, but I don’t expect it will soon. I hope not. I recall I was the first person in my Air Force pilot-training class to solo, so I was the first to get soaked — sort of a friendly celebration classmates shared, not unlike dumping a cooler of Gatorade on a winning coach at a football game.

“The important thing is not the invention of the airplane, but what it has enabled mankind to do. It has made the world a smaller place. Humanity seems to march forward at an exponentially increasing pace. Crawl . . . walk . . . run . . . fly . . . and now we are at the threshold of leaving our home planet for others in our solar system. And where are we going? Onward, boldly. And, when we get there, we will know ourselves even better.”

Could be verse!
‘Tis the Season Division

Tim Torkildson writes: “Subject: My Christmas Poem.

“So many souls are shriveled and they want to share their bile

“with others quite defenseless ‘gainst their irritating guile.

“They rage about Kris Kringle, and refuse to recognize

“that Father Christmas lives inside the heart and soul and eyes

“of children all across the globe who need a happy cause

“to celebrate their innocence — like good old Santa Claus!

“A figure of goodwill and joy, and elfin jubilee;

“he represents our yearning for complete felicity.

“So let the children have the hope that somewhere in the sky

“a blithesome figure knows their name and loves them at first try.

“And may this hope in little minds turn into firm belief

“that giving unto others is the finest cure for grief.”

‘Tis the Season
On Santa’s Lap Division


Great-grandma of Como Park: “Henry wonders why little brother Oscar is crying!”

The Permanent Family Record
‘Tis the Season Division


The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “This photo was taken in 1959, our last Christmas in our little cottage by the lake. It didn’t have a fireplace mantel to hold the children’s Christmas stockings, so we made do by hanging them from a piece of twine strung across our metal bookcase.

“Our oldest was 5 and eager to help get ready for Christmas. As I pulled their stockings out of the decoration box, Dan walked over to the bookcase and said: ‘Now remember, we have to hang them with care. I’ll get the care.’

“He ran to the hall cupboard and pulled out the roll of twine and brought it to me.”

‘Tis the season!
Or: Not exactly what anyone had in mind?

MommaZfromWB: “This was in the ‘stocking stuffer’ idea section in local paper:

“An Acne Mask? Thanks, Santa!”

Fudge Brownie: “Subject: Who Buys These Things?

“I’ve been doing some Christmas shopping. Unlike Vertically Challenged, I didn’t see any tree ornaments of a man pooping on a toilet. I was shopping for games for the grandkids and found these on sale: Don’t Step in the Poop, Pop My Zits, and Pull My Finger. There is also a game where you can get a pie in your face.

“Somehow I don’t think the kids’ mothers would be amused if their child unwrapped such a gift.”

‘Tis the season!
Funny Business Division

Tony of Lake Elmo: “My brother-in-law is one of the funniest guys I know. His irreverent notes, birthday cards, and Peeps dioramas are legendary in the family. I am attaching a scan of his latest newsletter.”


There & Here
Gustatory Division (‘Tis the Season Subdivision)

Bloomington Bird Lady writes: “Subject: Those Secret Family Recipes.

“My dad’s family came from Sweden in the early 1900s. To help them feel more ‘at home,’ especially during the Christmas Season, they brought along a few precious recipes that have lasted until now, and have made many people happy. Dad had an old-fashioned grocery store in a small town with a lot of other Swedish folks who could hardly wait to buy his Swedish Potato Sausage, made with the original recipe from the island of Öland off Sweden.

“Since Birdman was teaching school, he’d have the two weeks off at Christmas, and loved helping out in the store. Birdman is not Scandinavian at all, so the sausage was something completely new to him. Dad had him peeling tons of potatoes, cutting up onions, grinding meat and putting in the spices for the sausage. Fortunately the store had a sausage stuffer. ( I think my grandma had stuffed the casings by hand using a large bone, marrow removed, for a kind of funnel.)

“Sadly, the store is no longer there. Even the building is gone, and grass covers that lot, now used for rummage sales. One thing is still with us, though: The recipe came with us to Bloomington, and we’ve made our own sausage for about 50 years. We used to buy casings to make it look the same, and even used an old-fashioned grinder for the mixture — potato water dripping onto newspapers covering the floor. We’d try to stuff the mix into the casings, and it was like a cartoon! Fragile casings would split, and the contents drop into the sink, so we’d start over, and over, etc. Finally patience wore too thin, and we decided: ‘Why not put enough for a casserole into large plastic bags?’ It worked! We could stack up the bags, flattened to about an inch, and freeze quite a few to take out as needed.

“We have yet to make this year’s sausage/plastic-bagged Swedish treat. After telling our story about the recipe’s origin, a couple of friends asked me for the recipe. For the first time, our recipe is no longer secret, and I hope their food processor will do the job that our old grinder did for so long.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We have exactly zero doubt that one or more of your fellow Bulletin Boarders will presently request your recipe.

So let’s save their time. It’s a busy season!

Would you please send us your Secret Family Recipe, now that it’s secret no longer?

Here & There

Mounds View Swede writes: “As the gray days continue on into December, the flower photos from Sweden still lift my spirits.

“It was fun to see a creative way to make a flower garden. This was at a lakeside bed-and-breakfast in Småland, one of the county-like divisions in Sweden.


“There was a nice variety of flowers blooming there and along the nearby roads.




“The wildflowers along the roadside were doing a nice job of showing off their beauty.”



Our theater of seasons
Including: CAUTION! Names at Play!

Kingfisher’s Mom reports: “Subject: The Power of the Sun.


“Here’s a picture of the neighborhood snow gal, named Eileen. She started out straight and tall . . . and after a few days, we were surprised at how flexible she was.”

Only a ___________ would notice!
Or: Bulletin Board stands corrected

CullenandRox:Under the ‘Who were you then?’ heading, your Official Attorney, Mr. Tulkinghorn, apparently quotes Neil Young as saying ‘Long time gone.’

“I don’t doubt that at some point in his life, Neil has actually uttered those words, but not in song. ‘Long Time Gone’ was written by David Crosby and originally recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash, without Young. It was on their eponymous debut album — released in 1969, before Mr. Young joined the trio. Regardless, it is a great song, in my opinion.

“The Dixie Chicks also recorded a good song with the same name, but I’m pretty sure Neil Young was not involved with that one, either.”

“Only a _____________ would notice?

“Thanks, and have a great week! 😃”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Location, location . . .

“This appeared in the ‘TOP NEWS’ section on the front page of Saturday’s STrib: ‘U volleyball upset in Oregon.’

“Unless Maturi Pavilion has been relocated from Minneapolis to Oregon, I think that’s a misprint.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: In. By. Both two-letter prepositions. Close enough?

Mixed messages

Donald notes: “Subject: Joy (?) of Juxtaposition.

“Mixed messages from the Sports section in Friday’s Pioneer Press:

Page 1B: ‘Koivu injury clouds defeat.’ [Bulletin Board muses: Don’t bad things cloud victory? Defeat is cloudy enough already!]

“Page 5B: ‘Wild quietly revel in health . . . Season has been mostly injury-free . . .’

“What a difference a game makes.”

Unfamiliar quotations
Golf Division

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Sounds like something Bulletin Board would say. [Bulletin Board interjects: We will take that as a compliment. Of course, it is our policy to take everything as a compliment that could possibly be taken as a compliment!]

“From my Page-A-Day Sports calendar for December 1st: ‘Jack Nicklaus, who won an all-time-record 18 majors, once said: “You hear guys saying ‘Oh, I can’t play this course. It doesn’t suit my game,’ but that’s the biggest bunch of rubbish I ever heard. The whole idea of golf is that you have to adapt to the course you’re playing.What I enjoyed about the British Open was going over a week before the tournament and working to adapt my game to the conditions that were there.”‘”

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
Comics Page Corollary

The Hoot Owl of St. Paul: “We have enjoyed seeing some Comics Corollary themes these past few days, both times in the Minneapolis STrib comics sections:

“On December 1, we saw that Jeff Keane’s ‘Family Circus’ (‘Goldilocks would have been out of luck if the three bears had had a burglar alarm’) and Chad Carpenter’s ‘Tundra’ (‘After acquiring an extensive rap sheet for breaking and entering, Goldilocks is finally tried as an adult  — Three strikes you’re out!’) both gave credit to that old fairy tale.

“On December 4, a newer ‘oldie but goodie’ topic juxtaposition happened (but they may be too seasonal? [Bulletin Board says: They are too seasonal to qualify for the B-MP (CPC), but they are not too seasonal to enjoy!]) In Scott Kilburn’s ‘Argyle Sweater’: ‘Gamma got run over by a reindeer’; and right beside that one in the STrib, we find Glenn and Gary McCoy in their ‘Flying McCoys’: ‘The incident with grandma and the reindeer was most unfortunate. However, the life insurance policy you took out on her clearly has a reindeer exemption.'”

The great comebacks
Leading to: Dumb Customer Jokes?

Rusty of St. Paul: “Our garage-door opener was on the blink, and I was frustrated in my attempts to fix it. I told my wife I was at the point where I needed to have a service call.

“She said: ‘Well, the opener is old. Maybe it needs replacing.’

“My response: ‘Yeah, it’s had its ups and downs.’

“P.S. When I called North Country Garage Door, the owner was able to troubleshoot the problem over the phone for me, and I fixed it! Thanks, Steve!”

Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Dolly Dimples reports: “It started out as a disagreement between the couple, but had the potential of morphing into a shouting match.

“Grandma, who had been observing the whole ruckus, had heard enough. In her loudest voice and most stern tone, she demanded: ‘STOP! THAT’S ENOUGH! This argument is over!’

“Stunned by Grandma’s intervention, the couple were speechless for a few seconds.

“Then the wife said: ‘This argument is water over the bridge.’

“The husband said: ‘You mean water UNDER the bridge.’

“The wife replied: ‘Over . . . under . . . whatever,’ and left the room.

“Grandma said: ‘Bulletin Board.'”

Band Name of the Day: Elfin Jubilee

Website of the Day: “Earthrise”


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