The Permanent Maternal Record
Or: Life (and death) as we know it
Eos remembers: “One day, when I was 5 years old, I decided to run away. Mom had scolded me for something, and my feelings were hurt.
“When I announced I was running away, Mom said she was sorry to hear that. She told me to be careful, and reminded me I couldn’t go any farther than Chippewa Avenue, because she and Dad didn’t want me to be hit by a car.
“I got on my tricycle, rode up Valley Lane, and looked back at the house. I didn’t see anyone coming to apologize to me, and that made me sad.
“I pedaled down View Lane with tears in my eyes. Nobody cared!
“When I got to Butler, I got homesick, so I went back home. Mom was there with a hug. She’d been watching me the whole time, to make sure I was safe.
“Love stretched far enough to let me test it.
“If I could, I’d give her the world’s biggest hug. I miss my mama.”
Till death us do part
And: Our pets, ourselves
Little Sister: “My husband thought I’d eaten them all. Miffed, I told him that I was shocked and appalled that he’d think me capable of eating a dozen freshly baked biscuits in less than 10 minutes. No matter that I was having the same accusatory thoughts about him.
“It didn’t take long for our attention to turn towards our rescue dog, Tinka, curled up on the floor. Guilty eyes followed our every move, as she released a contented burp. ‘It isn’t as though I ate them ALL,’ she seemed to say. ‘I did leave six behind for you!’
“Having to forage for her food the first year of life, Tinka has maintained some of those thoroughly honed doggie habits that helped her survive on her own — one of those being that a wise dog never passes up an opportunity to eat, because you never know when another one will come your way.
“With advice from the vet to keep an eye on her, we settled in for some unsettling time spent making another batch of biscuits and waiting for her to explode, or purge on the living-room carpet. She didn’t. In fact, much to our relief, she came through her gorge unscathed. (I think the dog could digest nails if she had to.)
“Lessons learned: Never underestimate the length of Tinka’s reach, or her determination. And never leave biscuits to cool unattended on the kitchen counter.”
‘Tis the season!
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “You asked for old favorite recipes, and I still have this Bulletin Board recipe from way-back-when tucked into my recipe box.
“Any child of the 1960s who loved the ‘pizza burgers’ we had for school lunch at Mounds View High School will love these roll-ups.
“Or if you want the real deal, spread the Spam mixture onto a half hamburger bun, top with some shredded mozzarella cheese, and bake or broil until cheese melts and bubbles.
“I can still see the little green plastic hot-lunch tokens (shaped like tiny stop signs) with which we purchased our hot lunches. Milk tokens were white.
“Just about everyone ate hot lunch on pizza-burger days. Some of the hungry teenage boys would buy double lunches in order to get four half-bun pizza burgers rather than settle for two.
“These are so good that one can actually forget they’re made from ground Spam!”
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: Fit for a King.
“The latest message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview:
“‘THE MANGER — THE FIRST
“‘KING SIZED BED'”
The highfalutin amusements
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Over the river or through the woods?
“Fox 9 News reports this morning that the busy travel days are approaching. I got a ho, ho, ho from the voice-generated closed captioning. It told of helpful tips for my journey ‘whether I’m going biplane or car.’ A little chilly for an open cockpit, I’m thinking.”
‘Tis the season! Celluloid Division
Plus: Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop? Leading to: The great comebacks (missed). And: Everyone’s a critic!
Burywood Dave reports: “We were discussing holiday movies the other day, and ‘White Christmas’ was mentioned as a favorite. My daughter asked who was in it, and my wife said: ‘Bing Crosberry was the star.’ I suppressed a chuckle and waited a second for her to correct herself, but as no correction was forthcoming, I added: ‘And don’t forget Danny Kayeberry, Vera Lynberry, and Rosemary Clooneyberry.’ All I got was a dirty look. [Bulletin Board says: Too bad! Had we been your wife, we’d have said: “Don’t you mean Vera-Ellenberry . . . Mr. Smart Guy?” LOL.]
“And as long we’re on the subject: Am I the only one who is just a little irritated at how things unfold in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’? First of all, Potter gets away with a serious crime, Uncle Billy will always feel the guilt and pain and be regarded as the family idiot, and the mystery of the missing money will forever hang like a dark cloud over the Bailey household. I’ve always pictured a final scene where Potter is being wheeled up the walk to the Bailey house. In his lap is the infamous newspaper that held, and now again holds, the missing money. He pauses and listens to the music and laughter coming from inside, then says to his aide: ‘All right, let’s get this over with.’ And there it would end. Potter comes clean, money is returned, and loose ends are tidied up.
What is right with people?
Email: “Will Shapira of Roseville notes that whenever he goes out for a walk, he always makes it a point to pick up trash and dump it in a convenient receptacle. However, since receptacles aren’t always handy, Will takes as much trash as he can carry and dumps it when he returns home.
“Will notes that not along ago, he was walking along the west side of Lexington Avenue across from Roseville Central Park, picking up trash along the way, when a woman ran up to him and handed him a paper bag. ‘Here! This will make it easier for you!’ That it did, says Will, but before he could thank her, she was gone.
“Who says people are no damn good?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No one we spend any time with, if we can help it.
Our community of strangers
And: Where we live
Bloomington Bird Lady writes: “Subject: Appreciate being a Minnesotan!
“Do you Bulletin Boarders remember the first time you wrote a story for the Pioneer Press? Having an outlet for one’s creativity, and then hoping to see the story in print? Pretty exciting, actually. Now with the blog online, it is still such a good way to communicate and hopefully hone writing skills by seeing ‘story’ possibilities in the oddest or even the most ordinary places.
“One of my first pieces was about my friend, a Holocaust survivor, whose story reminded me of how much I loved Anne Frank’s discovered diary. It had become my favorite book, partly because it was written in the ‘first person,’ which tends to quickly grab the reader right from Page 1. I have since reread that book several times, even lately, as I turned 86. It is true, and a page-turner without using the ‘F’ word that the present writers seem to enjoy sprinkling lavishly throughout their detective novels. [Bulletin Board interjects: We’ve lately been checking out “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon and have wondered, numerous times, whether people in the late 1950s and early 1960s — even standup comedians and their managers — used that same “F” word as relentlessly as the “Mrs. Maisel” characters do.]
“Through the years, our friendship has grown even though we live quite far from each other. She’s up north of St. Paul, and here I am in Bloomington, but we call each other every Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. without fail. This month, she will turn 93, and we got to celebrate our birthdays together this week. She made French onion soup, which is her specialty.
“She often says: ‘I owe my life to so many angels who have helped me ever since I came to this country. I would not be here if it weren’t for them.’ She has become an excellent American citizen and loves Minnesota dearly.
“We can appreciate our country better sometimes when seen through the eyes of one who saw Hitler take over France, her father be suddenly taken away to Auschwitz, the American liberation finally, and who was actually an orphan in Paris before finding a sponsor in America. She has so many stories of how her ‘angels’ saved her life.
“Birdman and I, with our daughter from Burbank, recently toured the newly renovated Minnesota State Capitol. So beautifully done, and thrilling to see.
“First thing I did after coming home was to call my friend to tell her that she just had to see our beautiful Capitol! Well, of course, she said; she always takes everyone on that tour, and why did it take us so long to get there?”
Our birds, ourselves
Al B of Hartland: “I walked the sidewalks of a small city. The stroll was an icy one, so I quoted a chickadee. Chickadees make a chickadee-dee-dee call and increase the number of dee notes when they are alarmed.
“Blue jays flew from yard to yard. They sampled the fare at various bird feeders as if they were running a trap line. Blue jays share one belief with all other jays: Jays are wonderful.”
‘Tis the season!
The Swede of Shoreview: “Many families honor their heritage and celebrate traditions surrounding the Christmas season. Such it has been and still is in our family: Scandinavia — Sweden, to be exact; the legend of Lucia, a young woman from Sicily many centuries ago who was martyred because she shared what she had with those who had much less. Lucia is remembered and celebrated in Sweden as a young Christian girl who became a saint. She brought food to the poor and hungry, and, importantly, light to a darkened world. Her day (Luciadagen) is December 13th and heralds the coming of Christmas.
“Most all Scandinavians have heard the story of Lucia. However, I have found that very few Swedes know about the tradition of St. Knut. This legend FOLLOWS Christmas. At least for a few years when we were young children, our parents hosted a dinner feast for relatives and friends on the Sunday closest to the 20th day after Christmas (January 13th). The number 20 is Tjuga (pronounced chooga) in Swedish. Therefore, Tjuga Knut Day was the 20th day after Christmas and celebrated in Sweden, Finland, and Estonia. This was the day when the Christmas tree was taken down and the cookies on the tree were eaten. Truth be told, Knut was a Danish Prince: Canute Lavard. The Swedes historically seem to have ‘adopted’ and ‘adapted’ traditions from other countries and made them their own.
“Even though we celebrated St. Knut Day, our family regularly violated the tree-down on the 20th day after Christmas — most years waiting until February! So in our family, the Christmas season began with Advent and encompassed Lucia Day, Christmas Day, and St. Knut Sunday — a six-week celebration! Oh, for the joy of it — and how SWEDE it is!”
And now The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Incredible, Edible Village.
“For the past 38 years, The Good Wife and I have hosted a Christmas party for family and friends. It has grown by leaps and bounds; on some occasions, more than 100 people show up. And each year we do something different and special. One fabulous feature of the gathering is the Incredible, Edible Village!
“It began eight years ago with construction of a few gingerbread houses, forming a Christmas-themed hamlet. For the past couple of years, The Good Wife has invited neighbor ‘Bee in the Wool’ to move in for a weekend, with the express purpose of together investing enough time on task to create a more spectacular village than that of the preceding year. The really neat thing is that everything is edible — from candy canes to sugar drops, pretzels and lollipops, chocolate kisses and candied cherries and all kinds of delicious delights. Imaginations go wild, and creativity knows no limits.
“Here are some images of the village and the animals currently residing therein:
“Some polar-bear inhabitants of the winter wonderland; made from white-chocolate-dipped Oreo cookies
“Reindeer readying for Santa’s sleigh, crafted out of Nutter Butter cookies
“An igloo out of Rice Krispie balls smothered in marshmallows.
“The local church, central to the village. Gingerbread and yummy frostings.
“One of the country mice: chocolate-dipped-cherry body with chocolate-kiss head and almond-sliver ears.”
The Permanent Family Record
LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: Cow blanket?
“My extended family submits genealogy and stories to a Facebook page dedicated to the memory of my maternal great-grandparents. My great-grandfather died in 1963; I was 8 years old, and I don’t have many stories about my great-grandfather.
“I posted a question to our Facebook page asking about a cow blanket which was on the porch swing of my maternal great-grandparents. Soon, cousin Ron submitted a story about the cow blanket:
“Great-grandfather built the family house in 1910, and at that time, the house was the only house for miles. My maternal great-grandparents did not have much money, so hunting and fishing supplemented any food ingredients from the store. The local store would trade goods, such as sugar or flour, for dressed birds. The house was close to a railroad track; his fence line was adjacent to the rail line. Their home was less than five miles from a very large stockyard. Before the war, most cattle made it to the stockyards via rail stock cars. Trains were less safe in the 1920s, and trains would derail several times a month close to my G.G.-parents’ farm. Any live cattle after the wreck were apt to be led to a local farm. According to my G.G.-father, the railroads knew local farmers ‘adopted’ the cattle with the blessing of the train crews. My G.G.-father would take advantage of these periodic derails to supplement the food supply. The cows were led to the barn and fattened up through the summer and fall. When cold weather arrived, the cow would be slaughtered and processed, with the meat kept in the barn throughout the winter, as there was no deep-freeze available. G.G.-father also tanned the leather, and this supplied gloves and jackets for the family, along with cowhide blankets.
“I do distinctly remember a cow blanket on the porch swing in the early 1960s. To me, it was just another blanket until cousin Ron’s story. Now it is a wonderful family story which reminds us all that not so long ago, life was much tougher.”
Great minds . . .
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Amazing . . . how did they come up with the same headline?
“I know, based on submissions to Bulletin Board, that once in a great while, the Twin Cities dailies have run similar headlines, but I was totally caught off guard by the way they reported the death of Penny Marshall.
“Pioneer Press: (top of front page): ‘IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN.’
“Minneapolis paper (main story at top of Page A2): ‘Actress and director was in a league all her own.’
“I’ll bet they’re the only papers in the country that used that phrase.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: The Retired Pedagogue is being . . . funny! We have no way of knowing, but have no doubt that dozens of papers used that phrase.
There are still dozens of papers, aren’t there?
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Donald: “Subject: Is that the same as ‘gas tas’?
“I’m sure I’m the only one who spotted this headline on Page A9 of Tuesday’s edition of the paper west of St. Paul:
“‘Yes, we need more
“‘money, but the gax tax
“‘isn’t the best source'”
Our theater of seasons
Or: Keeping your eyes open
Grandma Paula reports: “Another beautiful sunrise this morning! It was a nice surprise when I opened the drapes, and of course I grabbed my camera. NOT my phone camera, which takes crummy photos, but my GOOD camera!”
Band Name of the Day: The Bing Crosberries
Website of the Day, recommended by Gail the Whale of Eagan: “If you liked the Rube Goldberg-type contraption in the Random Harvest (No. 11) post, you may enjoy the four part Jiwi’s Machines series: https://jiwismachines.com.”