The Permanent Family Record
Little Sister (“and Big Sister”) has sent us two reports lately:
(1) “In 1902, a young girl thought to tuck away her school keepsakes in an old stationery box.
“That young girl was my great-aunt. I don’t suppose she had any inkling at the time that one of her descendants would one day keep that box on a shelf in her closet, or would be so fascinated by its 116-year-old contents.
“Along with school assignments in her own handwriting, I found this picture book from the Diamond Dye Company. From the note Mabel wrote inside, it must have been an end-of-the-school-year gift from the teacher.
“From a bit of research, I learned that the company offered free learning/coloring books, as well as the opportunity to send for their Diamond Dye Crayons.”
(2) “After nine years, I had decided I no longer wanted to be the youngest in the family. My older sister told me that she, grown tired of having only brothers, prayed for a little sister. Then I came along. I figured if it worked for her, it would work for me.
“Not long after, I was over the moon when Mom announced that she didn’t have the flu, but was expecting a baby! There is a God, I thought, and He does answer prayers!
“The one thing I hadn’t considered was the fact that my mother was in her 40s, and it might not be smooth sailing. Turns out it wasn’t. Almost seven months into the pregnancy, Mom became gravely ill and had to be taken to the hospital. That began a long and scary time for our family. The doctor ordered complete hospital bed rest for the duration. Her and the baby’s survival depended on it.
“Well, in my 9-year-old brain, I reasoned that I’d done something wrong and God was unhappy with me. So I prayed. Surely God wouldn’t let me down, despite whatever I’d done to make him angry.
“The weeks without Mom were long, but made bearable by a loving father and doting grandmother. We were all well fed, clean, and managed to meet the school bus on time every morning. When my fastidious Big Sis’ came home from college on the weekends, even she wasn’t appalled by the state of things.
“I saw my mother only once during the time she was hospitalized. Back then, children under a certain age were not allowed to visit. We sent letters back and forth with my dad, but that wasn’t cutting it. My brothers and I conspired to sneak in, which wasn’t too hard to do in that small hospital. The nurse was a bit surprised to find us all in Mom’s room, but wisely said nothing and pretended we weren’t even there. I was sure we were good medicine for our mom.
“I didn’t fully understand at the time just how sick my mother had been. She said later that much of it was a blur, but that she did remember eating a lot of grapes because it was one of the few things she could keep down. What also stood out in her mind was that JFK was assassinated just two days after the birth. She remembers lying in her hospital bed, thinking how grateful she was to be holding this healthy darling baby, but so sad for the Kennedy family.
“A few days later, we were fortunate to bring Mom and my new sister home, just in time for Thanksgiving. Words can’t describe the excitement in that house!
“The weeks that followed were a period of adjustment for us all, and it took some time for Mom to get her energy back. I remember on that first day, Dad found himself a bit out practice and hadn’t adjusted the flow on the baby’s first bottle correctly. She sucked too much down too fast, and threw up the whole works on the kitchen floor. We also had to get into the rhythm of washing cloth diapers and making sure of a plentiful supply on hand. We somehow managed without having a clothes dryer at the time. One of my chores was to hang up the diapers, either on the clothesline by the furnace in the basement or on the one outside. A clear memory I have is of the pink diaper pail that became a fixture in a corner of the bathroom. It seemed to fill up with soiled diapers in no time at all. I also remember catching on quickly to the routine of checking the toilet before tending to business, as there could very well be a messy diaper left soaking. None of us kids would touch it, so we called for Mom to come to our rescue by rinsing and wringing it out out before adding it to the pail filled with bleach water.
“Then there was the competition among the brothers and sisters to hold the baby. After I broke my arm while ice skating, I felt so left out, as Mom thought it wouldn’t be safe for me to hold her. She finally relented and put her on my lap for this first picture with me. I was one proud Big Sister!
“Some years later, my mother overheard a conversation between Little Sis’ and me. She was saying that being the youngest wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I told her the story of how our older sister had prayed and then I had prayed and our wishes came true. She thought this over and said she would start praying right away. Mom interrupted us with ‘Don’t you dare!'”
Setting the bar low
New Year’s Resolution Division
Rusty of St. Paul reports: “I was speaking to a 70-something acquaintance at a post-holiday party last night. He spoke of his yearly New Year’s resolution, which is to ‘make it to my next birthday.’
“He added: “I succeeded again this year. My birthday is January 2nd!'”
‘Twas the season!
Or: Their theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede writes: “We left a brown Minnesota and flew to Oregon to be with my son and family, and I was surprised at how much greenery was still there. The trees had faithfully shed their leaves, but the plants closer to the ground were still hanging in there.
“At my son’s house, there were camellias starting to bloom on Christmas Day, with many buds ready to go.
“Along with some rosemary . . .
“. . and a few lingering roses.
“There was one hydrangea blossom with a little color left.
“And one yellow rose blossom along the driveway that was just about done.
“A neighbor landscaper told me that every month, there is something blooming. The Portland area does have snow and ice during some winters, but not yet this year. We had rain most days of our visit. I asked this neighbor if I may take photos of some of his blooming plants, and he readily agreed. I will try to show those next submission.”
Dolly Dimples: “Have you ever received a gift that resonated with your sense of humor and made you laugh out loud? I did this Christmas. It’s a T-shirt with a picture of a bushy-tailed squirrel looking at me with big, wide-open eyes. Above his head, it says in bold letters: ‘Excuse Me.’ Underneath him, it says: ‘Your bird feeder is empty.’
“I laughed out loud when I read it, as it hit the mark. Because of the ice and snow on our deck, I decided I’d better not risk falling out there, so I stopped filling the bird feeders. For a few weeks, the squirrels checked it out, and I can imagine them saying: ‘Lady, the bird feeders are empty.’ Rather than putting out seed occasionally when the weather permits, I think it is better to encourage the birds — and squirrels — to find more-dependable sources of food this winter.”
This ‘n’ that
A pair of notes from Friendly Bob of Fridley: (1) “Subject: Joy of Juxtaposition.
“I was headed for a belated family Christmas get-together at my twin sister’s place in Montevideo. Since our family has a long tradition of waiting around until the last possible moment to take care of some details for such a gathering, I was out on a quest the day before to find some decent rosettes. (To my credit, it was a whole day earlier when I managed to make it down to Ingebretsen’s to get the lutefisk!)
“First stop was a Swedish bakery, where I was informed that they do no deep-frying. OK . . . fair enough. So I said I’d snoop around a bit and probably find something sufficiently sweet. Heaven forbid we should run low on such goodies! My eyes stopped upon a delicious-looking Swedish Tea Ring — apple/cinnamon, in this case. OK . . . Swedish . . . Norwegian . . . close enough. This would be something new for us. And I had never heard of it.
“I no more than returned home when I read the Bulletin Board and found the submission from The Gram With a Thousand Rules about her oldest daughter making the very same! Now THAT was cool!
“Never found rosettes, though.”
(2) “Subject: Throw the cow over the fence some hay!
“From the January 6 Duluth News Tribune: ‘The driver of the Ford Ranger, Xxxxx Xxxxxxx, of Superior, lost control of the vehicle on the icy roadway which vaulted over the concrete barrier landing on its roof in the Duluth Depot railroad yard below the freeway on top of a railcar.’
“Well, no wonder . . . who could keep control on a roadway that vaulted over a barrier? And was the freeway on top of a railcar?”
Texas Football Division
Donald: “Subject: What’s that ‘over-emphasis’ thing?
“The ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in Sports Illustrated: ‘A youth football league in Texas requires players as young as four to sign letters of intent to their teams and holds signing ceremonies.'”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul, careful reader of sports pages, once again displays his eagle (or is it birdie?) eye: “Subject: Eagle — birdie — what’s the diff?
“The ‘Sports briefs’ section on Page 4C of Sunday’s Pioneer Press Sports section had this headline under ‘Golf’: ’65-foot birdie putt propels Woodland.’
“The first paragraph read: ‘Gary Woodland made a 65-foot eagle putt and finished with a birdie for a 5-under-par 68 to keep his three-shot lead in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.’
“Why worry about accuracy when it makes a difference of only one stroke?”
Score one for the Pioneer Press!
Woodbury Wit: “I had ankle surgery in October for four fractures. Because of no-weight-bearing instructions, I’ve since had to use a kneeler/walker, and it’s been a pain getting my newspaper. Occasionally it’s in the driveway by the garage door, but most of the time it’s way down the driveway. So I end up having to go out in the ice and snow with the kneeler, then have to clean off the wheels when I get back in.
“So I got creative.
“The delivery person must have gotten the message. Now it’s in the perfect spot.”
Only a ______________ would notice
Continuing our recent inquiry into Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young) is 7429 in AZ: “RE: Only a ___________ would notice!
“‘On the cover the members are, left to right, Nash, Stills, and Crosby, the reverse of the order of the album title. The photo was taken by their friend and photographer Henry Diltz before they came up with a name for the group. They found an abandoned house with an old, battered sofa outside, located at 815 Palm Avenue, West Hollywood, across from the Santa Palm car wash that they thought would be a perfect fit for their image. A few days later they decided on the name “Crosby, Stills, and Nash”. [Bulletin Board interjects: Sic! The name of the band is quite clearly “Crosby, Stills & Nash.” Long live the ampersand, denoter of partnership!] To prevent confusion, they went back to the house a day or so later to re-shoot the cover in the correct order, but when they got there they found the house had been reduced to a pile of timber.
“‘Dallas Taylor can be seen looking through the window of the door on the rear of the sleeve. In the expanded edition, however, he is absent. The original vinyl LP was released in a gatefold sleeve that depicted the band members in large fur parkas with a sunset in the background on the gatefold (shot in Big Bear, California), as well as the iconic cover art. A long folded page inside displayed the album credits, lyrics, track listing, as well as a quasi-psychedelic pencil drawing.’
“Keep up the great work!”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Blood kin.
“Genealogy has been revolutionized by DNA. A woman I know recently proved that one of her birth grandfathers is not the man listed on her mother’s birth certificate — which would have been shocking, when I was young.
“Last week I mailed old family letters to one of my third cousins given up for adoption. They were written by his birth mother’s Aunt Sade (Sarah), back when Sade probably licked the envelopes to shut them. And licked the stamps that are on the envelopes.
“With DNA testing getting cheaper and more sensitive by the minute, it is possible that this cousin will be able to get saliva on these envelopes tested, if he wants to trace our mutual relatives. I believe that adoptees, etc., should have some idea who and where they came from. If they want to look into it.
“Meanwhile, I’ll repeat advice I shared about 20 years ago: Be open about adoptions and blood relatives. Because curious minds can now (often) get answers.”
What’s in a number?
Horntoad of White Bear Lake writes: “Two Thousand? Or Twenty?
“With the calendar turning to 2019, I’m reminded of the way we’ve been pronouncing the year numbers since the new century began in 2000. [Bulletin Board says: It was and is our contention that the new century began in 2001 . . . but that’s water way, way over the dam!]
“Most people begin by calling the 20XX years ‘two-thousand,’ such as ‘two-thousand-fourteen’; this is also the case with professional communicators, such as radio and television personalities, and politicians. Some people start by saying ‘twenty,’ as in
‘twenty-fourteen.’ [Bulletin Board says: Charles Osgood, when he was the host of “CBS News Sunday Morning,” always said “twenty-XX,” beginning with “twenty-oh-one.” His replacement of a couple of years’ standing, Jane Pauley, has gone back to “two-thousand-XX.” Just a peculiar little thing we have peculiarly noticed.]
“I like to say the numbers by starting with ‘twenty.’ It’s easier to say and just sounds better. That’s how we pronounce all the four-digit years, like 1492, 1776, 1941. See what I mean? And when the 2100s roll around, will people be saying 2119 as ‘two-thousand one-hundred nineteen?’ I don’t think so; that’s a mouthful. Let’s get the 2000s [Bulletin Board interjects: Is that the two-thousands, or the twenty-hundreds?] in line with the rest of the centuries.
“Welcome to 2019 — ‘twenty-nineteen,’ that is. Happy New Year!”
Our pets, ourselves
LeoJEOSP writes: “We have two cats, and they love to go in the garage and catch mice.
“Our garage is attached to the house, and we grew tired of getting up from our comfortable chairs to let the cats back in the house; they would MEOW and scratch the door until one of us would get up and let them in. We started leaving the door ajar enough so they could open it and let themselves in. This solution works fine most of the time.
“Recently, they were both in the garage ‘hunting’ and caught a mouse and came into the house with it. The mouse escaped Desi’s mouth and was running in the house, chased by him and our other cat, Millie. After 10 minutes of chasing the mouse, the cats lost interest. About an hour later, Sigrid walked by the door to the garage. She told me she had found the bloody head of the mouse next to the door leading to the garage. I immediately thought of the movie ‘The Godfather,’ where the studio executive wakes up in his bed and finds the bloody head of his prized racehorse. The message the studio exec got was: Don’t do anything to anger Don Corleone. I wonder if our kitties were sending a message to us?”
Out of the mouths of babes
Mutti reports: “We were driving our 5-year-old grandchild home. We have offered each grandchild a significant amount of money if they don’t drink or smoke until they are of age. We were calculating how old we would be when 5 was 21. It was taking us a few seconds when 5 piped up from her car seat. ‘Dead,’ she said.
“We almost died laughing.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We can’t imagine a better way to go.
KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Made in Wisconsin.
“After more than 3,500 miles of hiking through snow, slush, mud, and wet grass, in temperatures ranging from -34 to 103 degrees, I cleaned them up, repaired them with hot glue, and promoted them to light duty — never again to cause a blister or callus (or indelible memory).
“They are work shoes (with steel toes) weighing 2 pounds each (when not caked with mud). They were never meant for hiking, but it’s what I had when I decided to start hiking in earnest, and I didn’t think it made sense to buy another expensive pair of shoes just to ‘walk.’
“They have now been replaced for trail duty by a pair of lightweight, waterproof boots with tread designed for hiking (and manufactured in a foreign country). Somehow it feels so right, and so wrong, at the same time. My feet love the new boots, but my heart will always be with those heavy, leaky American-made boots that simply didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ They gave it all and conquered every challenge I threw in front of them, and never once complained.
“I hope they enjoy their new life in retirement.”
Band Name of the Day: Empty Feeders
Website of the Day: