Life as we know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A Dance for Spring.
“On Sunday, I raised a prayer in church for the folks that this year’s Real Weather is ‘getting to’ — because, this winter, we need to remember that We Can Do This. I saw lots of frazzled people at the grocery store on Saturday.
“The closing song for church was ‘The Bells of Norwich,’ which has parts about daffodils and winter ending, with the phrase ‘All shall be well again.’ It is uplifting — especially now.
“It is also a song to which we may dance if we choose. One by one, women joined in, including walking in a circle and spinning (gently) in place. Of course, only one woman knew which step came next, so we had to watch her for cues. And it took me a bit to figure out how to hold both others’ hands and my walking stick. Because I need it for spinning.
“Professional dancing it was not, but that is the best kind. I am still smiling.
“A Spring dance helps, in bleak midwinter.”
Our Theater of Seasons Division
Mounds View Swede has been busy with his camera again: “The front storm door that did such a good job last winter producing frost patterns each day hasn’t done anything this winter. I think the seal at the bottom of the inner door is doing a better job of sealing, so our humidified air is not seeping out. The one garage window we have, though, seems to be busy with frost structures. It took me awhile to remember this was happening and go out there with a camera. I noticed in the morning when I left that almost the whole window was covered from the cold night.
“When I got back home, only the lower four inches or so had frost. The promise of more frost is there, and I will pay more attention now to see what happens.
“There were a lot more straight lines with frost branches on this window.
“Lower down, I saw more-delicate feather-like frost patterns that looked graceful with their curves.
“The branchless blob was a new variation to see. I like the ‘branchy’ look better.
“When the frost gets too dense, it isn’t very pretty.
“I am speculating that the straight frost lines are from the wipe marks from washing the window this fall.
“The sunny day after the first snow and the freshened snow cover provided a smooth palette for the shadow designs that appeared.
“The animal tracks were pretty well filled in. I enjoyed the artistic shadow pattern the trees provided.
“And it became much more complicated as the sun moved and found more tree-branch shadows to add.
“I did have once fresh set of tracks to see coming up the front walk — the same small creature, I assume, that I finally caught a glimpse of last winter. Its tracks went along the front of the garage door before heading up our walk and then across into the shrubby area in front of the house.
“It takes awhile to see the many snow sparkles in this photo. I think they add to the fresh ‘wrapping’ the fresh snow provided to this section of earth — short-lived decorations one has to pay attention to see.
“The recent snows have provided new things for me to watch. I was noticing how well our deck railings caught the first snow . . .
“. . . and how much higher the pile was after the second snow.
“Today we noticed how the pile was leaning towards the north and wondered why it did that. I don’t recall any winds from the south being part of the forecast. And now with more snow on the way, I’ll be watching to see what happens next.
“Both in my drives around these parts and in my own back yard, I am taken by how the dark spruce, firs and pines are transformed into pillars of light. For some reason I always enjoy seeing these trees, with or without snow. They seem to represent shelter to me, with their branches providing more protection from the winds, rain and snow once you get under them. I wonder if that response is a Swedish thing.”
Defying the cold
Grandma Paula: “Subject: Hot-air balloons.
“I have a fascination for hot-air balloons. I have ridden in one, and it was a lovely experience. Gliding along with the wind, you can hear dogs barking, cows mooing, and people talking on the ground below. You can hear them because you are going with the wind, not against it, and the sounds on the ground carry up to you.
“I live five miles south of Hudson, Wisconsin, almost directly across the St. Croix River from where one of the balloon companies launches its balloons. When we moved to Wisconsin, it was a delightful surprise to see balloons coming over our house quite frequently. It was easy to get up on our roof, so we would climb up there and wave and talk to the people in the basket, and I would take pictures.
“One year, my husband bought me a ride in a balloon for my birthday. I thought he was going up with me. ‘Hell no,’ he said. ‘You want to go. I’m not going up in one!’ I was surprised that he did not want to go, but what the heck, I was going. It was a perfect ride.
“Last weekend was the Hot Air Affair in Hudson. The town has been having the Hot Air Affair celebration for 30 years, and I have been rising at the crack of dawn for lots of those years, to capture the liftoff of the balloons. Whether or not the balloons get to go up depends on the weather and the winds aloft. This year was the first time in several years that a Saturday liftoff was successful, and I was there! I thought I would share some of my photos with BB readers.”
Cabin Fever Chronicles
Email: “Hello from Northfield!
“The kids have their sixth snow day of the last nine, we haven’t gotten mail for the last two days, the dog is depressed because we can’t go running, and we’re going a little stir crazy. The cancellations and rescheduled events have us just shaking our heads. Since 2019 started, we’ve felt as if we’re on a runaway roller coaster, anyway — our oldest is a senior, and part of me wants it all just to be over (waiting for the college decisions, in particular), and the other part of me is just getting crushed under the weight (also, the ‘wait’) of all the ‘lasts.’
“Thank goodness for podcasts — I really enjoyed ‘Bag Man’ (about Spiro Agnew) and ‘Smarty Pants’ (just a fun, wide-ranging show from The American Scholar), and I can’t wait to get started on ‘The Drop Out’ (about the Theranos scandal). ‘A Beautiful World’ is also great.
“So, running across this — Chinese satellite captures moon and Earth like you’ve never seen them — was a beautiful sight; it reminded me of the pictures from Apollo 8.
“Trying to stay sane without eating all the carbohydrates in the house,
“The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield”
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Vertically Challenged: “‘Mom, I want to go outside!’
“Our daughter sent us this pic she took when Adriana came and asked her. She’s wearing her dad’s monster slippers, which she had specially picked out for his birthday present because she wanted him to have monster slippers like hers!”
Our theater of seasons
Then & Now Division (responsorial)
Booklady: “The recent subzero spell combined with the reminiscences of Gregory of the North triggered a long-buried memory of a traumatic winter day.
“My elementary school was less than a mile from home, so I was a ‘walker’ — meaning that on extremely cold days, buses did not run, but teachers and walkers were expected to report to school.
“It was so bitterly cold — no wind-chill numbers then — that the neighbor lady offered to drive me and her son to school. Unfortunately, her truck didn’t start, so a very angry second-grader took off with me, a lowly first-grader, in tow. Through the drifts and biting wind we trudged, Bobby tugging me along until my mitten came off, as he complained that we would be late. As if that weren’t frightening enough, he also ranted that the principal, Mr. Petty, would be there to whip us with his black belt for being late. By this time, I was crying, tears freezing to my cheeks and to the scarf wrapped around my face, and I was struggling to breathe and keep up with my tormentor.
“As soon as we reached the school grounds, he abandoned me to my fate and rushed ahead to his own class. I wailed my way down the hall to my classroom at the end of the hall, where Mrs. Grosslein met me. A sympathetic soul, she calmly told me to hang up my coat. I felt soothed until she added that my next step was to report to the office. That meant it was true! I really was going to come in contact with the dreaded black belt! Once again wailing, I made my way down the long hall to the office, knowing the mantra that if you get in trouble at school, you will be in twice as much trouble when you get home.
“I can still remember the vast feeling of relief when the secretary just noted that I was present and sent me back to class.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No surprise you can remember it! We had a pretty good burst of relief, ourselves, at the end there — and we had no skin in the game.
Plus: Today’s helpful hint
Both from The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “On stopped clocks being right twice a day:
“One sure sign that driving conditions are extremely dangerous is that Walmart has the correct customer-to-cashier ratio.”
(2) “Subject: EOTFOT.
“If you wonder what the subject line means, it is my acronym — pronounced ee-ott-eff-ott — for hazardous winter driving conditions. The meaning is: ‘Empty One Tank, Fill Other Tank.’ At my advanced age, I always use the restroom and make sure I have plenty of gas [Bulletin Board interjects: gasoline!] before driving during cold, slippery-road days. It’s two less things to worry about while waiting in the ditch for the tow truck.”
It takes all kinds
Or: They’re out there!
Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “Subject: What was he thinking?
“This afternoon — February 6, 2019 — I saw a car with the top down. My car temperature reading at that time was 28 degrees, and last night we had a little freezing rain and a dusting of snow. Tonight will be a different outcome, with more snow. Last week, we endured wind-chills of -47 degrees.
“To me, it just isn’t time for convertibles. I must be a wimp!”
Life as we know it
Or: Now & Then (responsorial)
Pollyanna of Lakeland writes: “Subject: Dressing for winter, and other memories.
“Like The Gram With a Thousand Rules, my mom gave us bread bags to put on over our socks inside our boots. They kept our feet warmer and drier.
“Another thing she did is take old socks and cut thumb holes. We wore those under our mittens and inside our jacket sleeves, to keep our hands warmer and our wrists from getting cold while sledding. We had what we called ‘idiot mittens’ — either clips that held them to our jackets, or long yarn that went from one mitten, up one sleeve, around our shoulders to the other mitten. I could use those now. ; )
“When we came in from playing outside, we would have hot chocolate (made with milk), cinnamon toast from homemade bread, and ‘banana boats.’ Mom cut a wedge from the banana so it looked like a canoe and filled the space with chocolate chips. This was in the ’60s and early ’70s, before we had a microwave. She would wrap the banana boats in foil and put them in the oven for a few minutes. Delicious! The only way I really enjoy bananas now is with chocolate.
“This makes me think about other things my parents cooked for us, and how I like them their way best. My dad made the best soft-scrambled eggs — cooked in a little bacon grease in a cast-iron pan, with bacon crumbled in them. It’s the only way I will eat eggs (at least, when they are not mixed into something like a chocolate chip cookie!). He also made great fish, and taught our boys to make it just like his. Home-cooked walleye is my traditional Mother’s Day meal.
“When Dad traveled for work (he flew giant weather balloons for the Office of Naval Research and went all over the world), Mom would make us foods that Dad didn’t really care for: We would have waffles and bacon for dinner, or spaghetti with Melba toast, or burgers and chips. Dad didn’t like noisy food, and he didn’t like breakfast for dinner, but he loved conversations and stories and music. We often had guests for dinner.
“My piano teacher gave me lessons at our house. Afterwards, Dad would give him food and drink (like homemade wine), and they would play accordions together. I’m sure the teacher liked that part of his evening more than my lesson. I just remembered his name: Walter Kroepfl. My younger brother and I got talked into taking accordion lessons when we were in elementary school. It turned out that Mr. Kroepfl made music with the guy who owned the accordion store/lesson place. After our lessons, we went to a liquor store in Mendota (I think), near the river. They gave us those suckers with the looped string; then we would go to the mushroom caves. He liked to can (or jar) mushrooms. I have never learned to like them, but I do like to polka and waltz!”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Triple-the-Fun in Lakeville: “This is one of my favorite family pictures.
“This is my grandfather, Ben, and his new 1918 Model T. He got every available option on the car. The car had rear fender guards, a front bumper, and a pair of driving lights. There was a tool box (with tools), which was mounted on the left running board. There was an expandable fence that formed a storage area on the running board between the two fenders on the driver’s side. It had an electric horn and speedometer — all optional. But my favorite optional equipment was an extra door — which was for the back seat on the passenger side. That made it a two-door car. The only standard door was for the front passenger. Apparently, no doors were available for the driver’s side.
“The car with all the extras came to $515, but the dealer let him have it for $500. What a deal!”
KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Who Cares.
“This sign is in the car wash in Brooklyn, New York, where my daughter gets her car washed. It’s been like this ever since she’s been going there. It never fails to amuse her, and always starts the same conversation.
“‘Is it sheeting there now?’
“‘If it were sheeting, I wouldn’t be getting my car washed.’
“‘Is it hard to drive in sheet?’
“‘I don’t think I’ve ever actually had to drive in it.’
“‘Do you think they know that the sign is misspelled?’
“‘I don’t know. I’m always tempted to say something.’
“Personally, I think they know, and just don’t give a sheet.'”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
And: It just don’t add up (responsorial)
The February 5 Bulletin Board included this note from Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Let us count the years.
“An obituary for Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, was published on Page A2 of Monday’s STrib. His name, plus ‘1935-2019,’ appeared above the headline for the piece. As I read those numbers, I calculated that he was 84 [Bulletin Board notes: or, of course, 83 — though we’ll grant you this: At some point during 2019, he would certainly have been 84] when he died, so I was taken aback when I read the beginning of the article: ‘Millard Fuller, 74 . . .’
“My aback was further taken when I read the caption beneath Fuller’s photo: ‘Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, in 2004, at a home in Habitat’s Global Village in Americas, Ga. He died at 74.’
“Let’s see: 1935 to 2000 is 65. 2000 to 2019 is 19. 65 + 19 = 84.
“At least they were consistent.”
We presently heard from Semi-Legend: “Subject: Millard Fuller.
“The Star Tribune and other newspapers published a correction, which accounts for the 10-year age difference between his actual age upon death and his age this year:’CORRECTION: Millard Fuller died in 2009. This story was republished in error.'”
It just don’t add up!
And: Just a coincidence? (self-responsorial)
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: (1) “Subject: Wow! A one-day sale that lasts two days!
“A Macy’s insert arrived with last Thursday’s Minneapolis paper. This was at the top of the front page: ‘ONE DAY SALE.’
“This was two lines below that (smaller caps): ‘FRI, FEB. 8-SAT, FEB. 9.’
“On the third page: ‘DEALS OF THE DAY.
“(smaller caps): ‘FRIDAY & SATURDAY IN STORE AND ONLINE!’
“Well, that clears that up.”
(2) “Subject: In the eye of the beholder.
“In a recent episode of ‘Full Frontal,’ Samantha Bee remarked that Roger Stone resembled the statues on Easter Island. [Bulletin Board notes: He has the right name for it.]
“Talk about a blast from the past! I quote from my first submission to Bulletin Board, which appeared in the Pioneer Press on Monday, December 6, 1993 (with pictures): ‘Just a coincidence? From The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills:
“‘”My wife and I were watching Jay Leno when Lyle Lovett was on. We decided that he reminds us of those large statues on Easter Island.”‘
“Thanks for the memories, as Bob Hope would say/sing.
“P.S. My wife just showed me an Easter Island emoji on her phone.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: You sure it’s not a Lyle Lovett/Roger Stone emoji?
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: Words to live by.
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘NEVER LAUGH AT YOUR
“‘SPOUSE’S CHOICES . . .
“‘YOU’RE ONE OF THEM'”
The Permanent Paternal Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “When I was a kid, I thought my dad knew everybody. He sure as heck talked to everybody, whether he knew them or not — and nearly every time he went downtown, he bumped into one or more of his old pals.
“One day in the late 1940s, my dad and my brother had some errands to do in downtown Minneapolis, and they went together. They came back in a jolly mood, and Mom greeted them at the door with her usual query of ‘Did you see anyone you knew today?’ They both burst out laughing, and Dad said: ‘Well, we thought we did.’
“They told us that they saw a fellow carpenter they hadn’t seen in a long time. My dad spotted him first and said to my brother: ‘Hey! Look up ahead. That’s old Whatzizname! Remember that wiseacre jokester from the Franklin Avenue job? Let’s give him a ride he’ll never forget.’ Dad ran to one side of him, Johnny to the other, and just as the guy was ready to step off the curb, they lifted him up by the elbows and ran across the street and halfway down the next block before they discovered that he wasn’t who they thought he was, after all. Simultaneously, without a word of explanation, they lowered the hapless fellow back down on his feet and sprinted away from him down the sidewalk.
“It was always an adventure going anywhere with my dad.”
All creatures great and small
And: ‘Tisn’t the season — still
Two from Al B of Hartland: (1) “A squirrel chattered at me the entire time I filled the feeders. Squirrels have a salty vocabulary. I enjoy squirrels even though they can be hard on feeders. It’s as the psalmist said: ‘Harden not your hearts.’ I reckon that applies to all things, and that includes squirrels.”
(2) “My wife happened upon a forgotten Christmas gift. I knew it would happen. It happens each year. We’d purchased the gift early, and my wife had put it away in a good place where we wouldn’t forget about it. Maybe it was forgotten so the finding would flabbergast. Someone received a late Christmas gift of underwear.
“My mother was a marvelous cook and prepared meals consisting of massive amounts of many varieties of food. At holidays, after we’d become more stuffed than any turkey, my mother announced that she’d forgotten to put out the carrots. That dish had hidden cleverly in a corner of the kitchen. She’d pass it around. There weren’t many takers. We’d already had pie and whipped cream.”
The darnedest things
WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, from Cheesehead By Proxy (“back in northern Minnesota”): “I was sending this story to my brother and thought I’d forward it to you:
“I was a teacher’s aide in a kindergarten class back in the ’80s. Every morning, the teacher would gather the kids on the floor around her (she sat in a little tiny kids’ chair), and the children would be seated in a circle, so it was called circle time.
“During this time, they would talk about whatever, and the teacher would have a big calendar — a flannel-board, actually — to discuss the day and what they were going to do in class that day. Every day was special in kindergarten!
“So it happened to be Groundhog Day, and the teacher asked if anyone knew why this day was special. ‘It’s a special day today; does anyone know what it is?’ she asked. And no one knew. So she gave a hint. ‘Something has been hibernating all winter, and . . .’
“Now a few kids suddenly remember! And they start raising their hands and waving enthusiastically as if to say ‘I know!!! I know!! Call on me! Pick me!!!’
“The teacher called on a little girl, Mackenzie.
“Mackenzie told the story as she knew it — excitedly, almost in gasps!
“She said: ‘He’s going to come out of his hole! And if he sees his shadow, winter will last longer!’
“‘That’s right, Mackenzie!’ said the teacher. ‘But who will come out of the hole?’
“Mackenzie’s face looked sort of puzzled as she searched her brain for the answer.
“Then, not really 100 percent sure, she put her answer in a question: ‘The weatherman?'”
Band Name of the Day: The Idiot Mittens
Website of the Day: Dogs Before Instagram