Now & Then
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “I thought about going low-profile on this, but then I decided I would be remiss if I didn’t share this lesson I learned: If you wake up one morning and find that one of your hands isn’t working, don’t ignore it and think it will get better by itself.
“If it hangs there like a limp fish dangling from your wrist, don’t be an ostrich like I was and blame it on a pinched nerve. My brain told me it was more than that, but I clung to the belief that it could be a pinched nerve, and that if I went out and finished raking out the flower beds with my other hand, it would get better.
“The guy I live with was playing ostrich right along with me, but we both had to face reality when my son came over and saw my drooping mouth and heard my slurred speech. A quick trip to Urgent Care confirmed that I was having a stroke, and I was admitted to the hospital.
“The entire hospital staff was kind and attentive, but it was nothing like the hospital experience I remember when my six kids were born. That was like a luxury-spa vacation. The nurses would bring your precious little newborn in for a feed and ask you if you would care for a malted milk. They would ask you if you would like a back rub. Ahh, it has been over half of a century since my last child was born, and I still relish the memory of those six luxurious vacations.
“It was a busy three days (seemed like three months) in the hospital as the staff did every test necessary to get me back on my feet and on the road to recovery. When they woke me up, it was to ask me if knew my birth date and to stick out my tongue, not to ask if I wanted a malted milk or a back rub. I wish I had inherited my mother’s patience and serenity, but I have to admit I have too much of my father’s testiness — and battling that bed and that oversized gown was a challenge. As a child, I often had to share a bed with one or two of my sisters, but I never shared a nightgown with any of them. As I tried to keep my modesty intact, wearing that extra-large-size gown, the thought crossed my mind that all five of us sisters could have fit into that voluminous garment.
“Yes, the nursing staff couldn’t have been kinder, but for this non-patient patient, I couldn’t wait to get home to my own comfortable bed. I guess those rock-and-roll beds serve a purpose, but mine made me dream I was back in Australia with my daughter and son-in-law, trying mightily not to up-chuck as we sailed on the Coral Sea.
“My recovery is progressing. I won’t win any awards for the Palmer Method of Penmanship just yet, but by golly I can text.”
Life as we know it
DebK of Rosemount: “Tree and shrub foliage isn’t yet fully unfurled, and the vegetable garden is only half-planted. But the annual parade of young farm visitors is in full swing. This year’s big draw is a broody Buff Orpington hen who has established a nursery in a cast-off refrigerator drawer. Well, that and the garage freezer full of Schwan’s ice-cream treats.
“The usual pattern for farm visits is that the youngsters are chauffeured — this year, over extraordinarily muddy and rutted country roads — by more-or-less-willing parents and/or grandparents. The adults’ role consists (apart from delivery and retrieval) mostly of wrestling their progeny into and out of rubber footwear and in monitoring tykes’ intake of Root Beer Float Ice Cream Bars. Occasionally, however, grown-ups wedge their way into things with a story from their own childhoods.
“Monday’s visitors included the grandchildren of Taxman’s cousin, who traveled from Arizona to enjoy springtime in Minnesota (such as it is) and to photograph (extensively) her descendants in the act of bottle-feeding Doris, the lamb named after her. All went according to plan until Hamish the Hungry (puppy) made off with Grandma Doris’s couture bejeweled flip-flops. By the time we located the fancy footwear, the flip-flops were, of course, a write-off.
“Taxman and I felt awful about this breach of hospitality, so we attempted to make amends with popovers I’d just taken from the oven. As we gathered around the table, Grandma Doris and Taxman got to reminiscing about the blessings of growing up in farm families. Stories of thrift figured prominently in the conversation. One, however, stands out for its marriage of the virtues of patriotism and frugality.
“Grandma Doris’s paternal grandmother, Grandma LaMott, had been a practitioner of both thrift and love of country. After her passing, when her belongings were being removed from the family home, one of her survivors came upon a fine rectangular wood box with metal corners. Inside, dating from the era when our Republic included only 48 states, lay the flag that had flown over the LaMott place on every national holiday.
“With the admission of Alaska to the Union in 1959, Grandma LaMott must have agonized over the prospect of having to retire a perfectly good flag or fly one that misrepresented the state of the Union. Her solution to this dilemma speaks volumes.”
Our times (responsorial)
And: In memoriam (responsorial)
Elvis writes: “Elvis sat and thought quite awhile after reading DebK‘s report on the modern class trip. He can’t remember anyone ever getting on an airplane, or staying in a hotel anywhere at any time as a high-school class or team or anything.
“Elvis remembers long trips on school buses, but if the group couldn’t get there and back in a day, we didn’t go. The mandatory seventh-grade field trip was to Old Fort Niagara, which took all day. Highlight for Elvis was the alleged story of the soldier whose head was cut off and thrown into the well we were standing around looking at. The cannons and cannonballs were impressive, too.
“There were two trips with high-school band and choir — one to Massachusetts and one to Long Island. Both were funded by having to sell lots and lots of ‘band candy’ door-to-door or standing in front of a store at the local shopping center all day on a Saturday. And we stood there in our ‘band jackets’ — which were not provided, but also purchased by kids or parents. Elvis and bandmates were told that if we didn’t sell our quota, we didn’t get to go on the trip, although memory seems to say everyone went. Of course parents and family members bought a lot of candy. And there were no hotels. We stayed in students’ homes. These were exchange trips, and a month or so after Elvis went to their school, these band members came to Elvis‘s school, and some stayed at Elvis‘s house. The cultural part of our trips was a visit one day to Boston and one day to New York City. We showed off Niagara Falls.
“And Elvis has a Doris Day story: In 1979, Elvis was on a road trip out west. One afternoon, he was in Monterey, California. Standing in a checkout line was an attractive blond woman with a scarf over her head and sunglasses on. Elvis just knew deep inside that this was Doris Day. Somehow, in this pre-Internet world, Elvis was able to later verify that, in fact, Doris Day did live in Monterey. Elvis had never seen a real movie star (but had met Peggy Fleming once), so was too shy to say anything to Doris. Anyways, that’s Elvis‘s story, and he’s sticking to it.”
Perchance, to dream
And: In memoriam
Sunday email from Twitty of Como: “Subject: Sunday morning coming down . . .
“Johnny Cash was on to something with those words.
“I woke up this morning with thoughts of a construction project circling in my brain. I don’t know why, or what construction project it might have been. I remember there was a problem about something, and I was deep in conversation with a faceless individual, trying to solve it. Then I awoke, and now the problem will likely go unsolved. Such is life.
“As usually happens these days, thoughts of my son Matt entered my consciousness soon after I woke. As the morning has progressed, I confess I’ve developed feelings of mild trepidation. You see, next weekend, which is Memorial Day (celebrated), various members of our extended family will be meeting over in Siren, Wisconsin, where Matt has/had his camping trailer parked. My daughter and her kids are driving there from SoDak. My daughters-in-law from Matt’s two marriages, and his children from same, will be there. My son Mike and his family will try to make it, even though both he and his wife are working that weekend, and Matt’s mom will try to come. My wife and I round out the group.
“We’re all on good terms — lovingly good, I would add. That’s not the source of my trepidation. This occasion marks the first time I will have returned to Matt’s campsite since he died. The last time I was there, I’d just driven up for the day. It turned out my daughter and her kids and Matt’s mom decided to drive up then, too. We had a lot of fun playing games and ate a great picnic lunch and just sat around talking. On my way home late that afternoon, a deer ran out in front of me. I dodged it, but ended up in the ditch, totaling my truck. I was otherwise unhurt. Less than a month later, I was driving over to River Falls in my new truck to view my son’s lifeless body.
“In the aftermath of Matt’s death, someone sent me a verse meant, I’m sure, to console me. The gist of it was about a conversation a man was having with God about why He’d taken his son, who was so young and had so much to live for. God told the man: ‘I came for you, but your son interceded and asked me to take him instead.’
“I don’t profess to be particularly well informed or well practiced about such things as conversations with God or the various deeply sentimental verses that get chain-sent throughout the ethernet. Most miss the mark, but some strike home. It might sound corny, but the deed described above — well, that strikes me as just the kind of thing Matt would do. Over my objection, I might add, had I known.
“The owners of the campground plan to plant a tree in Matt’s honor this Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure there will be tears. He hadn’t known them long, but clearly left a good impression. He makes us proud all over again, every time we meet people who knew him. Not a bad legacy, eh? But I’d still rather have him back.”
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: And the missing PEACE!
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘Life is a Puzzle, Look HERE
“‘for the missing PIECE!'”
Marie of North Branch: “Subject: Stuff that really bugs us and stuff we actually like to see.
“Twitty of Como should hear my husband rant and rave whenever the commercial comes on about the wood canoe riding up on the concrete. He thinks whoever made that ad is really crazy.
“On the other side of the coin, I love the commercial (I think it’s for Chantix) with the dressed-up turkeys. It’s so cute. Also, very colorful. A joy to watch.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: There has been more than one turkey-centered commercial for Chantix. Perhaps this is the one you mean?
Or: Today’s “helpful” hint
John in Highland writes: “Once again, we have been alerted to one of the seemingly endless studies correlating health and coffee consumption. It seems that researchers at the University of South Australia have concluded that drinking six or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day can increase cardiovascular disease.
“To illustrate this effect, I have put together a ‘hockey stick’ graph, the type that has been used lately to demonstrate rapid increases in everything from population to global warming. We can use it to maintain therapeutic levels of coffee drinking, at least until the next study comes out repudiating this one.”
Life imitates “art” (responsorial)
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: It’s Shoeless Joe . . . no, it’s Ray Liotta . . . no, it’s some guy from Minnesota!
“John in Highland’s recollection of his trip to Dyersville, Iowa, to visit the location of the ‘Field of Dreams,’ reminded me of a trip my wife and I took to the same spot almost 30 years ago (August 12, 1989).
“I’ve chosen this photo, re-enacting a scene from the movie, from a number we took (my wife and I standing at home plate; me displaying my skill on the mound and applying a tag to an invisible runner; as well as an autographed picture of Don Lansing, the owner of the property).
“If only Kevin Costner had been there!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Yeah. Maybe he’d have gotten lost in the corn and never been heard from again!
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede reports: “A beautiful day with temps near 80 provided a perfect time to look at the blossoming trees and some new leaves. What a relief to see these again!
“When whole trees are covered in blossoms, I almost have to stand in awe when I see them. Getting close and looking only increases my sense of awe and relief.
“And the variation in color of the blossoms increases that. Too much of any one color dulls the senses, while the variations stimulate one to look more closely and be intrigued.
“What a wonderful spring day we had! Finally!
“And not all the leaves are green just now.
“And there is quite a variation in leaf shape to take note of.
“I have a hard time imagining myself being so excited by things like this if I lived in a more moderate climate that didn’t have these plant cycles.
“I hope all the BB readers are enjoying this as much as I do!”
Now & Then (responsorial)
The most recent Bulletin Board included this note from The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Good Doctor’s Clock.
“The Good Wife and I moved our family to Minnesota some 40 years ago. Our home was next door to a surgeon who, with his family, had migrated here from Indonesia, escaping political and religious persecution. But he was refined. We, on occasion, would go together to Orchestra Hall, where Beethoven or Mozart could be performed by an instrumental ensemble that engaged the audience completely. Sometimes we ventured out to dinner, sampling many of the tasty Chinese food offerings around the Twin Cities. We were disappointed when he retired from private practice, but he continued to use his hands to manipulate, to cut and join — now pieces of wood instead of human body parts. For years, he was the only microsurgeon in this farming community who could save fingers and hands of farmers caught in agricultural machinery.
“Now his strong yet careful fingers crafted clocks and furniture. He made a number of Grandfather clocks, three of them especially ornate and larger than life. After he died, his lovely wife gave one to us. It was heavy. The Good Doctor used primarily Black Walnut woods to create his massive structures. He did this without reference to any plans. Basically he purchased the movement, in this case a Black Forest German-made one, with polished brass cylinders for chimes. Then he sized the case using only ideas which emerged from within his mind.
“One reason the clock came to us is that the four corners of the huge base were adorned with heads of women. One was the Good Wife, one our daughter, one the Good Wife’s mother, and reluctantly he agreed that the fourth would be his own wife. These were the four women in his life. He created many, many flowers, their petals enclosing pearls and other gems from his wife’s jewelry box. He was Christian, so there were crosses and other symbols carved here and there.
“Space does not permit me to describe all of the exotic details. There were four sides of the clock, with a different clock on each side. We are proud to have this one placed in our entryway, where everyone who visits us can see it. The others are in the City and Town Halls of the communities he served. I swear that as it ticks, it does so with great precision, but also with the love that the Good Doctor put into creating this masterpiece.”
We presently heard from Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “Subject: The Good Doctor’s Clock.
“Please ask The Astronomer to submit pictures of his clock — it sounds amazing!”
BULLETIN BOARD REPORTS: We didn’t need to ask. We received this unbidden follow-up from The Astronomer of Nininger (whose camera clock apparently needs a bit of adjustment): “These are some images of the Good Doctor’s clock:
“This shows the full clock case. It took the Good Doctor two years to craft this masterpiece.
“Here are the heads at each corner of the base. These represented the women in the Good Doctor’s life.
“Here is an image of the upper part of the clock. Each side has a different clock movement, and religious carvings adorn the top of the clock.
“And his picture shows the intricate hand-carved flowers, with jewels at the hearts of them.”
Now & Then
Or: Vive la difference!
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A tale of two movies.
“Lately I’ve seen two movies, each with a scene showing only women.
“One movie comes from the comics, and many of the main characters are male. At one point, the screen is full of powerful women ready to save the world. Ta-da! Then the movie goes back to adoring men.
“The second movie is ‘The Post,’ and shows how The Washington Post printed articles on the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Much of it centers on Katharine Graham, the owner/publisher of the paper, who took a life-shaking chance by publishing government-generated information. The movie shows her almost totally surrounded by men, in a leadership role she had never wanted or planned on. Ultimately she went for it, over vehement objections.
“But what struck me is a scene showing Katharine walking alone down courthouse steps after attending a hearing. She is sent down one side of the stairs, through a crowd of women who never touch or talk to her. What struck me is the hope and hunger in their eyes toward Katharine, whose choices probably opened up more possibilities in many women’s lives.
“You probably know which movie I prefer. But I gotta note How Times Have Changed since 1971: Can you believe rich and powerful Katharine had no entourage?”
Leading to: Could be verse!
Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: Dozy doats.
“Unflinching, she stared at me through my office window for 10 minutes this afternoon, which caused me to wonder:
“If the peeping tom’s a doe, should I quickly call the cops?
“— Or offer the girl an icy beer and get her drunk on hops!”
The simple pleasures (Incarceration Division)
Leading to: Our birds, ourselves (Ask Al B Division)
Barbara of Afton writes: “I spend one evening a month with a Christian group working with prisoners. Last night in small-group discussions, we were asked what we were grateful for. Several of the inmates mentioned the mama duck and her brood of 19 ducklings. Others mentioned seeing deer just outside the fences.
“I was delighted to hear their appreciation of that bit of nature while incarcerated, but also (and this is for Al B [Bulletin Board notes: Al B of Hartland, our Official Ornithologist]) wondered how common a brood of that size is.”
This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other
All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “My wife and I are fortunate to have been invited to a number of graduation parties for young people who are continuing to edit their lives. I want to make a toast to every graduate — either peanut butter and honey or cinnamon and sugar — but that’s impossible. Soon these grads will be off doing great things like giving dramatic readings of an owner’s manual for a 2015 Subaru or finding a cure for the cellphone itch. They will change the world.
“Do I have any advice for a new graduate? Who doesn’t? Read ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott. If you don’t know how to whistle, learn how. Learn to change a tire. Ask an older relative what one day they would choose to live over again. Then listen to the answer.”
(2) “I watched a number of grackles in our yard. Common grackles sometimes nest in loose colonies, showing limited territoriality except in the immediate area of a nest. Ogden Nash wrote this about the grackle: ‘The grackle’s voice is less than mellow, / His heart is black, his eye is yellow, / He bullies more attractive birds, / With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words, / And should a human interfere, / Attacks that human in the rear. / I cannot help but deem the grackle, / An ornithological debacle.'”
(3) “I came out of a Barnes & Noble store. I go into bookstores because I’m unable not to. I bought a book written by a late friend, Bill Thompson III. When I came out, I saw a mallard nesting in a concrete planter outside the busy bookshop and just in front of a parking stall. Birders are noticers. There was sparse vegetation in the planter, but the hen did an effective job of hiding. It wasn’t perfect camouflage, or I wouldn’t have seen her, but it was good. The disturbing thing was that there were many cigarette butts in the planter. I don’t think the duck had been smoking them.”
Life in the Service Economy
The Happy Medium: “Subject: The Winner of the Worst Minnesota Driver’s License Photo Award.
“Recently, I received the notice that it was time to renew my Minnesota driver’s license. That’s an every-four-years ordeal we Minnesotans don’t look forward to. Here’s what happened.
“First, I entered a tightly knit room of people with high hopes of quickly securing a driver’s license.
“Second, being technologically illiterate, I slowly negotiated the computer sign-up process at the entrance wall. Push this button. Push that button. You get the idea. Success! The machine finally spit out the number D24, and I was set to go.
“Third, I filled out a form, in quadruplicate, or close to it: full name, address, sex, nationality, color of eyes, weight (the real weight, of course), Social Security number, (what was that number again? AAAArgh) etc., etc., etc. Then to find a place to sit. There was none available until someone’s lucky number was called.
“While waiting for my number to appear, I visited with those around me. Then, as a friend always said, ‘all on a sudden’ my number was called. I jumped up, walked to the counter, paid the clerk and stepped over to the camera area.
“There is no doubt in my mind that members of the DMV use our driver’s license photos for the day’s contest to see who could produce the worst picture of a Minnesota driver. Seeing the results of MY photo shot, I know mine would be placed on the back-room wall as THE WINNER OF THE WORST MINNESOTA DRIVER’S LICENSE PHOTO AWARD — not just for the day, but for the entire year.
“Wishing all readers the best pose possible. I know you’ll not worst mine.”
LeoJEOSP reports: “I lost a lot of hair on the top of my head since last summer. Today I found out how painful sunburn on the top of your melon is. My wife had the sunroof open for a four-hour ride to see her brothers in Iowa. In small-town Iowa, the only open store was Dollar General, so I now am the owner of a Dollar General Hat. I forgot to ask for a warranty.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Donald: “Subject: A win? A loss? It depends on the page.
“Betsy Helfand’s story on Sunday’s Twins/Mariners game began on Page 1B of the Sports section in Monday’s Pioneer Press. The directive to the end of the piece was given as:
‘TWINS LOSE 3B’
Turning to the designated location, I came across this:
“‘CONTINUED FROM 1B’
“‘> Twins win’
Could it have been a tie?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No. It could have been a doubleheader — but it wasn’t. It was, in fact, a loss that day for the Twins — a blessedly rare occasion here in 2019!
Band Name of the Day: The Sunburned Melons
Website of the Day, recommended by Double Bogey Mike (and seconded by us):