The Permanent Family Record
Including: Know thyselves!
DebK of Rosemount: “There being no farm visits on the calendar last week, my college friend KK and I did some visiting ourselves — making a road trip to the Willa Cather sites in Red Cloud, Nebraska, which turns out to be a lot closer to Kansas than either of us realized.
“Somewhere along our chosen route — which led us, incidentally, through Sioux City, Iowa, where KK introduced me to the glory that is the Woodbury County Courthouse — we got to talking about the news that a mutual acquaintance was recently able to acquire calling cards used by Mary Todd Lincoln. Perhaps because calling cards don’t figure prominently in our lives, the topic petered out quickly, only to be revived the very next day by a docent’s mention of calling cards, which were traditionally left by visitors to the Harling/Miner house, where lived the childhood friends to whom Cather dedicated ‘My Ántonia.’
“This coincidence necessitated a full report to Cousin Linda, who further developed the theme of visiting practices of yore. In particular, she noted the habits of Uncle Dan Dunn and his wife, who would ‘blow in’ from time to time, driving from Minneapolis to rural Clay County, Iowa, and catching Linda’s mother entirely by surprise. As far as Linda recalls, neither calling cards nor excuses were presented on these occasions.
“Cousin Linda’s branch of the family is generally more refined than the branch from which I sprouted. While I wasn’t surprised that our more respectable kin knew nothing of calling cards, I was astonished that they — some of them, anyway — were given to drop-in visiting. That kind of thing was commonly practiced by my rough-around-the-edges people, who wouldn’t dream of wasting money on a long-distance phone call to alert Aunt Florene or Aunt Neva or Grandma Bobzien that we were about to descend on them.
“We were an uncouth bunch by most measures, I suppose. But we did observe farm-country etiquette with respect to visiting. We never landed on anyone’s doorstep without bearing a made-from-scratch cake. Mom’s version of a calling card was her peanut cake topped with ‘brown sugar fudge’ frosting. It would’ve been warm from the oven, too, unless our visits took us far from home, which they hardly ever did, for we had cows to milk.
“It’s just as well that our visits were abbreviated by the needs of our livestock. Once Mom’s cake was eaten (accompanied by a hastily brewed pot of egg coffee) and Dad had entertained our hosts with a fresh assortment of filthy stories, we’d worn out our welcome.”
Or: Keeping your eyes open (responsorial)
Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: (Rock) Garden Center of the Universe.
“When I saw the recent submission by Dennis from Eagan, ‘Cresco’s Rock-Star,’ I did a double-take because Cresco, Iowa, doesn’t appear in the news very often. It’s where my mom and dad drove to from Minneapolis to get married the day they secretly eloped.
“‘Why Cresco?’ I asked my mom once, thinking maybe there was a family tie or some other reason they chose that lovely but out-of-the-way location. ‘No,’ she replied, ‘it was just a pretty day for a drive.’
“To get there from Minneapolis is 146 miles of ‘pretty,’ which was a considerable drive back in 1935.”
Here at Home Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Subject: The trains of our lives.
“The Twin City Model Railroad Club was established in 1934, and its first museum followed shortly afterward. My first experience with the Twin City Model Railroad Museum was when my parents took my brother and me to the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The Union Depot was a wondrous place all by itself, but it also had the William Crooks steam locomotive in the lobby and the Twin City Model Railroad Museum in a room off to the side.
“The Union Depot eventually closed, and the William Crooks was moved to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth. The Twin City Model Railroad Museum lacked a permanent home until it eventually moved into Bandana Square in 1984, where I visited it with my nephews. It had some very impressive displays.
“Bandana Square slowly changed from an entertainment and retail center into an office complex, which meant the Twin City Model Railroad Museum had to find yet another new home. It ended up on Transfer Road in the Midway District in 2016. Thanks to a new generation of youngsters in the family, I recently had an excuse to check it out.
“To be clear, the Railroad Museum is totally adult-friendly. Children will definitely enjoy it, but adults will find it fascinating and need not feel they must bring kids along with them. Actually, they will probably just get in the way. Please note: I’m just kidding about that last part. But adults should feel no shame going to the museum and spending large amounts of time studying the model trains of all gauges, the complex track layouts, the incredibly detailed buildings and scenery, and the history displays. Rather than try to describe all of this, here are some photos. They really don’t do the museum justice. Go see it for yourself.”
What’s in a (team) name? (responsorial)
The Farm Boy of St. Paul: “Subject: What’s in a (team) name — the rest of the story.
“The Original Robyn from Maplewood‘s mention of minor-league baseball in Albuquerque piqued my interest. I wondered whether the team’s name — Isotopes — was really a nod toward New Mexico’s role in the birth of the Atomic Age. Or was it a case of reality mimicking fiction — an homage to pop culture?
“Once again, truth is stranger than fiction. The Albuquerque (New Mexico) Isotopes are actually named after the fictional Springfield (state unknown, but home to a nuclear-power plant) Isotopes, from the TV series ‘The Simpsons.’
“A 2001 episode of the show featured a plan to relocate the fictional Springfield Isotopes to Albuquerque, which had recently lost its longtime team, the Dukes, to Portland.
“Shortly after that, the very real Calgary Cannons team relocated to Albuquerque to fill the void. A name-the-team contest was held, and ‘Isotopes’ won with two-thirds of the vote!
“You can’t make this stuff up, folks! [Bulletin Board says: Well, you can make it up . . . but the cool thing is: You don’t need to!]
“Read more about it at http://mentalfloss.com/article/55464/how-albuquerque-isotopes-got-their-name.”
What’s in a name? (Self-responsorial) (responsorial)
Stinky Bananalips of Empire: “I want to thank Lola for pointing out that there are Moon Landing Oreos in the world.
“My favorite niece is getting married on July 20th. (She was actually the flower girl in my wedding way back when.)
“I don’t know if it’s a date picked because of the moon landing’s anniversary, but I do know what I’m shopping for to include in their gift now.
Semi-Legend: “Subject: Caledonia.
“Lois of Maplewood, now Lola, reported about her daughter Kelly: ‘. . . one of her friends calls her Kelleydonia. . . . I believe the Kelleydonia reference was to the town of Caledonia.’
“Mebbe, but I thought of the Louis Jordan song ‘Caldonia.'”
The Permanent Unclely Record
Rusty of St. Paul: “Subject: Funny for this week.
“I live much of the year in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Ferry boats head back and forth from Bayfield to Madeline Island, a couple miles off shore.
“My wife’s brother and his family own the house next to ours. Our 9-year-old nephew and his mom were on their deck around 4 p.m. I was next door on our deck.
“Just then, the ferry boat captain blew his horn to get a smaller boat to pay attention. It is really loud. As I always do, if one or both nephews are outside when this happens, I say: ‘Excuse me!’
“They always find this funny, as it’s a [posterior breeze] joke from their corny uncle, but they are also a bit unsure if it is OK to laugh.
“So of course I said it, and those two were stifling their laughs.
“Perfectly, the ferry captain blew his horn a second time almost right after I said ‘Excuse me.’ I said: ‘Really, I mean it. I had tofu for lunch!’
“They couldn’t hold it in any longer and just cracked up.
“And I really DID have tofu for lunch.”
Or: Older Than Dirt?
A second report from Rusty of St. Paul: “Those of us of a Certain Age recall that when we were of an Uncertain Age, our weekend evenings out started at 10 p.m. and ended at a time TBD.
“Now that we are of a Certain Age, 10 p.m. means reading in bed and then turning in.
“Tonight my wife and I were at an outdoor bar venue in Bayfield listening to live Reggae music. It was 9:30. My wife texted her sister, who is of a Certain Age, that she should come down for a listen. She texted back that she could not possibly come, as she had just taken her bra off for the evening.”
Everyone’s a copy editor
Donald: “Subject: Dueling newspapers.
“Both Twin Cities papers carried a similar story, with one glaring difference, in their Tuesday editions. The focus was on the planned strike at Amazon’s facility in Shakopee on ‘Prime Day’ (July 15).
“Pioneer Press (front page): ‘Workers at the Shakopee fulfillment center plan a six-hour work stoppage July 15, the first day of Prime Day.’
“Paper west of St. Paul (front page of the ‘BUSINESS’ section): ‘Employees at Amazon’s center in Shakopee will join a 4-hour strike during peak sales event.’
“Maybe the work stoppage/strike will last five hours.”
Or: Everyone’s a copy editor
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: A plethora of punctuation.
“This was the headline of an article on the front page of the ‘VARIETY’ section in Monday’s edition of the STrib: ‘One man’s trash is another’s man’s sofa.’ [Bulletin Board muses: Has Clem Haskins gone to work at the STrib?]
“To give credit where it’s due, it was corrected on the continuation of the article on Page E7: ‘One man’s trash is another man’s sofa.’
“If at first . . .”
Great minds . . .
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Where have I seen that before?
“The front pages of the Sports sections in the Sunday editions of the Twin Cities dailies featured articles about the third round of the 3M Open. The headlines for the stories were remarkably similar:
“Pioneer Press: ‘YOUTH IS SERVED.’
“Minneapolis paper: ’Now serving youth.’”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Having recently been watching DVDs of the original “Twilight Zone” series (outstanding! highly recommended!), we are naturally reminded of the classic episode “To Serve Man.”
Could be verse!
Or: Our times
Tim Torkildson: “Like a horror movie where the monster reappears
“no matter what the peasants do — when you are in arrears,
“the bill collector stalks you ev’ry waking moment, pal,
“whether hiding inside or out in the chaparral.
“Remorselessly they squeeze you, draining you of ev’ry drop,
“and outside of a quick demise, you cannot make them stop.
“So pay your bills on time, and throw your credit cards away,
“or demons will be haunting you both dreary night and day.”
Our birds, ourselves
Two reports by our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland: (1) “I couldn’t sleep long enough to allow the fog to lift. I’d like to have missed the mist.
“I did a Breeding Bird Survey. The car filled with mosquitoes, but I didn’t count them. I counted birds.
“Toads trilled, cows mooed, green frogs plunked and chorus frogs sounded like a thumbnail being run down the teeth of a comb.
“I stopped at the same spots in Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties that I’ve been stopping at for years and counted all the birds I was able to see or hear in three minutes. I listened to sedge wrens both sedging and wrenning. Many birds carrying hyphens still found the strength to sing. There were many crowing roosters — both pheasants and domestic chickens. I saw a few sandhill cranes and more red-headed woodpeckers than that. I saw the perfect murder — of crows. I counted 53 species compared to 56 last year. I spotted more red-winged blackbirds than any other bird, followed by common grackles and European starlings. Red-wings were seen at the most stops, followed by American robins and grackles. Red-winged males began singing in March and are still singing in July.
“A pickup pulled up to my motionless vehicle at 5:45 a.m. and asked if everything was OK. It was darn near perfect.”
(2) “I watched a catbird eat raspberries. Inspired, I picked black caps and found them delicious. The catbird scolded me.
“A tree swallow’s eyes peeked out at me from her nest box. There was little doubt that I was happier to see her than she was to see me. She’s a good neighbor who hasn’t swallowed a single tree in my yard.
“A house wren chattered severely at me. The intensity increased as I neared its nest. The tiny bird sounded like a Geiger counter.”
Pranks for the memories
Jimbo of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: Snakes.
“I was reading the story about snakes from Al B of Hartland, and it reminded me of when I was in the Army and we were sent to Louisiana (Operation Sagebrush). We were living in the field, and there were a lot of snakes there. One of the guys, in a different company, told me they had a guy who was very scared of snakes, so they found a green stick and peeled the bark off of it, so that it was then very slippery, and they stuck it in the guy’s sleeping bag, He said when he made contact with it, he came out of his sleeping bag, and they never believed anybody could run that fast.”
The highfalutin displeasures
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Smart can be Really Dumb.
“In recent years, I have had trouble with my electric lights. My LED light bulbs are supposed to last forever, but they seem to blink a lot and burn out far too soon. I complained to my apartment manager, and a caretaker checked out the wiring. He figured that my surge arrestor strips were faulty.
“This week, I read about smart light bulbs. To turn off their smartness, you need to spend at least two minutes turning them on and off while counting the seconds between off and on. It sounds horribly complicated. And, sure enough, my bedroom light bulb blinking on and off on its own is ‘smart.’ It was signaling to its Father Ship.
“So I went to a big-box store and bought the stupidest light bulbs I could find. The kind I can control with a light switch. And I replaced my smart bulbs with dim ones.
“Now, to figure out what to do with my alien light bulbs looking for Daddy . . .”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: End of days???
“The Runabout just informed me that we are out of ‘Forever’ stamps. How is that even possible?”
Mounds View Swede reports: “When I visited the nearby compost site in Mounds View, I brought my camera to check out the flowers planted by the manager, and nearby wildflower areas.
“I am glad I did. The first poppies were starting to bloom. The petals reminded me of crepe paper.
“I like the white one next to the buds, which look kind of fearsome with all the spikes sticking out.
“And these yellow blossoms caught my eye. They are quite small, but very interesting-looking.
“And the purple nightshade was blooming. I always forget what these are, but the manager reminds me when I ask. A bee looks quite interested in these, too.
“Back home from the compost site, I walked around my own yard and captured these blossoms.
“I have a planter on either side of the garage that I plant annuals in and finally got around to it the second half of June. Unfortunately I did not save the plant tags identifying the plants. This yellow blossom is a taller plant in the middle, surrounded by petunias.
“I hadn’t noticed the fuzzy blossom stem before on this petunia.
“The astilbe is blooming now with white . . .
“. . . and reddish blossoms. Ants and small black bugs seem to be attracted to these blooms.
“And the Stella D’Oro are putting on a nice show now. They really brighten up the area.
“And a few of the early-blooming hostas are providing bee feed.
“There are more things happening to show, next entry.”
Deb Peterson of Eagan: “My husband, Tom, was weeding the garden and came upon this little fawn — sound asleep in the sun.
“A bit later, we saw her just hanging around the back yard.
“Probably looking for the next hosta to munch!”
Keeping your eyes open
Cheesehead By Proxy (“back in Northern Minnesota”): “I just loved this photo my friend sent me of her son on the farm in Sebeka.
“She wrote: ‘The chicks just flock to Eric whenever he crosses the farmyard.'”
Life as we know it
Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: Pride goeth before what?
“I’ve been participating in the Strong Bodies exercise program (offered through our local Aging and Disability Resource Center) for the last year, and just signed up for another 10-week session. These twice-a-week classes incorporate strength training, balance, core exercises and more, and I’ve noticed that I feel better, stand straighter, and actually have muscles. And this leads me to my latest Ha ha — you did something stupid again . . . you should send it to BBonward.
“I was heading back from my walk down the road the other evening and became aware that I was walking really nicely. My posture was good — standing tall, head up, shoulders back — and I was pretty darn proud of all that. I would have patted myself on the back, but I was afraid I’d screw up the step counter strapped to my wrist and cheat myself out of a couple of steps.
“As I walked forward, head still high and looking straight ahead, I heard a rustle beside me. I quickly looked down and saw a rabbit, hightailing it away from me to the safety of the ditch. I’d almost stepped on the poor thing.
“My new saying: Pride goeth before almost stepping on a bunny.”
Life as we know it (responsorial)
Or: Our wild things, ourselves
The Astronomer of Nininger: “As I read the exasperating tale of an encounter with a black bear, by Norton’s mom, I settled back, recalling my mother’s encounters with black bears.
“After my father passed, she continued to live in rural northwest Wisconsin, a rugged area of the Blue Hills. Mother always liked animals and wanted to do something ‘good’ for them. This often involved feeding them some treat, whether they needed it as part of their diet or not. In addition to spoiling their usual natural feeding routines, she befriended them and had unique humanized names that reflected both her impressions of the bears and her fondness for them. One I remember well was Harvey.
“There must be a mutual fondness and trust built up between animal lovers and God’s creatures, all of them. I remember that on mother’s front porch, I actually had chickadees eating nuts from my outstretched palm. Harvey was no exception.
“Harvey ventured onto the porch, climbing up the steps, just a stone’s throw from the road that cut through the wooded area. Pioneer farmers clear-cut fields and attempted to cultivate some of that land. Walking across these fields, now overgrown with waist-high grasses and what we would call weeds, gives one some insight into what it must have been like a hundred years ago when these people who settled the region first broke into the ground and turned it over. Farmers today have said there was no way to make money on these fields, so many just sit abandoned. Because this was so remote, bears and other wildlife thrived. Harvey, after going up the three steps to the porch, often could be found reclining on the couch that sat against the outside wall of the living room. It would have been easy for him to break a window, but he never did.
“Harvey stood a full 6 feet and was much heavier than a man of that stature. When I was there, he was a bit more leery, but came to eat the food that my mother placed for him. If he did not show up, Mother seemed to worry about him as if he were her own child. He usually stayed about a half-hour, sometimes playing on the front lawn.
“In spite of warnings from the Wisconsin DNR, my mother continued her relationship with Harvey until her last day on this Earth. I don’t know what became of him, as he was never seen again. But I do know that just as she had a special place in her heart for him, he had one for her, too.”
Band Name of the Day: Bras Off — or: The Dim Bulbs
Website of the Day: “To Serve Man.”