Home life in a pandemic: Is there too little going on for your taste, or is your place “near-exploding with activity”?

Our times
Pandemic Division

Mom in Boyland: “Like many other parents during this time, I am now home-schooling my youngest children — one in eighth grade and the other in kindergarten. Last week’s lessons involved recording my son’s freshly memorized JFK ‘Moon Speech’ to send in to his teacher. It also included a one-hour Zoom meeting with a bunch of 6-year-olds for storytime.

“While I’m a notorious list checker, I’m having a difficult time completing the non-essential kindergarten assignments. Printing practice and learning to tell time? Absolutely. Scavenger hunts around the yard and painting with Q-tips? Not so much. I have a suspicion that the original home-schooling families can’t help but smile at our rookie attempts and complaints.

“It seems people’s homes are divided into two camps. There are those which house the isolated or tremendously bored, which I imagine would be very difficult, and those near-exploding with activity from the families isolated in their togetherness. We’re in the latter group. We’ve had to re-order the rooms to give everyone their work spaces and now schedule each other’s laundry days. The house is getting smaller by the day. People even seem to hum more loudly.

“My eldest daughter, the Dancer, is home and continually moves around furniture to practice her routines. One of my college boys, the Engineer, is back home and glued to his computer with near-round-the-clock homework. Colleges seem to have tripled the assignments. I try to keep the younger ones quiet during his test times and occasionally text him when supper is ready.

“There are bright sides to this strange new world, including schedules cleared of sports (although my husband and boys strongly disagree), big meals shared nightly, and endless walks and bike rides. The dog has never been happier. Still, I occasionally daydream of moving in with my other daughter, sharing her quiet apartment with her and her cat. Or maybe just the cat.”

San Francisco Daughter: “Subject: Pandemic Ponderings.

“I catch myself looking at my shoes wondering what it feels like to wear them.

“I had to open my emergency-supply-kit-non-dairy creamer because I ran out of my normal half-n-half. The brand name of this product is ‘Flavor Charm.’ I find it contains neither.

“Most of my laundry is yoga pants and towels. It feels like I work at a spa.

“Instead of going shopping down the street, I go to my recording booth that serves as my back-up pantry.

“I appreciate that I never have to worry about finding a parking spot.

“This virus feels like Mother Nature has put us all in prison for treating her so poorly. I’d like to get out for good behavior.”

See world
Pandemic Division

Al B of Hartland: “I listened to The Troggs sing: ‘Wild thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything groovy, wild thing. Wild thing, I think I love you. But I wanna know for sure.’

“Inspired by that song, I moved to the light. I need windows now more than ever before.
There are wild things just outside a window that need seeing.

“The window was a siren’s song that drew me outdoors. I recognized my privilege and walked toward mysteries and discoveries. A golden-crowned kinglet moved through the trees like a leaf with feathers. I was lifted up on tiny wings.”

Our birds, ourselves

Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Happy to see the pileated woodpecker and the yellow-rumped warbler stop here today.



“And common flickers at my feeder.”



The simple pleasures

Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “For us retired people, having to stay at home is fairly easy. We’ve been doing it for years.

“While looking out the window for new people to walk past our house, I had a simple pleasure: a yellow finch visiting our bird feeder. Spring must be around the corner even though there is still a small amount of snow on our north deck.

“To all the Bulletin Board readers: Stay strong.”

Our birds, ourselves
Or: The vision thing (Pandemic Division)


SSP Polock: “Our feathered friends practicing social distancing.”

Our times (Pandemic Division)

Friendly Bob of Fridley: “I was on one of my very infrequent ‘essential’ outings recently (hey, I was OUT of Dove Mini ice cream treats!), and I noticed that many Twin Cities drivers are faithfully observing the ‘six-foot social distancing’ thing. Of course, they were in their vehicles doing 65 (or higher) on the freeway.”

Our times (Pandemic Division)
Or: The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”


Cee Cee of Mahtomedi (and Venice, Florida): “This kind of defines our lives right now, doesn’t it!”

Pandemic Division

Bill of Lake St. Croix Beach: “After a recent local bank robbery, several eyewitnesses were asked by the police to describe the robber. Basically all of them agreed: ‘Probably a man . . . wearing a white mask.’

“Good luck finding him!”

Our times (Pandemic Division)
Or: What is right with people?

Vertically Challenged: “There are a lot of these stories out there these days, and people coming together through this rough time. I thought I would send this pic and short videos that came from one of our New York daughters. Son-in-law and others put this parade together for their town hospital. They had such an overwhelming and heartfelt response from all.


“They’ve really had it rough out there. A huge thank you to all the wonderful doctors, nurses, and all others across the country working so hard to contain this pandemic!”

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: As do we all.

“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:




The Permanent Sisterly Record
Or: Epistolary History

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: These girls each had a mother named Bess.

“My sister Ruth made friends easily and kept them for life. She wrote letters to them on her trusty 1930s portable typewriter — keeping a carbon of each letter sent, along with their reply.

“My niece is spending these ‘Stay at Home’ days sorting through volumes of these letters, keeping the historical ones and tossing the ones from people she doesn’t know.

“She sent me a copy of this one her mother wrote to Margaret Truman. It was a timely find, since this is the 75th Anniversary of the Potsdam Conference.”


BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Only a ______________ would notice, and today we are that ______________. Margaret Truman’s married name was Daniel, not Daniels. Ruth certainly wasn’t the only one to make that mistake.

And now we wonder: Did Mrs. Daniel reply?

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Email from Donald: “Subject: Getting your days in a row?

“The headline for an article on Page 3A in Wednesday’s (4-15) Pioneer Press: ‘U sophomore advances to “Jeopardy!” finals.’

“Subhead: ‘College title will be decided Thursday-Wednesday.’

“The second paragraph of the piece has this: ‘The final round is a two-day event that will air locally Thursday and Friday . . . .”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: With this pandemic isolating everyone, and with most of the advertising having disappeared, and with a semi-furloughed staff, it’s no wonder they’re making mistakes — more mistakes than usual, no doubt.

It’s time to be grateful that we have two daily newspapers doing their imperfect best.

Carry on, STribbers. Scoop ’em every day, PiPressers!

Our theater of seasons

Otis from Inver Grove reports: “Welcome to.the middle of April in Minnesota. This is after six inches of snow on Easter.


“At least the days start getting shorter in two months. We have that to look forward to!”

Mounds View Swede: “Merry Easter! (It is Minnesota, after all!) I was tired of snow, but I do appreciate how it brightens things up and decorates the trees.


“Some of the flakes were pretty large.


“And I could only capture them against a dark background.


“I checked my crocus blossoms, but there were buried in snow. The maple tree buds had quite a different look, though.


“This looks like a snow creature moving along a branch with long toes and dark nails. It is always fun for me to see what nature comes up with next.”

Their theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede: “We are probably a month or more away from seeing such blooming here, especially with the latest cold reminder of how April can be. Seeing these is a reminder of what awaits, courtesy of my son in Oregon.”






See world

A Lady Who Loves Little People: “We have a majestic maple tree in our front yard that has shaded our home in the summer and thrilled our eyes in the fall since we bought our house 45 years ago. For the past several years, a branch or two started to lose its leaves before the other leaves began turning color; last fall it happened again. We have had a tree service out to cut the dead limbs off the tree, and the last time our tree trimmer was out, he joked (or perhaps he was serious) that this is the tree that keeps him in business.

“This past August, our magnificent maple gave us quite a surprise: Looking out a window, I saw a leaf dancing in midair! When I went outside to investigate how it could stay in the air in the same spot while it clearly showed off its dance moves, I realized that it had to be attached somehow to one of the maple’s branches. Inspecting it closer, I could see a thin, translucent thread attached to the leaf. Had a spider spun a single thread several feet long just to amuse us humans? Was it a spider fire escape? Did the leaf attach itself to the branch just to experience the freedom of movement? After they watch the video, I hope Bulletin Boarders will offer some other suggestions.”


Website of the Day (responsorial) (responsorial)

Daydahdoogabow of Balsam Lake, Wisconsin: “Subject: Thanks for the Memories.

The Retired Pedagogue’s story about John Fogerty’s song ‘Centerfield’ spurred fond memories for me — also dating back to the ’80s, when I had a loosely organized group of friends and co-workers who liked to play softball in loosely scheduled non-league games with other departments or company teams.

“After a couple of years doing this, we decided we would enter a tournament associated with the Minneapolis Aquatennial. We had a great time, although we did not fare so well in the finals — but it was enough that we decided to do it again.

“On a scale of ability to play, I was probably at the low end of the skill scale — so I assumed the position of manager/coach. [Bulletin Board muses: Those who can, do; those who can’t, coach!]

“After a couple of years, that tournament was not organized again (for whatever reasons), so we opted to play in a similar one in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. By this time, our team had managed to improve their skill to the point of being very competitive. We had a faithful following of family and friends who traveled to watch and cheer us on. One of my daughters, who was a dedicated fan, would bring her boom box, and before the game and between innings, she would play ‘Centerfield’ and ‘The Heat is On,’ as our team name was The Heat. Our team consisted of players from different counties or departments, but always came to play for more than a dozen years until we were unable to be competitive.

“As Manager/Coach, I got to place the lineup and schedule together and was lucky to have a selection of batters who could be relied on to get a hit and get on base so that my clean-up batter, who almost always hit a home run, would get us on the scoreboard. (His reputation would always get him a pass to first base if no one was on base ahead of him.) He played into his 60s with another team and eventually went with them to Las Vegas, where they won the over-60 national title.

“Some years later, I was assigned to escort a young man from Seattle to Wisconsin, but had to pass through Denver and change planes there. After we reboarded a different plane and were seated in the rear seats due to our flight status, another trio (a male and two females) were seated across the aisle from me. After I noticed the male staring at me and being obvious about it, he finally asked: ‘Do I know you from somewhere?’

“I replied: ‘I don’t know. Where you from?’

“He said: ‘Minneapolis.’

“I told him where I was from in Wisconsin, but it didn’t ring any bells then.

“Finally he asked: ‘Did you play softball in Eau Claire?’

“I replied that yes, I had.

“He then said, in a loud voice: ‘Now I know you. You’re those s—s of b—–s that used to play that loud music when you played ball.’

“For the record, we did play them and lost the championship to them in a very close game.

“Our team players often run into each other, and we always agree those were some great times.”

The little treasures

Lee Momsen writes: “Here’s a photo of my father, Dick Momsen, and his sister, Ruth Momsen Quast, on the corner of Goodrich & Syndicate, circa 1931.”


Franklin, my dear  . . .

Gma Tom writes: “Subject: There’s that town again.

“I recall many years ago (I don’t remember how many), I sent in a submission about the city of Franklin, Tennessee, always popping up at the most unexpected times or places.

“Well, it’s at it again. In today’s (4/19/20) SPPP, the article is about women taking on the most essential jobs in our society today. Of course, that is nothing new, but I digress. Accompanying the article, which never mentions Franklin, Tennessee, is a photo of nurses administering drive-thru COVID-19 tests. Where? In Franklin, Tennessee.”

The Permanent Family Record

Dr. Chrysanthemum writes: “Subject: Searching for Our Relatives.

“Because most of us are spending more time at home now, we may be looking for things to do that are satisfying and productive.

“One possibility is genealogical research. Quite a bit can be done online. And if you work on a site such as Geni.com, you can collaborate with many other people, who can build upon your tree and make many connections. (A basic Geni membership is free.)

“When I started doing research on my family tree about a dozen years ago, I traced my father’s family back to my 4th-great-grandparents and several other branches back to 3rd- and 4th-ggps. Then, I found that my great-grandmother’s family had a published family tree dating back to my 13th-great-grandfather. (I later found out he was also an 11th- and 12th-ggf, but that’s a different story.) As I was about to make additions to the tree that my wife (Mamallama of Como Park) began in Ancestry.com, she discovered Geni.

“My 4th-ggps and many other ancestors were already listed on that site, added by relatives in Poland, Germany, and the U.S. I was able to fill in a few additional names and other information. (I have added about 500, merged some duplicate entries, and edited others.)

“Since then, my tree has grown substantially, mostly because of additions, mergers, and connections that others have made.

“About three years ago, the number of my ancestors passed 300, and the number of my recorded blood relatives reached 100,000. Late last year, someone made a connection that added more than 3,000 ancestors. A few days later, someone else connected another ancestor to an additional 2,300 ancestors. (After duplicate entries were merged, that action really added only about 300 new forebears.) As of today, I am closing in on 5,000 ancestors and have no idea how many of my blood relatives are recorded. (Geni’s list stops at my 100,000 closest relatives.)

“Looking through Geni to see my connections to historical and living people is interesting. It gives new perspectives on history and on my connections to the world around me.

“My wife and I, for instance, discovered that we have mutual cousins; the closest are my 2nd cousins once removed, who are my wife’s 3rd cousins. (We knew of no familial connections until recently, although we both knew that we had Kashubian, Polish, and German ancestry.)

“I learned of various connections to people with whom I went to school, worked, or otherwise knew. Many of the old families of the Winona, Little Falls, and St. Cloud areas are my relatives by blood or marriage. Other relatives are scattered around Minnesota and through Wisconsin. My wife has previously unsuspected connections through marriage to French-Canadian Voyageurs, Minnesota pioneers, and Native Americans.

“Limiting my list to people with a Minnesota connection (some a little tenuous), I have many interesting relatives. My cousins include Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Mark Dayton, Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harmon Killebrew, Clark Calvin Griffith (a.k.a. The Old Fox), Frances Gumm (a.k.a. Judy Garland), Jessica Biel, Hugh Beaumont, Josh Hartnett, Henry Hastings Sibley, Charles and Caroline Ingalls, Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder, Peter Graves (Aurness) and James Arness (Aurness), Jesse and Zerelda James, Tomasso d’Aquino (a.k.a. Saint Thomas Aquinas — I graduated from two schools named after this 2nd cousin 24 times removed), Gustav II Adolf (a.k.a. Gustavus Adolphus), and Chlodoald (a.k.a. Saint Cloud, although records from the 6th century are questionable). Olaf II Haraldsson (a.k.a. Saint Olaf) is one of my 26th-ggfs.

“Most people in Minnesota (and virtually all people of European descent) have a similar family tree and share many of the same ancestors. Unfortunately, most are unaware of this ancestry. Now, however, at least some of us have an opportunity to research our family history, or to discover what other people have researched. If you look into it, you may be pleasantly surprised. I’m very interested in learning what others might find.”

Life imitates art foreshadowing life

Kathy S. of St Paul: ‘Isaac Asimov wrote ‘I, Robot,’ on which the Will Smith movie is based. He also wrote hundreds of books on science and science fiction — and a two- volume autobiography that I enjoyed.

“Staying home lately with me, myself and I has reminded me of Asimov’s books ‘Naked Sun’ (1956-7) and ‘Robots of Dawn’ (1983). They are set on the world Solaria, where humans (very outnumbered by robots) live in widely separated homes. They communicate through holography, and are taught from birth to avoid touching each other. Sound familiar?

“Wikipedia has descriptions of the plots, for those who are interested. I might look up one of the books, to see if I still like it. And to see how much it reminds me of our current life hiding from COVID-19.

“The prescience of some of the old-time science-fiction writers is amazing.”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Or: Then & Now (responsorial)


LLjk: “Subject: The old gas station.

Deuce of Eagan’s description of the picture of his friend’s old-time gas station did not mention the must-have dog sitting at the front stoop. I’m sure he is not as old as the truck, but what would a gas station like that be without a ‘watchdog’ who most likely would wag his tail whenever a new customer rolled in?”

Band Name of the Day: Smaller by the Day

Website of the Day, recommended by The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “This is . . . . amazing.

Olympus Image of the Year Award 2019



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