He was due for a haircut . . . but “Now I look like Einstein — without the smarts.”

Vive la difference!
Pandemic Division

Rusty of St. Paul: “My haircut costs $16 plus tip. My wife’s cut and color is $160. I tend to spread my cuts out to help the budget a little, as her cuts bend it. I think I last got a cut right after the Holidays. When I was due, the Crisis had hit. Now I look like Einstein —  without the smarts.

“I’m aware that YouTube has tutorials on how to cut hair at home. I asked my wife if she wants to have a go at it, but then remembered some of the cuts she gave our kids when they were toddlers. EEK! She denied ever having cut their hair and said she always took them to a salon. (Let me guess. Their cuts at ages 2 and 3 were only $110.)

“In fact, she reminded me that our daughter, Holly, then aged 2-1/2, LOVED going for a haircut and called it going to the ‘Beautiful Parlor.’

“Our governor is opening up the Beautiful Parlors June 1st. I have a bunch of health stuff and thus am a high-risk person, so won’t be going for a professional haircut anytime soon. I do have a pair of barber scissors and an electric shears. Now if I can just find a bowl large enough to fit my cabeza.”

This ’n’ that

LeoJEOSP: (1) “Subject: Fill your head with hair . . . 

“Barber shops in my state are all closed, and nobody in our house knows how to properly cut hair. My 74-year-old friend said he might grow a ponytail. My hair is over my ears and longer than any time since the 1970s!”

(2) “Subject: Ice-cream trucks.

“I grew up in a city in the 1960s. During the summer months, you could always count on the ice-cream truck and its loud calliope signaling you to run to your mom and get a dime. The ice-cream truck was a pickup. The bed was removed, and a freezer looking like a giant sundae was installed. You could get a Bomb Pop, which is an exceptionally large Popsicle; ice-cream bars of all types; and the little malt cup, which came with a funny-looking wooden spoon.

“With a few changes made, an ice-cream truck could be successful during the pandemic. Customers would be required to wear gloves and masks before approaching the truck. In addition to the loud chimes, a system would be in place to send a text to your cellphone when the operator is in your area. I don’t think the 1960s pricing would be possible. I recently went to a chain ice-cream store and ordered an ice-cream cone, and the price was over $5. Sigh!”

Where we live

Miss Kitty of the Midway reports: “Subject: Only in Minnesota — probably a transplant.

“Yesterday, Cat Dillon and I had to make an essential trip for groceries.

“We passed a woman wearing a winter parka, complete with the hood up, and she was mowing her lawn. We were wearing shorts and T-shirts.”

See world

Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Arwen of Inver Grove Heights: “I’m fortunate to live in a place with a lot of wildlife. To be able to see deer, foxes, coyotes, woodchucks, songbirds, turkeys and other creatures provides perspective and really makes my day.

“We have a pond next to our road. Because of highway-construction culverts that now funnel all the run-off into our pond, the water has risen so much that it’s right at the edge of the road. This is bad for us, but the inhabitants of the pond like it. It provides a shallow space where they can sit and still be in water.

“One day recently, I was biking by the pond when up ahead I saw a muskrat sitting in the shallows at the road’s edge. He was reaching down into the water, pulling up grass and weeds, and stuffing it into his mouth to eat.

“I love muskrats. They build lodges, like beavers (but not dams). They are graceful swimmers, gliding smoothly through the water with only their noses showing. And they’re just cute.

“I got off the bike and stood really still to watch. The muskrat took no notice of me. I decided to see how close I could get and still be able to watch, without scaring him away. So I inched forward a few steps. No problem. I waited a while, then took a few more slow steps. Still no change. I inched even closer. Still good. But then the muskrat stopped chewing, stopped pulling food, and sat there motionless, looking at me (without turning his head; muskrats have eyes on the sides of their faces so they have a wide field of vision) and considering whether I could be a threat.

“Stillness reigned. Neither of us moved a muscle. I just about held my breath. I thought that maybe Mr. Muskrat might go back to eating, since I was still at least 10 feet away. But after considering for what seemed like a long time (but was probably only a few seconds), he decided that the risk was too great, and dived without haste into the pond.”

The highfalutin pleasures
Plus: Our birds, ourselves (Ask Al B Division)

The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “This is cool: These Are the Best Architecture Photos of 2020

“Also, I have a duck question for Al B of Hartland:

“I was out running a couple of weekends ago, and this time I did not have the Wonderdog with me. I noticed a pair of ducks (one male and one female) flying overhead, and then they came in for a landing on some grass about 50 yards in front of me, partially hidden behind an evergreen tree. I came up next to them, and they were lying flat, with their bills resting on the ground, looking more like my dog than any duck I’ve ever seen. I watched them as I started to run past, and then I had to stop, because as I was next to them, they started ‘scooting,’ keeping their bills down, crawling as if they were snakes. I would describe it as ‘Army crawling’ if they had elbows.

“I grew up on a lake, and I’ve seen lots and lots of weird duck behavior, but I have never seen anything like this. Were they hiding from a hawk? They were on a lawn, in the shadow of a house, and there was that evergreen tree (as well as a woodsy area right behind the house) that I would think would provide better cover.

“What were they doing?”

Our birds, ourselves

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Text and photo by Al B of Hartland: “I love lark week! The meadowlark is not a lark at all. It’s a member of the blackbird family.”

And now Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Lucky Day, to see the bluebird in the apple tree.”

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Our times
Pandemic Division

Great-grandmother of Como Park: “Two of the great-grandkids practicing social distancing while enjoying their treats.

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“Nice to see them, but miss the hugs!”

The highfalutin pleasures
Pandemic Division

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: There’s always a silver lining.

“Our big dining-room table will hold 12 comfortably, but this Mother’s Day, my husband and I sat at one end of it all by ourselves. In spite of everything, it was a lovely meal.

“Our youngest daughter may be far away in Hawaii, but she remembers our favorite restaurant and even which items we always choose, so she ordered our meals delivered to our door. She told me what time to watch for the delivery man, and right on time a masked man came and deposited the items on our front bench. We were ready for him. I had set the table with our best dishes and silverware, and we toasted with our fanciest wine glasses — but you know what was the best part? No one came and interrupted our meal even once to ask ‘How is everything tasting so far?’

“Yes, even during a pandemic, there is always a silver lining.”

Life as we know it
Or: Metaphorically speaking . . . 

Eos: “Subject: Patience and Faith.

“Patience and Faith are friends. They live in the same neighborhood.

“Patience is good at waiting, even when waiting is hard.

“Faith believes in goodness, even when it’s difficult to see.

“They each have a garden, filled with flowers and vegetables. When Patience wonders if those perennials will REALLY come back, Faith is there to reassure her. And when Faith wonders if there will EVER be a ripe tomato on that plant, Patience reminds her that good things take time.

“Patience and Faith can make it through the worst of times . . .”

This ’n’ that (responsorial)

Toothy Grin #6 of Minneapolis: (1) “Subject: The Sixties, Toni perms, ‘Momentos of Nostaglia,’ and a Virtual 55th High School Reunion.

“I just read the April 28 BBonward (I had received it, marked it for reading, and then forgot it till last Sunday, when much of that column was in the Pioneer Press), and then a new column arrived yesterday.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the reminiscing about Dippity-Do, the Toni Company (the last time I got any kind of permanent was October 31, 1962, a Tonette home perm for children — girls only, I suppose).

“This is a long aside coming up, but I must share it: Of six children (three and three), I was/am the only one with my mother’s straight hair. Everyone else got my dad’s curly hair. My mom was afraid I’d get a ‘complex’ about having straight hair, so she would give me home permanents. I grew to hate them, and my siblings would say things like ‘I’m not eating supper with her — she smells!’ Needles (sic) to say, the perm solution was pretty pungent. In high school, short, bouffant hair styles and ‘flips’ (reverse page-boys) were ‘in,’ and I followed the crowd. I’d set my hair nightly with large rollers (not orange juice cans, though) and water, and hope for the best, If the next day was rainy, snowy, or otherwise humid, my hair would be straight again in minutes. I never had and still don’t subscribe to hair gels or other hair concoctions of any sort.

“[During my first year in college — mid-’60s — long straight hair was ‘in,’ and since I’d always known I was supposed to have long hair, I had it cut to just below my ear for the summer and said: ‘Last haircut.’ I now have what I call retro hair; have had it trimmed but not cut since June 1966. I like my long hair.]

“ANYWAY, to make a long story longer, and back to the BBo column I’d received in email, I watched, with sound on, the Dippity-Do video. It was SOOOO ’60s!

“I am now inspired to suggest to the devoted group of h.s. classmates who have put together a reunion every five years since we graduated that we have a virtual reunion by Zoom, email, YouTube, and whatever other electronic means we have of coming together (apart) and share reminiscences, and what my dad fondly called ‘momentos of nostaglia’). I will propose that the video, along with the postings by DebK of Rosemount and Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff — be one of the items we ‘reune’ with.

“I’d been thinking, sadly, that we would not be able to have our 55th reunion this year because of the coronavirus shutdown (my term for it) and now am going to suggest a virtual reunion, thanks so much to DebK, Gregory J., and Bulletin Board. The Minneapolis North High Class of ’65 rises again! ‘We’re loyal to you, North Side High / We’ll wear white and blue, North Side High. . . .”

(2) “Subject: More upsides to ponder.

“I just read Hastings Crazy Quilter‘s posting with the alphabetical list of advantages we have over our counterparts in 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic. It is excellent. (I love alphabetic lists!).

“I’d like to add that I’ve been saying how fortunate we are in 2020 that we have the medical and public-health advances, the technology for rapid communication, and the better awareness of mental-health issues and how they affect us than we did not only in 1918, but also later in the 20th century with the polio epidemic, and in other centuries with the Black Plague, which ravaged Europe three different times. I guess if we have to have such a dire Sword of Damocles hanging over us, it’s a better time to have it than any of those other times.

“We aren’t helpless or clueless.

“We are surviving.”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Pandemic Division

A picture from SSP Polock:

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There’s a signpost up ahead . . .

Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: ‘Chicago’ stops. Next stop, Twilight Zone?

“We were whiling away the stay-at-home watching a DVD of ‘Chicago.’ Engrossing stuff.

“We got to Scene 17, ‘The Verdict.’ People crowd around a radio where tabloid journalist Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski) tells her listeners: ‘The city of Chicago has come to a complete standstill.’ The camera pulls back to show people in Chicago in freeze-frame.

“Clever, I thought. A bit meta. But then the moment held, I heard a buzz, and the computer died.

“We took that as a sign. We’ll assume the city will resume when we watch the rest of the DVD. But not tonight.”

Then & Now

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Life’s light-meat or dark-meat side.

“I saw a post on Facebook today that cautioned about the invisible flame that ignited hand sanitizer produces. It took me back 65 years in a flash. (Millennials will call what follows a ‘hack.’) My folks would save the tin covers from old Butternut coffee cans. The razor-sharp edges produced by the key-wind opener would litigate the company into oblivion today, but I digress. When it came time to butcher chickens, these upside-down covers held just the right amount of rubbing alcohol to singe one chicken. I still remember the smell of those toasted pin feathers. Not quite as bad as burning hair, but . . . memorable.

“When I was a kid, a lot of my entertainment came from watching my parents do interesting stuff. Things involving fire and cutting up animals were highlights for me compared to most of their chores. It was lifestyle homeschooling. I learned where my meals came from. In my childhood, there was no stigma attached to the rifle, shotgun or chopping block.

“I’m not sure I could still do what we did back then. I’m grateful someone has taken over that dirty work for me the last many decades — because to this day I love my fried chicken. And I know that every present has a price.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede has been busy again!

(1) “Subject: Springing right along.

“Mrs. Mallard did find a place nearby to make a nest — right at the base of our next-door neighbor’s house, in a pile of leaves hidden by a bush. My neighbor said she was there, but before I ever went over with a camera, she came walking through my yard on her way to the nearby water-retention ponds with her nine chicks.

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“In my back yard, spring is progressing nicely. Some leaves have many lines on them.

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“And the ferns are still unfurling.

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“Near the ponds in Ardan Park, there are a variety of different approaches to spring.

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“I liked the red-tinted early leaves that went along with the red stem. Some of the red stems are raspberry canes, and I need to watch for the berries that always come before mine do.

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“These small white blossoms and the heavily textured leaves caught my eye.

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“Ss did these kind of fuzzy seedy things up in a tree.”

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(2) “Subject: Seven welcome spring photos.

“When I stepped out of the house Monday morning to get the newspaper, I noticed the maple tree across the street had actual leaves. And when I saw it against the clear, blue sky, I could feel a sense of joy rise within me. ‘The leaves are here!’

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“Some of my guest plants have unusual sights for me. This looks like it has green blossoms opening up.

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“My neighbor’s fruit tree has a lot of blossoms now.

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“MY north woods maple tree has real leaves now, too.

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“And these are the first oak-tree leaves I have seen this spring in my neighbor’s yard. My oak-tree leaves are much smaller yet.

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“My bleeding hearts are ‘bleeding,’ but with their droopy blossoms seem pretty sad about it.

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“There are a lot of Forget-Me-Nots in one of my gardens this spring. They have multiplied a great deal since last spring, which is fine for where they are.

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“I hope all of the readers have been enjoying some actual spring weather. Stay well, everyone!”

(3) “Subject: Five tree-blossom-time photos.

“During the few days I haven’t done any driving around, many blossoming trees began their spring show.

“These five photos are from the Mounds View Recreational Center. A pleasant sunny day and these blossoms made me go back home to get my camera once I saw what
was happening.

“I like the deep-red petals on the rear blossom, adding to the range of color being shown.

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“This blossom had a lot of small, thin stamens, with a single longer and thicker one in the middle. I found the petal arrangement attractive, too, thinking it would make a pretty corsage.

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“Another blossom from the same tree didn’t look quite so delicate with an increased number of petal layers.

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“A different tree had much simpler blooms, but with the same basics.

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“I always watch for the light showing through the petals, too, liking the glow it seems to add.”

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(4) “Subject: One more blooming tree.

“I had seen another tree I always pay attention to that was blooming in Roseville, so once I had my camera with, I returned for a few more photos.

“This tree is much older and larger than the ones I had seen in Mounds View, so I couldn’t get to near the top ones even with a zoom lens.

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“The tree was dense with blossoms and produces a lot of fruit in the fall, most of which winters over and robins can use for food in the spring.

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“Two petals positioned together just so made them look like a bird stretching its neck above the other blossoms.

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“This photo shows the deeper red the unopened blossoms have and how red they might look when first opening up.

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“And I liked the single, unopened blossoms rising above all the already opened ones.

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“There should be more trees on my own block to pay attention to soon. Spring really feels ‘rich’ when all this is happening.”

Keeping your eyes open

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Kathy S. of St. Paul: “The pics, taken in mid-Wisconsin, are at least 20 years old. Not as pretty as flowers; I assume the pumps were junked a long time ago.”

In memoriam

John in Highland: “Subject: Wir Fahren auf der Autobahn.

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“Florian Schneider, one of the founding members of the German rock group Kraftwerk, died recently. The group revolutionized pop music through its use of electronic synthesizers. From the look of this album cover, they were also able to cram all four band members into the back seat of a small German auto.”

Easier said than done

Bill of Lake St. Croix Beach “Subject: Mother’s Day Corker.

“On Mother’s Day, our daughter paid us a brief visit, bringing a nice bottle of wine (among other gifts).

“We soon noticed that the bottle had a traditional cork, not the kind with the knob on top for easy opening. So I began to search for a corkscrew.

“You see, we’re a non-fancy box-wine family.

“Anyway, I searched high and low and finally found one in my downstairs toolbox. So far, so good.

“With my very strong son — and my daughter — trying to hold down the bottle, I pulled upward as hard as I could to pop the cork . . . with no success. They needed to hold the bottle down tightly on the floor, to keep it from breaking once the cork popped off. This highly intelligent plan failed.

“Somewhat frustrated, we finally broke the cork into pieces, making it easy to remove.

“We enjoyed our glass(es) of wine even more because we had to work extra-hard for them.

“I plan on buying one of those fancy corkscrews with the dual handles. Whew!”

Vanity, thy name is . . .

Donald: “From my elder son: ‘Last week in a parking lot — probably Menards — I spotted a big pickup with this plate: “GOTELK?” I did not check to see if there was a gun rack in the rear window.’”

Our souvenirs, ourselves

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Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Back in the 1950s, when the Vision of Peace statue in the Ramsey County Courthouse was called The Indian God of Peace (and nicknamed Onyx John), when Saint Paul was billing itself as America’s Friendliest City and Brown & Bigelow was celebrating its Diamond (60th) Jubilee, this keychain must have been a popular souvenir item.

“It is constructed out of a plastic which has been textured to look like stone, and judging by how many of these are still available, it is a very sturdy plastic. The front has the statue embossed in 3D, while the back contains various printed messages. I couldn’t find any manufacturer name, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they came from Brown & Bigelow.

“And that’s all I know about these keychains.”

Life as we know it

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Take a Kid Fishing.

“I grew up in the inner city of Chicago, on the South Side, back in the ’40s. Must have been a good time to grow up, because I made it this far. One thing that stands out in my mind is the fact that my father would take my brother and me fishing. Sometimes we’d go after Dad came home from work, sometimes on the weekend, and usually once a year we’d go up to northern Wisconsin. As a youngster, I recall that catching sunfish with Dad was as much fun as musky fishing. In the final analysis, it more likely was the bonds formed between Dad and his two sons that really mattered. Mother would cook whatever we brought home, and eating our catch strengthened those bonds. We did it together.

“I had the good fortune to take my children fishing as they were growing up. We lived in Wyoming and then Minnesota as they matured. I had a little Jon boat and even took the kids when they were really small, still in diapers, and carefully placed them on the bottom of that boat. My daughter was two years older than her brother, and she could hold a rod while he was sleeping. I remember her catching some 1-pound trout that she called ‘Big Fighters.’ We continued the fishing tradition through the years and still get out together as often as we can.

“My son takes his daughter out fishing, and she, a seventh-grader, is getting to be a pretty good caster. But she enjoys being out with her dad, even going up to Canada to Bare Naked Lady Island fishing for walleye and northerns. In the long run, it is not the fishing, but being together that counts. I highly recommend to anyone that fishing can form and cement bonds like no others. Take a kid fishing!”

Then & Now

Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: The Little Shop of Horrors.

“When I was growing up in the ’50s, my favorite downtown St. Paul destination was Wood’s Chocolate Shop, at 4 West Fifth Street, where my grandma, Bessie DiSanto (we called her Nana), worked as a candy maker.

“But my first visit was very nearly my last.

“I was about 7 when my folks deemed me ready to see the inner workings of this popular purveyor of decadent sweets. It was a fascinating place to a wide-eyed youngster: machines mixing gooey concoctions, ladies with hair nets and chocolate-stained aprons busily plying their trade, and more candy than I had ever seen in my life.

“As Nana showed me around, I remember her co-workers’ making a big fuss, patting my head with sticky hands and offering me so many delicious treats that I couldn’t stuff them into my mouth fast enough.

“I was the happiest kid in the world, until I encountered Annie, a stern-looking woman with thick glasses, a pointy nose, and smelling of vanilla extract. She bent down and looked me in the eye.

“‘This is what happens when you eat too much candy!’ Annie cackled, and flashed a maniacal grin that revealed a mouth full of silver-capped teeth.

“I recoiled in terror, as if Annie were a witch about to eat me. This chocolate wonderland had suddenly become a little shop of horrors, and I ran out the door, begging my folks to take me home.

“For days, I was haunted by visions of Annie and her hideous silver teeth, and vowed never to go back to Wood’s. It was my beloved Nana, the kindest, most gentle person I have ever known, who finally sat me on her lap and assured me Annie was really a very nice person and wanted to apologize for what had happened.

“One week later, with great trepidation, I returned to Wood’s with my mom, and I immediately got a warm hug from Annie.

“‘I didn’t mean to frighten you,’ she said, ‘but I don’t want you to ruin your teeth like I did. So promise me you’ll go easy on the sweets and brush every day.’

“I promised.

“And when Annie smiled, her teeth didn’t look hideous anymore. In fact, they were quite becoming. And then, with a wink, Annie gave me just one piece of candy.

“I still think of Annie when I see a box of fancy chocolates. And I’ve managed to keep one of the promises I made to her: I brush every day.”

Band Name of the Day: Keep Your Ass Home — or: Weird Duck Behavior

Website of the Day, recommended by Rutabaga55: The Most Beautiful Flower Garden In The World Has No Visitors For The First Time In 71 Years And I Got To Capture It (31 Pics)