Life as we know it
Or: Fellow travelers (and stay-at-homes)
Twitty of Como: “Subject: The world around us (?).
“I was shopping with my wife one day at an open-air market. I was wearing this shirt.
“A booming voice came at me out of the blue: ‘Hey! Where is that?’ I looked up. The boomer was a giant of a man, lightly bearded, and with not a friendly demeanor. He was looking right at me, and I admit I was initially a bit intimidated. He did not seem friendly at all.
“Gaining my composure, I said: ‘Where’s what?’
“‘Your shirt,’ he said. ‘Where is that?’
“I looked down. (Interjection here: I don’t pay much attention to the clothes I don in the morning. I just grab whatever is on top of the clean pile.)
“‘You mean U.S. 30?’ I asked.
“‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Well, it’s an old highway that runs across the United States —coast to coast, I think. I got this somewhere along the Oregon stretch.’
“‘Really?’ he said, his demeanor softened somewhat now. ‘I never heard of it before.’
“‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘It might be one of the oldest transcontinental highways. It’s sometimes called “The Lincoln Highway.”‘
“‘Older than Route 66?’ he asked.
“‘I think so,’ I said.
“‘I thought Route 66 was the oldest highway in America,’ he said, his demeanor considerably softer.
“‘Well, I can’t say for sure,’ I said. ‘I first drove on both of them in the early ’60s. I got on Highway 30 in Ames, Iowa, and took it all the way to Wyoming on my way to San Diego. Coming back later, I took Route 66 from southern California to St. Louis. No freeways back then,’ I said, grinning.
“‘Huh,’ he said. ‘That must have been something.’
“‘It was,’ I admitted.
“That was the extent of our conversation. I don’t know why it’s stayed with me these past years, but maybe it has something to do with my growing awareness as I get older of the vast diversity of experience between generational age groups in America. With regard to travel, it’s been brought into sharp focus in recent years how many people never travel at all, preferring to stay at home, or within their comfort zone. One fella from Louisiana said to me he’d never been farther from home than east Texas, just that one time. He was in his late 40s. My wife works with a highly educated group of people, ranging in age from 35 to 55, yet many of them stare in awe when she tells of travels they’ve never taken. ‘Well, my husband likes road trips,’ she says. If they go somewhere, they fly, leapfrogging over vast stretches of our country, never really seeing anything.
“In my early 50s, I once invited a good friend — a life-long Minnesota man, same age as — to ride along to the North Shore one weekend. When we got past Duluth, he was speechless at the beauty of the lake and shoreline. ‘I never knew this was here,’ he said. He’d never taken road trips out of the metro area for any reason, let alone just for the heck of it.
“On road trips with my grandkids in recent years, I could be heard saying: ‘Get your noses out of your iPads. Look out the windows!’ They listen, for about 20 seconds. Sigh.
“There’s so much out there to see and learn about. This world is moving fast and faster, but there’s value in slowing down. You gotta stop and smell the roses every now and then, for your own good.”
Where we live
Border War Division
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Harbinger.
“The first sign of an early winter just occurred. A Vikings fan was heard saying ‘Wait until next year.’
“This phenomenon usually happens much closer to January.”
Where we live
Dark Humor Division
Jimbo of Inver Grove Heights: “I am going to try to get a group of investors together. I will need to get a total of $8,714.00, and then I will put in a bid to buy the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and the Wild!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Sorry, Jimbo. We don’t think you stand a chance with any offer under $8,714.99.
The great comebacks
Plus: Till death us do part
Rusty of St. Paul reports: (1) “My 89-year-old mother-in-law fell this summer picking raspberries, broke her shoulder and had to have it replaced. Her recovery has gone well, but she needs to do daily exercises to get her range back. As she has memory issues, her children have been working with her with this therapy.
“Today she was doing her sets, but mistakenly was exercising her non-injured arm. Family pointed out that she was working the wrong arm.
“Memory issues and all, she was sharp enough to say: ‘My other arm didn’t want this one to feel jealous.'”
(2) “My wife was eating her seconds of shells mac ‘n’ cheese tonight. I had already finished mine and was jump-starting dishes.
“‘Crap!’ she said. ‘You won’t believe where my mac ‘n’ cheese just went.’
“We’ve been together for 40 years, so I knew exactly where it went: down the front of her blouse into her boobage. And this was with her wearing an apron.
“‘Down your cleavage,’ I said.
“I leaned over her shoulder, and yup, she was trying to retrieve pasta that went down her shirt and was trapped up high.
“Her shelf is her bust line. My shelf is below my nipple line. Hers is more precarious, as she has to work hard to fetch spills on the inside, and I just have to brush mine off the outside.”
Life (and death) as we know it
The Astronomer of Nininger: “When a friend dies, you lose a part of yourself. Today I received an email informing me of the passing of another classmate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Class of 1964. It has been 56 years since we graduated, filling Falcon Stadium for the last time together. We couldn’t wait to get out of there after hearing the words ‘Gentlemen, you are dismissed’ and feeling the roar of the Air Force Thunderbirds shaking the ground in celebration as the formation of F-100s came in from the south, marking the end of four years together. Throwing our wheel hats up into the air was the beginning of the next phase of our lives, testing our knowledge, our character and the quality of our leadership. We were Lieutenants, no longer cadets.
“I was eager to hop into that ’56 Chevy with the girl who would become the Good Wife and make our way to Chicago for leave before starting Pilot Training. How many of my classmates would I never see again, only to read about them in an obituary? Today we have email, and we know whatever happens to any of us almost instantly — especially the ‘Tough Twenty Trolls’ of the 20th Squadron. We are in contact frequently. Those kinds of relationships were kindled by extraordinary service together with a common vision of what our founding fathers could see when they formed the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“I get lots of good news and maybe too many notices of someone gone, but not forgotten. The achievements of this singular group of graduates is spectacular. But, after 56 years, no one in our class is having children any more (that we know of), but some are having great-grandchildren. Some are moving to retirement homes, buying new boats, or something like that. We are still finding meaning in life. We realize how precious our wives are, how important our families are, how utterly useless life would be without our friends. And we realize too, just how much other people helped to make us who we are. Yes, we do lose a part of ourselves when a friend dies. But we also stop. We find ourselves riveted to the ground. For we are so thankful that we knew each and every one of them.”
There’s nothin’ like a simile!
Vertically Challenged: “We were watching ‘60 minutes’ the other nIght, and they were talking to the coach of LSU football [Ed Orgeron]. The interviewer was talking about his unusual voice and said: ‘Orgeron sounds like a man who gargles crawfish shells.’”
Today’s nomination comes from Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “The TV ad [for U.S. Bank] begins with: ‘Some see a grilled cheese sandwich and ask, “Why?” I see a new kitchen with a grill and ask, “Why not?”’
“What a terrible ad. It’s outrageous!”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: Hey, lady . . .
“We have a trail cam aimed at our bird feeder, to see how many deer visit it each night — our little bit of entertainment in this coronavirus-ruled year.
“Last night, I forgot to put food in the feeder. When I went out this morning to fill it, I noticed that the lone deer that came to dine last night had left me a message: ‘OK, lady . . . you forget to fill the feeder again tonight, and the other sunflower gets it.’”
Our pets, ourselves
Curmudgeon in Training: “Some 45 years ago, my son’s dog, Buttons, died. A call to the Humane Society indicated they would handle disposal.
“We wrapped Buttons in a sheet and placed him in the station wagon.
“It was very quiet for some time before Dan asked if he could help dig the hole for the grave. I told him they had people for that.
“Then, he asked if he could cover it. I gave the same answer.
“Another quiet time passed. Then he asked if they would put a trophy on the grave.
“The rest of the trip was very quiet.”
CAUTION! Words at Play!
Dennis from Eagan: “Subject: Online sermon to keep us in-line!
“I loved this September 27 church sign on Diffley Road in Eagan, about a quarter-mile west of I-35E.
“Just in time for the Presidential election and debate coverage!”
Then & Now
Jeni of B’ville: “My school years were spent in suburban Maryland, where October 30, the night prior to Halloween, was known as ‘Beggars’ Night.’ Elementary-school kids knocked on neighbors’ doors saying ‘Trick or Treat, Money or Eats’ and held out pillowcase bags expectantly. The adults, upon opening their doors, admired the children’s costumes and made deposits as demanded. Thank-yous were followed by smiles all around. Parents remained at home. Streets were safe.
“A huge Halloween costume party on October 31 was given by the local police at S.S.I., Silver Spring Intermediate School Gym. There were prizes, music, a chalk artist, a magician and lots of audience participation. One time I raised my hand and was selected to go on stage. I was thrilled, scared and survived my volunteer duties. To this day I remember my blushing self-consciousness but not the details; I am glad I didn’t trip. It became very noisy when we had refreshments while also looking for classmates and neighbors. The parents arrived and ushered us toward home. What a celebration! The police were our friends! Halloween was a big deal!
“It’s a pity so much has changed.”
The Permanent Maternal Record
A story from Grammi With No Rules: “Subject: Listen to your mom — always!
“As the daughter of The Gram With a Thousand Rules, I can tell you that it was always prudent to follow those rules. One rule that was not to be broken was: ‘Come to dinner when you are called.’
“I recall only one time when we broke that rule. It was Christmas time, and the family gift that year was an indoor BB-gun target-shooting game. This marvelous metal contraption was like a miniature carnival game, with little metal ducks on tiny hinges running on a track that shuttled them across the front opening of the box three or four at a time. When you hit a duck with
a BB, it was knocked down with a satisfying little plink. Dad had set the duck box up at the far end of the basement, and the shooters stood at the bottom of the basement stairs and shot down a narrow hallway the length of the basement.
“Dad and all six of us kids were having a ball one evening with our BB guns, and some of us had even stopped lodging BBs into the hallway walls and were actually knocking over a few of the ducks. We could hear Mom calling us for dinner, but collectively chose to ignore her — including Dad. Now, we kids were normally like piranhas when it came to food, and Mom was a good cook, so we were clearly having a really great time. However, this ignoring was definitely a risky game to play, considering Mom had been upstairs on her own cooking for the eight of us while listening to our raucous laughter from downstairs.
“After several bellowed attempts to get us to put down the guns and come upstairs, Mom came stomping down the stairs and grabbed the nearest BB gun. ‘All right, you hooligans,’ she confronted us. ‘If I shoot all the ducks, will you get your behinds up the stairs pronto to eat supper?’ Scoffing at the ridiculous idea of anybody shooting all dozen of the ducks in one round, we all happily agreed to come upstairs immediately if she accomplished this feat. Mom casually propped the gun on the stair rail, grinned over her shoulder at her smirking family and took aim. Bam, bam, bam . . . she knocked down every duck as it passed by the front of the box.
“Stunned, we kids nearly knocked each other over in our scramble to get up those stairs, and Dad was right on our heels.”
The Permanent Paternal Record (responsorial)
Woodbury Reader: “Reading about the activity at the dinner table [in the girlhood home of The Gram With a Thousand Rules] reminded me of a tradition that started in our family years ago after being guests in the home of a sweet young missionary family where we held hands for prayer prior to our meal — and then, before releasing hands, we shook our hands and said: ‘Shake the love around!’
“We then started that tradition, and my comedian husband often carries the shaking to an extreme!
“Also: Occasionally he takes out an extension fork that was hidden, and he reaches for food with it across the table to a guest’s plate!”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Whether it’s cold, or whether it’s hot, we’ll have weather, whether or not.
“The weather forecast for Saturday, September 26th, was displayed at the top of the front page of the Minneapolis paper in this fashion:
“A sun, with a cloud covering the bottom portion, was flanked by ’90 degrees’ and ’57 degrees.’
“The text read: ‘Some sun, scattered storms later on. A10.’
“I was somewhat surprised to see a high of 90, because the other forecasts I’d checked had ranged from the middle to the upper 60s.
“To see a more detailed explanation, I turned to Page A10, and came across this: ‘Editorials,’ and ‘Readers Write,’ neither of which contained a weather forecast.
“P.S. The day turned out to be mostly sunny, with a high of 68.”
Email from Donald: “Subject: I’ll bet their juices were flowing.
“While reading the ‘TODAY IN BASEBALL’ section on Page C6 in last Wednesday’s paper west of St. Paul, I came across some famous names and outstanding achievements. To wit:
“‘1988: Jose Canseco became the first major leaguer to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in one season . . .’
“‘2000: Rafael Palmeiro homered . . . becoming the 32nd player to hit 400 home runs.’
“‘2001: Alex Rodriguez hit his 48th home run, breaking Ernie Banks’ major league record for shortstops . . .’
“‘2001: Sammy Sosa became the first player to hit three home runs in a game three times in a season . . .’
“‘2006: Barry Bonds hit his 734th career home run . . .’
“As I read through the list a second time, It dawned on me that these players had something else in common besides their achievements on the same date:
The joy (or otherwise) of juxtaposition
Writes robertdawg of Frederic, Wisconsin: “Subject: What irony?
“Enjoyed the Sunday Bulletin Board State Fair memories from LindaGrandmaSue regarding listening to music at the Heritage Square stages (at one point branded the Young America Center). I remember hearing the band Mason Profit there in 1971 (?).
“Then I turned the page and found an obituary for Hugh K. Schilling, local civic leader and philanthropist. The Hugh and Margaret Schilling Amphitheater now sits where the west end stage was located.”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “I sat in my car centered in a large parking lot as my wife did a bit of shopping. I rolled down a window (by pushing a button) and listened to the sound of door dings. A busy parking lot is a body shop’s friend.”
(2) “A nature walk is my favorite reality show.”
(3) “A neighbor has begun hiding candy bars around his house in preparation for winter. He is scatter hoarding, like a gray squirrel that buries acorns throughout its territory.”
(4) “In local news . . .
“The Boomerang Society bus trip made it halfway to its destination before turning around.
“The Bell Ringers need new members. All interested parties should chime in by giving them a ring.
“Podiatrists become archrivals.
“Big fight in seafood restaurant. There were battered fish everywhere.”
Could be verse!
Another “timerick” from Tim Torkildson: “’Trump insists protesters are throwing Bumble Bee tuna cans, in the midst of pandemic tuna shortage’ — The Washington Post
“Cans of tuna in the air —
“flying here and flying there.
“Protesters toss them around,
“juggle them until they’ve crowned
“bystanders so innocent —
“who then to the ER went.
“Can it be these wicked fiends
“next will try some pork and beans?
“Or perhaps a can of Spam —
“thrown into a baby’s pram?
“Peanut brittle cans, with snakes —
“I wouldn’t put it past those flakes.
“Oh, the horror! Oh, the shame!
“Let us hope they have bad aim.
“Otherwise these awful sinners
“may kill us all with TV dinners!”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede reports: “Subject: Four beginning-of-fall photos.
“While visiting a friend in Roseville, I noticed these early signs of fall. The area didn’t allow for the photos I wished for, but I was able to get one leaf against the sky.
“Most of the sky was filled with taller trees, but this maple branch was lit nicely.
“I thought it a bit early for halloween decorations, but enjoyed seeing this very friendly ghost.
“And nearby were some nice flower blossoms that caught my eye, too.
“It’s a glorious time of year here!”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: When life gives you COVID.
“Tonight while standing in line in a grocery store, I played peekaboo with a 1-year-old ahead of me by lowering and raising my face mask.
“She didn’t know that isn’t how it is usually played.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Here’s hoping the little one learns soon!
Band Name of the Day: Hooligans in the Basement
Websites of the Day: Lincoln Highway Association &