Take it from the preschoolers: Life is better, even during a pandemic, if we “keep spit in our mouth.”

Out of the mouths of babes
Pandemic Division

Bill of the river lake reports: “Again this school year, the very precocious preschool students in a local elementary have offered their unique rules for classroom behavior. Among these rules are:

“2. Keep spit in our mouth.

“3. We should not fly planes.

“6. Only run outside.

“Good rules for all to live by.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Which reminds us that, earlier this year, we were (as briefly as necessary) in the locker room at Stillwater Country Club and saw this sign:

It struck us that all of the guidelines were prudent, with respect to pandemic golf — but that No. 4 was wisdom of a higher order!

Life as we know it
Or: Fellow travelers (and stay-at-homes) (responsorial)

Triple-the-Fun of Lakeville: “I read Twitty of Como’s recent post with great interest. He talked about driving U.S. 30 and Route 66, and about the value of getting out and seeing the country on a road trip. He mentioned how much people miss when they fly to a destination and miss vast stretches of our country.

“I share his passion for road trips. When I was in grade school, my parents decided we should take a road trip. We went to the Black Hills and back — not really a trip of epic scale. But it was enough for us to fall in love with the concept of travel, so it was the first of many trips. My mom loved the mountains, so that was the only destination worthy of the time, effort, and expense of going on vacation. We went up and down the Rocky Mountains from Colorado to Canada. To this day, I still can’t remember any difference in the mountains of one trip from another, but I loved the adventure of sleeping in our little pop-up camper. And we got to see many awesome sights which were near, or on the way to, the mountains, such as Yellowstone and the Badlands. I have great memories of endless hours in the car, passing the time by playing license-plate games with my sister or singing never-ending songs (I still cringe when I think of ‘100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’). There were no hand-held electronics back then, and I couldn’t read without getting car-sick, so we had to come up with our own ways of passing the time. The picture is of my mom, my sister, and me in front of our pop-up tent somewhere in Colorado. I’m on the left.

“Many years later, when I had my own family, my spouse thought it would be a great idea to take our three active sons, around the age of 4, on their first road trip. I was less enthusiastic about the idea. But I was outvoted, so we rented an RV, loaded up the fridge with juice boxes and snacks, and headed out. I had underestimated the benefit of having a bathroom available at virtually any moment when traveling with small children. It was awesome! That was the first of many, many successful road trips with our boys. We bought an RV and ultimately took them to 49 states. (While we didn’t actually drive to Alaska, we flew there and then rented an RV, so I still consider that a road trip.) The only state we missed was Hawaii.

“The boys found the family road trips not only great fun, but also eye-opening and educational. They learned about the Civil War in school, but standing on the battlefields of Gettysburg was sobering. And reading about the Revolutionary War was completely different from seeing where Paul Revere was captured or being in Boston’s Old North Church (one, if by land, and two, if by sea). And pictures will never convey the vastness of the Grand Canyon compared to standing on the edge and peering into the chasm, nor will any picture create the exhilaration of being on The Maid of the Mist and getting drenched while Niagara Falls thunders right in front of you. The boys have dipped their toes in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. They’ve also seen many man-made attractions, from Disney World to Wall Drug. One of my greatest joys has been showing them this great country and watching them discover new and exciting things about it.

“The boys are now grown and no longer travel with us, so my better half and I have started to take some road trips on our own. While perhaps not as exciting as when we traveled with young children, and certainly less hectic than traveling with five people, current trips are still great fun, eye-opening, and educational.

“Thank you, Twitty of Como, for bringing back so many wonderful memories.”

The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Go Butter a Slice of Bread, Dear.

“My dad always did the grocery shopping and picked out the food he wanted Mother to cook, so our dinner-table routine followed an orderly pattern when Daddy was home. But it was a whole different story when he had an out-of-town job. Mother didn’t particularly enjoy cooking, and she had a houseful of kids with finicky appetites. It was easier to just let us fend for ourselves.

“Now, I don’t mean to imply that our mother starved us when Daddy wasn’t home; it is just that the formal ‘Everybody Pay Attention and Assemble Around the Dinner Table’ routine was out the door.

“Breakfast time went on as usual: Each of us gobbled down a bowlful of our favorite cold cereal.

“At lunch time we tried to talk Mom into making us French toast — always cut the long way into three strips, and then we poured boiled sugar water over it. Yum! My brother John’s favorite choice was Boiled Pudding, and we three younger girls liked that, too. As my oldest sister, Ruth, described it: ‘Mother filled a disgusting glob of dough with a spoonful of plum jelly and then boiled the hell of it for hours.’ This is a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

“It was when dinner time rolled around that Mom figured if we were hungry enough, we would find something to eat. It was relaxation time, and Mother caught up on her reading. No timetables. No carpentry stories. If we told her we were hungry, she would look up from her book, smile sweetly and tell us: ‘Just go butter yourself a slice of bread, dear.’ I don’t remember any of my siblings’ following that advice. Johnny and my middle sister, Edith, usually heated up some canned vegetable soup while my spoiled oldest sisters just went over to Aunt Ethel’s and gorged on her homemade fudge and devoured the tasty sugar-sprinkled Apple Turnovers she bought from Hove’s Market. My sister Nora was the only creative one. Her culinary repertoire consisted of one item. She made peanut butter stacks. She layered peanut butter between saltine crackers and stacked them as high as she could conveniently fit into her mouth. If I hung around and begged long enough, she would make me a stack. Or maybe not.

“The plus side to having no timetable to follow is that whatever game you were involved with could just stay where it was. There was no reminder to ‘Pick up the place, dear. Daddy will be home soon.’ It was just happy bedlam from morning to night. But darn it all, I never could get enthused with the idea of eating a slice of buttered bread for supper.”

Till death us do part (responsorial)
Including: Joy of Juxtaposition

The inaugural post from the oft-reported-on Taxman of Rosemount: “The Bride has been canning a lot over the last month or two, so I am going without the nice meals she usually makes. Usually we have meat every night except Friday, but this week because of all the applesauce The Bride had to put up, we had mac ’n’ cheese on Wednesday, which might have been the same day that Rusty of St. Paul wrote about having it for supper. That might be a Joy of Juxtaposition, now that I think about it. Anyway, I don’t mind having mac ’n’ cheese because The Bride makes it with shells (just like Mrs. Rusty) and puts some smoked gouda cheese in with the cheddar. Then she crumbles up some spicy crackers that she makes and puts those on top before it all goes in the oven.

“The Bride and I have been married 48 years. During that time, she’s been trying to fix up what she thinks are gaps in the education I received at Silver Lake High. She’s an English teacher, so most of this ‘remedial work’ has been in that area. For example, I don’t remember ever reading anything but ‘Ivanhoe’ at school, so The Bride makes sure I read the books her students had to read. I just finished ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ which is as good as she said it was. But ‘Pride and Prejudice’ was too long and had too many people with nothing to do.

“With all the worrying about books, The Bride didn’t get around to helping me catch up in biology. If she had, then I wouldn’t have waited so long to find out about ‘boobage.’ Thanks to Rusty for giving me the right word at last.”

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: To err is human . . .

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

“‘GOD DOES NOT

“‘MAKE MISTEAKS’”

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

Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Do NOT Enter.


“I took this photo at a clinic near where I live. It struck me as a very definite warning to not enter the parking lot at this location. But if drivers slow down to read all these signs, there’s probably a good chance they could get rear-ended. Then again, if they need medical help, their clinic and doctor are right there.”

In memoriam
And: Our community of strangers

Suds of Eagan: “I note the passing of ET’s Wife, as mentioned in her obituary.

“I graduated with one of her daughters.

“May memories of her be eternal.”

Snatchuralism

Geez Louise of the West Side: “Overheard at the farmers’ market: ‘And then the car turned into a puppy! And I was driving a puppy!'”

Our squirrels, ourselves

Dr. Chrysanthemum: “Subject: Squirrels of a Different Color.

“What are black or white and gray all over?

“Some eastern gray squirrels, of course.

“Has anyone else noticed an increase in melanistic (black) squirrels this year? I’ve seen them before, but this year I seem to find them everywhere across St. Paul, Roseville, and St. Cloud. I may have even seen some in Rice and Little Falls, but most of those were a little too far away and the light a little too dim for me to be certain. (Because of COVID-19, my travels have been more restricted this year.) In St. Paul, I see at least one almost every day. That frequency may be boosted by the black adult and the black juvenile that visit our yard.

“The first black squirrel I recall seeing was more than 30 years ago, when my son was very young. My wife, my son, and I would watch a litter of squirrels play (or fight) by the tree in our front yard. The litter included one black and one white squirrel. (I’m not sure if the white was a leucistic, dark-eyed squirrel or an albino, pink-eyed one.) Over the years since then, I’ve noticed a few other black squirrels — but nothing like this year.

“I’ve also noticed white squirrels. A few years ago, we seemed to have many in our neighborhood. (The Twin Cities are apparently a hot spot for both leucistic and albino squirrels.) We may have only one living near us now, which was in our back yard the other day.

“Black eastern gray squirrels are believed to have been more common a few hundred years ago, before hunters reduced their population. Their black fur may have been more popular, or perhaps they were simply more visible targets than their better-camouflaged grey peers.

“In any event, the black squirrels may be coming back.’

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Some blossoms hangin’ in there.

“The Ramsey County compost-site hollyhocks had two ‘gettin’ old’ blossoms hanging in there on my last visit.

“Not as pretty as before, but that any remain at all always lifts my spirits anyway.

“Busy bees, as before.

“And now some spectacular leaves to see, too.”

Oopps!
Only a _________ Would Would Notice Division

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Hearing? Maybe. Vision? Not so much.

“The promotion for a hearing aid arrived in the mail with this information:

“‘ANNOUNCING:

“‘A NEW GIANT LEAP IN

“‘IN HEARING TECHNOLOGY’”

You can say that again! (XVIII)

Email from Donald: “Subject: Ya think?

“John Shipley’s Thursday column on the front page of the Sports section in the Pioneer Press was devoted to the Twins’ major-league-record 18 straight playoff losses.

“This was the headline of the piece: ‘Baldelli gets it: Twins need to be better in postseason.’

“My response?

“‘Duh.’”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Rusty of St. Paul: “I tip my cap to the headline writer(s) for the Sports pages of the Pioneer Press.

“After the Vikings stunk up the field twice in their first two games and lost, the headline was the perfect ‘Woe and Two.’ (One of the St. Paul scribes said the Vikings were ‘the Washington Generals of the NFL.’ You can’t write it any better than that).

“Then the Bright Playoff Lights-phobic Twins were swept by the Houston Astros, the team with the worst record of all the MLB playoff teams this year. The game-two elimination-loss headline was ‘Out at Home,’ referencing Twins player Arraez being thrown out at home plate trying to score the go-ahead run and that the Twins had home-field advantage.

“Clever, I thought, but I had come up with ‘Houston . . . You Are Our Problem.'”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: The Twins’ problems lie much, much closer to home than Houston!

A day to forget

Ramblin’ Rose writes: “Subject: The Final Comment.

“There was no good news last Wednesday morning. Before breakfast, there was wall-to-wall coverage of The Debate from Tuesday night; I will not comment. Then came the news of the passing of both Helen Reddy and Mac Davis — a double hit. If you grew up in the ’70s, their music was easy to enjoy. Helen was a bit of an icon to women, and Mac was cheery and easygoing, both of them leaving you feeling good. My condolences to their families.

“At noon came the Twins’ second playoff game. It was do or die, and their offense was hard to come by. Being superstitious, we changed everything we’d done during the previous game: We wore different jerseys, ate different foods, sat in different chairs, and waved our new Homer Hankies. Nothing seemed to have an effect. Near the end of the game, in desperation, I called on the Twins of decades past. I rounded up my bobbleheads of Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, and Kent Hrbek and placed them strategically in front of the television. Surely, all of this potent offense and World Series experience would radiate through the airwaves and miraculously boost the Twins of 2020. Apparently, I waited too long to try for some good mojo; we know how this story ended.

“Looking for some cheer, I dug through my old vinyl for Helen Reddy and Mac Davis. It’s amazing how your brain remembers every note and rhythm from songs you haven’t listened to in decades. A few full-throated versions of ‘I Am Woman’ and ‘Delta Dawn’ cheered me somewhat, and I hope didn’t disturb the neighbors.

“What gave me a whooping laugh, though, was what I found back in front of the TV. Harmon, Kirby, and Herbie, thanks to my husband, had the final comment on the 2020 playoffs:

“Hope springs eternal for 2021.”

Band Name of the Day: Bobblehead Mojo

Website of the Day: Black Squirrel