Waldo Windmill writes: “I attended my first and only Kentucky Derby in 2005.
“Good friend Ed, an enthusiastic small-stakes gambler, caught wind of my plans and couldn’t wait to send along a bet with me. His instructions were simple as he handed me a $10 bill: Bet the 10 dollars on the number 10 horse in the 10th race.
“Upon my arrival at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, I carried out his instructions and learned the 10th race was the ‘Run for the Roses,’ and the No. 10 horse was Giacomo, who went off at odds of 50-1 and earned friend Ed $513 when he proceeded to win the Derby.
“Great handicapping, right?”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
Donald: “Subject: Especially if it’s rich and on its stomach.
“A member of Congress was being interviewed on one of the cable channels when I tuned in. I didn’t hear the question, but this was the beginning of his response: ‘You don’t stick a camel in the eye with a needle.’
The Permanent Daughterly Record
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis reports: “Subject: The Middle Daughter rides again.
“The Middle Daughter came over with my weekly food order: three coleslaw, two milk, three bottles of grape juice and a Big Mac and senior coffee from Mickey D’s.
“Trying to carry everything in at once, she had a bad fall on the front steps — scraping her shoulder, knee and forehead. I was roundly criticized by the family for giving her such a tall order.
“The next week, still bearing her scars, she was back with my food order and a Whopper meal from BK. I sat on my couch while she got me a plate from the kitchen for my Whopper and fries and a chair to set my small Coke on. ‘Thank you for being so patient,’ The Middle Daughter said. ‘Yes,’ I agreed. ‘I’m patient.’
“Or, I thought, but didn’t say: im-patient, if you use a short i and drop the silent apostrophe.”
Now & Then
From the very same The Middle Daughter: “Subject: Forty-six Weekends.
“A spot of pandemic-inspired organizing turned up The Old Swim Jacket, neatly stored on a basement shelf. I took it over to my parents’ house, wearing a mask for COVID safety. The warm-up jacket seemed impossibly tiny, but I know it was oversized when my mother made it for me in 1974. It had to be, because it was large enough to serve me for all four years I swam in AAU meets.
“The jacket is completely covered in embroidered patches, each one commemorating a summer swim meet: Ascension Relays, Winona Steamboat Days, the Stillwater Candy Bar Special . . . . We counted up the patches and found 46. The last four were safety-pinned inside a pocket, as there was no room left anywhere on the jacket.
“For four years, every weekend of the summer, my father packed my younger sister and me into the way-back of the red Ford station wagon. My mother had cut down a piece of foam to serve as a mattress. With pillows and sleeping bags, we slept through the long trips to exotic places like Hutchinson, Princeton, and Hastings. My family was safety-conscious, which meant we wore seatbelts in the front and back seats. In a time when merry-go-rounds and climbing structures were built on asphalt, the way-back felt safe enough for sleeping bags.
“The weekends were a blur of activity. The family area was always in the gym, where each family staked out their territory with a blanket. Early birds got the wall spots, which were treasured. In the middle of the gym, strange kids ran right over your blanket — you might even get hit by a Frisbee!
“We kids entertained ourselves while the grownups chatted over Thermoses full of coffee. Anything out of the ordinary would color the weekend with excitement: a pool table, heat ribbons, a climbing rope, or eight lanes instead of six. Best of all was the Edina family that brought their bulldogs to the meets.
“All weekend long, we dipped in and out of the concession stand. Rice Krispie bars were always 10 cents, the bargain treat at every meet. Before races, we sat on chairs in the Clerk of Course, tension ratcheting up as the clock on the wall ticked down the minutes to our event. We swam as hard as we could and made friends with the girls we raced against. We racked up ribbons and cheered on our teammates. Our final times and placements appeared on dot-matrix printouts taped to the wall outside the Ribbon Guy’s office. (There was always a Ribbon Guy.)
“Our parents cheered from the stands. The more enthusiastic ones — like my father — held stopwatches and kept track of our splits in pocket notebooks.
“Forty-five years later, The Old Swim Jacket brings it all back. Thanks, Mom and Dad!”
Life as we know it
The Astronomer of Nininger: “When I entered graduate school to study physics, I had the good fortune to meet and endear a number of good-natured fellows. One might think that such a class of individuals would naturally be the kind of persons who smoked only hand-rolled Cuban cigars, drank very ‘peaty’ single-malt Scotch whisky, and liked their prime ribeye steak dry-aged. Instead, as I recall, no one smoked, we drank mostly Coors (which we called ‘Colorado Kool-Aid’), and we subsisted in large part on wild-game meat for the duration. Yet, you would be surprised at the diversity of individuals in our group. It was not that of race, gender and ethnicity, but rather that of cultural values, personality and religious convictions.
“We were bifurcated into two groups: those who were married and had children, and then there were the bachelors.
“John was from Chicago, as the Good Wife and I were. He and his wife, Jenny, had a little boy while he was in graduate school. John’s parents never knew about Jenny and their son until they came out West for a surprise visit. I guess there were surprises all around.
“Steve was married to Jan, who worked in the campus library. Steve liked machining instrumentation and believed strongly in the free-market system. I doubt that he ever voted for a Democrat. They had a pair of Norwegian elkhounds that loved to play with our Vizsla.
“Charlie was a bachelor. He was fun-loving and serious about his studies, like the rest of us. He joined us on a number of our elk hunts up in the Medicine Bow National Forest. We spent more time hunting for Charlie than for elk because he got lost every single time. And when he got lost, he really did so. It would take us hours to find him. We could ask him to sit on a stand and wait for us, but sure as God made green apples, he’d be gone and was off somewhere getting lost. The Good Wife could count on our being several hours late if Charlie was going with us.
“Everybody is different, but that is what makes the world go around. We still got along together, largely because we had a common goal in school. Maybe if we had more common objectives that bind us together instead of concentrating on our differences, we would be able to live together in harmony.”
The great comebacks
Reports Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: One-upped at the big box.
“As I entered the Shoreview Target, a man wearing a ‘SECURITY’ shirt was standing near the carts. I walked over to him and whispered: ‘Am I more secure standing near you?’
“Without missing a beat, he replied: ‘I’d take a bullet for you. You can’t be any more secure than that.’
“I’ve never felt more secure while shopping.”
Our “trees,” ourselves
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I recently experienced one of those milestone birthdays that other people enjoy celebrating more than the person themself. An actual celebration was still pretty much out of the question, anyways, so my brother came up with something different: He cajoled relatives, friends and acquaintances to send me as many birthday cards as they saw fit.
“The plan was for me to receive at least one card for every year that I have survived on this mortal coil. That goal wasn’t met, but I did receive an impressive number of birthday cards. Some of the cards were store-bought, while others were homemade with artwork that would normally grace a refrigerator door.
“Now that I had the cards, the question was what to do with them. It seemed a shame to just toss them into the recycling bin. My cousin Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights came up with a solution: Decorate my wrought-iron tree with the birthday cards. I objected at first on the grounds that this would require too much work, because even though paper cards do technically grow on trees, they don’t easily lend themselves to being hung on a metal tree.
“Be that as it may, the problems weren’t insurmountable, and the Birthday Card Tree was born. I would like to thank everyone who sent me a card or two or three or more, as would the United States Postal Service, Hallmark, and the paper industry.”
This ’n’ that
From Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “TP availability (low) and cost (not low) have been irritating me for at least a year. I can’t remember seeing a sale on my TP in all that time, and now I hear that there might be scarcity of TP again — plus rising costs. After a year of All This, I figure we shouldn’t take this sitting down.
“But there is a tiny ray of hope: For years, Charmin TP coupons in newspapers have been worth $0.25 on any package bigger than trial size. And, since many people routinely buy huge packages of giant TP rolls that cost well over $10 each, it wasn’t worth cutting the coupon out of the paper. However (drum roll!), the value of the new coupons is now $1.00 per package!!! I rushed to the store and saved $1.00 on a $12.99 roll of TP, for old times’ sake.
“If costs do rise, I figure I can now wait the stores out for a while. Some years back, I figured out that one mega roll of TP lasted me about six days, and I now have 35 rolls. Which figures out to about 30 weeks’ worth. Huzzah!
“Let the TP siege begin!”
(2) “On May 7, I drove to a church near a river road, to enjoy nature on the grounds outside it. Five or six turkeys were strutting around the grass flaring their feathers — possibly for one hen.
“Unsure of dating protocol for turkeys, I left them to it.”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: If you had been sure of dating protocol for turkeys, how’d you think you might get involved? LOL.
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has been out and about: (1) “Subject: Tulips on Display.
“I haven’t made it to the Arboretum yet, but I did make it to a nearby neighbor’s front yard to look at their tulips on display, and I was impressed with the variety of colors the blossoms had.
“These red and yellow blossoms with their interesting red patterns were striking. It made me wonder how such a combination of colors came about.
“A different red and yellow blossom had an appeal that seemed to strike my heart more.
“This cluster with its variety of colors had some ‘ordinary’-looking tulips that I thought looked great, too.
“After our months of no leaves and no flowers of any kind, spring becomes very special to me. I am in awe of the variety of beauty I see, made more striking by the contrast of nothing to this.”
(2) “Subject: Six flowering trees photos.
“In addition to feeling a sense of relief as leaves come out, I am amazed at the beauty of those trees that flower in the spring.
“What a treat to see them and their variety in the neighborhood.
“Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, I don’t remember ever seeing anything like these.
“Perhaps planting them here is an ‘in’ thing to do now. Bravo to those who have!”
What’s in a (place) name?
Elvis: “Subject: Place names.
“Elvis spent a few months down south. Elvis has decided he will never want to own a house anywhere named Chigger Hill, Rattlesnake Ridge, or Copperhead Lane.”
Stinky Bananalips of Empire: “Subject: Catching up and a rare B-M.
“This Pandammit has had me really closed off from my usual habits for too long. As of April 27th, I’m considered fully vaccinated! As the kids on TikTok are singing; ‘This Girl is on Pfizer.’ I gotta give credit to wasting time on TikTok and Facetime calls with my daughter as the two apps that have gotten me through the last 14 months.
“Last week I realized that I haven’t read BB since last fall, and I wanted to start catching up. And resume reading my favorite advice columns that I’ve also been neglecting. (Those are fun, but not worth going back to the archives, like Bulletin Board is, you know?)
“A rare and wonderful B-M has happened this morning. Today’s Do Just One Thing (5/6/21) article by Danny Seo mentions a list of drought-tolerant trees you can plant, and one of them was a Kentucky Coffee Tree. I had heard of the others on his list, but not this one, and thought: ‘I wonder if you get actual coffee beans from it.’
“Then I moved on to BB and got to 2/24/21 where John in Highland mentioned . . . Kentucky Coffee Trees!
“That’s twice in about half an hour that I’ve run across a tree I’d never heard of before. So I had to do an image search. They get these really cool-looking seed pods on them and turn yellow in the fall. But no, it doesn’t look like they produce coffee beans.
“Now I should do some actual work. March’s BB columns will have to wait until lunchtime.”
Everyone’s a copy editor
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: . . . don’t know squat!
“This is a picture from Page C6 of the Sports section of the Minneapolis paper from May 4.
“The caption reads: ‘Byron Buxton knelt in center field before the start of the Twins game against the Rangers at Target Field on Monday.’”
Dennis from Eagan reports: “My white husky Stormy (who appeared in last May 24’s print edition eating frozen custard) grew a cancerous lump in his lower neck by his heart. We euthanized him on April 17, but he’ll live on in plenty of memories. Thanks for being a part of his life.
“My favorite photos of him were when he was in the car. He would sit in one of the front seats if it was empty — especially the driver’s seat, since the car would move only if someone (maybe even him) sat there.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Rest in peace, Stormy. You were one fine dog.
Band Name of the Day: The Way-Backs
Website of the Day: University of Minnesota Campus Trees