Our poultry, our “friends,” ourselves
DebK of Rosemount writes: “Chicken-butchering of 2021 has just concluded with Taxman’s stuffing the last of this year’s roosters into the freezer. Thus ends an effort that each August or September consumes a full week of our lives and moves me precipitously — though temporarily — toward vegetarianism. And friendlessness, too, as it happens.
“My women friends are a talented, hard-working, generous bunch, but every year when I mention that Taxman’s hatchet has been sharpened, they abandon me unceremoniously. Those who have experience in chicken-butchery are especially apt to be occupied with unspecified ‘other things’ during my hour of need. Euterpe, however, who is professionally trained in the wielding of knives (for culinary purposes) and whose Christianity ought to impel her to come to my aid, avoids all polite pretense. Her blunt refusal cuts to the quick, an injury aggravated by her calling into question my sanity and reminding me that ‘you can get perfectly good chicken in the grocery store.’
“She’s right on both counts. And every year as I’m elbow-deep in feathers and guts, I swear off raising our own ‘broilers,’ as we chicken people call the roosters we raise for eating. Alas, chicken-butchering is like child-bearing: A woman forgets how awful it is. No matter how ghastly the butchering season, by the time Stromberg’s spring chicken catalog arrives in the mail, I’m eager to place my order for Red Rangers.
“Maybe not in 2022, though. Oh, I’ll order broilers — but perhaps not my long-favored Red Rangers. This year, as we began the grisly harvest, I reported to Taxman that our birds seemed to be taking on traits of the Cornish Cross, the wildly popular breed chosen by real (as opposed to pretend) farmers and commercial chicken producers. Taxman concurred, noting that this year’s crop of Red Rangers had quickly attained the size and contours of young turkeys, eating us into the financial abyss as they did so. Moreover, the remarkable development of their foreparts (‘breasts,’ to us chicken folks) had rendered the young roosters almost immobile, the very trait that causes us to eschew the aforementioned Cornish Cross. Taxman and I like our free-range flock to be capable of ranging freely — or as far as Hamish, the resident border collie, will allow. Anyway, according to Taxman, only one of this year’s entire batch of broilers managed to hop over the fence into the laying hens’ pen, there to inaugurate a new breed, the Red Ranger/Speckled Sussex hybrid.”
Now & Then (responsorial)
Gma Tom: “Subject: Farm life.
“The essay by Waldo Windmill echoed my life experiences growing up on a farm in the ’40s & ’50s, except that ‘silo filling’ was also a community effort in our neighborhood.
“The culinary sport engaged in by the local housewives was as fierce as any competitive activity. As a young girl who was solicited to help her mother during this competition, it was a rite of passage to overhear comments made by the ‘judges’ of said culinary offerings.”
Then & Now
And: In memoriam
Chris, “formerly of Falcon Heights, now from Beautiful White Bear Lake,” reported, on September 10: “Being a golfer, I love commemorative golf pins. I ordered this one early in September 2001. It arrived a week after the Twin Towers went down on September 11th.
“When I opened the package, I just stared at it in disbelief. It so upset me that from that day, it was in a box in the bottom of my dresser drawer — until today. I have an 8:30 tee time, and for the first time in 20 years, I am wearing it and remembering all the brave souls lost that day.”
And now Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A phone booth in New York where people talked to those lost on 9/11.
“NPR has a video online called ‘They Lost Loved Ones In 9/11. We Invited Them To Leave A Voicemail In Their Memory.’ It shows people who walked up to a phone booth where they talked to people they lost on 9/11.
“I saw how vivid their life-long pain is. But what I noticed most is guys who were willing to cry and express emotions on camera. I remember when Ed Muskie’s 1972 campaign to be the U.S. President was destroyed when (it was said) he cried while replying to a political dirty trick. A (guy) President was not allowed to show weakness, let alone tears, back then.
“As a fan of counseling and facing problems, I figure we have come a long way since 1972. And since 9/11.”
The Hat People (encore?)
Or: They’re out there! (Now & Then Division)
And from the same Kathy S. of St Paul: “Folks, maybe more drivers need to wear hats! Like in the days when the Bulletin Board column was young.
“Lately, drivers racing on freeways have scared me by speeding and swerving around traffic. In contrast, I drove on Hiawatha (four-lane-freeway wannabe) in Minneapolis on a recent afternoon, behind a car with a bumper sticker that said ‘I do stupid things.’ Which appeared to be truth in advertising: The driver stopped on the road when the far-off light was green, and blocked the honking traffic — until the car puttered off at half the speed limit.
“When something irks me, I like to figure out a fitting (nonviolent) punishment — such as wishing a female boss on a male chauvinist. In the early days of the Bulletin Board column, we readers used to yell ‘Get a hat!’ to bad drivers. [Bulletin Board interjects: That was half of the Hat People equation, as formulated by Merlyn of St. Paul. The other half: When we saw a bad driver who was wearing a hat, we were instructed to shout: “Thanks for the warning!”]
“But times have changed, and I figure punishments should also change. So I think that drivers caught acting crazy on our roads need to be fined and confined, but also forced to listen to and/or watch whatever bothers them the most — such as making Bach fans listen to marching bands, and requiring fans of heavy metal to watch both of the ‘Frozen’ movies.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Carp Lips of Wyoming: “Subject: What’s in a name?
“Shame on the Pioneer Press for printing a photo from the AP on Sunday showing Mick Tingelhoff and ‘Frank’ Tarkenton.
“What’s next — a piece on Ron Carew, Gil Goldsworthy and Harlan Killebrew?
Norsky writes: “It is with a great deal of sadness that I inform you that Bulletin Boarder W.i. Fly of Austin passed away Friday, September 10, 2021. He was 86 years old.
“Fly was the author of countless Bulletin Board submissions over the years. He and his friend Randam of Austin introduced me to writing articles for Bulletin Board years ago. They will see each other in heaven now.
“Fly enjoyed keeping in contact with his many friends by email. He had email friends all over the country. His emails used to be numerous, frequent, and always interesting. He was big on sharing.
“Fly had a unique sense of humor, and he used it with his artistic ability as a profitable hobby during his younger years by selling his ideas to numerous greeting-card companies. He never missed a birthday. My wife and I would both receive personalized hand-made birthday cards every year on our birthdays. We will be missing someone who cares that much.
“I was lucky to call W.i. Fly of Austin my friend.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: He felt like a friend to us, too — one of many friends-we’ve-never-met, thanks to Bulletin Board.
Then & Now
John in Highland writes: “Subject: What’s a woofer?
“Back before tapes and CDs, all that a music pseudo-aficionado like me needed was a stereo receiver, a turntable and speakers. I thought that it would be easy to make a set of speakers, so I set off to fashion a pair of ‘two-way’ speakers, similar to those made by Advent, a popular type at that time. They would consist of a 12-inch woofer and a 3-inch, rheostat-controlled tweeter. I built them in my parents’ basement using a Skil saw and lumber from Knox Lumber Company, where it was always difficult to find a straight board.
“My friends were critical of the finished product, but I thought that they sounded almost as good as the commercial ones.
“Today they occupy a place of honor, up in the rafters of our garage.
“After almost 50 years, they still sound good!”
Unclear on the concept
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “There is a birthday card floating about that was written by someone who is unclear on the concept as to what constitutes being old. The front has a picture of a vinyl LP album and reads ‘You’re not “OLD” unless you’ve ever turned an album over to hear the other side of it.’ The inside reads ‘Uh-oh. Happy Birthday.’
“Ten years ago this card might have made sense, but it certainly doesn’t today. Whether this card was ever funny is a matter of opinion.
“Nowadays, anyone of any age can buy vinyl LP albums in brick-and-mortar stores such as Target or from a multitude of online retailers. This person of indeterminate age would also need to have a record player/turntable and learn how to use such a highly complex piece of modern technology. And assuming they want to listen to the entire album, after playing one side of the album on the record player, they will have to turn it over to hear the other side of it. Even a child can do it, or at least they could back in the olden days.
“Maybe it’s time to change the birthday card to show a picture of a cassette tape instead of a record. However, I hear cassettes are also getting popular again, although I have no idea why. They may have been small and portable, but the audio quality left much to be desired, and the tape had a regrettable tendency not to stay inside the cassette.”
Now & Then
Mary Louise Olson of Hudson, Wisconsin: “Subject: A classmate reunion.
“The idea of classmates’ from kindergarten through high-school graduation being together once again seemed like just a ‘pipe dream.’ But it could happen, and it did! On July 9, 2021, six of us were at the steps of OUR school (1941-1953). Some family members were there as well, and smiles with greetings were everywhere. A current Spring Valley, Wisconsin, school staff member met and escorted us to the room where it all began. Absent was the fireplace that we as kindergartners thought was very special. Now the building is coming down, and evidence of destruction was the present-day condition of the classroom.
“One classmate brought the report card that was used by our teacher, Miss Henrietta Wessels. It didn’t seem particularly outdated, because our ‘mental habits,’ ‘physical characteristics,’ and ‘social attitudes’ were evaluated by the teacher. We had projects like ‘our pets,’ ‘good manners,’ ‘home and family,’ ‘birds,’ ‘health,’ ‘seeds on plants and trees,’ and ‘gardening.’ Obviously, the school year was filled with real learning. Considering that a war was being fought, with local folks in harm’s way, and a major Spring Valley flood occurred in September of 1941, reality did inflict learning in our class.
“As the remaining six class members, we mentioned the names and recalled memories of classmates no longer with us. A poem that had been taught was recited. We had all learned to play a tonette, and soon we heard one played; a song was sung from memory. We remembered to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, albeit as we learned it in 1941, minus the added line known today.
“What a blessing! The six of us could look back and smile at one another with an appreciation of long lives and positive learning from the start, thanks to our community of Spring Valley. Wisconsin.”
Everyone’s a (restaurant) critic!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Restau-rant review (channeling Andy Rooney).
“I like a good sandwich. I have several favorites. A Reuben with grated horseradish is probably number one, and egg salad is not too far behind. I get Patty Melts when I can, and Philly Cheesesteaks are always welcome. While a delicious sandwich is a first choice ‘lunch-out’ menu choice for me, I am always wary of the physical demands that usually follow that selection. Apparently if it is composed (and shaped) smaller than a properly inflated, regulation, bisected, NFL football, most restaurants think I will be disappointed. The bread, on the other hand (pun intended), is glowingly described in the menu but rather inconsequential when delivered. Any exotic taste, texture or artisan preparation is usually lost on the bottom slice because of the ‘fall-apart’ sauce for my added enjoyment. If you even attempt to pick it up (which I always think is the whole point of the thing), it takes both hands, and if it holds together during elevation, the first bite usually distributes the fillings everywhere but in your mouth. Am I the only one (ahem, BB) who would willingly pay $14 for a sandwich that has the good old-fashioned, sensible, fit-in-your-mouth ingredients ‘sandwiched’ (get it, Chef?) between two slices of good old-fashioned unsoaked bread . . . and not leave $4 worth of groceries on the table and my shirt? Plus, I don’t want to take the other half home; I had it for lunch! A first-world problem, I know, but hey, I loved my mother’s sandwiches, where less was always more.”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “On my first visit to Texas, a fellow who looked like a cross between a cowboy and a used car salesman asked if I’d like to see the entire state of Texas. I answered I’d love to one day. He held up his right hand with its palm outward and bent the last three fingers down to the palm. With the forefinger pointing up and thumb extended to the right, it looked like Texas, albeit a smaller version of the real thing.”
(2) “As a tour leader, I took many group photos. There are the magic words, words with weight, used to make one smile: I’d say ‘Prunes,’ ‘Say cheese,’ ‘Smile,’ ‘Smile, you’re on “Candid Camera,”‘ ‘Whiskey,’ ‘Lottery winners,’ ‘Cabbageheads’ and ‘Duck snort.’ A duck snort is a softly hit ball that goes over the infield and lands in the outfield for a hit. Chicago White Sox announcer Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson popularized the term.”
(3) “How clean should I keep my hummingbird feeder? Clean enough that I’d be willing to drink the sugar water.”
(4) “A bug zapper participates in an indiscriminate slaughter of insects, many of them beneficial. A University of Delaware study found that 0.22 percent of the kills were biting insects. Research showed that your chances of being bitten by a mosquito increase when you are near a bug zapper. The light is attractive, and so are you.”
(5) “My late mother-in-law’s favorite beverage was Mountain Dew. I don’t like the stuff. Friends and family gathered not long after her death, and each saluted her by drinking a small glass of Mountain Dew. The soft drink made me shudder, but I loved my mother-in-law. The Mountain Dew washed down the tears.”
(6) “My wife and I walked the county fair. We strolled by the onion-rings stand. We knew from experience those rings were tasty. Their aroma was inviting. ‘Those onion rings smell great,’ said my wife. I love my wife, so we walked past the stand again.”
(7) “This is the time of the year when I think of family reunions. I remember when I had a full roster of aunts. We had a pie table at reunions in those years. Woe be to anyone who brought a store-bought pie. Those good women believed in being fruitful and multi-pied.”
(8) “I’ve learned . . . the inventor of the doorbell didn’t own a Chihuahua.”
Live and learn
Or: One for the books
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul, writes: “Subject: Lessons learned.
“In talking with my grandson Sam, I learned that biology is one of his sophomore classes. Hearing ‘biology,’ I was reminded of my high-school biology course at Cretin (many years prior to Cretin-Derham Hall).
“The teacher was Christian Brother Anthony. My memory flashed back to two classroom incidents that have stayed with me all these years.
“Incident one: On the first day of class, Brother told us to write our names on a sheet of paper, put ‘JMJ’ (‘Jesus, Mary, Joseph’) beneath our names, and write ‘Biology’ on the top line, in the center of the paper.
“I don’t recall what else we wrote before he collected the papers.
“He stood at the front of the room with our papers in his hand. He proceeded to fold each paper in half from top to bottom. He deposited most of the papers in the basket, while we wondered what he was doing.
“As he stood in front of us, holding just a few papers, he said: ‘I told you to write “Biology” in the “center” of the paper.’
“He didn’t give us a lecture about following directions. He didn’t need to. We got the message.
“Incident two: On the day of our first test, Brother passed out a blue book and a sheet with numerous paragraphs on it. The assignment was to find false information in the paragraphs and write corrections in the blue books. I have no recollection of how much I wrote.
“Lunch followed biology, and as we left, Brother announced: ‘I hope you wrote a lot, because all the information in the paragraphs was incorrect.’
“We could hardly wait to get to the lunchroom to tell our classmates what we’d found out about the test!
“As the next class was leaving Biology, Brother Anthony informed them they should have left the blue books blank, because everything in the paragraphs was true.
“There are some educational experiences you don’t forget.”
Live and learn
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “When I was a prospective high-school teacher, the college arranged for each of us to spend two weeks in a nearby small town at the end of spring term, to get some practical experience. Another fellow and I went to W., 80 miles east of the city. As a math major, I shadowed Mr. B., who taught all the math in the school on the outskirts of town. I watched him at his job, and he assigned me lessons to prepare and teach.
“On Thursday, he rushed up to me before his first-period Algebra class. He had given the students all the odd-numbered problems in the new textbook they were using, to do for homework. Number 17 was a monster. It was full of parentheses within square brackets within curlicues. I advised him to start in the middle and work his way out from there.
“Sure enough, the captain of the football team asked him how to do Number 17. Mr. B. put the problem on the blackboard and started in on it. Halfway through, he glanced at me at the back of the room, and I gave him a slight nod. His final answer was 32. Answers to the odd numbers were given in the back of the book.
“Mr. B. pointed to the football player and asked him what the answer was in the back of the book. ‘Thirty-two,’ said the football player. ‘See,’ Mr. B said confidently to the class, ‘you just start in the middle and work your way to the outside.’
“At noon, Mr. B thanked me and treated me to lunch at the school cafeteria. After school, I was walking to my room in the middle of town. Three of the 12th-grade girls walked along with me. The only three options for lunch were to bring a bag, or eat at the Chinese restaurant in town (every town had a Chinese restaurant) or the cafeteria.
“One of the girls asked me where I had eaten. ‘At the cafeteria,’ I said. ‘Ugh,’ she said, making a face. ‘You must have a death wish.’ Lunch had been something I had never eaten before, or since. I think it was called Shepherd’s Pie. It was . . . interesting.”
Another episode of creative hearing, reported by Bill of the river lake: “Today we brought a small variety of items to our local Goodwill store after a quick cleanup of our son’s bedroom. I informed the young gentleman that we were also donating two cap guns.
“He was rather surprised at this, as he thought I had said cat guns.
“I said: ‘What is a cat gun?’
“‘Oh,’ he replied, ‘when our cats acted up, we would squirt them with water, using our “cat guns.”‘
“Anyway, we both had a good laugh.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has been out and about, camera in hand: “After getting back from our drive to Oregon and back to see family, I got a phone call from a photographer friend asking about flowers to photograph. I knew just where to take him: that neighbor about a block away whose whole front and back yards are flowering plants. Here are some of what we found.
“I didn’t note what they were; just took photos.
“I thought the overlapping petals with their red lines and core made this very unique as a blossom.
“I am pretty certain these last two are dahlia blossoms. The plants were quite tall, and these are about 4 feet above the ground.
“Visiting this neighbor with all their flowers was a relief for me. We drove the southern route from Oregon, dropping down to I-80 across Wyoming and Nebraska, and saw hundreds of miles of brown plants. I had rained a bit while we were in Oregon, so Nebraska had started to green up. I was relieved to see green again. Oregon has been dry, too, and I saw a few dead trees here and there.
“I continue to feel amazed at the variety of blossoms and patterns that flowers can produce.
“The ruffled edges on the petals always catch my eye.
“And I don’t know if these could be called petals or not, and if not, what are they called?
“These look like they have a case of the measles.
“We are having a good crop of acorns this year — the second year in a row. One of the chores to do when we got back home.
“It does feel good to be back. I feel fortunate to live here in Minnesota, even with the weather extremes we can experience.
“To me, it’s a well-run, beautiful state. From the miles of farm land to the south and west to the miles of woods and lakes and rocky coastline
of Lake Superior to the north, the variety is pleasing and a joy to try to capture in photos.”
Could be verse!
Eos: “Subject: ‘The Shot.’
“Hooray and Hallelujah!
“I got a shot . . . it’s true!
“It wasn’t for the COVID, though.
“Today was for the flu.
“I’m ready for everything now . . . fully vaccinated.
“Don’t forget your flu shot.”
What’s in a(n apple) name?
And: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Dennis from Eagan reports: “My first kiss at the 2021 State Fair, on the Ye Old Mill boat ride, was FREE, but apparently getting it in the Horticultural Building would have cost me $12.
“How do you like them apples, Honey(crisp)?”
Band Name of the Day: The Chicken People
Law Firm of the Day: Woofer & Tweeter
Website of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “For those of us who think they know when Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ ends:
“I heard once that Ravel wrote it as a joke, and it is all ‘endings.'”