And: Our pets, ourselves
Grandma ’Ginia writes: “Subject: Generation gap or natural selection?
“As I grow older and wiser, I’ve noticed that I’m living vicariously through my kid and grandkids. It’s not that I am not having any adventures, but they seem to be receding a bit. An example greeted me this morning when I checked my texts, my lifeline to the family.
“My granddaughter Ellie (name changed just in case) sent me the story of what happened last night at her house.
“Ellie and her friend live in a charming home in a northern suburb. They are quite the entrepreneurs, having ownership in several popular fast-food restaurants. That requires her to be gone for long hours for work and meetings. Yesterday was a meeting day.
“Ellie owns two dogs. They couldn’t be more different. Pig is a Pug, the kind of little black dog whose eyes seem to look in two different directions. He is a sassy whirlwind. Pluto is a Great Pyrenees, a fluffy, white, gentle giant who is so large he could be fitted with a saddle. He was a rescue who had been mistreated and starved in his former life, so he seems eternally grateful to be comfortable and loved. He is so big that a tail wag is potentially dangerous.
“Ellie has arranged for a relative to come in during the long work day to take care of doggie breaks. Yesterday at 10:45 p.m., while still in a late meeting, Ellie got a phone call from the local police to tell her that her giant white dog, who is never let out alone, was outside the house, barking to be let in. She hurried home and found out that the dog sitter had thought the house was getting stuffy, so he had opened an upstairs window to let in some fresh air. Pluto had managed to get out of that window and gone exploring. He was giddy with joy to finally be let back in.
“The police had stayed with him and told Ellie that it had been one of the best calls they had gotten in a long time, because they got to play with Pluto till she got home.
“Once again, I got to enjoy an adventure without any stress or exertion. It occurs to me that with Halloween fast approaching, Pluto should be fitted with a white cone on his face, to go trick-or-treating as a unicorn.”
Then & Now
John in Highland writes: “Subject: Were the Gophers ever National Champions?
“Not to put any pressure on P.J. Fleck, but it has been quite a few years since Murray Warmath led the Gophers to a National Championship. Remember Sandy Stephens running that option offense? [Bulletin Board says: Indeed, we do. We’re just old enough to remember Stephens handing it off to Judge Dickson and pitching it out to Bill Munsey.]
“This year’s team is very good. Some of us hope to see a return to the Rose Bowl before it’s too late!”
BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: The 1960 season wasn’t the Golden Gophers’ only national championship.
Believe it or not, the University of Minnesota had the national collegiate football champions in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940 and 1941. They were the Crimson Tide of their time!
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
All from Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: Are you really Sven?
“C-SPAN channels show some interesting videos, which may be accessed via their website. Tonight I saw a ‘Lectures in History’ talk by Saje Mathieu, a professor at the University of Minnesota. The topic is ‘Neutrality and World War I America.’ I learned a lot from it.
“One interesting tidbit: The prof mentioned a time in WWI when it became uncomfortable to have a German name here. She said that Minnesota has an improbably high percentage of people who claim Scandinavian rather than German roots — because their ancestor(s) changed their names during World War I.”
(2) “Subject: Quick Reminder re: Visibility.
“On Sunday, I almost hit a woman walking her dog less than a block from my home. I was driving toward the sun at 5 p.m., which reduced my visibility — even though it was not dark yet.
“She was wearing neutral grayish or tannish clothes, and she and her dog blended into the scenery.
“My mind was on maneuvering into my garage, and I didn’t notice her. She crossed the street, assuming that I saw her — but I did not until she was right in front of my car.
“Angels were at work on Sunday. I am grateful for them.”
(3) “Subject: I am the leader.
“Red’s Offspring described lessons learned re: following directions in high school. Which reminded me of a mimeographed gag list of orders that traveled around — including my grade school — circa 1963.
“Number one on the list of instructions said that we were not to carry out any of the instructions until we had read all of them. I immediately read the last instruction — which said not to follow any other order on the list. So I put down my pencil and killed time by reading the list and watching my classmates ‘follow’ the orders.
“But my younger sister (third or fourth grade?) got swept up in the tasks. Halfway through it she read that, if she was the first one to get that far, she was to stand up and announce that she was the leader in following instructions. And she did — as her teacher laughed and turned red.
“Of course, ‘I am the leader in following instructions’ became a buzzword among those who took the bogus test. To this day, I sometimes explain the phrase to younger folks. And warn them about blindly following orders.”
(4) “Subject: A thought from long ago.
‘Tonight I told friends about a long-ago posting in the Bulletin Board. A woman took a jar outside on a perfect summer day to capture air from it. She closed it and labeled it with data that day, then set it on a shelf in her kitchen so she could see it in the depths of winter — and know that she could always open it.
“We’re heading into fall and winter now, but we’re only partly back to ‘normal’ from COVID. Which is worrisome.
“Maybe everyone should fill jars with air from perfect days, in case we need to borrow some joy.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: The woman who wrote about her jar of perfect-day air was Grandma Up North.
She called the Bulletin Board Hot Line (one of many times she called) on Sunday, October 24, 1993. We transcribed her call (we can still hear her voice) and ran it in the Bulletin Board of October 28, 1993, under the heading “Saving the day”:
“We’ve had a weekend that has been, honestly, a miracle — because we live in the North Country, as you know, and to have a weekend like this is so spectacular, so incredibly undeserved. It has been just absolutely marvelous.
“A friend and I were talking this weekend, and she said, ‘Gee, I wish we could bottle it. Put in in a jar.’
“And I thought: Why not? So I cleaned out a jar, the cap and everything, and went out in the back yard. Twirled around three times, to get the air in there really good, and then clamped it shut. I wrote on it: ‘This jar contains beautiful air from a perfect day, Oct. 24, 1993.’
“I told my friend Pat about it, and she said she’d like a jar, too. She said it just in time, because the sun was declining. I rushed out and caught it just in time . . . .
“So this very dark and dreary winter, she’ll be able to take the jar out and look at it, and it will say: ‘Contents: 65 degrees, sunny sky, no wind, perfect.’ I think that’s pretty good.
“And not only that, there’s only two jars in existence.”
Some time later, Grandma Up North‘s jar came our way.
In case you wonder: No, we have never opened it. Grandma Up North‘s perfect day has been perfectly preserved.
May she rest in peace.
Our theater of seasons
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “A memory of marigolds from earlier this summer.”
Their theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Oregon photos.
“After driving four days to the Portland area of Oregon, I found a great variety of plants still blooming and started taking photos.
“My son had a few roses that have been watered (since it is so dry there in the summer) and so were still blooming.
“The fig tree is covered with almost-ripe figs to pick.
“Other plants were blooming, too. I didn’t ask what they were, just took photos of them.
“This is similar to some dahlias I have seen, but don’t think it is one.
“And I liked the way these blossoms kind of stacked up.
“I was happy to see my son’s roses were getting watered and still blooming. I enjoy seeing how the sun makes them more interesting by lightening the core of the blossom . . .
“. . . or shining through the petals.
“Nearby neighbors had flowers blooming near the street, so just walking along the road provided a variety of blossoms to see and photograph.
“The little yellow blossom ‘necklace’ caught my eye . . .
“. . . as did the variety of blossoms that did this.
“Seeing a bee in a blossom is always something I enjoy and am relieved to see. I have noticed very few bees in my yard this year — perhaps a result of our drought.”
Fun facts to know and tell
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Spruce cone MRI.
“To whom it may interest: This is what the inside of a Norway spruce cone looks like.”
The verbing of America
From Donald: “This was part of a July 29 online Washington Post article about ‘rapist – child pornographer Larry Nassar’:
“‘It was only two weeks ago that the Justice Department’s inspector general released a report on the Nassar case, in which (Simone) Biles learned . . . corrupt officials hushed up evidence that (Nassar) was a serial sex assaulter and how then USPG chief Steve Penny traded favors with local FBI agent Jay Abbott to bottom-drawer it.’”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson: “The wail of a train
“drills through the night like banshees
“going to a grave”
Our pets, ourselves (including: CAUTION! Words at Play!)
Plus: Know thy callers, know thyself!
From Al B of Hartland: “I wanted to move the stepladder, but the cat was napping on it. I didn’t know what to say. The cat had my rung.
“The landline rang. I conversed until I heard: ‘Well, I should probably let you go.’ That’s a polite way of saying: ‘Why are you still talking?’
“A pleasant woman called me regularly. She said what she wanted to say and then hung up. No goodbye included. She could have said: ‘Please hold for the dial tone.'”
Then & Now
Or: The highfalutin pleasures ’n’ displeasures
Auction Girl of Pine Island: “Subject: The new phone.
“Auction Girl of Pine Island delights in the old, simple, and functional machines which made modern life — like old radios, the 50-year-old toaster someone got as a wedding gift, and, of course, the beautiful and indestructible rotary-dial desktop phone.
“Of all the things in life, that phone was close to perfect; it worked intuitively.
“About seven years ago, one employer required Auction Girl to ‘get a smart phone already.’ So rather than return to big-box-retail purgatory, she reluctantly agreed to get a monthly-payment 3G Motorola from Target.
“It was hard to get a good signal. Auction Girl drove a lot back then and tried it everywhere from Redwood Falls to McGregor.
“The camera, compared to her fantastic Nikon, was sorely lacking.
“Battery life was iffy, especially in subzero temperatures, when you might need a tow.
“Recently, the phone attempted suicide by overheating — in her pants pocket — during a shift at ‘little store on the prairie.’
“Time for a real phone. Who knew it would take two hours at the store to activate and three more at home to ‘migrate’ the data?
“Auction Girl does like to hear Dvořák’s ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me’ instead of a generic buzz or that ‘Marimba’ clunk of an iPhone when it ‘rings.’
“It’s weird to see the time and temp displayed without asking. Anyone remember calling time and temperature on the rotary phone for something to do?
“So many passwords to gatekeep a lifetime of data hidden in a cigarette case like this. Should one tell her phone that much?
“Auction Girl never wondered if the rotary phone gossiped with its friends on the party line after she hung up.”
Band Name of the Day: Gentle Giant
Websites of the Day (including: Website of the Day [responsorial]), from Semi-Legend: “Subject: The End of a Symphony.
“Kathy S. of St. Paul wrote of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’: ‘I heard once that Ravel wrote it as a joke, and it is all “endings.”‘
“That put me in mind of Allan Sherman’s ‘The End of a Symphony.’ It is all ‘endings.’
“It’s a fun album. All of it.
“This is Side A:
“And this is, delightfully, the other cut on Side B.”