Life as we know it
The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill has once again sent us a dispatch from her husband: “Subject: The last Little League Coach’s Diary?
“Little League Coach’s Diary, Vol. IX, Ch. 1.
“‘It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passing of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.’ — A. Bartlett Giamatti
“I have been coaching my three kids’ teams since 2005. I would guess it adds up to more than 50 teams and hundreds of games, friendships and memorable days. Tee-ball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, boys, girls. I coached them all.
“Occasional daydreams sometimes send me back in time, on the field or court, and I can feel exactly how it felt, and see them exactly how they were, like snapshots in my mind.
“Fred’s 15U fall baseball team’s doubleheader a week ago Sunday was probably my last day coaching one of my kids.
“I threw batting practice in the cages before the game, as I have done hundreds of times. I even snapped a few curveballs and floated a couple knuckleballs past the boys, for kicks.
“We won the first game and lost the second. Not bad for having to take an automatic out from our 9 spot all afternoon because we had only eight players, due to a last-minute scratch for COVID precautions.
“Fred pitched. He came on in relief in a two-out, bases-loaded jam and induced a pop-up out on his first pitch to end the threat, then allowed only one base runner in his next inning. He’s been growing. He is taller and stronger and throws hard — harder than some bigger kids and harder than he did at the beginning of the summer.
“At the plate he had two hits — a sharp single that bounced off the third-base bag and a rocket double that he smashed down the left-field line.
“During the second-game loss, I had plenty of opportunities to take the boys to task — for not backing up throws, for pitchers not pointing to pop-ups and passed balls that the catcher could not locate, for not being in motion when the pitch crossed home, for not hustling on and off the field.
“But they had fun. I had fun. Baseball is fun.
“And it was a beautiful day. It was October, but it felt like August. The sky was royal blue, the sun was bright, and kids were outside playing ball — throwing, catching, running and laughing.
“Only nine days later, colder weather is here, and winter is only weeks away.
“The passage of time already has begun to bury that last doubleheader with other moments that appear in my daydreams — moments that have long been racing toward the past as fast as our kids have been racing toward adulthood.
“The passage of time.
“The whir of the ball.
“The crack of the bat.
“The blink of an eye.”
Then & Now (responsorial II)
Grandma Frog: “I lived with my grandparents, Frances and Nick Schons, in Nicollet, Minnesota. I remember as a young child the ice-cutting machine Grandpa used on the lake outside of town. Seems now I have an affinity for ice cubes! But I really dislike the cold.
“Here’s Grandpa and his brother showing off the ice saw my grandpa patented.
“There must be more to the story. Maybe it made the newspaper back then.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We don’t know about the newspaper, but your grandpa’s invention did make it into the permanent record at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Check it out here: Ice-cutting machine.
Then & Now
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I recently purchased — from eBay, of course — a catalog published by the Saint Paul Statuary Co., formerly the Giuliani Statuary Co. It isn’t dated, but appears to be from the 1920s. The company was located at 318-330 E. Seventh St., an area that is now part of I-94. I was interested in the catalog because my Grandfather Leonello, also of Dayton’s Bluff via Italy, worked there along with several other relatives.
“The catalog has hundreds of photographs depicting everything from individual church statues to entire altars. One of the altars looked extremely familiar, probably because I see it every week. It is the main altar at the Church of St. Mary in downtown Saint Paul, located just a few blocks from where the Saint Paul Statuary Co. once stood.
“Apparently when the current ‘new’ church building was being designed a hundred years ago, the people of St. Mary’s decided to buy local and went over to the Saint Paul Statuary Co. to have them design and build the altar.
“St. Mary’s altar is 100 years old this year. As the two photos show, not much has changed.
“The main difference is that the original altar has been separated into two parts, but fortunately was not destroyed, as were so many altars in other Catholic churches.”
The verbing of America
From The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “In the list of the TIME 100 (the world’s most influential people), Alex Rodriguez (I thought his expertise was basketball [Bulletin Board interjects: Long-suffering Minnesota Timberwolves fans can only hope it is!]) wrote this about the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani: ‘He’s the modern-day Bambino — and yet even Babe Ruth wasn’t stealing 20-plus bases, hitting 40-plus homers and throwing 100 m.p.h. in the same season. Only Shohei can.
“‘If you were to Frankenstein every unique talent into one player you’d get Shohei Ohtani. He has the power of Bryce Harper, the pitching of Max Scherzer and the speed of Trea Turner.’
“BTW: I wonder when Alex will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Does “never” sound about right?
The Verbing of America
The REF in White Bear Lake: “On the strength of a review (likely by Mary Ann Grossmann), I sought out a book by Tana French, a writer unfamiliar to me. ‘The Searcher’ is a mystery by the Irish writer, and it left me gobsmacked, as French might say. Her prose, gentle and poetic, is a joy to absorb. So I’ve gone back in the Tana French catalog and am currently reading her debut novel, ‘In the Woods,’ the first of her Dublin Murder Squad books.
“Although the verbings shared in BB sometimes make us grit our collective teeth, I’d argue some — like this one — are a thing of beauty. Context, I suppose, counts for much. Early in the book, two detectives are interviewing someone found working near a crime scene, and the protagonist muses: ‘I liked Mel. She was shaken but refused to show it; she was fidgeting with an elastic band, cat’s-cradling it into shapes between her callused fingers.'”
Kathy S. of St Paul writes: “You know you have to recharge the batteries in your brain when:
“You wait and wait at a stoplight on Radio Drive in Woodbury, to drive west on Valley Creek Road. You’re beeped at, and beep back. Then you finally realize that the westbound lane of Valley Creek Road you are trying to turn into is totally closed. Oops! I headed north.
“You sign up online to get a flu shot and say that you were born in 2021. Then the computer says you are too young for a flu shot, and blocks you from fixing the date. The computer is still kinda confused the next day, but you do get your appointment booked — and your shot, surrounded by people getting COVID tests . . . which is a little scary, but you realize that they are probably traveling on planes or ships in the near future. So that should be OK. Knock on wood!”
Our pets, ourselves
Bill of the river lake: “Subject: Smart dog.
“This morning over in Hudson, we were at a stop sign waiting for the cross traffic to clear.
“Ahead of us was a car with two people up front, plus a large, dark brown dog in the rear seat.
“As the traffic was somewhat heavy, we watched the dog actually look both ways — several times, no less. He seemed to know what he was doing, as he stopped looking when it was all clear, and the car made an easy left turn.
“Maybe dogs or other smart pets could aid drivers like this, but how to train them?”
Ask Bulletin Board
Donald writes: “I bring a query to you, Seer, Sage, and Soothsayer (wait a minute — I’m dating myself — that was Carnac) in hope that you will make me unperplexed.
“There are four seasons, correct? Winter, spring, summer and fall/autumn. Why are there two names for the season between summer and winter?
“No other season has more than one name.
“Have at it, BB.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We are certain that we cannot improve on this post from Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/34260-fall-autumn-season-names.html.
Unclear on the concept
Steve in Woodbury: “Subject: Huh?
“I was watching the Penn State versus Iowa football game the other day when Penn State had to kick the football on fourth down. The ball sailed out of bounds at the 50-yard line. The announcer said: ‘When we come back, Iowa will have the ball on its own 50-yard line.'”
This ’n’ that
From Al B of Hartland: (1) “Summer is in the rear-view mirror. The sounds of combines and migrating geese have become ubiquitous. At this time of the year, I recall the advice given to me by Tom Smith, a teacher of mine, who recommended getting a job where I drive west to work in the morning and east going home.”
(2) “No man has ever taken his family to a theme park and said: ‘I can’t believe how little we’ve spent here.’”
Joy of Juxtaposition (responsorial II)
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “I, too, like Jerry Tjader, am inspired to tell my Four Roses bourbon story because of the earlier note from Kathy S. of St. Paul.
“In my last couple of years of high school, and during the short interval before I joined the Navy, I played in a small polka band. There were three of us: Bill (drummer), Brad (accordion), and me — Bob — on the bass (tuba). Thus we were the ‘Polka B’s.’ OK, it was the best we could come up with! Brad was my age, and in fact we joined the Navy together. Bill was (ahem) a bit more experienced. We had a lot of good times.
“With the ’Nam kettle still boiling, and my problems with a college I had no business attending, I knew that my musical career was going to be brief, so I gladly accepted Bill’s suggestion that we join the Musicians’ Union. I think I attended only one meeting with my pals. They were having a raffle, and one of the prizes was none other than a bottle of Four Roses bourbon, which I had never even heard of. Since I was still at a tender pre-21 age, I did not enter said raffle. Or so I thought.
“As they drew names, they announced that lucky me had won the Four Roses! Turns out Bill (he could be a real scamp) had, unbeknownst to me, paid the raffle fee and entered my name for me. At first I was too flabbergasted (good word!) for any response, so they read my name again. Of course, since I was new there, no one had any idea just who I was. When I identified myself and went to claim my prize, there was much hemming and hawing and guffawing, with an undercurrent of comments about whether I should be allowed to take possession of the booze. I finally was given the bottle, with the understanding that I would not open it. Legal? Who knows? Statute of limitations has run out anyway! I also rooted out how I had even gotten into the raffle when I noticed an impish grin on Bill’s face.
“If I remember correctly (long time ago!), I gave the Four Roses to my older brother, who was mostly a beer drinker but gladly accepted the windfall. At the time, I had NO desire to imbibe. (The Navy changed that a bit!)
“P.S. I still have my old Reynolds tuba. Don’t know why.”
Band Name of the Day: The Frankensteiners
Law Firm of the Day: Seer, Sage & Soothsayer
Website of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: For history buffs.
“On October 9, 2021, C-SPAN2 played 70 minutes of oral history with former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, a veteran of World War II. It is stitched together from segments that were taped in 2007, and it is fascinating. I wanted to go out and vote for him; his insights and opinions seem so positive and smart. He reminds me of Walter Mondale, even though they were in different political parties.
History can be fascinating; especially when you can learn from those who were part of it.”