‘I am thankful for my big brane, because if we did not have a big brane we wood be dumb’

Out of the mouths of babes
Including: The vision thing

Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Words of Wisdom.

“As I was reading the submissions to the Sunday Pioneer Press (11-21-21) by area first-graders on what they were thankful for, I imagined a Norman Rockwell painting depicting a classroom of eager little scholars pouring their hearts and souls into their short literary masterpieces.

“From being thankful for family, friends, pets, teachers and food, to bats, tarantulas, trampolines, Pokémon and the Army and Air Force, the imagination and sincerity of these youngsters never fails to amaze, amuse and inspire me.

“Here are a few of my favorites: ‘I am thankful for the galaxy because it is above God and Jesus’ — Adal; ‘I am thankful for the World otherwise we wud be ded because ther is no food in outrspas’ — Molly; ‘I am thankful for nursing homes because they help old people’ — Maddi; ‘I am thankful for my big brane, because if we did not have a big brane we wood be dumb’ — Mace; ‘I am thangfoll for the milkyway bekos it is so BEYOOTEFOLL!’ — Sierra; ‘Thankfel for Heaven and God turkey and earth’ — Charlie.

“In our dark, troubling times, you children are like a beacon of light. So, be good, work on that spelling, and embrace the ways of truth and love. You’re the hope of the world.”

Our times
Pandemic Division

Grandma Paula reports: “Subject: COVID hibernating.

“Staying home and not socializing after my move in October of 2020 gave me plenty of time to work on putting together jigsaw puzzles once I was settled in my new house. At my old house, I had a card table set up in the basement and worked on puzzles down there sporadically. I never really kept track of how many puzzles I completed in a year. There were too many other social opportunities that kept me busy, so finishing a puzzle was not my number-one priority back then. I might have finished one per year, but I loved to work on them. It is such a satisfying feeling to finish one, no matter if the puzzle is 500 pieces or 1,000 pieces.

“So, after Christmas and New Year’s Eve were over in 2020, I set up the card table again and started a puzzle. I finished these four from the 1st of January 2021 to November 1st of 2021.

“I loved doing the Elvis puzzle. I was a teenager in love with Elvis back in the 1950s.

“The Gas Station puzzle had a special place in my heart because my husband owned a gas station, and he drag-raced a beautiful 1970 Dodge Challenger at the local racetracks in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I love birds, and the bird puzzle was so beautiful.

“The last one was the most difficult puzzle to complete. It is a picture of a portion of a painting by the artist, Bev Doolittle, titled ‘The Forest Has Eyes.’ The whole painting has several faces hidden in the rocks. (I am really not sure how many, because my eyes are old.) The puzzle that I completed had six faces in it. It is hard to see the faces at first, but if you study it long enough, you will find them. Even I could!😁”

Life as we know it
Family Division

Rummage Sale Rose:Birdwatcher in La Crescent’s tale of large family/only child reminded me of my childhood.

“One day in elementary school, we were discussing our families. I am an only child. As we walked out of school, one of my classmates, who had many brothers and sisters, said: ‘You really don’t have any brothers or sisters?”’

“‘That’s right,’ I told him.

“His comment: ‘Wow! You must be able to eat all the bananas you want!’ I didn’t have the heart to tell him I really disliked bananas.

“Fast-forward many, many years: I was filled with much emotion, as he was one of the honor guards at my father’s funeral three years ago.”

In memoriam

The Astroomer of Nininger: “Subject: George the Hermit.

“It was 71 years ago when my dad took my brother and me to see George the Hermit. I had just turned 9, and my father was teaching me how to use his old single-barreled .410 shotgun. We needed to be in a remote area, and the woods where George lived was seemingly away from nearly everything.

“Dad drove his old 1941 Chevy, which he and mother had nicknamed ‘Hannah.’ It got us there and home again on $2 worth of gas. Gas was a lot cheaper back then — about 20 cents a gallon. But $2 was worth a lot more as well. We chugged down the dried-out cow lane where the herd of Holstein dairy cattle traced their steps twice daily, getting from the milking barn to their pasture and back. They knew their way.

“I strained to open the gate — made of barbed wire, like the fence bordering the lane. I had to pull really hard, but my brother Stan sometimes would help me. That made it easier. I could pull the corner post to stretch the gate, and Stan, who was two years younger than I, could lift the loop that secured the end post. We closed the gate behind us and got back into Hannah. In a little while, we pulled up to George’s ‘home.’ It wasn’t like anybody’s home I had ever seen before. It was just a canvas tent.

“George lived there, in the middle of some woods occasionally used for pasture. Hickory trees grew all around, and the tent — maybe 10 feet by 10 feet, as I recall — contained everything George could claim to own, other than an old Ford parked behind his living quarters. Outside, on the right of the ‘door,’ there was a wooden barrel that captured rainwater. He had fashioned a gutter so it could collect most rain that fell on that side of the roof of the tent. Inside was a single bed — probably more of a camp cot than what we’d call a bed. He had a Coleman stove for cooking and a wood-burning pot-belly for heat in the winter. Next to the cook stove was a pan and a box to store his vittles. There was no place to go to the bathroom or bathe. And since there was no electricity out here in the remote woods on the Illinois plains, George had no refrigerator, either. There likely were more essential facilities that I just didn’t see.

“George was an older fellow, older than my dad (and when you are just 9, ‘old’ is pretty relative). He wore a long-sleeved flannel shirt. It was plaid and tucked in rather neatly beneath the suspenders holding up his blue jeans. His face had a stubble beard. It appeared that he must have shaved once in a while, but definitely not in the last two or three days. He had stacks of paperback books all around the tent. I’ll bet he knew where every one of them was stashed. He was a kind old gentleman, and I emphasize gentleman. He offered us some water, which he scooped out of the rain barrel after brushing away some flies and a few bees from the surface. I don’t think I drank any that time, but Dad did.

“He offered us some honey, an entire frame with the combs still attached. My dad put it in an old 5-gallon bucket that was in the trunk of Hannah, and we made sure no more bees were along for the ride. I can say that this was, without a doubt, the sweetest honey that I have ever tasted. It was light and clear and must have been produced by bees who sucked the nectar out of only the sweetest of flowers. I don’t know anything about what kind of flflowers grew in those woods, alongside the creek that flowed through the hickories. It was a tributary of the Kilbuck Creek. If you were good, you could break off a piece of the comb with honey still dripping from it and slurp its goodness.

“George was a veteran of World War II and maybe was escaping some aspects of reality that he wanted to forget. He was still there and glad to see us later that fall, when I shot my first rabbit with that old .410. One time when we went back, he wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened to him, but I will never forget his kindness and certainly not his honey.”

One for the books

John in Highland: “I remember one of my high-school English teachers. He had a way of telling stories to emphasize points related to particular subjects that we were studying. One day he was teaching us composition: how to write a paper or compose a speech. He stressed that it was important to get to the point and not include a lot of needless extraneous information [Bulletin Board interjects: He would undoubtedly have noted that “needless extraneous” is redundant!], lest we lose the attention of the audience. He proceeded to tell us the following tale.

“It seems that two gentlemen were sitting in the back row of a theater listening to a speaker who was giving a long-winded discussion. One guy says to the other: ‘What is he talking about?’ His friend says: ‘I don’t know. He don’t say!’

“Our teacher then laughed uproariously at his own joke while the rest of us looked at each other and just smiled.”

Everyone’s a (headline) critic! (responsorial)
Or: CAUTION! Words at Play!

Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: Poe me.

“I couldn’t resist when faced with this query from The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: ‘I wonder how many other publications had a Poe play on words.’

“I’m sure TRP meant regarding the game where the Vikings lost in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens.

“But I cast a slightly wide net, and enjoyed it when I came across this, among others:


The frontiers of graphic art (II) (responsorial)

Judy Larson of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: BATHROOM SIGNAGE

“The bathroom signs in Sunday’s paper [11/14/2021] were funny, but not as funny as the one my daughter took a picture of at Schell’s Brewery in New Ulm.”

Muse, amuse

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: I just may have made this up . . .

“For the past several weeks, The Runabout has been heeding the supply-shortage warnings by ordering early and profusely online. Multiple parcels have been delivered to our Wisconsin Riviera address each day for quite a while now, but yesterday and the day before, there were none.

“We were awakened this morning by a loud pounding on our door and were surprised to see a police officer instead of a delivery person. It seems UPS had noticed the pause and requested a welfare check.”

Could be verse!
Our Times Division

Another “timerick” from Tim Torkildson: “I do not want a credit card / I have enough already / yet in the mail they come and come / a glossy flood that’s steady / I guess the bankers like me broke / with debts piled up in summits / until my credit score gives up / and down the slope it plummets.”

Our ‘trees,’ ourselves
Thanksgiving/Autumn/Harvest Division

Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “There aren’t many Thanksgiving ornaments available, other than a few turkeys, so my Thanksgiving tree is more of an autumn/harvest tree decorated with pumpkins, ears of corn, acorns, pine cones, a variety of woodland creatures and assorted bulbs of the appropriate fall colors.

“The two plastic turkeys under the tree detect motion and ‘gobble’ when someone or something passes in front of them. They really annoy some people. I can’t imagine why.

“This tree concludes my cycle of holiday trees, which began with Christmas last year. However, this might not be my final decorated tree. I’ve recently acquired a 3-foot wrought-iron tree which should lend itself to other, simpler trees. I have a few in mind already. Until then, Happy Holidays to all.”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other

All from Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: Days we can’t forget.

“On the afternoon of Friday, November 19, I was having my teeth cleaned. Then I remembered that the U.S. had a temporary president that afternoon, while President Biden was under anesthesia for a brief medical test. For a very brief time, we had a woman in charge of things that day. And I remembered that it was the Friday before Thanksgiving — just as it was on November 22, 1963, when I was in grade school and JFK went to Dallas. I felt better, later that day, to hear that the president was back to his normal routine. ]

“Regardless of politics, I wonder if some of us who remember it will ever forget the shocks on November 22, and the days afterward. Somehow, I doubt that I will.”

(2) “Sometimes we are in awkward situations where we wish, later, that we had said or done something — large or small.

“One morning I was having breakfast in a fast-food restaurant. An inebriated man was there, incoherently bothering a young woman, who didn’t seem to know what to do. So I called out: ‘Mary! I didn’t see you! Come join me.’

“‘Mary’ got up to join me, thank me, and tell me her actual name.

“I could have grabbed a worker bee to help, but that would have taken longer. And next time, Mary will probably have rehearsed a way to handle something like that.

“Recently I’ve tried to teach a woman more my age about ‘exit lines,’ because she has trouble getting rid of rude people. One example is to say ‘I need the bathroom,’ and leave. Because we all need one, sooner or later.

“A thing I have noticed about people who are ‘finished’ (as in finishing school) is that they have many such ways of escaping awkwardness. And by the time we figure it out, they’re gone.

“As Mr. Miyagi-san said in ‘The Karate Kid’: ‘Best defense is no be there.'”

(3) “Another suggestion, for avoiding debate:

“With all the Us-versus-Them conflicts we have seen lately, I suggest that everyone have an excuse handy. As in: I have to get a flu shot because I promised my grandmother that I would get one every year for the rest of my life. So I have to get the shot, period.

“It is a variation on Blame Canada (though I do not blame Canada for any action I might choose to take).

“Example: A quite large friend was in hospice at home. He told his wife not to order a hospital bed for him to use, and she was frantic in case he would fall out of bed. I told her to order the bed immediately. She perked up, but worried that he would be upset. So I told her to say that I made her do it. And she rushed off to get it done.

“He never got to yell at me about the bed, since he was gone mere hours after it arrived. And the two teams of EMTs who came to take him from the house were probably far happier that he was in the hospital bed, and not a regular one.

“Two rules about these excuses: (1) Think them through in advance, and blame your decision on a person the other person cannot argue with. Such as a beloved, deceased grandparent. Or a deity. (2) Do whatever you need to do — such as refuse to go to an overcrowded concert or disco — and never admit that it is your idea.

“Let’s be careful out there!”

Today’s helpful hint

From Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I was at a local coffee shop, where the server asked me if I’d like cream.

“I said, ‘Yes, please,’ and she then asked me how much cream I wanted.

“I hesitated, and replied something like, ‘Oh, you know, the normal amount.’

“She then asked me, ‘Till it bounces off the bottom?’

“It was perfect. I had never heard this before, and it makes total sense. Try it!”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede reports: “Subject: Five last-leaves photos.

“This last batch of fall-leaf photos was taken on November 7, and it looked like the leaves were really hanging on longer than usual.

“I enjoyed seeing them still in my back yard.

“And appreciated a sunny day, blue sky for a background.

“And wondered how much longer they could hold on.

“Six first-snow photos, one week later.

“One week later, things had a different look. Most of the leaves had fallen, and our first snow took over the scenes. The oak-tree branches looked much nicer with a white blanket on them.

“The purple coneflower-plant seed pods each sported a white hat.

“The vine growing up an old fence post still had most of its leaves, but now had some flocking on them for a holiday look.

“And some sparkles in the snow started to glisten.

“The back-yard spruce tree look ready for the holidays, just needing some ornaments and lights.

“The trees were now pretty much shed of their leaves, which covered the yard waiting for the snow to melt to be taken care of.”

The Permanent Sistersly Record
Or: Muse, amuse

Rusty of St. Paul: “My wife got a message from her sister, who had driven four hours north to a family enclave. We were due to head up the following day to our own home in the same town.

“‘I forgot something. Could you fetch it and bring it up?’ It was her suitcase, with all of her clothes in it, packed for the MEA weekend. She had left it on her bed in the Cities.

“The following day, my wife drove up with a girlfriend, ahead of me. She beat me by half an hour.

“Enroute, I received a hands-free call from her: ‘I’m locked out of our house. My key doesn’t work!’

“I arrived, slipped my key in, and it worked like butter. Turns out she had inserted the wrong key.

“I have since developed a new theorem: the S’more Transfer Theory. When we are young, we eat a lot of marshmallows — both burned black on skewers over bonfires to put into s’mores and in our cold-weather hot chocolate. These marshmallows translocate to our brain, where they replace our white and gray matter — which in older age makes for memory, forgetfulness and screw-up issues.

“My wife grew up with a cabin on Horseshoe Lake outside of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin. Her large family bonded over many bonfires and ate a lot of marshmallows.

“Point made.”

The Permanent Sonly Record
“Nobody Goes There Anymore. It’s Too Crowded!” Division

B. Dazzled of South St. Paul reports: “Subject: Yogi Berra is alive and well.

“My 13-year-old came out of his bedroom last weekend looking a bit haggard. He rubbed his eyes and announced: ‘I won’t rest until I’ve found a cure for insomnia!'”

Band Name of the Day: The Little Scholars

Website of the Day: Here’s How 100 Billion Cranberries Are Harvested Six Weeks Before Thanksgiving

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