Life (and death) as we know it
We have gratefully heard, once again, from Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “A brand-new year is beginning. After weeks of spirit-lifting words and music, lessons and carols, choirs and homilies, we are prepared to go forward.
“This past year has been one of loss for many. It has included moments of shared grief, and moments of healing.
“In my own case, since my son John’s death, I have cried often, and have listened to the cries of his siblings and close family members. I have also seen signs — signs that are not in the realm of logic. There was the breath-stopping encounter with a pileated woodpecker, who sat about three feet from me and stared at me. Then there was the report from John’s son and his nephew. They were discussing logistics for moving the prized Nova out of storage. As they talked this over, a bald eagle came and supervised from the garage roof, then followed my grandson several miles to his home. OK, maybe coincidence, but then again, maybe not.
“Over the past few months, I have been the recipient of kind notes, good wishes, prayers, cookies, soups, books, and flowers. Just a few days ago, I even received a glow-in-the-dark rosary from a lovely 10-year-old girl who thought it might come in handy if I was ever crying in the night.
“Well, we are all in this together, and we have to hold each other up.
“Happy New Year!”
Our community of strangers
The Grateful OOK of St. Paul: “Dear Bulletin Board Editor and Contributors:
“Thanks for adding so many touching, funny, silly stories and photos to
the world! I just finished reading Ramblin’ Rose‘s tale of dueling tree decorators, and David the Scudderite‘s ‘Christmas Sampler’ had me giggling . Can’t wait to share them with other folks.
“Our mood was affected by news of my 92-year-old mother’s illness. Checking in to the E.R. in Madison (Wisconsin) on Christmas was not how she wanted to spend the day (and the next). The good news is that she’s feeling better and may already be home. Thanks to the wonderful hospital staff and my sisters who helped her in an endless number of ways.
“We celebrated over lunch with friends and on Zoom with other folks. Good times!
“Bulletin Board is an incredible feature of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. We are very lucky to enjoy it, whether we’re local or — really — anywhere! Thanks to all of you.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson: “Subject: My New Year’s Resolution.
“My New Year’s resolution is to eat more garlic bread.
“To wallow in anchovies and kick Banksy in the head.
“I have resolved to sleep in until it is time for brunch,
“and let my hair grow out until I need to use a scrunch.
“I’m gonna climb Mount Everest without a Sherpa guide
“and light a candle for Will Hay to make him sanctified.
“I’m moving to Hawaii — near a lava lake, as well —
“so when the neighbors visit I can throw them right in . . .
“Tell me something, reader: Don’t you ever wish that you
“had New Year’s resolutions on which you’d follow through?
“Like growing lots of skin tags, gaining weight, or no more socks.
“Sitting in a beanbag chair dismantling cheap clocks?
“If I must really tell the truth, the only thing that I
“am bound to do this New Year is to dilly-dallify.”
The Joy of Juxtaposition
Years Apart Division
Bill of the river lake reports: “We have a small but fancy Frosty the Snowman that sings and dances. The other day, my much better half tried to move him, and his hat came off. Promptly he said: ‘Put my hat on my head to see me dance around.’ Sure enough, she replaced his hat and he sang and danced.
“This reminded me of the time some years ago, after my son’s confirmation. A group photo was scheduled, and my son was standing just behind the bishop for the photo. Now, Catholic bishops usually wear a large, official high hat called a mitre. My son said spontaneously ‘Bishop, take off that hat,’ causing a few muted laughs.”
Our squirrels, ourselves
Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Squirrelpocalypse.
“The Pioneer Press had a story headlined ‘Squirrels of St. Paul’s Mears Park force a subtler holiday lighting display.’
“I can attest that the Mears Park squirrels ‘are fat, bold and accustomed to being fed by people.’
“I dropped by the park to hear singer Maud Hixson, unaware that the Twin Cities Jazz Festival had reskedded cuz of threatened rain. So it shouldn’t be a total loss, I got a cuppla slices of pepperoni pizza from Big River Pizza and sat on a low retaining wall in the park to enjoy them.
“I noticed a half-dozen fat, bold squirrels approaching, jostling each other as they approached, seeking to share my pizza slices. Not quite horror-movie intense, but I got the message and retreated to a table outside Big River, where I was accosted by a fast-talking young woman with an incoherent story about being in danger.
“After a while, she angrily stormed off. She rejected my offer of pizza. Mebbe she went to commiserate with the squirrels.”
Our pets, ourselves
Rusty of St. Paul: “Sign spied in St. Paul this past week: ‘Dogs have family. Cats have staff.'”
The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
Babe of Burnsville: “Been meaning to write to B.B. since July. Where does the time go? Can B.B. explain? [Bulletin Board says: It goes into the past!]
“Anyway, back then I had a Baader-Meinhof which no one but other B.B. readers might find interesting:
“One night I was reading a thriller, written in the 1960s, which had included a visit to Camp David. As I now know, it is in an area within view of the Catoctin Mountains and near Catoctin Furnace. I thought at the time that I’d never heard of the Catoctin Mountains, nor did I know what the ‘Furnace’ referred to.
“Well, mystery solved & Baader-Meinhof happened the next day, when in the newspaper there was an article about the work that had been done on the remains found in a slave cemetery at Catoctin Furnace. Catoctin Furnace was an iron forge in Frederick County, Maryland, that operated in the late 1700s and well into the 1800s. Enslaved Africans worked there until the 1830s, but then the work was taken over by European immigrants.
“Now I want to make a visit to Maryland to learn more.”
Everyone’s a copy editor
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Oh, does they?
“A headline on the front page of the Sports section of last Thursday’s Pioneer Press: ‘Vikings needs Cousins to reverse his slide.’”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: Wouldn’t Cousins then be “backsliding”? No one needs that — least of all the Vikings!
Live and learn
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Basswood is Linden.
“When I was a young boy, my father used to take my brother and me to visit a farm near Lindenwood, Illinois. Brother Stan and I never thought much about Lindenwood, other than it was a place where we had a lot of fun. We went hunting and fishing nearby. And, on Halloween, we were able to ‘Trick or Treat’ the whole town. You couldn’t do that in Chicago, where we lived.
“Many years later, long after I grew up and left home, I wondered about that name, Lindenwood. Where did it come from, and what did it mean? But those questions moved to the back burner of my mind.
“When I raised horses, I found out about Basswood. Ranchers often made their grain feeders from it, because horses could eat copious rations of grain without getting slivers in their mouths. Horses sort of slobber when they eat grain and use their teeth and tongues together, almost foaming, to get every morsel of grain – oats, and corn, and barley as well. I lined our grain feeders with Basswood.
“I didn’t make the connection of Basswood to Lindenwood until Bob, a poet friend of mine, penned the words that made it clear: ‘Basswood is Linden.’ Bob wrote not just in metaphors, but he brought ideas to life. He asked me questions about my horses and how Basswood was used with them. Basswood is also known as the American Linden and is a popular wood used by wood carvers.
“When I hear that poem, I am transported back to the days of my youth: ‘. . . for Basswood is Linden.’
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: “Basswood is Linden” reminded us of . . . something that we couldn’t place till after several moments of our version of deep thought. Finally it came to us (POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!):
This ’n’ that
From Al B of Hartland: (1) “I attended a sheep auction in England. Before the auctioneer began his banana oil, the tailgate of a truck fell open with a loud bang, reminding me of a sketch Johnny Carson performed as Carnac the Magnificent. Carnac was a mystic from the East who psychically divined answers to unknown questions. Ed McMahon held envelopes that had been hermetically sealed and kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch since noon. Ed said: ‘No one knows the contents of these envelopes, but you, in your mystical and borderline-divine way, will ascertain the answers having never before heard the questions.’ Carnac held an envelope to his head, giving the answer before tearing open the envelope and removing an index card bearing the question. The answer: ‘Sis-boom-bah.’ The question: ‘Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.'”
(2) “After the tornado had passed, crows were vocal. Perhaps they’d found surviving the brutal December storm caws for celebration.
“I’m sure they had reason for the noise, as crows didn’t make it to where they are today by being stupid.”
Not exactly what he had in mind
Or: Our times
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills reports: “Subject: My enthusiasm was curbed.
“I recently had an experience that made me think I was Larry David in an episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’
“I was opening the door of a bank when I spotted a woman less than half my age, approaching.
“As I stood in the entryway, I held the door open for her, and she entered the vestibule.
“As I reached for the door to the lobby, it swung open. She must have pushed the button that automatically opened that door.
“As I entered the lobby, she quickly walked around me up to the counter.
“As I stood dumbfounded, she carried out her transaction.
“As she turned to leave, I commented: ‘You learn something new every day.’
“Without a word or a glance, she made her exit.”
Band Name of the Day: Skin Tag Resolution — or: Fat Bold Squirrels
Website of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A flashmob from 2010.
“YouTube is sending me videos of flashmobs. I wonder what younger kids would think of them. This is the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel, in 2010.”