Our livestock, ourselves
DebK of Rosemount reports: “College friend Debby of Dallas noted in a text this morning that I’m likely ‘the only 71-year-old who’s happy to have a baby on her birthday.’ Debby refers to events of Saturday, when I both launched another year and welcomed a new baby — occasions which give me a long-awaited opportunity to address skeptics in the BB community: those who still harbor doubts about the prowess of Clarence, St. Isidore Farm’s long-serving ram.
“I wrote last autumn of Clarence’s move to a sheep farm near New Prague, where he is reportedly dedicated to the continuation of his line. The weekend before his relocation, Clarence was observed making final, determined efforts to sire lambs for us. Doing so required Clarence to (ahem) do the deed through the fence that separates rams from ewes here at the farm.
“My description of this feat evidently strained credulity for some BB readers, though I provided testimony of witnesses: an experienced farm-sitter and her college-age daughter. [Bulletin Board interjects: Let the record show that while we have on the rarest occasion doubted DebK of Rosemount, we have never doubted Clarence the Exuberant!] In fairness, even to me it seemed unlikely that our elderly ram could overcome the logistical challenges required to fulfill his mission. Taxman and I both saw the entire episode mostly as a heartwarming illustration of Clarence’s trademark exuberance.
“Fast-forward about 144 days to my 71st birthday, which coincided with a day-long spiritual retreat hosted by our farm parish. We attended, happy to be spending the miserably cold, windy day inside. By midafternoon, Taxman (who likes to get his money’s worth) was uncharacteristically eager to make an exit, which we did — a full hour and one-half before the retreat’s scheduled conclusion.
“No more than half an hour later, just minutes after I’d poured myself a birthday tipple, Taxman returned from the sheep barn to announce that his nemesis, Margaret (the ewe he endlessly threatens to ‘ship to South St. Paul’), was about to give birth in the frigid, filthy loafing area.
“Lambs born in severe cold are subject to hypothermia. Recognizing that Margaret’s baby would be in real peril, we leapt into action. Taxman quickly converted the tack room into a maternity ward while I madly scrambled to relocate and sterilize our lambing equipment. By the time we returned to the loafing area, Margaret had delivered a fine ewe lamb, immediately dubbed ‘Little Debbie,’ who was already attempting to figure out where and how to get something to eat. She and I have more than a birthday in common, it seems.
“This kind of thing takes a lot out of shepherds our age, so while Taxman and I are delighted with our new arrival, we’re hoping that the rest of the wooly Class of 2022 will arrive according to plan — In April, having been fathered in the conventional way by the young ram intended as Clarence’s replacement.”
Life Imitates Art
Dog Park Division
Writes The Hastings Crazy Quilter: “You’ve all watched the scene in a movie: Kept apart by circumstances beyond their control, they see each other across a room/street/field. Unable to help themselves, they rush joyously toward each other, to crash together . . . in a tangle of eight legs and two tails. Yes, art imitates life, at least life at the dog park where Urika, my Catahoula leopard dog, saw her buddy Gracie, the yellow Lab, after about a week apart. They really are best buddies and were so happy to see each other. Sometimes they run around the park in synchronization, just enjoying life and each other.
“That’s what keeps getting me up early in the morning, although I have to admit I stay in bed when it’s below zero. And Urika knows this; if she hears the wind howling, she just snuggles down more in the bed.”
Could be verse!
From Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Snow haiku.
“These snowflakes are huge!
“White doilies fluttering down
“on top of my head.
“These snowflakes are huge!
“Settling on the cold ground
“like alien lace.
“These snowflakes are huge!
“Who makes such sterile beauty?
“How long will they last?”
Our “mini-trees,” ourselves
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “It’s February, which means it was time to break out my mini-tree and give it a test drive. This wrought-iron tree is only 3 feet tall. That makes it simpler to set up and decorate, but surprisingly just as difficult to photograph as the big one.
“But what should the theme be? I discarded the obvious choices, such as Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl, Presidents’ Day and, of course, St. Polycarp Day (February 23). Instead, I decided to pay tribute to my brother Mark (no longer of Dayton’s Bluff), who is celebrating a milestone birthday this month.
“Mark is an artist, and one of his specialties is miniature paintings. I have eight of those, so onto the tree they went. That left the tree rather bare, so I also included ornaments that he and other family members have given me from their travels to faraway places. Then I added three ornaments that one of my cousins made, plus a variety of other handmade ornaments which may foreshadow trees to come.”
Now & Then
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: A term from the past.
“My wife and I recently watched a British TV series that took place on a submarine. A number of times during the episodes, a crew member would mention ‘kip,’ a reference to sleeping.
“The only times I’d heard the term, it was used by my dad. He worked the graveyard shift (midnight to 8 a.m.) at the Great Northern’s Jackson Street roundhouse, located at Jackson and Pennsylvania.
“He walked to and from work (we lived near Rice and Maryland and didn’t have a car), and unless he stopped at Rice and Lawson Playground to coach the North End Midgets (a baseball team for boys 14 and under), he’d often say he was going to ‘hit the kip’ when he arrived home.
The Astronomer of Nininger: “I am reminded of an occasion relating to the arrangement of the keys on classical keyboards. Whether we use a computer keyboard or an old-fashioned typewriter, the keys are in the same location. They were placed in this array so as to prevent them from collecting in some fashion when someone types too rapidly. That certainly would never be my predicament. In fact, I don’t really know of anyone who had that ‘problem’ from typing too fast.
“But I recall an embarrassing situation at a formal faculty meeting when the Secretary submitted the minutes for approval. If you check your keyboard, you will note that the x and the c are located adjacent to each other, and even the most careful typist could readily strike the wrong key on occasion. The duly elected Secretary of the Faculty had for years submitted minutes with great diligence and never any mistakes. Approval became rather a mere formality, but this time when signing the Minutes, the Secretary inadvertently struck the x instead of the c while signing his name and title. Surely someone in the entire faculty should have caught this error, but we all failed to do so. So the Minutes were approved and stand to this date, some 40 years later, signed by the Sexretary. Oh my!”
Then & Now
Or: Mundane to Profound (responsorial) (responsorial)
WSP Elsie (“formerly East Side Elsie”): “Like The Farm Boy of St. Paul, I have been in awe of my mother’s trust of me when I was a young teen. Friends and I would take the bus after school, from the East Side of St. Paul, to Lake and Nicollet or farther, to have a quick dinner and then see a band at Mister Lucky’s. We’d take the bus (including at least one transfer) back to downtown St. Paul about 11 p.m. or midnight, including a couple-of-blocks walk from the bus to home. Weekends would be even later, catching the last bus from downtown at 1 a.m. — occasionally missing it and having to hang out at White Castle until the first morning bus at 4 or 5 a.m.
“I agree, Farm Boy: I gave my mom little reason to distrust me, and that was rewarded with increased opportunities throughout my teen years.
“I think I was stricter with my son (who is now 50 and a good, respectful, responsible young man).”
RickRich of Circle Pines: “Subject: Simpler Times – if we only knew . . .
“I, too, have not written in a while. However, The Linguidiot’s tales of a youngest child definitely struck a chord.
“I’ve reached an age (and I hate to admit it) where I’ve become an occasional mall walker. This past Saturday, I decided to walk a few laps inside Har Mar Mall.
“Har Mar brings back some great memories: those carefree summer days of my youth when I’d leave the house sometime after breakfast and my mom wouldn’t see me until just before dinner — and she wouldn’t worry.
“My friends and I would hop on our bikes and ride all over Roseville, sometimes stopping to explore the shops in Har Mar. The mall has definitely changed over the past 60 years, but I can still place all of my favorites:
“Team Electronics (the ‘high-end’ stereo room and dream of owning a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and HUGE speakers), Har Mar Snack Bar, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, Snyder’s Drugstore (snack counter and a little kiosk to check your radio and TV vacuum tubes), S.S. Kresge (toy department), Drew Fabrics (only because it was situated between Snyder’s and Kresge’s), J.C. Penney, Fanny Farmer, Musicland, Field-Schlick, United Stores, Coast-to-Coast Hardware, Hove’s/National T, the Pet Store, and in my teen-age years, Cicero’s Pizza, the Kingsmen Hair Stylists, and Roseville State Bank (where I got my first car loan).
“And speaking of ‘Then & Now — Or: Mundane to Profound’: I still remember when Rosedale opened. Two of my favorites on the first floor were Woolworth’s and a little shop called ‘Now & Then.’ Luckily, I was too naïve to understand why Now & Then sold odd-looking pipes and incense (among other unmentionables), but I just went in to look at the black-light posters and dream of listening to music on some really HUGE speakers!”
Now & Then
Including: The highfalutin pleasures (responsorial)
Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: S.O.S. [Bulletin Board notes: Threats to Contented Dining Ahead!]
“The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin’s discussion about chipped beef gravy over toast brought back memories of my father’s memories of serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. I Googled it before I played the video you embedded, which included in the title ‘aka S.O.S.’
“The host, Chef Kristi, suggested viewers Google the abbreviation cuz the name ‘is not very nice.’
“Matthew Eng, Digital Content Developer at the Naval Historical Foundation, was not so discreet here: ‘Let’s face it: if you’ve served in the Navy during the twentieth century, chances are you’ve eaten sh*t. “Sh*t on a Shingle,” or creamed chipped beef on toast (S.O.S.), that is. The term derives from any brown creamed substance (sh*t) on top of toast (shingle).
“‘The exact origin of S.O.S. is fuzzy. According to Wentworth and Flexner’s 1967 Dictionary of American Slang, no specific origin is known. The dish, which consists of sliced dried beef mixed in a thick creamy gravy, appeared in military cookbooks at the start of of the twentieth century. Some cooking sources, such as the online website “Seabee Cook,” claim the dish came from the Army. Steve Karoly, who authored an article on the subject, claims the “Army favorite” has become “the most popular version of SOS.” Some Navy veterans may disagree. . . .
“‘Some of the nicknames simply play on the S.O.S. alliteration and assonance: [“]Stew on a Shingle,” “Same Old Stuff,” and “Save Our Stomachs.” Others, like “foreskins on toast,” emit feelings of anything but hunger.’
“I don’t think I’ve ever had it. No hurry.”
The bumper crop
SharonfromMpls: “Subject: RECENTLY SEEN.
“‘I LOVE CROP ART
“‘AND I VOTE.'”
Life as we know it
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “It was the worst of jobs that led me to the best of jobs 70 years ago, in March of 1952.
“I heard about a job opening at the telephone company, as a sales representative, that paid a whopping $40 per week. (My sister Nora had been working as a bookkeeper for five years, and she was earning only $20 a week.) I was told that the training would take six weeks, and we would receive full pay during that time. Wow! Too good to be true.
“The dress code required all girls to wear suits and high heels. All six girls arrived that first morning eager to start, only to be informed that the training was not in a classroom. We were told to sit beside one of the workers and just observe what she was doing. The only men in the room were the walking supervisors; their dress code evidently required suits, and whistles worn around their necks. Each one was in charge of a section of about a dozen girls, and they walked endlessly up and down the rows and blew their whistles at every infraction they observed.
“We were allowed one potty break in the morning and one in the afternoon. We knew it was our turn when our supervisor marched to the middle of our section and let loose with an ear-piercing two-note blast from his whistle. Each section had a designated time to march in orderly fashion to line up at the restroom door. Our time was strictly enforced — and mind you, this was no large facility. It was just an ordinary one-person-at-a-time bathroom, which means that if the girl at the front of the line took too long, sorry, you’re out of luck. Darn good thing at age 19 I had good bladder control.
“It became apparent that none of the workers I sat beside had anything to do with sales; they were all bill collectors: dunning, mean, intimidating bill collectors. This was not a good fit for me. I was a child of the Depression; I observed the look on my mother’s face when her sewing machine was repossessed. I wanted out of there, fast.
“Luck and opportunity were at my side. My friend told me her husband was being transferred out of town, and she was going to have to resign from her job as Continuity Director at the same radio station where my brother-in-law was an announcer. So I called in sick and went for an interview, and I got the job — the job that meant I woke up every morning and could hardly wait to go to work. Remember ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’? Not too far from the mark, but that’s another story.
“I do cringe a bit, though, when I remember the Station Manager’s huge smile after I answered his question about my qualifications. I had confidently answered: ‘I was Feature Editor of my school newspaper!’”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said ‘No Dead End’
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Sounds like a plan.
“My wife placed this framed sign in our laundry room:
“‘To Live Forever.
“‘So far so good . . . ‘”
Fellow Travelers Division
LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: Flying.
“I had the privilege of flying to Philadelphia to attend my granddaughter’s 1st birthday. My last flight was before 9/11, and I had never experienced the fine citizens of the TSA. I am very happy to comply with whatever is necessary to keep everyone safe.
“I am disabled and walk ‘slowly’ using a 4-wheeled walker, but the employees of the airline were quick to find a wheelchair. I was able to stay in my wheelchair as we were going through the various stations of the TSA. Emptied my pockets and removed my shoes.
“After completing the TSA, I was able to stay in the wheelchair all the way to our gate. My walker was checked baggage. The experience of flying again was great. I like the moment the captain guns the jet for takeoff and you are gently pushed back against your seat.
“My daughter picked us up at the Philadelphia airport, and we drove to our hotel about three miles from their house.
“With COVID still an issue, we decided to stay at the house all the time and leave only for sleeping at our hotel. My son-in-law Eric is the friendliest, kind-hearted man, and I know my daughter has a great life partnership.
“The visit was coming to an end, but three days of watching the antics of a 1-year-old baby filled me with joy.
“We were now driving to the Philadelphia airport, which is over one hour by freeway.
“I was lucky to be met with a wheelchair and a very nice employee who wheeled me to the TSA. I am so grateful and thankful for those who work so hard to keep us safe.
“After TSA, I was pushed up to our departure gate and was met by a wonderful man who told me I was eligible for preboarding. So I was the first to be seated on the aircraft. A couple of movies, and we were back at MSP international. I slowly walked out of the aircraft and met a smiling employee with a wheelchair at the jetway. Soon after, we met our driver and headed home.
“My S.O. told me that she always wanted to fly with me, as she talked about long experiences with TSA lasting much longer than my new experience. Her experience with TSA was almost always much slower than our experience.
“I am so delighted to be accommodating.
“The joy of each new day continues to amaze me!”
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “One of the things we cannot always buy right now is distilled water. I use it for a neti pot, a CPAP machine and a humidifier, so I have kept an eye on this since November. Some days, I can order some online and drive to a store to get it. Right now, I cannot buy water directly from ‘my’ chain of stores. But not to worry! I can sign up and pay for their such-a-deal delivery service — which alone has the water right now. The water is available — if I pay for a ‘membership’ and deliveries. That doesn’t equal available, to me. So, on behalf of folks with not many pennies, I am harassing this chain of stores about their definition of availability — especially for items that might be medically necessary. As a retiree, I have the time and energy to do this.
“My soundtrack for this project is the old song ‘Ain’t We Got Fun?’ The lyrics vary. I remember it saying ‘the rich get rich, and the poor get poorer.’ Doris Day seems to have sung ‘the rich get rich, and the poor get children.’ [Bulletin Board says: Where and when? We couldn’t find that — except here.] Like many popular songs, people have fun with it.”
Our theater of seasons
A dozen wintry images from Mounds View Swede: (1) “Subject: Window frost.
“Every really cold morning brings a new frost display on our front storm door when I go out to get the newspaper. And every year the patterns are different. This year seems to involve definite lines on which the frost grows.
“Some of the frost clusters reminds me of tree shapes or patterns.
“I suspect the lines represent wipe marks from when I washed the storm-door window in late summer. Those lines are invisible to me when washing and squeegeeing the window.
“Each line has what looks lie a forest of trees shapes growing from it.
“I really enjoy seeing such things in nature.”
(2 ) “Subject: Snow tracks.
“I check the back yard every morning out of habit. One morning, I noticed tracks in the snow and wondered what would have caused them. Not a typical animal, I thought.
“I also noticed some recent leaf falls melting their way into the snow as the sun warmed the darker leaves.
“And there were a bunch of small, fine marks, but what caused them remains a mystery to me. With a good wind, many things come down from the tees.
“By the ponds in Ardan Park, there were clear human-made tracks going across the pond.
“I would have been doing something like this had I lived here when I was young. Instead, I did it where I grew up in a northwestern suburb of Chicago, a few blocks from a large undeveloped prairie and swamp area. It was fun to explore that area in all the seasons.”
(3) “Subject: Wind-blown branches.
“After a night of strong winds, part of our back yard had a fresh collection of branches and twigs decorating the snow.
“They all came from the one large red oak tree we have in the yard.
“Come March and the snow melt, bagging up all these branches will be a first order of yard business, followed by a trip to the Arden Hills compost site, where they welcome branches. I am really glad Ramsey County has these sites for our nature recycling.”
Out of the mouths of babes
The Quiet One in North Branch: “Subject: Not exactly what she had in mind.
“My 6-year-old granddaughter, Matilda the Super Farmgirl, was visiting. We were going over one of her school books, and there was a discussion about the three states of water. I asked her what the solid state of water is called, and she confidently shouted ‘Minnesota!’ Not the correct answer, yet not entirely incorrect.”
Band Name of the Day: Clarence and His Skeptics
Websites of the Day: