The highfalutin amusements
Rancid Beef of South St. Paul reports: “Subject: These days.”
“I got sucked into an Internet black hole.
“I was wondering about a frequent panelist on ‘The Match Game.’ I couldn’t remember his name, so off to the Internet I went.
“Turns out it was Dick Martin, which led me to ‘Laugh-In,’ which led me to Lily Tomlin, Jo Anne Worley, and Waylon Flowers, which led me to ‘Solid Gold,’ which led me to ‘Dance Fever,’ which led me to Deney Terrio, which led me to wondering: Why on earth was I reading about Deney Terrio?
“Such a productive Monday night.
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We beg to differ. Informative, entertaining, unscripted journeys are what the Internet is so very good at — and so very welcome, if you ask us.
As for today’s Website of the Day . . . well, that might just possibly be overdoing it.
Another episode of creative hearing, reported by Rusty of St. Paul: “Today I showered, put on my cleanest, most intact underwear, and went to my doctor appointment.
“The nurse went over my history by looking at my electronic chart. Basically spoke what was listed and wanted me to say yes or no:
“‘Allergic to Isoflurane.’
“Went over them all.
“‘Never smoked tobacco.’
“‘Never chewed tobacco.’
“‘Never bathe.’ Well, that is what I heard coming through her mask: ‘Never bathe.’
“‘Umm, I just took a shower before coming.’
“‘You said I “never bathe.” Not correct. I do bathe, and I just showered.’
“‘Never VAPE! I said: “Never vape.”‘
“Ah, never vape. She’s lucky, at my age, that I even know what that is. And no, I have never vaped. Especially while bathing.
“I relayed this story later in the day to a friend. She said a friend of hers had taken her 90-year-old dad grocery shopping. At the register, the bagger asked him if he wanted ‘Paper or plastic?’
“Incredulous, he turned to his daughter and said: ‘She just called me a bastard!'”
Twitty of Como writes: “My friend Marcus died on March 3, 2022. I was asked by his life partner to write his obituary. I declined because I didn’t feel capable. There were many details of his life that were unknown to me. He still had family living; I thought an obituary, if one were to be written, should rightfully come from them.
“I still don’t believe I’m capable of doing a proper obituary. But having given him much thought these past days, I decided his passing should not go unremarked. Marcus Dierson was a good, if complicated, man who will be dearly missed by those of us lucky enough to call him friend.
“Marcus and I met in 1984. We both were relative new-hires: me with the city of St. Paul and he with Ramsey County. In those days, both entities shared the Courthouse in downtown St. Paul, and in the fall of that year, when I joined the Courthouse Bowling League, I met Marc.
“Neither of us were great shakes as bowlers then, but Marc was very competitive. Whenever our two teams met, he was always determined to beat us. But win or lose, he was a good-natured good sport about it, and we became friends. We began bowling as teammates in 1886, and over the next 15 years, beers, and on many different leagues in many different locales, we got better as bowlers and as friends.
“Marc’s favorite after-work hangout in those days was Applebee’s. We’d sit at the end of the bar playing cribbage long into the night, sometimes scaring other customers with our shouts of competitive enthusiasm. (He liked to think he was better at it, but I think he was just more boisterous!) At any rate, we shared many games and lots of laughs.
“We vacationed together, too, spending endless hours on the lake, drowning many leeches and worms and even occasionally catching enough fish for a meal. When we weren’t on the lake, we might be found playing bocce ball in the grass around the cabin with our fellow vacationers. At night we played more cribbage, long into the wee hours.
“He would’ve been 80 this summer.”
Our ‘mini-trees,’ ourselves
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “While waiting for this winter’s ice pack to melt, I decided to put together a mini-tree version of last year’s big glow-in-the-dark tree. I skipped the Christmas ornaments but kept the snowflakes and icicles. Using my handy Dremel tool, I converted stick-on stars and glow-in-the-dark Ping-Pong balls into hanging ornaments. And because the tree is wrought-iron, I added Saturn, moon and space shuttle magnets. (I drew the line at glow-in-the-dark zombies and miniature rubber chickens. That would just be weird.)
“I bought the Ping-Pong balls at a grocery store and learned three important lessons: (1) They don’t glow very well in the dark no matter how much they are ‘charged’ with light; 2) many of them have soft spots and would make lousy actual Ping-Pong balls; and 3) never, ever buy Ping-Pong balls from a grocery store again.
“Be that as it may, I photographed the tree in a variety of lighting conditions: normal white light, blacklight (ultraviolet), and no light to show the glow-in-the-dark quality of the various ornaments. Enjoy.”
Life as we know it
Deadly Sins and Downsizing Division
DebK of Rosemount reports: “This Lent, I am doing battle with envy, the deadly sin excited primarily by my encounters with the library at the Nininger estate of The Astronomer and his Good Wife. It’s the shelves that get my envy juices to flowing. In my view, the book collection runs too heavily to Kepler and Pascal and their cronies, fellows I know only by reputation. Worse, Caskie Stinnett and Wendell Berry are poorly represented, and Marilynne Robinson is absent entirely. Otherwise, The Astronomer’s library is a magnificent thing: so many shelves, all logically organized and regularly dusted.
“If The Astronomer and his Good Wife ever sell their home, they should steel themselves to receive advice from some perky professional stager that ‘today’s buyer’ doesn’t like books and doesn’t want bookshelves. It’s the counsel Taxman and I received when we were preparing our Rosemount house for sale. We ignored the suggestion that we’d ‘do better’ to tear out our bookshelves and ‘reimagine’ our modest upstairs library as ‘electronics space.’ I trust our Nininger friends would do the same in such circumstances.
“Moving to the old farmhouse, which came equipped with no library and no shelves, did require us to part with a great many books. In the five years since, we have come to rue many of the literary dispositions we made. I cast away my teaching copies of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ but kept two sets of the James Herriot books, all of the Vince Flynns, and more than a few volumes of flatulence jokes geared to sixth-grade boys. You get the idea: Mistakes were made in the frenzy of downsizing.
“We’ve corrected some of our errors, a process aided by used-book sellers and by the installation of bookshelves in part of the house formerly known as the Top-Secret Room. But there are still gaps, one of which was made known to me a week or so ago as I listened to a podcast by a witty philosopher who was advising listeners to take a close look at Book IV of ‘The Metamorphoses.’ It’s been a half-century since I (perfunctorily) read Ovid, but the podcaster made a strong case for digging out my copy. Alas, a thorough search of our pretend library turned up nothing. Concluding that I had parted company with my college copy of the book, I resolved to order a new one.
“The purchase of anything related to the Greeks or Romans requires consultation with our friend Hesiod, who has more than a passing acquaintance with both of those ancient cultures. Hesiod is busy these days with his own Lenten regimen, part of which is to read ‘The Divine Comedy’ — in Italian. But I figured — rightly, it turns out — that he’d find time to answer my question about which translation of ‘The Metamorphoses’ I should purchase. Ever the teacher, Hesiod began this way: ‘First off, what language do you want to read it in?'”
Our horses, ourselves (cont., cont.)
The Astronomer of Nininger writes again: “Subject: Saga of Big River — III.
“I don’t know if it has anything to do with clean living or just plain good luck, but one of the most charming persons ever to be a fixture at Big River Stables was Sister Maryann. She grew up on a farm near Benson, Minnesota, so she wasn’t afraid of hard work. Her job at the university included grounds upkeep — growing and planting flowers and mowing grass. She acquired the name ‘Sister John Deere,’ and it stuck.
“Sister John Deere came out to Big River Stables frequently. She said it was her ‘Hermitage,’ where she could relax and be herself. While certainly not so palatial nor anywhere near so expansive as the home farm of Andrew Jackson, it was an escape of city life for Maryann. She often would stay for the weekend and feed the horses when I was out of town. She could be found riding Nathan, my son’s full-blooded Arabian. She drove my farm tractor, an old 1941 Ford 9N, as if she had done so forever.
“One morning we rode horses down some old, unmaintained trails through the woods. Branches would hang down, draping their leaves across the paths, brushing our faces as our horses meandered towards the river. It seems that there was something particularly refreshing going down those trails. Protected by the trees, the breezes were minimal, yet the scents of the dew-laden grasses and leaves felt amplified. Later in the day, you would not be able to see the sparkling spider webs that collected the dew. Suddenly, from out of nowhere jumped six or eight, certainly a lot, of white-tailed deer. They held their bright white tails upright as they scooted away from us. The horses spooked, and Maryann came crashing down. I felt so bad, but at least she was OK. She lost trust in Nathan from that experience, and afterwards she did ride Knight, our other Arabian. He was as white as the tails on those deer. I usually rode him.
“One April I had a meeting in San Francisco, and Sister John Deere fed the horses and slept with our dog. It turned out that we got more than a foot of snow and she was snowed in for several days until we got back. Actually, she enjoyed the isolation as neighbors came over and helped her out. Everyone around us knew and loved Sister John Deere.”
Our theater of seasons
Could Be Verse! Division (5/7/5 Subdivision)
Three illustrated haiku from Tim Torkildson:
“the perfect snowfall —
“asleep on a pile of wood;
“old rivals at peace.”
“the perfect snowfall —
“so quiet it doesn’t sigh;
“blank white on green slate.”
“the perfect snowfall —
“fast falling off the branches;
“so go all our dreams.”
Our theater of seasons
Plus: Our times
A pair from Kathy S. of St. Paul:(1) “Subject: Spring is coming in like a Yo-Yo.
“Our weather lately has been old-time cold-ish. Temps have been zipping up and down — one day warm, but the next day frigid. To cope, I’ve kept a light parka and a warm down coat on two hooks on my hall tree. I swap the coat and parka back and forth, so the one I should wear the next day is on the closest hook. Of course I forgot, one day, and about froze to the ground in the parka, just going for groceries. Note to self: Check the weather every single morning!
“Last Friday was too cold to be out, even in a down coat. Today the sun was warm; I probably don’t need even my parka, and much melting was going on. To help the ice melt, I used my wooden walking stick to pound the edges of ice along the sides of streets where we park.
“With all the frustrations in our lives and on the news now, it is great to just pound on weak ice and watch some of it float down the street. Far away from us.”
(2) “Subject: Interesting Information I Didn’t Look For.
“One of my favorite TV journalist/hosts is Christiane Amanpour, whose program airs on PBS stations. Her topics tend to be serious, but informative. Tonight she interviewed David Scheffer, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. He predicted that, in about 20 to 30 years, courts will try many people committing war crimes right now. He said these trials, though delayed, discourage offenses. I hope he is right.
“What I found most interesting is that the ambassador said there is an app for phones that, if I understood him correctly, can create and immediately send a certified video of a war crime as it is committed. And that videos go to a secure location where they are instantly locked in and preserved as potential legal evidence. Which makes me wonder if something like this might be used soon for other illegalities — other than theft of neighbors’ newspapers.
“Meanwhile, I am hoping very hard for peace to break out all over this world — to make such apps unnecessary.”
Not exactly what (if anything) they had in mind
Or: Everyone’s a (news-media) critic!
Dobie writes: “Subject: Hold the flashlight!
“Last week, one of the nightly news programs told about the new crime wave of stolen gas from cars.
“Not only did they tell us all the details of how the gas tanks were punctured to drain the gas, but the reporter had an electric drill! And then proceeded to wave it under the car. If that wasn’t enough, they had a car on a hoist with a mechanic showing where the gas tank was and what it was made of and where to drill.
“If any folks hadn’t thought of how to remedy their gas-shortage problem, now they knew how. The only thing the reporter left out was where to get the gas can.”
The kindness of strangers
Or: What is right with people?
Judy of Inver Grove Heights reports: “Subject: BLESSINGS.
“Remember that old saying ‘Only what you give away returns to you from day to day’? I can attest to that.
“This past week, I donated to Minnesota FoodShare, and also to the Red Cross for the Ukrainian refugees. This morning I was at Cub in IGH for groceries, and to my amazement and delight, the young lady ahead of me in line paid for my groceries. Ironically, the amount of my groceries was almost exactly the same as the amount I had donated!
“Besides that, yesterday my smoke alarm began beeping in the middle of the afternoon. I called on my neighbor across the street, and not only did she come over and replace the battery, she also brought me some delicious cookies that she had just taken out of the oven!
“I am so blessed to live in Inver Grove Heights.”
Radio Days (cont.)
Another chapter from The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Our little radio station played music most of the day, and since our Music Librarian had been
working in radio for years, she had acquired quite a collection of 78-rpm records. The shelves were stacked, floor to ceiling. Most of them were covered with dust, because she had a handful of favorites which she lugged into the Control Room each day.
“‘The Glow-Worm’ (‘Glow, little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer’) was her favorite. The poor Engineers saw that on the schedule at least three times every hour, and we had to endure listening to it over our individual wall speakers. When it wasn’t airing, she hummed it as she walked down the halls.
“Her other fetish was gumdrop displays. I never realized how many occasions could be turned into holidays until I went to work at that radio station. With gumdrops and toothpicks, she would make elaborate displays to commemorate every occasion.
“She was very nice to me when I was new on the job, and she helped me organize the filing system. My friend, whom I replaced, was extremely competent at her job in spite of filing everything under Miscellaneous. The file drawers held in proper alphabetical order 26 folders, labeled ‘A-Miscellaneous,’ ‘B-Miscellaneous,’ etc., and on my desk was a large wooden box, stacked high. It was labeled in large block letters: ‘MISCELLANEOUS.'”
Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Subject: Where in the World was Aunt Hazel?
“One hundred years ago, in the southern Minnesota town of Blue Earth, my Aunt Hazel made a choice. She had finished Normal School and could have taught in a country school like her sister Helen. Instead, she chose to go to Chicago and work in a bank. She was in her 20s during those Roaring Twenties, after all.
“Some years later she moved to St. Paul, where other members of the family lived. When I was young, I loved to listen to her stories. She told me about her childhood, about famous horses, and about her apartment in Chicago.
“Now, as I go through her old photo albums, it occurs to me that perhaps, just perhaps, I did not hear all of her stories. For instance: Why were many of the photos labeled Florida, California, and Colorado? What kind of a car was she driving, and where was the glamour portrait taken?
“Where in the world were you, Aunt Hazel?”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “A political pundit on TV made this observation: ‘Their footprints are all over this.’
“Must have made it difficult to decipher.”
BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: Wednesday morning, a political pundit on the radio referred to “the 800-pound elephant in the room.”
These political pundits are losin’ it!
Band Name of the Day: Sister John Deere and the Arabians
Website of the Day: