Here & There
The Astronomer of Nininger writes: “Subject: Blowing in the Wind.
“We’ve heard that this past winter was a cold and windy one. We have only anecdotal information upon which to base any judgment of that status, but the Good Wife and I smile at each other when people complain about the wind. We used to live in Wyoming, where they say that if the wind ever stopped blowing, everyone would fall down.
“The wind did not always blow hard, but when it did, what we experience here in Minnesota is not even in the same league. In the wintertime especially, the wind would come roaring down over the foothills, more or less perpendicular to them, and accelerate as if gravity gave it a final tug. They call that a Mountain Wave. Occasionally that wind would strike with speeds well in excess of 100 mph. These effects are well documented along mountain ranges. An additional feature that seems to exponentially increase the effect is when a low-pressure area is to the north while a high-pressure area is directly to the south. Then the combined effects are additive, and you’d just better get out of the way.
“We lived just east of a several-hundred-acre reservoir where this effect was particularly intense. The Good Wife would get up in the morning and check the bathroom. Because of the vent stack connected to the plumbing, if there weren’t whitecaps in the toilet, she knew it was going to be a nice day. People learned to hang on firmly to the doors of their vehicle as they opened them, or those doors might act like aerodynamic airfoils in the wind. You cannot believe how many doors of cars and pickups had crinkled door hinges.
“I recall lying awake during really windy nights, mentally calculating the brute force of the wind blowing on our windows. We had a large window area, well built, but you aren’t human if you don’t question their strength when the wind blows hard. It was not uncommon for people to move into a motel for a few days just to be safe during such high wind events. People learned the difference between inconvenience and survival. Some learned to wear goggles, masks and whatever it took to be comfortable, but primarily safe.
“We’ve learned that you can be happy any place you live or be miserable, even in paradise. It’s up to the individual. We’ve been happy wherever we’ve lived because we had each other. Like one of my neighbors said when I asked him if he thought the wind would blow? He replied: ‘It’ll miss a good chance if it doesn’t.'”
Our theater of seasons
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Great to see the birds again, Today the red-headed woodpecker and the indigo bunting arrived.
“Also had a male hummingbird at the feeder, but did not get a picture.
“A couple days ago, the grosbeak and the oriole and the yellow-rumped warbler arrived.
“We are hoping we will get a pair of bluebirds this year. Last year we did not have any.”
The Permanent Maternal Record
The Happy Medium writes: “Subject: Mom, the Con Artist.
“The daily schedule for any farmer’s wife was complicated, to say the least. Mom, as one of them, wore many hats, as the saying goes. To name a few: She milked cows morning and night with Dad. Each wash day she heated the water on the wood stove and used the Maytag washing machine to clean our well-worn dirty clothes. These clothes were hung on the line summer and winter. During harvest time, Mom was in the field pitching hay onto the hay wagon pulled by two big brown draft horses. She prepared hearty meals for the family on the trusty wood cook stove, even on hot summer days.
“Mom was a multi-tasker long before someone coined the phrase.
“To Mom’s strengths, I add one more: con artist. She could think of ways to get us, as least me, to do tasks we didn’t know were work. She made me feel as if I could do anything if I set my mind to it. Hence, one of the many canning-day stories:
“It was a beautiful fall pickle-canning day. The cucumbers were in a kettle to be washed. Water was heating on the stove. A dish pan full of warm soapy water was in the sink. The necessary ingredients were lined up on the kitchen table, and the pickle recipe had been found.
“My two older sisters were given the tasks of washing the cucumbers and bringing the jars from the basement. To say the least, the jars were dusty and needed to be washed. Who would be given that task?
“Yes, I was given that task. Mom called me into the kitchen and took my hands in hers. She said: ‘Shirley, your hands are just the right size to fit in the jars that need to be washed.’ To which I responded: ‘Do I get to wash the jars?’ Mom just grinned.
“She put a stool in front of the sink, and I stepped onto it. Yes, I gleefully washed those dusty jars until my little fingers were squishy. While I was washing the jars, Mom and my sisters were packing the cucumbers into the jars with all the other necessary ingredients to make the best dill pickles ever.
“After the final jar was stuffed and sealed, we celebrated with milk and cookies and admired the row of pickle jars on the counter.
“Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the multi-tasking moms who are still canning pickles — and to those moms who are not canning pickles any longer.”
Life as we know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A beautiful Day in May.
“On Mother’s Day 2022, my church performed baptisms, and it was so much of what we have all waited for. The leaves are budding, the babies are beautiful, and one of them toddled around clutching her new baptismal candle like a magic wand. Proud visiting families celebrated their newest citizens, and the regulars added their blessings. Because, by custom, the newly baptized are shown around our church so we can add our approvals.
“May all our children grow in safety, wisdom and grace, and bring joy to this world. And may their unusual beginnings give them extra gifts of strength, creativity and bliss.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson offers a “Sunday School Lesson”:
“In Numbers there were quail galore
“because the Hebrews lusted sore
“for flesh to sate their appetite;
“then God spake, saying it ain’t right,
“and sent a plague so they would learn
“that gluttony leads to heartburn!”
Hail and farewell
Dennis from Eagan reports: “Four friends and I attended Tin Whiskers’ last taproom day on May 7 in downtown St. Paul.
” I’ll miss their beers made with Pearson’s Candy bars like Salted Nut Roll, Nut Goodie, Mint Patties and Bit-O-Honey. Thanks for serving up good memories on tap and in cans to go.”
Live and learn!
Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: A teaching moment.
“I got onto Highway 52 from 7th Street in St. Paul and headed south. What to my wondering eyes did appear? A billboard from Affinity Plus reading: ‘Hello St. Paul!’ I guess the people at Affinity Plus learned from Huntington’s major faux pas on the same billboard.”
Not exactly what she had in mind
Tia2d: “Subject: Panic Button.
“When I was in high school (1969 or 1970), the gym teacher kept a cassette player in the locker room with some music tapes. One day, after class, I noticed no one had turned it on, so I pushed the start button. The most horrible, loud sound started the second I pushed the button. I frantically tried the stop button and every other button I saw, before I realized that the alarm was going off for a fire drill.
“The next part of the panic was that I was only partially dressed, as were other classmates. We quickly got at least decent and exited the building.
“That frightening moment has stuck with me because it was so unexpected.”
Till death us do part
Rusty of St. Paul: “While my wife is a mother, she is not my mother — though she apparently feels a need to fill this role, as my mother passed a few years back.
“Yesterday was the funeral of a friend’s mother. While my wife was showering and then putting her church clothes on, I put my painting clothes on to finish up a 10-minute painting project.
“I did not have my ‘dress’ Carhartts on, but my ‘work’ ones with big stains on them. I wore a painting shirt that fit me perfectly 20 years ago, but now is two sizes too small; thus, it was skin-tight, and my midriff was exposed and poking out big-time. Sigh.
“As she came out of her changing room, I came up from the basement.
“‘I’ll be ready to go in a jiff,’ I said, as most guys can change in a flash.
“She took that to mean I was not going to change my clothes.
“She gave me the hairy eyeball and said: ‘You are NOT wearing those clothes!’
“As a gag, I decided to play along. Our friend’s mom lived in South Dakota (I’m not even sure where that is); thus, I met her only twice and didn’t have a distinct memory of her. One of those times was at my friend’s wedding, and that was 35 years ago.
“I told my wife: ‘Why not? I barely knew her. She wouldn’t mind.’
“That notion got the kibosh, and I was changed and ready to go in two minutes and 57 seconds. And most of that time was spent wiggling out of my too-tight painting shirt!”
Our “mini-trees,” ourselves
Minnesota, Hail to Thee Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff reports: “Minnesota, the Star of the North, became the 32nd state of the union on May 11, 1858. So in honor of our state’s 164th birthday, I created my first Minnesota mini-tree.
“It salutes the great outdoors with pine cones, fish, a loon, bald eagles, a bear and, of course, a moose and squirrel.
“The University of Minnesota is represented by a number of ornaments, including Goldy Gopher and one from the U’s College of Veterinary Medicine, compliments of my nephew, Dr. Chuck the veterinarian.
“Sharp eyes might spot ornaments saluting the Minnesota State Fair and the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
“On the sports side, there are a couple of ornaments commemorating the Minnesota Twins World Series Championships in 1987 and 1991. I looked all over for my Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl Championship ornament, but . . . never mind. Maybe one will exist by this time next year.
“Finally, under the tree are some souvenirs of Minnesota’s Centennial in 1958, which for some reason was celebrated with much more fanfare than this year’s 164th birthday. Go figure.”
Band Name of the Day: At Least Decent — or: The Hairy Eyeballs
Website of the Day: The “So-Called Dollars” of Minnesota’s Centennial