Mr. Wiggles steps up to fill the void that Maggie left . . .

Our pets, ourselves
Including: In memoriam

Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin,” writes: “Subject: Our animal companions.

“The number of residents in our senior apartment has diminished. My sister Nancy has had to send her canine companion Maggie — an intrepid Australian Blue Heeler (also healer) — off to the spirit world.

“We miss her, especially each time we come in the door. When Nancy came in, Maggie would do a very elaborate dance routine. When I came in, she would do one tail wag, which clearly indicated ‘Meh.’

“Now, my hefty cat Mr. Wiggles has stepped up to keep us both involved. Early each morning, he gets his staff going. First, he leans on Nancy’s legs and waits to be brushed. Next, when I am making my coffee, he stands by the container of cat food and waits to be served.

“I sometimes tell him that there are cats who have to go out hunting for breakfast. I explain that they have to eat raw mice, with the fur still on, and no seasoning.

“He does not believe it.”

Fun facts to know and tell

John in Highland writes: “Subject: ‘The Ballad of Easy Rider.’

“Roger McGuinn, singer, guitarist and banjo player, was in town for a concert recently. Most popularly remembered as the co-founder of the Byrds, he still performs at solo concerts.

“His playing of the 12-string Rickenbacker guitar has been described as sounding like ‘church bells.’

“He tells the story of his life, growing up in Chicago, where he learned to play guitar and banjo.

“One of the people he got to know when he was with the Byrds in Los Angeles was movie actor/producer Peter Fonda. It was late in the 1960s, and Fonda was in the middle of producing a movie that would feature himself, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. Fonda wanted to have a theme song for the movie, so he asked McGuinn for help. Roger set him up with Bob Dylan, and Peter flew to New York to meet him. At their meeting , Dylan was writing down notes. When he was finished, he handed the notes to Fonda and said: ‘Here, take this back to McGuinn, and he will put it to music.’

“The song became ‘The Ballad of Easy Rider.’ I have seen Roger McGuinn in concert three times, and he always tells this story of how the song came about.

“‘The river flows,

“‘It flows to the sea.

“‘Wherever that river goes,

“‘That’s where I want to be.'”

The verbing of America

Writes Rancid Beef of South St. Paul: “I found this quote from Hunter Farrell, talking about his recent book, in an interview in the PHP Post newsletter: ‘Why do we focus so much attention on the hungry child but invisibilize the child’s parents, extended family and community, conveniently ignoring the systemic causes of the child’s hunger?’

“Invisibilize? That word nails-on-the-chalkboardizes me!”

Vanity, thy name is . . .

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “This was a Minnesota plate on a CRV in the Roseville Perkins lot: ‘FABULUS.'”

Our birds, ourselves

Gregory of the North: “We have a bird that keeps trying to get into our house. He (or she) flies against the window and fortunately is stopped by a screen, so it never seems injured. When the bird is not doing that, we’ll often find him/her sitting on some deck furniture staring into our living room.

“I don’t know much about non-game birds, so I don’t even know what kind it is. I’ve included a photo taken through the window and screen.

“If we go outside while the bird is here, it flies away, only to return a half-hour or so later. At first I thought it may have been looking for food, but there never has been food out there.

“I know BB has vast resources, so maybe someone might be able to explain this odd bird behavior. [Bulletin Board says: Attention, Al B of Hartland — the Official Ornithologist of Bulletin Board.]

“Thank you!”

Our birds, ourselves

Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “We have never seen this cute little bird at our feeders before. It did not stay very long, but we were happy to see it here.

“I’m not sure of which titmouse it is: the tufted titmouse or the black-crested titmouse.”

Could be verse!

A pair of “timericks” from Tim Torkildson: (1) “I haven’t had a bit of luck since 1982; / and so I think my sinking ship must now be overdue. / When at last it does arrive, with treasure loaded down — I’ll miss my step upon the pier and like enough I’ll drown.”

(2) “I’ve come from the dead, / who want you to know / it’s raspberry jam / and no lumbago. / There’s optional wings; / kazoos, but not harps. / And all noisy preachers / are kept under tarps.”

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Reports Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights: “On May 7th, I was talking on the phone with my friend Deb, who lives in Shorewood. She asked me what my favorite Italian restaurants were. The first that came to mind was, no surprise, Yarusso’s on Payne Avenue in St. Paul. I’ve been going there since I was a kid, and the food is always sooo good and the service is great.

“On May 8th, I saw the Star Tribune listed an obituary for a member of the Yarusso family. Friend Deb saw it, too, and called to tell me how it was so odd to hear the name Yarusso for the very first time and then see it again the next day.

“I told her she’d experienced a Baader-Meinhof. Since Deb doesn’t read the Pioneer Press, she needed an explanation. Deb was thrilled with the idea of having a name for such occurrences!”

Life in the Vending Machine Economy

LeoJEOSP writes: “We had a relative graduating from the post-grad Vet College of Iowa State.

“I-35 is a four-hour car ride to Ames, Iowa. While at a state rest stop, I had a little spare time and went over to the vending machines. No Mountain Dew available, so next was the snack machine.

“The machine had one solitary Twin Bing! My hometown manufactures the Twin Bing, and I love them.

“I put $1 in and selected Twin Bing. No Twin Bing. By this time my S.O. is ready to leave. I am not leaving until I get that Twin Bing! She suggested I put in another dollar and select the keypad number . . . and then the Twin Bing was mine. The prices were not shown until you made your selection. $1.75 is the most I ever paid for the Twin Bing.

“She retrieved the Twin Bing and opened it and took one of the two Bings.

“So, I paid $2 for half a Twin Bing, as I forgot my change in the machine.”

Band Name of the Day: The Hefty Cats — or: The Bing Twins

Websites of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “How to make cooking steamers and pots, plus joys of dandelions:

“In an article about Hmong food, an elder from Laos mentioned using bamboo for pots and pans. I looked it up and found:

“I also found a video on boiling water by holding a leaf containing it over a campfire:

“This is useful knowledge, which I hope I never need.

“But I also stumbled on a video explaining why dandelions are good for your lawn. Who knew?

“Back in the 1950s, our dad would pay us kids a nickel per paper bag full of dandelions. We were not that desperate for money, so he switched to putting a chemical on the lawn to kill the dandelions. Unfortunately it also killed the clover, which I loved. The lawn was OK, but would never win an award. It did have space for wrestling brothers and croquet, though, which I figure was much more important. Unfortunately the lawn was full of Creeping Charlie when the house was sold. But the buyers got a great deal on the house, so they could afford to fix that.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We will leave it to someone else to make the case for welcoming Creeping Charlie — or, as the Brits more fondly call it, Ground Ivy.

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