“Beautiful young Ukrainian boy” says it all about war in seven simple words!


Out of the mouths of babes
Life (And Potential Death) As We Know It Division

Kathy S. of St. Paul reports: “Subject: Cry from joy.

“A beautiful young Ukrainian boy was interviewed on TV.

“‘I would have to cry from joy,’ he said, talking about what it would be like to have his father come back from the war with Russia.

“There is poetry in his words.

“I wish I could hug him.”

Out of the mouth of babes
And: Our times

Rusty of St. Paul writes: “My daughter is a nanny in New York City. She has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She had a teaching job in an elementary school in Manhattan for a year, but can make more money as a nanny, raising rich people’s kids for them.

“So: teaching 30 kids for a pittance, or minding one kid for a ton more money?

“This week she is in Italy, taking care of a New York City couple’s 2-year-old at their villa. The vista photos she has sent us are stunning.

“She called us today to check in.

“She says this young child loves ‘Imaginative Play,’ so she had a stuffed animal and a Barbie doll talk to him.

“The stuffed animal said: ‘How is your day going today?’

“‘Good,’ he said.

“He then looked self-absorbed in a pressured way.

“Barbie asked him: ‘What are you doing now?’

“He answered earnestly to Barbie: ‘I’m making a POOP now, lady!'”

Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Bill of the river lake: “Subject: A what?

“The other day, we were talking by phone with an elderly relative, and she expressed concerns about a young pregnant neighbor who was having a difficult late-pregnancy issue involving location of the umbilical cord.

“She said: ‘I hope all goes OK with that ripcord!’

“Maybe she thought that the baby would just parachute out.”

Older Than Dirt
Or: Know thyself!

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: High-tech baseball.

“You know you are getting up there a bit in age when you are listening to a Twins broadcast, and the announcer describes a line drive as a ‘laser hit,’ and the first thing that pops into your head is ‘frozen rope.'”

Our theater of seasons
Plus: Till death us do part (The Vision Thing Division)

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake, with a pair of reports:(1) “Subject: MORE LITTLE MOUTHS TO FEED.

“We now have around 30 new mouths to feed. We have three families of turkeys that have joined forces with all of their new children and are now making the rounds with the neighbors, looking for some food to eat.

“I couldn’t get them in a picture all at once, because they were scattered around, but they all sure left together on to their next stop. This is the second time that they were here today.

“They’ll all keep coming back now until they are fully grown, and then they will leave to start a family of their own. Then the cycle will start all over again!”

(2) “Subject: THE BATHROOM IS ON FIRE.

“Last week I had a little fun with my wife. She was out sitting in the porch when I ran out there and told her to hurry up and get into the bathroom because the toilet was smoking. She panicked as she quickly made her way to the bathroom to see what was smoking.

“We are still laughing about it!”

Fun facts to know and tell

Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Who were those beloved actors playing a ‘prehistoric goon’ in a Three Stooges short, and a troubled wife in an episode of ‘Police Story’?

“To give my brain a respite from the world, I recently watched some Three Stooges shorts. One, titled ‘Outer Space Jitters’ (1957), featuring Joe Besser, a very poor replacement for Curly and Shemp, had an unexpected surprise.

“The boys found themselves on a distant planet, where aliens demonstrate their scientific superiority by bringing a ‘prehistoric goon’ back to life. When the hulking goon, replete with bushy eyebrows and huge fangs, stood up and began grunting and chasing our favorite knuckleheads (oh, how I longed for Curly’s Woob! Woob! Woob!), it turned out to be none other than Dan Blocker, who two years later would be cast as the beloved Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright on the popular TV western ‘Bonanza.’

“While Blocker’s performance as a goon was not exactly Oscar-worthy, the producers of ‘Bonanza’ must have seen some potential. Perhaps it was the fact that Big Dan, who had a photographic memory, could take one look at the Stooges script and have his lines down pat: Grunt! Grunt! Grunt!

“I had another surprise while watching a ‘Police Story’ (1973-’88) marathon on the Decades channel. There was Michael Learned, who played Olivia Walton on ‘The Waltons,’ cast as the alcoholic wife of a police officer (William Shatner). Wait! John Boy’s mama, the rock of the Walton clan, mother of the century, playing an alcoholic? Learned gave an outstanding performance, but I kept thinking that this was the sainted Mrs. Walton, who probably drank nothing stronger than lemonade and prune juice.

“It’s interesting to note that Learned was already playing Ma Walton when she appeared in ‘Police Story.’ I’m sure seeing her falling-down drunk was quite unsettling for some ‘Waltons’ fans. I also wonder what her TV family thought of Learned playing such a gritty role.

“Sometimes it’s hard to escape the high-profile characters that actors become associated with. Just ask the ‘goon’ and the mother of the century.”

Muse, amuse

JB of the North End: “Subject: Biggest Butternut.

“Recently I biked my way to the state’s biggest Butternut tree (per the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources). It resides in the Reservoir Woods in Roseville.

“After paying my respects to the Butternut Behemoth, it occurred to me that:

“I’ve looked at the butternut from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know butternut at all
(apology to Joni Mitchell).”

The Lowest Common Consumer

Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: No Good.

“My wife and I go for evening walks in the area near our home. Sometimes we take a path that cuts through a wooded area near a lake. On one spot along the path is a runoff overflow pond.

“The pond is about 150 feet by 50 feet and probably 4 to 5 feet maximum depth, and is surrounded on all sides by a fairly steep embankment tangled with weeds, reeds, brush and trees that have grown thick and tall over the years. The water is nearly covered in a layer of algae and lily pads. Despite this, it all makes for a very pleasant scene. And ducks love it.

“Between the path and pond stand signs warning people that there must be No Boating, Fishing, Skating or Swimming. Best to help citizens be safe, of course. Someone has added a healthy quip below one of the signs: ‘Breathing Optional.’

“I look at this setting and question how anyone could get a boat into the pond, or, even worse, how they’d get it out. And why they would want to put a boat in there, since there are no fish.

“It makes no sense to skate there, either. There’s no warming house, it would be boring, and you’d have to crawl up the banks while grabbing hold of dead brush to get out. Also, wouldn’t you know it, located one block away, is . . . an ice arena. Really.

“Swimming? That’s funny.

“Still, the signs should absolutely stay in place as is. Better safe than sorry. And it gives walkers a little chuckle as they pass the small pond where activities they wouldn’t want to do are not allowed.”

The Permanent Family Record

Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights: “Subject: Finders, Keepers?

“The other day, my brother and I were doing some cleaning in our mother’s house. She had just moved to an apartment in a senior community.

“In the bedroom, I spotted a pretty, small table, and on it was a pretty, wooden box. As Mom collects small, pretty boxes, this wasn’t a surprise. The box was about 6 inches high, 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep. It felt heavy. I spotted a label on the top. Curious. Then I read the label. It said: ‘Cremains of Virginia Johnson.’

“I found Grandma! We never knew Mom had Grandma’s ashes.

“My brother took the box, read the label and tried to hand it back to me, saying: ‘You’re the oldest – you keep her!’

“Finders, keepers?”

Our times (responsorial)

Grandma Paula: “Subject: Bookcases.

“This is a gentle note to Kathy S. of St. Paul.

“Yes, bookcases should be for book. However, I love to be able to see what I consider my objets d’art. (That is French for objects of art.) 😊 All my favorite books are on my shelves. I gave away a lot of books when I moved, but saved the best ones. The objects of art are very, very important to me. I can see them every day, and it makes me smile.

“I don’t know what my children will do with them when I am gone. But I guess that’s OK. I won’t know.”

Our “mini-trees,” ourselves
Belated Fourth of July Division

Once again, Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Better late than never, as the saying goes. And as another saying goes, make it short and sweet. So without further ado, here is my belated Fourth of July mini-tree.

“It has lots of red, white and blue things, including gnomes, Snoopys, Uncle Sam hats, stars and bulbs, with a couple of bald eagles thrown in for fun. That should do it.”

Not exactly what they had in mind?

Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin, reports: “Subject: Independence Day.

“At our town’s recent Fourth of July celebration, one of the songs that was played during the fireworks display was ‘Independence Day,’ recorded by Martina McBride in 1994 (I can’t believe it was that long ago!). As Rolling Stone magazine noted: ‘[I]t was easy to mistake the country song for a U-S-A! U-S-A! anthem. It was titled after America’s most patriotic holiday, after all, and its irresistible chorus of “Let freedom ring!” seemed custom-made for small-town Fourth of July celebrations to come. But the true meaning behind “Independence Day,” written by Gretchen Peters and recorded by powerhouse vocalist McBride, was lost on many listeners — the seemingly July 4th holiday hit turned out to be a story of domestic violence and one woman’s drastic measures to escape abuse at home.’

“The chorus goes like this: ‘Let freedom ring, let the white dove sing / Let the whole world know that today / Is a day of reckoning. / Let the weak be strong, let the right be wrong / Roll the stone away, let the guilty pay / It’s Independence Day.’

“Interestingly, ‘Sean Hannity used the song as a theme on his radio show from shortly after 9/11 until 2014; Sarah Palin chose it as a walk-on song during her Vice Presidential campaign.’

“I’ve noted previously how people grab a song title without paying attention to the lyrics and use the song inappropriately (‘I Will Always Love You’ is about breaking up, but people want it for wedding music all the time.)

“As Herman’s Hermits sang: ‘Listen, people!’ (Wait, never mind — the lyrics to that song don’t fit what I’m trying to say, either!)”

Dept. of Neat Stuff
Buckbee-Mears Division (Honeywell Responsorial)

John in Highland:Like Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff, my dad, Ed, was an engineer. He would bring neat stuff home from work.

“For most of his career at Minneapolis Honeywell, Ed worked in the Aerospace Division. Much of his work involved Department of Defense contracts, so oftentimes he could not discuss what he was working on.

“One day, probably as a result of our pestering him as to what he did at work, he brought home a working model of a gyroscope. A gyroscope is defined as an apparatus consisting of a rotating wheel so mounted that its axis can turn freely in certain or all directions, and capable of maintaining its same absolute direction in space in spite of movements of the mountings and surrounding parts. Our understanding of how it worked in an aircraft was a bit shaky.

“Honeywell has been an innovator in gyroscope development since 1914, when a company inventor named Sperry put gyroscopes to use in stabilizing aircraft. Today Honeywell’s GG1320 digital ring laser Gyro (RLG) is the industry standard for precision rotational measurement.”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland Division

Al B of Hartland reports: (1) “I’ve learned . . .

“April is one of the 12 cruelest months of the year.

“If they want to speed up baseball games, MLB umpires should call a batter out anytime a fan in the stands catches a ball.

“If you’re being chased by an angry mob of taxidermists, don’t play dead.

“If I were a spy, tying me up in front of a TV showing any of the 24-hour news channels would quickly cause me to spill the beans.”

(2) “Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who has too many photos? Cheer up; there are at least two of us. You and I are in this together, and I’m happy to have your company. I have thousands of bird, mammal, insect and wildflower photos for use in magazines and newspapers, but I’m fixing to delete most of them. I’m like your brother who replies to every email — eventually. ‘Fixing to’ means I’ll get around to it sometime — maybe . . . but first, I need to take a few more photos of those bald eagles on those two nests that look like upside-down Volkswagen Beetles in king trees.”

(3) “I make it a cardinal rule to look at every cardinal.”

(4) “I see organized groups culling our ditches of trash. They do good work.

“I pick up trash when I’m birding and have for so many years I can’t remember when I didn’t. I can’t pick it all up, and I don’t try. I can pick up some of it, and I do.

“One day, I found an entire pen. It hadn’t been crushed by a vehicle tire. It didn’t have any ink, but you can’t have everything.

“A woman asked me why I was picking up trash. She likely thought I’d been sentenced to community service. ‘I am birding,’ I said.”

Could be verse!

From Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Writer’s block.

“I never do have writer’s block;

“my flow of words ne’er falters.

“I can write most anything,

“from sci-fi to church psalters.

“The only trouble that I have

“with this fine fluent freedom

“is no matter what my words

“there’s nobody to read ’em!”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Nobody? What is this, Our Community of Strangers — chopped liver?!

Our pets, ourselves

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Why is the horse trailer barking?

“He barked his orders, so we called him General. He was a big dog, even for a Saint Bernard. They say that was because he was European-bred. We just never could get him on a scale to weigh him, but his estimated weight was 250 pounds. Whatever it was, it was all muscle.

“General came to us when his owners got Air Force orders for an assignment to Guam. When our kids saw him the first time, their eyes bulged and they reared back when his tongue lashed out with a loving slobber across their faces. It seemed as if our children’s heads could easily fit inside General’s mouth. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and he was certainly well-behaved.

“We had to move about 70 miles, and there was no way he could fit in the cab of my pickup or our car. So we loaded him into the horse trailer. We had to stop at the hardware store in downtown Laramie first, so I parked in a space that could accommodate the trailer behind the truck. When we got back a few minutes later, people had encircled the trailer, amazed at the trailer that barked. Could a horse really sound like that?

“When we got to our new home, he and our other canine companion — Rusty, a Vizsla — went out to explore the new surroundings. There was so much to see and smell that they kept pretty busy. Going around in ever-widening circles, they eventually reached the closest neighbors, Doris and Tom, about three-quarters of a mile to the south. Doris explained to me that when she saw General coming she thought he was a Shetland pony and immediately went for a horse halter. She was surprised when he looked up at her with those big dark eyes and smiled as only he could do, lower mouth extended downward and his jowls dripping saliva.

“Don Van Pelt the bootmaker lived about two miles north of us. The Good Wife decided that we needed a good collar for General. After all, Rusty had a nice one. So she went to the boot shop and came back a short time later. She had just about taken off her jacket when the phone rang, asking for me. It was Don, questioning the size of the collar. The Good Wife had told him 32 inches, and he thought that would be way too big. I told him that maybe it should be 34 inches. I actually could wear it as a belt.

“One cold winter day, we could not find General. After he’d been gone more than 24 hours, we called the radio station. Everyone within about 20 miles listened to the radio, and public-service announcements got the word out that General was missing. It wasn’t very long before the phone rang, telling us that he was lying on a couch on the porch of a home a few miles away. I drove there with my pickup, and sure enough, it was General. He did not want to budge, but with help of the homeowner, I was able to get him into the bed of the pickup, and he just lay there. Doc Gloyd, the Vet, told us he had frostbitten testicles. No wonder he didn’t want to come home or walk anywhere.

“True to the reputation which precedes all Saint Bernards, he did love to drink beer, especially from a keg. He would slop it up, and that was fun for him. He and I would wrestle, rolling on the ground, and he never bit me. He easily would intimidate anyone because of his size. Across the road, a rancher had a herd of Scottish Highland cattle. They had long horns, and when they saw General coming toward them, they immediately departed. One day the owner drove up to our place in his pickup. He rolled down the window, cranking by hand as you had to do in those days, and started to tell me that General scared his cattle. Just then, General arrived, stood upwards with his paws on the open window ledge and faced him eyeball to eyeball. He went to say ‘. . . but that’s OK.’

“General was a special gem. We loved him, and he loved us. We keep his memory buried deep in our hearts.”

Band Name of the Day: Dan Blocker and His Three Grunts — or: The Frostbitten Testicles

Websites of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “‘The View’ had a rerun on July 5 with Sara Bareilles, who wrote the song ‘Brave’:

“Sara was disappointed with the lack of reaction to this song when she released it. Then the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital released a video of it that went viral.

“Life has been scary and frustrating for many people lately. Maybe we need songs like this.”

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