How much do you care about your hair? Does life go on after a bad haircut?

Of women and their hair
Great Beauties (and Others) Division

DebK of Rosemount writes: “Cousin Linda finds herself suddenly in great need of a haircut. Oddly, I just last evening satisfied the very same urgent need.

“That’s where the similarity ends.

“Cousin Linda, a great beauty, has been poring over photographs of other great beauties, paying particular heed, I surmise, to their hairstyles. As I understand it, these photos will be used to guide the stylist who will ultimately be chosen to cut Cousin Linda’s hair.

“The ways of great beauties will ever mystify me. Though I frequently find myself suddenly requiring a haircut, I have never in my life pored over haircut pictures. My way is to go to the parish secretary’s basement, from which I shortly emerge with shorter hair — sometimes not too ugly, sometimes very ugly indeed. Life goes on.

“Texas Sis — another great beauty — has a third approach. She never finds herself suddenly unfit to be seen (I speak of the condition of her coiffure, remember). She has standing appointments with her regular stylist, who clearly does not moonlight as a parish secretary.

“All this hair talk got me to thinking about Lois (Mrs. Jerry) Clark, another great beauty — one who passed from this life a handful of years ago. I met Lois when I was assigned by the college work-study office to serve as secretary to the Cornell College coaching staff. At the time, head football coach (and chief consumer of my work-study hours) was Jerry Clark, only a few years distant from his years playing at Iowa under the great Forest ‘Evy’ Evashevski (who was my mom’s hero, incidentally). Almost immediately, my role as Coach’s secretary expanded to include babysitting the three Clark kids whenever he and his wife traveled with the football team. Somehow, my babysitting stints earned me a frequent place at the Clark dinner table, where meals were preceded by prayers offered by both Coach and his wife. Jerry’s prayers covered quite a lot of yardage, but Lois’s supplications are the ones I remember. Beginning weeks ahead of a scheduled session with her beautician, Lois’s before-meal prayer would feature the plea that she would ‘get a good haircut at my next appointment.’”

Life (and death) as we know it

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: The tape measure of life.

“I have been around water most of my life. I grew up on the banks of the Des Moines River, lived on Prior Lake 20 years, and for the last 18 years have lived on the Wisconsin Riviera.

“It was in a Hastings marina 20-plus years ago that I met a man who taught me about the tape measure of life. Our boats were docked next to each other on a perfect summer night, and after introductions, the two of us and Johnny Walker spent hours reveling in our love of boating and the cruising lifestyle. He was a nomadic houseboater, and I told him how much I envied that. He asked me what kept me from doing the same and then scoffed at my excuse of not being able to yet.

“He asked me if I had a tape measure handy, and luckily I did. ‘Gimme that,’ he said, and proceeded to extend it. ‘So how old are you?’ he asked, and then stopped at that number of inches: 56. ‘So what’s the average life expectancy these days, do you think?’ Upon my answer, he kept his thumb on 56 and drew out to 75. He then announced that where his thumb was marked my spent life, and where his other hand was was the probable remainder . . . and he asked: ‘What are you waiting for?’

“I laughed it off but remember it to this day. It’s especially meaningful now that I’m a couple inches over where his other hand was.”

Fellow travelers
Including: Reckless abandoned

Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “My St. Paul daughter and son-in-law proposed a short trip to Ohio to visit my late husband’s Italian relatives. Like many people, I haven’t travelled much lately, and I had to consider the pros and cons. I decided to go. It was so much fun! We were driven all around by Rocco and Gino, and we enjoyed a running commentary by Mario. He, like me, is over 90.

“We were the recipients of good stories, and great food, and we connected with four generations.

“One thing was different, though, from trips of previous years. After lunch each day, nap time was scheduled. This was not for any small children; it was for Mario and me. Each of us was dropped off at our abodes for a few hours, then gathered up again for dinner and evening gatherings.

“It worked out well.”

Our community of strangers

A note from The Daughter of the Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Bits and pieces for BB readers.

“My mom, The Gram With a Thousand Rules, celebrated her 90th birthday June 17th. My siblings and I had a small but wonderful celebration for her despite the heat wave that occurred during that time. Many fun memories were made that day, and I thought BB readers would enjoy a couple of them.

“My mom received copies (just in the nick of time for her party) of her second published book, ‘Tagging Along to the Lake,’ and was able to sign them for guests. She was a bit shy about it, but I teased her that it was good practice for any future book-signing tour. She was not amused with me, her own little tag-along, at that moment, thinking that I might be serious. It was quite wonderful to see and hear of all the joy her first book, ‘She Was a Tag-Along,’ has brought to family, friends, and neighbors, but most of all to my dad, who was busting his buttons with pride at her accomplishment.

“Dad knew I had prodded Mom to compile her BB stories, add many more funny gems, and that I had a teensy-tiny role in helping to get them published. He told me that he had already reread her first book (published in February) four times. Now, just so everyone understands the significance of that, my dad has NEVER really been a book reader; he has always been more of a technical-manual and Popular Mechanics kind of guy. And while he had a long career as an engineer at a local TV station, he has never even written an email, because he retired before they existed. Whereas my mom has read libraries full of books, mastered a computer and Microsoft Office in her 70s, a smartphone in her 80s, and is now writing books in her 90s. My dad’s eyes got quite misty as he told me that he really enjoyed getting to see, in print, the funny stories and photos from her childhood, and as he lovingly stated, ‘getting to read about my future wife back when she was 9 years old, inside the pages of her book.’

“A big thank you to our BB editor and all the readers who encouraged her submissions to BB over the years. When Mom placed her second book in his almost-94-year-old hands, my dad was quite surprised. Then, after a few minutes, he asked when Book 3 would be on its way. Mom says two books published in her 90th year are enough. But I will keep encouraging her to put pen to paper (well, actually fingers to keyboards might be a more accurate term). I have included a picture of my mom with both her books and another photo of me and my older brother learning to love books while her mother (our dear Grandma H) is reading to us on our couch — the love of reading passed down to yet another generation. Note the groovy 1970s lamp and furniture in the background; it seems they are almost back in style again.

“And that leads me to one last humorous memory to share. My Ohana always buys Twins-wear whenever we come back for visits to Minnesota. Our children have fond memories of going to baseball games in the Metrodome (before we moved to Hawaii a few decades ago). So of course, when we flew into town for Mom’s birthday, we had to acquire new items from our favorite Midwest store, Mills Fleet Farm. Every summer, a sort of pilgrimage occurs to that store because they love it, and we don’t have anything comparable to Fleet Farm in Hawaii. So we stock up on Twins goods and Fleet Farm licorice whips, too.

“After our Minnesota trip was over, we packed up our souvenirs (and lots of bags of red licorice candy) and headed home to Hawaii. It was back to our normal routines and catching up at work. No, I’m sorry to shatter illusions, but we don’t just surf and lie on the beach all day. So it was a few weekends before we could all meet up again to do a hike together at a tropical botanical garden. We didn’t plan it and didn’t even realize at first that we all had some sort of Twins swag on us. In fact, my husband, our son, and our oldest daughter’s fiancé were all wearing identical Twins-logo caps. We caught on to our matching apparel when a tall male tourist shouted over from across another lush hillside: ‘Twinkies!’ Those of us who grew up in Minnesota got the reference right away and, after a second of hesitation, realized what we were all wearing. But my daughter’s fiancé moved from Asia to Hawaii when he was young, so he needed more of an explanation to get the hometown nickname reference. Next, the young man on the mountainside pointed again to his own Twins hat and shouted out once more, this time ‘Brainerd!’ . . . all while pointing to himself and giving fist pumps in the air, evidently quite excited that he had found fellow fans from Minnesota in the middle of the jungle in Hawaii. My daughter’s fiancé, who has no knowledge of Minnesota town names or even what the guy was shouting about, turned to her and queried: ‘What does he mean? BRAIN-NERD? Is he saying that he’s super-smart? Or is that just another name like Twinkies?’

“Mahalo again, BB readers. Remember to write down your stories and share them here on BB! And please share BB with your friends!”

Great minds . . .
Headline Division

Donald reports:”Subject: Where have I read that before?

“Last Wednesday, both Twin Cities dailies featured articles on the front pages of their Sports sections about the Twins’ acquiring a number of pitchers.

“These were the headlines:

“Paper west of St. Paul: ‘It’s a call to arms’

“Pioneer Press: ‘A CALL TO ARMS’”

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: If the new pitchers don’t work out any better than the old ones, you can expect this headline: A FAREWELL TO ARMS. (At first we wrote “When the new pitchers don’t work out . . .” — but decided that was too fatalistic even for a lifelong Twins fan.)

Everyone’s a copy editor

Gregory of the North: “I just figured out why the Twins can’t seem to catch a break since the All-Star break.

“This score summary is from today’s electronic Pioneer Press.

“As you can see, we’re playing ourselves and losing! (Unfortunately, it was Detroit who scored five runs.)”

Today’s helpful (?) hint

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “A friend is looking for new music to clean by; her old favorite is no longer working.

“Probably not what she needs, but I just found a flash mob of Gustav Holst music:

“Here is a symphony orchestra playing the part called Jupiter: 

“I heard that, when Holst was leading his orchestra in a rehearsal of this music, the ladies cleaning the theater sat down to listen. So, again, probably not what my friend needs.”

The highfalutin amusements

Recommended by Semi-Legend: “This is marvelous. Two pianists booked for the same gig.”

Life as we know it

Rusty of St. Paul: “I bought the ‘Tesla’ of electric lawnmowers in St. Paul and drove it four hours to where we live half the year in Northern Wisconsin, excited to try it on our long grass, as our gas mower bit the dust in June.

“Got it set up and . . . no power to the mower. Using the instruction booklet to troubleshoot, it appeared to be a battery issue. I was driving to our town’s yard-waste site and saw a stranger mowing his lawn with the same mower! As this is a town of 400, in short order he was in my car with his good battery to test my mower out, and indeed his battery ran my mower. For a thank you, I offered him a couple cans of Guinness, which he turned down, as it triggers his gout.

“Disappointed in my mower, I turned my attention to installing the new dryer belt. The old one ruptured last week when my visiting daughter put three loads worth of her wet clothes in the machine at once. The dryer is a 1988 Kenmore that my late father-in-law purchased when he owned our house years ago. He had kept the parts number order pamphlet, which I found.

“I called the Sears in the town 20 miles away to see if they had the belt in stock. No. They would have to order it, so she told me to order it online myself, as that would be quicker. I looked into that, and the belt, plus shipping and handling from Sears, was over $30. I then checked on Amazon and found the same belt from China for $7.49 — with free shipping, as my daughter has Amazon Prime delivery. I don’t relish making Jeff Bezos richer, but . . . $30 to Sears or $7.49 to Amazon?

“It arrived today, a day early, and as our laundry of four had piled up (our son is also visiting), I tackled the job.

“I don’t want to sound like I know what I’m doing. In Industrial Arts class at Ramsey Junior High in St. Paul in 1969, I got a C. And I was an A student in all other subjects. Except penmanship. Another C. I am not handy, but I am cheap, so won’t hire a job out that I think I can do by following along on YouTube.

“The installation actually went well, and I thought we were all set, but when my daughter used the dryer, this time with one load worth of clothes, she reported ‘smoke and an odor’ in the basement. The venting pipes had all come apart when I had moved the dryer to fix the belt. I had to Mack-and-Myer the pipes back in place with my wife’s help. It was very frustrating. And is still not perfect, with all the bends and turns that kept moving and coming apart. It still needs tinkering with.

“Next I partially assembled the hose reel I had bought. Made in China. The ‘estimated time for required partial assembly is 30 minutes.’ I told my wife that, and we both laughed, knowing that the C-earning Industrial Arts student was doing the work. Ninety minutes later, I high-fived the wife, as I was done. I tested the hose attachments, and no leaks!

“I asked her to water the gardens, as I was spent. Presently she called out ‘Rusty!’ and said the hose was not reeling off the reel. It was stuck. I showed her the pictographs in the assembly booklet, and she showed me that I had installed the reel on the base unit backwards. I told her that was because the pictures were in Chinese. After we removed the basket, she was able to coax the hose off the reel to water. Now there were two major leaks, as the water couplings had loosened when she pulled the hose off the reel.

“Fudge! It was 5 p.m., and I was exhausted, so I told her I would try again tomorrow.

“It seemed that a martini was in order, as it had been a long Industrial Arts day for me. My daughter was cooking supper for us, and as I reached up above the kitchen cupboard for the Beefeater’s, I leaned against the baking sheet she had taken out of the hot oven and parked on the counter and burned my bare belly. Ouch and wow! I had to apply my iced martini glass to my tummy more than to my lips to temper the burn.”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Including: See world

Deuce of Eagan writes: “Subject: Mining Among the Butterflies.

“In the early 1940s, the Aberdeen Hotel was razed. It was a grand old building at Selby near Virginia, within the morning shadow of the Cathedral. All that remained was a large empty lot covered in bricks and weeds.

“Soon afterward, the neighborhood kids began ‘mining operations’ among the thousands of bricks in the lot, mostly covered with a thin layer of dirt and the 3- to 4-foot-tall weeds that took over. Our ages were from 5 to 8 years old. It was the perfect space for our forts and our mining operations. We were hidden by the weeds, with no fear of an adult telling us to leave.

“Our mining was quite the labor-intensive process. For weeks on end, we crushed and pulverized the softer bricks into a powder and stored them in Mason jars borrowed from our mothers. Our tools were simple implements: hammers and large solid rocks.

“Eventually the collections of jars grew to 40 or more, each separated into colors. Red-brown was prevalent (my personal favorite), along with yellow and orange. I kept mine displayed on a shelf in my bedroom.

“I fondly recall the beauty that surrounded us as we ‘worked’ hidden in the weeds: an abundance of butterflies, beautiful moths, caterpillars, dragonflies, large bumblebees, and grasshoppers. Large orange & black Monarchs, others of yellow & black, and an occasional blue & black added to the splendor.

“When nightfall arrived, some of the jars were used to catch amazing ‘lightning bugs,’ to enjoy close up, briefly.

“Such simple, special memories.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede reports: “Instead of photographing the rivers and waterfalls along the North Shore of Lake Superior, like I used to do, on a recent visit I paid attention to the blossoms I was seeing and had never photographed. It was fun for me to find these blossoms that were new to me.

“There were a lot of lupine blooming the last week of June. The cooler weather along the shore slowed the spring blossoms sequence compared to the Twin Cities area, so lilacs were still blooming. The lupine were blooming in the roadside ditches all along Highway 61.

“And this was a blossom I had never seen before: a blazing star.

“A back-lit red leaf of some sort always catches my eye . . .

“. . . as do blossoms of some sort.

“Butterflies that hold still for me are always a treat to capture in camera.

“A moth of some sort on the screen door to the lodge.

“I looked at the leaves, too, and this Thimbleberry leaf with its many, many lines was a treat to find.

“How varied nature can be! I have never noticed such a leaf before, and it reminds me of the wrinkles that start appearing as I age.

“I used to go to the North Shore two or three times a year to enjoy the beauty I found there, but it had been several years since I had been there. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten about the shore, but very pleased to see the beauty of the blue sky and waters, the trees along the shore, the clouds in the sky.

“At times I was close to the lake level, but I found myself higher up on some waterfall walks and could look over the trees to the lake.

“The different cloud patterns played a role in how dominant the sky would be in a photo.

“And I tried some photos along the shore and near the lake. I like the rocky coastline.

“And there were foggy times, too.

“The cherry tree blooming by the harbor in Grand Marais was a special treat. This was now early July.”

Dept. of Neat Stuff (?)
Toy Top Division

Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Tops — or spin tops, as they are often called — can be traced back over 5,000 years. They existed in many areas of the world and in many forms. So obviously it’s not just me that considers them neat stuff.

“Be that as it may, my story dates to only around 1960, when my dad came back from a business trip and gave my brother and me a couple of wooden toy tops. One was red; the other, blue. They had metal points and came with a piece of string with a knot on one end and a button on the other. We had no idea what they were or what to do with them.

“Fortunately our dad did and showed us how to use them. It was pretty simple once you got the hang of it. Just wrap the string around the top in the proper way, hang onto the end of it with the button, and give it a fling to set it spinning on the floor or sidewalk. While a top isn’t a gyroscope, per se, its spinning does give it the same gyroscopic properties and can be used to perform most of the same tricks.

“Not too long afterwards, the Duncan Toys Co. (of yo-yo fame) introduced a line of tops. The first ones were wood with a plastic tip. I still have one of the Duncan Tournament models, but it is really beat up, much like our original ones. Of course my brother and I were already experts on how to use tops and showed our friends how to make them work.

“Following the same path as their yo-yos, Duncan eventually introduced plastic tops. The Imperial model was the top of the line, so to speak. Its body was made of transparent colored plastic, and the top of the top came off so the string could be stored inside when not in use. I had a green one; my brother, a blue one. They have survived in much better shape than the wood ones.

“And now to answer a few questions: Yes, I can still spin a top. After watching a YouTube tutorial to refresh my memory on how to properly wind the string, I succeeded on my first try.

“No, even though yo-yos are fun and are probably considered Neat Stuff by many people, they don’t quite make the cut for me. I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but to each his/her own Neat Stuff.”

See world

Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Vertically Challenged: “I didn’t get the greatest pic of these. I thought I was going to miss it altogether, so I snapped it so fast — a sight we don’t usually see: all the baby pileated woodpeckers waiting for their meal.”

Shutterbug nation

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake reports: “We went to the Duluth Air Show to take some pictures of the event. The Air Force Thunderbirds were the main attraction. I ended up taking over 1,500 pictures, and I will probably keep about 300 of them and delete the rest. I would like to share just a few of them that I took with the BB readers. Enjoy!”


There, but for the grace of God . . . There, but for the grace of God . . . There, but for the grace of God . . .

There, but for the grace of God . . .

August 1 email from Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: The bridge I almost took.

“Fifteen years ago today, I almost drove east from Minneapolis on the I-35W bridge. But I was heading to Maplewood Mall, and sitting in construction-obstructed stop-and-go traffic gave me the willies, so I took I-94 across the river. Later, while heading to Volunteer Training for the Irish Fair, I heard that the I-35W bridge had collapsed. I told the trainer that we should have a moment of silence for the people on the bridge, and he shrugged. But at the end, he did call for a moment of silence.

“Even scarier, our former priest was also about to drive across that bridge, but he turned aside to mail something at a post office. When he turned back, traffic was completely stopped because the bridge was now gone. It was just not his time to ‘go.’

“Bridges have always scared me, whether I am under or on top of one. Missing this bridge collapse by a few hours only increased that. For weeks or months after that, cars commuting across the I-94 bridge — especially in the morning — would cluster just before the bridge, then race across it. I was not the only one with a well-founded fear of bridges.”

Life as we know it
“Ponderosa” Division

Stinky Bananalips of Empire reports: “So this whole Ponderosa (I’m sick of the word pandemic and will substitute Ponderosa, panini, Panera, pandemonium or anything else), I’ve been an essential worker. Came into a mostly empty building for almost two full years. I am still adjusting to the rest of my co-workers being back in the office in person the last six months or so. There’s so much noise in the hallways, and less parking in the lot — you know, minor annoyances.

“Yesterday there was a last-minute ‘Can you order pizza for a lunch meeting I’m holding today?’ type of situation. Knowing that the pizza place is really good about saying they will be there at noon, but showing up 10 minutes early (love them for that), I made it into an opportunity to take a break to wait outside the front door 20 minutes early on a nice day.

“I snapped this picture of the begonias planted by the front door while I waited and decided I kind of like this part of more employees working in person.”

Live and learn

Al B of Hartland writes: “I’ve learned . . .

“Grandfathers are fathers with fewer rules.

“Mosquito repellent wears off before the mosquitoes wear out.

“If you want to save money, don’t buy any new electronics until you figure out how to use the ones you own.

“‘Easily’ is a word that is easier said than done.

“Everybody never says what nobody said.

“There’s nothing to gain by starting old age at a young age.

“Most people will try anything as long as it’s a free sample at a supermarket.

“The easiest way to be thought smart is to listen to others.

“Only fools are certain. I’m certain about that.

“If all the miraculous golf clubs worked, everyone would be good at golf.

“Right this minute, most long-married couples are yelling ‘What?’ from separate rooms.

“Mistakes are made to be made.”

of Hartland

Band Name of the Day: The Bad Haircuts

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