Reckless abandoned (responsorial)
And: The Permanent Maternal Record
Writes Elvis: “Subject: Nonagenarians.
“Elvis enjoyed reading the Bulletin Board entries from Grandma Pat and The Gram With a Thousand Rules, writing about their lives as nonagenarians.
“Elvis‘s mom reached 90 on June 1st. She celebrated by having a party with about 30 good friends, Elvis and his siblings, plus a sister-in-law — all together, a rare treat. The party featured a catered lunch, a skit performed by good friends, two limericks in honor of her birthday, and a 90th-birthday tiara. As an aside, Elvis‘s sister got sucked into some deep corners of online shopping sites where there are a tremendous number of options for party decor to purchase to celebrate a 90th birthday.
“Elvis is attaching a photo he took of his mom when they went for the
first kayak paddle of the year, about a week before her 90th. She gets out and
paddles a few times a month, but won’t go alone anymore, or as far as she once
did. On this trip, as Elvis was fumbling with his phone, she got pretty far ahead of him. She can still go fast, and doesn’t like to rest much or just float. She is out there to paddle.
“Mom and Dad moved to a fantastic ‘Continuing Care’ retirement community 15 years ago. They had sold their last house, which was on a small lake. They picked this community because part of the property is on a nice lake. She brought her ‘poke boat’ along, which is basically a kayak, but has the advantage of being made of a strong lightweight fiberglass weighing only about 20 pounds. At 75, she was planning on continuing her kayaking.
“As they were settling into their new place, they talked to the independent living director about where they could store the kayak near the lake and launch it. The community had a couple of pontoon boats used for resident boat rides, and for twice-a-week fishing expeditions.
“The director responded that there was no place to keep it, and no one had ever
asked about kayaking before. Mom didn’t take ‘No’ for an answer and took the
issue to the resident council, who supported the idea. Money was donated for a
small, low dock (they call them piers here in Wisconsin), and someone volunteered to design and build a metal rack that could hold several boats.
“As each year passed by, more and more kayaks showed up. A dry-launch
contraption was added, making it easy to get in and out. Mom kept going out,
sometimes for an hour or more. A rack for a canoe showed up one year, and now
there is a paddle boat, too. Plus, the community has had two kayaks donated
that are available anytime for anyone to use. They replaced the original rack a
couple years ago, and have just added another rack this year. There are
probably 25 kayaks there now, on six easy-to-use wooden storage racks.
“She doesn’t plan on giving paddling up anytime soon, and Elvis is
very pleased he can still go out and kayak with her a few times a month. She
appreciates help getting it unlocked and unstrapped and to the shore, but
always reminds her son she could do all this by herself.”
Life (and near-death) as we know it
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “In 1990, on the 8th of August, this pilot, Bill Rataczak, as he was taxiing out to the runway, took the initiative to turn the controls over to his co-pilot and answered a call for a medical emergency. He found my husband, Ben, unresponsive in his seat and began CPR.
“The co-pilot took the plane back to the gate and telephoned me to establish his identity and inform me of the situation. During the call, I heard shouting going on in the background, and I heard someone exclaim: ‘We’ve got a pulse!’ The ship’s log showed that he was not breathing for eight minutes.
“Ben was nearly 62 that day. Now he is nearly 94. Thanks to Bill Rataczak’s quick action, Ben has been given an additional third of his life. A 32-year bonus, thanks to the action of one man.”
The vision thing
JQ of Hugo: “Subject: Insert ‘Jaws’ theme here.
“Saw this safety card in the seat pocket on a recent plane trip.
“In case of water landing, watch for shark?”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
CeeCee of Mahtomedi: “It being the season of road construction, we have to take a convoluted route through the local neighborhoods to get to downtown Willernie and beyond. The roads are all marked with 20-mph speed limits, and the enforcers are out and about. However, this sign was probably more intimidating than any official sign or threat of a ticket might be.
“Just F.Y.I.: The other side of the sign said ‘Slow the Roll . . . Dudes at Play.'”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘HOW DOES MOSES MAKE
“‘HIS TEA? HEBREWS IT’”
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great!
The Golden Age of Sitcoms Division
Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “Subject: A Wally Cleaver Memory.
“The recent passing of Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the popular sitcom ‘Leave It to Beaver’ (1957-63), brought back memories of an episode in which Wally learns some harsh lessons about life, love and being careful what you wish for.
“After being involved with several sweet, wholesome girls during the series, Wally becomes infatuated with Marlene, a girl who sells tickets at the movie theater. Prodded by the obnoxious Eddie Haskell to make his move, Wally awkwardly asks Marlene for a date and is in seventh heaven when she says she’d love to go out with him.
“Of course, word gets back to his folks, June and Ward. The overly protective June frets that she doesn’t like Wally picking up strange, older women and wonders if this gal might even be a divorcee, which causes Ward to roll his eyes. So she asks Wally to invite Marlene over for dinner before their date, to which he replies with a big grin: ‘Gee, that would be neat!’
“Meanwhile, Beaver and friend Gilbert are walking by a bar and see Marlene smoking, drinking beer and laughing it up with a tough-looking character. ‘She’s what you call a woman of the world,’ Gilbert says to a distraught Beaver. Later, Beaver tries to tell Wally about Marlene, but Wally interrupts, saying Marlene is coming for dinner and that she’s the nicest girl he’s ever met in his whole life.
“Marlene acts sweet and gracious at dinner, but once in the car, she lights a cigarette and then plants two big kisses on Wally, who gasps ‘GOLLY!’ (You’d think he would like that from his dream girl.) Instead of a show, Marlene directs Wally to this swinging bar, one of several on her list. When Wally refuses to smoke or drink because he’s in training for the track team, Marlene is shocked to discover Wally is still in high school, saying she dropped out two years ago. Finally, Marlene tells a somber Wally to go home because they just didn’t dig each other. You can’t help but feel sorry for Wally, who was totally blindsided and disillusioned, not to mention a little naive.
“It wasn’t part of the script, but June’s concerns about Wally dating an older women were actually justified. Actress Diane Sayer, who played Marlene, was seven years older than Tony Dow in real life, and it was her first big break in acting.
“They say love conquers all, but the squeaky-clean Wally Cleaver made a serious miscalculation in falling for a ‘woman of the world.'”
Or: The highfalutin displeasures — plus: In memoriam
All from Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: Phones are great — when they work.
“Al B of Hartland wrote: ‘If you want to save money, don’t buy any new electronics until you figure out how to use the ones you own.
“I would agree with him, if the Emperors of All Things Digital would allow us to keep our antiques. But my 3G cellphone became a boat anchor this spring when someone decided that we all have to have 5Gs and turned off service to 3G phones. I had to get a new cellphone, which I still don’t totally understand.
“To add to the fun, my corded phone line had stopped working and I couldn’t get anyone to come check the landline for 10 to 12 days — though a nice person from the phone company left numerous questions about the landline problem on the voice-messaging service of my (wait for it!) landline phone that was not working. And because I did not text or call them back, they didn’t bother to physically come and stare at the phone line — which, I gather, someone had cut.
“Note to phone company: Wires that are broken or cut do not work. And the people who believe corded landline phones should work in emergencies may be smart — not hysterically clinging to the prehistoric past.
“Speaking of emergencies: One or two days after I started trying to get my corded phone line checked, I had to call 9-1-1 and be taken to the hospital by two very nice EMTs, because I was bleeding out after a medical procedure that had nicked a blood vessel. Since my landline phone did not work, I went to Plan B and called 9-1-1 on my cellphone. Then I had to explain where I was, because my new cellphone mostly communicates with the political party to which I am least likely to give money — let alone a vote.
“In case you are wondering, my Plan C (if I could not reach 9-1-1 via either phone) was to go to the lobby of my apartment building and pull the fire alarm. I am glad that I didn’t have to go that far.
“Oh, and my corded phone is working again. Plus, the landline phone company figured out to the very last minute how long my phone had been out, and proudly reimbursed me about $20. Gosh!
“Now I have to buy a simple old-type phone that works using the electricity in the landline. We have had two power outages in the last month, and I still don’t trust my cellphone.
“P.S. I am reading ‘The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters,’ by Juliette Kayyem. She says that disasters — and pandemics — never totally go away. I figure she is right.”
(2) “Subject: Describing a mom.
“For those who enjoy humor in obits, the following is from the June 26 obit of Margaret Tracy Gager Moos (wife of Malcolm, of University of Minnesota fame): ‘Tracy graduated from Goucher College with a bachelor’s degree in economics with an emphasis in wildlife management — training she used to raise her five children who occasionally still quarrel over scraps of red meat.’
“It made me wish I had met her.”
The verbing of America
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “This was a subhead on a letter in the ‘Readers Write’ section of the STrib on August 24: ‘Adulting in debt.’”
One for the books (responsorial)
Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: Buttering up the oldies.
“Thank you, John in Highland, for ‘Peanut Butter,’ by the Marathons, a song I’d never heard before.
“It put me in mind of another song from that era.
“It includes the ‘answer’ lyric: ‘Well, she don’t cook mashed potatoes / She don’t cook T-bone steak / She don’t feed me peanut butter / She knows that I can’t take.'”
The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
Tom’s Wife of Arden Hills reports: “I am just reading the latest BB and was also checking out the Website of the Day. It was fascinating looking at all the buildings built on high peaks. How did they do that?
“But imagine my surprise when one of the photos showed a stupa. It wasn’t yet 9 a.m., and I had already seen that word a few minutes earlier, used in a title of an art piece someone at work asked about. That was a new word for me.
“What will the rest of the day bring!?”
Rivermouse reports: “Subject: Coexisting in the wild.
“I grew rabbits in my tiny, raised vegetable garden.
“At the beginning of July, just before harvesting the last of my romaine lettuce as my cucumbers began climbing and my zucchini began sprouting, I observed the first intrusion: a 4-inch-deep, 8-inch by 4-inch hole filled with dead grass. ‘It’s a rabbit nest,’ Turfman explained. ‘That’s what they do.’ He continued, accusingly: ‘Look at how easy it is for her to hop right in on this end from the retaining wall.’
“I assertively reclaimed my territory, scooping out mama rabbit’s dead-grass filler, refilling her hole and installing anti-intruder wire fencing that I found in our garage.
“Three weeks later, I observed a second intrusion. I began repeating my procedure, grabbing and tossing handfuls of dead grass. I felt much more soft down mixed in this time. Then, twitching filler caught my attention. This time, I was too late. I meekly replaced the handfuls and surrendered, grudgingly admiring her clever birthing-site choice.
“Nine days later, I discovered the filler pulled away, revealing a packed, still bunny pile with wide-open unblinking eyes. I counted seven motionless ears. Turfman touched the closest bunny’s back with his fingertip. ‘It’s alive,’ he announced. ‘It’s warm.’
“Time to move on, I thought. This is MY salad garden. Their free rent does NOT include board! Besides, how could they be comfortable, with four of them (at least) cramped into that little hole in the ground?
“The next day, the salad-garden bunny nest was empty, vacated voluntarily — perhaps even enthusiastically — overnight. Eleven days old and ready to take on the cougar/coyote/fox/raccoon/eagle/hawk/owl/osprey eat-rabbit world.
“Best wishes, little bunnies.”
Life as we know it
Second Youth Division
Writes otvo: “Subject: BACK ON THE FARM AGAIN.
“Looking out on our overgrown pasture early last winter, we wondered: What to do with it? It had been grazed by the neighbor’s sheep for the past 25 years. When he died last year, his kids and widow sold the sheep, leaving us with a pasture that would grow up in weeds. Eventually trees and underbrush would take over.
“Having it mowed on a regular basis or leasing it was a consideration, but we decided that a couple of ’80-year-old farm kids’ from Minnesota and Iowa could still pull off a little small-time farming. We said ‘We can do this’ and set out on our farming venture.
“We started by talking to our neighbors about the pasture dilemma. Those conversations led us to an Ag specialist with Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education. Her input was very valuable as we examined our options. It was through her that we were introduced to Dexter cattle, a small dual-purpose cattle breed, suitable for beef or milk. She accompanied us to visit farms with herds of Dexter cattle. The owners shared their experience and so much useful information. They continue to be good contacts. Dexter cattle are considered very tame, with a gentle disposition. This makes it much easier for a couple of octogenarians to work with them.
“We purchased two purebred Dexter calves. We’ve had them almost a month. When we readied the place for the calves, I was concerned the west fence wouldn’t keep them in, but my hubby assured me they’d never get through it. It was, after all, an 8-wire fence made with high-tensile wire. The first week they were here, we watched the wily pair wander along the fence line, examining it for possible weakness for a breakout to taste the neighbor’s grape vines. I was
amazed, and my husband ate humble pie, when the pair gingerly stepped through the 8-wire fence one morning. The ‘old’ farmhands recaptured them, but not before they played hide-and-seek in the neighbor’s vineyard. I was so relieved we were able to wrangle them before they found the neighbor’s beehives. Whew!
“Like most farmers, we care about our animals. They spend most of their day munching on grass and countless other plants, including pecan leaves. They strain to reach the pecan leaves, so as I walked through the pasture the other day, I cut some low-hanging branches for them. That diversity in their diet and low-stress environment are the secrets to their quality of life here.
“Nowadays, my favorite after-supper activity is walking 25 yards from the house with a couple of alfalfa pellets in hand to the pasture where a beautiful Quarter Horse mare that we board and our 7-month-old Dexter calves’ graze.
“They’re an inseparable bunch. I call them ‘The Three Amigos.’ Nina, the Quarter Horse, who can be a little bit on the rowdy side at supper time, keeps my husband busy while I bribe the calves to eat out of my hand with alfalfa pellets doctored with a dash of molasses. It will be awhile, but the next step is to put halters on them before they get their treat: a pink and blue one for Lilly, the heifer, and a blue one for Clyde, the steer.
“I grew up on the family farm in Iowa, and from the time I was about 10, my dad would bring me into the barn at milking time. Over the years, I grew to love
helping out with milking the cows, feeding them, driving the tractor and, while in high school, taking over the evening milking. However, attitudes about women were different then. For me, the opportunities were nursing, teaching, secretarial work or something along those lines; certainly not farming. But now, girls and women have opportunities in agriculture if they want it.
“My husband was also raised on a farm and had similar experiences. At 17, he left the farm for college. He graduated from college during the Vietnam War and joined the Marines. He was medically retired after 12 years and then worked for the Marines as a civilian. Although he loves his military career, I believe he fostered the dream of farming all his life.
“Now we are finally breaking into the family business, using practices that our hard-working fathers followed on their farms. We look back on those days, now understanding that the ways our folks farmed were good for the soil, the animals, and their families. Therefore, that is our business model.
“It is a true farming partnership, not a flashback to the good ol’ days. We have an excellent relationship, and we are in it together. If we’re going to make a go of it at this age, it takes both of us. We are finding ways to put some of that ‘growing up on farms in Minnesota and Iowa’ experience to use on our small farm in Southwest Georgia. These two octogenarians are testing ourselves with the challenges of hard work while experiencing authentic joy living on our modest farm. So far, it has been a hoot! We only wish we could have been doing this all our lives.”
Asked and answered
Al B of Hartland Division
“Did you grow up with the three-second or five-second rule for picking up fallen food? I used the five-second rule as long as I blew on the food. I used a 10-second rule for sugar cookies because Mom’s sugar cookies were that good.
“What is the purpose of raccoons? They let us know when the sweet corn is ripe.
“I saw a tern being shadowed by another tern. Whatever one did, the other did likewise. What were they doing? One was a tern, and the other was an intern gaining valuable experience.
“Why do vultures fly in circles? They’re rerouting.”
Everyone’s a (copy editor) critic!
Email from Donald: “Some clever headlines — all from the front pages of the Sports sections in the Pioneer Press:
1) August 8, after the Twins lost a game over a disputed call at home plate against Toronto: ‘RULE OF ENRAGEMENT.’
2) August 17: The Twins had defeated the Royals 9-0. The Twins had 16 hits, 14 of which were singles: ‘SINGLES MINDED.’
3) August 18: Trey Lance is the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a native of Marshall, Minn. This was above his picture: ‘LIKING LANCE A LOT.’”
Everyone’s a (book) critic!
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Good books.
“The pandemic, my cataract surgeries and recent news events have disrupted my reading. Lately I can’t handle most books about espionage, violence or cowboys. When you add in problems with the teeny-tiny type in so many paperbacks, I am reading a fraction of what I used to — and turning to more audio books, some via our local MELSA library service. I am partway through two audio books that work better for me when I hear them. One is ‘The Song Poet,’ by local author Kao Kalia Yang. The other is ‘1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows,’ by Chinese dissident Weiwei Ai. Both include insights into Asian cultures.
“Some of what I am reading are graphic novels for teens, which have (yay!) type large enough for me — including four books by late Senator John Lewis about his work in the civil-rights struggles and his decision to run for office. They have the level of detail I want now, about events that I vaguely remember as news.
“I’m also reading children’s books. I just finished ‘One Crazy Summer,’ by Rita Williams-Garcia. In 1968, three young girls fly to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they don’t know. She sends them to the local Black Panther free school. It contains Black Panther history as seen and understood by young kids, and has a wonderful ending. It is labeled for ages 9 to 12, but I love it. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and is a Newbery Honor book, etc., so I figure I’m not alone.”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: You’re hardly ever the only one who’s not alone.
Live and learn
Bill of the river lake reports: “Subject: Not a good idea.
“Our family enjoys camping at RV parks near and far. A few years ago, up in northern Minnesota, we had just finished setting up our travel trailer when a couple backed in their RV a few spaces from us. Since we were already set up, I casually pulled out my comfy fold-out chair while beginning to read my book.
“Early on, it was apparent these two folks were really struggling with all those necessary steps in setting up their RV.
“I occasionally looked their way to gauge their progress . . . which was painfully slow. My mistake!
“After a few more minutes, the new neighbor guy hollered out: ‘Say, don’t you know that setting up is NOT a spectator sport?’
“Whoa. Lesson learned.”
BULLETIN BOARD WONDERS ABOUT THE “LESSON”: Did you go help them . . . or just stop rubbernecking? LOL.
Our family, our pets, ourselves
Dennis from Eagan writes: “Subject: A Cheesy-Stake delivered from Philly.
“My son, his wife and her Philadelphia-area parents visited us in MSP for four days. They brought us a WELCOME TO OUR HOME garden-flag supposedly honoring our usually-easy-to-please husky.
“Rocky was obviously disappointed that it wasn’t a white dog on the banner.
“Thanks to them for the visit and the colorful sign.”
Accidents of mirth
Plus: The Permanent Grandmotherly/Grandsonly Record
Both from Rusty of St. Paul: (1) “Years ago, ‘Saturday Night Live’ had an ongoing skit where two night watchmen described preposterous injuries, some self-inflicted, that had happened to them, and then one would say: ‘I hate when that happens!’
“A week ago, we returned from a camping trip. My wife was cleaning out a paper grocery bag of food and odds and ends. Turns out the camping knife, used to cut summer sausage, had come out of its sheath and was standing upright in the bag. She blindly reached in for an item and stabbed her fingertip with the tip of the blade, causing a decent bloody cut. I told her: ‘I HATE when that happens!’
“The other day I reached into the lower rack of the dishwasher to remove a plate that was next to the silverware basket and ran a single tine of a fork about a quarter-inch deep into the space between the nail bed and fingernail of my pinky finger. Oh, did that smart — and as I’m on blood thinners, I bled a lot. The bleeding looked maybe more dramatic that the actual injury. I showed my finger to my wife and said: ‘I HATE when that happens!’
“Here I would like to say ‘What are the odds of these incidents happening?’ . . . but I’m on to ‘Bulletin Board,’ who will respond ‘Well, in these cases, 100 percent’ [Bulletin Board says: Guilty as charged!] . . . so instead I’ll just say that these injuries were totally unexpected. Then I would like to add: ‘Needless to say (ahem!) our fingers really hurt’ . . . but instead will say: ‘Man, our fingers really did hurt!'”
(2) “My sister-in-law was caring for her 2- and 5-year-old grandsons so the parents could have a night out.
“One of the kids’ requirements is for the person putting them to bed to spin an original bedtime story. She did her best, and afterwards the 5-year-old told her: ‘That is the WORST story I have ever heard!’
“After the two had been asleep for a couple hours, the 5-year-old woke up and told Grandma: ‘Tell me a true story.’
“So Grandma told him about the time her 2-year-old son got stuck in a sump-pump compartment in the basement of his grandparents’ house up north. His 2-1/2-year-old cousin was able to pull the lid off the compartment and had egged his younger cousin to get in. The older cousin then slid the lid partially over the compartment. My sister-in-law, who was in her 20s at the time, was upstairs and heard her son crying in the basement. She investigated and couldn’t find him at first, then eventually followed his cries and found him in the sump compartment.
“Her grandson listened to this story, and then said: ‘No! I want to hear a TRUE story!’
“My sis-in-law is now 70, but she was facile enough to get on her phone and Google ‘True’ and learned it is a current cartoon on the Internet. She pulled up an episode, and all was grand.
Band Name of the Day: Dudes at Play — or: Bunny Pile