The Permanent Sisterly Record
Including: Live and learn
Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Sister Sophia and the Squirt Gun.
“When I was in fifth grade at St. Pascal’s School on St. Paul’s East Side, something happened to me that is still vividly etched in my memory.
“On a visit to Raasch’s store, while perusing the rich assortment of candy, I spotted a Dick Tracy squirt gun. The price was a bit hefty at 25 cents, but I immediately set about amassing the money, mostly through redeeming pop bottles, until the glorious moment finally arrived when I plopped down 25 pennies on the glass counter and had that Dick Tracy beauty in my hand.
“The next day, I brought the squirt gun to school and began spritzing everyone in sight, from Jennifer Lynch, Denny Lachowitzer, and Ken Jones to Mike Chickett, Greg Joiner, and Bob Dege. But when I drenched Viola Mantufel, the prettiest girl in school, my little escapade was about to come to an end. Viola immediately went to principal Sister Sophia.
“I will never forget the imposing figure of Sister Sophia coming down the hallway in high dudgeon, her habit billowing like a sail in a gale. She took the squirt gun, dropped it on the floor, and stomped on it until it was just a pile of broken plastic.
“‘We do not do this kind of foolishness in school,’ she snapped. ‘And we will never do it again, will we, Mr. D______!’
“Stunned and humiliated, I kept thinking that all I had to show for my 25 cents was some broken plastic. Then the kids really gave me the business — especially Viola, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat. But I sure learned my lesson. And the next time I was lucky enough to have two-bits, I spent it on Twinkies and a bottle of icy-cold RC Cola.
“Sister Sophia and I got along fine after that. In fact, she put together a skit for a city-wide competition at the old Lyceum Theater to celebrate School Patrol Week, and I played police Lt. Hugo Winterhalter, a founder of the School Patrol. When St. Pascal’s won the competition, Sister Sophia was just as proud as she could be. I remember she took us to Bridgeman’s for ice cream cones — two scoops, no less.
“There is one thing I must admit, however. During my remaining years at St. Pascal’s, whenever I looked at Sister Sophia’s rather sizable shoes, I couldn’t help thinking about my Dick Tracy squirt gun.”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland: (1) “I’ve learned . . .
“. . . there is no law saying you have to be offended by everyone you don’t agree with.
“. . . no one should be ashamed of driving the speed limit.
“. . . if you wait until the last minute to do something, it will take only a minute to do.”
(2) “I’d tossed a small toothpaste tube from my dentist into my possibles bag. My wife calls the messenger bag a man purse. In the days of the mountain man, a possibles bag carried everything they needed for the day: black powder, flint and steel, lead balls, a knife and Axe body spray. ‘Take a coat,’ I heard my mother’s words echoing. I crumpled a windbreaker and stuffed it inside my bag. That night, I discovered the toothpaste was for kids and tasted like bubblegum. It was lousy bubblegum. I couldn’t blow a single bubble with it.”
(3) “A no-see-um bit me. I didn’t see that coming. There are several barely visible insects that carry the nickname ‘no-see-um,’ but the tiny biters tormenting me were minute pirate bugs (insidious flower bugs), good guys that sampled me with a bite that far exceeds its weight class.”
The Permanent Fraternal Record
And: In memoriam
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Rabbit on the Kilbuck.
“A white haze hugged the snowy banks of the Kilbuck Creek, but the running water separated its meandering journey through the countryside from the plowed corn fields on each side of it. Stan, 14 years old, was hunting rabbits down near the edge of the water, while I, his older brother, was atop the bulky banks. Because the snow was fresh from the night before, tracking any rabbits would be easy. Not only would their trail be easy to follow in the new-fallen white stuff, but the 6-inch depth of the snow itself was a barrier that deterred rabbits from running too fast or too far. This should be a perfect day to bag a couple of cottontails for a special fall dinner. Mom would be so proud.
“The snow slowed up our prey; it slowed us up, too, and tired us out quicker than we thought it would. Stan stepped on some snow-covered brush, and up bounced the first rabbit of that morning. All thought of exhaustion disappeared, and Stan leveled that .410-gauge shotgun. That old single-barrel cracked rather than roared, since it was a small-gauge firearm. The rabbit tumbled and rolled, stopping shortly in the snow. ‘Got him,’ Stan proclaimed, and in a short time he placed a handsome-looking bunny in his jacket game bag. We didn’t feel cold anymore and continued along the creek.
“That morning we got two rabbits to bring home, enough for our family of five. Mother never failed to cook anything we brought home. We respected the wild game we shot, prepared it properly in the field and thoroughly washed and cleaned it once home. Our father didn’t do that for us. It was our responsibility to care for anything we shot — or we couldn’t shoot it.
“Those rabbits tasted pretty good when we ate them the following week. Mother had a knack to serve rabbits with a brown gravy sauce laced with mushrooms, so they tasted particularly good. The meat itself was not embellished with vinegar and other pungent-tasting spices and flavorings that could deter one from ever eating wild game. Each meat has its own taste, she said. Indeed, beef does not taste like pork or lamb and so on.
“Stan is gone now. He died of cancer last year, but I still store memories in my heart, where we will always be able to flush a rooster pheasant along the Kilbuck or a grouse together from the farm in Northern Wisconsin where our parents moved after retiring. His cheerful, willing spirit and rippling wit made him a delightful companion as well. It is his birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday, Stan.”
Till death us do part
Leading to: CAUTION! Words at Play!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: To love, honor and walk the dog???
“The Runabout loves animals — and although we swore never again, since Buzz the cat’s passing she has occasionally been lobbying for a rescue puppy. The subject comes up quite often, as we have a popular dog walk just a few steps from our balcony perch. I wouldn’t mind a dog if it could get its own dinner and go on those long walks, searching for the perfect spot (to pee and drop a warm Tootsie Roll) all by itself. I have even tried what I call 10-10 Aversion Therapy on her: Imagine if you will, Dear, returning home after 10 p.m. on 10-below-zero winter nights and having to walk the dog before getting into a nice warm bed? I do occasionally soften — every time I have no idea what to get her for a special gift. But then I remember these are supposed to be my Golden Years, not my Golden Retriever Years.
“I wonder: Is there such a thing as a prepuptual agreement?”
Throw the cow over the fence some hay!
Larry of Mac-Grove: “Subject: Not What Was Meant.
“The following appeared in the daily Pioneer Press Morning Report: ‘A cargo ship that sank in Lake Superior 120 years ago has been discovered using sonar technology in 650 feet of water off Michigan’s Vermilion Point.’
“I was surprised that the ship could still be using sonar and at that depth. 🤔”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Leading to: Hmmmmmmmm
Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Tightrope-walking Emilys JofJ.
“I recently read Emily St. John Mandel’s debut novel, ‘Last Night in Montreal’ (2009, republished 2015). It features rootless, relentlessly observant people who can’t get started in life. No one connects with anyone else, except offstage, toward the end. As one reviewer wrote, ‘the characters are so mired in Deep Thoughts and Big Ideas and angst.’ One character is a tightrope walker, daughter of former members of a traveling circus.
“I’m currently reading Emily Henry’s ‘Beach Read’ (2020, 26th printing). A romance writer with writer’s block makes a bet with her beach-house neighbor, a writer of literary fiction who’s fed up with bleakitude, but what else is there? The bet: He’ll write a happy ending, even if it kills him. She’ll write bleak fiction, but at least she’ll have a ’script to submit.
“We pick up at pp. 134-5 as she works: ‘I did surgery on my book. I ripped it up and stored pieces in separate files. Ellie became Eleanor. She went from being a down-on-her-luck real estate agent to a down-on-her-luck tightrope walker with a port-wine stain the shape of a butterfly on her cheek, because Absurdly Specific Details. Her father became a sword swallower, her mother a bearded lady.
“‘They moved from twenty-first century to the early twentieth, They were part of a traveling circus.’
“Tribute from one Emily to another? Mockery? Is there a tightrope-walker trope in literary fiction? Well, there’s always a circus somewhere.”
Our theater of seasons
In mid-October, Mounds View Swede sent us “Six fall-surprise photos.
“Due to some health issues requiring an operation and long recovery, I haven’t been able to take a lot of photos for a while. I’ve been feeling more normal lately — slowly regaining walking strength, and I put it to good use today.
“An unusual sight awaited me this morning, and I quickly grabbed my camera. A light snow had fallen on all the trees and leaves, hiding the colors and changes taking place.
“The first three are back-yard photos.
“A neighbor had a red-leafed bush that was nicely adorned.
“And some of my still-blooming flowers had added some new highlights.”
This ’n’ that
Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “For folks who dread winter, a sign that spring is coming someday: I recently got an invitation to join a family group marching in the St. Pat’s Day parade next spring. Yay!”
(2) “Hearing about the resumption of Veterans’ Honor Flights to D.C. reminds me of one of my favorite vets, who was a security guard when I worked at Guy World. He survived two or three wars, and had to switch from one branch of service to another to get into back in after he had been captured. But what I remember is his stories — especially about a small setup in a shopping strip mall, where I think airmen due to fly over Vietnam were taught how to survive POW camps. As I remember it, he was a trainer for pilots going into danger and enjoyed toughening them up.
“The funniest story concerned the ‘captives,’ who would get a reward if they escaped the fake prison, got to a phone and called a certain phone number. But the rules changed the day one man got loose and entered the beauty shop that was also in the strip mall — because the colonel’s wife happened to be in the beauty shop when one very unclothed man charged in and grabbed the phone to report his escape. I forget if the ‘captives’ were then given clothing, or if they didn’t need to actually reach a phone anymore, but the story still makes me laugh — even though I have never been a fan of war.”
The highfalutin pleasures
OTD from NSP: “I am a reader — prefer to read a book over watching TV.
“As a senior, I have reached the point where it is difficult to read a mass-market paperback or many other printed books without magnification. I use my laptop for online books — library and Kindle (can adjust font size and background).
“When using the library system, there is normally a waiting list. Could be a few weeks; I have had up to 34 weeks.
“Today is Thursday. So far this week, I have gotten nine books to download for up to 21 days. There is an option to not take the book now and go to the head of line again. (Have done this — wait time could be a few days to several months for the book to come up again.) In the previous two weeks, I had gotten two books to download. Either feast or famine. For several of the books available this week, I have been on the list for several months.
“Appreciate the library having this service; I have been able to read many books I would not buy. I realize a lot of people use this service, and I need to take my turn. Expense of buying books is also a factor. I am registered with five metro library systems using my home-county card (need to go in person to register), and I pay $25 per year to register with Hudson so I have access to Wisconsin Digital Library. Some county/city systems give you the ability to put a book on hold (through their website) and read in your browser. A librarian with the Hennepin County system told me about this bypass.
“There are many options to find discounted online books through email. I have Kindle Daily Deals (books on the library wait list have been $1.99 after they have been out for X months) to let me know daily (more like weekly) specials. Check out BookBub: You can list what books you want to buy, and they will notify you when on special. Early Bird Books, BingeBooks, Book Raider, Simon & Schuster, Penguin — many more options for getting online books for a few dollars or free, and many have newsletters. Check your favorite authors’ websites: Sign up for their newsletter, and they will let you know when a book goes on special.
“Excuse me. I have to start reading one of the books I downloaded in the last two days.”
Our trees, ourselves
Including: Not exactly what she had in mind
Tia2d reports: “Subject: The Maple Tree Comes Down.
“We had to take down the big tree that has shaded our side and back yard since we bought the house nearly 40 years ago. It was probably over 100 years old. It made my south-side garden a shade garden.
“The tree was a silver maple which shed branches regularly — including some fairly large chunks, at times. It loomed over my house, my garage and some over the neighboring house. It had a visible hole clear through the big fork that was over the house, so it had to come down. It dramatically changes the yard.
“It was one man and mostly his mother who did the work, and it was fascinating and terrifying to watch. It took nearly a week to get it down, and they will have to come back later to grind the stump. They measured around the base of the tree. It was 18 ½ feet around.
“One evening I was going to take a bath at 6:30-ish. It was starting to get dark. I went upstairs and stripped to leave my dirty clothes upstairs and grabbed some pajamas and headed downstairs with nothing on. I have curtains that cover the bottom half of my windows, so I’ve never worried about flashing anyone. As I was walking through the room at the top of the stairs, I realized the man was still up in the tree! I think he was over to the side, so I don’t think I did flash him, but I have never had to worry about that before, and I will never have to worry about it again.”
Band Name of the Day: The No-See-Ums
Website of the Day: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 – the winning images