Why did a picture of a simple soup make this woman “grovel in shame”?

Now & Then

DebK of Rosemount writes: “Euterpe just texted me the photo of a stunning soup she concocted from an assortment of leftovers from the Christmas dinner she served to Hesiod and guests. It’s never easy to compete in Euterpe’s league, but the photo of this glorious soup — created at almost no cost — made me grovel in shame. It arrived, you see, just as I was discarding our own holiday leftovers. I find some comfort in knowing that my throw-aways go to the hens and not into the Rice County landfill. Still, I cringe, knowing that I’ve let down the side, failed to rise to the standard set by my remarkable women friends who dedicate themselves to the art (and it IS an art) of homemaking.

“It has ever been thus, my failing to reach the bar set by skilled housewives. These days — ever since my October trip to Marshfield, Wisconsin, to collect my inheritance from Aunt Joann — I’ve felt not only the disappointment of my contemporaries, but the disapproval of my ancestors.

“That’s because Aunt Joann’s bequest to me, which ran heavily to holy cards and doilies, included also a pair of fine American primitive portraits of my great-great-grandparents.

“Likely executed by an itinerant artist around the time of the Civil War, these portraits are no longer de rigueur, but they now hang in my kitchen, where my ancestors’ dour young faces speak eloquently of a time when a woman didn’t toss her stale thumbprint cookies to the chickens or her lackluster lettuce to the lambs.

“Theirs was a serious time, it appears, a time when what a woman did in her kitchen mattered in the great business of building a nation.

“Taxman looks forward to a new year of increased thrift here at the farm. And he’ll very likely get it. Great-Great-Grandma Sophia is watching!”

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (self-responsorial) (responsorial)

Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff writes: “Subject: Gnome Sweet Gnome.

“In a recent Bulletin Board, my cousin Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights mentioned gnome statues that were made by our grandfather and her father/my uncle at Twin City Statuary Co. I thought there might be some interest in seeing what they look like.

“Our grandfather died in 1951, at which time Twin City Statuary closed. Much of the inventory of the shop ended up in my uncle’s garage, where it stayed for about 50 years. Eventually most of it was moved to my basement, where it has remained for the past 20 years, gathering dust but otherwise unharmed.

“Now, for the first time in at least 70 years, I present the gnome statues from this collection. They’ve been cleaned up a bit but otherwise remain in their original condition.

“Two of the gnomes are painted an off-white color. One is sitting on a rock, while the other one is pushing a wheelbarrow. That one is 21 inches tall.

“Another gnome, which is about the same size and is a reddish color, is taking it easy and smoking a pipe.

“A fourth, standing gnome is 28 inches tall. It is multicolored with a red hat, realistically painted face and a green coat. It is missing one arm — but it hasn’t broken off. Instead, the arm was made separately from the body and could be attached to the shoulder in various positions, allowing a number of different but similar gnomes to be made from one mold.

“That’s it for gnomes, but there is plenty more old statuary sitting in my basement if anyone is interested in seeing some of it.”

Ask Bulletin Board

Don Anderson of Richfield writes: “Dear Bulletin Board,

“Maybe one of your readers can identify the woman in this picture.

“It is one of the photos my dad, Ralph Anderson, brought back home, after serving in Korea in 1951 and 1952, in the U.S. Army’s Second Infantry Division.

“I believe she may have been one of the film stars of that era.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: She certainly has a Hollywood-worthy smile — but we don’t recognize her. While we wait for the readers to chime in, you might check out this list of USO Volunteers Who Entertained Troops in Korea During & After the Korean War.

Our (indoor) theater of seasons

Grandma Paula: “Subject: Christmas Amaryllis.

“I buy an Amaryllis bulb every year before Christmas! This is a photo that I took of this year’s plant just starting to open.

“Reminded me of a sculpture.”

Grandma Paula again, later (duh?): “The bud that looked like a sculpture to me turned into a beautiful Christmas flower!”

Our trees, ourselves
Christmas Nostalgia Division

Gab writes: “I used to have one of these ceramic trees. I think one of my aunts made it, and then my mom had it. When she passed, I got it — but I’m not sure what happened to it with all the moving we did in the last three years.

“But I do have a special ‘glass tree’ that one of my neighbors gave me before she passed. I like the simplicity of it. Here it is. 

“Oh, and notice we found our lava lamps as well. LOL. They aren’t Christmas, but they have been packed for so long that I just had to put them out.”

Our pets, ourselves

Organizationally Challenged of Highland Park reports: “Subject: How to dress in winter.

“Rio is modeling how to dress appropriately for cold winter weather.”

Everyone’s a copy editor
Headline Division

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin, this past Sunday, at the end of the Vikings’ embarrassing loss to the Packers: “Predicted headline tomorrow: ‘Cinderella to Ugly Stepsister.’”

There, but for the grace of God . . .
Including: The Hat People — Plus: Live and learn

Al from Kathy S. of St Paul: (1) “My car’s life — and maybe mine — passed before my eyes a week ago.

“I was driving carefully on very ‘greasy’ snow, on a wide city street, and did not see a small vehicle with business markings until it shot out of a semi-invisible side street and was directly in front of my car. I braked and honked madly as I calculated where I would hit it. The engine compartment, the driver’s seat, the middle of the car and finally the back passed by. I did not broadside any of it, praise be.

“Note to the other driver: Get a hat!”

(2) “Subject: You never know what you’ll need to know.

“The newest grocery store in my neighborhood has an attached parking ramp, with a heated lobby to the store, where ‘our’ red kettle sometimes has human volunteers. Recently two adults and four kids were seeking donations, and one child was Not Having Fun. So I paused to teach the kids how to count to five in sign language for the deaf. This very useful diversion stops kids from beating on each other for fun, and it requires no equipment. Plus, you never know when it might be useful for them to know some signing.

“In the mid-’70s, I learned a bit of sign language while I was working in a library. Part of my job was cataloging, and my typist for the paper catalog cards was deaf, so I learned some signs and finger spelling. I also ‘translated’ some discussions in our library’s break room . . . which is how she learned that hearing people also gossip and pick on each other — because she didn’t know that, before closed-captioning was added to soap operas and we had the wonderful interpreters we now see on TV.

“At the time, I said that if my typist had been Polish, I would have learned Polish while I taught her English. Nowadays, I would be trying to learn Ukrainian as I continue trying to learn ASL. My autism hampers my motor skills and makes it hard for me to ‘read’ and remember signs — but I keep trying, because I find it fascinating, and you never know what you will need to know.”

Not exactly what she had in mind
Leading to: The Vision Thing

The Gram With a Thousand Rules reports: “Subject: New Year’s Eve in Assisted Living.

“This is a place I never expected to be on this New Year’s Eve. Especially by myself. I came along a month ago to accompany my husband. That didn’t work out so well. He couldn’t adjust and wanted to go home. Boy, did he want to go home. He kept packing up our belongings and making piles for when he believed our son was going to ‘come with boxes and load his trailer and get us out of here.’ It finally reached a point where his dementia became so severe, the only safe place for him (and me) was to transfer him into the Memory Care Facility.

“So here I am, waiting a couple of weeks to move over to the Independent Living Apartments. I have been here 33 days, and during that time I have never dared to leave my husband’s side to attend any of the activities this fine establishment provides — until this afternoon. We were all invited to attend a New Year’s Eve Party at 2 p.m. in the Dining Room.

“The crowd grew in the hallway waiting to enter the dining room, and as soon as the doors opened, there was a jostling among the wheelchairs, rolling walkers and canes to rush in and find a table. Each table held a Party Hat and a Whistle. There were nets filled with balloons to be released promptly at 2:30, when music was to be broadcast over their god-awful squawking speaker system, but first they served us stuffed mushrooms and a choice of champagne or sparkling water.

“Now, just so you know, it may be that some of the younger generation believe stuffed mushrooms are a savory delicacy, but to most 80- and 90-year-olds, mushrooms are a fearful fungus and to even think of putting one into your mouth is to face potential death. I hesitated briefly when I was offered that silver-dollar-sized morsel, but I am a person who really likes food, and since that one lonely mushroom seemed to be the one and only offering, I took a tentative bite. I immediately felt like I was a real-life character in a ‘Midsomer Murders’ television show, and I quickly spat it into my napkin and waited to watch all my companions begin collapsing into a heap of writhing poisoned victims.”

Out of the mouths of babes

The Lady Who Loves Little People: “I received a Christmas letter from my mom’s cousin, who wrote about a conversation with her 3-year-old grandson.

“Her grandson was staying with her for a while, and she was putting him to bed. Thorson kept rubbing his eyes and pulling at his eyelashes. Joan thought he had something that needed to be washed off; however, Thorson said: ‘No, Mommy just pulls her eyelashes right off.’”

Band Name of the Day: Stale Cookies

Website of the Day, recommended (more or less) by The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: IT TOOK ME 3 YEARS TO DIG . . .

“This link is to a 2-1/2-hour complete, start-to-finish YouTube video of this crazy genius digging a tunnel connecting his house, shop and garage. He’s a bit goofy for my taste in the opening half-hour — but amazingly, as you watch, you do get used to his flamboyance and start admiring his ambition. You might like it, too.”

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