Our theater of seasons
And: It takes all kinds!
Rusty of St. Paul (seasonally) writes: “I have lived in Minnesota most of my life and have always marveled at our seasons. I would dearly miss how they change if I lived in an area with homogeneous temperatures. Plus, my wife and I don’t tolerate heat. We live on Lake Superior for half the year — and if it gets too hot, we jump in the lake. We winter in St. Paul.
“This past week, a neighbor was bemoaning reaching our average snow depth with two-plus months of possible snow to go. I told her I would miss the snow if we lived south.
“It’s midwinter, and just now, driving down Summit Avenue to the library, I observed a woman snowshoeing down the median and two bikers riding in the bike lane. It’s 22 degrees out.
“At the Holidays, on a day with similar temperatures, I noted two people out and about in shorts. Now one was jogging, so I could see that. The other fellow, I thought might be a Duluthian, as I have seen them up there shorted out when I had long johns on.
“The very next day, slightly warmer, I was gassing up the car and watched a 40-something man, who appeared to be of sound mind and shelter secure, walk down the city sidewalk onto the gas-station property and into the store. He was dressed property for cold — except he had sandals on, and no socks. His feet were quite red. I thought he was unwise, but like all the others I have mentioned, maybe he was just embracing what winter in Minnesota throws at us.
“Enjoy it if you do, and make the best of it if you don’t. Or move south.”
Could be verse!
Haiku from Tim Torkildson: “February next —
“is it so necessary?
“Let’s skip right to March.”
Keeping your eyes open
Lola: “These leaves have hung on through wind, rain and snow. I wonder how long they can hang on.”
The Astronomer of Nininger reports: “Human beings, by their nature, are not nocturnal, creatures of the dark. But you can find comfort under the dark sky when it is quiet, serene, and oh so peaceful.
“There I was, at 41,000 feet, cruising along at 500 knots, when Air Traffic Control piped out from the radio, asking if I saw anything unusual below and to the right.
“At night, anything you can see from above stands out as a light against the pitch-black background of the Earth’s surface. ‘Negative,’ I replied when nothing seemed to stand out, especially something in motion.
“Obviously the controller must have been inquiring about something someone had reported. He was located in Atlanta, while I was over the clear skies of Alabama. Surely he could not see anything, but he could pick up objects on radar.
“I was heading in an easterly direction, en route to Patrick Air Force Base at Cape Canaveral. This was a short flight, and within another 20 minutes or so, my eager craft was approaching the eastern coast of Florida. As I descended to 20,000 feet, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean showed up, with the moonlight
dancing off its surface.
“Now I concentrated on the task at hand, making a good approach and landing. They were pretty much by the book. But on trailing behind the ‘Follow Me’ truck, I couldn’t help but wonder what the air traffic controller was referring to back over the skies of Alabama. I thought about it that night and the next day, too.
“Returning to home base in Alabama the next night, I decided to fly under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) at a lower altitude and keep my eyes peeled for that unusual flying object. I was westbound around 20,000 feet and scanning back and forth. It still wasn’t a long trip. No sitting back and just relaxing; I was sort of on the edge of my seat, ready to check out whatever was there.
“Suddenly, I could see a streak of light coming from below me and moving in a 1030 direction as seen on a clock, with 1200 off my ‘nose.’ I kicked in the afterburners and gave a chase to it. No way could I catch it, and I was flying a reasonably fast airplane.
“I don’t know what that was that I saw, and of course I never will. But I still wonder about it. Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a real flying object. One day, when I was play with my dogs, they had fun chasing after a spot of a laser light. While holding that light and flicking my wrist, I could make the brilliant beam of light appear to be a moving object. With just a flick of my wrist, that beam of light seemed to move at dramatically high speeds. Maybe this is what I saw and chased under the stars that night long, long ago.
“No, I will never know, but I will always wonder. And the wonder and awe of the night sky will always be a part of my inner being.”
Dept. of Neat Stuff
St. Paul Tchotchkes Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff, again: “In the not-too-distant past, the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper used a logo of a bulldog’s head with a copy of the Pioneer Press in its mouth. Apparently this begat a little tchotchke that I found on eBay.
“It is a bulldog about 2.5 inches long by 1.5 inches high that, besides having a Pioneer Press newspaper in its mouth, also magically supports a tiny memo pad in its midsection with the word ‘Complaints’ at the top of each page. Cute. As often is the case with magic, it is done with magnets. As a side view shows, the bulldog actually has two parts held together by powerful magnets.
“Anything with magnets should be played with, and that is just what I did. Here comes the silly part.
“First of all, the bulldog is pose-able.
“Next, it can hold all sorts of useful things such as paper clips, screwdrivers and razor blades.
“It can display seasonal ornaments if a tree isn’t available.
“The bulldog can show off postcards from my collection in place of the tiny memo pad.
“It also plays well with other tchotchkes.
“The possibilities are endless, but I’ll end this here.”
Life as we know it
Including: Today’s helpful hint
Al B of Hartland: “I visited a neighbor lady named Beulah who had spent years in a nursing home. I told my brother that I’d seen Beulah. He told me that was quite a trick, because she’d been dead for years. I said no one had told her.
“He wasn’t the only one who thought Beulah had died. I stop at nursing homes often, even when I’m traveling. When I visit homes far from home, I ask to see someone who likes company but doesn’t get much. I listen to their stories and want them to know not everyone thinks they’re gone.
“As a kid, I was told I should make something of myself. I’m trying to be someone who listens to the stories of others.”
Then & Now (responsorial)
Leading to: Today’s helpful hints
Kathy S. of St Paul: “John in Highland described the challenges our recent canyons of snow have presented for drivers and pedestrians in cities. He wished drivers had external antennae like the old days, when people stuck colorful balls on them.
“For sports fans: Dig out a team flag and place it on a side window. Add a sad ribbon to a Vikings flag, if you must, but wave something colorful.
“For inventors: I suggest creating a tiny (Eiffel-type?) tower a few feet high that may be magnetically stuck on top of cars while driving, then easily removed and stored in the car.
“For everyone: Don’t assume anyone can see you through the snowdrifts. And that goes extra for those with white cars.
“Meanwhile, kudos to those managing and removing snow and ice in our cities and towns. I, for one, appreciate the heck out of you.”
The simple pleasures
Grandma Paula: “I received some very nice Christmas gifts from my family this year, but the gift that I received from my granddaughter Amanda and her family was the most photogenic.”
The verbing of America
Writes Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights: “My husband, Jim, is the Master of the Mixed Metaphor, Chopped Cliché and all-around inadvertent ‘messer’ of words. I call these Jimguistics.
“He had a fun comment the other day. Referring to testing something beforehand, he said: ‘You wanna guinea-pig it?’”
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “My middle daughter often instructs other family members to ‘Calendar it’ in order to keep track of important events.”
Life as we know it (responsorial)
Gma Tom: “Subject: Downsizing.
“Oh, how I can relate to the topic raised by Grandma Pat, ‘formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin.’
“It’s been three short months since I, too, have downsized from my single-family residence to a townhouse unit. Went though a similar process of disposing of ‘stuff.’ But it is surprising how much stuff I can fit into a smaller space because of better organization. I still have an empty drawer or two.
“Of course, I now think of things I should have kept because I still have need of them, but do manage to find a substitute that works just fine.
“I agree with BB’s advice to not dispose of ‘memories,’ because that is soon all we will be able to enjoy. I have kept everything that is close to my heart, no matter how useless it may seem to others.”
Or: Everyone’s a copy editor
Email from Donald: “Subject: Not exactly what they had in mind.
“A headline on Page A 11 of the January 22 edition of the Pioneer Press reads: ‘In practice, few exceptions to abortion bands are granted.’
“I believe the correct wording appears in a photo from the New York Times near the top of the same page. The caption reads, in part: ‘Demonstrators protest outside the Supreme Court following a leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade . . .’
“One of the protestors’ signs reads: ‘BANS OFF OUR BODIES.’”
What’s in a name?
Writes The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Once again the former Debbie Insley made the news today, and again I mused about the U.S. Representative from Michigan’s first date with her future husband, John Dingell. At that time, did she consider keeping her maiden name if she would eventually marry him? Do spousal candidates even consider such things?
“My last name is as unusual as hers, in a conversational-ice-breaking way (and I don’t mean Doryman). I knew of a commission salesman once, with a forgettable name, who would tell phone-in prospects that if they visited the showroom, they should be sure to ask for Donald Duck.
“Fat chance I’ll ever meet Debbie Dingell, but I would remember her name if ever I do.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “This was the Minnesota plate on a Buick in the parking lot of the Roseville City Hall: ‘WNDERWM.'”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: If she does say so herself!
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Vertically Challenged: “Who knew that Spider-Man had so many different roles in his (or her) off time from catching villains?! Little Natalia, obsessed with Spider-Man for the time being, demonstrates — from Superhero to Chef Spidey to Princess Spider.”
Then & Now
Or: The Permanent Grandmotherly/Granddaughterly Record
Allie’s Baby: “As a much younger grandma, I entered my sweet granddaughter Hannah in the ‘Name the Baby Dolphin’ contest at the Minnesota Zoo back in the day. She was only 3-1/2 years old, but so proud of the name she picked: ‘Sassy.’ Eventually, the staff decided on ‘Spree,’ but Hannah felt as if she’d won when she was awarded the runner-up prize of a family trip to the zoo, including monorail rides. It was the start of many happy hours spent there and memberships for Hannah and her siblings.
“When it was announced that seven dolphins from Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo would be relocated (while their habitat is being renovated) and temporarily housed at the Minnesota Zoo, Hannah was excited to hear she’d have another chance to see Spree. After waiting patiently for the dolphins to acclimate to their surroundings, guests could once again view and enjoy them again in late December. Hannah proudly brought along her framed certificate on her visit and was as excited as her younger brother for the fun opportunity to see Spree and all the other dolphins.
“It truly made this not-so-young-anymore grandma happy to be reminded of what a special memory it was for her.”
Out of the mouths of babes
Anne of West Lakeland: “My great-nephew, Cullen, just turned 5 and has such an interesting way of looking at the world. On a very snowy, white day this week, he was walking to the car with his grandma, who was taking him to school. He stopped, looked up in the sky and the incredibly snowy, white landscape around him. He said: ‘Are we in Antarctica, Grandma?’ Certainly seemed like it!”
Band Name of the Day: The Jimguistics
Website of the Day (better late than never: our annual reminder to subscribe): Nature 365