Where we live
Including: Our neighbors, ourselves — and: Our community of strangers
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Those Icicles of Winter.
“It was, for January, a warm and pleasant day — temperature near the thaw point and no wind blowing. Who could ask for more?
“The Good Wife and I decided to go to the local Burger King for breakfast. We loaded Harper, our Weimaraner, into our pickup (she loves those ‘tater-tots’) and drove across town. As we entered the parking lot, we noticed that it was essentially full — not unremarkable, because it is a comfortable, cup-of-coffee watering hole where people are treated like family. As we entered the establishment, I must say that I felt a little like Norm on the old television show ‘Cheers’ when he entered that pub in downtown Boston and was warmly greeted. Hands went up, and greetings were quietly yelled out. We returned the ‘salutes,’ got our tray of food and beverages — and after settling down, I walked over, coffee cup in hand, to their gathering.
“They numbered a dozen or so men, wetting their whistles with coffee after an earlier Bible-study meeting. They are all stalwarts of the community and regular members of that Tuesday-morning coffee klatch. In addition to their jackets, most wore baseball caps, just enough for a moderate winter day.
“The topic of conversation was the Bulletin Board. One of the guys at the long table, reminiscent of the bar in ‘Cheers,’ had brought in last Sunday’s paper and passed the Bulletin Board around for everyone to read. They had taken turns reading the stories, laughing, sometimes bringing the group nearly to tears.
“Once the conversation settled down, I asked: ‘What else is new?’ Somebody said he had to get the snow and ice off his roof, lest those infamous ice-dams cause leaks. If he didn’t break off the icicles, the weight of these inverted spires would bring down the long icicles and part of the roof with it.
“Gary offered to shoot down them with a .22. Mel said that wasn’t the smartest idea. He described his last efforts to bring them down: ‘My ears were ringing, sweat was pouring off my forehead, and I could no longer focus my eyes.’
“Dave said he was slipping and sliding on the ice, trying best to remain erect but ending up in a sitting position at least half the time.
“Chuck needed some kind of alcoholic beverage to provide motivation. Maybe a sledgehammer would work, but he couldn’t swing it that high over his head. He would probably get it upright and have it come falling down directly on him.
“Dennis warned him not to stand under those icicles, or they would impale your butt to the patio beneath you when they broke loose. Those icicles on the north side of the house are long, dagger-like spears; some are 3 feet long and weigh at least a ton. (Not really, but sure seems like it.) Dennis was so cold he couldn’t feel a thing, and he bent the heck out of his snow rake just trying to break the icicles. Not even a chip. Words of four-letter length were used in their descriptions, some with references to their mothers.
“Everyone got a good laugh at the icicles and the Bulletin Board. The Good Wife and I took some of those warm ‘tater-tots’ out to Harper, anxiously waiting in the pickup. We look forward to coming back — not for the coffee and food, but for the warm friendship found in our community.
“Hopefully Mother Nature will help rid us of those icicles.”
BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: No such luck. Mother Nature was just about to clobber all of us once again!
Our theater of seasons
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Marching through the snowdrifts?
“This winter seems like the most ‘normal’ one we have had recently. We had two snowstorms within about a day, which prevented our snowplow drivers from getting Storm 1 cleared before Storm 2 arrived. Not their fault — though the Griping Class will never admit it.
“On February 12, we arrived at the morning service at our north-facing church and found a small skating rink between the street and the sidewalk. It was cleared the night before, but the snowbanks melted and froze into glare ice —just when and where the handicapped among us are dropped off by the main door.
“Luckily, I got a claw-type gizmo in the mail that converts my wooden walking stick into an ice pick. I clicked it into place and planted myself on the ice to provide those arriving with a human handrail to grab. And (praise be!) no one slipped while getting into church. By the time we left, the ice was already softening, melting, and safer. Yay!
“In previous years, the first third of February seemed more like a time of mud and melting, to me. But this winter still seems loaded for bear — and ice. Here’s hoping that we can stay safe, and that the farmers and gardeners among us will get the moisture we all need.
“Meanwhile, I’m hoping that, if we get a St. Patrick’s Day blizzard this year, it won’t interfere too much with the parade. I know that Irish eyes will be smiling that day, even if they have to march through snowdrifts.”
Now & Then
Again, Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: An idea for the woodworkers out there.
“Despite being old and brown, this bookcase is bringing hundreds of dollars in an auction. Why? Because it is so darn practical. It spins around and moves on casters. Currently someone has bid $825 for it, and the auction is still open.
“Which shows to go that not all brown furniture is being junked, out there.”
Then & Now
John in Highland: “Vinyl records are making a comeback in popularity with young people. (A young person is anyone younger than I am, of course.)
“One study has shown that more than 43 million records were purchased in 2022. The funny thing is that only half of the buyers own a turntable.
“I have a nice Pioneer turntable, but the only local place that I am aware of that repairs them or sells replacement needle cartridges, the ‘Needle Doctor,’ has gone out of business. If you have a turntable, you’d better hold on to it!”
Older Than Dirt
SharonfromMPLS: “I have had season tickets to the Minnesota Opera for several years and recently saw the delightful ‘The Daughter of the Regiment.’
“But . . . here is how I know I am Older Than Dirt.
“When we came into the Ordway, I noticed that there were a lot more young people than usual (young being patrons in their 20s or 30s — not young as in grandchildren dolled up to see Cinderella). My first assumption? I figured that MN Opera had given away a bunch of tickets.
“I was wrong.
“‘The Daughter of the Regiment’ is a comic opera which has a non-singing role in the second act: The Duchess of Krakenthorp. Apparently it is traditional to bring in some kind of a celebrity for that role; Bea Arthur has played it at the Met, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg played it once at the Kennedy Center.
“MN Opera gave this a major twist. They wrote in an Aria for the character; brought her in with great fanfare. And the role was performed by Monét X Change — a drag queen who has been a star in ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ Needless to say, she was fabulous. She has a wonderful bass voice and absolutely commands the stage.
“She also has fans. Young fans. There were times when the audience reaction was more akin to a rock concert — even BEFORE she appeared.
“The opera was very fun and silly, and there were several really beautiful arias. The two leads, singing extremely difficult parts, were superb (as per the usual at MN Opera).
“As we used to say back when I was a youth: It was a Happening.”
Dept. of Neat Stuff
Grandpa’s Statuary Division (The Cat’s Meow Subdivision)
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “After my Bulletin Board entry featuring gnome statues made by my Grandfather Leonello, I received nearly five requests for photos of more of his statuary. Well, ask and you shall receive. Today we look at cats of the plaster variety.
“About all I can say about these felines is that they are over 70 years old, and some of them certainly look it. They were rescued from my grandfather’s Twin City Statuary Co. after he died in 1951 and have been stored in a garage and then a basement since then.
“The best-preserved cat is one sitting on a pillow and playing with a black ball. It is also a great example of my grandfather’s airbrush painting technique, of which he was a master.
“Then there are three cats with little or no paint. Two have whimsical expressions, and the third looks just plain mean.
“The previous cats were rather small and not particularly realistic-looking, but Grandpa also made larger ones. There are two cats which are roughly half to three-quarters size and look very lifelike. Unfortunately, they have not aged well, although it is obvious that they once had very nice paint jobs.
“Finally, there is a life-size (and then some) reclining cat. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s been sitting in my basement for quite a while, and yet it has startled me more than once when I see it sitting on the floor in a darkened corner.
“As before, there are plenty more where these came from of all sorts of objects if anyone wants to see them.”
The vision thing
Cherie D of Inver Grove Heights reports: “Subject: Big Green Olive.
“We are getting closer and closer to grilling weather [Bulletin Board interjects: For our money, grilling weather is year-round, wherever you live], and many people will be dusting off and powering up their Big Green Egg grills for all to see.
“But I saw a Big Green Olive just the other day. I was driving along a residential street, and coming at me was what looked like a giant green olive. It was an Audi, with the design including rounded corners, and the green color made it look good enough to eat — if you like olives, that is, and I do. The only thing that would have made it better was if the driver had been wearing red – Big Red Pimento!”
The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon
A Day Late Division
Gma Tom reports: “Subject: Almost a Baader-Meinhof.
“A belated B-M, because it was 48 hours instead of 24.
“On Tuesday I was volunteering at our local library’s history room, sorting a collection of newspaper clippings that had been collected by a local historian. The collections featured three individuals: John Till, Bill Nye, and John Jeremy, the ‘body finder.’ I had heard a lot about Till, a little about Nye, but had never heard of Jeremy until Tuesday.
“This morning (Thursday), I read an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the Stillwater Historical Society was featuring none other than John Jeremy, the body finder, in a program today.
“It’s a shame that I didn’t learn of the program soon enough to attend.”
Keeping your eyes open
Twitty of Como reports: “Subject: Spy balloons.
“So we landed here in North Myrtle Beach a day or two before the Chinese Spy Balloon, and it’s been interesting.
“Sorry for the poor photo, but this ship (there are two, actually) showed up immediately after and has been out there 24/7 — too far out for me to identify, but I’m told both the Coast Guard and the Navy have ships on station out there.
“Yesterday three military helicopters flew in.
“In the dark of night, the ships operate bright spotlights that can be seen for miles — hoping, I’m certain, to spot any civilian treasure seekers who might wander in, and warn them away until recovery efforts can be completed. No telling how long that could be, but I tip my hat to the brave, hard-working Navy and Coast Guard divers who go down every day to secure whatever balloon-related debris they can find. The sea was flat yesterday, but has been a bit choppy most other days, making recovery potentially more difficult.
“Other than choppy seas, the weather has been great here — sunny and warmer than St. Paul by at least 30 degrees most days.
“I can’t wait to get back home.”
Cee Cee of Mahtomedi reports: “Subject: Signs of the times? Or: Welcome to Florida.
Just a few sights in our wanderings.. signs are a little different down here in FL. And I think I’d like to nab that police patrol duty!”
Life as we know it
Writes DebK of Rosemount: “My baby brother grew up to be a drill sergeant. Perhaps that accounts for his directness in broaching the matter of how well-suited Taxman and I now are for the retirement lifestyle we’ve chosen.
“Baby Brother raised the subject in an email he sent on my recent birthday, which followed hard on the heels of the 50th wedding anniversary we weren’t able to celebrate. Taxman and I were alive and well, but the new shed — the planned venue for our Fiftieth Anniversary Chili and Cornbread Feed — fell victim to supply and labor shortages. Anyway, both events — the golden anniversary and the birthday — likely led Baby Brother to conclude that Taxman and I ought to be thinking about working less and recreating more.
“It’s sometimes a tempting notion. And, because Taxman and I respect Baby Bro, we chewed hard on the idea of re-retiring as we journeyed on Saturday evening from St. Isidore Farm to the annual fundraiser for the parish school.
“Providentially, we were seated at dinner across from a fellow who reported that he’d just buried his mother, a sad event that fell almost exactly a year after the death of his father. Our condolences prompted the gentleman to explain that his father had been 92 at the time of his passing and that death came calling as the nonagenarian was at work — laying a cement-block foundation — with his son (our dining companion) and grandson.
“By that remarkable measure, Taxman and I can look forward to at least another decade as keepers of our flocks. We might even have to pick up the pace! Suddenly, I have visions of installing a milk cow or two in the Fiftieth Anniversary Shed.”
Band Name of the Day: The Chinese Spy Balloons
Website of the Day: When Eleanor Roosevelt Went Missing