Down on the farm, there’s plenty for the young scholars to learn!

Of birds and bees, rams and lambs
Clarence the Exuberant Division

DebK of Rosemount reports: “Newly minted home-schooling families have begun visiting St. Isidore Farm, where opportunities abound to bolster life-sciences learning by mixing it up with barn cats, lambs, baby chicks, and pond-dwelling reptiles. (The broody hen, spread Sphinx-like over eggs laid in an unused dog crate, participates only tangentially in the youngsters’ schooling. She tolerates admiring gazes but nothing more intrusive.)

Continue reading “Down on the farm, there’s plenty for the young scholars to learn!”

Life can seem a pretty dangerous business if you are the child of a tort lawyer!

Gee, our old La Salle ran great! (responsorial)

Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “We had an ice-cream truck that came to our brand-new suburban neighborhood ‘way the heck out in Roseville,’ in the 1950s.

“This one was similar to the small postal trucks that used to drive around our neighborhood, unlike the modified pickup that was described in the most recent BB.

“Oh, the excitement we felt when we heard that chiming music making its way to our block! We had to run around the house or yard to find Mom to beg for money and convince her that we deserved a treat, all before he showed up in front of our house. It was like a panic! He might drive past before we got out there! Mom might not be able to find change! Mom might say: ‘No! You’ll ruin your appetite!’

“But I clearly remember another thing about the ice-cream truck, and that was being lectured by my father not to run in front of the truck, or behind it. And not to stand waiting either behind it or in front of it, but only to the side where the ice-cream man could clearly see you.

“For me, being lectured about life’s DANGERS was part of growing up with a dad who was a personal-injury attorney. (When I tell people about my dad, I usually point out that this was back in the days when that was a reputable vocation.)

“My father had had a case where a kid had been ‘run over by the ice-cream truck.’ I was little enough to believe it had been OUR neighborhood’s ice-cream truck, so I was actually somewhat scared of the ice-cream truck. On the other hand, the sugar-draw was pretty intense, especially since my mother did not bake very often and treats weren’t generally on hand in our house. So sugar usually won out.

“But this was not the only thing my dad warned us about:

“Don’t climb the sand piles where a new house is being built, we were told. (Which was every day in that era.) ‘I had a case where a sand pile collapsed and buried a kid alive!’
Also, we were not allowed to make a snow fort out of the big piles of snow at the end of the driveway in the winter. ‘I had a case once where some kids had dug an igloo out of the pile and a snowplow came along and killed them!’

“I know my dad meant well by warning us of these and so many other dangers that could lurk in the lives of children. He himself had been struck by a car at Snelling and St. Clair on his way to his first day in first grade, while walking in the crossing-patrol’s line. A broken hip caused him to miss the first six weeks of school.

“But writing about this, I can see how I grew up with a general feeling of anxiety. And life just presents a lot of dangers.

“Now I have a 4-year-old grandson to worry about! Ommmmmm . . .”

The Permanent Family Record
Including: Our community of strangers

Eos: “Subject: Ancestors.

“I’ve been helping a friend find her father’s biological family. He was born in 1908 in St. Paul, and he was adopted. All we knew was the name of the mother on the adoption papers.

“What a story we discovered! It’s a story of immigrants, love, loss, and tragedy.

“We met some interesting people on our quest. One of them is Cheesehead By Proxy, my friend’s newly discovered cousin. She blessed us with pictures of my friend’s great-grandmother.

“We don’t know everything we’d like to know, but we’re enjoying the journey.

“So, for all of you: Dig out the pictures of your ancestors. Those people were young once, and so interesting! They all have a story, and that story is fascinating and complicated, and interwoven with many other stories. I promise there will be some intriguing twists along the way.”

Life as we know it
Pandemic Division

Rusty of St. Paul reports: “My wife and I have been doing quite a bit of stress eating during this Crisis.

“If two scrambled eggs sound good for breakfast . . . well then, three sounds great — along with hash browns, toast, sausage, fruit and coffee. Lunch? Carb leftovers from the night before. Dinner? Homemade pasta: spinach fettuccine with a topping of artichoke hearts, asparagus, smoked salmon, parmesan cheese, fresh dill from my garden and let’s throw in a little bit (OK, a lot) of cream and butter. Don’t forget the hot red pepper flakes and a glass or two of red wine. Dessert? The wife’s homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk.

“You have heard of the ‘Freshman 15’? Well, my wife and I are working on our ‘COVID-19.'”

This ‘n’ that

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “Subject: The Deviled is in the details.

“The Runabout has obliged me with my favorite special food item many times during the quarantine. I am addicted to Deviled Eggs and consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of the delicacy. There are many recipes, to be sure, and I will not argue with anyone’s favorite. However, after years of research, I’m certain that I have perfected the proper way to eat them:

“The first step is to sprinkle a salt-and-pepper mixture on a plate. Then use a fork to spread the topping and cut cross-sections of the eggs — which accomplishes two things. First, it distributes the full yolky flavor evenly — and also prevents the slippery vessel from escaping your grip. Next, spear each one-quarter portion with the fork, and swipe the white bottom through the salt-and-pepper mixture. Lastly, savor — without the frustration of dropping the egg, gobbling in two big bites, licking your fingers or experiencing the taste of bland egg whites.

“You’re welcome!”

(2) “Subject: The Internet is no wonder-full.

“Remember before the Internet when you had to wonder about things for a long time and then maybe never find the answer?”

See world
Floral Division

Mounds View Swede checks in: “Subject: Seven blossom varieties.

“A sunny warm day called for a walk around with my camera to see what was happening out there.

“A neighboring flower pot had this bright red blossom with what looks like fine snow granules on it. I only wish it were,

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“My volunteer and spreading forget-me-nots provide a nice mass of blue that catches my eye. Certainly hard to forget them now!

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“Our lamium plants keep spreading, too, and most of them are also blooming.

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“Our neighbor has another fruit tree covered in blossoms. I like the deep reds when they first grow and how they open up to white petals.

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“One of the smaller fruit trees just goes with all red in its blossoms.

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“While the two adjoining ones have white . . .

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“. . . and pink.

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“The range of colors is fun to see.”

Our birds, ourselves

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Birds of Summer.

“The Good Wife and I watch for the oh-so-colorful and musical birds of summer to arrive. They usually do show up around Mother’s Day, a fitting tribute to moms everywhere. And they did so again this year, just in time for the honorific day. What is amazing is the fact that they all seem to show up at once, not dragging their appearances out over a week or two.

“The weather may have something to do with that. This year, we had some pretty cool weather the first few days of May. But it might also be that once we observe one species of bird arriving from their winter vacation grounds, we just suddenly start looking more intensely and see them all around us. The chickadees and other winter birds are still around, but the ruby-throated hummingbirds, the rose-breasted grosbeaks, the orioles, and the indigo buntings are around in abundance. I am not sure if the robins ever left, but they certainly have become more active. Here’s a shot of a baby robin looking out over our outdoor kitchen. They have a nest perched atop one of the lights in back.

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“We have quite a few birds in the woods that separate us from the Mississippi River. They are full of woodpeckers. There are the little ones (the hairy and downy woodpeckers), the flickers, but the granddaddy of them all is the pileated woodpecker. I have seen them this past winter, but now I see them much more often, as many as three at a time. And when they trumpet their appearance, there is no doubt about it. They are not only humongous in comparison to the others, but their sound is dominant, too. One almost broke a windowpane when giving himself a catapult departure from a suet feeder hanging close to the back porch window. Bam!

“I am always reminded of the ‘Woody Woodpecker’ cartoon that started when I was growing up. Thank you, Walter Lantz.”

Then & Now
And: Here & There

Kathy S. of St. Paul remembers: “Forty years ago this week, Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state. The following June, I left for my first trip to Europe.

“An older cousin had left for a trip to Europe shortly after Christmas in 1956. On Christmas Day, she teased me, asking if I wanted to go with her. Not realizing that a kid like me might take her seriously. I thought it through and decided my education (first grade) came first, but I would go to Europe someday. And it was my entire bucket list — before we talked bucket lists.

“By 1980 I had both vacation time and the money for a three-week trip — from a closed retirement account I should have saved. Life would have been so much easier if I hadn’t spent it.

“Booking through a travel agent was interesting — especially when she wanted me to buy an expensive piece of Lalique crystal for her in France. She was displeased when I refused. I ended up booking two tours (U.K., Ireland and France) through the least expensive travel company. A fellow traveler said her travel agent called the company ‘not the Gulag Archipelago, but close.’ My biggest gripe was having to share bathrooms, and very rarely having a bathtub in my single rooms — because I am autistic, and I calm myself by reading books in bathtubs. My letters home constantly mourned bathtubs.

“But what about Mount St. Helens? Well, my June-July trip to the U.K, and France in 1980 fell in the coldest summer Europe had recorded in 400 years. I ached for my down parka, and fought buying warmth there. Scotland was coldest, but I still had fun.

“The ash cloud from Mount St. Helens on our West Coast was blamed for the cold weather in Europe. When I got home, Minnesota had had temps over 100 degrees F. For a few days I walked far more briskly than folks here.

“Never will I forget how an event in one part of our world can have far-reaching effects far away.

“And, to this day, I try to be careful how I talk to kids — even 6-year-olds.”

Keeping your eyes open

Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Spring ritual for the cardinals.

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“Gazing at the gazing ball.”

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Our pets, ourselves

Dennis from Eagan: “Subject: Pup-cup at drive-thru.

“With warm weather here, a HOT dog goes well with frozen custard at Freddy’s restaurant!

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“I love Stormy’s eye contact with his treat when we stopped at the Lakeville location.”

Band Name of the Day: Beg for Money

Website of the Day: A fascinating discussion of pandemics and their far-ranging effects on world history

He was due for a haircut . . . but “Now I look like Einstein — without the smarts.”

Vive la difference!
Pandemic Division

Rusty of St. Paul: “My haircut costs $16 plus tip. My wife’s cut and color is $160. I tend to spread my cuts out to help the budget a little, as her cuts bend it. I think I last got a cut right after the Holidays. When I was due, the Crisis had hit. Now I look like Einstein —  without the smarts.

Continue reading “He was due for a haircut . . . but “Now I look like Einstein — without the smarts.””

“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming / We’re finally on our own / This summer I hear the drumming / Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . .”

In memoriam
Or: Now & Then

Monday email from Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: May 4, 1970.

“Fifty years ago today, I sat in the middle of the College of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul, listening to an anti-war speaker. When I got home, I heard that students protesting the Vietnam War were shot at Kent State University in Ohio. Dad was surprised that I was upset. But I could have been among those killed. I feel part of Kent State.

Continue reading ““Tin soldiers and Nixon coming / We’re finally on our own / This summer I hear the drumming / Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . . Four dead in Ohio . . .””

Desperate times call for desperate measures — or: The “hair-care crisis” of 2020!

Now & Then
Or: Hair today, gone tomorrow

DebK of Rosemount reports: “As was predicted in scores of shutdown-themed memes we’ve received in the last month or so, we find ourselves in a hair-care crisis. Taxman and I are rarely involved in hair-related conversations, but in the last week, we’ve not only discussed our own need of barbering, but have received similar reports from others, some of whom have been driven to desperate measures.

Continue reading “Desperate times call for desperate measures — or: The “hair-care crisis” of 2020!”