Here & There
THE ASTRONOMER of Nininger writes: “Subject: Blowing in the Wind.
“We’ve heard that this past winter was a cold and windy one. We have only anecdotal information upon which to base any judgment of that status, but the Good Wife and I smile at each other when people complain about the wind. We used to live in Wyoming, where they say that if the wind ever stopped blowing, everyone would fall down.
“The wind did not always blow hard, but when it did, what we experience here in Minnesota is not even in the same league. In the wintertime especially, the wind would come roaring down over the foothills, more or less perpendicular to them, and accelerate as if gravity gave it a final tug. They call that a Mountain Wave. Occasionally that wind would strike with speeds well in excess of 100 mph. These effects are well documented along mountain ranges. An additional feature that seems to exponentially increase the effect is when a low-pressure area is to the north while a high-pressure area is directly to the south. Then the combined effects are additive, and you’d just better get out of the way.
“We lived just east of a several-hundred-acre reservoir where this effect was particularly intense. The Good Wife would get up in the morning and check the bathroom. Because of the vent stack connected to the plumbing, if there weren’t whitecaps in the toilet, she knew it was going to be a nice day. People learned to hang on firmly to the doors of their vehicle as they opened them, or those doors might act like aerodynamic airfoils in the wind. You cannot believe how many doors of cars and pickups had crinkled door hinges.
“I recall lying awake during really windy nights, mentally calculating the brute force of the wind blowing on our windows. We had a large window area, well built, but you aren’t human if you don’t question their strength when the wind blows hard. It was not uncommon for people to move into a motel for a few days just to be safe during such high wind events. People learned the difference between inconvenience and survival. Some learned to wear goggles, masks and whatever it took to be comfortable, but primarily safe.
“We’ve learned that you can be happy any place you live or be miserable, even in paradise. It’s up to the individual. We’ve been happy wherever we’ve lived because we had each other. Like one of my neighbors said when I asked him if he thought the wind would blow? He replied: ‘It’ll miss a good chance if it doesn’t.’”
Our theater of seasons
DORIS G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Great to see the birds again, Today the red-headed woodpecker and the indigo bunting arrived.
“Also had a male hummingbird at the feeder, but did not get a picture.
“A couple days ago, the grosbeak and the oriole and the yellow-rumped warbler arrived.
“We are hoping we will get a pair of bluebirds this year. Last year we did not have any.”
Radio Days (cont.)
Leading to: The great comebacks
Another installment from THE GRAM WITH A THOUSAND RULES: “Subject: Workplace romance.
“When my husband and I started dating, we thought it would be prudent to go low-key and not let anyone in the workplace know about it. My brother-in-law was so delighted that his match-making plans seemed to be working that he was in on our conspiracy. All was going well until one night when we bumped into the program director and the receptionist downtown. They weren’t too pleased for us to see them, either, so it was no problem. We knew they weren’t about to spill our beans.
“Our station had a sunup-to-sundown license, so in the wintertime we were off the air by 5 o’clock. Frequently he would have to go back later in the evening to do recordings for some of the religious programs, so then I would stay in town. We would have dinner before he went back to work, and I would catch a later bus back to my house.
“It was one of those times when our plans were nearly foiled. He suggested that I just hang around the station while he recorded the program, and then he would drive me home. The program he was scheduled to record was not going to take that long, an hour at the most. He said it would probably be best, though, if I kept out of sight. He said I should just go back and take a nap on the Station Manager’s couch until he was done.
“The couch was quite comfy, and just as I was dozing off, I heard the unmistakable footsteps of the Station Manager coming down the hall. I was curled up under my coat, facing the back of his couch, and I was hoping he didn’t recognize me or, better yet, not notice me at all. His footsteps stopped. Then I heard him rustling some papers on his desk, and then the sound of his footsteps receding back down the hall. All the way home, we kept wondering. ‘Did he see me?’ ‘Maybe not.’ ‘He didn’t say anything to either of us.’
“The next morning at work, I was busy at my typewriter when our boss arrived. Instead of bypassing my office like he usually did, he paused at my door, smiled and said: ‘Well, you look well rested this morning.’”
The Permanent Maternal Record
THE HAPPY MEDIUM writes: “Subject: Mom, the Con Artist.
“The daily schedule for any farmer’s wife was complicated, to say the least. Mom, as one of them, wore many hats, as the saying goes. To name a few: She milked cows morning and night with Dad. Each wash day she heated the water on the wood stove and used the Maytag washing machine to clean our well-worn dirty clothes. These clothes were hung on the line summer and winter. During harvest time, Mom was in the field pitching hay onto the hay wagon pulled by two big brown draft horses. She prepared hearty meals for the family on the trusty wood cook stove, even on hot summer days.
“Mom was a multi-tasker long before someone coined the phrase.
“To Mom’s strengths, I add one more: con artist. She could think of ways to get us, as least me, to do tasks we didn’t know were work. She made me feel as if I could do anything if I set my mind to it. Hence, one of the many canning-day stories:
“It was a beautiful fall pickle-canning day. The cucumbers were in a kettle to be washed. Water was heating on the stove. A dish pan full of warm soapy water was in the sink. The necessary ingredients were lined up on the kitchen table, and the pickle recipe had been found.
“My two older sisters were given the tasks of washing the cucumbers and bringing the jars from the basement. To say the least, the jars were dusty and needed to be washed. Who would be given that task?
“Yes, I was given that task. Mom called me into the kitchen and took my hands in hers. She said: ‘Shirley, your hands are just the right size to fit in the jars that need to be washed.’ To which I responded: ‘Do I get to wash the jars?’ Mom just grinned.
“She put a stool in front of the sink, and I stepped onto it. Yes, I gleefully washed those dusty jars until my little fingers were squishy. While I was washing the jars, Mom and my sisters were packing the cucumbers into the jars with all the other necessary ingredients to make the best dill pickles ever.
“After the final jar was stuffed and sealed, we celebrated with milk and cookies and admired the row of pickle jars on the counter.
“Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the multi-tasking moms who are still canning pickles — and to those moms who are not canning pickles any longer.”
The great comebacks
You Snooze, You Lose Division (responsorial)
RAMBLIN’ ROSE writes: “Subject: The Numbers Game.
“I got a charge out of JOHN IN HIGHLAND’s submission on college math classes (Sunday BB, 4/24/2022). It had a lot of similarities to my own experience. As Bulletin Board has noted, you are rarely the only one . . . .
“I was in my senior year of college and needed five more credits of what was called ‘distribution.’ I had a lot of homework-intensive classes in business and accounting, so I was looking for something much less time-consuming. Scouring the catalog, I found the perfect class: Business Math, described as learning to determine gross profit margins, sales percentages, and other similar calculations. Yes! My trusty 10-key and I could handle that easily, as I already knew most of those things. I stood in line during registration with my fingers crossed and was rewarded with a place in the class. I smiled at the prospect of cruising through the last five credits I needed.
“I arrived on the first day of class in time to score a seat. Students continued to trickle in, and soon there were people sitting on the radiators and standing along the walls and in the back of the room. If there had been rafters, I’m sure they would have also been full.
“The instructor arrived and eyed the crowd, probably not surprised that Business Math would attract so many hopeful students. He dashed those hopes with his first announcement: Sorry, but there was an error in the course catalog. This wasn’t Business Math, but instead was Calculus I. We were free to stay or leave, no offense taken. We were stunned. No one moved or spoke for several seconds, as we all silently evaluated how badly we needed these credits and whether we were likely to pass Calc I. Finally, a couple of people left, but everyone else stayed to see what calc was all about. By the second class, there were only a few people who didn’t have a seat, and by the third class you could sit anywhere you wanted. Only about a dozen of us made it to the end, and I confess that I actually liked it. It was my high-school courses in algebra that let me be successful in calculus, so I disagree with those who periodically question the usefulness of math. But that’s a topic for another day.
“Let’s just say that math is good.”
To sleep, perchance to dream
THE RETIRED PEDAGOGUE of Arden Hills: “I recently had a dream in which I had notified the school district that I would be retiring at the end of the school year. As the deadline approached, I was having second thoughts about my decision. I worried that I would be bored in retirement and not have enough to do to occupy my time.
“I woke up before I made my final decision, and I laughed out loud.
“I’ve never met anyone who regretted retiring.
“So much to do — so little time.”
Band Name of the Day: Spill the Beans
Sunday Bulletin Board: The Mel & Toni Story — on 78-rpm ‘vinylite’ discs: ‘One for My Baby,’ and three more for the road!
Sunday Bulletin Board: “If you’re gonna get smart-alecky, maybe I won’t even tell you!”
Sunday Bulletin Board: What was the probability of there being a college math class called ‘Numbers’?
Sunday Bulletin Board: To attract or to repel? That is the question in the whitetail aisle at Fleet Farm!