Sunday Bulletin Board: What sort of magic can you do at noon on the day of February’s full moon? Go ask an Italian!

28March 2021

Here & There

Writes GRANDMA PAT, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wis.”: “Subject: Apples.

“I recently read an article about a new apple variety that was just developed at the University of Minnesota. (Bulletin Board notes: Triumph™!) That brought back an ‘apple memory’ of several years ago:

“I was visiting my husband’s home village at the base of Mt. Vettore in central Italy. I showed some photos to a few Italian relatives. One of these photos was of my Haralson apple tree just bending down with perfect fruit.

“Cousin Franco immediately decided that he must have some of these apples. He gave detailed instructions to my husband, who then translated for me. I was told to go out at noon on the day of the February full moon, and clip several small branches from my tree. I should wrap them carefully and mail them right away.

“I was a bit skeptical about the whole process. I wondered if the instructions were based on science or folklore. I thought that the post office would never allow me to send it, and I doubted that grafting would be successful. I was wrong on both counts.”

Then & Now (responsorial)

NORSKY: “To JOHN IN HIGHLAND, ‘Subject: What this country needs . . .’ (Sunday BB, 3/21/2021)

“Back in the early 1950s, when I was 8 and my older brother was 12, we had an electric baseball game. It was between 12 and 18 inches square, with four red lights, one for each base.

“There was a slot at the pitcher’s mound where you would position a little steel ball that one of us would flick with our finger to make it cross home plate. The one who was batting at home plate would press a button that would release a lever to catch the steel ball.

“Depending on the position the batter caught the ball with the lever, that would determine what base would be reached. If a single was hit, the first-base light would light; a double, the second base would light; a triple, the third base would light; and a home run, all four lights would light up.

“We would use my brother’s baseball cards for the two teams. Each batter would have a card. Some of the cards I remember that my brother had were Ralph Kiner, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Eddie Mathews, Jackie Robinson, Stan Musial, and Yogi Berra.

“That was a fun game. We would play for hours at a time. I think it would still be fun today. I know having those baseball cards would be. Many years later, I asked my brother what ever became of his baseball cards. He said our mother got rid of them when he was in the Marine Corps.

“Here’s a 1958 photo of the two of us. My brother passed away two years ago this month — 11 days before his 81st birthday.”

Gee, our old LaSalle ran great!

From LeoJEOSP: “Subject: Gee!”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other

AL B of Hartland Division

A trio of dispatches from our Official Ornithologist (and Birdwatching Expedition Leader), AL B of Hartland: (1) “Dark eyes and yellow bill on a barred owl. Sorry, Shakespeare fans, it’s not a bard owl. It’s nicknamed ‘hoot owl,’ ‘eight hooter,’ ‘rain owl,’ ‘laughing owl’ and ‘crazy owl.’”

(2) “Lord Byron wrote, ‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, there is a rapture on the lonely shore.’ And through the glass. I stared out windows with hawklike attention. That suits me. I see the comings and goings. I hear them, too. Handsome red-winged blackbird males sang, ‘Look at me.’ I looked. Juncos made ray gun sounds. Both species give voice to spring. It’s their thing.”

(3) “We flew out of MSP Airport and landed in Anchorage. We deplaned and moved to baggage claim. Those in my tour group were tired but excited.

“There were but a handful of bags on the carousel. The number refused to increase no matter how long we waited. When it became apparent no more bags were forthcoming, I, being the feckless leader, headed to the baggage office to speak with a customer representative. I needed to make a lost luggage claim for everyone’s bag.

“There was a long line of unhappy people. They were venting their anger on a poor woman who had done nothing wrong. A bad day isn’t improved by ruining someone else’s day.

“I asked her what I should do. She told me that only one cart had been loaded, that a plane would come later that day with our bags, and that they would be delivered to our hotel in Wasilla. I informed my charges and sent them away on a deluxe tour bus. I’d wait for the luggage.

“The plane was late, but every bag arrived. I helped load them into a van, accompany them to Wasilla, and put them in storage at the hotel. I nearly got to bed before it was time for breakfast. I greeted everyone with, ‘Good morning.’ It was.”

Keeping your eyes open

And: Fun facts to know and tell

THE ASTRONOMER of Nininger: “Subject: The green flash.

“I pen this using my iPad while the Good Wife and I, having both received our second vaccine shots, are enjoying a respite down in sunny Florida. While the occasion is rest and relaxation, the other night, when sipping an alcoholic beverage of choice, I focused my trusty binoculars on the setting sun. As it slid gracefully below the horizon, I was able to observe what some people call the ‘green flash.’

“This flash, or the ‘green ray’ first described by Jules Verne in a novel published in 1882, is not readily observed at each setting of the sun. The atmospheric conditions must be just right. The only other time I have seen this before was off of Midway Island in the Pacific, more than 20 years ago. My observations then were accompanied by a Piña Colada.

“I noted that the flash itself did not last very long and that it seemed to crown the dome of the sphere, lasting for only a moment. Jules Verne described this green as one which no artist could produce on their palette. I’d say it was somewhere around 5,500 Angstroms in wavelength. No matter how you describe it, it certainly is worth looking for.”

Till death us do part

Or: The great comebacks

Another entry in the Permanent Sp0usal Record maintained by RUSTY of St. Paul: “After 40 years together, my wife knows me well enough to know that most of what I say, I do not really mean.

“I am retired, and she retired right before the pandemic started, so for the first time in 40 years, we have had a large quantity of quality time together. This was fine at first, but has gotten somewhat claustrophobic as the months have piled up.

“Recently my ‘Good morning!’ greeting has been: ‘Oh . . . you again.’”

In memoriam

Not Yet Division

THE RETIRED PEDAGOGUE of Arden Hills: “Subject: Whatever it takes.

“A friend of mine told me that his wife was having a particularly bad day, when she turned to him and said: ‘I guess I’ll read the obituaries. That should make me feel better.’”

Please release me! (self-responsorial)

Leading to: Joy of Juxtaposition

The most recent full-scale Bulletin Board at BBonward.com featured an earworm reported by THE DORYMAN of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Where do I begin . . .

“. . . to tell the story of my ann-u-al checkup?

“While at my health-care clinic, a haunting piano solo played over the music system. The theme from ‘Love Story,’ while a beautiful melody, seemed a tad ominous to me in that setting. It didn’t noticeably affect anyone else that I could tell, but then most of them weren’t old enough to even see a PG-rated movie back in the ’70s. If you remember it as well, there are plenty of opportunities to hear it again on YouTube, but if you do, prepare for humming it at least for the rest of the day.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAID: “Recommending an earworm means always having to say you’re sorry (even if you aren’t).”

We included that item in the most recent Sunday Bulletin Board, in the Pioneer Press (Sunday BB, 3/21/2021) — and, on Sunday morning (just as we, too, were watching CBS News’ “Sunday Morning”), we heard again from THE DORYMAN.of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: Plausible credibility???

“You have to admit that my ability to coordinate our BB ‘Love Story’ contribution in today’s Sunday Pioneer Press with television’s ‘Sunday Morning’ show on the same day is incredible. J of J? I just went downstairs to get the paper, and when I got settled in my chair, the prologue of ‘Sunday Morning’ came on, and the trumpets heralded a ‘Love Story’ movie segment.


“Might even be a B-M for some millennials. LOL.”

The verbing of America

FRIENDLY BOB of Fridley: “Of all the words that stand a chance of being ‘verbicized’ (sorry!), I never thought ‘guacamole’ (or some version of it) would be a likely candidate.

“A recent Chipotle commercial tried to convince me that they had ‘a better way to guac.’

“Ow, my ears!”

What’s in a name?

Or: CAUTION! Words at Play!

SEMI-LEGEND writes: “Subject: Norton Juster, a.k.a. Polly Glot.”

“Norton Juster died recently at 91.

“He’s best known for his first book, children’s classic ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ (1961), illustrated by Jules Feiffer, and ‘The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics’ (1963), which became an eloquent, profound animated cartoon by Chuck Jones in 1965. (It won an Academy Award.)

“But my favorite Norton Juster book is ‘Stark Naked: A Paranomastic Odyssey’ (1969), with sprightly drawings by Arnold Roth. Paranomastic means punny.

“It consists of an entire town, Emotional Heights, full of aptly named people like Emilio Rate, welfare commissioner; Hiram Cheap, leading manufacturer; Phyllis Steen, art critic; Bertha Dabloos, torch singer; Titus Ova, loan-company president; and Trudy Opendoor, nightclub hostess.

“This sort of thing is addictive. I added a few: Veranda Davenport, interior designer; Putnam Upp, architect (so was Juster); Ida Claire, town gossip.

“In the pages of my copy of the book, I inserted examples from the late ‘Shoe’ cartoonist Jeff MacNelly (‘It’s Carey Forward, our accountant.’), a New York Magazine competition (JENNY SAITQUA — Broadway star who couldn’t make up her mind), and William Safire, who reported: ‘A writer of religious news in Baldwinsville, N.Y., uses a nom de plume of Delores Mae Shepherd.’)

“I’d better stop now, before I’m the victim of Frank Appraisal.”

The bumper crop

RED’S OFFSPRING, north of St. Paul: “My elder son spotted this bumper sticker on a car with an Ohio plate in Florida: ‘Do you Follow JESUS This Closely?’”

Band Name of the Day: The Bard Owls

Your stories and photographs are welcome here: bb.onward@gmail.com

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