Category Archives: Stories

Turn of Phrase

On this date in the year 600, Pope Gregory the Great decreed that the proper thing to say when someone sneezed was “God bless you”. I told this to a friend, a practicing  Catholic, who said ” Who died and put him in charge!? Why are we still listening to him? We should find something new to say!” I was at a loss for her being somewhat offended by Pope Gregory, but I found her response delightful.

What are some of your favorite (or not so favorite turns of phrase)?  Make up a new one if you can.

 

Faulty Sidewalks

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor, while out walking her dog, went down on glare ice – that sort of fall where you are suddenly flat on your back staring at the sky, and don’t know how the he** you got there. This was worse than usual though, as she cracked her skull on the ice. Pamela actually passed out for a bit; there was a lot of bleeding, a trip to the ER, and a concussion. She’s almost back to normal now, but is taking an afternoon nap (which is tricky at work), and was told she must not hit her head again. Just saw her (carefully) walking the dog for the first time today.

Traveling on foot is particularly treacherous in this season, due to a lot of melting and freezing. And here in Winona, we keep getting a new dusting of snow, which is fine in some places but hides the ice in others. I fell last week after a concert, because of an uneven sidewalk that wasn’t really visible – “just” went down on my knees, but was OK mostly.

Have you had any really bad falls, either out- or indoors?

Got any tips for prevention?

HUH!?

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Down by the barn is a small, 75 gallon water tank with a tank heater in it. And by ‘Tank Heater’ I mean it keeps the water just warm enough to keep it from freezing. I’ve never tested it, but it might be 34 degree’s for all I know.

I’m doing my chores one morning. And while I’m doing my chores, I put the chickens water buckets that have frozen, in that tank and leave them for a few minutes.
Then usually the ice around the edges has melted just enough that I can knock it out of the buckets.

This one particular morning while working I notice a smell from the tank. Kind of stinky, like sewage. And I thought to myself, “Huh! That’s odd” and I go about my chores. A few minutes later I’m back with another bucket of ice that I put in the tank and then I go around back to the pole barn and get a bucket of straw for the egg boxes. And when I get back, this bucket of ice has melted about half an inch all the way around and I thought “Huh! that’s interesting.”
And I dump out the ice and refill the bucket and continue my chores.
A little bit later, I’m in the tractor working down there and I notice the tank is steaming more than usual.
And I think “Huh! That’s weird.” And I go about my way.

Ah–  but then I come back and take a second look. And I put my hand in the water and it’s like a hot tub! A dirty, stinky, hot tub but still; way hotter than it should be.
Evidently there is something wrong with this tank heater.

Got a new one and all is well. And I thought to myself, “Took ya long enough to pick up on those hints.”

What’s the last thing that made you say “HUH!”?  

Slurp

You all know that I’m fascinated by coincidence and the baader meinhof phenomenon. I don’t know why, but it won’t surprise you that it’s happened to me again.

Last weekend, while watching some cooking show (something about how you’re eating it wrong?), there was a snippet about slurping noodles. The theory is that slurping makes the noodles taste better because the increased air in your mouth allows the flavors to mingle and develop.

Then last night I started watching “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” (thanks BiR for the suggestion). The first episode is filmed in Tokyo and Phil spends one whole afternoon and evening going from one noodle shop to another.  In the first of the shops, the owner/chef tells Phil that he needs to slurp the noodles and then explains how they will taste better with the extra aeration! This is amazing to me to hear this tidbit twice in a week when I’ve I’ve never heard it before.

How to you like your noodles?

 

The College Years

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms

In the fall of 1960 I became a freshman at Grinnell College. The class of ’64 went on to win a spotty reputation as perhaps the most talented but troublesome classes in college history. The 1960s were a turbulent time in higher education all across the nation.

Those years, for me, were amazingly transformative. I entered that period as a provincial, shy, sanctimonious kid from a small Iowa town. I was some sort of Republican, a passive sort of Christian. I was also a prig who was offended by folks who smoked, drank alcohol, had sex out of wedlock or swore. I had terrible study habits and little discipline. My first crisis was discovering whether I was equal to the challenge of college coursework. I spent my freshman year in terror of flunking out.

Even the simple business of living in a dorm was threatening for me. In high school I avoided two kinds of people: the boys and the girls. At Grinnell I was obliged to live in a dormitory with 30 young men whom I did not know. I soon learned my dorm buddies farted, got drunk and hosed each other down with language so vulgar I didn’t know what the words meant. For a while I wondered if I might be gay because the guys around me were so crude and aggressive that I felt I belonged to a different species.

Grinnell shocked me in good ways, too. I had lived 18 years of my life totally ignorant of the complex delights of classical music. The college offered live concerts with music so powerful it sometimes reduced me to tears. Among my dorm mates were guys who played folk guitar and bluegrass banjo. I fell in love with that until music was so important I couldn’t imagine having lived without it.

Something similar happened with respect to the world of books, social debates, historical dilemmas, appreciation of visual arts, and many other areas. Because Grinnell was so isolated (“in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cornfields”) the college tried hard to import exciting speakers and artists. Attending lectures on fascinating topics was free and easy: all one had to do was show up and listen. I found out I cared about ideas and history and art to a degree I had not known was possible.

The kid who left Grinnell four years later was very little like the kid who showed up in 1960. I’m convinced that all of us change, and in fact we change every year we are alive. But some changes are vastly more significant than others, and my Grinnell years were that.

What about you? If you attended college, what did the experience mean to you?

Enforced Idleness

This was so dumb. Here I was with a long weekend and I was laid up for three days on the sofa with a cough, fatigue, and a low-grade fever.  I didn’t have real grand plans, but it would have been nice to have some productive time at home. It was too cold to go anywhere.  All I was good for was as a heating pad for cats.

The enforced idleness wasn’t so bad. I rarely get sick, and when I do it is a sign to slow down and rest.  One of my favorite ending lines to a Lawrence Durrell novel is “I felt as if the universe had given me a nudge”. This viral thing I had was a nudge, and I  paid attention.

How do you take care of yourself when you are sick?  Does the universe nudge you or wallop you?