Archive - Oct 2003


Book arrives, stares at me from the next room...

Dick Richards of Richard's Publishing in Gonvick dropped off 3907 copies of my new book last evening. There they sit, about 50 boxes in the middle of the floor of the nursery sales room. I can't imagine selling that many at this point.

Instant Wealth

The Lunch Ladies of Holdingford (sounds like a novel) won $95 million in the Powerball lottery this week, a victory for barely-over-minimum-wage lunch ladies everywhere!

Now I will be eagerly awaiting the follow up report one year from now on what they did with their winnings, and how it has affected their lives.

There seems to be no greater test of character than a sudden windfall of unearned wealth. It seems to ruin the lives of many people so bequeathed, if previous follow up stories on lottery winners are any indication.

October 30th

The Country Drug

According the US Department of Health and Human Services, eighth graders in rural areas are twice as likely to have used methamphetamines than eighth graders in urban areas. The disparity between urban and rural students is less startling with other illicit drugs such as cocaine and alcohol, but with every illegal drug listed in the survey, rural eighth graders used more than their urban counterparts. I don't suppose anybody in the country has yet sent their child to an inner city school to get them away from drugs, but these statistics indicate it might not be a bad idea.

Serenity Quest

My correspondent BW used the above title for the email I quote in the last entry below. I find it apt, and more positive than talking about depression or winter blues. Serenity is what is missing from modern life. Modern American culture does little to encourage or value it.

Winter Blues, cont.

I am always interested in the methods people use to maintain sanity when hit by depression, and its evil twin, anxiety. The post below about the Winter Blues brought a wonderful response from reader BW:

October 29th

A lull, and I sure hope it's temporary

After hauling the mailing promoting Off the Farm to the post office, it hit me that there is nothing more I can do. Four thousand copies of the book are on their way from the printer. Forty thousand fliers are waiting at newspaper offices, to be inserted next week. Now it is just to wait and see if the thing sells! I calculated today that I need to sell 1,700 of them to break even. Advertising costs as much as the printing, but you have to do it. I think I have made worse investments, but any lull in activity allows doubts to creep in...

Commentary glut

I can't imagine that there has ever been so much daily commentary on the news and everything else as there is today. In addition to all the cable TV news shows and talk radio shows, there are hundreds of thousands of weblogs like this one devoted to every sort of interest, every political view. If you know what you are doing, you can start your own daily newspaper, available to the entire world instantly, and for free, both to the publisher and the reader--in a matter of ten minutes!

Grandpa columns

The columns I write about my grandfather always get good response. It seems that just mentioning him in a column insures that people will remember it, even those who never met Grandpa, or who know nothing about him.

I spent twenty years as a sort of right-hand man to Grandpa after he turned over the reins of the nursery to Mom and Dad. People loved Grandpa for his enthusiasm, friendliness and genius. I define genius here as "creative originality." He had that! To his family, however, he was often a difficult enigma.

Fall work

After the trees drop their leaves, there is a little blizzard of fall work at the nursery. The most important job is the digging of trees before the ground freezes. With the raw, wet weather, that job becomes miserable, and takes on added urgency. We will spend the winter sorting the trees in cold storage. If we don't get the trees out of the ground, however, digging will have to wait until spring when we have no time to sort! So, Joe, Dad and Ken are slipping and sliding through the mud out there--and I suppose if worse comes to worse, I could go out there, too.

October 28th

Round Robin

My father's siblings have, for as long as I remember, had a Round Robin. As a child, it would have been impossible to imagine that any family did not have a Round Robin! When the Robin came in the mail, it was a good day. If we went a long time without getting the Robin, somebody might call around to see who was holding it up.

The Round Robin is a circular letter which works its way from sibling to sibling. It contains a letter from each. When it comes to you, you take out your old letter and put in a new one.