Archive - 2006

February 18th

Cattiness at the bird feeder

Perhaps the finches are moody because I took away the thistle feeder for financial reasons and replaced it with broken sunflower seeds. Nyger thistle is their favorite, but they will eat the sunflower seeds if forced. But boy, they are fighting out there today. Lots of angry cackling.

February 17th

High of ten below

Don't like this weather, even if the sun shines. I find the cold oppressive. Last night, I visited friends and drove cross country home on gravel roads. They were drifting in. Realized that if I went in the ditch, nobody would find me for a while. Looked and felt around and couldn't find the cell phone in the pickup. Decided just to drive carefully.

Today, frigid cold. It was twenty-two below zero at noon. The sinister white snow-snakes slithered across the highway. Ugly stuff.

February 16th

Career speaker

Today I spoke to two classes of 9th graders at the school in town about careers. I guess the idea was I would tell them how to become a 1) nurseryman and 2) a writer.

I regard neither as a career. In fact, the word career makes me cringe. I don't ever want to have a career unless it involves baseball, and unless I develop a knuckleball in a hurry, that isn't on the agenda.

Winter drags on

Went out to take some photos at sunset tonight. I noticed that sunset occurs a full hour later now than it did in December. We are just about two months away from the shortest day of the year. That means the darkest 1/3 of the year is behind us. However, we are in the grip of a little cold spell which is more January than March. Single digits today, and below zero tonight.

February 15th

More kerfluffle

Okay, now this story won't go away. Cheney, who has two drunk driving busts on his record, had "a beer or two" before the hunting incident. A beer or two, for those of you who have never had a beer or two, doesn't usually mean a beer or two.

Also, nobody called the cops. You would think if there was a shooting that the first thing you would do would be to call the cops, even if it was accidental. Why might nobody have called the cops?

I still think the press should largely ignore the hunting thing and concentrate upon the larger issues at hand.


In a decent world, Dick Cheney's hunting incident would be seen by all as:

1) a horrible day for the injured hunter and his family,

2) a horrible day for Dick Cheney

3) an incident of no national significance and not worthy of national coverage beyond a footnote in the news.

But we don't live in a very decent world. Instead, the media has chosen to beat up Cheney over the incident. What was most offensive to them, it seems, was his failure to report immediately to the media what happened, as if it were any of their business.

February 14th


This old barn is less than two miles from the nursery on an abandoned farmstead. It probably hasn't been used for thirty or forty years, but it is still in remarkably good shape--no sway to the roof or anything. I like when they have the brick base.

I counted about seven unused old barns on the way to town. It is nice that they are still standing.

Out of wood

With the thermometer slated to drop dramatically for the next few days, I thought I had better get some wood sawn. The pile I put up last fall has run out.

A couple of days ago, I decided to saw up some big ash logs which have been laying around for a few years. Easy pickins, I thought. Well, they dulled the saw in a hurry. And the resulting firewood has been behaving funny. It burns, but it doesn't form coals. It just disappears. So, when I come in the morning to load more wood, there's nothing to start the fire.

February 13th

Hymn sing

Here is a snippet of the event this weekend which inspired me to write a column on singing together. With my father's first cousin Roy visiting from California, I decided to host a gathering at my house for the rest of the cousins. Here is my brother Joe, bass, Dad, baritone, Aunt Ede, melody, and cousin Roy. Mom, not pictured, was on piano. Cousins Ilene and Marlene, Uncle Orville and Aunt Olla also sang.

February 11th


Broke my usual pledge to avoid popular movies last night and attended Brokeback Mountain. It is a pretty darned good movie, beautifully made, well-acted, thought-provoking, debate-stirring, and so on--but above all, artistic.

The austere ranch scenery, houses, trailer homes, bars and restaurants memorably rendered. If you love the mountain west--and not just the scenery, but the culture--you'll like the movie. If you like beautiful camera work, this movie has two hours of it.