Archive - Jul 2010

July 30th


Got a new shipment of books from Amazon a few days ago and I have been reading three simultaneously: 

1) Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz won a Pulitzer. It is an anecdotal account of the author's travels through the south in search of those nostalgic for the Confederacy. So far, he has visited historians with Southern sympathies, reenactors, store owners and eccentrics. A few days of his travels mirrored my travels through battlefields in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania with the teacher's group last month, so I have good visuals of where he has been. 

2) North for the Harvest by Jim Norris is a history of sugar beet farming in the Red River Valley. Norris covers the politics, the history of migrant workers in the Valley, and the connection of the Valley to the McAllen area of Texas. For many decades, the main obstacle to increasing sugar beet acreage in the Red River Valley was the lack of labor to thin, hoe and harvest the beets. The efforts of American Crystal to secure migrant workers make up a big part of the book thus far. 

3) Sons of Mississippi by Paul Hendrickson is a highly original study of race in Mississippi before and after the integration of Ole Miss University in 1962. The book focuses on a single photograph of seven county sheriffs from rural Mississippi who brought some of their forces in to Oxford to help prevent James Meredith from registering to attend college. One of the sheriffs brandishes a hickory "headache stick," or billy club while the others look on admiringly. 

This is a gripping book. The author visited Mississippi many times in the 1990s, attempting to find the surviving sheriffs, or their kin. He studied their pasts. He wanted to see what their children think of their fathers today. 

Sheriffs in Mississippi were more like tin horn dictators than anything. They were assisted in their efforts to preserve segregation by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state agency which monitored all black political activity with the goal of preventing any of it. Any blacks suspected of "agitating" in any way, which meant merely seeking equality in any arena, were to be reported to Sov-Com headquarters where they would be "dealt with." Sometimes, that meant state-supported murder. 

The two books on the South make me want to sneak down to Mississippi this fall or winter some time just to tour Civil War sites as well as some of the backwater areas. New Orleans is close by as well. 


So, the Twins are on a roll. They have won 11 out of 14 as well as their last six games.

Yesterday, they traded catching prospect Wilson Ramos for Washington's closer Matt Capps.

Capps pitched the ninth tonight. He throws in the mid-90s ad looks to have good stuff as well as the prototypical closer mentality. 

At first glance, I wasn't too enthused about the deal. Neither were the Twins bloggers such as Aaron Gleeman.  

As with all trades, only time will tell. Capps is only twenty-six. He is under the Twins' control for the rest season and the next. And he throws gas. 

Ramos, meanwhile, wasn't doing that well down at AAA ball. The blogger types spend a lot of time studying minor league players and they were upset that Ramos didn't bring more return in a trade. 


July 29th


 Here's one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs...and then another where he is joined by Waylon, whose voice is in great form on this recording.

July 27th


Today, I performed at a Senior Health Fair in Dilworth. It was a fun bunch and they had a great meal. 

Last year they had a Planned Parenthood booth at the Senior Health Fair, which I found pretty hilarious. This year, Planned Parenthood didn't come. However, I did find out that they were hoping to talk with grandparents who are raising grandkids, which I suspect is more common than ever. 

Spoke with a lot of people with roots in the Flom/Twin Valley/Lake Park area. Seems that that far south, they end up in the Dilworth/Moorhead area for the retirement care amenities on tap there. 

Spoke with one 92 year-old man from Flom who used to play for house parties in the 1930s. They would load up their instruments in a wagon pulled by horses and head out to the house party, which might last until six a.m.

Crazy kids. 


Twins explode

The Twins have spent the past two evenings dismantling the Kansas City Royals, which is exactly what they should do with the Royals. 

I haven't posted about the Twins lately as they have been playing beneath their capabilities. 

In the past few games, however, they have shown signs of waking up. 

The biggest development this season has been the emergence of Delmon Young. I never liked the guy, but he seems to have grown up this year and he is finally tearing the cover off the ball like they said he could. Right now, he is amazing. 

Last night, former Twin Matt Garza threw a no-hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays. When the Twins traded Garza to the Rays for Young, it didn't look good. Garza has done well and Young was mediocre for two years. However, with Young doing so well, you don't care how well Garza does: A top notch everyday player is worth more than most starting pitchers. It was, at least at this point, a good trade. 

Just a few minutes ago, the television showed Delmon Young with his arm around Wayne Hattaway, the Twins eccentric old equipment man. It is yet another sign that Young has grown up enough to quit pouting and start contributing, both to the offense and to the team morale. 

He is only twenty-four years old. 

The other two developments that have gotten lost as the Wimp Patrol (Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey) has hugged their way into mediocrity is the excellence of Pavano and Liriano. Both have been top notch. 

Valencia has been a pleasant surprise at third. He's doing so well they might not be able to remove him when Morneau gets healthy.

Mauer looks like he's ready to return to form.  

And an odd thing: How come the Twins have done so well over the past two years when Justin Morneau has been out with injuries? 

You say, well, the Twins have been beating up on two horrible teams, Baltimore and Kansas City. But that is what good teams do. Remember the times when the Twins turn last place teams into the 1927 Yankees? 

Enjoy it while it lasts. For next week the Twins start a very tough road trip.


July 25th


The ugly mood in this country is captured by Frank Rich. This article sums up my feelings this week. 

Rachel Maddow does a brilliant expose on the "black people are coming to get you" tripe peddled non-stop by Fox News. 

Vilsack's sacking of Sherrod was depraved. It shows the cowardice of the Obama administration in the face of Fox-incited thugs. 

UPDATE: Dionne weighs in with more good sense.

For some reason, I doubt anything will change. 

July 23rd


What a beautiful summer. The great weather continued today. 

Lance and I are hosting friends from New Jersey, originally from Fertile. Today, a couple of other friends showed up for wissits as well. 

Clarence, the publisher of Pirates on the Prairie stopped by with his wife Barb to drop of some copies of the newly released audio book. For $29.95, you can hear me read the book.

Needless to say, I can't stand to listen to a single sentence. 

Then a column reader and his wife from California arrived for a wissit. He had never been to the Upper Midwest before and she hadn't been home to her local town for 25 years. 

I put on the coffee and we had a good time wissiting.



Another bear tale

Bears are smart!

July 21st



Neighbor Vern waves while Aunt Olla's roomate Bernice looks on. On the upper left corner  is Aunt Olla. The occasion was a picnic held at neighbor Paul and Anitra's place for residents of the Fertile Hilton. A good time was had by all...

lillian.jpg least after we got insect spray on Lillian's ankles. Poor Lillian had bare ankles and the horse flies were biting and there she sat under her straw hat, jumping every now and then and mumbling "Uffda." After several uffdas, we figured out what was wrong and found some good spray. 

For some reason, Aunt Olla wasn't too thrilled that I showed up for the picnic. I think it was because I had a camera. She hates my camera.

"I suppose you're going to follow me on Sunday, too!" she said with disgust. It took me a while to figure out that Sunday is when they are going to the Redhawks game in Fargo, an event Olla cherishes more than any other on the annual calendar, I think. 

There's no way I am going to ruin that trip by going along.


Thelma, above, has always carried herself like a queen. 

July 20th

Winning friends

When I visit nursing homes, I try to greet all the people who come to hear me perform. They are at varying stages of awareness so I try to pick up on where they are at and join them there. 

At one of the homes at which I performed in the recent days, there was a woman who I thought displayed some symptoms of early Alzheimer's, so when her speech was slightly disjointed, I assumed we might be departing from reality fairly soon in the conversation. 

My suspicions were quickly confirmed when she looked up at me with a big, proud smile and said, "I am a puppy!"

I didn't miss a beat. I patted her on the back and said, "and you're a good little puppy, too!" 

Wrong move. 

"No, I am Mrs. Ralph Puppe!" she said, indignantly. "My husband died three years ago."

She forgave quickly and we had a great time.