Archive - Aug 2010

August 21st

Swallows on a lonely morning


More gardens pictures


This mix of coleus and impatiens turned out spectacularly. 


The blooms on the smoke bush are even more striking when bejeweled in dew.


The main novelty bed this year is this spiral, designed by Joe and planted by John Thorn. The yellow is moneywort, the green is creeping sedum. This one has been a bear to weed as the weed roots are tangled with the roots of the desired plants. 



Ventured out into the gardens this morning in the fog. I haven't taken any gardens pictures yet this season, so it was fun to run around with my new pocket point-and-shoot Canon.



The fog made the leaves of this castor bean glisten. I couldn't get the frog to pull his leg in so he looked more put together. 


Out on the loading dock, the wooden lawn chairs looked a little eerie in the fog.


The spider adorned this flower with a web. 


The ornamental grass in the center screens some ageratum and phlox. 


The dewdrops really show off these mums.


The castor beans are already much taller than I am, as are most of the amaranthus. 



August 19th

You just never know

This evening, I was scheduled to perform at a picnic at the senior living campus in Bemidji. 

I left about four and on the way over decided to listen to Bach organ music. It has been a few months since I have delved into the Bach, so I enjoyed it. 

One of my fantasies is to learn a Bach piece well enough to perform it on a large, famous pipe organ. 

The daydream has more details: Ten years ago, I went on a Pipedreams tour with the show's velvet-voiced host, Michael Barone. We toured historic instruments in Mexico, and I got to play a huge, if poorly maintained, pipe organ at the national auditorium in Mexico City. I was out of practice and wasn't able to take proper advantage of the opportunity. 

Since that time I have gotten a church organ of my own and have been practicing. I dream of going on another Pipedreams tour with host Michael Barone, perhaps to Bach's old stomping ground in Germany, and doing it right. 

Michael, of course, would be there with his recorder and would put my amazing performance on his show as soon as he got home. 

When I arrived at the picnic in Bemidji I knew I wasn't going to have a pipe organ, but I was a little taken aback at the scene: Two huge tents filled with people in a parking lot with a little electronic keyboard sitting on the tarmac in vast space between. The wind was blowing. I hoped the speakers could make the keyboard loud enough to hear in the tents where the elderly people sat visiting with their families. 

The sound check was a little sobering. The guy who owned the sound system had spent two hours trying to get the speakers loud enough. He eventually had to leave without solving the problem. So we had to make do. 

I decided to go into denial and go through the line and eat chicken, which was very good. I sat down at a table near an elderly resident of the complex and her grandkids and was treated to a discussion typical of kids who don't understand the limitations of their grandparents' technical and youth culture expertise and go off on something poor grandma just doesn't understand.

As Grandma sat hunched in her wheelchair drooling watermelon juice, her ditzy great grand-daughter went on and on about how her stupid brother Aaron got busted at work for having a screensaver with bare boobs on it. I don't think Grandma understood the screensaver concept, much less the bare boobs. She just gazed at the girl lovingly, happy to have somebody visit. 

Thus amused, I went back out on the tarmac to visit the lonely keyboard. It seemed to work, but the microphone just sputtered. We plugged it in different ways and got it to screech, but it never would work well enough to use. 

I was stymied. Without a microphone, how would I project across the parking lot to two equidistant tents of people, half of whom can barely hear? 

Just as I was fretting about this, I saw a familiar figure walk by, a figure so out of context that I did a double take: It was Michael Barone, host of public radio's Pipedreams program, walking around in a t-shirt and jeans. 

It couldn't be, I thought, so I yelled, "Michael!" and he turned. I introduced myself and he remembered me from the Mexico trip. 

So, what's Michael Barone doing in the parking lot of an assisted living complex in Bemidji? Well, his partner had lost her mother three days before and they were having a viewing right at that moment in the community room in a building at the other end of the parking lot and Michael decided to get out for some fresh air and to see what the picnic festivities were all about. 

I said I was performing soon but that there was no sound and that I didn't know how it would go and Michael said it will go fine and people will love it. He said he was going to talk to his partner and tell her I was there. 

So: Instead of impressing Michael Barone with a Bach fugue in an historic church in Germany, my big moment arrived in windswept parking lot outside of an assisted living complex in Bemidji on a little electronic keyboard attached to speakers that didn't work with the renowned broadcaster in the midst of a wake. 

Story of my life. 

We finally got the people out of the tents and into chairs closer to the keyboard. The microphones were useless, so I sung my lungs out over the wind. I stopped singing early and used the loudest 19th century evangelist voice I could muster to tell my usual jokes. Enough of the people in the audience could hear so that I was pulled along. Although my voice was very raw by the end, it went fine. 

Michael didn't show up again, as far as I saw. Maybe he came while I was struggling through a George Jones tune and left so as not to embarrass me. 

Sometimes reality is stranger than a weird dream.

In the end, it went fine. But my throat is sore.



August 18th

McIntosh to Fargo

Performed for the women at the Christian Women's Club in McIntosh this morning. My role is to sing a couple of songs, give a feature on gardening and then skedaddle. 

Today after the CWC, I skedaddled from McIntosh down to Fargo where I met up with Kathy, the producer of A Little Garden on the Prairie. We are plotting the next move. Reruns of the show run four times per weekend on KCPM out of Sioux Falls, a channel which is carried on cable in most towns in the area, but we haven't gotten any sponsors that generate revenue. I think the show is a good idea and would like it to continue, but it has kind of hit a dead end right now until we find advertisers. In addition, it would help a lot if the satellite people picked up KCPM. That would give us more coverage. As it is, people in towns that have cable can get the show, but nobody can get it over a dish of any sort. 

As a non-TV person, I haven't even seen the show. I viewed the entire experience of filming 13 episodes as sort of a lark. But a lot of people watch the show. It would be nice to make another season of episodes, at least. 

So, that's that. 

My only TV is watching the Twins. 

I shouldn't blog about the Twins while they are still playing. Right now, the White Sox are threatening in the ninth inning. Man, the Twins can't be giving up runs in the ninth like this. Capps has given up one run, but the Twins still lead 7-6. This run the Twins are on is too good to be true. 

One minute later: The Twins win again!

Boy, this has been fun. Mauer had four hits tonight with a home run. 

What's all the noise about this Favre guy?  



August 17th


I don't know how long this clip will work, as Major League Baseball is pretty good about keeping copyrighted recordings of its games under wraps, but it shows the Thome game-winner last night from the Chicago perspective. Their usually vocal announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson simply walked out of the booth in disgust. 

Thome mashed that ball. 

UPDATE: As predicted, MLB had Youtube take down the video. Here is a permitted version. 



Wow. Forty-year-old Jim Thome just justified, again, the Twins' decision to sign him last winter. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has to be tearing his hair out. He and the Sox decided not to sign Thome because they didn't think they needed him. Now, he has come back to haunt the Sox with an tenth inning two-run home run that gives the Twins a 7-6 win. 

Always fun to beat A. J. and the Sox. But in this fashion? All the more fun. Thome rescued two relievers, Capps and Rauch, who failed and a starter, Scott Baker, who did poorly. 

Thome hit his massive home run--and it was a bomb--off of a hard throwing left-hander. There was no doubt about it. It was gone. 

I just about shut of the TV when the Twins fell behind in the top of the tenth inning. Man, am I glad I didn't. It was probably the finest moment of the Twins season so far. 

August 16th


This is about the only sensible article I can find on the silly mosque business. The country seems to be going loonier by the minute!

Here are some other enterprises that exist on the "hallowed ground" near the World Trade Center. 

August 15th

Lonely silo


I have always wanted to turn an abandoned silo into a home. This silo south of Crookston looks like a good candidate.

Twins roll

Wow, what a great weekend for the Twins. They won three great games against the A's. The best thing: The pitching was phenomenal. Winning 2-0, as they did last night, is pennant-winning baseball. Liriano's performance Friday evening was spectacular as well, the work of a well-developed pitcher. 

Also, they have been getting good clutch hitting, the sort that was lacking in May, June and July, when the Twins were sputtering along at .500. 

The injury to Morneau (concussion) is probably more serious than they are letting on. I suspect he might not be back this season. His symptoms have not yet disappeared and they are not going to let him do anything until he has no symptoms. Then, he has to get back into shape. 

Weird how the Twins play so well without Morneau. However, they are a better team with him in the order. Mauer gets more pitches to hit with Morneau behind him in the order. 

So, for the past six days, my schedule has revolved around the Twins games. No missing those!