Archive - Aug 2010

August 12th

Dark and stormy night

From the looks of the radar, things are volatile around the entire region. It is pouring outside right now and there appears to be more on the way throughout the night.

I had a fun time today at Riverview Care nursing home in Crookston. After leaving late and getting tangled in detours around Crookston, I finally got to the home  and we had a very fun time.

A friend's father is in the memory care unit there, so I stopped by there. Tough to see him struggle for words when I could tell what he was trying to say. He greeted me by name right away, but struggled to find words until he would give up in disgust. 

Yesterday I went into the Hilton where they were taking residents to the golf course for a nine-hole tour on carts. I drove one of the carts and Aunt Olla was my passenger. It was a perfect afternoon for cruising the course. Aunt Olla thought the whole thing was over too quickly. 

She told a story that you all should hear, but I would get in trouble for repeating it. It involved her marrying a sixty-year old guy she met for his money and waiting for him to die. (She's ninety-eight.) 

Today in the audience at the nursing home in Crookston there were three people over 100 years old. Two returned to the memory care unit after the performance, but they seemed all right to me when we visited. 

Aunt Olla, according to some calculations, is now the oldest person in Fertile. She does not relish the title and when news to that effect appeared in the Fertile Journal, she was furious. With me. But I wasn't behind the publication of her age, so I got off the hook. I know who did it, but I am not going to tell Olla under any circumstance.


Old color photos

Last year, I posted old color pictures from the Depression era. My mother found more. Now here are some from Germany in 1906. 

August 11th

Klan takes note

Some crazy Klan website out of Florida found one of my recent columns and decided it was worth posting (scroll down a bit). 

Oh, and it is pretty tough to argue with this.

August 10th

Twins 12 White Sox 6

What a perfect way to end a stormy day: watching the Twins soundly beat the Sox in Chicago to retake first place for the first time since July 3. 

With the heat, humidity and eventual downpours, it really wasn't a day fit to do anything outside. So, the Twins game was welcome. 

Baseball is all about reversion to the mean: Joe Mauer was hitting .285 a while ago, well beneath his lifetime batting average of .326. Suddenly he went on one of his tears to raise his average exactly forty points in a couple of weeks. He is now batting .325, about what one would expect. 

Delmon Young, meanwhile, had a hot July in which he was the Player of the Month. Now he has cooled off and is looking more human. 

Jason Kubel has struggled to hit for average this season, but he has been a great clutch hitter, something he has done for much of his career. He is deadly with the bases loaded. 

Jim Thome is hitting home runs at a Ruthian rate. Too bad that nagging injuries, as well as the Twins' depth, limit his at bats. I can't imagine that DHing is that big a strain, but it must be, for Gardenhire babies Thome as much as he babies everybody else. 

Like all teams, this one has changed throughout the season as people come and go. Valencia has filled the hole at third base. Morneau is out indefinitely with his concussion, but Cuddyer has filled in ably. 

This is a fun team to watch. 

I do keep track of Johan Santana and the Mets. Santana's doing okay, but the Mets are disappointing. Ha ha ha. 

I pull for Tampa Bay when they aren't playing the Twins. Anybody but the Yankees. I am also pulling for the Texas Rangers to win the Western Division. Their manager Ron Washington was a long-time Twin and a good guy. 




August 8th

Our fest, WE fest

Yesterday was a big day. We had the open house at the nursery, which meant three performances in the peat building. Joe, who had a cold, also gave three hour-long garden tours. I don't know how he had any voice left. He feeds of these things while I had to go back and take a couple of naps in between. 

After that part of the day ended, Lance and I headed to WE Fest. Now, WE Fest would not normally be on our agenda, but we had free tickets. They came as a result of a phone call I received a month back from a man named Don who had just finished my book Pirates on the Prairie the night before. He had played against the Halstad bunch in 1952, so there was a connection. In addition, his parents were good customers of the nursery way back. I remembered them well, as Don's mother would play the old piano in the schoolhouse in the 1970s.

You know you've led a weird life when you meet a 75-year-old man and you don't really figure out who he is until he answers the question "So, whose boy are you?"

As we visited, Don said he worked for WE Fest and had since the beginning and wondered if I wanted tickets. He mentioned Kenny Chesney. Well, Kenny's lead guitarist and fiddle player is Nick Hoffman, who has Twin Valley roots. I met him through Aunt Olla a few times about fifteen years ago and have always wanted to see him play. 

Don fixed us up. We drove in the production entrance. He had set aside a small patch of grass about the size of my car within the shadow of the stage. He led the car on foot through the throngs of people to the spot. 

Then we went back stage. Back stage at WE fest is about the size of  a football field. 

We saw Gretchen Wilson walk by and then we eventually ended up shaking hands with Dierks Bentley, who I had never heard of. 

We didn't see Chesney back stage, but we saw his concert out front. We were seated in Don's seats which, we found out, were each priced at $1,000 for the festival. We were 10 rows from the stage. There were 45,000 people on hand. 

Before we took our seats, we wandered back in the big section where most of the people were. It was a drunk fest and I was surprised that the crowd was mostly twenty-something. It was a real circus. 

We then sat down to watch Chesney's show. Or, should I say, we found the spot where we stood. He is entertaining, but all the songs were in the same key, if I remember right! Here Joe and I go to great lengths to avoid two consecutive songs in the same key for fear that our audience of 100 in the peat building will get bored while four-time Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney didn't change keys all night!

The stage was huge, as was Chesney's entourage. Six guitar players, two drummers, two trumpets, a trombone, a sax, a dobro guitar player, a keyboardist and then a lot of support staff. Seldom was it possible to establish a connection between the person sawing away passionately on their instrument on stage and the sound that actually reached one's ear. But the effect electrified the crowd, of course, and they sang along to all the songs. 

The strangest part of the experience was turning around to see a sea of 45,000 faces lit by the stage lights. 

Security was so tight. We were stopped many, many times and asked for our credentials, which hung around our neck. Even when Don was leading us around, if either Lance or I fell more than three feet behind him we were immediately stopped. "We're with Don!" we'd say, and they'd let us through. 

It was quite an evening. I think it was well captured in today's Fargo Forum by John Lamb.




August 6th

Open house

Tomorrow is the annual open house at the nursery. The gardens are in spectacular shape. Joe and I have been practicing, this year aided by Dad on the string bass. It will be a fun day. La La homemade ice cream will be available, as will BBQ pork by Sandhill BBQ of Fertile. Free coffee and donuts. Music, garden tours and lots of people. 

Tours at 10, 1 and 3. Music at 11, 2 and 4. 

From the west, the regular roads are open. From the east, follow the detour signs of which there are plenty. 

August 5th



A soft spot for #41


Fitting in


August 3rd


I share this opinion. My biggest disappointment with President Obama has been his sluggish efforts to end the endless, surreal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that, as Herbert notes, have not demanded a national effort of shared sacrifice. The burden for the wars is borne by an unfortunate few while the rest of us go on blissfully, not even paying extra taxes. 

You say that a tax increase to pay for the wars, or a bond drive, or some effort at fiscal sanity wouldn't pass? Well then don't fight the war! 

The use of guardsmen for multiple tours of duty half-way around the world is just nuts. The argument that they are on a defensive mission is ridiculous. The Guard should be walking the dikes of the Red in the spring, at least until the Canadians mount an attack, at which time they can run up to Roseau and Pembina and stop them.