Archive - May 2013

Date

Hilton

Went in to see Aunt Olla briefly at the Hilton today. It was good to see that she is completely free from pain after her back-pain episode of the past few weeks. She was in her chair napping. I brought her some smoothie made by sister Tracie. Aunt Olla has always been a health nut, so she loves the kale/banana/apple/maple syrup/almond/blueberry mix (that is an approximation of the contents) Tracie blends together and hands out liberally.

Aunt Olla had just had a nice visit with "the lady from the post office." It took me awhile to figure out that the woman was Angie, the person at the front desk who hands out the mail at the Hilton each day. 

Aunt Olla was completely upbeat, said she had no complaints--except for the nightly strokes, which continue uninterrupted. She remembers that we are in the busy season at the nursery, so she is always pleasantly surprised by visits. 

 

 

May 30th

Weird spring

The most common conversational comment at the nursery: "It has been a weird spring!"

So weird that I can't think of any to compare it to. It has been since the year 2000 that the apples and lilacs have bloomed this late. Our inventory at the nursery is still good, which, to me at least, isn't good! However, I have faith that it will start to disappear in the coming days. Business has been very good for the past three weeks; it is just that we missed April entirely and we have to make that deficit up in June. 

Brother Joe has done an ace job of managing the nursery this spring. I can't think of a single area in which the nursery hasn't improved since he took over as boss. It just highlights that it was time for me to get out. My contribution was marketing. I am not a horticulturist, so we were riding on our laurels in some areas as I promoted what we had but paid no attention to research and development. Joe came in and introduced a lot of new things. 

We have a very experienced and talented crew this year. Last year we were a little short in the early season, but this year several people came on board who have really added. With a seasonal business, it is always tough to find talented people willing to work only a small part of the year. This year, however, Joe has assembled a bunch I would happily use to start a year-round company. They are good. 

Joe's wife Kae contributes a lot with her humor and good cheer. She is relentlessly positive, something we glum Bergeson's need. Sister Tracie has been here for the entire season for the first time since she left high school, and her presence has a calming effect. Her massage business has been booming with repeat business as well, which is a good sign. 

I hear rain again on the roof. After last season, I don't think I will complain! We need moisture. I think the farmers are okay. Better wet than dry. And the swamp is full!

 

 

 

May 27th

Gatsby

Attended the new movie version of "The Great Gatsby" last week. 

The movie was visually luscious. Much of it was computer-generated, or at least gave that feel. However, once I gave in to the unreality, which I did about 45 minutes in, the movie was a treat. 

Unlike "Hyde Park on the Hudson," and "Lincoln," "Gatsby" made no serious attempt to be an authentic period piece. For instance, the movie was set in 1923, yet in one scene a camera appeared which Lance immediately recognized wasn't introduced until 1929. (You have to be a real camera nerd to recognize that.) 

Rapper Jay-Z provided part of the sound track. That was authentic only in that an equivalent party scene today would probably have Jay-Z's music pounding away. So, with the 1920s garb and costumes, the music of Jay-Z might have made the party scene seem more hip for today's young viewer. 

The mansions, the servants and the parties were so over-the-top as to be mythical. I suspect that was the intention. 

The visuals and the lighting were luscious to the point of surreal. In fact, they reminded me of the work of 1920s artist Maxfield Parrish. Lots of Grecian urns in the movie, lots of Grecian urns in Parrish's paintings. And loads of idealized scenes with golden lighting, like the soft but gold sunlight which bounces of a thunderhead to the east at sunset in July. 

The narrator of the movie, a Minnesotan named Nick Caraway, could be me. An industrious, naive sort, he could watch the antics of the super rich and super hip from the periphery with some envy, but could never be a part of them due to his practical sense and solid (read: boring) character. 

The classic scene was when an exhausted Caraway couldn't keep his mind on his stock selling job after spending a night as an auxiliary to one of Gatsby's adventures. You could hear him think: How could he have been so stupid as to waste his night merely observing the debauchery of others, only to flop at his job the next day? 

And yet, the allure of Gatsby was so strong. It was the allure of a charming, narcissistic, probably addictive personality (Gatsby) working on the insecurities of a sheltered but solid and sensible Midwesterner. Gatsby, too, was a Midwesterner, but he was of the Skitch Henderson type--a shameless and aggressive climber who covered up his small-town Midwestern past through lying, swindling and deceit. Nick Caraway, however, was just too decent to abandon his honorable roots. 

 

 

May 26th

Red and Yellow

tanager 1.jpg 

A beautiful scarlet tanager came to the feeder this morning. Below, try to find the warbler. The autofocus found the wrong yellow thing. 

warbler1.jpg

May 23rd

Good grief

Notice how this wonderful woman deals with the sick grief-mongering reporter in this video which is now making the rounds. "Oh, I know exactly what happened," the woman says as the reporter shamelessly angles for tears, or at least some self-pity. 

Then we have a story from Grand Forks where a high school student was killed in a motorcycle accident. The accident is news. This is not. Grief is not news. Interviewing the grieving and turning their grief into a news story is mawkish yellow journalism.

Voter Fraud is a Fraud

The Ohio Secretary of State ordered that any suspicious ballot out of the 5.6 million cast in Ohio be investigated. They found only 135 suspicious ballots, and those votes weren't organized in favor of one party or another. The entire notion that there is massive voter fraud is false. Republicans used the fear of fraud to introduce voter ID measures designed to decrease voting amongst minorities and the very old, as well as college students. It was a cynical, diabolical ploy to win elections by denying people they don't like the right to vote. These facts were known all along, but the Republican propaganda machine ginned up the voter ID issue to the extent that many of their more gullible followers still think voter fraud is an actual problem. 

Another point: Of the 135 suspicious ballots cast in Ohio and the 110 cast in the Franken/Coleman contest, another election where every ballot and registration was studied, not a single one of the wrongly cast ballots would have been prevented by the proposed voter ID measure. 

People who supported this measure were duped. There is no rational basis for voter ID laws beyond what we have now. And it is unconscionable to deliberately make it more difficult for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote. 

May 22nd

Business

With the nice weather, business has picked up again. What a spring! We have a lot of catching up to do, as do area gardeners.

Phone call of the year: 

"Yeah, my husband just picked up some apple trees at Home Depot. When is the best time to plant them, morning or evening?"

I responded that apple trees die if they aren't planted at 3 a.m.

Second question, same caller: 

"That plastic thing that is around the roots, does that need to come off?"

"You mean the pot?"

"Yeah!" 

Here I wasn't ready. I should have said that the pot should stay on, but I was honest and said it had to come off. 

Another one: A woman who has found two roses of the same variety, but one is one inch smaller than the other and she has decided that, even though both are clearly labelled $24.99 that the one which is an inch shorter should be given to her at a reduced price. 

"Okay, now, I found these two in different areas, are they a different price?"

No, I said, they are the same price.

"Well," she said, "this one is smaller, are they still the same price?" 

Yes, I said, they are still the same price.

"So," she went on, "even though this one is smaller, it is still the same price?"

"Yes," I said. 

"I was thinking it might be less." 

"You were thinking wrong," I said with visible irritation.

I had to walk away and let somebody else ring her up. My next statement was going to be, "What makes you think if you ask the same question four times that you are going to get a different answer?"

That would have led nowhere fast. 

Another favorite, already repeated several times this year: Two women come to the till with one overflowing cart. I start to count the plants. I start to ring on the till. Suddenly, they break away from their deep conversation to announce, "Oh! This is two orders." 

Then they have to sort out the orders from each other. Slowly. Debating all the while. Enjoying the interaction, for that is what it is about. This is not a business transaction, it is an interpersonal moment between two friends. I should remember that, but I don't. And I get a little irritated, as I have to void out the till and start over. Behind the two friends on an interpersonal gossip outing (which incidentally includes the purchase of plants) are several parties waiting to be helped. 

 

 

 

 

Pope

Never thought I would find much encouraging coming out of the Vatican, but here it is: A pope who is making good sense. 

May 20th

Good news

Finally, there will be a small increase in nursing home funding in Minnesota. Nursing home workers do some of the most difficult and important work in our towns. They deserve to be paid accordingly. This is only a small step, but it is a step. 

 

May 16th

Exploitation

Another appalling example of children being exploited for the delight of the masses. This genre is amongst the sickest public spectacles afloat today: In a full stadium, a child is surprised by the appearance of his or her father (haven't seen a mother yet) back from deployment. The video is replayed by millions. The poor kid's vulnerablity is on display for all to see, and people think it is tear jerking and cute--no worry about the exploitation of the kid. 

I put these sick displays right up there with piercing a toddler's ears in the utter unthinking use of a child to satisfy the emotional needs of adults.