Archive - 2014

June 4th

Aunt Olla, in campaign mode

olla campaign.jpg 

Aunt Olive protested at first at the prospect of posing with me for a picture on my campaign literature, but soon, thanks to Hilton staff, the hair was done and out came the nice clothes, and then the mugging for the camera...she loves it. And how many people have an 102-year-old great aunt to campaign with? 


June 3rd


Here is the first prognosis of our District 1-B Minnesota House race I have seen. It is a new feeling to see my name mentioned in a competitive way, as if I am starting tomorrow night for the Twins and the reporters are making their predictions. It does drive one on a bit!

Lamb's quarters


One of the great nutritious weeds is at its most tender right now: Lamb's quarters. I nibbled on some today. It is in recently-tilled soil. In Fertile, it is growing in the culvert planters on the main drag which are not yet planted. I stole a bunch and ate outside the Book and Bible Shoppe today. I am not sure of the eternal consequences, but it was delicious. 

I also went out looking for morel mushrooms in the woods today and came away with about five ticks and 142 mosquito bites. Wow, are they ravenous right now. 

No shrooms. And those who do find shrooms never let on where they find them. 

May 31st

Petal strewn path


With the wind and rain of the past 24 hours, the flowering crabs' annual show was shortened to only about two days. Always pretty, and always sad. The lilacs are opening. The few days of heat really sped things along--almost too fast! 


May 28th

Filing for office


I went to the courthouse in Crookston to file for office today. Alas, they wouldn't take my check. I had it made out to the Secretary of State, since that is who takes the filing and that didn't work. They didn't take credit cards, but they had an ATM. I don't know any of my PIN numbers. I haven't used an ATM since 2007 in China. So, I have to go back tomorrow. 

I then went to meet some fellow office seekers at RBJ's restaurant. Here is House Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), long-time area representative Bernie Lieder, and myself. Bernie is 91 years old. A combat veteran of World War II, he just completed an honor flight to Washington D.C. to see the World War II monument. 

Erin Murphy represents the Macalaster College area of St. Paul, a neighborhood about as far away from Northwestern Minnesota as you can possibly get. It was great to have her come up here. She said she'll be back to help knock doors later in the summer or fall. 

May 27th

First spring

New niece Champoo, only eight years old, having arrived from her native Thailand in drab March, is now thrilling to a Minnesota spring. The tropics essentially have one season, but here we have the extremes. And Champoo is viewing this northern latitude spring with an utterly innocent eye.

Last week, she said, "golf cart! golf cart!" to me, which means she wants to drive while I ride along. She is not allowed to drive alone. She took me out to a row of flowering crab seedlings, which were just coming into leaf. Some leaves were deep maroon, others bright green. "Beautiful!" Champoo said to me––a true observation about something which had long since ceased to amaze me. 

Now the blooms are coming on the plums and apples and Champoo is enjoying every one. Today she walked me up to the first flowering crab in the yard to open up. "Pretty!" she said, her face alive with the realization that this place she came to isn't so drab after all.

It isn't all a picnic. Yesterday, we were overwhelmed with business. We ran short of carry out boxes, which require folding. I was folding boxes, but was stacking them sloppily. Champoo was not impressed. "Not good! Eleeek! Not good!" she screamed. (Eleek is my name). Plus, each stack is supposed to have exactly 20 boxes, and I wasn't counting. Eventually, the language barrier was too much--I wasn't hearing her objections, so she just pummelled me with her fists. 


May 24th


And now for something completely different...a piano concerto (last two movements) by Soviet-era composer Aram Khatchaturian. He is one of my favorites. This is rich, unabashedly masculine music. Ignore the histrionic Italian conductor waving his arms. I don't know why they always have a conductor up front. Most orchestras could get along without. 

And here would be why many people get addicted to tango...

as well as a more highly-produced version of same.


May 23rd

Champoo's office


Champoo is adapting admirably to nursery life. Here she is taking a break from her ramblings with the cart that Ken made her. Notice the box of belongings, which includes about a dozen dolls and drawing materials.

Soon, however, it will be back to work. Champoo has already 1) run the till 2) prepared several planters of her own design, several of which have sold (She grabbed me to show the price tag stuck in one of her pots. "Not enough money!" she protested. It was priced $64.99.) and made hundreds of boxes. Yesterday, a customer brought back a small dead tree for a replacement. Champoo watched the scene, got an interpretation in Thai from her mom, announced that she did not believe the tree had "d-i-e" (Kae spells out "die" to distinguish it from a homonym in Thai, and now Champoo does the same) and went out back to plant the tree in a pot to prove her point. If it grows, I suspect she will confront the customer the next time she sees him. Yesterday, she found a wilted plant in the greenhouse, brought it up front with much fanfare and watered it in the lunchroom--I suspect to demonstrate to those present that a plant had been missed, which happens when it is in the 80s outside. 

Yesterday was the busiest weekday in the nursery's history. Champoo predicted a busy day the other day: "Today, many customer!"

She is a businesswoman, like her mother. And she is soaking up English like a sponge. 


May 22nd


Pardon the long break in blogging. As some of you might have suspected, the nursery broke loose as the weather improved and I have been doing little else. It has been two years at least since we had such a good stretch at just the right time. Last year, things never really got going. Sometime during the cool day Saturday, I wondered if they ever would get going again, at least to the point where our sinews were stretched trying to keep pace.

Well, this past Sunday, things broke. Monday was wet and rainy, so I didn't show, and neither did a few others--and the poor staff left behind was run to a frazzle. It hasn't let up yet. 

Meanwhile, I am working on fundraising letters and sending thank you notes to those who have sent donations. That is a pleasant task.

Frosting on the cake: The Twins have broken loose as well! I hate to say anything lest I jinx it (as if anybody has that power, but we flatter ourselves), but they are two games above .500 and have looked like a team that could pull it together. 

Aunt Olla is doing well. She takes a walk every day around the halls, which is a new thing. She is agitating for a perm. Healthy signs. 

She is troubled by her memory difficulties and her imagination. But she always sees the bright side. "For all the strokes I've had, I could be more nutty than I am!" she said two days ago. 

Olla has a vague idea I am running for office, but she can't keep track of my party. "I suppose you're a Republican?" she says as she wrinkles up her nose. No, I am a Democrat, I say. Ten minutes later, "...but I suppose you're a Republican." I should just write it down on a card. 

I am going into the nursery late today. My head is spinning from yesterday, which featured a lot of inexplicable customer behaviors that irritated me more than they should. Lightening the mood was a woman who called wondering the price on clamidia. She actually spelled it out.d We eventually figured it out that it was clematis she was looking for. ("Purple stuff that climbs.")

Uff da. 


May 14th

WDAZ piece

A good piece from WDAZ, filmed at the nursery this morning.