Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

May 20, 2005

Fringe benefits

After a long day, I drove to the apartment, got some things out of the back of the pickup, and found a bottle of brandy. I remembered: After I spoke to the Kiwanis in Detroit Lakes, a gentleman asked me to come out to look at his yard. I went. Before I left his house, he handed me a bottle of brandy he had made himself.

I opened it just now and, whoa! What stuff! I gave Cassio a sip, and he right away ran to his English/Portuguese dictionary and found a fruit named a "jaboticaba," and wondered if we had it here. I said, no. He thought the brandy tasted like it had been made from the jaboticaba fruit. I assured him that homemade brandy in Minnesota was unlikely to come from jaboticaba, although I think I should let the gentleman who made the brandy know, since "Jaboticaba" would make a nice name for any drink.

Today was one of those pregnantly humid days which usually ends in a violent storm. Sure enough, there are tornadoes down by Fargo.

I started the day with a Northwest Minnesota Foundation meeting, a three hour affair in McIntosh. It was the most difficult but productive meeting since I have been on the board. I learned a great deal, but I was exhausted afterwards--and I knew I had better get back to the nursery because I should never have left there in the first place.

The nursery was crazy all day, with the exception of about a half-an-hour in the afternoon. Business went right to close. If the weather is nice tomorrow, it might be the biggest day of the year.

THE TWINS won their third game in a row behind a great pitching performance by Carlos Silva. So, the worst three pitchers on the starting staff have won three games in a row. Not bad. I got to watch the final three innings tonight, kind of a treat.

May 19, 2005

Pretty day

What a beautiful day. The flowering trees are still in bloom. I heard the bees working today, so perhaps the apples will pollinate after all. The grass is that impossible early-June green. On an evening like tonight, the landscape has sort of an eternal, ethereal gold glow about it.

It was a good day today at the nursery. Nice people. All manageable. That after I ruined my day yesterday by getting mad at a customer who was persistently chiseling on the phone. I finally hung up on him. That was no good.

But oh, do chiselers set me off. There is nothing, I mean nothing, that we sell which anybody really needs. Therefore, if you don’t like the price, don’t buy it. I am not going to sit there and play bargaining games with the most miserable 5% of the customers while the other 95% pay the price on the marker. That’s not fair.

See, I am justifying hanging up on that customer yesterday when what I should have done was hold firm, wait for him to quit his whining, and bring the phone conversation to a pleasant close.

At least I didn’t go so far as Grandpa, who once chased a chiseling customer off the place with a pitchfork. That I would have paid to see!

I HAVEN’T BEEN able to enjoy the last two wins by the Twins. It is great that they won the next two games after Santana got beat up. It shows that their starting pitching has some good depth.

Last winter, the Twins were criticized for letting Cory Koskie go. I liked their decision, thinking he was brittle and tended to injure too easily.

Koskie got off to a hot start with Toronto, and his replacement Micheal Cuddyer struggled. But in the last week, things have changed. Cuddyer got hot, and the brittle Koskie broke his thumb last night and was put on the shelf.

I think some player are injury prone because they lack the instinct for preserving their limbs when push comes to shove. Koskie once was horribly injured on a slam bang slide into third base, a slide which was really quite foolish. Nobody wants to be accused of not playing all-out, but I think some players just know when not to push things.

May 18, 2005


Haven't had the time to give some pictoral updates of the Swamp Castle. Here is a view from the loft. The piano is below, covered in plastic. The catwalk and crow's nest is above.

Here is the view from the bedroom looking to the southeast.

Scrambled eggs

I got up early enough this morning to make some scrambled eggs, ham and pancakes for Cassio and myself. Cassio liked the scrambled eggs enough to ask how to make them himself. Now, he is frying some for his lunch. I asked if he wasn't going to get sick of eggs, and he assured me that wasn't going to be all he eats.

Cassio in the kitchen is a bit of an adventure. His mother back in Brazil clearly is a domestic goddess. The meals appeared like magic, and Cassio he said he had no idea how difficult it was to make them--until he was on his own at the last farm he worked--and ended up living on ramen noodles for a month.

Now, we've worked up to scrambled eggs. My recipe calls for seasoned salt, coarse ground pepper, a little milk, five eggs, and grated reggiano parmesan cheese.

So far so good in the kitchen. An improvement over last week when Cassio took a frozen piece of chicken and threw it in the frying pan on high and set off the smoke alarms.

Meanwhile, at work, Cassio and Danilo continue to put in 12 hour days as if it is routine. Cassio helped the mechanic fix the Mitey Mac yesterday, and the mechanic told Dad, "that guy's a keeper!"

I passed on the compliment to Cassio, and he smiled and said, "that is because I did nothing."

The other night, we had a long discussion on the words "on," "in," "to," and "at." When you go "to" Crookston, are you then "in" Crookston or "at" Crookston? Could you be "on" Crookston?

The night before, Cassio wanted to know the distinction between the words "mistake," "error," "wrong," and "miss."

I finally broke down and told Cassio that he was using the verb "minding" instead of "thinking," as in "I was minding about Brazil today." I thought it was so cute I didn't want to change it, but then again, he's here to learn English.

May 17, 2005

Rolling along

With the warmer weather, the nursery season is in full swing. Greenhouse plants are flying out the door. Our focus goes from producing and growing things to maintaining and merchandising. It is a constant battle, but we have a good crew doing the work so things stay pretty neat.

Today I drove to Detroit Lakes to speak to the Kiwanis about trees. It went fine. It was good to get away, only one week after I quit driving around. It seems that I get used to speaking and going on the road and, however much I think I am going to enjoy just staying at the nursery, it tires me out in a hurry.

I have a limited psychic energy for dealing with people, pleasant or not. It just takes energy to put on the smile and go through all of the greetings late in the day. Getting away helps my equanimity a lot. It gives me a little perspective.

I went through a furniture store today. It was utterly uninspiring. Nothing stood out. Nothing seemed to fit into the house. I am looking forward to buying furniture, but I'll have to find someplace that sells something interesting first.

I WAS LOOKING FORWARD to watching Johan Santana tonight, but he is getting beat up a little by the Toronto. The Twins are down 5-2, and Santana is still struggling. Well, that is going to happen. He's not going to be All-World every night, or every season.

May 16, 2005

Swans return

I was surprised this morning when I drove out to the house to see the swans floating right up close. Right next to them were two Canadian geese. They seemed to be at peace with each other. I do wish the swans would stick around and nest, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Last night was one of those nights when I couldn’t come up with a column so I decided to sleep on it and get up at 5 a.m. and write it. That worked. It always has, although that is cutting it a bit close. One newspaper likes to have the column by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

The weekend was busy despite the cold. I think the high was in the mid-40s on Saturday, yet we were reasonably busy. Yesterday was a little warmer and drier--so there were even more people. The Oof Da taco stand was set up in the driveway for the weekend.