May 25, 2005
The tile colors don't quite come true on the photo--the flash casts a bluish light on the whole affair--but perhaps you can get some sense why I really like it. With floor heat, it will be nice to feel the warm rock under my feet all winter. The tile in this picture hasn't been grouted or sealed yet, and you can see the muddy footprints.
Here is Harold, the farmer who found us Cassio and Danilo, with Cassio. Cassio is trying to get Harold to come to Brazil next winter. No word yet on if he has bought tickets.
And here is Danilo. Danilo worked for Harold as well before moving on to a farm in Wisconsin and then spending some time at the University of Minnesota in Crookston.
This famous house in Kragnes, sometimes known as the White House, is for sale. I see it is falling into disrepair. Somebody had fixed it up and was using it for weddings, but that isn't a big money-maker. I took a picture during the few minutes in the past few days when the sun was out yesterday evening.
The apartment owner took me at my word when I said I would be moving into my house July 1, and he rented it to somebody else. That gives that date some urgency. It isn't far away. So, with the gloomy weather yesterday, I went to Fargo to try to figure out the remaining big Swamp Castle issues: Lighting and furniture.
Sat down with a very helpful lady at the Lighthouse in Fargo. She came up with some good ideas. I probably should have chosen lighting before I had them put in the wiring--but at the same time, working with what you have actually makes things easier and forces you to be creative.
Then on to a couple of furniture stores. I finally found some stuff I like at the Furniture Outlet in Fargo. Decent prices, good looking stuff, no interest-no payments for one year. That's good too, as I am sick of writing big checks. Moving one big check to a year from now works for me.
Then on to Target for a microwave and a new coffee maker. Cassio took one look at the microwave when I got home with it and said, "Welcome to our home!" It will make subsisting on a diet of frozen dinners a lot easier.
The drive home was beautiful. The fields in the Red River Valley are at their most beautiful. The grain fields are perfect green, the tilled fields are dark black. There were even a few alfalfa fields at about six inches of height--nothing prettier.
The drive went fast because there was a good Twins game on the radio. The Twins beat the Indians in 11 innings on Justin Morneau's bases-clearing double.
The coffee-maker is a Black and Decker. I bought it because it cost twenty-something dollars, not $99 like the Bunn's. It has a timer which gets it started in the morning. I actually read the directions, and sure enough, when I got up this morning there was coffee waiting for me.
It tastes awful. I think Black and Decker should stick to making electric drills. The coffee tastes like it was forced through a grease gun or something. Bitter and bland at the same time. I can't get the Black and Decker name out of my head. It is inappropriate for coffee.
So, I need to change my attitude towards household goods now that I am going to have a nice house. I have always skimped. I buy good things for the nursery, but when it comes to buying a coffee maker--then I skimp. It doesn't pay. You gotta have good coffee.
May 24, 2005
I love these cloudy, cool mornings in late spring. The relatively dreary weather also slowed things a bit here at the nursery after a hectic weekend which extended through Monday due to the nice weather. It was non-stop until eight last night.
So, some of us are taking much needed breathers.
The tile guy arrived. I have to say that the laying of the tile has been the event I have waited for most eagerly in the house construction process. It is such beautiful--and strange--tile. And it is looking as good as I had expected.
To clear the way for the tile guy, Dean and Jeff moved outside and are working on finishing up the siding. Their father, Tom Kronschnabel, has been sealing up boards for the past couple of weeks as well. It's good to have him out.
Back at the greenhouse, the transition from "it's still too early to plant" to "boy, things are sure picked over" is starting to happen. It usually takes all of one day to move from one to the other. The "picked over" comments subside as soon as we fill in the empty spots after the weekend. However, with business sustaining itself throughout the week, it is tough to get completely caught up.
May 22, 2005
Another big day at the nursery. It tuckered me out. I squeezed out a column and now am going to try to wind down to sleep.
However, I’ll have to wait for whomever it is who mows the lawn here at the apartments to get done weed-trimming. I think it is a little odd to weed-trim after 10 p.m. I suppose you do it when you can. But couldn’t they go out and weed-trim at the cemetery? Nobody there would be bothered.
Speaking of cemeteries, this is the weekend we make the cemetery run. I usually do it. The trick is to find all of the graves. We decorate ten per year, perhaps a few more. Relatives from afar call in orders for planters, and we deliver to the graves, usually Sunday morning.
Usually, last year’s planter is still sitting there, dead as a door-nail.
Some of the orders are more romantic than realistic--Mom loved peonies, could you plant a blooming peony? Well, that would be a trick, finding a blooming peony in the greenhouse to plop in. You plant peonies by the root in most cases--the ones in a pot look pretty pitiful, certainly nothing like Relative-Calling-From-Omaha would expect.
Oh, now a second weed-trimmer has joined the midnight chorus. It is as sputtery and poorly tuned as the first. How they can trim in the pitch dark is beyond me. I am almost tempted to go out and watch.
I just remembered that I have clothes in the dryer, so I’ll have to stay up for a bit anyway. No use getting annoyed at the weed trimmers. I wouldn’t be sleeping anyway.
Now both weed trimmers shut down. They must be having a cigarette or something.
The Twins won today. Santana struck out 11 but the relievers let the Brewers tie the game. The Twins won on an error in the 11th inning.
I just realized that I put the clothes in the dryer and forgot to turn it on. Lost a half-an-hour there. Can't just let the clothes sit after the drier is done--somebody might want to wash and dry at 3 a.m.
The weed-trimmers have remained off for longer than the time it takes to smoke an average cigarette. Perhaps they are done for the evening.
The wind has been roaring all night and shows no sign of letting up this morning. More normal stuff for spring: Rain, wind, damp. Every spring in Minnesota seems to proceed in fits and starts rather than progressing neatly towards summer. It really is an agonizing process, starting as it does in March and going on until the end of May, a full three months of hoping for something better.
Yesterday started slowly at the nursery. Dark Saturday mornings tend to. Then about 11 o'clock the dam broke and we were busy until one hour after closing. It wasn't the biggest day of the year, but it was quite close. I spent a lot of time at the till, which can be fun. People were patient and pleasant, really in a pretty good mood. There are starting to be some big holes in the surplus greenhouses out back, which is a good sign.
This is the first year I really haven't had to spend a lot of time in the cold room selling trees and shrubs. On weekends, we have four or five well-trained guys in there, which makes quite a difference. That means I can float around the till a little bit, or go into my office and do bookwork and be available if there is a crisis anywhere. And answer the phone. If one person is behind the scenes answering the phone, things go a lot more smoothly out front.
I have enjoyed meeting many of you at the nursery. Thanks for pointing out that you read the weblog. Putting a face on the numbers is a lot of fun.
A lot of people are saying that I had better have an open house at the Swamp Castle because people will be curious to see it. I have created this demand by telling about the house-building process in my column. Reader response to the house building columns is always good--but now everybody wants to see it. And the worst of it is, I really would love to show it. It all points towards turning the place into a restaurant/dinner theater/small concert venue and building another house someplace else.
I am trying to think of a way to tie an open house at the house to some sort of charitable cause--my favorite being a fund which buys paint for old church buildings in NW Minnesota. I am not sure how to do this, but if it could be worked out I think it could be fun.