June 04, 2005
The Twins have done horribly against the Yankees the past few years. They have also lost 20 out of 23 games to Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina. So it was pretty sweet last night to watch the Twins pound on Mussina and beat the $200 million Yankees.
The Yankees just lost three straight to the horrible Kansas City Royals. Ha! Good for the Royals. Any loss for the Yankees is a victory for goodness and truth.
The Twins keep getting injured and they keep coughing up new players who do well. The latest is their fourth second baseman of the season, Brent Abernathy. He homered last night, his first home run in three years at the big league level.
THIS WEATHER is a bit gloomy, but it actually is ideal planting weather. The plants are spared the stress of heat and sunshine as they get established in the ground. The Brazilians are proving to be good gardeners, and they move fast, so the beds are getting finished quickly--although we have at least a week of planting left.
Aunt Olla and her friend Sybil came up again during the week. It was pouring rain. And Olla, true to form, was carrying on about the perfect weather--how beautiful it is when it rains in June. How perfect it is for planting. How green everything is. I believe hers were the only positive comments on the weather I heard all week.
June 03, 2005
Every year it happens. After June 1, the dynamic of dealing with customers changes dramatically. The phone rings off the hook, but it tends to be people who put things off and blame others for their failings, to tell you the truth. Some of them just discovered that the tree they planted two years ago died. I ask how it did last year. "Just a minute. Honey? Honey? Did that tree have leaves last year?"
This is the time of year when if somebody calls with a tree problem, the first question you have to ask is "Where did you buy it?" Just as often as not, they didn't buy it here--but they figure we're the best ones to deal with the problem.
So far, I have kept this all in perspective and had fun with it. That's all you can do. But if somebody with a sense of entitlement comes in and wants a cash refund for a tree that they claim never grew and I get the impression they just need beer money, there's always the chance that my humor will give out.
This morning, an editor of a gardening magazine emailed with a large spread they are doing on the gardens. I read it through, and it was well-written, but a couple of the pictures, to my notion, showed flower beds which were an embarrassment. I asked if we couldn't substitute some more flattering pictures in their place, but alas, the magazine is about to go to press. No dice.
All yesterday afternoon, I tried to get away in my pickup and listen to the Twins. Santana, despite giving up two home runs, was amassing strikeouts like it was going out of style--fourteen all told--but I never did succeed. Had to be satisfied with checking on the internet every so often.
Last night about 7:30 I went out to the Swamp Castle and saw a scene I had been envisioning since the house idea was a dream: The sun came out from under the gray clouds and shone against the lime green leaves of the poplar across the swamp. The swamp itself was bathed in sunshine, even though the foliage was wet from the recent rain. Dark, ominous clouds were exiting the stage to the east. The reflected sunshing from the swamp came in the east windows and gave the big room a subdued glow. Frogs croaked loudly. Birds sang riotously. Perfect.
And all the siding is done, as of yesterday. From the outside, the house looks finished.
June 01, 2005
The summer yesterday was short-lived. Today the gloom returned. Sunshine has an effect on everybody it seems. I know it changes my mood!
Yesterday, with all the sun, was effortless. No fewer than two people in all seriousness asked if we guaranteed against deer damage--yet I resisted all smart aleck urges and said in a calm tone that we did not. So, a victory. I didn't have to spend the evening regretting a snappy answer.
Today, the planting of the gardens began in earnest. I would like to design some beds, but I will wait until I see how the others are getting along before intruding. I noticed last year that we had almost no marigolds in the gardens, and I like marigolds, so I might quietly lobby for a bed of them, or just plant one myself when everybody else runs out of creative and physical energy.
We had five machines down last weekend. Dad was at his wits end. One mac, one pickup, one van, one weedtrimmer and one golf cart were all broken. Today, we are nearly back to full strength. Turns out it was just fuses. That's always the best scenario. Fuses cost about a dollar or less, so that is also a victory.
The one remaining machine on the disabled list is the most popular one: The golf cart. We will get a new battery for that this afternoon. If it works, the struggle over control of the golf cart will begin. We get along without it when it is down, but when it is running, everybody considers it to be indispensible for whatever it is they are doing at the moment. It rarely sits idle.
Sales continue, but at a reduced pace. People are filling in their beds and tying up loose ends. That means that the yard can be full of cars and people but the income goes down. As Joe said, lots of sound and fury.
LAST NIGHT, Cassio made a fried egg and ham sandwich. He was pretty proud, and said, "By the time I leave here I will be a pretty good cooker." He had also run across the phrase "catch my drift" somewhere, so that required some explaining. Mom and Cassio discussed the pronounciation of the letter "i" yesterday, which is always pronounced "eee" in Portuguese (and Spanish). Mom thought that in English we never pronounce "i" as "eee," but then "pizza" came to mind.
So, any attempt to make rules seems to bring up the exceptions. That has to be frustrating for somebody trying to learn English.
May 31, 2005
The Swamp Castle
has a new look after the siding on the front was completed.
May 30, 2005
Festive Day at the Nursery
This young family enjoyed the home-made ice cream at the nursery today. Jen Sobin of Fertile, who has an ice cream shop on main street which just opened, brought out her portable freezer for the weekend. The ice cream is spectacular.
Mr. and Mrs. David Johnson of Ada have been nursery customers for over fifty years. They have a beautiful yard filled with spruce from the nursery. They still make an annual trip. They have cut down some on their gardening, but Mrs. Johnson, who has been in frail health for the past several years, lights up when she gets into the greenhouse, as you can see here.
Grandpa stayed in the car with the little one while Grandma hunted down plants. Brother Joe is in the background.
Because of the slow, cool, wet spring, we anticipated a busy Memorial Day weekend at the nursery. If it would have been warm, it might have been a blockbuster; as it was, business was solid, despite the constant rain and cold temperatures.
On Saturday, I made the annual graveyard run. People call us to have planters placed on the graves of their relatives. It is the same graves every year, and, with a few additions, it has been the same graves for the past twenty years or more. I instinctively know where to find them, so it is best if I go out and place the planters.
Little Norway cemetery is a real gem--filled with oak, on a hill, lovely setting. There are so many deer there, however, that whatever I plant will probably be destroyed. I have put things there only to have the relatives who ordered the flowers come to the fair in July, visit the graves, and find them in a lamentable condition. Then they wonder just what I did!
Today was a busy day. Late in the season, things get more difficult. I don't know whether I am getting tired of the public, or whether the late season people are a bit more ornery, but it just gets to be tough sledding. We are running out of the more popular items, so there is always that unpleasantness as you have to inform people that the plant they had their heart set on is no longer available.
Ninety-three-year-old Aunt Olla came today, chauffered by her eighty-year-old friend Sybil. They brought roast beef sandwiches, open-faced egg salad sandwiches, cole slaw and other goodies for us to eat. Very much appreciated. Sybil sat down at the piano and played for quite a while. I collected some plants for Olla, which Sybil will help her plant outside her apartment. Olla also wanted some lilac blooms with which to decorate graves, so I found one lilac which still had nice blooms and cut a few stalks--before my clipper broke.
And we went out to the house for a tour. The staircase is still temporary, and it isn't real easy to navigate, so I was a bit taken aback when I saw Olla, who had promised to stay put, crawling on all fours on the staircase. She had somehow made the jump from the platform over a 14-inch gap onto the staircase. I was thinking broken hip, but nothing happened.
I came home, flopped on the bed and fell sound asleep. I was supposed to go to a couple of graduations, but only made it to one which I knew would still be going on. I didn't feel much like socializing, but had some nice visits before leaving.
Hectic, hectic, but I have to keep my eye on the bottom line, which is good. Sales at the nursery are strong. In fact, about 70% of the year's business has been completed. In three weeks, the year will be nearly over. We still have traffic, but the buying stops. Business for the entire month of August doesn't equal one Saturday morning in May.
Consequently, although we still keep things nice and still hope to sell, our attentions will turn to next year in about two weeks. We have to look over the numbers--what sold, what didn't--and get our orders in for seed and plants. The earlier your order date, the more likely you will get what you want. For example, if we don't get the geranium order in soon, next spring we will probably be cancelled on many of the colors.
Twins lost today after two good wins. I didn't listen. I'd rather they lost 4-0 than 3-2. Somebody did a nice job of pitching, and that is to be lauded no matter who won.
Kyle Lohse appears to have turned it around, with the help of pitching coach Rick Anderson. That means the Twins have five very strong starting pitchers. Over the course of the season, starting pitching is what wins. The Twins look to be in excellent shape.
Thanks to the nap, I can't sleep tonight! Typical Sunday night. So, I am blabbing in the weblog.
In the "you can never tell" department, I wrote a column a couple of weeks ago about older people and their attitude towards work. I didn't hear much response at all, unlike the previous weeks' columns, which generated immediate comment, so I assumed it was a clunker--but then a lady came to the nursery and said that she had read that column to some nursing home residents and passed it around to her friends and it "resonated" with them. I guess resonate means the opposite of clunk, so it wasn't all bad. And then a man told me today he thought that was the best one I have written.
Some compliments you'd just as soon not hear--the ones of the "some of your columns are good" variety. Or, my favorite, "I usually don't think much of what you write, but that one was pretty good." Ha.