July 23, 2005
Dad's fountain in the gardens is running, and the flowers are starting to show on the shores. The fountain can be turned up high or left low, as it is here. It is windy today, and the water would just blow out.
Here is Raciel, a Brazilian student who is working on a dairy farm in Plummer. He came down for a visit last Sunday to attend Danilo's going away party. At that time, Cassio and I mentioned that we were thinking of taking a trip west. Since Raciel is leaving at the same time and on the same flight as Cassio, it made sense for him to go along.
Here, Raciel takes over drumming duties during Joe's jam session last Sunday at the nursery.
Here is Danilo minutes before leaving the nursery for the last time. Cory is on the left, Ryan and Jordan are on the right. The motorcycle is Jordan's. He flipped it coming to work a few days ago and was lucky to escape with just a skinned knee.
Finally, here is Cassio putting together Ikea furniture in my garage. It was raining this morning, so he decided indoor work would be better. Plus, Cassio loves the challenge of putting things together. I said, "good luck" when I left him with the pieces of wood and bolts, meaning--you're going to have a tough time. When I got back, he said he had a tough time at first, but because I had given him luck, he succeeded.
Oh, last night Cassio quizzed me about the difference between night and nite, light and lite, and he cited other examples of people saving letters by abbreviating words, however improperly. He said once I had written on a note "bhind" instead of "behind," and he thought that was a little lazy, not wanting to write a single "e." I don't recall this, and attribute it to bad handwriting.
July 22, 2005
I bit the bullet and bought what I needed down at Ikea. The boxes filled Mom and Dad's van--Mom happened to be down in the Cities visiting her sisters--and my Ranger. Almost all of the items require some assembly. Cassio seems eager to take on the project. I know it will likely frustrate me completely.
But what a drain it is to go into the Cities. Everywhere
I drove, traffic was stop and go. Just to get anywhere at all meant taking 1/2 hour at least. It took me a full hour to get from Eden Prairie to St. Paul last night. I get stressed out in the traffic.
I was even more relieved to get back to the quiet of home this time than last.
Ikea, for those of you who aren't familiar, is a Swedish store. They feature sleek, efficient designs and a lot of unfinished wood. Much of it is amazingly inexpensive.
You pick out the items you want on an enormous showroom floor, and then you go pick them off the shelf in boxes in a sort of Sam's Club type warehouse. I bought a couch which required help--for the rest, I was on my own. I filled three of those big flat carts.
I was at the store five hours. At noon, Mom, my sister, Lucas, the 3 1/2 year old my sister babysits for, and my Aunt Marion joined me for Swedish meatballs. You get 10 meatballs for $3.99. I got 15, plus new potatoes, veggies and a beverage for $5.99.
That was yesterday. I hadn't finished my list, so I returned this morning and got some more. Lamps. Hand towels for 79 cents each. And a sheepskin for $19.99 I couldn't resist. I bought new dishes too--plates are about two dollars each. I have always resisted buying new dishes but now feel I had better since I have a new place. The old chipped college dishes are starting to look a little motley.
After stopping to visit a friend, I drove back north. Traffic was again difficult until St. Cloud. In fact, it was quite busy all the way--including along Highway 59 north of Detroit Lakes. Lots of lake action going on. This has been a good summer for the lake people.
This is my first blog entry on my new laptop. The next step is to transfer the 3000 pictures and all sorts of other stuff from the old laptop to the new one without the benefit of a working screen on the old one. Lance says it is easy. I am going to make him prove it.
CASSIO is getting pretty excited for our trip west. He has no idea what is out there and is asking me questions, so I used Cousin Anne's weblog
to give him a tour, since she has been photographing most of the highlights. In the time we were looking at her site, she added some pictures and then sent me an email wondering if we wanted to stop by. That sounds like a winner!
July 21, 2005
Spent the day fighting traffic--it is truly onerous down here, stop and go on every freeway I tried today--and shopping at Ikea. Tonight, the Bailey Nurseries 100th anniversary dinner. I also bought a new computer to replace the one which went caput last week. So, got a little time in at the Mall of America on the way to and from the Apple store.
Now, am back at this bizarre hotel that I got on Priceline--the Marriot Residence Inn, where all the rooms are like condos. I have a huge fridge, dishwasher, bathroom, couch, bedroom, good grief.
But the coffee maker didn't work. I'd trade the dishwasher for a working coffeemaker, that's for sure.
July 20, 2005
Cassio told us about the sucuri, the largest snake in Brazil. He said that they can kill and eat a bull. We assumed he was full of bull, so Cassio challenged me to go on the internet and see for myself, which I did. If you have a stomach for pictures of large snakes killing large prey, you can click here.
Otherwise, skip it.
is running for mayor of Fargo in 2006. This is good news. On a small scale, it is like Ike running for president in 1952. Walaker was a hero of the flood of 1997. As head of city services, he was up all hours monitoring the flood and giving his droll comments to the news media. There was even a story about his folk hero status on the national news.
Of course, politics is a different matter than fighting a flood. But Walaker's unflappable presence, his six-and-a-half foot stature and his deep reassuring voice will stand him in good stead.
I am biased. Walaker is a customer of the nursery and is a fellow fan of Ford Rangers. When he visits the nursery, Ford Rangers are the topic of discussion. Last summer, he came with a new one and told me to rush down to Fargo and get one because they are having a good sale--I went to Fargo, but didn't pull the trigger. I like the one I have too much.
A few years ago, the annual theme at the gift shop at the nursery was Christmas. Dot ordered up a bunch of stuffed Santas. Now, the gift shop business is typically a female domain. From my office, I can hear them say "oh for cute!" and pretty soon you hear the cash register ringing.
But in August of that year, Dennis Walaker showed up and started pulling Santas off the shelf like there was no tomorrow. I think he collects them.
Was going to leave early this morning and catch a Twins game--but it is at 12:15, instead of the usual 7:05 start, and it would involve paying good money to watch Brad Radke pitch, so I decided not to.
July 19, 2005
Carpet layers are usually a motley crew, and this one was no exception. Old van. A couple of underage helpers. A carpet layer who was slightly unhinged.
But they got the job done, and now things are starting to look homey.
STRESSFUL day. I knew I had to call and cancel the talk I was giving in order to take the two week trip to California in early September, and that didn't go over very well. They have six weeks to find a replacement, but the person who asked me is a dear and I hated to disappoint her. I promised to come some other time, but of course this puts her in a bind.
I shouldn't accept speaking engagements any time but spring. That is when speaking is my job and I do little else. When the offseason hits, so do the travel whims, and I like to be free to go.
Lesson learned, the hard way, as usual.
Mom and Dad's construction project up in the yard was going strong today. The electricians had to bury the line to the house to get rid of the overhead line which was in the way for the upper story above the new garage. That involved all kinds of chaos--three electricians, two carpenters, plus the guys from the power company.
Lucky the electricians were on hand because the carpet guy had a little trouble with my gold-plated floor outlets. I shuttled back and forth from my house up to Mom and Dad's, hoping to get the issue resolved without the two parties meeting each other.
It worked out in the end. Now, I have to arrange the furniture to cover my floor outlets. Or, perhaps I should feature them as a part of my decorating.
With the carpet down, the acoustics have improved. In fact, the piano went from unbearably loud to darn near perfect. I just played for a while, and boy is it going to be fun to play in here.
Thunder to the west tonight. Big east wind right now. The moon is nearly full. It is the sort of evening that starts a bad novel.
Tomorrow, I go to Minneapolis. I am going to attend the 100th anniversary dinner of Bailey Nursery. We purchase a lot of our trees from them. My grandfather was good friends with the Baileys, who run one of the finest operations you'll ever find in any business.
Unfortunately, they had a big fire a week ago which leveled several buildings, including the first cold storage building for bare root trees ever built in the world. They were going to use the building for the 100th anniversary--but those plans have no doubt changed.
I only know about the fire from reading the report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It won't set Bailey's back--they are just too huge and too well-established, but I am sure a fire, especially one which takes one of the original buildings, shakes things up for everybody there.
I will use the trip as an excuse to go to Ikea and stock up on furniture. Things look a little bare here.
Got up early this morning, poured up some coffee and headed to the crow's nest. I always have the intention of either reading or writing, but there's usually so much going on out on the swamp that I never get around to it.
Yesterday, a giant blue heron spent much of the day on the swamp. I got a good view of it. It has plumage which waves in the wind, long stringy feathers that hang down in a mop-like fashion. I found it when I was scanning the swamp with the binoculars. I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise, as it sat so still and was so well camoflauged.
This morning, lots of little birds flitting around on the branches of the trees near the house. I am going to have to learn their names so I can talk about them here; for now it will have to suffice that most of them had some sort of yellow in their feathers.
The swans took their usual slow tour of the swamp yesterday. There are more ducks than ever, gobbling their way along. No sign of the otters. They probably were just passing through. Nice that they stopped.
ALL THE FURNITURE is stacked up off to the side; the carpet will be laid today. That will change things yet again. Last night, I made the first meal in the new house to celebrate the installation of the stove. Man, am I sick of frozen meals. It has been two months since I have cooked, and longer since I have cooked regularly. The bad diet has added some to my girth. I hope I can wear it off.
Today is Danilo's last day of work. He is then visiting some friends before taking off back to Brazil out of Minneapolis.
Cassio stays another six weeks. He has to be in San Francisco to fly back to Brazil on Sept. 11, of all days. I am planning a trip to take he and Raciel, a third Brazilian who is working in Plummer, MN, out to the airport, showing them some of the western United States on the way. They have been so busy working that they haven't seen much.
Then I looked at the calendar and there is a speaking engagement smack dab in the middle of the proposed trip. I have made up my mind to cancel--it is still six weeks off--but I have to work up the courage to make the call. I don't like to disappoint. Yet, it seems silly to nix a two week trip for a single speech.
July 18, 2005
Lectures from the subconscious
My subconscious is telling me my house is too big. For the past several nights, my dreams have concerned enormous mansions--I mean the size of an airport--that I have started but can't afford to finish. Yet, I plow forward, ordering acres of carpet.
Last night, I decided to decorate the gym-sized living room with vintage cars and pinball machines. Cost was no object as long as I had room on my credit card.
In the middle of this all, somebody got hurt and I had to try to dial 911. Just when I thought I got the numbers right, the hardware store would answer.
WRITING THE ABOVE reminded me to call 911 in real life to make sure they have my new address right. I called. It rang twice and I was cut off. Not so different from the dream. I called the sheriff's office, and they directed me to the phone company, and they had the wrong address. So that's straightened out and perhaps now I will quit having dreams about calling 911.