April 28, 2006
That is my all time favorite greeting from customers who walk through the door. The phone's ringing off the hook, yet they remain convinced that they are the only one who has called all day. Today I heard it for the first time this season and oh, how I had to resist the smart-aleck urge.
The other one is, "are you busy?" as I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Or, the old phone call routine where they wind up the call by debating with themselves when they will be coming out to the nursery. It could be this afternoon, unless Wilfred is in the field--then it might be tomorrow--wait, I have a doctor's appointment. I don't care when you come!
I want to say, but that wouldn't be diplomatic.
But, business is fun. I am done speaking for quite a while, and it is a relief to stay home and tend to business. I love selling things. We had a busy, busy morning selling trees and that warms my heart like nothing else.
April 27, 2006
A rare sight these days!
I love old trucks. This one is in Holt, MN, north of Thief River Falls.
Spent yesterday on the road. Spoke to a hospital volunteer lunch in Roseau, which was quite fun. Over one-hundred people. Then last evening I spoke to volunteers at a Lutheran Church in Crookston. Today at noon, another group of volunteers in Crookston. Must be the season to honor volunteers.
One benefit to all this speaking is the food. The Roseau bunch even packed up the left-over egg bake and sent it home with me, along with about a dozen muffins and some fresh fruit. Nice.
Roseau is a long drive from Fertile. I spent the time getting a speech ready for tonight at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation 20th Anniversary Celebration in Crookston. I am supposed to give the closing remarks, which are to be no longer than ten minutes. If I say everything I have thought of, it will be too long. So, I'll have to do some narrowing down, which I will attempt to accomplish during a long boring meeting I have this afternoon.
Thank goodness I was busy speaking so I didn't have to listen to the Twins lose to the Royals. Excruciating.
April 25, 2006
What a perfect spring day. Still and sunny. Seventy degrees or so. Difficult to stay inside.
We relish these days of spring because the mosquitoes aren't yet hatched. However, when I pulled up into my yard this afternoon, I stepped out into clouds of the insects. Millions. Conditions must be just right for them. It didn't seem that they were hungry, however.
Business at the nursery is putzing along at a good rate. Things don't really pop until May, but April business is important. The more trees we sell early, the better--since selling trees is labor intensive. You likely have to discuss each one. You have to write up a slip and then wrap the roots. With plants in the greenhouse, the customers gather them themselves and all you have to do is count them at the till.
Greenhouse production is still in full swing. The vegetables are just now being transplanted into six pacs. Yesterday, Donna seeded 40 trays of veggies and late annuals. So, despite the early season, we are still a long ways from planting flower beds and vegetable gardens.
ROYAL REPRIEVE: One can only hope that the Twins will take advantage of three games against the worst team in baseball, the Kansas City Royals. The hapless Royals recently suffered through an 11-game losing streak.
The Twins starting pitching, which was supposed to be their strength, has failed them. Their hitting hasn't been that strong either. Luis Castillo has been excellent at second base, but his shaky legs are going to require frequent rest. Rondell White, the new designated hitter, is going to eventually come around. He's hit a lot of balls hard, but he's had no luck. Mauer and Morneau haven't exactly set the world on fire with the bat, either. So far, they've just been solid--no more.
A NEW TWINS STADIUM seems inevitable. I am glad, although Hennepin County is getting stiffed on the deal. The only reason this bill is going to pass is because all of the tax burden is going to fall on one county. When you do that, you don't have as much trouble getting a majority of the representatives to sign on. After all, their
constituents won't pay a dime.
GAS PRICES are slated to rise to over three dollars in the next weeks. Because our customers drive an average of over 50 miles to come to the nursery, I wonder if I should worry. Nothing you can do, though. I tend to believe the study which claimed that gas must reach $5 before driving habits will change much.
When the politicians get involved with gas prices, as if they can or should do anything, I wince. You know they aren't worried about long-term policy--they simply want to get through the next week with some nice news stories.
April 24, 2006
Caught this ring-necked duck on the pond tonight. Digital photography makes such a difference. I snapped about a dozen pictures of this little black dot on the pond and then blew the pictures up until I could see what the bird looked like.
Last night, I spoke to the annual meeting of the Itasca area Audubon Society. I talked about birds. Lance and Leo came along and we were treated to a wonderful meal served by the staff at the South American part of the Concordia Language Village near Bemidji.
First course: A knock-em-dead pumpkin soup. Wow. Then, drunken chicken with veggies. Then a cactus salad, which was quite vivid and good. Finally a cashew cake. When he took the first bite of the cake, Leo proclaimed, "This is like Mom makes!" That is the first time he's said that since he arrived from Brazil, I can assure you.
In Brazil, they call the cake "bolo." Bolo also means to "stand somebody up." If you have a date who doesn't show, you have gotten a bolo.
The above picture was taken by Lance while I was speaking and highlights the nice room at the Village. The South American part featured a Spanish style square with a fountain in the center, just like you would find in any Mexican village or city.
The Language Village is situated in some of the most beautiful woods in Minnesota. Lakes. Birch. Pine. Spruce. And perfect quiet. Leo was also interested to see the soccer fields on the complex, the first he has seen since he arrived.
April 23, 2006
Things have been so busy, I don't know which end is up. Friday night, I had the honor of speaking to the graduates of the GED program in Thief River Falls. This picture captures the spirit of the occasion. Diana and Paul's foster daughter Angelique finished her diploma, and they are all thrilled.
This is the second GED graduation I have attended, and I have loved both of them. There is none of the stiff formality of a regular graduation. Total sense of celebration. Babies crying. Kids running around. Friends cheering out loud. And a set of graduates up front who have been through a lot. One two of the women were in their fifties. Many of the younger women had dropped out of high school to have children. The young men were delightful, too, including one named Tito who sat in the front row and smiled like a neon sign through the whole ceremony.
Getting your GED is no picnic. They do not slack off on these people--and in some cases, I think they probably have to come up to higher standards than the regular graduates. One thing is for sure--they do not graduate unless they pass the tests.
I gave a brief talk which was a summation of a column
I wrote to graduates two years ago. They had such a beautiful piano on hand that wasn't going to be played during the ceremony at all, so I did a little ragtime as well. Couldn't resist.