Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

May 13, 2006

Twins show life

Last night, Santana pitched with his usual panache. Tonight, The Twins survived a start by Radke, coming back from a 4-0 defecit to win 8-4. Francisco Liriano pitched well in relief of the ever-mediocre Radke, striking out 5 in a little less than three innings.

If this were a sane world, Liriano would be in the starting rotation and Radke would be golfing in Florida. But it is not a sane world, and Twins fans are going to be stuck watching Radke serve up gopher balls for the rest of this season until he mercifully retires.

New York newspapers are saying that the Yankees should trade for Torii Hunter. I agree. The Twins have a good centerfielder-in-waiting in the minor leagues named Denard Span. He's not much of a power hitter, but his fielding might equal Hunter's. And the Yankees are famously short-sighted, seemingly eager to give up their best young players in return for a marquee name.

For his part, Hunter seems to think his life as a star won't be fulfilled until he plays in New York. The Twins should grant him his wish.

I am punch drunk from a big day at the nursery--one of our biggest ever despite the cold temperatures. Tomorrow will be more of the same.

May 12, 2006

Learning idiom

Leo asked me last night, "what does 'pretty darn cute' mean?"

I tried to tell him, but then had to ask why he asked. Turns out some customers had told Dot at the till that the Brazilian out back was "pretty darn cute." Dot passed the compliment on to Leo, who really didn't know what to think of it.

A couple of nights ago, Leo came back from English class so I asked for a report. Who else is in the class? I asked. "I couple of old bags," he replied.

Whoa! I had to figure out where that came from. Turns out, the teacher had used the word "bag," which has twenty definitions in the dictionary, to illustrate how difficult English is with all these words with multiple meanings. He apparently picked up on the "old bag" definition, although I am not sure that he should use it very frequently around nursery customers given their average age.

SANTANA tonight against the White Sox. We'll see if he has his good stuff. When I watch Santana pitch after a day of eager anticipation, he usually doesn't do so hot. So I am trying not to think about it.

Last time Santana pitched, he had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. Baseball etiquette dictates that you cannot bring up the fact that a pitcher hasn't given up a hit or you will jinx him. Even announcers abide by the unwritten code.

So, in the top of the seventh inning, Detroit pitcher Todd Jones, who is kind of a card, started screaming at Santana, "You have a no-hitter going! You have a no hitter!" Sure enough, Santana gave up a hit on the next pitch.

Not happy to spoil the no-hitter, Jones kept yelling. "You still have a shutout! Hey Santana! You have a shutout going!"

Next pitch? Home run. End of shutout.

May 11, 2006

Busy with business

The geraniums are starting to fly out the door at the nursery. The real start of planting season usually doesn't come until Mother's Day, but a lot of people are trying to get ahold of particular items before they run out.

The nursery business is peculiar. We did 1/3 of our projected annual business from April 1 through today. If all goes well, the next 1/3 will come in the next 10 days. All but a tiny fraction of the final third will happen before July 1. Then, it is all but over for another year.

It is like farming, except for we don't sell petunias by the truckload.

Sitting here before Mother's Day weekend, it is difficult to relax, for I know that this weekend will test our stamina. We will lose control of neatness. It is inevitable. By Monday morning, the greenhouse will look like a tornado went through.

The ladies are done transplanting. From now through the end of the month they will be battling to keep the displays neat.

It all moves so fast. Employee Bertha worked Monday and then came back today and said the greenhouse stuff had really added a lot of size in three days. Last Sunday, I recall thinking some things were small. Today, some of those same things came through the till looking perfect.

My mother is in charge of timing it all by organizing seeding times and the times when shipments of started plants arrive. The weather influences things as well, but its ups and downs usually even out. In the end, the same sunshine that makes the plants grow brings the people out to buy them.

People are happy to see plants. I couldn't imagine a more salubrious business.

May 09, 2006


Spoke tonight at a teacher recognition banquet in Thief River Falls. It was a good group. I had a speech in mind for the past month, but altered it a bit when I got there--told some stories about Olla's teaching career as well as my Grandma's comments on the old one-room schoolhouse ("not a lot of education went on").

The highlight was a student from the local high school who played viola before the dinner. Of course, the tables were conversing loudly, as would be expected--meanwhile, this kid was sawing his way through the Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello and doing a brilliant job of it.

The Suites are some of the greatest music ever written. They really show the genius of Bach in a digestible form. The old man had to tone down his usual polyphonic excesses to allow for the limitations of a single instrument. In the process, he created a more digestible glimpse into his genius. At least that is how I see the Suites. Aside from that, they make for great listening.

The thought occurred: I should hire this guy to put on a concert at the Swamp Castle. The acoustics would be grand, I would think.

OTHERWISE, the day was one of those you wish would just end. About ten o'clock this morning, one of the guys accidentally locked a customer's keys in her car with it running while helping her load peat. That took about an hour-and-a-half to resolve. It was an innocent mistake, of course, so the first task was to make sure the employee wasn't too upset. Then it was to make sure the woman who had to stay an extra hour-and-a-half was not going to blow a gasket, and finally it was to figure out how to find somebody to fix the problem. Eventually, we called the sheriff and they were very happy to come fix it, thank goodness.

I spent part of the day annoyed at myself for taking a speaking engagement in mid-May. Next year, none. It puts pressure on the folks at home, mainly brother Joe and my parents, when I leave. I have to write this down so somebody reminds me next February when I am taking on every possible speech.

May 08, 2006

Busy season

After a crazy weekend, things stayed busy into Monday, which means we are going to be going crazy for the next four weeks. I fight irritibility and anxiety this time of year. Although I enjoy business immensely, a few little incidents can turn the enjoyment into peevishness.

The spring brings an overdose of human contact. Ninety-five percent of it is salubrious. However, it is the five percent which sticks in one's craw. For example, I caught myself spending time thinking about a man who was quite brusk and unpleasant this morning. What was his problem? What did I do?

Of course, I was not likely the source of his unhappiness. But when you get in the way of an unhappy person and you are a neurotic Norwegian, you tend to take the blame for the other person's unhappiness and start searching your past for what you did wrong to the guy. I searched in vain. Several times. What a waste of time.

I get restless when I suspect that I am being roped into a decision-making process that is deliberately drawn out so the person can revel in the attention. One woman declared "What should I do? I am a nervous wreck!" as she tried to decide between two different shrubs. That was my cue to leave. Just flip a coin and get it over with lady, I don't want to hear your hemming and hawing.

It has gotten so that when somebody asks in a whiney tone what color petunia I think would look the best in such and such a planter, I just laugh and walk away. I view such a question as a brazen ploy to draw me into their crazy world of indecision, and I refuse to fall for it. I get the feeling, however, that for some people, indecision is the very stuff of life. They revel in it!

A man arrived near closing recently. I could tell by his body language that his main mission was not to buy trees, but to find an audience for a long monologue about every tree in his yard, a monologue he had rehearsed all winter. Any attempt I made to force the issue, like, "I'll be inside if you need me--feel free to look around," seemed to enrage him. The product he wanted was an ear, not a tree.

When I left the cool room, he followed. Right behind. "I bought a plum tree three years ago, and man is that thing doing good. It's just growing like crazy!"

Well, that's great to hear, I reply.

"But now them cherries, they haven't done so well."

"Did they die?" I ask, hoping to give him a replacement so we can move this transaction along. Oh, no, they're just a little slow. They don't do anything. Don't know what's wrong.

Put some ammonium sulphate on them, is my stock reply. It gets no response, for he doesn't want an answer or a resolution to his problem--that would end the coversation. He wants to stand and hem and haw and talk. He visibly turns away and winces when I try to bring things to a conclusion, as if I am shooting spitballs at him or something.

I have found that people like this are not offended if you just walk away and disappear. They sort of expect it, I think. I know I haven't lost any customers by walking out mid-monologue. They just find somebody else.

Hooded merganser

Caught this cutie on the pond this morning. Boy, did he and his harem flee when I approached the shore for a photo.

May 07, 2006


This little girl struggled to the counter with her tomato, and then waited to be checked out with a perfect bored expression.

Business has been crazy. Yesterday was wild all day. Joe gave three seminars. The morning sun shines in through the high windows in the school house on some participants in the first seminar.