Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

May 20, 2006


Sang this morning at the funeral for Donny, part of the Larson family with whom I have long been friends.

Donny was born with Down's Syndrome. As was traditional back in the 1940s, he was institutionalized for many years. Then he went back to live with his family. His sister Phyllis and brother Jim took him in over thirty years ago. He was an integral part of their very bustling household, which not only included a raft of kids, but on most days, every neighbor kid as well.

After the funeral, the church basement was so full of people they had to set up an extra table. Donny's nephew and my friend Al gave a very moving tribute to Donny.

I think it was a tribute to the care Donny received from his family as well as from the Fertile Hilton that he lived to age 73, far longer than most who are born with Downs.

Al briefly mentioned Donny's experience in an institution. They fed the residents beans every day and kept them in single rooms without contact with other residents. I'll bet we don't want to know how they were treated.

If there is one area where there is no such thing as the good old days, it is in the realm of care for the mentally handicapped. The thrust of Al's message was that Donny had to be out in society to perform his mission in life, which was to spread smiles, hugs and happiness to all he met.

May 19, 2006

Getting on the blog

A woman at the nursery asked me today, "How obnoxious do I have to be to get in the weblog?" Ha!

Well, she wasn't obnoxious at all...but another woman won the award. She arrived at the till when we were very busy with a box of a few items. She said, this is two orders. Okay, which are which?

I guess I was supposed to figure out that on my own. With a sigh, she separated four items in one pile and five in another. Then she said, we have 8 plants reserved. Are they ready?

I said, of course they are ready. I will check with my mother.

Mom was out back helping people and dropped everything to head way back to the set aside section and pick up the plants. I ran back to the till, which at this time, long after the crew had gone home, was lined up about four customers deep.

I got there and announced that Mom would be up with the reserved plants in a minute.

"Oh, we don't want them today," the woman said. "We are going to pick them up tomorrow. We just want these today, but we want to pay for the other ones right now and come and get them tomorrow."

Now, why you would leave a few plants here, pay for them, only to come and get them tomorrow is anybody's guess, but I ran back to the back greenhouse to tell Mom to forget it all, they were going to come tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the poor people waiting in line were shifting from leg to leg, holding their boxes, trying to be patient.

With apologies to the woman who wondered how obnoxious she had to be to get in the blog, this second woman wins the award.


Nothing better than fresh asparagus. However, there is an aftereffect to eating the vegetable which is not often discussed. Now, it is out in the open.

May 18, 2006

Sytendde Mai

The big Sytennde Mai (Norwegian Independence Day) celebration went off without a hitch yesterday. Here are Arne and Orville Gunderson accompanied by Sybil Hoffman. Boy did they make some good music! They played mostly old Norwegian tunes until the end when they did some other popular selections like "The Wabash Cannonball" and "Red Wing."

I read a history of Syttende Mai provided by neighbor Paul Ofstedal. I also held the mike while 91-year-old Melfred Roragen sang the Norwegian national anthem and some other tunes.

Aunt Olla was thrilled. Until Sybil dedicated the Beer Barrel Polka to her in honor of yesterday's incident at the Pizza Hut. Then you could tell Olla was petrified that I would relate the entire story, so I demurred. Don't want to push things too far, you know.

THE TWINS are finally revamping their starting rotation. Lohse is gone, replaced by a player with a great baseball name, if nothing else: Boof Bonser. Silva has been sent to the bullpen, and now, tomorrow night, we get to watch Francisco Liriano start a game. That should be fun. If he gets a foothold in the rotation, he'll be there for good and we'll all have a lot of fun watching him rack up strikeouts.

A galling game last night. A stellar performance by Santana was wasted due to lack of runs. Sad.

The Twins' problems run pretty deep, I am afraid. I just wish they'd bring back Tom Kelly. He'd get them to make sense on the bases and and while playing the field. Last night, the Twins had two runners picked off base. There is simply no excuse for that.

Also, the triple play the White Sox pulled on the Twins the other night was a product of a bad managerial decision as well as some stupid base-running. What an embarrassment.

May 16, 2006

Aunt Olla gets carded

I went to the Fertile Hilton today to make sure that the plans for the big Settende Mai bash were all finalized, but Aunt Olla had left for Flom. Her friend Sybil, who came up from Minneapolis to play piano for the celebration, picked Olla up and they went galavanting.

They spent two hours at the Flom cafe, visiting with the locals, before Olla decided that they should go to Moorhead to the Pizza Hut. So, off they went.

When they got to the Pizza Hut, Olla decided to order a beer with her pizza. The waitress asked her for ID. Olla was completely flabbergasted--since when does a 94-year-old nursing home resident get carded? Well, the waitress said, it is state law. So, Olla trotted out her 30-year-old driver's license. It worked, but Olla and Sybil got such a case of the giggles over the situation that the manager came over.

He explained that they had failed to card an undercover cop a couple of weeks before and had gotten a $200 fine. So, they were carding everybody who ordered a drink. The manager saw the humor of the situation and apologized for the over-zealous waitress.

Sybil and Olla came to the nursery on their way home to tell the stories of the day. We had a good visit, as it was about closing time. As usual, Olla said it was the "best day of her life" spending such a beautiful spring day on the road with Sybil. She and Sybil were all decked out in scarves and earrings and the like.

Sybil, for her part, is no spring chicken. I believe she is eighty-three. But she is on board to play piano tomorrow at the Hilton, after which time she will return to Minneapolis to get ready for a party she is giving for several priests the day after.

These octegenarians are wearing me out. I have a role to play at the celebration tomorrow, but I will wait until I show up to see just exactly what my duties will be.

May 15, 2006

Swans nesting

It looks like mama swan has decided to lay her eggs atop the muskrat house in the middle of the swamp outside my window. Last year, the eggs hatched elsewhere and the swan family of nine moved over to this swamp in mid-June. This year, it appears as if they are going to do the whole family thing on my swamp.

Animal instinct is such an amazing thing. You can't watch birds for long without being amazed by the strength of their instinct. How do they know to nest only on muskrat houses? How do they know to sit on their eggs? How do they know the eggs are coming? Do they do ultra-sounds to find out the gender of their signets?

Then mama and papa swan guard the little ones for several months, never leaving the ground in flight until mid-September when they take one practice flight with the entire brood before leaving for a warmer clime.