Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

June 15, 2006

Creativity in New York

This week, Lance was required to put some of his photography on exhibit in a gallery in New York City. Never satisfied to keep it simple, Lance concocted a display which included a reflecting pool he constructed in the gallery.

Well, just as the people started drifting in to view the art work, Lance's reflecting pool sprung a leek. The janitor brought him a mop and a bucket, and Lance thought the whole thing ended in disaster.

Until the first party drifted over to his work and asked innocently if the mop and the bucket were part of the art. Lance started to apologize but quickly realized that he had just as well go with it. Yes, he said, it is performance art.

He continue to solemnly mop throughout the duration of the show, and his display of photography, leaking pool, mop and bucket was the most popular of the bunch.

June 14, 2006

Old time Ladies Aid

Played, sang and spoke to an old time Ladies Aid gathering at Little Fork Lutheran Church about 10 miles west of Mayville, ND, out on the gravel roads. I was lucky to find the place. And when I finally got there, although I was still fifteen minutes early, everybody was already in their pew.

Little Fork is a struggling country church--somebody said they average 12 attendees per Sunday. They are trying to keep going, although the lady who introduced the program said, "We don't know how long we can keep on."

Here is Lyle of Ada, formerly a member and organist at Little Fork, dressed in traditional Norwegian garb. Lyle pointed out that his costume is not consistent. It contains pieces from three different regions of Norway. In addition, it is made of heavy wool, "designed for ten below," as he put it. It was more like eighty-eight above in the sanctuary.

This 93-year-old lady sang the table grace in Norwegian. She waved off the microphone, and when the pianist hit the first note she barked, "I can't sing it that high!" So, the pianist gave her a lower key and she sang it acappella. Note the woman in the lower left corner in her bonnet.

Outside in the graveyard were some of the biggest stones I have ever seen, all with the name "Enger" printed on them. The Engers must have been in some sort of contest. Here is the mother of all the Enger gravestones, reportedly the largest stone in the state. It required a team of ten horses to bring it from the rail station in 1910. It was carved on the east coast.

Another good New Yorker

Lance has been in New York for the past month studying art. It has taken some getting used to for him, living in Manhattan, but things seemed to be going fine--until last night. We were talking on the phone while Lance was taking a cab ride from his studio back to the living quarters. As he got out of the cab and it drove away, he realized his wallet was still on the back seat of the cab.

What a feeling. I did the same thing in Cambridge, England, and I never saw the wallet again. Fortunately, I didn't have credit cards and I still had my passport for identification. All I lost was an expired driver's license and about thirty pounds sterling.

However, Lance had credit cards, all his money, the key card to his room and his only ID in the wallet. I really thought it was going to be a thorny problem just getting him on the plane home.

Well, this morning, his credit card company called. The next passenger in the cab was a nice woman, a broker at Goldman Sachs, who called the credit card company. The card company told her where Lance was, and she hand-delivered the wallet to the door of his dormitory and chided him for his long hair--his driver's license picture shows him with a buzz cut. Now his hair is long, and she barely recognized him.

Relief! And once again, my faith in New Yorkers has been renewed.

I am flying out on Friday to spend a few days with Lance in New York and with friends in Jersey before flying home. I'd really like to take that woman out for dinner.

Santana vs. Schilling

Looked forward all day to last night's pitching match-up--only to realize I had a meeting last night of the Fertile Veteran's Memorial Committee. I watched some of the game after I got home, but shut it off and went to bed before Kubel hit his grand slam. So, I sort of whiffed. That would have been a great game to sit through from start to finish.

Santana and Schilling are two of the best pitchers in baseball. Such a duel reminds me of the late seventies when there were so many good starting pitchers and the teams would line up their best pitchers to go against each other. Ferguson Jenkins vs. Bert Blyleven. Jerry Koosman vs. Ron Guidry. Catfish Hunter vs. Nolan Ryan.

The difference is back then, pitchers were allowed to pitch longer. Blyleven pitched hundreds of complete games in his career, and as he is fond of saying, "I didn't blow up."

So, the fun kind of went out of the game for me when the managers pulled both Santana and Schilling after eight innings. It seems like that amounts to running up the white flag. Let 'em duel it out to the finish, I say, like a couple of heavyweight boxers.

After the game, Tony Batista was told that his days with the Twins are done. The Twins will likely have to eat his $2 million salary. But they needed to get rid of him sooner or later. Better sooner than later.

June 13, 2006

Kids and Lutheran women

Yesterday, I spoke to 40-some kids at the McIntosh Library as a part of their summer reading program. They ranged in age from a few months to eleven years old. It was a little tough figuring out what to say, so I played piano. The time went fast.

Last night, I was scheduled to entertain 450 Missouri Synod women at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. I got their early enough to have some food and check out the sound system, which was excellent.

However, I saw on the program that I was slated to be the "Keynote Speaker." I was going to do a lot music, but there was plenty of other music on the program. So, I ditched the music except for one song, and then did a monologue on Lutheran church basements and funerals and the like.

It went well. I concentrated upon keeping my delivery very slow, which worked very well. It is the slowest I have ever spoken in public. In fact, by pausing between parts of one of the stories, I think I milked it for about one third more laughs than usual.

Then today, another summer reading program, this one in Mahnomen. The kids were of one age group, which helped a lot. They asked a lot of questions about playing piano and about music, so I just continued down that vein.

I asked them what books they like to read. One little girl said she loves sad stories and scary stories. I asked her, why in the world would anybody like sad stories?

"Because my Dad is getting out of prison in 2014," she said sweetly.

Another smart kid came up to me afterwards and said, "Are you going to play Ode to Joy when we leave?"

The kids are a tougher audience than the perfectly behaved Lutheran women, but the kids also come up with more interesting comments.

June 11, 2006

Busy Sunday

Although we were technically closed at the nursery today, the yard was full of cars and I wasn't about to turn away business. What a beautiful, perfect day.

Yesterday, Dad and his sister Beth hosted a reunion for their Mt. Carmel Bible Camp buddies from fifty years ago at the nursery. About twenty five people showed up, including a couple of weblog readers. They seemed to have a good time reminiscing. They came out to the Swamp Castle for a hymn sing. I poked my head in long enough to hear Stephen Gabrielson play the piano. He can make it jump, and is especially adept at milking the most out of the great hymns. He is a professor of music at Augsburg College, but is originally from the old neighborhood back here.

Tucson birds

Weblog reader Elmer took this great shot of mourning doves outside the window of his apartment in Tucson.

Fire sale

As the Twins continue to flounder, speculation grows that they are going to start dumping their expensive players in exchange for young minor leaguers.

The sooner the better. The Twins put more money into scouting the minor leaguers of other teams than any other organization, and when they make a trade, it might look funny at the time, but in two years they usually look like the winners.

For example, last winter the Twins traded J. C. Romero to the Angels. At the time, everybody said they gave him away in exchange for a little-known shortstop deep in the minor leagues. Well, that shortstop is now tearing up things down in the minors.

And it was two years ago that the Twins somehow managed to get Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan from the Giants for A. J. Pierzynski. That was a steal.

So, here is what the Twins should do now:

--Release Rondell White. White is not doing the job and is 34-years old. He can try to recover his swing somewhere else. The Twins need his spot in the line-up to give their young hitters experience.

--Release Tony Batista. He is doing now what he has done best for his entire career: Making a lot of outs. He is 30-something. He will never, ever improve. Bite the bullet now.

--Trade Radke. He just doesn't have it, and he's going to retire this fall anyway. Why not let somebody who is going to be around in a few years take his turn in the rotation?

--Release or trade Kyle Lohse. He's a bad apple who might behave better somewhere else.

--Carlos Silva, although he is a likable type, is always going to be a pitcher who is one inch from disaster. This year he has been a complete disaster. Release him.

Out of the fire sale, one would hope the Twins could pick up some hidden gems.

Oh, and I forgot about Hunter. The guy isn't hitting when he needs to hit. If the Twins could get a good return, they should ship him out.