Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

August 04, 2006

Dog days

Even though the heat has subsided, these are still the dog days of summer. August is sort of the Sunday evening of months. Monday morning--school and a resumption of order--is imminent.

This fall I am going to be teaching history at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, so I will be on a school schedule. No matter what, I think the school schedule sticks with us throughout life. And August is sort of a nostalgic, last gasp of freedom. Summer is tired out, but one hates to leave it behind.

Allergies have been worse this year for many people, including myself. Sniffles and tickles. The drought is likely to blame. All things are ripening early, including the weeds.

I remember from past years of allergies not to expect too much of myself during allergy season, for I think it saps one's energy completely.

Had a meeting in town today at the cafe. While walking out, I spotted Aunt Olla and Aunt Ede having lunch. Ede took Olla to Ada for her new glasses. I told Olla that they looked quite dignified, to which she replied that she could use all the dignity she can muster since she so often has it stripped.

A generous weblog reader was kind enough to bring Olla some goat cheese from a recent trip to Norway. Well, that has made Olla's month. She strongly implied that now, with a good supply of goat cheese, she can die in peace. She has handed over the cheese to the staff at the Fertile Hilton, and they are making sure that she has a chunk of it on her breakfast plate each morning.

The staff at the Hilton keeps Olla so busy she doesn't know which end is up. Last week, they loaded some residents up and took them to a big house at the lake. The house was built for wheelchairs because the owner is disabled. The Hilton "inmates," as Olla calls herself and her fellow residents, were outfitted with straw hats and took a ride on the pontoon.

They keep pestering Olla to come to Bible Study, but it is at 10 in the morning and Olla just doesn't have time at that point in the day. No fewer than four people pestered her yesterday to come. I think it wears on Olla to have to defend her piety while honoring her own wish to skip Bible Study. Some people just don't understand how you could pass up a Bible Study in good conscience. At least that is what their tone of voice implies.

So, life at the Fertile Hilton continues at a frantic pace. So many activities. So many visitors.

Olla and Ede stopped by Olla's friend Florence's house. Poor Florence recently lost her dog Fufu, so she has been unable to sleep, and she was in rough shape. People are trying to find Florence another dog, but it will be tough. Florence is 91, and getting used to a new puppy will be a bit of a task. Fufu got up at 3 a.m. every morning to go out for a bladder break. Even though Fufu is gone, Florence still wakes up at 3 a.m. and when she realizes that Fufu is gone, she becomes despondent.

On the Minneapolis trip, we visited an apartment building--formerly the Oak Grove Hotel--in downtown Minneapolis which is "pet friendly." There was something of a smell in the hallways, and some barking sounds, and my usual incredulity at people in the city having dogs kicked in. What are they thinking?

But then, I remembered reading recently about how much lonelier people are these days, and I realized that dogs in apartments might be a symptom of peoples' inability to connect to other humans, and a possible antidote to loneliness.

In any case, one has to feel for Florence.

August 02, 2006


You just have to laugh. The three games Twins games for which I bought tickets were three of the least dramatic, most boring games of the year. With the outcome all but decided in the first two innings, there was little drama and a lot of opportunity to just sit and visit--and activity which wouldn't require $40 seats.

Last night, I heard on the radio that Liriano was being scratched from today's start. So, the main reason I went to see the Twins in the first place had disappeared. So, even though I had tickets for the game, I had bought them to see Liriano, not Boof Bonser.

I don't like to waste groceries. Throwing out food galls me. But purchasing tickets for entertainment is a waste in the first place, so not using them when it appears that attending an event has lost its allure is hardly a waste--any more of a waste than purchasing a ticket in the first place. So, Lance and I decided not to go. Instead, we had a very nice Vietnamese meal with his brother, some Italian gelato and Starbuck's coffee with my sister, and we headed north.

The decision to skip the game was, unfortunately, justified. The Twins lost 10-2. Bonser was atrocious.

After filling up the pickup with supplies in Detroit Lakes, we headed north on Highway 59. Seven miles north of DL, it became apparent that there was going to be a nice sunset off to the left. When we reached the top of a big hill, we pulled over and took pictures for about a half-an-hour. This one was my favorite.

As you can see, the grain dust is really hanging in the air. No wonder a lot of people, including myself have the sniffles. Makes for good sunsets, though.

August 01, 2006


Scientists have discovered that there are between 10 and 100 timesmore types of bacteria in the world's oceans than they previously thought.

I am always interested when it becomes clear either in space or on earth how much we do not know. For instance, it is probable, according to scientists in on such matters, that we have not yet identified one-tenth of the insects which inhabit the earth.

To people possessed by theological certainty, knowledge of the world around them may be interesting, but only peripherally so. Their interest in natural wonders is shallow and unconvincing. Nature is not particularly relevant to their lives or their philosophy. Natural phenomena merely provide additional evidence of the power of a Creator who they already have pretty well pinned down. "A God powerful enough to make the Alps can certainly help me find a parking space," seems to be a typical train of thought of many prominent pop preachers. To be fair, their followers are more interested in finding a parking space than viewing the Alps.

To me, the existence of all of these wonderful forms, living and dead, organic and inorganic, is the first philosophical fact. We are given eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to think, and we have appeared in the midst of all of this wonder to do our best. Who knows why we arose, who knows why or how life billows out everywhere on earth, and who knows to what end? It is wonderful, and is best viewed with innocent awe untainted by dogma. I find it spiritually arid to accept a formulaic answer to any question which we cannot research with our senses. The mystery and the ambiguity, and the process of accepting the mysterious and ambiguous, are simultaneously difficult and salubrious.

It is only within our perview to question and study and live out our existence as best we can, refusing to accept facile explanations which offer the appearance of certainty. Certainty is religion's ally, but spirituality's foe.

July 31, 2006

Be careful what you wish for... might get it. I wrote below that I was going down to watch Texas because their pitchers were so bad that I would likely see some offense from the Twins. Well, I didn't expect a complete blowout. But that's what we got. The Twins won 15-2. Hunter and Rabe hit three-run homers.

So, the Texas infielders had plenty of time to wipe their noses on their sleeves during pitching changes. (I do wish that the league would mandate that all players wear their socks like Kinsler, the second from the right. That's how baseball players are supposed to look.)

Carlos Silva chalked up a nice performance. I don't know if it is because Texas is in a horrible slump and can't hit, catch or pitch, or if Silva is getting back on track.

Mauer starts his sweet swing. Picture-taking was somewhat inhibited by the screen behind home plate.

Much of the time, this was the view. Somebody coming back with yet another beer while Mauer bats in the background.

Here is the Lutheran Brotherhood building in downtown Minneapolis. Some architect got creative with all the slants. I guess all the glass started coming out at some time and they had to replace it.

July 30, 2006

Storm update

The cloud pictured below did not strike the nursery. However, hail from the same cloud thrashed the gardens of weblog readers Chuck and Barb. Chuck sent along pictures of their yard. They lost trees, and their vegetables were shredded on the vine. They are huge gardeners, so this is sad for them.

It is a matter of time before the same thing happens to the gardens at the nursery. That would be quite sobering, too. I don't know what we'd do in that case. We don't count on income from the gardens, so we wouldn't appeal for disaster assistance, but it would be disappointing for groups who planned to come from miles away--not all of whom call ahead, since we encourage them to come whenever they wish--to arrive to shredded impatiens.

As it is, everything is in peak bloom. Odd that I don't post more pictures, I know, but I find it difficult to capture the gardens on film. Or in bytes. Whatever, taking pictures of the gardens isn't something I enjoy--because the pictures are inevitably less impressive than reality. I prefer to take pictures which exaggerate reality's charms.

Another hot one

Glad today was a Sunday. One-hundred degrees has almost the same effect on me as thirty below: I stay inside. Every time I stepped out the door, I was greeted by a wall of heat that was unbearable--so I ducked back inside and enjoyed the day.

When the Twins, who weren't on TV today, looked flat and Santana couldn't find the strike zone, I decided that I didn't want my Sunday clouded up by a loss to the Tigers--so I shut the radio off. You Twins fans have me to thank for the Twins' miraculous 8th inning rally which gave them the win. It would never have happened if I had kept listening.

Looked at the calendar and decided that if I am ever going to get down to a Twins game this year, it had better be now. In fact, if I ever am going to take a little summer vacation, it is going to have to be now. So, technology kicked in. I went online, got a hotel, got some good seats at the next three Twins games, and suddenly, within fifteen minutes, the trip was not only planned out, but it was already on the credit card.

The games are against Texas. They are a good hitting team, but free swinging. Liriano should slice them up on Wednesday afternoon. And their starting pitching is atrocious. I would prefer to watch the Twins play a team where Mauer, Morneau and the boys can do their thing than watch them struggle against the aces of the best team in baseball, the Tigers.

Of course, the games against the Tigers were great games. For the first time since 1992, the Twins drew over 120,000 for a three-game series. The fans were in good form. They even booed poor rookie Josh Rabe when he made his second throwing error of the game.

That's a little harsh. He's a rookie in about his fifth major league game. When Rabe came back to the dugout, he reportedly found it necessary to tell Gardenhire that he wasn't a "spaz." I am sure Gardenhire gave him a pat on the back.