Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

August 12, 2006

Open House

Today was the open house at the gardens. I am exhausted. Nice to meet some of you weblog readers!

Aunt Olla spent several hours out at the nursery on leave from the Fertile Hilton. She has no trouble finding people with whom to chat. Below, she talks with nursery employee Lyla.

Lyla catches me taking photos, and expresses her chagrin.

Aunt Olla, who is even more opposed to photos than Lyla, shakes her cane at me in a threatening manner.

Realizing that I am going to just keep taking pictures until they both get used to the fact, Olla and Lyla consent to pose.

The story behind the photos: Seventy-five years ago, Olla was Lyla's school teacher in a one-room schoolhouse about five miles from the nursery. Lyla went on to become a teacher herself in the one-room school.

For how many more years are we going to be able to talk to former teachers in one-room schools?

THE DAY went well. Joe and I performed three times. By the third time, my voice was gone. But we did some new songs, which went well, and we did more songs than usual combining the piano and the guitar. It is fun to get the hang of that. When you have two instruments going you aren't quite as out there on a limb.

No idea how many people came through, but we finished off 50 dozen donuts without trouble.

Friends Jim and Phyllis brought me a copy of today's Grand Forks Herald, which contained an article objecting to a recent column of mine. Upon reading the article, I wasn't offended. It probably is good PR.

My column appears on Saturdays in the Herald in a tabloid section called "Neighbors." It does not appear on the Herald's website. However, objections to my column have appeared on the editorial page, and also on the website!

So, reading the objections might encourage people to actually look for the original, which can't be a bad thing.

Pope Art

Last night, I performed at this art gallery in Terrace, MN, about thirty miles south of Alexandria in a beautiful lake region of Pope County.

The inside features a grand piano on the former altar. About twenty-five people attended, a typical group. They were a very interesting, literate bunch. We had no trouble finding common ground, both with music and monologue.

Naturally, I was poking fun at the Norwegian accents and doing imitations. Only afterwards did I find out that there were four or five people from Norway in the audience. Luckily, they enjoyed it all. They even bought copies of my books! The one gentleman told me he does the same thing I do around little venues in Norway--reading, giving monologues, and the sort. We had a great chat.

August 10, 2006

Family night

Here's Aunt Olla dancing with Fertile Hilton staff member Darlene this evening. Joe and I provided music during the family night picnic at the Hilton. Olla doesn't look here as if she'll turn 95 next month, but that's what the calendar says. Photo by Lance.

TWINS LOST tonight to Toronto. If they're going to lose, it might as well be 5-0 rather than 2-1. Silva pitched well. Tomorrow night, another phenom, Matt Garza, makes his debut. I won't be able to watch. I will be performing in Terrace, MN at the Pope Art Gallery, so named because it is in Pope County.

The Pope Art Gallery is a nice venue. It is a former country church which now serves as the residence of historian Merlin Peterson who renovated the building into a little concert venue and art gallery. I have performed there twice before, always to a wonderful and lively group. I look forward to it. I have more experience under my belt now than when I last performed there two years ago. I was kind of shaky at that time.

Terrace is a rustic little town with an old mill, a stream, and a pond with a waterfall. Very charming.

August 09, 2006


As I write, a big cloudburst is going on outside. Faint rumblings of thunder. The radar indicates that it might last for more than a few minutes. This might be the most rain we've had in quite some time. It is too late for some of the crops, but it is good news nonetheless.

The satellite dish lost its signal when it started thundering. The Twins were in a tight battle with Detroit which they just won 4-3 in very dramatic fashion, I found out by watching on the web.

After Santana gave up a two-run home run to lose the lead in the 7th, Morneau launched a mammoth two-run homer in the 8th to give the Twins a lead they never gave up. What made Morneau's homer so dramatic was that it came off the hardest throwing pitcher in the major leagues, Joel Zumaya. The pitch Morneau hit likely came in at about 102 mph.

That is a sweet victory. Detroit doesn't lose many series at home. The Twins took two out of three. If the White Sox go on to lose to the Yankees tonight, that will mean that the Twins are in the lead for the wild card slot. Two months ago, such a thing was unthinkable.

Baseball hasn't been this fun in many years.

August 08, 2006

Monitor article

If you think you've had a bad day, read this.

Textbook ripoff

Today, I drove to Crookston to pick up the textbook for the history class I will be teaching this fall. It is the same text as I used two years ago, but of course they put out a new edition--the eighth--which forces students to purchase a new book for $59 (paperback) rather than using an old one that their friends might have passed down to them.

I looked through the two editions side-by-side. The changes were superficial. The page numbers were different in the new edition, which means I have to re-write the syllabus. On, and the caption under Martin Van Buren's picture was changed. There were words added. Unfortunately, when they added the new words, they forgot to take out the old ones--so the caption makes no sense in the new edition while it was just fine in the old.

Infuriating. Students should rebel. The "new edition" scam is simply another way to rip students off. One student I know paid $800 for textbooks last semester, only to find that about half of them weren't used in class. Apparently the professor just thought they might be a nice addition to the library of the students.

Big win for the Twins

The Twins beat the mighty Detroit Tigers tonight 4-2. Coming on the same day that Francisco Liriano was put on the disabled list, the victory showed that the Twins are not going to give up just because they lost their best pitcher. Any team which has Santana and a revived Radke is going to continue to be a threat.

Scary thing with Liriano. When a young pitcher develops arm problems, you never know if they can work through it. The injury could nag him constantly, rendering him undependable. Or, he could fight through it. No team is more careful how they use pitchers than the Twins, so they'll be erring on the side of caution.

Joe Mauer continues to amaze. He's batting .367 and the season is almost two-thirds over. Plus, he is obviously the heart and soul of this team. Torii Hunter still tries to act like Mr. Team Leader--advising the front office through the media on possible trades and call-ups from the minor leagues ("I want Garza up here now," he said last week)--but he's become sort of a sad joke. The media loves him because he always has a good quote, the same reason his teammates must find him difficult to endure.

Last winter, Hunter was infuriated when the Twins hired unknown Joe Vavra as their hitting coach after a disasterous offensive season last year. "He has nothing to teach me," Hunter said, in a classy welcoming statement.

Now, Vavra is getting credit for disciplining the Twins hitters into a formidable offensive threat. Everybody thinks he's done a great job. Will Hunter retract? I doubt it.

I have never been a Brad Radke fan, but he sure is a treat to watch when he's on his game. Like a machine. Now if Santana could get back in a good rut. We'll see about that tomorrow night.

August 07, 2006

Taking advantage of the drought

Today, I ventured out into the swamp in front of the house with the Cat. Most of the swamp has dried up to nothing. The collapse of a beaver dam which kept the water in, plus the drought, has emptied the swamp in all but one area.

So, I can now drive safely in summer where two winters ago I put the skid steer through the ice in three feet of water.

The drought is kind of sad. Weeds are growing up around the edge of the swamp.

So, I have been getting some of the firewood around the edges of the swamp. Today I made a trail with the Cat around the swamp so that I can easily walk around with the chainsaw tomorrow and saw some of the more tantalizing standing dead ash.

Then, I set out on digging out a little pond in front of my house. Until today, that area has been reed grass. I think if I scrap off about a foot of the reed grass and the underlying peat that when the drought ends, I will have a little open water just below the crow's nest.

I tried the same trick last month and buried the Cat good. But today things went fine. I have a huge pile of dirt and reed canary grass off to the side of my house. I can always take care of that later. But I won't always be able to get at the swamp to clear a few things out.

I walked across the swamp this evening. The birds were atwitter. I heard a familiar call which seemed a bit out of place, and sure enough there were three chickadees fitting around on some dead ash trees. I always thought they moved north of here in the summer, but I guess they stick around and disappear into the woods.

THE TWINS returned to earth tonight, getting pounded by Detroit. I couldn't bear to watch the game once Liriano fell apart. Detroit is so very tough. Their success is completely attributable to their manager, Jim Leyland. They have no particularly strong personalities on the team to lead them. A couple of their players have even been considered bad apples in other towns. So, it was a trick by Leyland to get them to play together so very well.

I DON'T often comment here about world affairs. I don't have much to say. That doesn't mean I am not watching what is going on in the Mideast. I have been reading way more news than I care to admit. It isn't encouraging. There is a lot of bloodlust out there. There aren't a lot of statesmen available. Who on the scene has the stature or the will to pull the rabbit out of the diplomatic hat? I see nobody at all.

August 06, 2006

Joe's bed

Brother Joe usually comes up with a particularly whimsical flower bed each year. I think this is one of his best. It is a simple picture of a tree. Parsley form the tree leaves. Sedum provide the lower background and moneywort the sky. Fibrous begonias form the frame.

The gardens are in good shape right now. We had a good bunch of people visiting today. This next Saturday, August 12, is our Open House.