Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

August 26, 2006

Rejection is painful

A week or so ago, a woman called inviting me to get a Discover business card. She claimed that I would get 2% back on all gas purchases, so I listened instead of hanging up on her as I usually would. I decided to let her sign me up.

So, she asked a bunch of questions, including, "When was your business established?"

I said, "1937," and she said, "Whoa, congratulations!" I guess she doesn't deal with many businesses that have been around that long.

Well, yesterday I got a little computer-generated letter telling me my application for a Discover card was rejected. Stated reason for the rejection:

"Insufficient length of time since business has been established."

If I have any questions, I am supposed to call. I think I will, just to see just how long we have to be in business before we can get a Discover card.

Gardens in evening

When I checked Channel 641 only to find that the Twins game was at 7:30 instead of 7:00 p.m., I decided to head up to the gardens for a few photos. Above are the lewd amaranthus, lording over all else, including the white nicotiana, or tobacco plant.

A few years back, a few area farmers were talked into raising Jerusalem artichokes. There was no market for the crop, but they sure are pretty with their purple, thistle-like blooms. In fact, artichokes are a thistle. Imagine, talking people into raising thistle.

Tall annuals are a favorite of Joe. This bed has three of the tallest: Cleome, canna and castor bean, in front of some of my favorite trees, Tower Poplar, with their white, vertical trunks.

The pond takes on many moods, depending upon what you line up in front of it. Here, the old oak which stood at the end of our yard when we lived in a trailer house where the gardens are now sets the pond off nicely.

The pond acts as a nice backdrop for the red castor bean as well. A man came into the office today with one of the prickly castor bean seed pods. "I want one of these," he said.

I told him he couldn't have them because we only sell them in spring. I said he would be free to have some of the beans, when they are ripe, but that each bean has enough poison to kill thirty-five people. He dropped the seed pod, which contains a few dozen seeds, in a hurry.

Late in the evening, the placid pond reflects the luminescent impatiens.

From the east end of the gardens, which were already in the shade, I took a panorama of the freshly mowed grass.

This pot of geraniums sitting kitty-wompus stands out in front of the stately trunks of the Tower Poplar.

August 25, 2006

Superb game

Heaven for a Twins fan: The Twins rally from a 3-0 deficit to win 5-4 in the ninth in front of a screaming crowd in Chicago. Solid defense. Great relief pitching. Drama to the end.

Radke had to leave after only two innings because his arm was falling off, so the bullpen had to do its thing. Neshek gave up a home run to former Twin Pierzynski, but otherwise the bullpen was perfect.

Nathan made things dramatic in the ninth by giving up a single. The best Sox hitter, Jermaine Dye came to the plate with two out. He hit a pop foul which a fan reached out to catch--interfering with Justin Morneau, the first baseman, and resulting in the game-ending out.

Other good moments: Hunter hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead after they showed little pop for the first five innings...Punto hit his first home run of the year...Castillo hit two infield singles, infuriating Sox manager Ozzie Guillen who taunted Castillo by mimicking his slashing swing on a trip to the mound...Gardenhire sent Ford in to run for White and the move paid off as Ford scored the winning run where White might not have, given the state of his legs...Pierzynski was his usual impossible self, fouling off pitch after pitch after pitch against Jesse Crain before finally flying out to center...Pierzynski's record is a 17-pitch at bat while he was with the Twins...and the best of all? Santana goes tomorrow night...and the Twins have finally taken over the wild card lead from the Sox.

IT WAS NICE to meet two of you faithful weblog readers at the gardens today. I was storekeeping again. Eight hours of putzing around. It was a nice day. A little rain during the night freshened things up, and there is a fall cool in the breeze which I really enjoy.

A bus arrived from a retirement center in Fargo. Several carloads came from Bemidji. One lady came for her second trip in two weeks from Moorhead.

A call came from a man who was dead set on killing every dandelion in his lawn. He wanted chemical and he wanted it now. He had a bottle in his hand when he called, and he wanted the same brand and the same everything.

So, I ran to the shelf and found that we had that brand, but it wasn't exactly what he wanted.

I instinctively don't like people (read: men) who go on rampages against dandelions as if they're in some sort of war. So, I dreaded this man's arrival.

He didn't disappoint. He paced around, demanding ratios and numbers and teaspoons-per-gallon statistics, and finally it came out that our spray was priced four times per ounce what he bought elsewhere in bulk.

Well, I said, there's nothing I can do. I am not coming down on the price as it was printed on the bottle at the factory and that's what we have to have. He left, saying he would have to wait until he could find it cheaper, which was fine with me.

He did not tour the gardens while he was here.

That's the downside of storekeeping. We carry weed killers as a service, not because we make money on it or even believe in their use. In fact, neither is the case. And then you have to deal with the driven, alpha male weed-killers who want to not only kill things, but want to drive a bargain in the process. And I just want to say, life is too short, please leave--but you've got to play the game.

Another couple came who is almost comically whiney. Oh my, how everything in their yard is so difficult and problematic and debatable. They marched in and said, "We have some questions!" to which I replied with a sigh, "I am sure you do."

Didn't phase 'em, they went on with the questions, and we settled the matters in amicable fashion. I actually enjoyed the interaction in the end, for they are nice people. Just a little on the over-concerned order.

Ha, another favorite: Some people asked for a tune on the piano, which is common, and I almost always oblige, but it is kind of funny when you turn around after finishing the tune to find the place empty. They left! Didn't think I was that bad.

Good things, too: People who've never been here who can't believe that there is a garden like this around. One woman marched into my office and said, "I feel so damn stupid! I have bought my plants from you for years, and I have never walked out in the yard and noticed the gardens!" Also, played piano for some people with kids, and it was fun to see the daughters, who take piano, enjoy the ragtime.

August 24, 2006

Summer winds down

Ah, the lazy days of late summer. Harvest in the nursery business is in the spring. By fall, we are winding down. So, I have the luxury of spending the day as I did today, putzing on the Cat loader doing improvements in infrastructure. I hauled rock, firewood, and muck from the swamp.

Ten days from now, there is a Bergeson family reunion at the nursery. Over 52 Bergesons (including attached others and offspring) will covene. One of the parties will be at the Swamp Castle. So, I am trying to wind up some of the messier outdoor projects by then.

THE TWINS are beating Baltimore handily at this writing. Looks as if they will take two of three from the Orioles. That is good news. The best news is that two rookie pitchers, Matt Garza and Boof Bonser, will have provided some good scoreless innings for the Twins. Maybe the Twins don't need Liriano in the rotation to keep winning.

Pat Neshek pitched well last night. Six pitches, three outs. So, what does he write about on his weblog today? The crucial issue of whether baseball cards packages should include inserts. Neshek is a real card collector, and if you read down a ways, he admits he doesn't know of any other major leaguers who are into card collecting--at least openly. Again, this guy's a complete gem, an eccentric in the mold of Mark Fidrych.


Weblog reader Kent, chiropractor to the stars in the Los Angeles area, visited today with his two children Ryan and Brett, and his nephew Zach, right.

Kent spent many summers in Rindal while growing up, and he returns frequently. He checks in here for news of the Rindal area.

August 22, 2006

Olla and Florence pay a visit

The Cat loader got fixed today. Diesel is now flowing uninhibited into the engine, and we're not sure why. Whatever, we'll take it. And I immediately started cleaning out parts of the swamp.

When I drove back to the yard for a break, I found that Olla and Florence had driven out. Florence, 91, picked up Olla, 95, at the Fertile Hilton and they drove out to visit the gardens.

Both were in fine form. I packed them on the golf cart and gave them a ride around the gardens. Florence recalled the last time I had put them on the cart and made them drive it themselves. She was terrified. She'll never forget it.

Olla and Florence immediately struck up a conversation with some gardens' visitors from Arizona. The gentleman introduced himself and said that most people call him by his nickname, "Rat." Well, Florence said, "most people call me 'old bag!'"

Florence continues to mourn the loss of her dog, Fufu. She is still getting sympathy cards from the vet's office. They were all stricken with grief. In fact, the vet took Fufu home and buried her next to her own beloved dog under the old oak tree. They planted a geranium on the grave, too. Fufu was in surgery for a tumor when she died.

As Florence was telling about Fufu, Olla whispered to me, "Mama would have died." Apparently, doting on pets wasn't something the Norwegians from the old country indulged in.

Olla told a story about the time in the 1920s when she spent three weeks varnishing, painting and scrubbing her family's old house. Nobody noticed. Her big hope was that her big brother Roy would take notice when he came home. When he walked in for the first time after Olla's makeover of the house, all he said was, "well, looks like somebody lives here."

That was enough, Olla said. Somebody had noticed.

Florence has trouble with two things: losing her cane, and losing her car keys. Her solution? Attach the car keys tightly to the cane with several layers of electrical tape. Since she did that, she hasn't lost either one. It was fun watching her try to insert her car keys into the ignition with a cane attached--sort of as an oversized key chain.

Florence said, "are you going to play something for me on the piano?" I said no, you don't like what I play anyway--because she doesn't. She laughed, and that was the end of it.

August 21, 2006


Took some pictures in the gardens yesterday. These daisies combine with some lavender to create some deep textures.

The rubdeckia with a wide angle lens look like they're arching towards the prairie sky.

Amaranthus, otherwise known as pigweed, contrast with the dark-leaved castor bean.

Friend Bruce, a wildlife photographer, spent much of yesterday morning trying to capture hummingbirds with his camera. The pursuit is frustrating. Just when the hummingbird seems to sit still, it is off in another direction.

We discussed why it is difficult to photograph gardens. I don't enjoy garden photography as much as other sorts because the photos never turn out as nicely as the actual scene. When taking a winter scene, you can often pull out textures and patterns that people wouldn't otherwise notice. But with a gardens, you are constantly trying to recreate the actual scene and coming up short.