Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

December 09, 2006

Christmas activity

The social calendar speeds up has the holidays near. Every organization one is part of has a holiday dinner. People throw parties. Later this week, we are having the nursery employee party. Tonight, I am having a few friends over, although the adjective few is getting more questionable as the hour nears.

I also have a little cluster of Holiday speaking engagements. Later this morning, I go to Bemidji for a Lutheran woman's gathering. I am a little nervous about that. My Christmas talk is offbeat, focusing on how the best Christmas memories are of Christmases that were anything but normal. They want some Christmas music, too, but my repertoire is limited to Greensleeves and a couple of carols. That's fine, unless they want to sing along. For some reason, I can play hymns and carols pretty well--until somebody starts to sing, at which point my fingers start piling up around middle C.

Tomorrow, I speak in Detroit Lakes to a garden club's Christmas party. They want to hear about new varieties of plants for the new gardening season, something which I even thought about yet. During the week, I go to Lake Park Lutheran for their Christmas party. My Uncle Bob, who passed away eight years ago, was minister there for 17 years.

All fun, but tiring, more tiring to think about than to actually carry out.

I alternate between loving social activity and preferring quiet solitude. In the winter, it is just plain good to get out and mingle with people, otherwise one gets stagnant and sleeps too much. At least I do.

That is one reason teaching three days per week has been so much fun. I can feel lethargic, but the hallways of college perk me up right away. The kids are salubriously energetic, optimistic and naive. Example: One little guy has taken it upon himself to hide my big framed map of the United States in a different location before every class period and then deny it up and down. Another called me, "Hey Bergeson!" yesterday, which I thought was a pleasant break from the artificial deference which usually prevails.


December 07, 2006

Frigid

Ten below this morning and clear. Quite beautiful outside if you stay inside. A little frost on the trees, good snow cover. Winter has set in.

The stove is gobbling up cobs of wood. The woodpile which I thought looked so plentiful might not make it through the winter. Not the worst thing--the challenge of getting firewood mid-winter gets one outside. If the wood lasts until February, I should be able to get more firewood without the risk of getting the loader stuck.

The semester is winding down. Attendance was low in class yesterday, and one of the students said, "They can tell you're running out of stuff to teach." True. I scheduled in extra days at the end and I have been stretching out the Civil War as long as I can stretch it, trying to add details to make it more interesting. The result? Some kids sensed that I was stretching and that they wouldn't suffer much by not attending.

The core group of good students with an actual interest in history has been attending and asking good questions. I appreciate that, and I really don't mind that the others have opted out. When I was in college, I don't think I attended a single class which I sensed wasn't absolutely necessary.

What did I have to do that was so important that I could cut class? I don't remember. Nothing, probably. Sleep. But when you are newly liberated from the constraints of home and high school, the notion that you can go to class only when you feel like it is just too good to resist.

Of course, the adult response would be, "I am paying for this class, I may as well get as much as I can out of it."

So, I am ready for the semester to end. I probably won't be teaching again for several years, as I only get called when somebody goes on leave.

IRAQ STUDY GROUP: The Old Lions issued their report, which was basically a call to go back to the drawing board. Meanwhile, ten more American troops were killed yesterday and dozens of tortured bodies of Iraqis turned up at the morgue.

Two area soldiers died in the past week.

This is a knotty mess.

In a relatively unimportant matter, the Fargo Forum today put in a mugshot of a woman in West Fargo who was arrested for prostitution. She was solicited by an undercover agent.

Is the answer to prostitution really to put the woman's picture in the paper and humiliate her more than her life situation has humiliated her already? Is this really the government's business, using tax dollars to hire undercover agents to solicit prostitutes?

You couldn't look at her picture without feeling sympathy. Who knows what drove her to sell herself. If there is a victim in this alleged crime, it is her.

Printing the mugshot of the woman was gratuitous, mean, and serves no public purpose.


December 06, 2006

Versailles

The picture posted below is a small fraction of the immense gardens at the Palace of Versailles. I couldn't believe when I looked over it on Google Earth. The only way to get a true view of the geometric patterns--which stretch over many miles--would be from the air, and Louis XIV wasn't able to fly.

Now, we are able to fly without getting in a plane. The images on Google Earth are sharp enough to pick out people. They are the black dots on the sidewalks in the picture. I also picked out a rowboat one one of the ponds.


December 05, 2006

Blustery

Drove to Thief River Falls today to speak to a high school class. On the way, I stopped in at the Fertile Hilton to chat briefly with Aunt Olla.

Of course some gremlin went and printed out my entry about Olla avoiding Bible study and gave her a copy. Olla takes it all in good humor, but I guess I have to realize this weblog is a public forum and I had better not go into detail about her beer drinking and other problems even if I am merely expressing concern and requesting prayer.

Got home tonight to find a message on my machine to call her when I got home. It was nine o'clock, so I figured she would be in bed, but I called anyway, and yes, she was asleep, but didn't mind at all that I called. Now, if I had been trying to sell her something, that would have been a different story.

While we were talking, she turned on the light and found that the staff of the Hilton had placed apple juice and a snack on her tray while she was asleep. "They are spoiling me!" she protested. She just can't imagine how she could have it any better.

Aunt Ede was in and fixed up Olla's room with Christmas decorations, for which Olla was grateful. Olla thinks Ede is the Eighth Wonder of the World, and if you've ever seen Aunt Ede in action, you would be inclined to agree I am sure. If I ever have one third her energy, I will be unstoppable.

THIS WEBLOG is really little more than a gossip column where I report my daily doings for all to read, the very thing I was protesting in my column this week. Never thought of it--millions of people are now posting their daily affairs online and that, not any increased sense of dignity or privacy, is what is replacing small-town gossip columns. We're still just as vain, we just no longer have to go through some reporter to get our stories out for all to see. The more things change, the more they stay the same...


Guess work

Was cruising the world tonight on Google Earth. Found this scene. See if you can guess where it is. Answer tomorrow.


December 04, 2006

Sunset, full moon



The clear, cold weather tonight got me out of doors to take some photos in the few minutes just before the sun sank in the west.



Near the end of my drive, I passed by neighbor Les's driveway. A few yards on, his stubble field lay starkly covered by the weekend's snow. This straw bale seems to have blown into its final winter position on the property line, leaving a track behind.


December 03, 2006

Old pictures

Not much to do today, so I sat down and sorted through the pictures I have been posting over the past three years.

When you post pictures on the web, people from around the world are free to find them and use them. The most popular one for public consumption, according to my web-tracking program, has been this shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. One girl from California wrote and asked if she could use it in a report for school. Most people just put it on their website without asking, which is fine.

Just the other day, somebody used this shot of the Mexico City Post Office to fight back against a nasty person who had posted a comment on a website that Mexico was a "****hole." I am glad that I could be of service fighting that notion!

A weblog written in a language I couldn't understand by a young kid included this picture of my swamp through the window in the rain. Another rainy window shot, this one through the windshield of my pickup, has been used by a couple of websites.

A kid in the Phillipines named Marvin Ford has used this picture of the logo on our old Ford truck taken after a freezing rain last winter as the background for his personal website.

Somebody in Colorado used this picture of my living room in a brochure for a realty company. They promised to send me a copy of the picture after it was published, but I haven't heard anything yet.

My favorite pictures are of wildlife. The swans have been a constant subject, and this shot during the mating season last spring is still my favorite. Never thought a turtle would make a nice picture, but this one is a favorite. And even though this picture of wood ducks was taken in low light and from a great distance, I like how the patterns turned out.

Travel pictures are fun to take. On the way to Minot this spring, I happened upon the Denbigh School along US Highway 2. I love the isolation of the building, as well as its good condition.

Arizona is good for color. Pottery entices me, as do the fantastic colors at the Tucson Museum of Art. Back home, the stained glass windows of Faaberg Lutheran Church in Rindal really glow at sunset.

Of all the pictures I took of my house as it was being built and afterwards, this one is my favorite. I enjoy taking pictures of buildings, like this law office in Grand Forks at sunset. The Student Union at the University of Arizona in Tucson intrigued me to no end.

Famous scenery is easy to photograph. Mt. Shasta is a favorite. And seeing my pickup nestled amongst the Redwoods is one way to appreciate their size. Central Park in New York City is difficult to portray in pictures. This is as close as I came.

As much as I don't like winter, sometimes there pops up a scene which is irresistibly pastel.

I even like taking pictures of flowers every now and then. But not that often!

Oh, yesterday, the web-tracking program showed that this sunset picture Lance took in Tucson, which I posted here, is being borrowed by a woman for her website. Ahem. After using the picture to show how beautiful Tucson is, she went on to show pictures of how much fun she had in her hotel room in Tucson. Move over, Paris Hilton! Not that I am a prude, but I just can't justify linking to her website on this family-oriented channel.