Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

February 24, 2007

You guys

Just ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant. A dignified elderly couple sat near me at a table with a linen tablecloth and linen napkins.

And then the waitress came over and asked, "How are things going with you guys?"

You guys. How are things going. Ugh. There are some times when a little formality would be nice. "Folks" would be a good substitute for "you guys." And a mere perceptive glance at the table from about ten feet away would be a good substitute for an intrusive, self-congratulatory, unhelpful "How are things going?"

A few minutes later, my food came. Within a few seconds, the waitress was back asking me, "How are your first few bites?"

Good grief. I was so taken aback that I started laughing, and then she couldn't figure out what was wrong.


Enjoyed the first day of the Home and Garden Show. After several months of no contact with people who are interested in plants, it was good to visit about horticulture again.

In between visits, there is good people-watching to be done. Most of my comments on the passers-by are best kept to myself, I guess. I do enjoy speculating about people's entire existence based on the ten seconds I see them walk by my booth.

The Fargodome is an annual ritual. I enjoy annual rituals because it allows one to reflect on how you feel or think this year as opposed to how you felt or thought last year at this time.

I almost always have a cold this time of year. I wouldn't know it if I didn't remember always trying to find a drinking fountain at the Fargodome the last weekend in February to swallow Sudafed.

I am less irritable this year than other years, especially towards people who have a long, long story to tell and are oblivious to the other customers waiting to see the display. We'll see if that lack of irritability lasts the day, as today should be real busy.

Yesterday, I liked to see people coming towards the booth. Other years, I have been filled with dread as some of the people approached, knowing that I was in for a long diatribe about this or that apple tree that didn't grow as expected.

There is one familiar woman who I greeted, only to have her scold me at length for never updating the nursery website, which she apparently checks often. I remembered right away that she had done the same thing last year. Okay, okay, guilty as charged!

A woman two booths down is the owner of "Grace Electric." That is novel. I am used to "Grace Lutheran Church," but have never heard of "Grace Electric." I suppose next we'll have "Emmanuel Plumbing and Heating," or "Our Savior's Self-Contained Irrigation Systems."


There are no fewer than seventy-eight squirt hockey teams in Fargo this weekend. They come from all over the nation--in fact, several of them are from overseas.

The kids I saw ranged in age from 8 to 11.

I talked to one mother. She said that some of the teams have an entry fee for each child of up to $3500. That covers coaching and ice time, not equipment.

One team from South Carolina had their equipment shipped to Seattle by the airline. They went to Play-it-Again sports in Fargo and bought up what they had on hand.

In the elevator at the hotel, two parents were talking about a team that "had a couple of good 95s, and one good 98." They were referring to birth years of players.

The kids in the elevator looked bored as their Dads discussed various ways one "good 98" smashed other kids against the boards.

February 22, 2007

Back on the road

It has been a few months since I have done any speaking or singing. Today, I went to the Lutheran Memorial Home in Halstad to sing and play.

Most of the people in the audience were familiar, including one woman who is 102 years old and fully with it. Another is 97, and made it darn clear that she wasn't in the nursing home. She's in assisted living next door. And she had worked all morning, she had me know. Another visitor from the outside ambled in, and when we got to talking age, she announced proudly that she's 91. For all I could tell, she was in her early 70s.

I brought up the 1952 Halstad teams, and of course several remembered. One lady said she had just moved to Halstad that March and thought the town had lost its mind. "Everybody left!" she said. Well, by the end of the state basketball tournament, she was on the bandwagon and got so excited listening to the game on the radio on the way home from Fargo that she pulled over to the side of the road to listen rather than risk driving.

Tomorrow, I go down to Fargo to man a booth at the Fargodome for three days at the Home and Garden Show. That means a weekend of visiting and promoting, the first such activity of the season.

At the same time, the first transplanting is going on in the greenhouse. A box of plants arrived from the airport. Things are perking up in the nursery business.

I have mixed feelings about the possible storm this weekend. Boy, we need some snow, or moisture however it comes. But driving in that stuff isn't fun. My gut feeling is that precipitation will veer south.

I am having a little trouble getting back into the flow of writing after finishing the accounts of the trip to China. It is fun to travel and have something interesting (at least to me) to report. Going back to ruminations about the mundane is a let down.


--The deer clean out my birdfeeder each day, so I have taken to putting out just a small amount of sunflowers in the tray each day instead of a lot of sunflowers once per week. I think it is a single deer, but I am not sure. It has a distinctive scar on is rear left leg. Stop to think of it, the deer who was nibbling by the window last year had a fresh injury on its rear left leg. It must be the same animal. Aunt Olla is wanting me to give it a name.

--The birds seem more nasty towards each other this time of year. Perhaps the hormones are starting to flow.

--My woodpile is going to last the winter, plus I'll have some left over. That is a first. Leaving for a month helps, of course. But it is satisfying to heat with wood when I am home.

--After 18 months in the new house, the light bulbs are all starting to go at once.

--Who doesn't have a head cold? People are complaining of sinus stuff, and I have it too. I don't feel too bad, it's just annoying, and it lingers and lingers. Another reason to winter in Arizona.

February 21, 2007

Frosty morn

Yesterday brought hoar frost over everything, including this cast iron bench in the gardens.

The nursery buildings are a nostalgic scene for me, even though I live on the place and they are still in full use. To the left is the packing shed, built by my great-uncle Roy about fifty years ago. On the left are the office buildings, built around the 1912 schoolhouse where my grandmother was schooled, taught, and where my father went to school.

Old Pictures

Visited Aunt Olla at the Fertile Hilton today. We went through some old pictures. She has stacks and stacks. We have to set a limit. I love old pictures, and she knows the names and stories of the people pictured, so there is some urgency to getting as much written on the backs of the pictures as possible.

A picture is worth 1,000 words. At least. And each picture suggests as many words--at least--to Aunt Olla. To explain the person, you need to hear how they met, where they came from, and where they are now.

Everybody's story is fascinating. Olla has met a collection of characters over the years. She has lived in dozens upon dozens of towns and with dozens upon dozens of people.

For 22 years, Olla was married to her husband Doc. He was a chiropractor. When Doc and Olla visited the bustling frontier town of Las Vegas, he fell in love with the place and had to move there. It was so bustling that there were no houses to be had, so they bought an old Christian Science Church. They lived there, two blocks from the Golden Nugget, and Doc set up a practice there.

Next door lived Crystal, a woman who happened to have a back problem requiring regular care from Doc. Olla and Crystal are still great friends, making it a custom to buy each other the most expensive and elaborate Christmas card possible each year.

That was the story behind just one of the pictures, one of Crystal with her daughter. And we went through an entire stack.

February 19, 2007

China update

There are celebrations going on in China for the lunar New Year. Unfortunately, some of the manifestations are gross beyond belief. Only look at this if you aren't squeamish. This is a performer at a temple.

Spring training

Spring training is on. What a great sign of things to come. Twins fans are keyed up, at least the ones I have been talking to. It looks like another interesting season ahead.

Blogger Aaron Gleeman has evaluated the Twins future prospects. His prognosis is that no organization in baseball is so loaded with young pitching. The Twins have been drafting great arms and stable heads for years. Their training programs are superb.

So, why are they depending upon some questionable arms and unstable psyches to shore up their starting rotation at the major league level?

I can't figure it out. Ramon Ortiz was the worst starting pitcher in the National League last year. Carlos Silva was the worst starting pitcher in the American League. Now they are teammates, which insures that one of them won't be the worst pitcher in the American League this year.

Sidney Ponson is a reclamation project. I don't mind fat pitchers, but Ponson has quite a record of brushes with the law and the like. Oh, it would make a great story if he could turn it around. He has gone through chemical dependency treatment and is getting married and has tried to stay away from his old troublemaking buddies--but really, isn't Kansas City the place for guys fighting their demons?

In fact, I think Silva, Ortiz and Ponson would make a good starting three for the Royals. That would insure that the Twins could beat up on the Royals once again this season.

My worry is this: The Tired Trio will show enough in spring training to win three spots in the rotation. Then they will proceed to wreck the first two months of the Twins season, just as Batista, Castro, Silva and Radke (and Morneau, to be fair) stunk up the place for the first two months of last season. Radke and Morneau came around. Batista and Castro were shipped out. Silva continued to stink and showed signs of mental instability in the process.

I wouldn't mind if the Twins just went with the young guys in the rotation: Santana, Bonser, Garza, Perkins and maybe one of the young gunslingers Gleeman talks about above in the fifth spot.

I am hoping that if Ponson shows nothing in camp, or if he gets another DUI, or if Ortiz looks rough, that they'll just cut them sooner rather than later, say in June. I doubt the Twins will be able to go on such a torrid streak again as they did last year. I'd rather have them get off to a fast start.

February 18, 2007

More feeder action

Last fall, a big branch fell from an oak near the house during a wind. A couple of days ago, I dragged it up to the bird feeder. I think it has doubled the number of birds which use the feeder. They love to sit on the branches and wait for an opening.

Just a few minutes ago, I saw a cream-colored bird the size of a pigeon eating on the ground. I ran for the camera and got many good shots. I had never seen the bird before, so I was pretty excited. Of course, I had forgotten to put the card back in the camera after uploading yesterday's photos, so no dice.

However, I did identify the bird in the Sibley's guide as a gray jay. I hope it comes back today so I can get a photo with the memory card in the camera.

The deer munched at the feeder last night, oblivious to my taking pictures a few feet from his nose. I approached gingerly, not wanting to scare the deer while I snapped, eventually realizing that it wasn't going to move even if I rapped on the window and waved my arms.

However, when the deer noticed the mole eating crumbs at its feet, it fled in terror.