June 23, 2007
is out of control. He doesn't have any vocal defenders left, but I know there are a slew of people who just plain like how he operates. I think he's a true rogue.
The heat and humidity have hit full force. Thanks goodness for air conditioning.
The air conditioner at the Swamp Castle has been struggling to keep up. When it got warm last week, I was sweating it out. Heating and cooling man Brian came yesterday and it with freon. Right away things cooled down. Best of all, the air conditioner started sucking the humidity right out of the house. The pipe draining the unit was running a steady stream. It is hard for me to imagine that much moisture being in the air. I didn't drink it, although I suppose it is distilled and wouldn't hurt.
I am storekeeping this morning, a relatively benign task. I gawk in wonder as women pick up stone rabbits and clay birds and then debate over which one they need. Ahem. You don't need any of them!
I want to say, but of course my better nature takes over and I take their money.
The spray planes are droning in the background. The drone of spray planes and the whir of fans: two of summer's trademark sounds.
THE TWINS choked away a game last night against the mediocre Florida Marlins. I watched the entire sordid affair, including Justin Morneau's collision with the Marlin's catcher. He came out of the incident coughing up blood and was later diagnosed with a bruised lung. He will miss the next two games. Watch the Twins' run production plummet.
June 22, 2007
June 20, 2007
Today, I drove to Lakota, North Dakota to visit with Morrie Holm. The picture above of Morrie was taken after he pitched 22 innings in three days, including a complete nine-inning game in the final, to single-handedly pitch the Halstad Pirates to the state championship in 1952. He beat New Ulm, St. Louis Park and Austin. He had 34 strikeouts over the three days.
After the tournament, the rules were changed to limit the innings pitched by any one pitcher in the tournament.
Morrie gave me tapes of the last two games of the tournament. I listened to the final game. Morrie struck out 13, but he was clearly tired. He ran up a lot of full counts and walked a few, which was unusual for him. The announcer was clearly irritated at Morrie for taking so much time between pitches. "There he goes with his rituals."
I am going to listen to the game again and count the pitches Morrie threw. That after throwing 12 innings in the previous two days. I'll bet he hit 120 or more.
According to Morrie's wife Maxine, the above picture was taken at "4-mile corner," four miles south of Halstad. That is where a caravan met the team to escort them into town. John Pfund of the Norman County Index
was there and took this classic photo. I think it captures Morrie's Nordic reserve.
Morrie went on to pitch for NDSU in college, once defeating Oklahoma State University in the NCAA Division I tournament, which NDSU was invited to under the rules of the time.
Soon after, Morrie got a contract in the mail from the Cleveland Indians. It said nothing about where he was to report, how much he would be paid, or who he was supposed to call. He put it in his dresser drawer and forgot about it. He was due to report for military duty anyway.
Public access, Sandhill Lake
June 19, 2007
Something very strange happened tonight. Johan Santana shut out the New York Mets while striking out only one
batter. One. At the same time, Santana walked nobody, a departure from his tendencies so far this year, and he threw a minimal number of pitches, another welcome change.
Strikeouts are fun. But pitchers who run up large strikeout totals, as fun as they are to watch, generally aren't that efficient. They throw hard and they miss the strike zone a lot. And, remember, a strikeout by definition requires three pitches. A ground ball pitcher can get the side out in six pitches total.
And a change-up pitcher who can finish nine innings on 87 pitches without walking a soul? Now there's something to write home about. That's the type of pitcher who can do some damage over the long haul.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL EVENING TONIGHT. I drove to Bemidji to speak and entertain at yet another women's church group. I should have that genre down here pretty soon. I am tired of driving, but you couldn't get any prettier than tonight. On the way home, I went off on some side roads south of Lengby and saw some beautiful, rolling countryside I hadn't known existed. As the sun set, the greens became stunning. Green fields, blue lakes, deep, dark woods. This is truly and enchanted time of year.
It has rained so much that we don't need more, and people are grumbling a bit, but oh man, is it ever better to have rain than drought as we did last year. Must is better than dust.
This picture is satisfying because the swan is floating in an area which last year at this time was reed canary grass. When the swamp dried up, I scraped away the grass with the Cat (getting very stuck many times in the process), hoping that one day I would see something like this up close from my living room window. Never did I imagine it would happen so soon. But thanks to the heavy rains, the swamp has returned to pre-drought levels.
An exerpt from a note I received from a serviceman in Iraq this morning:
...when your blog moves away from nature and bird pictures (which I enjoy the most as I miss home) and focuses on making the military look like we are all child killers, rapists and love torture, I am unsure of your motives. It has already been news, why do I keep getting dragged through the mud?
There is always the risk when one criticizes the conduct of a war that one will be perceived as not supporting the armed forces.
I want to be clear: I know there are many good things going on in Iraq as our armed forces personnel help Iraqi citizens rebuild their institutions. The man who wrote the letter above is himself engaged in helping Iraqis citizens. He is to be lauded.
My criticisms of the overall policy and its execution at high levels, as well as the violations by highest officials of our government of the Geneva Conventions and even the United States Constitution, should not be construed as lack of support for the elisted men and women who are risking their lives in Iraq.
There is always the argument that people opposed to a war, or its method of execution, should keep quiet until it is over to keep from pulling the rug from under the troops. However, I believe it is the citizen's responsibility in a democracy to speak out when elected officials go astray or mislead the public.
On Sunday, I gave a talk on old churches in an old church, Hafslo Church, which now sits on the ground of the Polk County Museum in Crookson.
Every face in the audience was familiar. I was preaching to the choir. They had regathered at the church only fifteen minutes after the funnel cloud south of Crookston disappeared and the sirens shut off.
Ninety-four year old Agnes from the Villa nursing home was there. She's so sharp. She pitched in during my talk, correcting me at times, agreeing at times, tossing in some stories of her own.
Agnes things small farms are going to return as people tire of urban life. "There's just something inside people that wants to live on a little patch of land and raise their own food," she said.
June 18, 2007
I am impressed with how the house has taken this storm. Although trees are falling outside, and the oak are bending quite far, and although a few big branches have struck the house, there hasn't been so much as a quiver up here in the crow's nest.
If you listen real close, underneath the roar of thunder and wind, the frogs croak on resolutely.
And downstairs, Renato, tired from a big Brazilian party he attended last night in Detroit Lakes (mid-June is a festival in Brazil where you dress up like farmers and have big parties), is sleeping through the tumult.
Wow, a big thunderclap just did make the crow's nest quiver a bit. Nice bass sound. I should be recording all this--the frogs and the thunder--for next winter when I am feeling as if I am in sensory deprivation.
It is late. I can't sleep because a big storm is raging outside. I have no basement to hide in, but this house is built like a brick something or other, so I am not worried.
However, in the flashes of lightning, I can see that the tree that the pileated woodpecker (both the tree and the woodpecker are pictured below) has lived in since the house was built has fallen. It cracked quite aways below where the birds--the merganser, the woodpecker and the woodducks--were nesting. I suppose that the presence of so many birds in holes on the trunk mean that the tree, which still had a full crown of green leaves, was none too healthy.
Before the storm tonight, a beaver spent about an hour in front of the house, crawling up on land and cutting vegetation with his teeth, and then hauling it around the swamp. I don't imagine he will take up permanent residence.
I sort of dread what morning brings as I am sure we have a mess on our hands. This is a pretty rough storm.