July 07, 2007
No wonder the jelly is going so fast. This oriole is bringing grasshoppers to the feeder and dipping
them in jelly. Look at all the jelly he can get in one serving this way. He then flew across the pond to where I think the orioles have a nest or two.
July 06, 2007
I finally caught an oriole with the camera. They have been elusive, but they sure like the jelly out front.
Here is a pair of juvenile orioles. Perhaps they are the reason I have to fill the jelly bowl every two days.
And finally, Mama Wood Duck
brought out her brood to bask in the sun early this evening.
The swan family pulled up by the house this morning. It is amazing how long the necks on the cygnets have grown in just two weeks.
Earlier in the morning, while I was without my camera, two deer were up by the house being pestered by cowbirds. The birds were right at their hooves, and then would land on the backs of the deer. They seemed to be a nuisance, but when the cowbirds would bounce away from the deer, the deer would amble after them, as if they wanted to play.
The deer then ambled into the swamp to eat some grass.
In the time it took to eat a bowl of cereal in the crow's nest, I saw the deer, a bunch of little teal, first swimming in a row, then breaking up and attacking each other, then all finding a log to stand on while they furiously groomed themselves.
The orioles were busy eating Concord grape jelly out of the feeder. The redwinged blackbirds were attacking the sunflower seeds, the finches the niger thistle, and out in the swamp, the turtles struggled up on the logs to catch some sun.
After heading up to the nursery, Dad pointed out that his pond
is starting to look pretty sharp, particularly in the mornings.
July 05, 2007
On this perfect July day, I decided to help weed in the gardens. It felt good to pick the succulent, pernicious perslain and throw it out into the lawn. We made great progress. It was needed, for the weeds are galloping along as fast as everything else.
People are coming to see the gardens, which makes us sheepish since they are anything but ready. Yet, people seem to enjoy walking around. This afternoon there were enough customers to prevent me from getting any writing done until seven this evening.
After ten minutes of weeding this morning, I stood up and felt a sharp pain in my back. I couldn't quit weeding because I was out trying to prove to the high school boys how tough I am, so I continued, and luckily, the pain just disappeared. Something must have been out of whack and then went back into whack. But it is sobering to realize that I am getting to that age where things are going to start falling apart and I have to go to the doctor for various probes.
Speaking of falling apart, the Twins haven't followed up on their good fortunes of last week. They lost three out of four to the Yankees, which is particularly demoralizing. Santana was himself yesterday and won 6-2, but today Slowey gave up five runs in one inning and was summarily sent to the minor leagues after the game.
LAST NIGHT, Lance, some friends and I went to the fireworks show in Grand Forks. I love fireworks. And the show was pretty good. Then up came a big wind and a cloud of dust. Everybody gathered on the dikes downtown ran for cover. They set off the rest of the fireworks, but their flares blew out of our field of vision in a hurry. Although nothing came of the storm, apparently, there was some inclement weather somewhere on the radar as people at Maple Lake were warned to take cover.
The ever-meddlesome Minnesota legislature makes a fool of itself in the London Times.
What an incredibly stupid piece of legislation–– and par for the course for Tom Rukavina. Think about it: can you imagine the uproar if this law were enforced and some flag-flying citizen were fined $1000 for flying a U. S. flag made in China?
Notice how the Times
reporter quotes some offspring of Betsy Ross from another state and calls him a "fellow congressman" of Rukavina's.
July 04, 2007
My favorite Twins player Pat Neshek
is on the ballot for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. Use his website to vote early and vote often!
Yesterday, Aunt Olla and I had an appointment for her to come out to the house and listen to the frogs. I knew that the frogs weren't going to be too rewarding, so I had another proposal in my pocket: Why don't we drive out east into the woods, just like she and Florence used to?
Olla fell for that right away. So, after we picked up a few groceries in town, we headed east of Bejou.
East of Bejou. In my mind, anything east of Bejou is sort of "there be dragons" territory. You just don't know what's out there and there's seldom any reason to find out. But a couple of years ago, I had occasion to go to Island Lake, which is east of Bejou, and I found that just twenty miles from home are some beautiful rolling hills. And never are rolling hills more beautiful than in mid-summer, after the first crop of hay.
Island Lake is well hidden. Every road is a dead end. I think it is intentional. They don't want people driving around the entire lake gawking. That didn't foil Olla and I. We just took the dead end roads and turned around at the end. This hay bale is at the dead end on the southwest side of the lake.
After Island Lake, we toured the town of Lengby, and then pulled into Fosston for supper at the Dairy Queen.
Olla still wanted to hear the frogs, so we went out to the house. No frogs. Lots of birds, but no frogs. I told Olla she'll just have to live another year to hear the frogs next spring. That comment set off a round of funeral talk. She's going out to buy a dress next week (I think this is the fourth). And she has rewritten her obituary. At ninety-six, I suppose one thinks about those things.
All in all, it was a beautiful evening to be out in lake country. What would I have been doing otherwise? Watching the Twins lose to the Yankees 8-0.
July 02, 2007
Yesterday, I started writing the book I have been researching for the past sixth months. Taking the step of penning the first paragraph is akin to diving off the high board for the first time. It's scary, and it usually doesn't look pretty. But it is a necessary step.
Once I get into writing, the hours go quickly. It is to get sat down, get concentrated, and get moving. That is the hard part. I am also supposed to be running a nursery, which means answering the phone and other interruptions.
I would never have the discipline to write a book from the ground up on my own. What is prodding me on is that I have been hired for this project by a businessman from Des Moines named Clarence who was a 5th grader in Halstad in 1952. He saw the events of that year through a boys eyes, and he has never forgotten it. It has been his dream to record the 1952 Halstad basketball and baseball seasons in a book. So, he hired me.
Not only has Clarence hired me, but he keeps me on my toes with daily emails. He has helped find people I wanted to interview. And he provides deadlines, an absolute necessity.
So far, I have enjoyed the entire process. We'll see if I say the same thing after writing for a solid month. I think I will.
Writing is my craft. However, I have not yet been able to reach that state of Zen which retired men and women seem to reach in their various crafts--of spending hour upon hour perfecting their ability to carve, or quilt, or cook, or whatever, utterly lost in their work. Perhaps age 42 is too young to achieve such a benificent state of concentration.
As it is, I am lucky to achieve productive concentration for one or two hours per day. That is a good day. It would be so much easier, at least this time of year, to mow lawn for eight hours per day. Ah, that would be fun. But it isn't something I am uniquely equipped to do. And, since others can do it better than I can and they need the work, it would be wrong for me to spend time on the mower when I could be writing.
My friend Rolly Rue passed away this week after no fewer than thirty-seven years of battling cancer of several sorts. He had come back from near death so many times that doctors regarded him as something of a miracle. But if you ever met Rolly, you knew why he lasted so long: He was 100% gristle.
Rolly was gruff and blunt. He told it like it was. He had a strong handshake. And he had no time for nonsense. That is why I was so honored when he took a liking to me, first through my column, and then when he would show up for every speech I gave within fifty miles of his home.
This spring when I spoke in Clearbrook, Rolly and his wife Ilane showed up. As I was speaking, I could tell there was something wrong. He was even thinner than his usual sinewy self and it was clear that it was a struggle just to concentrate. I found out a few days later that his cancer had recurred, and was now in his pancreas. They weren't going to attempt any treatment. They were just giving him painkillers. He came up after the speech and shook hands. Same strong handshake, but it was an effort for him.
Then one day in mid-May at the nursery while I was napping on the floor of my office, I heard a familiar gruff voice in the gift shop. It was Rolly Rue, sitting in the gift shop waiting for Ilane to finish shopping. I went to visit with him. "I am dying of cancer, you know," he said in a matter-of-fact way, explaining why he couldn't do as much as he used to. I said that I had heard that, and we discussed it briefly as one might discuss the crops.
I knew Rolly was interested in wildlife. So, I wondered if he would like to come out to my house and see the crow's nest. He said yes, but we'd better bring Ilane along or "she'll kill me!"
We went out and sat watching the birds for just a few minutes. But it was a memorable time.
In early June, I spoke to some elementary kids at the library in Fosston for the kick-off of the summer reading program. When I was in the library reading newspapers before hand, who should show up but Rolly. He bragged that he never missed a speech of mine within fifty miles, even if it was for kids! And even, I should add, if he was in the final three weeks of his life.
July 01, 2007
I am not a fan of baseball's All Star game. It is usually a complete bore. Three Twins were named to the American League All-Star team this year: Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. All three were deserving. Pat Neshek and Joe Nathan should have gone, too. But, I don't get too worried about that. Better to have your pitchers get three days of rest than to risk injury in an exhibition game.
Tonight, Scott Baker lost a great game. He pitched a three-hitter, but one of those hits was a home run which barely left the ballpark, so he ended up losing by a 1-0 score. That's good baseball, at least to my way of thinking. Pitching. Defense. Drama in the late innings. You can't beat it.
The Twins are doing well. They are closer to first place now than they were last year at this time. However, there is simply no way they are going to go on a tear to equal last year's June through September streak. They don't have enough fuel in the tank this year. Rondell White's still on the mend. Jeff Cirillo is fragile. Punto isn't hitting. There's no Liriano. And the team handed out too many easy losses with Sidney Ponson and Ramon Ortiz on the mound early in the season. We are going to have to hope that division foes Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago beat up on each other enough so the Twins can slip in through the back door.