Sunday, April 20, 2014

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

It's a religious experience. ... or, a nerdy, slightly overweight white guy sings the blues.
"It's like those times when you're suffering all by your lonesome at the back of the field after 40 miles or so of featureless dirt road and one or several of the dirty yahoos who've been ripping your legs off all day/week drift back to you and place a steadying hand on your back.
-Reverend Dick
The Rev keeps coming up with this kind of great stuff. Thanks again. Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Frisco Depot

Newbury's lyrics sometimes changed over time, gaining a little weight as he matured. I believe this is the last version of this one he recorded.

You've been gone for so long
There's no one left for forgivin'
You find yourself searchin' your mind
For the links to the chain

When you're cold there's nothin'
As welcome as sunshine
When you're dry there's nothin'
As welcome as rain

When you're alone there's nothin'
As slow as passin' time
When you're afoot, Lord
There's nothin' as fast as a train

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Galmozzi Update

I've been playing a little with my 1948/1950 Cambio Corsa equipped Galmozzi, mostly replacing the modern perforated black leather bar wraps with a faded red fabric tape, and lubricating and cutting down the long, loopy cables to something that, to my eye, is more graceful. The brake cables were switched to a traditional Italian set-up with right hand front brake, which also gives better access to the front mounted water bottle. I also replaced the crumbling Balilla brake hoods with Dia-Comps which fit perfectly - I'll keep an eye open for better Balillas. On the obscure end of things, I need a Campagnolo "dogbone" skewer-end if anyone has one laying around. (Anyone who has actually ever even seen one of these knows what a bizarre request that really is.)

I have a couple of other things on the agenda, nothing big, just replacing the black tires with gum walls and lubing and polishing the brakes. Also the nice Brooks Team Pro saddle should probably be a B17 Narrow as the Team Pro was introduced in about 1980. The weather is finally warming up and drying out to riding conditions, though there was fresh snow on the ground yesterday morning. Road test report soon. 

Oakwood Pelicans

The ice went out of Fountain Lake three days ago. There large flocks of pelicans on the main lake. Occasionally a few visit us on Oakwood Bay. This morning:

Growlery roof. :-)

The 'Boro: Food, Art, Theatre, Bicycles

We bought our cottage in Lanesboro for a number of reasons, some listed above. I intended to record some of all of that in one posting. My hearing is not what it was and the dining room of the Old Village Hall can be loud with laughter, chatter and clatter, so we tend to eat in the bar where it is quieter.

Saturday evening a young man, Jesse was working the bar, giving us just a little room. Then the owner, John Pieper came in and started jawboning us about the evils of political fund raising. John is the new Democratic candidate for the State House against an old, long time incumbent, his first venture into politics. I am not a legal resident of Lanesboro so cannot vote for him anyway, but he was nevertheless in campaign mode. Yeah, we've know him for years so we will probably give him a few dollars, because the incumbent has acquired some bagage over the years and it is time for him to retire, one way or another.

I did manage to record the salad and appetizer before I became distracted by all the evils of local politics.

Bar at the Village Hall

Sunday morning we walked down to the Pastry Shoppe for breakfast. The weekend was the Commonweal Theatre's 17th Annual Henrik Ibsen Festival so the the place was filled with morose Norwegian theatre goers and we were fortunate to grab the last small window table. We both had a quiche - no pictures, but Brett consistently makes absolute knockout food. 

After we ate we walked up the street to the Commonweal Theatre to look at the Saami exhibit in the lobby. The Saami are what we grew up knowing as Lapps, which I learned is a derogatory term. Whatever they call themselves, their clothing, jewelry and tools are beautiful. 

More of the Commonweal Theatre lobby:

Lorna and Henrik

Where do old tools go when the die? They become tool angels and fly below the high ceiling on the Commonweal Theatre lobby. The lobby is a large space, this is only a small piece of the Karl Unnash installation of the cultural debris of Lanesboro's past.  

And an upside down sitting room?

Back up at our cottage on Church Hill, the view from the king's throne. 

The queen. The real power behind the throne.
The obligatory bicycle picture - a 1986 Peter Mooney hanging on the cottage wall.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oakwood Spring

This was a beautiful day. I got my banking and taxes done in the morning. When Lorna came back from her yoga group we had lunch and were on the deck looking at Mallards and Wood Ducks dabbling and doing their mating rituals in the open water on the edge of the lake. The lake ice is becoming mushy and gray, breaking up fast. The temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-70s the next few days so it'll soon be gone.

While we were standing on the deck, a first-year Bald Eagle was wheeling and drifting over the lake looking for any duck or goose that seemed vulnerable. It did a low pass just over our treetops and we took that as a signal to join it in looking for waterfowl. We grabbed our optics and cameras, and climbed aboard the Honda Birdmobile. We did a slow loop around Fountain Lake, a check on the Pelicans across the tracks south of East Main, then Front Street on the shore of Albert Lea Lake, before driving south a couple of miles to check out a pond on Highway 13 where Lorna had seen ducks the day before.

Red-breasted Merganser males profiling for the lady - on Fountain Lake by Dane Bay.

There probably 75 Pelicans, maybe more, on the pond behind the old Wilson plant. Eventually there will be a few hundred on isolated backwaters of Albert Lea Lake. And a half dozen drifting like sailboats on still morning waters behind 1410 Oakwood.

A small pond on Highway 13 covered with waterfowl.

Lessor Scaups, Canvasbacks, Ringnecked Ducks, Woodducks.  There were also Redheads and Shovelers.  

Back in Oakwood. Kids across the alley pumping tires. The Rites of Spring for the Rides of Spring.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back In the 'Boro

Friday evening, on the spur of the moment, we threw a handful of clothes into bags and made a run over to Lanesboro, after a three month absence. Five minutes after we unlocked the front door there was a knock. It was our friends from next door, Marv and Carol Eggert. It is a very quiet neighborhood and they had heard the slamming of car-doors as we ferried our food, bags and dog to the house. We all sat in jackets as the house warmed up, sharing family news and catching up on local news.

Marv and Carol operate the Hillcrest Hide-Away Bed & Breakfast next door. Let me take a moment here to recommend them. I haven't actually slept on their beds, but the rooms are charming, and Carol's cooking is first rate. If you are looking for quiet weekend you might consider giving them a call. And the neighbors are great!

The village is tucked into a bend in the Root River, so it is surrounded on two sides by high bluffs and on another by Church Hill. I think that helps give it it's cozy, protected feeling. 


It was a beautiful day on Saturday, so we walked down the hill to the Pastry Shoppe for lunch. Brett hasn't missed a beat. It was wonderful. He really does amazing things with his sauces. The menu is rather limited (actually there is no menu), the decor a little rough, the tables all wobble and the old warped wood floors look perennially dirty. Some times as we sit in there savoring just amazing food, strangers will come in, slowly look around, whisper to each other and turn to leave. I always have the urge to block their retreat, grab and shake them, "Stop! What are you doing? I've eaten all over the U.S. This is just incredible food!"                But I do not (sigh), they walk up the street to another cafe, have a nice meal, probably hamburgers with fries, and are happy with their decision. 

Blackened steak, spinach salad with dill sauce. 

Creme puffs. It is a pastry shop after all. And scones to go.
Across the street to the grocery store. We're back in local cheese country! We bought a Brunost, a dark brown sweet Norwegian style cheese. Brutally expensive, but a little goes a long way
We spent the afternoon cleaning the house, washing bedding and reading. Late in the afternoon Eric Thiss stopped by with a six of mixed craft beer. He had news, among other things, our friend John Pieper, owner of the Old Village Hall, is the Democratic candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives. After Eric left we went down to the Village Hall for dinner. We generally eat in the bar because it is less formal - a little more comfortable for one or two diners. To control both my intake and my pocketbook, I often eat appetizers as my main meal. And as we are "seniors", we eat off each other's plates. 

"Cured salmon and sausage lefsa pinwheels with herbed cream cheese" - a nice Scandinavian take on hors d'oeuvres. Actually there was another, described as "shrimp and crimini Brie tart with a dill pesto", which I ate, compliments of chef Mike, who must have thought I needed more than I ordered.  I ate it before I thought of my camera phone. Both were heavy on morels, the last of last year's gathering. When May comes, please pray for warm rain. 
Berta selected a moderately priced wine for us and Lorna had a delicious baked cod which she shared with me. John stopped by to talk, shake our hands and assure us he will be an incorruptible politican.

Mike makes his own desserts, right down to making his own ice cream. You want to eat special? Tell the people who feed you and serve you when they do well. He did very well.

Bread pudding with mixed berries, handmade
 maple syrup ice cream, etc. Two forks.
I obviously love good food and drink. Possibly to a fault. While I am certain there is good local food to be had in Texas, I'm really happy to be back home eating good food prepared by people I know. 

Eat well, be well,
Gunnar B.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Rooster Has Landed

The UPS man dropped off a box today, an Italian relay from Rory Mason (Masini), my new best friend forever. The box contained a 1948/1950 Cambio Corsa equipped Galmozzi. It may be a tad small, but let's face it, there were not many 6'3", 200+ pound bicycle racers in Italy in 1950. Or today.

I am planning a couple of changes. The beautiful red stitched leather wraps will be replaced by faded red fabric wraps with wine cork plugs and the black wall tires will by replaced by gum walls. I have a set of wood Ghisallo rims that may go on it, but only if someday the frame is resprayed black. I have already stashed a set of earlier Galmozzi decals and the correct early Columbus Tubing sticker for it, but don't hold your breath.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Esteban Jordan Again, Again

Somewhere in a dusty box in the storeroom I have a couple of old cassette tapes of Esteban Jordan. A couple of days ago I posted a YouTube video of him, which I suspect nobody listened to. You really ought to. I first tried to introduce him to you musical heathens back in 2009, with ... ah ... limited sucess. 

Esteban Jordan
Jordan was born in Elsa, Texas, about 15 miles from our Alamo winter residence, and was buried there in 2010. In the three years we have wintered in the Lower Rio Grande Valley we have slowly ferreted out the good Mexican bakeries, the best taquerías, the places that still make traditional tamales wrapped in corn husks, but we have not found any music approaching this. If there is some kid out there working on it, we'll find him eventually.

This is edited down from an obit in The Guardian. There is a great one in My San Antonio, but it's rather long. Have a look if your appetite is whetted.
'You probably have never heard of accordionist Esteban 'Steve' Jordan," the Texas journalist David Bennett wrote in his introduction to a 1988 album of the musician's work. For the Anglo audience he was addressing, it was a fair comment, but to anyone in Hispanic south Texas it would have been a joke. Jordan, who has died aged 71, was a leading figure in Tex-Mex conjunto music, his records on jukeboxes from Florida to California, a Chicano superstar.  
He began playing guitar at seven and accordion at 10, and by the age of 20 claimed to know his way around at least 20 instruments. During the 1960s, in a band with some of his brothers, he played in Hispanic clubs throughout the western United States. In 1969-70, playing guitar with the Latin-jazz percussionist Willie Bobo, he became known to audiences in the eastern US and had a chance to sit in with José Feliciano. 
Jordan was famously mercurial, sometimes taking a month out of his schedule to go fishing. One club owner wishing to hire him had to turn detective to find out where he was. Trying to book him for the Channel 4 series, I was warned that Jordan was not only elusive but suspicious of Anglos, tricky about contracts and altogether rather scary. He proved to be none of those things, and his show at Club Islas in Austin – an amicable "battle of the bands" with the north Texas polka group Brave Combo – was one of the high points of the series. 
"Incurably eclectic", as the New York Times once described him, Jordan could play in any idiom, from rock and pop to country music and Louisiana zydeco. Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie Records remembers: "One night he appeared on the same programme as Clifton Chenier, and apparently felt challenged to come up to the Zydeco King's standards. It was incredible … I saw him for the last time a few years ago when he played regularly at his girlfriend's tiny bar in San Antonio and poured out his heart for a tiny audience."

May music bring joy to your soul,
 Gunnar B.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Clockwise - Esteban Jordan -

Maria Elena

Reverend Dick posted this on his blog, might as well suffer. Just when I think the Rev really sucks eggs, he drops one like this on me. Gawd this is sweet. I take back all the ugly things I have ever said about him and his forever suffering church.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Understanding Lady Bird

For you folks who are too young to remember, Lady Bird Johnson was First Lady of the United States in the mid-sixties. Most wives of presidents have occupied their time with trying to cure world hunger or raising education awareness. Lady Bird's cause was planting wildflowers along our Interstate Highways. ??? I always just wrote that off to her being a slightly flaky southern belle.

We took a long cut today, skirting around the traffic of San Antonio by taking the cutoff at Pleasanton on a rural highway which runs to Floresville and eventually on to San Marcos. I am in Texas in a wet Spring after years of drought. In places the fields and ditches are exploding with color. Some fields are yellow, some pink, a lot blue. Most of them are a mixture of colors. Guy in the gas station, "We call 'em all 'Bluebonnets' ". 

It was a misty drizzle, dim light, but great for picking up the color in photographs. Johann Rissik, who lives in South Africa, asked for pictures of the countryside of our return trip. Here's the first edition.

An "Oh, my God!" moment.

Now I understand what drove Lady Bird.

My regular camera was packed away, so I just had my shirt pocket camera (Lumix DMC-ZS25). Lorna had her "real camera" at hand. If you want more and better, here's a link to her pictures.

Live well,