I'm like a feather in the wind
I can not fly, I can not fall

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cheap Cigars

I really would prefer Onyx Reserves, but the world being what it is - unfair and pay as you go, I don't often smoke them. The maduro torpedoes I smoke don't have a fancy embossed paper ring, no one is claiming them. Actually they are are La Tabaquerias (which I think means something generic like "the tobacco dealer"). Whoever rolls them they are pretty decent Dominicans, hand rolled out of decent whole leaf, they taste okay, stay rolled tight, burn even and stay lit. So why this posting? The other day one of them was burning strange, the ash was really long and firm, like there was a stick in it. I grabbed a needle-nose pliers and pulled out the "stick". The 3" bobby pin in the photo was at the core of that aberrant stogie. A free prize!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Trip Around the 'Boro

First, the horse I rode in on. Though reasonably lightweight, it is made of steel. It only has five speeds. It doesn't have drop bars and the shift lever is up on the stem where it belongs.  "We" don't want to bend over any more than is necessary. This is clearly a 70 year-old man's bicycle.

I finally broke down and bought a bag rack. The bag has been on my shelf for five years, originally purchased for another bike whose rider didn't like the rando look nor function. I have added interior padding to protect my Nikon Coolpix P600 camera. The rack is a Nitto made to Compass Bicycle specs. Small and neat. Because the Paul brake adjustment nuts move the typical bottom mounts forward I had to put a couple of spacers on the fork crown and mount the rack like a recessed brake. The bag attaches to the rack with a wingbolt into a rinko nut on the underside of the bag. (If you have ever had a rack and bag you probably understand all this. Or care.) The elegant bike stand and the wire toe clips were also made by Nitto and sourced from Compass.

Not so visible are the Paul fingerpull brake levers mounted backwards. This might seem like an odd setup, but over the years arthritis has stolen the strength from my fingers and this allows me to clamp the levers with my thumbs which seem to have more strength. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but I have to negotiate about six blocks of steep downhill every time I fly down Church Hill. It works for me.

Polished chrome cable housing. Wouldn't be right on every bike - probably most, but looks sharp on this one.

Trail pictures, first west to the Isinour turn off, then back through Lanesboro and east to the Whalan pie shop. Eventually back to the 'Boro and up Church Hill for a Fulton Expat.

The dam: 20' x 200', made in the 1870 from 2' x2' blocks of limestone held together by gravity, tension and  iron crampons. It has furnished the village with hydro-electric power for almost 150 years.

An aside: In 1885 the Phoenix Hotel burned to the ground. It was a very large building - a square city block, three stories high of cut limestone quarried across the Root River. When the Phoenix burned (as did many of the original buildings) it left a hell-of-a pile of rocks. A lot of the village downtown was reborn and grew out of that Phoenix fire. This is the Old Town Hall - pieces of Phoenix rocks patched and pieced together as required. At one time it housed the fire wagon, the jail, the village offices and the meeting hall. The pull-chain on the side will still ring the fire bell in the tower, just to let the whole village know that someone has had a drink or two.

Now it is the local restaurant of our choice. We ate out on the patio last Thursday. While we were there an unshaven, bedraggled, rough-edged fellow approached our table carrying a large bag. The couple at the next table looked concerned. Opening the bag in my face, "Here, smell'em!" I did. It was John, the owner - fresh from a day of gathering ginseng and mushrooms. Knowing how I feel about mushrooms, he was proud and beaming; his bag filled with freshly gathered sulfur shelf mushrooms, the "chicken of the woods". Lorna and I ate a portion of our free fungi allotment this morning in an omelet. Thank you, John.

Window bars held over from the old jail. It is ALWAYS a good sign when your restaurant has a herb garden outside the back-alley door - not a pretty garden, not a show garden, just a functional garden.

Okay, back on the trail to pie. The Root River Trial follows the .... Root River.

What can you say about the Whalan pie shop? I dunno, they are homemade pies, the filling are made from fresh fruit and the crust is made from the fat of dead pigs. Those hogs did not die in vain. Possibly the best pie in the world, ... that's what you can say.

The back alley up to Church Hill. Some of the alleys of Lanesboro are lined with flowers. Our alley is lined with weeds, tumbled down garages and rusted pickup trucks. It is not a lane, it's an alley.

Back home on the crest of Church Hill - the view from the deck and a Fulton Expat in hand. There have been some complaints about my blog production and quality. I believe this posting explains it all.

Life philosophy on the back of a bottle.

 Live every day as if it is your last. We never know. -Gunnar

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Christy, Window, Ottoman

First, the important thing. Ol' buddy Christy came home yesterday after 25 days at the mercy of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He is weak, not able to make it down to the Growlery yet, but he is upright and has started walking his slow laps around the Oakwood circle to get his strength back. 

Next, while you guys have been out golfing I have been working on the Growlery. I put in a new window, and spiffed up the trim around it. I also re-glued and painted an old chair, which then of course looked too new so I sanded down the new paint a little to get it back into comfortable sitting mode. A lot of comfort is visual, mental, even emotional.  

Then the foot stool - my Ol' Man made it out of some tree branches while he was living alone in Frankie Baer's old shack which he had moved from Bear Lake to Geneva Lake. His growlery I suppose. The stool is very sturdy, but he upholstered it in an off-white plush fabric. ??? About a year ago I bought a piece of leather and I finally got around to covering it. There really wasn't enough leather, so I ended up piecing the sides from scraps. In hindsight I should have just put row of tacks around the top and bottom, but I didn't and then of course I ran out of tacks too, so there are odd patterns around the leather scraps. This is major league foresight, running out of both leather and tacks. It still looks okay; the tacks are probably are too shiny, but ... "ITS JUST A SHED" not a living room, not a den. And for god's sake, it is not a "man cave", a term that just makes my skin crawl.

Be well, stay upright, keep moving forward, G.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Another Handlebar Play

I had a set of wider moustache bars on this bike, which just felt, well, just ... clumsy. These are Nittos, shorter and wider, with Paul finger-pull brake levers flipped to the inside to be actuated with my thumbs. Initially they were mounted conventionally to the front, but my thumbs have proven to be stronger than fingers, which give me a better grab coming down the 15 - 20% streets of Church Hill. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Man Down!

This is my friend Christy. He comes over and we sit on the bench or in the Growlery and "talk smart". Mostly he helps me sit and smoke cigars. A week and a half ago he had a stroke and is in Rochester being dealt with by the Mayo Health system. He is paralyzed in his left limbs. This is more serious than it could be because his right arm is non-functional.

So here's shout out and a get well to the cranky ol' bastard.

Here's a clip from a 2011 posting explaining Christy's right arm:
Nothing very visible has happened in the Growlery during the past week, just slowly tightening windows and getting it more homey. Today I added another chair so Christy from next door will have something better than an old pail to rest his poor old broken-down ass on. As you may recall, Christy is for all practical purposes a one-armed man. As a lad he blew most of his right hand off screwing around with a revolver, then three years ago he had an accident while climbing a tree to a deer stand. "Hell, I only do it once every 60 years." A one-armed old man climbing up a tree while carrying a loaded .50 caliber muzzleloader - what could possibly go wrong? When the butt hit the ground the gun discharged, the ball struck him in the right armpit, destroying his shoulder. After numerous failed surgeries at the Mayo Clinic, the arm just hangs there limp with a non-functioning hand attached. He does not have it removed because, as he puts it, "I've become attached to it over the years". I only digress to share this little nugget of misery and woe because he is presently in South Dakota on a pheasant hunting trip ... with a shotgun ... a regular unmodified shotgun ... a one-armed hunter armed with a shotgun and a history of gun related mishaps. And still he is invited on numerous hunting and fishing trips. "They only tolerate me because I cook." For the sake of his companions, let us hope he doesn't receive the honorary Richard B. Cheney Award for Marksmanship.       Again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

View From the Lanesboro Deck (& Grady)

Nothin' spectacular, just pleasant.

My primary view, the Hideaway contemplative labyrinth. 

Down the hill to the northeast. Looks suspiciously like a Growlery to me. I suspect it was originally a well house for the Hanson house. The Hansons moved from their family home, and Maria and her children lived there for a while. Now there is a fellow named Jamal, his wife Heather(?) and two extreme cute preschoolers. I love to listen to little children laughing and giggling.

North trees

South trees

Keith and Bea's house across to the southwest. 

Beer, cigar, shades, tunes. Continued suffering.

Our backyard.

View to the front toward Jack's place hiding behind the maple.
Jack is older: a senior (and I am 70). He has lived in the triplex since he retired from Honeywell in '96. The building is one of those inward looking places so we don't see much of Jack. The garage door opens, the red BMW leaves, the door opens, the BMW returns, the door closes. Sunday evening Jack and I went down to the Village Hall to eat and drink out on the deck under that huge maple tree. A wonderful evening.

The Hillcrest Hideaway
If you are interested, the Hideway is about to be listed for sale. Marv and Carol are wonderful neighbors and I will hate to see them move. Marv keeps on eye on our place when we aren't there and Carol brings us cookies when we are. Time moves on, but for goodness sake, when I am working in the yard, sweating in the summer heat, Marv will come over carrying a couple of cold Goose Island IPAs and tell me it is break time. The man brings his own beer!

This is Grady. He stopped by on Monday to talk, have lunch, and more importantly, to pick the McLean bicycle which he purchased from me a month or two ago. He seemed quite pleased.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kvale Cheesecake Pictures

I was at the cottage over a long weekend mowing lawn and continuing my seemingly Sisyphean task of sanding and painting. (I do not believe in 70 years I have ever used that word before.) The weather was cool but sunny and really quite nice so I rolled down the hill for lunch with J.T. then rode out to Frank's Oz rhubarb garden just to check things out. When I returned I parked the Kvale in the dining room (note the neatly painted wood trim) and later dug out a real camera rather than a toy for a proper photo op.                         Obviously I am not not rational about this bicycle. 

Almost perfect fender lines - a surprisingly difficult task to pull off.
Older Brooks Pro perched on a Paul post.

Campagnolo Corsa Record RD
Campagnolo track crank - White pedals with Nitto cages

Curtis Odom hubs.
Leather laced over fabric wraps. And an assort of very beautiful handmade parts.

Take care, be well,

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Cottage Crab

Long live the queen. Commanding the back yard of the cottage there is a flowering crab. Most "modern" trees are compact, dwarf. They are practical, yet somehow lacking .... lacking grace. This one is forty or fifty feet tall. In Spring it is covered with flowers, in late Summer a herd of deer come every evening to clean up the dropped fruit, even stretch-standing on their rear legs to glean apples off the lower branches, before curling up in the wet moonlight grass to sleep it off until morning. 

Unfortunately we all get old. Like many of us this tree looks fine from the window side but the other side is hollow to the point of non-existence. The trunk is a half shell of rotting wood. It is time ... I have delayed the inevitable for three years. It is scheduled for removal as soon as Dave Norby can fell it with his chainsaw. 

Our neighbor, Marv sent me these pictures yesterday. A good tree, it really knew how to flower - it gave it everything it had - feeding the bees for decades. I will miss its show. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Coming Up For Air

Cousin Fritz told Lorna that Aunt Dorothy was worried that I might be ailing because I hadn't posted anything for a month or so. For the record, Dor, I am fine, just busy.

Climbing back up onto the blog train I checked the 1410 stats to see if anyone actually monitored a half-dead blog. Apparently some do. I am not certain what happened on April 28th. Someone with a bunch of followers must have posted a link or something because I got 1,761 pageviews that day. ??? I have no idea what that was all about.

Meanwhile, I have been spending about four days a week alone solo at the cottage doing some interior painting and transplanting - just doing general maintenance and putzing about. Solo? Lorna has been busy with other things. but the Lanesboro neighbors and friends have kept me company and Grady Linehan came down one weekend to look at the McLean bicycle. The bike is still at the cottage, but it now it belongs to Grady.

If anyone is garden inclined, I also posted a handful of Spring garden photos here.