" I arise in the morning torn between a desire to inprove the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." -E.B.White

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Human Executions

First, let me say I do not feel we have a moral right to take any person's life and I do not think this should be any State's option. In our country some states have chosen to go another way and I have to accept that. 

On Monday for the third time in my life I took an old dog to the vet to have it's life ended. When the vet terminates a dog's life he strokes and comforts the animal, gives it a shot, and it slowly goes to sleep and dies almost immediately, no gasps or convolutions. I realize that canines and humans have different anatomical structures and I have no idea what is in the injection they use, but it appears to work quite well. 

My thought as I watch the news with southern states struggling with unavailable termination "cocktails" or ineffectual solutions, that maybe they should be talking to the people with experience in humanly ending lives rather than medical doctors who's knowledge and skill is in keeping animals alive.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bud's Last Ride

On Monday I put a handful of dog treats in my pocket and loaded the ol' Bud into the car for his last trip to the Clarks Grove Veterinary Clinic. The Budster was completely deaf, partially blind and eventually he was likely suffering from canine dementia. He could be a joy and he could be a pain in the ass, but he did the best he could. As he aged he slept most of the time, when awake was really only interested in when the next meal was. 

Do dogs have ghosts? It has only been a couple of days; his presence is quite strong. When I get up from my chair I look down to make certain I don't step on him sleeping at my feet, when I come in the door I still glance where his kennel was - just checking on him. When we were in the kitchen Bud was always there, ever hoping for clumsy fingers. Now I catch myself stepping over nothing. Last night I started to set an unlicked yogurt bowl on the floor, one of the things that Bud was really good at - prewashing dishes. 

Was Bud a great dog? No, probably not, but he was our dog. He was our dog for 15 years.

And he will be our last dog.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Growlery Door

There was some petty theft in Oakwood a couple of weeks ago. I lost my prescription sunglasses out of the truck. I've always been a little uneasy about the Growlery door. It was a heavy old door, but it had a rinky-dink latchset and a single large pane of glass. The combination of some bicycles that are relatively valuable, at least to me, and the missing Ray-Bans pushed me over the edge. Last week I replaced the glass with two layers of tongue-and-groove boards, replaced the latch with an old cast iron set I've been saving for years, and I installed a heavy deadbolt lock. Obviously the door could still be breeched, but it would require some serious tools and noise to accomplish it. I also bought a screen door for $39.95, plus about ten bucks worth of hinges. It only costs a few dollars more to go first class.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1950(?) Galmozzi Project

This week the Ghisallo rim wheelset was completed. Dan Lestrud, who built them, won't accept cash, so I need to buy him off with a fine bottle of liquor or two. They look great, ride sweet and are dead nuts true so far. The project is not complete. Next, I need to make brake pads out of wine corks. Just a short turn around the neighborhood trying to avoid braking left black marks on the rims.

There are some other small things - the brake hoods are Dia-Compe replacements for the Balillas, some nuts and bolts that have been replaced over the years. I may not replace them because they are part of the bicycle's story. The toe straps are cheap - made in China. I would like to find a pair of red Alfredo Bindas. They are available on eBay, but I haven't adjusted to their price yet.  Just little things. 

The front derailleur is not quite period correct. I believe Campagnolo marketed their first derailleur, the Gran Sport in '52 and likely the lefthand shifter setup at the same time. Regardless, it would have been a typical upgrade of the day (beats shifting greasy chains with fingers). It has the added benefit of acting as chain retainer, keeping the chain from jumping off the rings while shifting, which has proven  to be a bit of an  issue for me, being a novice Cambio Corsa operator.

Early Brooks Team Professional with large, smooth
 rivets. I have "butchered" it some, but to my eye I
need to remove more leather from the bottom and
under the nose. 

Cambio Corsa drivetrain. A bad design solving a non-existent problem. Possibly its the quirkiness that has made them so bloody dear and expensive.

Dogbone skewer. A reproduction.  I have an 
original, but it's on a shelf because of  $$$.

Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleur

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Food is fuel. If you eat too much of it your body will store it for future use. Evolution has sorted out our desires. We don't like the taste of things that will make us sick or even kill us. The human animal is attracted to foods that have a lot of energy per bite - that is, fats and carbohydrates. The downside of this is that if we take in more calories than we burn, we store the excess. Over the years I stored about 75 pounds of excess energy, banked for future consumption. This all makes good sense if you are a hunter-gatherer, not so much if you are a retired, relatively sedentary old man pushing 70 years of good living.

As nature intended, I love food. And I really love good food. I have loved it to a fault. I loved it to 260+ pounds. (I do not own a scale, but the Mayo Health Care System does.) All scales lie to us anyway. Their numbers can always be rationalized. I have a belt and we have a full length mirror at the end of the hall between the bath and the bedroom. It's hard to rationalize holes in a belt, and believe me, mirrors will not tell a lie. My 69 year old body is certainly not a pretty sight. But there is less of the ugly than there was a couple of years ago.

About then I took charge of my body and it's intake. I'm not quite where I want to be yet, but I am damned close. The holes in the belt are about 1 1/4" apart. I started punching more downstream holes as I needed them and eventually cut off the end when it became floppy long. I will need one more hole soon. All of this is not self congratulation. It is my foodie credentials. I think about my fuel intake now. Two days a week I do a modified fast - holding my intake to about 600 calories. Listen to your body; only eat when you are actually hungry, not just because it is "meal time". Eat local when feasible. Avoid fast food. We split our restaurant meals. We often eat appetizers as our main courses. We divide our deserts. We believe in eating in moderation. And we eat very well, in moderation.

I really started thinking about this again when I recently saw something on the net showing twelve people holding trays of their typical daily intake. Here is a couple of the particular bad ones.

People, this is not food (though the cigarettes are a nice touch). This stuff will kill you over time.

Friday, June 27, 2014

A 1927 Late Lunch

Last Monday in The Boro. Lorna was fasting. I wasn't. Instead, I rode my bicycle a little, then caught a late lunch from Gordie Tindall at the Spud Boy Diner shortly before he closed. The earliest picture Gordie has of the diner was taken in 1927. It was a shell when he found and restored it. Gordon is one of those people who was born too late. His car is a 1950 Hudson - unrestored. Gondon is like a coelacanth, just a little out of sync with the modern world. Only in a place like Lanesboro could he even vaguely fit in. The diner just feels right with him behind the counter.

Lunch was good, a 1927 sized hamburger on a toasted bun, and one freshly sliced french-fried potato. There was half a fresh baked pie on the counter. Gordon didn't try to tempt me, didn't mention the pie - just slid it on the counter next to me and nonchalantly lifted the glass cover so I would smell it as I ate the burger and fries. I really should have been fasting anyway and I had a few more miles to ride. I passed on the pie.

Gloves, Ray-bans, vintage coffee grinder. Vintage? Hell, everything is vintage. I'm vintage. Even my bike is vintage.

Potato slicer, hot grease, my burger.

Gordon's office. With the optional Pall Malls.  Considers filtered cigarettes "new-fangled".

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blood 'n Ivory w/ Wooden Fenders

I am obsessive about fender clearance and fender line. This is close to sweet.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Holy Doppelgänger!

Yesterday I was at a garden center to pick up some potting soil and Coleus for the big pots at the bench end of the garden walkway. I've had a lot of flowering plants in my big pots in the past. The one that flowers the best in my sun/shade lighting are common Impatience. I suppose they are okay, but it's hard to get good solid colors without growing them yourself and they all have an unrefined, common look to them, like colored hay. So over the years I've settled on foliage rather than flowers. I had to scout around to find the Coleus with dark cabernet leaves, same as last year, which looked great all summer.

As I got to the checkout with my dirt and plants, the woman at the register said, "You've been here almost every day haven't you?" "No ma'am, this is the first time this year." She seemed puzzled, almost stunned, and she examined me closely, "There is a man that looks just like you - the long hair, straw hat ... everything!" Wow! My doppelganger! I smiled and said,"You mean he is a really good looking fellow." (Now my favorite part.) In all sincerity she said, "No, he looked just like you." 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lestie (Peewee Herman) Lestrud

Lestie was over this weekend. A few beers were consumed and world problems were solved. At one time the young Dan Lestrud worked for Dan Ulwelling at the Rydjor Bike Shop. He was taught to build  bicycle wheels that roll sweet and true forever. Later he opened a small bicycle shop of his own. His shop is now long gone, but the tools and skillsets to use them remain. More importantly, he would like to take a crack at building a set of low-tension wood rim wheels for the Cambio Corsa Galmozzi. About two beers into the afternoon we looked over the hubs and rims, and discussed spokes and tension. Yesterday I dropped off the components at this house, because he rode a vintage Monark bicycle over here on Saturday and I couldn't visualize anything good happening to my potentially fragile wood Ghisallo rims being transported on a bicycle. 

1952 Monark Super Deluxe, original paint, chrome, saddle and grips. I forgotten how heavy old American bikes really were. This is a singlespeed bicycle with a small rear cog, a large chainring and easily weighs 50 pounds. It is a virtual tank. What on earth were they thinking? There was no noticeable effort to be efficient or reduce weight. Obviously no person designing this machine had actually ever ridden a bicycle. But that said, it is quite attractive with a nostalgic American design aesthetic, and the white wall tires and color combinations are quite attractive.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The High Heeled Spoon

Frank gave this to me a few weeks ago. He figures he made over 40,000 spoons and other kitchen utensils between his mid-life and when he walked out of his shop on his 65th birthday. The high heel spoon was thrown into a box in the corner to rest for 20 years, waiting for its Cinderella, because the limb it was carved from had a nail embedded in it. On the bottom of the heel it is noted in black India ink: #894 Frank Wright 1993. Frank said that somewhere long the line he thought, "I'm not a numbering kind of guy, I don't even fold my underwear, why am I numbering these damned things?" An early, numbered Frank Wright? ;-) With the framing nail upgrade? Wow!

Stories? Just to prove it is possible to write trivia that only three people in the entire world (counting myself) care about, here's a tour of the picture:
The wall panels are weathered redwood boards recycled from the fence in front of our house. You remember, the fence that the neighbors would look at as they walked by - and stop, silently shaking their heads in a tsk tsk. 
I bought the desk at an estate sale for $15. Actually I paid $25 for the desk, but I re-sold a couple of other items I had bought to an antique dealer for a $10 profit before I had technically paid for them myself. $15. The desk ain't much, I may have gotten taken.
To my eye the vase is beautiful, an opinion not shared by everyone in this house. It has worm holes and a couple of flat sides with worm trails. The interior is fully hollowed out and smooth to the touch as far as my finger can reach. I have no idea how that was done. Unfortunately for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the guy that turned it. 
The lidded cup was made 50 years ago out of a broken hard rock maple bowling pin by Joe Koevnig. The walls are amazingly thin and the top fits quite tight. Nice job. It's empty. I'm saving it in case I ever find a pocketful of precious things. 
The small wooden cylinder originally had a threads cut into the wood and a screw on wooden cap. It was in my grandfathers tackle box, containing a small bottle of fine oil. The threads had become stripped and split so eventually I cut them off. The pens and pencils are old giveaways advertising things like Bud the Bailer and Berg Corn Shelling. My father as a young man.
And a heavy piece of bicycle spoke cut out of a vintage Galmozzi wheel for punching out cheap plugged cigars.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Brian's Warbler and Rivulets

These are pictures of a Black-throated Gray Warbler Dendroica nigrescens, that Brian Plathe took yesterday, Saturday, in his backyard in Austin, Minnesota. The location is important. It is a Western bird and this only the eighth recorded sighting of it in Minnesota. Ever. Birds have their own maps. By ours, it was at least two states out of it's range. Brian posted his find on Facebook, which triggered a number of requests by "governing bodies" for him to post it on their "official" sites. He has had issues with them in the past and feels they are egotistical, arrogant and arbitrary. So he pretty much told them to go to hell.

Sunday on our way home from Lanesboro we stopped at Brian's home, on the outside shot that the bird would show up again. It didn't, but we wandered around Brian's layout for a while, taking a few pictures. The rain stopped and the weather cleared to a glorious day. 

When Jutta came back from dog walking we all sat in the sun on the patio and shared beer and conversation. Nice.

Here some pictures of Brian's yard. "Yard" isn't accurate I suppose. Yard kind of denotes (or is that "connotes"?) a flat rectangle of tended lawn. Brian and Jutta's place is 3 1/2 acres of lawn, shrubs and hardwoods, with three permanent springs feeding clear cold rivulets that run down to 200+ feet of Turtle Creek shoreline. Turtle Creek is a reasonably large waterway, wide enough that Bald Eagles patrol it, regularly flying the length.

Brian and Lorna spotting warblers.

The spring fed streamlets are shallow enough to be perfect bird baths. The slopes and shallow gullies are a cool eden in May - in Summer they are hot, humid mosquito hellholes.

Look careful, all of the following shots have feathered bathers.