.......................................... Strix the harbinger
...........................................guards OakWood's gate, ever asking,
.............. . ......................................"Whooo passes this night?"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Brother

When I was pre-school and in early grade school I shared a room and bed with a boy I considered to be an older brother. My father found Kenny Goldman, a runaway, hiding in a shed on my grandparent's farm. His parents had been killed in an auto accident and he was running away from a bad situation at his older sister's home, who was his closest relative.















Kenny lived with us through high school, until he joined the Navy. He stopped in once after his discharge, on his way to a job in Minneapolis. We never saw him again. My parents were heartbroken. Years later his obituary appeared in our local paper. He had become a mid-level manager for the telephone company. He died in his fifties from a heart attack.

Apparently his time with us was a part of his life he didn't want to remember.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Flying

This is a response to and explanation of Margadant's comment on the Dec 17 Fish Camp posting:

The Old Man was taught to fly by John Vasey from Hollandale. Gene Fynbo was the one who certified him, but it was Johnny who taught him to fly, which is ultimately the reason for your adventure on your first plane ride.

When I met Johnny he was a spray pilot and truck driver for Ulland Bros. One Sunday we're at the airport, the Old Man talking flying and gravel with Johnny. He got his mischievous smile, you know the innocent one, and said, "Why don't you take the kid up for a ride?" So Johnny and I climbed on board. I don't remember the type of plane for sure. Probably a Stearman, which I know he flew some years later. It would be a better story if I could remember for certain, but it gets a little fuzzy about then. We flew straight up until it stalled and he just dropped it back around and went nuts - completely nuts. He gave me the most terrifying experience of my life. Just terrifying. He did a series of low passes, snap rolls or slow rolls with the wing tips 3 or 4 feet off the ground. And I swear, if you're in the plane, it looks like the wingtips are hitting the ground, it looks like you are going to die - die being pushed against gravity like you're on the devil's rollercoaster. You are going to hit the ground and become as one with the wreckage. You are going to die!

A lifetime later I got my feet back on God's good earth and eventually located my misplaced spine. It wasn't one of my better moments. I was not cool. I found out I was at the wrong end of a really bad practical joke, or maybe a good one, depending on your viewpoint. In his previous life, Johnny had been a barnstormer and a stunt pilot. His gimmick was that his whole routine was typical stunts, except done right over the ground so people could see - up close. Eventually the barnstorming days dwindled down and Johnny went driving truck. But he sure enjoyed taking the cockiness out of a punk kid. It also helps explain the Old Man's skill and his urge to bend airplanes in unnatural directions.

The Christmas Angel


When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the pre-Christmas pressure. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where.Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered. Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the rum. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of it. Just then the doorbell rang, and irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?"

Christmas Tree 2008


Our first Christmas together we were living in a tiny 3-room cottage, referred to as "The Doll House" by the locals. We had NO money, so a Christmas tree was not on the agenda. Two days before Christmas there was a knock at the door and Lorna's father, Bob was there, with a big smile and the sorriest excuse for a Christmas tree I've ever seen - a Charlie Brown special. Bob had a small general store and sold a few trees along with the groceries, work boots and dollar watches. Ours was the tree that was left after everyone in town had picked them over and had selected the presentable trees. ( I like the idea of "presentable" as a standard for a Christmas tree. Worthy of presents.) We made some colorful ornaments out of construction paper. The tree dropped all of it's needles. If we touched it, the falling needles just made a tinkling sound. When we took what was left of the tree, the skeleton, and pitched it on New Years Day, we threw all the "ornaments" out with it. I wish we had saved a couple for our current tree.


Some years we cut our own tree out at the Budd's farm. This year the brutal weather has hit us with a vengeance, so we have an artificial tree - the classic faux fir.


A lot of our ornaments are homemade or received as gifts. I made the birdcage out of brass wire and a pint paint can lid.






The sled is about 3" long. I made it out of a light coat hanger and some scrap oak ( for sturdiness?).















State Fair 1935: Lorna's Mother and Aunt Dorothy. We have her diary. They were a family of five kids that really had fun, even during the depression. Lorna made the counted cross-stitch little boy, mounted in a curtain-ring, back when she still had the eyes and the patience for it. My Grandma Berg tatted the snowflakes and crocheted the little traditional Scandinavian hearts.


The little romantic picture is the lid from Lorna's Grandma Nelson's make-up compact - the Lord knows she needed all the romance she could find. The little carved wooden girl is from Denmark. They still make them, but like most things the quality is poor now. Even the Danes are all going to hell.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Summertime Blues

The first day of Winter. There's a foot of new snow , it's 9 below and blowin' like a banshee. I dont' want to be trapped here right now. I wanna be 19 and laying on a beach... instead I'm 63 and locked in by bad weather.

The small town where I'm held hostage by situation, was the hometown of one Eddie Cochran, a hot Rock 'n Roller who crashed too young years ago. I'm old and in the way, but I can still rock 'n roll in my heart.

Summertime Blues

I'm gonna raise a fuss,
I'm gonna raise a holler
About a workin' all summer just to try to earn a dollar
Every time I call my baby, and try to get a date
My boss says, "No dice son, you gotta work late"
Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do
But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

Well my mom and pop told me,
"Son you gotta make some money,
If you want to use the car to go ridin' next Sunday"
Well I didn't go to work, told the boss I was sick
"Well you can't use the car 'cause you didn't work a lick"
Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do
But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

I'm gonna take two weeks, gonna have a fine vacation
I'm gonna take my problem to the United Nations
Well I called my congressman and he said, Quote:
"I'd like to help you son but you're too young to vote"
Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do
But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hunting Camp

Every late Fall the Old Man and his cohorts went Up North to go deer hunting. Understand, in Minnesota, "Up North" is a place, a destination... a state of mind... not a direction. They were "Up North", a place of rocks and rivers, lakes and evergreen forests - a good place to be with friends.

Marlin "Bud" Berg (The Old Man), Chuck Nelson, Donald Wayne, Chris Lindrupp and Homer Jensen sitting around the evening table, which Homer had just built from a pile of boards brought along from the Clarks Grove Lumber Company, which he managed. I notice that Big Donald was still wearing a white shirt and tie, apparently from a meeting, left in a hurry to get a fast jump on the road north. Dad looks like Dad always did during the winter - hunting or not - a man of leather and wool. As I've gotten older, I find myself dressing more like him, and enjoying every day of it. I put on my Filson double cruiser and Filson cap with tie up fleece flaps - what the kids call a Fudd Hat, and go out about on my northland business. I see his reflection in the store windows as I pass... and smile. Unbelievably geeky, but as he said, "You cannot put a price on personal comfort". Or old memories.

The same group getting ready for bed. Damn, Dad looks young! They're all young men in their prime, not knowing how time would tear them down.

The boys ready to bed down for the night. They are in bedrolls, as this is before sleeping bags were common, at least for this conservative crew. The gentleman on the rear cot is Al Swenson. No one called him Reverend Swenson. He was Swens. He was a rough-edged, take no prisoners preacher. He could kick your ass. The Old Man said Swens was always trying to save their souls by have morning devotionals. Everyone ignored him and escaped by crawling under the tent wall when he was distracted. Dad said the last thing he heard in the morning as he was walking back into the woods was Swens, now alone back in camp, bellowing, "Come back here! You HEATHENS!". They were and they didn't.

Charles Nelson after he got his buck, ever the neat and dapper killer. No blood spilt on his pants nor under his fingernails; no evidence that he had met Bambi in the woods, killed him, cut him open and tore his guts out, before tying a rope around his neck and dragging him out of the woods to hang him from a tree for the world to see. How easily he wears the look of innocence.

I realize that a Winnebago is more convenient and blaze orange is safer, but we've lost a certain sense of class and style, even elegance, when the soft wools and canvas tents were lost to time and "progress".

These are the people that taught me honor and honesty, how to be a man, in the best sense of the word. Swens was the preacher who lived across the street, a man I knew as a person, more as a roll model than a Sunday minister. The religion didn't stick, but hopefully the strength did. Donald was my first employer as a kid - 50 cents an hour. We would be talking about moral dilemmas and he would come up with things like, "Well, just don't forget to rotate your tires"; things that at the time didn't seem to be related to the conversation, but did of course. It just took me longer to process it. Chuck owned the gas station where I worked after school through high school. One time I was agonizing over a gift for a young lady (and he was paying me all of $1.25 an hour). From Chuck I got, "In the long run, for women, I've found it's tough to beat furs and jewels". That has stood me in good stead. Homer was the father of one of my best friends and lived four doors down the street. Later in life, Dad and Homer really only talked when they were in the middle of life crises and needed counsel. When the Old Man died, Homer came to the funeral home and had a 15 minute conversation, out loud, with Dad laying in an open casket. His last counsel. Everyone left the room, either out of respect for privacy or maybe overcome with the creepiness of it all. From Chris, from good hearted Chris, I still have an old target rifle and the skillset to use it. And of course my father... from my father, particularly from my young father, I got... everything. All good men, and all gone now. (I am resisting comments about the Happy Hunting Ground.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Oophda Party

Lorna and her two sisters met Tuesday in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic for a girl's get together. The three of them have had breast cancer issues, plus the loss of the generation of the women that preceded them to breast cancer. Because of the wonderful advancements in genetics they were able to determine that they were all carrying the BRC2 genetic marker for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. While the breasts are no longer an issue, a 3 to 4 times normal risk of ovarian cancer, a real killer, still existed. A month ago they had all shared an appointment with the surgeon for physicals and were all scheduled for their oophorectomies on the same day with adjoining rooms. Lorna was first in line and came out of it in amazing fashion. Her conditioning and yoga probably paid off - not even any painkiller! Her sisters were a little slower recovering, so it was late in the day before we, the men in waiting, were able to get them over to sister Linda's house, who just happens to live in Rochester.
For two days they curled up in warm blankets, talking and watching chick flicks, tended by the next generation, Addy and Sarah, who is a brand new RN. Thursday afternoon I went back over and picked up Lorna and brought her home. This will be henceforth known in family lore as the oophda party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grandma's Pitcher

I am only posting this because it is the same design style as the lights and mudguards of classic French bicycles I love. I don't think the pitcher is French. The stamp on the bottom is a stylized globe with "World" & "Hand Forged" stamped across it. It was crafted at a time when aluminum was exotic, an expensive material worth the effort of craftsmanship. It works equally well for my daffodils in the Spring and lemonade in the hot days of Summer. In Winter I use it to add water to the pot of papyrus that is slowly dying, waiting for Spring and the outdoor pond, when it will hopefully spring back to life. Me too.




No matter how hard I try, I cannot think of anyway to use it on a bicycle; and I've actually thought about it... a lot - at least no uses that Grandma would approve of. But Hell, she didn't even approve of bicycles, except as children's toys.

Fishing Camp


When I was growing up I assumed every man, every REAL man, owned an airplane. In the 1950s they were not necessarily a high end luxury toy. An old airplane cost about the same as a good secondhand car. We couldn't afford a second car. Certain priorities had to be maintained. All of the Old Man's friends seemed to own an airplane or a least a share in one. There was a rough grass airstrip on my grandfather's farm where at least two or three planes were usually tied down.


Being a rural kid, I could drive a truck when I was about twelve, but I could fly an airplane long before that. Sunday afternoons were spent in the air. When the Old Man would get bored, I would take the stick. Being up in the air there was nothing to hit, nothing a kid could wreck - just learn to fly by trial and error. The only issue was trying to keep my feet on the pedals.

For a while the Old Man had two airplanes, one on wheels and another, a pontoon, he owned with his sidekick, Big Donald. I suppose there was a Little Donald at one time, but if so, I never knew him.



The pictures were taken with a rangefinder camera with a wind-up delay. The Aeronca Sedan had a fabric covered body with aluminum wings, a step up from the all fabric Piper Cub 2-seater it replaced. The stylish dark red and cream Sedan was normally a 4-seater, but for the purposes of fishing in remote Canadian lakes, it became a 2-seater to make room for gear.
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(Incidently, one time the Old Man and Don ran into a hard headwind on a return trip, and ran out of fuel. The Old Man slid her, dead stick, into an alfalfa field south of Owatonna and didn't even scratch the pontoons. It did merit an unwanted front page photo in the local paper though. A couple of days later they cobbled a wheeled dolly to fit under the pontoons and he flew her out and finished the trip home.)
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Before he bought the Cub, he and maybe Homer(?), drove to Canada in a pickup, and then took their equipment, including a light boat, on the train to Churchill. They were dropped off out in the middle of the boondocks and were picked up a week later by the train on its return run.
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All this was before there was an REI in every town. People made or reworked all their equipment - a lot of Army surplus. (For instance, Homer had a custom boat he could car-top on his Caddy, built like a canvas/cedar strip canoe, except it was wider and had a transom for a light outboard). The Old Man coveted it; years later he bought on Homer's retirement sale, but resold it almost immediately. He just needed the pleasure of ownership of something fine. Their tent was an old parachute which had been converted into a simple tent by the local tent and awning maker. I don't remember any mosquito netting - just welts and itches. The boat in the photos was a Navy surplus lifeboat with a homemade pine transom to hold the 2 1/2 horse Evinrude, which was augmented by paddles.


Our boys were fishing in remote lakes that probably had never been fished, except by a handful of local Crees. I don't recall the names of the small lakes, but I know Gods Lake was favored if the goal was really big fish. The fish in the live-trap look to be a mixture of Northerns, Muskies and maybe a Lake Trout or two. Nice size (keep in mind that the Old Man was tall, and his legs don't look that big in the picture). The Old Man brought home some really enormous fish over the years - real trophy fish - fish that probably should have been mounted. But there was no way Ma was going to have a dead fish hanging on the walls of her home anyway! She barely tolerated Sid, the Whitetail buck mount, which was used as a hat rack in our front entry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kirby Miles Berg

One evening a number of years ago I received a telephone call informing me that my 30 year old younger brother had been seriously burned in a house fire and had been transferred to a burn unit in Minneapolis. He died without regaining consciousness on December 16, 1980. He left behind an ex-wife and young daughter. It takes a little of the kick out of Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bud and Chicken - June 1943


Before anyone starts posting comments about the hot young chick, keep in mind that this is my parents. ;-) The black blob at the Old Man's feet may be their dog, Sache. This picture may have been before they left on their honeymoon, which I think involved fishing - which should have set off loud warning bells in Mother's head. More on fishing later.

The North Country Fair? A Weather Report:

Well, if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin' winds.

-R. Zimmerman

Damn guys, it' cold. Actually the temperature isn't that unusual for the time and place - what catch us off guard was the suddenness of it. It was warm yesterday. Kjarstens said it was 37 degrees when he took the dog for a walk and 9 degrees when he returned. Unfortunately it continued to fall...way below zero. By 10 o'clock last night the wind chill was bouncing around -45 below. Last night the winds did hit heavy on the borderline.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crazy

When Lorna and Gunnar were young and foolish we followed an intense, obscure Texas songwriter named Willie Nelson, and went to as many of his concerts as we could. The early ones were fun, like going to a club meeting where we all shared something that nobody else knew. Eventually the rest of the public caught on. Somewhere along the line we adopted Crazy as "our song", our own little sweet joke.

One evening The DC Drifters were playing the Caboose in Glenville. Lorna requested Crazy. They didn't all know the song, but Lorna was cute, really cute, so they dedicated the whole set to her - and damned well knew Crazy the next time.

Its not a song that lends itself to printed lyrics, as the tension of Willie's ungodly long pauses help make the song, as if he's trying to think of what to say next. Half the song is like quiet space, just waiting to be filled with the next line.

I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so lonely
I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue
I knew
That you'd love me as long as you wanted
And then some day
You'd leave me for somebody new
Worry?
Why do I let myself worry?
Wondering?
What in the world did I do?
I'm crazy
For thinking that my love could hold you
I'm crazy for trying
And crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you

Death of Miss Bettie


I was listening to CNN blathering about Illinois politics when it scrolled across the bottom of the screen. "50s pin-up queen Bettie Page dies at age 85". The news of her death came as a terrible shock to me. Hell, I thought she'd been dead for years. For a kid growing up in the fifties, Bettie Page was the very definition of "naughty". She was on calenders in damned near very shop, gas station and garage in America. Everywhere men gathered without the women, the mothers and wives, to set them straight, Bettie was there. Even my straight arrow Uncle Duke had Miss Bettie in his shop in the basement, discretely on the inside of a cabinet door. I was just a kid, but I knew naughty when I saw it and Bettie was naughty, naughty even when she was fully clothed.
I remember reading later in life she found religion and left her notorious life behind. But not before she left 4,230,000 photos on Google Photo and a bunch of books on Amazon, to say nothing of a bazillion key fobs, calenders and playing cards. God bless her leggy, black lace, spiked-heeled soul.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Alvéolé !

. I recently exchanged correspondence and photos with a gentleman on the subject of vintage French bicycle lights, the Luxor brand in particular. Obviously, at this point in both of our lives, we are completely bonkers and pretty damned comfortable in that state. Whereas I have a few old lights, enough to outfit two or three bikes, Aldo has a small museums worth. He has taken upon himself to try to collect every variation available. Well, you say, there can't be that many different vintage French bicycle lights. Oh yeah(?), maybe hundreds..



Most manufacturers, Radios, Cibe, Soubitz, Vitalux, had smooth, polished finishes. Luxor is the only one I'm aware of that had both the smooth and also a hammered honeycomb finish that matches the classic Lefol fenders (mine are the modern Honjo replicas). I was quite fortunate (read:$$) to find the matching honeycomb reflector. Anyway, in the process of all this, I learned that the hammered finish on my Luxor 65s is called "alvéolé". I'm not certain of the direct translation (honeycomb?), but I really don't care. If someone comments on the lights, I will just nonchalantly reply, "Well yes, I have always quite preferred the alvéolé finish.

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And the box they came in!




Querelle des Femmes

Monday, December 8, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Sometimes we receive unexpected little gifts. One time I mentioned to Addy that "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" is one of those perfect songs. The change in meter and key expresses the feeling of the song as much as the lyrics do. The last time she was home she asked me to come into the room with the piano. (The "piano room" sounds far too uppity.) She sat down at the piano and played and sung the song for me. She went online, downloaded the sheets and memorized it, just for old Dad. Now ain't that sweet? I hinted that I'd really like to get "Moonlight in Vermont", another wonderful piece, for my next present. Or maybe Willie Nelson's "Crazy"?

Or Orbison's "Pretty Paper" for a Christmas present? Such a happy little ditty, that captures the spirit of the season so well:

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write I love you
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won't pass him by

Should you stop? better not, much too busy
You're in a hurry, my how time does fly
In the distance the ringing of laughter

And in the midst of the laughter he cries
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write I love you

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue

Curt makes the L.A.Times

This is long, but I snipped it because buried deep in its bowels is an acknowledgement of Curt Goodrich who built Addy's bike. He is originally from Blue Earth and is a master craftsman and general all round good guy. Go Curtie!

A small but increasing number of California craftspeople custom-build bicycle frames and parts.
By Jerry Hirsch
December 8, 2008


In an era of global sourcing and computer-aided design, Gregory Townsend builds custom steel bicycle frames in his Monrovia garage.

The 50-year-old British expatriate, who learned metal crafting in a high school shop class, is part of a small but growing number of craftspeople in California catering to bicycle enthusiasts who eschew the super-light carbon fiber cycles of the Tour de France for hand-built frames with meticulous fittings and elaborate paint jobs.

Although most of the bicycle manufacturing business fled to low-cost production centers in Taiwan and China years ago, a small high-end industry continues to percolate in California. It's characterized by small companies, typically with just a handful of employees, making handcrafted bicycle frames and specialized hubs, brakes and other components used for touring, fitness and recreational cycling.

Townsend's creations sell for $2,300 to more than $4,000, depending on how loaded the frames are with highly polished stainless steel detailing, paint colors and other fancy features.

"People come because they want the personal fitting and the communication on their riding style directly with the builder," Townsend said.

He's selling to hobbyists such as Roy Kohl, a vascular surgeon from Monrovia who rides several thousand miles a year.

"I just liked the concept of having a steel frame that was custom built and fit for me," Kohl said.

"My other bikes were aluminum and carbon fiber, but there is nothing that rides as nice as a good steel frame."

Townsend typically takes prospective clients on a bike ride. He wants to see how they fit their existing bicycle and find out about their riding preferences.

Like Townsend, other tiny operators in this niche typically work out of homes and small workshops.

Henry Folson, a former office furniture designer, operates perhaps the last business to domestically manufacture bicycle lugs. He works out of his house in Redondo Beach.

Lugs are sleeves of metal used to connect the eight tubes that make up the classic diamond-shaped bike frame. They were used for nearly a century but faded in importance in the 1990s as bicycle design shifted to welded aluminum and then woven carbon fiber.

His market is the roughly 100 to 200 professional steel-frame bicycle builders in the United States and legions of handy enthusiasts.

"Part of our market has always been people who have a 9-to-5 job but want to build a bike on the weekends as a hobby," Folson said.

Through the years, he has stuck to a made-in-America philosophy. Although Folson could have his lugs cast for less money in Taiwan, he contracts production at Southern California machine shops. And that's why he distributes the American-forged True Temper brand of frame tubing instead of brands from Europe and Japan.

"Between what we make and True Temper, you have what you need to make a great custom bicycle," Folson said.

He said he was able to keep the business he founded 31 years ago profitable by working out of his home and maintaining a limited payroll of two other family members.

Townsend uses Henry James lugs and other Folson-designed fittings to build his frames, which take about 40 hours to construct. He started selling bicycles two years ago and builds only about a dozen a year. That's not enough to allow him to quit his position in the information technology department of Kaiser Permanente, the state's largest health maintenance organization.

But business is growing, in part because of the popularity of cycling as an easy-on-the-knees source of exercise for aging baby boomers and the ease and low cost of maintaining a website: www.townsendcycles ltd.com.

The Internet, which can be used to display photos of completed frames and highlight intricate details, such as the shape of the fancy curlicue-and-arrow-tipped lugs used in construction, allows Townsend and other frame builders to market their craft inexpensively.

"With the Internet, clients come to me," Townsend said.

Although no one keeps statistics, many in the industry believe the custom bicycle business has grown steadily in recent years, said Don Walker, founder of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. His first show four years ago in Houston attracted 15 builders and about 700 visitors. This year's show in Portland, Ore., featured more than 90 frame constructors and more than 7,000 visitors. According to some industry estimates, Americans purchase about 20,000 custom-built frames annually.

Townsend is hoping he can cash in on that growth to turn frame building into a full-time vocation.
Custom bicycle builders need about 25 orders a year to break even and about 50 to start to make a healthy living, said Curt Goodrich, a successful Minneapolis builder who put together Schwinn Paramounts and custom frames for Rivendell Bicycle Works and now produces under his own label. Goodrich has a two-year backlog of orders.

Kohl, the surgeon, said that the cost of a custom frame from craftsmen such as Townsend and Goodrich "isn't out of line for what you would pay for a top-line carbon fiber bicycle at a cycling shop" but that a classic and often ornate steel frame was much more of a head-turner on 100-mile "centuries" and big group rides.

"My biggest problem was making myself pick out a color scheme," he said.

Kohl settled on yellow with maroon and gray accents.

"I am really happy with the bike and the way it rides," he said, "and have loaned out my other two bikes to a couple of guys who are just getting into riding."

Hirsch is a Times staff writer.

Christmas Choirs

The Augsburg Choir Christmas Concert was this past Friday and Saturday night at Central Lutheran in downtown Minneapolis. As Addy has graduated and is living a life in transition she is not singing in any choral groups. When she was in high school she was in three different groups at the same time, all of whom had Christmas concerts. While I'm honestly not entralled with choral music, I kind of miss it. It's still Christmas, but part of it has now slipped away. Maybe when she returns from her life adventures she will settle down in a master choir somewhere and we can resume the tradition.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Family Honors

We received a call from Addy the other evening. She and Walter won $50 for placing second in a Drag Queen talent contest. She is very talented and artistic, but it is likely the fact that Walt who is extremely talented and, by his own description, quite queer, gave them a leg up in the competition.

This is the biggest honor any family member has earned since years ago when my kid sister won $400 in the Southern Minnesota Hot Miniskirt Contest.