Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

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.







Sunday, May 11, 2014

Milestones: Food ;-)

On Wednesday I will be 69 years old. As Lorna has dental work (root canal) scheduled for my actual birthday and a yoga retreat with friends in Lanesboro next weekend, we chose to celebrate this weekend. For us, at this point, "celebrating" usually just means dining out - this year just the two of us in Lanesboro.

Friday evening was a simple meal at the Pedal Pusher. Lorna had the fish fry and I had the hot beef, dubbed "The Commercial" which is just incredible, made with beef tips and real gravy and local potatoes. Sometimes something as simple a hot beef sandwich gets so manufactured we lose how wonderful it originally was. We split an apple crisp with heavy cream and a couple of Lift Bridge Farm Girl saison style ales.

On the way back to the cottage we passed Jon Pieper's van on the street. Jon is running for the Minnesota State House against a longtime incumbent. It's Minnesota, politicians tend to not promise more than they can deliver, so "We Can Do Better".  Perfect - vague and understated, yet confident. We Can Do Better. And the rust and dents on the car are political correct too.




Saturday morning was a beautiful sunny morning so we walked down the Pastry Shoppe for breakfast. Brett Stecher was a head chef for a number of years. A few years ago he quit and opened his own shop - pastry, breakfast, lunch and on weekend evenings, BBQ. He cooks what he wants, on his terms. And it is exceptional food. He works hard at it, "It ain't 9 to 5, on weekends it's 5 in the morning to 9 at night."

Ham and other stuff quiche/Steak, potato, onion Benedict.
We had pastry to go. I worked some piddling around at the cottage, finishing up the downstairs bathroom and doing some outside Spring clean-up. I suppose we ate something other than the rolls.

Saturday evening 7:00 at the Old Village Hall (Jon Pieper).

Salmon, brie and asparagus tartlet with pesto and red pepper marmalade.
We split a salad - organic baby greens with strawberries, sunflower seeds, pickled red onions and Bleu cheese, dressed with a berry balsamic vinaigrette - good, but no pics.
Seared salmon with a shrimp, black bean and new potato hash, and white cheddar cream



Handmade vanilla ice cream served in a bowel crafted of dark chocolate. For two. 
Lorna and Gunnar: wine warmed, well fed, and pleasantly happy.

Waitress Jamie and Chef Mike. Thank you for a lovely evening.
Not enough? Back to the Pastry Shoppe for Sunday lunch.

A simple shrimp cesar salad

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wood Warblers

First, a picture of yours truly, hot on the warbler trail. As I look at it, I realize that as I have aged and comfort has overcome style, I find myself balanced on a knife-edge, teetering dangerously between normality and eccentricity, strongly leaning toward the side of full-blown wackitude - which at this point in my life suits me fine. A chair? One just has to pace one's self.



Okay, now on to the results of the above concentration. Most of the following pictures were taken by me in the past two days here at 1410, a few by Lorna. These pictures are for those people who have never seen them, or never noticed them, and for our Brit friends who never have a chance to see them. 

American Redstart - a bird that has to be seen in
motion to truly appreciate.

Golden-winged Warbler -  uncommon and declining.

Palm Warbler



Northern Parula

A Parula dropping to a lower branch of a forsythia to
 search for insects.
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Wilson's Warbler

Yellow Warbler


Blue-winged Warbler



Tennesse Warbler
Common Yellowthroat


Cape May Warbler

Magnolia Warbler


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Nashville Warbler
Least Flycatcher. Not a warbler, but after most of the Wood Warblers have moved on, it'll still be in Oakwood. And he is a beautiful thing.

There were a couple others that we didn't get photos of ... or Gunnar's getting tired of this editing/posting thing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Early Spring Migration

We have a dozen forsythia bushes in full bloom on the hillside. The flowers attract tiny insects; the tiny insects attract tiny birds - in this case, Warblers and Kinglets. Earlier in the morning there were more species. Lorna probably got pictures of them before she went to yoga, I didn't.

Birding can be brutally strenuous, wading through swamps, bugs, heat, long cold hikes. A guy has to pace himself.

Yesterday, there was 8 or 10 different kinds of warblers in the yard, today not so many, but late in the day there was a really great male Redstart, maybe my favorite bird in the world. I didn't take any pictures, but again, I think Lorna did. Deligent lass that she is. Oh, I did take some pictures of a female Mallard sitting in the little water tank down in the garden, but it isn't really a "postable" bird - I was only eight or ten feet away and it completely ignored me.

It is dusk as I'm posting this and right now there is a hummingbird at the feeder outside the window, our first of the year. FOY. It is Spring.


Yellow-rumped Warbler
Nashville Warbler. He hung out through a whole cup of coffee, slowly becoming accustomed to that old guy in the hat. 
This shot is for Lorna, who inexplicably likes the head-on poses. ???
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (the "crown" is seldom visible).