Saturday, December 29, 2018
Monday, December 24, 2018
The only Christmas Eve I have ever been away from family was when I was a callow youth of twenty years. I had been drafted into the United States Army and sent to Hanau, Germany. Because it was Christmas Eve duty had been light, even festive, with shared packages of food and even liquor passed in Battalion Headquarters where I worked.
Half a dozen of us, the 23rd Engineer S-3 Section, went to the Mien Kit for a Christmas Eve meal. The Mien Kit was a local pub/restaurant run by a couple who's daughter had married an American. They catered mostly to young soldiers away from home and treated all of us as their own. The owner was Karl. I do not know his wife's actual name. Karl called her "Schatz", German for "girlfriend" or "sweetie". And that is what we all called her.
After closing, Karl broke out the good cognac and we shared German Christmas treats and drinks with the couple. Jeff Gilchrist, who in his previous life had been a lounge singer, started singing Christmas songs, and loosened by drink, we joined him.
The Mien Kit was a few blocks from our barracks at the Hessen Homburg Kaserne. Karl gave us a couple of more bottles and sent us on our way which was through a residential area. Jeff determined we should be caroling. In the state we were in that seemed liked a really good idea. So any poor German with lights still on was blessed by the singing of half a dozen really, really drunk G.I.s. And bless their hearts a number of them invited us in for more treats and another round.
Eventually, very, very late, we stumbled in, collapsed on our cots and I drifted off to the echoing sound of Jeff Gilchrist singing in a restroom stall - crying, still singing Little Town of Bethlehem between his vomiting retches.
Christmas Day was tough.
Saturday, December 15, 2018
An old bicycle, this is a French style American touring bicycle, with the frame built by an expat Englishman, painted by Chris Kvale (an old Norwegian. ;-). And built up with Italian components by ... myself.
For the folks who think a bicycle is a device to get efficently from point A to point B, or an exercise machine, let's talk.
After spending hours, days, months on eBay and other obscure sites, with the help of friends I assembled a bike's worth of components, mostly 'new old stock', some old. some new new - mostly Italian manufactured by Tullio Campagnolo. I then stripped off the protective anodized finish with nasty chemicals and polished the hell out of them. Then I masked off the areas I did not want painted on the seatpost, cranks and fenders.
I saved the fully chromed frame from a bastardized flatbar "townbike". It had areas of rust and light pitting so I sanded and filled the bad parts and masked off the chrome rear triangle, front and seat lugs and cable guides. Then off to the painter Chris Kvale, who etched the chrome, applied filler, sanded, sprayed it with primer, sanded, more primer and then eventually the finish color. He then sprayed a clearcoat, applied the transfers, and hit it with another clear coat, sanded, another clearcoat, more sanding, until you cannot feel the decals with your hands. (That paint job is worth a lot of complete bicycles.)
Dan Lestrud built the wheelset (Rigida rims, early Phil hubs) and I assembled the bicycle drivetrain, brakes, shiny bits, vintage French Luxor lights and handlebars - and laced leather covering on the handlebars and toe clips.