Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

More Schell's Beer?

Founded in 1860, Schells with sales of 110,000 kegs of beer a year, is certainly not a micro-brewery, although it does brew a wonderful variety of seasonal craft beers. As the taste of Minnesota's younger, more sophisticated drinkers has migrated into Schell's specialty of dark German style beers, it has become Minnesota's largest brewery. And damn, I love good dark beer. My sympathies to West and East Coast drinkers who have to do without.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Adena Star Jumper is in Cambodia

For those who follow the ongoing adventure, I guess the title says it all.

Vintage Bicycling Pictures

I lifted the earlier Bicycle Mechanics picture from Aldo Ross. He has a wealth of mostly vintage cycling photos. For those of you who are interested, he would love to have you visit. Enjoy at:
Or if you have an interest in vintage French bicycle lights (who wouldn't?) and other adventures in Aldo's sometimes quirky world visit his blog at:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Campagnolo Rally Derailleur

I've torn down my Peter Mooney bike for refurbishing this winter, cleaning and polishing all the components. The earlier Campagnolo derailleurs had a certain sculptural feel to them, as if they had to be beautiful as well as functional.
This particular rear derailleur is one of those things that theorically doesn't exist. Campy boxes are quite nice. There people who buy, sell and collect the boxes. Weird. I bought this a few years ago from a reputable European dealer. The box this came in was a classic blue Campagnolo box, labeled, to the best of my recollection, simply as "Rally Derailleur".

The rollers have been replaced by sealed bearing rollers and the Campagnolo lettering buffed off (both of which, the purests would kill me for). The Rally derailleurs were designed to wrap a lot of chain for triple chainring touring bikes. As I said, theoretically Rally derailleurs had been discontinued by the late 80s. The closest thing I have found to this in the Campagnolo catalogs is the 1990 Euclid mountain bike derailleur, with only a slight variance in the bottom roller guard.
That's all, folks. More than you wanted to know.

Chuck Schmidt has advised me that it is indeed a late 1980's third generation Campagnolo Rally.

Bicycle Mechanics

This is a shout out to all you present and former bicycle mechanics - those people who help us roll. Chad, Jens, Mike, Lestie, and Rev Dick (who would if he could) - this means you.
And to Dan Ulwelling, who finally has the time to ride.

Adena Star Jumper

Addy's keeping a blog on her ongoing adventures:

Snow Storm

I've been drinking Schell Snow Storm lately. You have to love a good beer with a blend of nine (9!) malts. It's a really good beer, but ephemeral. When it's gone - it's gone! And we will have wait until next year when they will surprise us again. Below snipped from their website:

Much like snowflakes, no two Snowstorm beers are alike. Once a year, our brewmasters lock themselves in the testing room with a secret selection of fine malts and hops, only emerging when they've hit upon something truly extraordinary.

Beer Style: Weihnachtsbier

Alcohol by Volume: 6%
Flavor/Color Profile: Snow Storm 2008 was designed with the cold days of winter in mind. Reddish-brown in color with a complex maltiness yielding hints of spicy rye, sourdough and chocolate. Brewed with nine different malts, including copious amounts of Munich and a touch of Rye.

Campagnolo Gruppo!

This morning I scored! I purchased an early 80's Campagnolo group for my "new" Kvale from Switzerland. It is pretty much complete, less seatpost and pedals. This is not an issue as I have a set of Campagnolo Superleggeri pedals and a set of nice Mavic Open Pro rims waiting for a home. a proper 27.2 Campy post may take a little longer. The only other things I have to source now are bars and stem - probably should both be Cinelli for a fast bicycle of the period, and a saddle. A Brooks Team Professional saddle or a Brooks Swallow would be nice, though expensive. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Blog

My, ahhhh..."entertaining" nephew, Chris has consolidated his blogs under the following:

The code: he is "Coach"... usually. Sometimes CRZA. He tends the refer to yours truly as "The G-Man". Meg is "Meg". Incoming (outgoing from Meg's point of view?) baby hasn't been named yet...that I know of anyway.

Anyone interested in beer, food, music in a hip blog format that's top heavy with UTube might want to stop by once in a while.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bicycling Gear

(For Rev Dick)

Proper cycling togs for an older gentleman with an historical perspective. Friction shifting, tubular tires, and toe straps are analog. Indexed shifting, carbon frames and "technical" clothing are digital. I prefer to live in an analog age.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fishing Elegance

Thses are some old fishing rods and reels that hang on the walls in my den. I didn't buy any of them; it's all inherited from family or friends. It's still kind of a shame for me to have it, as I am NOT a serious fisherman. Both rods are split Tonkin Cane. The 2-piece lighter one is signed 'Dale Reed "55"- Made in England'. The longer 3-piece is unsigned, but made in England and still quite nice.

I come a long line of lake fisherman, so I have a number of bait casting set-ups. I picked three I thought were interesting. The top is a solid steel rod with a checkered wood handle - a fishing "rod". The bottom rod is tubular steel with an "Anti-back Lash" bar on the reel. It's old enough that the reel doesn't yet have one of those new-fangled mechanisms to spool the line on evenly back and forth. The middle set-up is 2-piece split cane with red glass lining in the eyelets.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kvale Bicycle

Serendipitously, the day after seeing Chris, one of his older bikes showed up on eBay. It was going too cheap. Almost embarrassingly so. I was high bidder, but it didn't meet the reserve. I recognized the seller's name and I contacted him and we struck a deal.

Chris Kvale just called with some interesting information concerning this frame. Frame 8405 was originally built up with Campagnolo Nouvo Record components. It was originally Chris' personal bike that he rode for a number of years. The "Kvale" stamped in the bottom bracket was the owner's name, as well as the builders name. If that was noted on the Ebay description I must have missed it.

Also, our conversation came around to the internet and Chris wondered what Marshall McLuhan would think of how it has evolved. He said it was a more public form of media than he was really comfortable with. Out of respect for his feelings, I have deleted the photo of him which I posted earlier.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Outing to Visit Bike Builders

I just returned from an outing. I first stopped by Curt Goodrich's shop where he was working on a bike for the Handbuilt Bicycle Show in Indianapolis the end of Feb. It's a small bike, a steel frame and fork with a Campy Super Record gruppo. He's shooting for a rolling weight of 16 pounds. It's a small fame, but still a remarkable weight for a steel bike. STEEL IS REAL! He's proud of his new website. http://www.curtgoodrich.com/

After I left Curt, I drove a few blocks over to Chris Kvale's shop where I met a couple of other bicycle fanciers and dropped off a frame for refinishing. Chris was finally moved into the 19th Century. His wife gave him a cell phone and friends set up a simple website for him.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama

I come from a long line of stoics. I never saw my grandfather weep. The only time the Old Man cried is when Ma tried to take her life. As an adult I never cried; funerals, sad movies, weddings, I was a rock - a dry rock. Then 23 years ago I first saw and held my child, and I became whole. I finally realized why I was here, to care for that child...and I cried. Since that epiphany I've wept a lot, making up for the lost tears of three generations.

Yesterday morning I sat drinking coffee, watching Barack Hussein Obama being sworn in as president of the United States. And found myself crying like a baby.

Aussie Pinstripes

Pictures are of an Australian bike (not mine) made in the 1970s by Fred Cobcraft and striped byRoy Berhrens. The Aussie bikes tend toward flash. This is not a bike I'd actually want as a rider, but it's obviously a masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carmelita Hold Me Closer

I just got hi-speed internet this week and I haven't tried to figure out the YouTube stuff yet, but Rev Dick over at "The Church" posted this for me, or rather to me. It's a great take on a great song. Take the five minutes. Thanks Rev.


White Cane Checkup

I was over to the Mayo Clinic yesterday. Everything seems to be healing well. I'm still not supposed to DO anything. Being a lazy SOB by nature, that originally that sounded good. Hey, I can handle that. I can't. Another checkup on Feb 7.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And Carmelita Bars

These things are great frozen, so you have to gnaw a corner off to get at them:

Oatmeal Carmelitas (Anne Bonnerup)
2 C. flour
1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips
2 C. oatmeal
1 C. pecans, chopped
1 ½ C. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
3 sticks butter
1 jar Mrs. Richardson carmel ice cream topping
1/2 C. flour

Mix 2 cups flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, soda and salt with melted butter. Press half of the crumbs into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the nuts and chocolate chips over baked crumbs. Mix ½ cup flour with carmel topping, then drizzle over chocolate chips and nuts. Crumble remaining half of crumbs over the top. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. Store cool.

Addicted to Carmelita

I hear Mariachi static on my radio
And the tubes they glow in the dark
And I'm there with her in Ensenada
And I'm here in Echo Park
Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I'm sittin' here playing solitaire
With my pearl-handled deck
The county won't give me no more methadone
And they cut off your welfare check
Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Well, I pawned my Smith Corona
And I went to meet my man
He hangs out down on Alvarado Street
By the Pioneer chicken stand
Carmelita hold me tighter
I think I'm sinking down
And I'm all strung out on heroin
On the outskirts of town

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Gonna Live Forever

You fathers and you mothers
Be good to one another
Please try to raise your children right
Don't let the darkness take 'em
Don't make 'em feel forsaken
Just lead them safely to the light
When this old world has blown us under
And all the stars from fall this sky
Remember someone really loves you
We'll live forever you and I

Stones in my Passway

I got stones in my passway
And my road seem dark as night
I got stones in my passway
And my road seem dark as night
I have pains in my heart
They have taken my appetite

The bonecold brutal beauty of winter has set in hard, and I find myself fighting off the annual depression that it brings. Only the knowledge that Life is fighting the same battle under the snow gives me solace; only that and a party with friends tomorrow evening. Just two more hours 'til the Spring morning comes and the long night ebbs. Hang in there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Minnesota: Our Quality of Life

-18 right now....going to minus 25 by morning for sure. The lady I live with stayed home from yoga tonight because it's so damned cold. She read a yoga book instead. It's that wisdom that first attracted me to her 40 years ago. The pug is a real warrior, venturing out into the hostile weather to pee, coming in to warm up, then out again to finish his business. What a trooper.

Kudos also to Tom Larson, who's been dealing with the snow shovel/snow blower duties for us, as I'm not suppose to lift a finger for a while. So far it's only cost me a few extra cups of coffee. Good neighbor, good man.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Cane - Vision Redux

I'm exhausted. I spent the day at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester; 3 1/2 hours in a dark room, with both eyes being lasered by two doctors working alternately. I had 11 retinal tears which all needed to be repaired by laser tacks. It's painful and tiring - metal devices pushing on the backside of the eyeball, my eyes pried open, while trying to "look down and to the left, no further left, further, good, now don't move"' (with nothing to actually focus on) - then zap, zap , zap with the blinding light. Again and again and again. By the time they were finished I was so exhausted I was on the verge of tears.

Follow up next Monday.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

White Cane, Anyone?

I seem to have hit the Ocular Trifecta. In additional to macular degeneration and cataracts, I now have a retinal tear - a detached retina. The only link between my maladies seems to be D.O.E. - Damned. Old. Eyes. I talk to a surgeon on Tuesday, hopefully just some laser tacks around the tear.

I can't see for shit, but I'M STILL DRIVING MY LITTLE PICKUP! I'm planning on being one of those old guys that drives 12 miles an hour, sideswiping cars, terrifying pedestrians and rear-ending SUVs. They'll have to pry my blind, cold fingers from the wheel. Actually, Lorna drove us down to the Elbow Room for cheeseburgers and fried onions last night. The impressionist painter halos around the street nights and headlights are getting distracting - awfully pretty though. Christmas lights are amazing!

As dire as all this may sound, the macular degeneration is actually still minor, and the other two can be repaired with surgery. Tentatively I will probably deal with the cataracts next summer. I've thought about it some; if I had a choice, I'd take blindness over deafness. I can't imagine a world without music and conversation. But we play the cards we're dealt.


Friday, January 9, 2009

The Old Mill

Next Saturday we're going to the Old Mill with Lorna's sister Linda and her husband Larry to celebrate whatever we can think of at the time. The Mill is not where one would go to eat sophisticated food -- we are just talking beef, cut up, aged, cooked over high heat, and washed down with really good beer or wine -- as basic as it gets. I've eaten in upscale N.Y. and Chicago steakhouses. Frankly, they not as good as just driving up the road to the Mill. The following was clipped from the Rochester Post-Bulletin (nice picture of Dave though):

At a time when corporate-type restaurants seem to dominate, it is nice to find a family-owned establishment that remains on top of the dining scene. The Old Mill Restaurant in Austin is one. It combines two important elements -- history and great food.
Owners Dave and Ann Forland have been running the restaurant since l988 in a building that dates back to 1864. It was originally a flour mill. It was closed for a number of years and later reopened as a restaurant on Mother's Day in 1950.
"From the time it first opened it had a supper club atmosphere, popular at the time, and we have stayed with it. It has worked for decades and people here love that." Ann said.
Despite a wide variety of menu options, including fresh seafood like scallops and cold water lobster tails, The Old Mill has built its reputation on its beef -- with the prime rib and steaks at the top of the list.
"You will not get a better prime rib or steak anywhere," Dave said.
The prime rib is sliced from a standing rib roast, and on a busy night, Dave said he can easily go through 150 pounds of it. He hand cuts and ages all of the steaks himself.
As is true with so many chefs/owners, Dave worked in several restaurants before assuming ownership.
At The Old Mill, his kitchen assistant is a long-time friend and fellow cook, Mike Thorpe.
Though the kitchen is small -- about 12 feet by 14 feet -- they turn out great food. In fact, the restaurant itself is small. There are 20 tables in three separate dining rooms, with a maximum seating of 80 people.
They have recently added a wine room, where customers can go for appetizers and a wine tasting. They are also proud of their specialty beer selection.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Leigh Swenson

Last week I received news that my childhood friend, Leigh Swenson died. He lived across the street from me, we raised homing pigeons together on my grandparents farm, and generally got in trouble together. He had a way of bringing things like that out in a guy. I hadn't seen him in 20 years, but I knew him to be a man that never got cheated by life. He lived every day at a sometimes terrifying pace.


Gunnar With Crappie, 1952?

Take this...you...you... classic tattoo Daddy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Party Time

Good news in the mailbox today. Donovans are having a neighborhood party in a couple of weeks, and decided to make it a beer/wine tasting soiree. Tough to beat good beer, wine and food with friends. Just gotta make certain Sal and the Judge show up. The Judge is serious about his beverages. We may have to isolate ourselves in a backroom for our own tasting. It'd be a shame to have to share some really good stuff with some sonofabitch who brought a sixpack of Lite or a cheap Merlot. Please, offended Merlot drinkers - I am not serious.

Morning Email From Ad

We finally got an email from Ad inThailand. We can sleep again tonight.

Small Town Hockey

I was never much of a skater, to say nothing of being a decent hockey player, but the game is one of those things that defines Minnesota. Some kids are on skates by the age of three or four - they can skate better than they can run. The local kids here live on the ice, and now there is a girl's high school team as well as the boy's team. We also have a really bad Junior team with recruits from around the Midwest. But that's for watching, not for playing.

A.L. is a city of neighborhood parks. During the winter they flood them all and have hockey rinks, some with high boards, others with just low boards. The rinks are all lighted and most have warming houses. The games are all continual with rotating players ranging from preschool to adults. The NHL make a big deal out of playing one game on outdoor ice, and they cry about the problems of cracks, hard ice and soft ice. Jeez, these guys all grew up playing on natural ice or they wouldn't be in the NHL.

My favorite local rink is one in the neighborhood that is simply snow cleared from the lake ice. Folding lawn chairs spend the winter out there on the ice. They double as seats for putting on skates and then become goal markers. A little 3 on 4 with a smaller goal for one team, to even it up...that's the pure game.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Missing the ukulele girl. We last heard from her two days ago from an airport in Tokyo. I hope she has email access soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ad's Gone Again

Yesterday we put Ad on an airplane to Thailand, where she will be for a year or more. We received an email this morning from a stop in Tokyo. Saying goodbye doesn't get easier.

Drinking Beer and Shootin' Rats

I came of age in Hanau, Germany, drafted into the service of the U.S. Army. While there I also came of age as a beer drinker. When I returned to the real world, I discovered I was surrounded by NO BEER! What purported to be beer was all thin, light watery stuff - unfit for human consumption. Then I was saved by the Schells people.

The August Schell brewery has been operated by the same family, in the German community of New Ulm, Minnesota for nearly 150 years. Not a big company - August Busch owned a baseball team; Schells sponsors a slowpitch softball team. Anyway, I love their beers. Recently I had a great Schells tap beer in a local restaurant. They were proud that they had two kegs of only 42 brewed - the variety just didn't lend itself well to larger production. Every winter they craft different, limited run beers, dubbed Snow Storm. This year's Snow Storm is a Weihnachtsbier - a simply wonderful dark, spicey blend of 6 different hops. Gosh, a great beer made by people who really care.

For years my beer of choice was their Schmatz Alt. Then it disappeared from the shelves of Minnesota liquor stores. Now my old friend has returned, if only seasonally. Clipped from the Schells Beer webset:

Schmaltz's Alt
We have reintroduced Schmaltz's Alt as a limited edition Brewer's Select beer. The first in a series of Brewer's Select beers, Schmaltz's Alt is available during December, January and well... 'til it's gone! One of Warren's favorite pastimes back in the 30's was a trip to the city dump to shoot rats–so much that it was a common date for him and his wife-to-be, Casey. The manager of the city dump was John Schmaltz–hence the nickname "Schmaltz" Marti. We hope you enjoy our Schmaltz's Alt, a creamy smooth dark alt brewed even better than before.

Beer Style: Dark Alt - a German Ale

Alcohol by Volume: 5.1%

Characteristics: The rich, sweet malty flavor with hints of licorice is balanced by a chocolaty bitterness. Dark brown in color and topped by a thick, creamy tan head.

Perhaps only my friend Jim and I can truly appreciate Warren Marti's pastime. It should be on one of those cable sporting channels - The Rat Channel.