Who are we? We are our stories.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fairy Barf

Icmadolphila ericetorum, a.k.a. ‘Fairy barf lichen’

James and his merry band of ne'er-do-wells spent the weekend measuring and recording riparian degradation in Ladyfinger Gulch, up in The Hills. He sent me this photo of Fairy Barf lichen, one of the species they found and noted, because I'm a hands and knees naturalist. He also sent a high recommendation for the Ken Burns' History of our National Parks on PBS being shown on PBS this week. If you're going to sit on the sofa anyway, at least watch something that will move and inform you.

(Icmadolphila ericetorum was caught by my spellcheck, but it did not give an alternative spelling. How else could you spell Icmadolphila ericetorum? It's spelled just like it sounds.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sand Painting

I saw this on the BBC this evening. It's received something like 13,000,000 Youtube hits. Make it 13,000,001.

Spin City: Alley Cat Racing

David Joles, Dml - Star Tribune Star Tribune

It was an all-girl alley cat scramble from the soap factory gallery to One on One bike shop Saturday. The mainly bike messenger racers made 11 checkpoints along the way, performing tasks at most.

Speed into cycling's urban underground, where alley-cat racing pits clandestine competitors against the clock on an ad hoc bike course.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Heard the Owl Call My Name

I fell asleep last night and awoke this morning to the sound of a Barred Owl outside my window declaring his ownership to all of Oakwood laying to the west of Circle Avenue, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto, up to and including killing with talon and beak, any and all bunnies or squirrels seen fit to consume, and thereby also declaring his intent to kick the very owl pellets out of any and all interlopers, particularily that feathered S.O.B. up on Cedar Avenue who has the timarity to reply to his declarations of ownership.

This is great news for me after the Great Owl House Caper, or as it's whispered behind my back in the neighborhood as "Gunnar's Folly". I would like to be the first to wish him great hunting and a long life. And good luck on luring a lady to help deal with the bunny issue. And owlets - we need plenty of owlets!

After posting the above I went out to the backyard late this afternoon to do some light gardening. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of a feathered stealth fighter swooping down from a high oak and picking off a squirrel from a tree across the yard. He kind of hit him coming up from below. A four foot wingspan will get your attention, but the squirrel never knew what hit him. Not a sound! Unfortunately we still haven't seen any indication of a female about, yet I remain optimistic. How could any female resist such a magnificent creature?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

White Freightliner Blues

A great Townes Van Zandt Song. My favorite is a Steve Earle cover which I can't put my finger on it, so this'll have to do. 'Sides I appreciate David Rawlings' guitar and nice tight harmonies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yvette Horner

Today on Facebook the ever surprising Aldo James Ross posted a birthday greeting to Yvette Horner who turns 87 today. Frankly, I had never heard of Mlle.Horner until today, but obviously that is my shortcoming not hers. Pictures and model are from the 1955 Tour de France. After subjecting readers to previous accordion music, I feel this is only fair to Yvette. Maybe it's an acquired taste.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Planning to Plant

This afternoon the Pug and I sat on the garden bench in the early afternoon sunshine, smoking maduros (pleasant box-pressed torpedoes) and imagining various planting scenarios. Our reverie was interrupted by the delivery truck with a shipment of daylilies. While I have new apples to eat, daylilies to plant, and a fine bicycle to work on, the dog seems to have an open calendar. Either way, our lives are exceedingly fine. Tomorrow will be hectic - breakfast with Lyle at 9:00 and then the 60th Annual Oakwood Picnic at noon and well into the afternoon. Maybe start planting the daylilies? Naw, probably not. The dog and I have to pace ourselves.

Lorna read the above and informed me that the picnic isn't until 4:30. Now my careful planned day is just in shambles.


I Am Old and Clever - and Everything Sucks!

Thanks to Jon Guinea for this one. It was either this or Robin Williams on Golf and even I am offended by that level of vulgarity.

Birth Announcement

Yesterday the Fedex man dropped off a large box which contained M05030, my new 1980 McLean bicycle. Today he brought a wheelset from the Cossack. They are built with Super Champion rims and newly rebuilt vintage Phil Wood hubs, with the steel cylinders and a high-low rear hub. (This only matters to bike geeks.) I want to thank the Cossack for his generosity because I'm certain the price only covered the cost of rebuilding the hubs and the shipping. I'm going to build this as a high end race bike would have been put together in 1980. I'm hoping to assemble the components and have it rolling by next Spring. Time and money.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Cyclocross bike racing involves beer and pain, mud and blood, and carrying your bike over, under or through obstacles until you're too tired to care.
If you have children, or plan to, or were ever one yourself, check this out. I love the Lads.

We Eat Dust And Like It

Kent and Sue Erlandson's son, Scott (center) is a member of team WEDALI. They recently placed 5th out of 33 teams in Primal Quest, a 10-day, 600-mile race through the Black Hills and Badlands that combines running, cycling, paddling and orienteering. They are obviously crazy, but they aren't hurting anybody and what the hell, he likes my bikes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Archdruid Report Sept 16

A snip from today's Report. More at the link.
"The fact that a life lived in material comfort can be unsatisfying does not mean that the comfort is what makes it unsatisfying. Life can be every bit as barren of meaning to someone who is starving to death in a burned-out basement, or scratching out a bare living from a few acres of mud and manure around a squalid hovel. The choices we make in response to our surroundings affect our relationship to the sources of meaning far more powerfully than the surroundings themselves, and those choices depend on the quality and content of our inner lives, not on outer factors. None of this ought to be news to anyone; it can be found in every tradition of human wisdom and spiritual teaching from the dawn of history right up to the present, and it remains as valid today as it ever was."

Draggin' Broadway

This is for Jim, John, Dex and Dock.

I cannot imagine how many hours we logged draggin' Broadway. Ed doesn't mention the real thrill ride, the timed run to see how fast you could make the 5 miles around the lake. I remember trying to explain to the Old Man the clumps of sod hanging from the rocker panels of his hemi Chrysler when I miscalculated the Sunset corner. Damn, we were crazy. The turn-around is gone; the A & W is gone. Only Jakes's Pizza is still there, still making good cheesy pizza, thanks to Bill Anderson and Jimmy Johnson still carrying that greasy torch for us.

Published Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just over 35 years ago an article in the New York Times featured Albert Lea and its then very popular route based on “cruising,” “dragging the main street,” “driving around,” and just plain vehicular socializing by the younger generation. In 1974 the route publicized by this Times article was based on going from the A & W Drive Inn, then located near the corner of South Broadway Avenue and East Seventh Street to the north to the end of Broadway

In that era the north end of Broadway made a turn to the west into Fountain Street. And near this location there was a roadway feature known as the “turn around.” There, the drivers of the vehicles could use this part of Fountain Lake Park to reverse direction and go back south for about a mile to the A & W. Here, another turn around could be made in the parking lot to go back north for another cruise on the city’s main drag.

However, it wasn’t just all driving back and forth on Broadway on those evenings and afternoons. There would be occasions where the occupants of several vehicles ended up being parked somewhere along the route to maybe exchange passengers or to discuss vital young adult topics. Those trips up and down Broadway by the various vehicles driven by the young drivers, in reality could add up to quite a total during an afternoon or evening. And the most popular times for this vehicular dragging, according to the Times article, were Friday and Saturday from about 7 to 11 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons.

There were also stops for gasoline refills, restroom breaks and refreshments. And three places specifically mentioned in the Times article were the A & W Drive Inn during the warmer months of the year, Jake’s Pizza at 126 W. Clark St., and Quik Stop Burgers at 538 E. Main St.

There was an indication that she was very familiar with Broadway’s popularity as a drag strip destination for the area’s younger generation during her high school and college years. The New York Times article citing Albert Lea as one of the nation’s top drag strip locations appeared in an early 1974 edition. It was written by Judy Klemesrud who grew up in Thompson, Iowa, located in Winnebago County about 15 miles west of Lake Mills. At that time she was a Times staff writer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

McLean Seat Clusters

Generally seat clusters are like finger prints, indicative of the builder. They might have a couple of favorites they generally use. To keep myself from going buggy waiting for McLean M05030 to arrive, I've been looking at Fonvielle's clusters. I would have to say that clusterwise he was schizophrenic. I've collected pictures of a dozen or so and have ten variations. There's nothing heavy or deep about this, just curious.

40 Years of Wedded Bliss?

This past weekend Lorna and I spent a couple of days at a B & B in Lanesboro, Minnesota, population 788. If you recall Cicely, Alaska on the program Northern Exposure, you are pretty much are familiar with it, except it is also the hub of about a hundred miles of paved bicycle trails running through the wooded bottomlands following the trout streams (insert smiley icon here).

The main street of Lanesboro, Minnesota looks pretty much as it did when this was taken, except the cars are newer and one of buildings on the right side is missing, a victim of good love gone bad. About five years ago the village's only policeman set it on fire in a misguided attempt to impress the lady living upstairs with a daring rescue. It didn't work out exactly as he planned. Eventually he was sent away for a couple years to think about the folly of his actions. I understand he has chosen another field of employment.

In addition to some wonderful restaurants, beautiful Victorian B & Bs, and a boatload of quirky people, the following, lifted from Wiki, are various reasons to go... to see and be seen:

  • Lanesboro received the Great American Main Street Award in 1998. Author John Villani named the community one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America. It has also been rated one of the 50 Best Outdoor Sports Towns by Sports Afield magazine.
  • - Jewelry artists Liz Bucheit and Kary Kilmer of Crown Trout Jewelers were finalist in the 2002 International Gold Virtuosi Jewelry Design Competition. One of four American jewelry studios that were given the distinction from 5200 total world entries.
  • Most recently, Outside Magazine featured the community "as one of the 20 Best Dream Towns in America."
  • Since 1989, Lanesboro has been home to the Commonweal Theatre Company, a professional ensemble dedicated to celebrating the human condition through actor-based story-telling. Each year, the Commonweal offers 4-6 plays ranging from Ibsen to family-friendly entertainment to holiday classics. During the summer months, 2 plays run in repertory, providing visitors an opportunity to see two different shows during their stay in the area. The Commonweal, in cooperation with area businesses and organizations, hosts an annual Ibsen Festival celebrating Norwegian art and culture through workshops, lectures, food and featuring Commonweal's production of an Ibsen play. A live, one hour radio show, "Over the Back Fence," is broadcast each Sunday evening from the theatre during the summer months with tickets sold at the door. On July 7, 2007, the Commonweal opened a brand new theater facility, aptly named The Commonweal. This new $3.5 million home seats 191 patrons in a thrust auditorium with an exterior designed to complement historic Lanesboro.
  • In 2008, the Governor of Minnesota declared Lanesboro as the Rhubarb Capitol of Minnesota. The first weekend in June Lanesboro hosts a Rhubarb Festival. In 2007, Garrison Keillor broadcast his Prairie Home Companion radio show from the softball field in Lanesboro and featured many stories and songs about rhubarb.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alberto Masi Restoration

Faliero Masi built bicycles for all the great riders, Coppi, Bobet, van Looy, Anquetil and Merckx, usually labeled as other brands. Masis have won everything over the years. This is about a Faliero built bicycle that Firoenzo Magni rode (and won) in the 1955 Giro. Faliero's son Alberto, the current head of Masi, restored the bike and presented to the 94 year old champion. Cool.

"So, Mr. Masi, what historical bike do we have here?"

"This is the bike that belonged to Firoenzo Magni on
which he won the 1955 Giro, as we have verified all
the codes and details on it."

"Has been found all messed up, but we brought it back
to life ready to win another Giro!"

"Yes, the bike has the bar end shifters, as Magni
loved those. Yep, in the back we have an old freewheel,
and back then nothing bigger than a 25 was available.
We also put new cotton bar tape on, and if you see the
bulge, Fiorenzo used to put some sort of foamy rubber
underneath for extra comfort.. He probably was the
first one to do that."

Then the interviewer asks Masi, if it is true that
Magni almost went to tears when he saw the bike.

"Oh yes it's true! He almost went to tears, because
that bike brought him back to his days when he won
the Giro, as you can see him in the photo that
portrays him on the Trento-San Pellegrino stage."

"How did you bring it back to life?"

"Man, we went through hell, mostly the guy that
now owns it. He had to look for Mafac levers, that
are no longer available, even in France. The other
parts were scored here and there or simply removed
cleaned, polished, etc, like the hubs."

RESPECT? With a sword?

Thirty-seven-year-old Marco Antonio Morales, who faces four counts of assault in connection with the alleged slashing of a woman’s neck in July, pleaded not guilty to all counts on Thursday in Freeborn County District Court.
“Mr. Morales had said that he was very sorry, but she had disrespected him and he had to do it,” the witness’ statement says.


Last evening America sat down to watch the President share his vision and solutions for America's health care problems. Political philosophy aside, I found myself filled with pride for my country and it's wise young leader. Recently hard times and a changing American have brought the radicals out of their dank caves and slimy swamps, out from under the rocks where they hid. We had an election where the majority of us decided we wanted to be led by a progressive, intelligent, educated young man who just happened to be black. When I look at the Red/Blue map of the U.S. indicating presidential satisfaction it becomes apparent that the country is still divided into North and South. There are groups of people who are still fighting the Civil War and the fact that our president is black seems to be sticking in their craw. I fear for his life, but in my lifetime we've come such a long way on our journey and I think sometimes we just need to be reminded of that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ya See the Damnest Things

I live in a small jerkwater town. It isn't the end of the world, but on clear evenings you can see it, off to the West. It's mostly blue collar. There is some sneaky big money around, but it's generally in poor taste to let on. Lyle and I were talking about it at breakfast last Saturday. Almost invariably there will be luxury cars, and one or two restored classics parked out front. Now, the Elbow Room is small, sitting 25, maybe 30 tops - 6 booths, 8 stools and a card game going on at the round table in the corner. Everybody in the place looks like hell - like they dress down for breakfast, myself included. This noon we hit a new high. There was a blue (what else?) Bugatti Type 35 on the street. I shouldn't admit I even know what a Type 35 looks like, but because of an ill spent youth, I do. It had modern wheels and tires and the interior looks like hell. (I hope the original wheels are in the garage at home.) This thing is not restored. At all. It just belongs to some guy who gets a kick out driving it. And it is worth more than my house, even as a wreck. What the hell?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vincati on Jay Leno's Garage

Matt & Big Sid Biberman have hit the big time, schmoozing and rubbin' elbows with the stars they are. Matt asked me to post this just to get the word out. More importantly, his book Big Sid's Vincati seems to be selling well and will soon be in paperback. Go buy it. Good for both of the guys.

The Stationwagon

"Bags" or "panniers", my ass. Guys, in our hearts of hearts, we know they are purses. But at least they are very nice manly purses.

Classy High School Reunion

Lorna's old friends. These ladies would be classy no matter what year it happens to be. Shhhh, don't tell, but they may be 60 years old.

Friday, September 4, 2009

McLean Fonvielle 1953-1983

In an earlier post I wrote about McLean Fonvielle and the Silk Hope Dragon. McLean was an art student who dropped out of school and went to England to learn bicycle building as an apprentice at Holdworthy, Ltd. Upon his return to North Carolina he set up his shop four miles outside of the small town of Silk Hope. There he lived in an old farmhouse heated with a wood stove and without running water or indoor plumbing. This house also contained the shop where, without power tools, he created his lean, almost spartan, bike frames. There certainly is a kind of mystic to Fonvielle. From the Mike Dayton interview in about 1978. In 1978 there just weren't vegans:

"McLean has what most folks would consider an odd diet. He is a vegetarian and has not eaten meat for six or seven years. He says, "I'm not a fanatic. I mean, I used to be, but I'm actually most agreeable these days. I've started eating bread again, and I've started eating dairy products again. I used to eat nothing but -- well that's another story.”

However he chose to live and whatever he ate (or didn't eat) the bicycles he left have beautiful proportions and graceful curves. His earlier frames were designated Silk Hopes, so indicated by a single head tube decal. Later he switched to his name, "McLean" on the down tube and those are simply known as McLeans, and are so noted with an M prefix on the serial number. Serial number M05030 is 60cm tall, with all Cinelli lugs and fittings - all first class stuff. The unusual semi-fastback seatstays are the only ones I have seen, certainly on a McLean build. (I have since discovered that Patrick Craft's #M20049 built in April of 1979 has similar stays.)

On March 5, 1980, at the peak of his skills, he built frame #M05030. In 1983, McLean Fonvielle died unexpectedly, at the age of 29. On Sept 4th, 2009, at the age of 64, I unexpectedly purchased #M05030.

Health Care

I'm more pessimistic and disillusioned with our political system than I have ever been. The jettisoning of the flotsam of the Bush administration seems only to have shifted the weaselly incompetence to the whores of big contributors on other side of the aisle. Obama campaigned on two issues, get us out of the war and fix our health care system. At this point I would have to group myself with the 55% who give him an unsatisfactory grade, or at best an incomplete.

Thanks to Jon Guinea for bring this tube to my attention.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The other day I received an email from Frank Wright. In it he questioned my declaration that "I never go to movies" - like maybe I was sneaking into theaters disguised as an old lady. I do watch movies occasionally on the television. The other night I came across the above, already in progress. It's the funniest movie I've ever seen. It's way better than the old BBC television series and I really enjoyed that. If it ever came to "a movie theater near me", I'd go see it...though probably dressed in drag.