Who are we? We are our stories.

Friday, December 31, 2010


There is one view of capitalism that feels advertising is a good thing and improves our lives. I think not, but a lot of bloggers opt to improve our lives by cluttering their blogs with advertising links to pick up a little extra cash. Well, times are tough all over, so I've added some advertising to 1410, too. So far my favorite is the Bartalli endorsed razor blades. Initially I thought about current bicycle related things, but I'm old and fundamentally I don't believe in most of what they're selling now. So I'm going rogue. These don't link to anything yet, but eventually they will. I just haven't decided exactly what, probably something I find amusing or to sites that sell traditional bicycling paraphernalia. I'll be trying a new a twist to advertising. Blind. My thought is to not label anything and rotate them over time to keep buyers a little off balance as I improve their lives. Any suggestions?  I can't wait for the money to start rolling in.

And go back and listen to Oscar Peterson, even if you think you won't like it. For me.


Ennui, Ennui, Ennui

During the winter I don't do much. I work a lot on my multitasking - I read, nap, listen to music, nap, watch T.V. and nap. I've been trying to get the kitchen chairs refurbished. As Kurt said, "Restoring one chair seems like fun. Five seems like work". I have four minor bicycle projects that don't seem to be getting done because of my multitasking. Blogs by their very nature are boring. So obviously you're bored too, or you'd be somewhere else. From the Wall Street Journal:

Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation

LONDON—"Brace yourself for five piping-hot minutes of inertia," said William Barrett. Then he began reciting the names of every single one of 415 colors listed in a paint catalog: damson dream, dauphin, dayroom yellow, dead salmon…and on and on and on. 

Mr. Barrett's talk was titled, "Like Listening to Paint Dry," and to judge from the droopy faces in the audience, it was a hit. He was speaking, after all, at a conference of boredom enthusiasts called Boring 2010, held here Dec. 11.

Not many did, surprisingly. "It is quintessentially English to look at something dull as ditchwater and find it interesting," said Hamish Thompson, who runs a public-relations firm and was in the audience.For seven hours on that Saturday, 20 speakers held forth on a range of seemingly dreary diversions, from "The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs" and "Personal Reflections on the English Breakfast," to "The Draw in Test Match Cricket" and "My Relationship With Bus Routes." Meanwhile, some of the 200 audience members—each of whom had paid £15 (about $24) for a ticket—tried not to nod off.  Link for the rest of this boring prattle.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flash McLean

This McLean showed on a blog named Prolly Is Not Probably, which generally is a single-speed hipster world, which as an over-the-hill roadman, I generally do not relate to. Initially I expressed some disbelief that the paint color was original, as it is everything that McLean Fonvielle was not. It is an Anti-McLean. After a couple of email exchanges with people who would know better, Dale Brown in particular, it turns out that once again I was wrong. Wrong. Again. This has been repainted, but that's it's birth colors. More pictures here, or if you just want to go over to the dark side for a while. Link.  


(Drum solos suck.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Emergency Snow Removal

I saw on the news that New Yorkers are threatening to tar and feather Mayor Michael Bloomberg for failing to deal with the aftermath of the latest "Blizzard of the Century". As we are only a decade into the century, I suppose that may be accurate. It appears that removing the snow from the streets of a metropolis the size of New York requires a lot of resources and ol' Bloomie is getting a little beat up for not being out on the front lines with his mayoral shovel clearing the path.

I realize comparing Albert Lea, Minnesota to New York City is apples and oranges to the extreme. We are tiny and have an infrastructure geared to deal with heavy snowfall. And we do pay high taxes. Still, I want to express my appreciation to all of the city employees and contract workers who mobilize and work 14 hours straight, as a matter of pride, to clear the streets - to clear the snow from Oakwood Drive, Wedge Street, Lakeview Boulevard and Fountain Street, so Gunnar Berg can go out and have breakfast at Blondie's, a burger at the Elbow Room, or pizza at Jake's, or a shredded-beef hard-shelled taco at the Taco King .... all in a timely manner. Good show.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pat Robertson: Snow Is God’s Way of Punishing Americans Who Were Planning to Drive to Do Something Gay

VIRGINIA BEACH (The Borowitz Report) – Rev. Pat Robertson sparked controversy in today’s broadcast of his 700 Club program when he claimed that God created the blizzard currently battering the Northeast “to punish Americans who were planning to drive to do something gay.”
Explaining his theory, Rev. Robertson said, “Because of the bad road conditions the Almighty has made, any gay activities that people were planning on doing will have to be postponed by a day or two.”
Additionally, he argued, God shut down major airports in the New York area “so that people who were hoping to fly to do something of a gay nature would have to take a train or a bus, so it might be days before the gay thing they were going to do could occur.”
As for the millions of straight people in New York City who were also grounded by the bad weather, the televangelist said, “I think God probably wonders, if these people are really straight, then what are they doing in New York?”
In other blizzard-related news, the National Weather Service offered this update: “It’s as white as a Glenn Beck rally out there.”

Arrowhead 135 - 2011

This is one for all you manly men (and women) out there. Time to put up or shut up. Personally, I'll be on the "shut up" side of the fence. I just don't want anyone to miss it and then say, "If I'd only known." Well, now you know. Be warned, it will probably be -35F to -40F, and that's real temperature, not windchill. Windchill? Don't ask.

The Race: 135 Miles in deep winter across northern Minnesota, virtually all scenic, rugged Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail fromAMERICA'S ICEBOX: I-Falls to Fortune Bay Casino near Tower, MN  Pick mode of transport at the start: foot, ski, or bicycle.  Growing from ten racers 6 yrs ago to over 100 starters in 2010, our 7th year promises great things with arguably some of the world's best winter ultra-athletes competing along with those of us just out for Adventure or a Personal Test!  So far for 2011 we boast the best competitive Winter foot and bicycle field anyplace ever in the WORLD.  So that makes us the unofficial 

Pigeon Blood and Cream, ummmm

"Go home and take a snow day, Mrs. Braintree!"

After an hour or two of wrestling the Husqvana and a snow shovel, I understand people choosing to live in warmer places. But then a sunny morning later I wake up to this. The southerners may be warm and tan, but they are spared the pain of this terrible beauty. Below is a short walk down to the garden and back.

Garden pickets.

The north gate

North view.

West to the lake.

East to the bench.

West view from bench.

1410 deck.

1410 summer steps.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

George Saunders, 82, Albert Lea

We lost a longtime Oakwooder this week. A good man. Our best wishes to Jane and his children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.

George was born Sept. 13, 1928, in Lowell, Mass., the son of Stephen and Doris (Stowers) Saunders. He received his bachelor of arts degree in public education. George proudly served his country in the U.S. Navy.
George was united in marriage to Jane Norris on Aug. 30, 1951, in Elk River. Together they resided in Albert Lea since 1954. George taught in the Albert Lea school district for 32 years. 

Snow Days

Two rounds with the snowblower yesterday so company could make it through for turkey. One turkey down and one ham to go. Clean-up day today. Ham tomorrow. No snow in sight.  ;-)

It's coming down
Snow pains on the motor veins

Keeps your business on the ground
It's coming down
Slow day for the teacher
And her wheels are spinning now
On account of winter, Mrs. Braintree
All the roads are closed
And the stores are loot for vagabonds
It's coming down
Go home!

It's coming down
Snow lays on the chainfields
There's a blessing on the ground
It's coming down
If your lanes are crammed with children
There's a blessing on your town
On a lucky Monday, Mrs. Braintree
All your lanes are waxen silver
And the stores are loot for vagabonds
It's coming down
Go home! Go home and take a snow day, Mrs. Braintree!

Mrs. Braintree, you're a chilly northern woman
Go home from yonder bus stop
Because there's a blessing on the ground
Mrs. Braintree, it is written
When the snows come over Dixie
All the roads are closed and the stores are loot for vagabonds.

It's coming down
Snow lays on the chainfields
There's a blessing on the ground
It's coming down
If your road's patrolled by children
There's no order to be found
On account of winter, Mrs. Braintree
All the roads are closed
And the stores are loot for vagabonds
It's coming down
Go home!

Christmas Eve 2010

Florence and Dorothy 1935
My mate waiting warm in bed, I sit alone in the dark room with a glass of wine after the guests have gone, the dishes washed, and the leftover food tupperwared to the refrigerator - staring into the depths of a tree decorated with memories of long past Christmases .... remembering loved ones gone by.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tree, Christmas 2010

A Christmas Card Walk With Bud and Gunnar

1410 Birdfeeders.

Icicles next door at The Shack.

The Budster, snow-trapped at The Shack.


Bud claiming the snow, and marking it as his own.

Harry Held's.

Bud mooching a postal treat.
Tom and Tammi's.

The Judge and Sally's. The Judge grew up at 1410. 

Sally's pickets.
Bud, cold and tired, back home at 1410. 

Notice the Christmas green dog biscuit from the USPS.  Everybody  loves Bud.
Christmas dog. Got any treats?


Doc Watson: Finger Picking

When we saw him back in the olden days he was playing with his son Merle, named after Merle Travis. His concerts were a bit like musical history lessons, done generally in chronological order - when he learned the song, who sang it, etc. Merle died in a tractor accident in '85, which had to be tough for Doc. He lost his accompanist, his son and his guide eyes in one accident. Now he plays a lot with Merle's son Richard or with Dave Holt. He was 85 years old at the time this was recorded. He has lost half a step and isn't quite as precise as he was, the voice is fading, but most young guitar players would trade skills in a heartbeat.

Jack's Rooster

Jack is going to paint his Galmozzi. It's color picking time in California! Personally, I don't think this thing should be decaled as Galmozzi anyway, but that argument is long lost and long past. Colorists, have at it. Da link. 

Incidently, thank you to all who threw your hats into my color ring. I have chosen again (until next week).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dark Eyes (Squeezebox Throw Down IV)

Six more inches of snow today. Yesterday we really nailed down the Minnesota winter sound, not Bob Dylan, not Prince Nelson, not even Whoopee John Wilfart; I posted The Pines - to drag us through the solstice with their heavy morose tunes. Here's the flip side - Hawaiian shirts!  Now I give you Dan Newton and his Cafe Accordion Orchestra - another of the Twin Cities bands that is locked into Paris's Gypsy Jazz past. It's faster, maybe more upbeat on the surface, but still with a core of melancholy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hypothetical Color Schemes?

 Let's assume a hypothetical bicycle that might be built someday.  For the sake of discussion, let's say the head tube and the panel on the seat tube will be painted red, and the graphics will be red. (And in spite of what your eyes tell you, the two reds above are exactly the same.) And let's say that the red is really a dark, pure red, not a computer generated red that looks almost brown. Now we need to talk about the ground, the main body of the frame and fork. It has already been determined that black and red are the devil's colors. We are making no judgement on whether this is a good or bad thing, but we would like to explore other options. Another option to be examined is a bronze-gold metallic. Keep in mind it's a metallic gold, not brown like it photographs. The red being a given, are there any other choices that have been overlooked?  Whadda think ? And pass another beer please.

Visual aids:  http://tinyurl.com/Imron-color-chart

Fork crown

lug set

A Depression In The Pines

The solstice approaches as a dark rider. We trudge through the short days and long nights of a bleak and frigid monochrome world of windswept white and gray. The entire state of Minnesota is struggling through the throes of  Seasonal Affective Disorder. We don't suffer from SAD; we are SAD. The snow is sad. The black broken branched trees are sad. The very bitter biting wind whipping out on the tundra is sad. How do we cope with this oppressive bleakness? We listen to uplifting music. We listen to The Pines sing their snappy, toe-tapping little ditties - very, very, very slowly. And once again the weight has been lifted from our shoulders and our souls are light.

Don't Let Me Go

I'm all dressed up
Ain't got nowhere to go
Is there something on your mind
Is there something I should now

Take me, take me
Far away into your dreams
And just leave me be
Just leave me there for evermore

Don't let me go
Not even if I start to cryin'
If true love lasts forever
Then I guess it don't matter if we die then

Don't let me go

I got a bird that whistles
I got a bird that sings
I got a little baby bird
With a big broken wing

I'm gonna pretend this is heaven
You know, just in case
I get up to the gates
And they don't recognize my face

Barb Allport's Soda Cracker Cookies

· 35 soda crackers
· 1 cup butter
· 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
· 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
· 1 cup packed brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 15 x 10 inch baking pan with foil and grease it well. Line the pan with soda crackers. 
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and cook stirring it until it dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately pour mixture over the soda crackers. 
3. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble. Spread the chocolate chips over the hot cookies. Let set for a minute. Spread the chocolate evenly. Sprinkle with nuts. Let cool, then cut into bars.

I just received a report from Barb. It seems that both her husband, Duane and I are not on top of our games today. I haven't heard how Tom is doing. We are attributing this unease to the large quantity of spicy food (and sweet cookies) we ate, rather than the copious amount of wine we drank before, during, and after the meal. It started with bottles of some nice Cabernets and ended with tipping and shaking the carton to get the last of the White Zin out. Then when it was late and we couldn't find any more wine, we walked home to our waiting beds.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Your Daily Hit of Willie

This one is worth it if only for the high lonesome sound of Riley Baugus on the old-time mountain banjo.

And this one is for Reverend Dick down at the Church of the Sweet Ride:


This Too Shall Pass, or '52 F4 Triggers Chain of Events

Some people truly understand their medium.

Thanks to Nanc Sather for this outburst of fun.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Man Who Wasn't There

Visuals from the movie The Man Who Wasn't There by those good Minnesota boys, Joel and Ethan Coen.  It's interesting, the Coens, Sen. Al Franken and NY Times writer Thomas Friedman all grew up three or four blocks from each other. Music is by Jimmy Dale Gilmore who's from Lubbock,Texas. I don't know who he grew up with. Well, I guess that isn't so, he grew up with Butch Hancock and Joe Ely. Sorry, kind of rambling off a tangent there. Some time ago I posted Jimmy Dale singing Mack the Knife from the French movie Un Prophete. That's pretty good too if you appreciate his eerie hyper-nasal voice. Which I do.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kirby Miles Berg

Over 20 years ago on this date my younger brother died in a house fire. He was about 30 years old at the time and left behind a young daughter that never got the chance to know her father. Because time passes, the dull ache gets pushed further back in my memory, but it never goes away completely. Of course it has a little more edge today. Somehow he deserves more, but I don't have anything else to say right now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hookin' Bumpers

The streets are pretty much snow-compacted right now. When we were in our early teens we used to "hook bumpers". This required the snow-compacted streets, slippery shoes (leather-soled penny-loafers at that time), a distracted driver and a teenage sense of safety. When a car pulled up to a stop sign a couple of us would discreetly squat behind the car in a ski-jump position, hook our hands under the bumper and wait for the free tow. It's a real blast at 20+ mph. I don't recall anyone getting severely injured. How can that be possible? Nobody ever decided to back up? 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blog Traffic

I started this blog in January of 2008, mostly as a convenient way to share pictures and build specs for a couple of old bikes, to share some old family pictures, and news of family and friends. I am not a writer. As I have said, for the 50 years leading up to January 2008, I didn't write anything other than personal checks. Over time I started writing a little more and posting some music videos. Slowly people wandered in and sat down, mostly people with an interest in vintage bikes, but not all. Some tired of the BS and drifted away. Others stayed and became friends, if  someone you've never seen can be a friend - digital friends, people that aren't actually real - just an email address or a blogsite out in cyberspace. Sometimes I suspect you are all bored middle-aged housewives sitting in front of your computers, smoking Salems in your pink fuzzy bathrobes and bunny slippers, creating a new persona for yourselves so you can come out and live in the edgy, exciting world of vintage bikes and dead music. 

In my mind I am writing for relatives, childhood and high-school friends, and another handful of bicycle hacks. Today I noticed on my Blogger Dashboard a category called Stats. I guess I've never paid any attention to it, but today I selected it. I discovered that yesterday 224 people visited 1410 Oakwood. 224 people and it's rapidly increasing! Where the hell did all you people come from? And why aren't you commenting once in a while? While I appreciate that people find something of interest here occasionally, at another level it's kind of unnerving, because I didn't realize it was happening. If I'd have known that people were actually reading it, I wouldn't have been so cavalier in my proof reading and editing.

So, if you chose to, speak up and tell us who you, and what you like or don't (not that it would change my modus operandi anyway). Give us links to your blogs. Hell, we could end up being as creepy as Facebook. I may start another blog to post the more personal and local things. Let me know what you think.
The Management

Monday, December 13, 2010

Democrats Move 2012 Convention to Metrodome

Most Appropriate Venue, Party Bosses Say
MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report
– In a move that took many political observers by surprise, the Democratic National Committee decided today to move its 2012 nominating convention to the Minneapolis Metrodome.

Insiders questioned the wisdom of choosing a venue which collapsed over the weekend, but Obama political adviser David Axelrod told reporters, “Quite frankly, we can’t think of a more appropriate site.”

Giving reporters a tour of the Metrodome facility, Mr. Axelrod said, “The Metrodome has taken a lot of hard knocks in the press, just like the Democrats have. But you can’t believe everything that you read. We’re a lot stronger and a lot tougher than you might –“
Before he could complete his sentence, Mr. Axelrod was felled by a chunk of the Metrodome’s ceiling and rushed to the Mayo Clinic.

Resting comfortably, Mr. Axelrod said he still thought the Metrodome was an appropriate venue for the Democrats, but added, “We’re also looking into some Carnival Cruise ships.”

In other political news, Christine O’Donnell said she is so excited that the national health care plan was found unconstitutional, “it almost makes me want to read the Constitution.”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

As Pure As the Driven Snow

That isn't frost on the window, it's wind driven snow. Oh ja, it wuss a bad storm, ya know.

It's over now, and we're left with a crisp, windy white world - clear blue sky and glaring sunshine. The snow plow has finally liberated us. Our walks and drive have been cleared. I'm pooped, sitting in my long underwear, trying to cool down, back in the warm house after my body adjusted to the outside, shoveling and wrestling a snowblower at the 20 below zero wind chill. My body will be paying the old man aching back stiffness toll tomorrow. Age is not turning out to be a toll free road. For now it feels pleasant being a little too warm.  

Lorna's baking. She just hollered from the kitchen that she screwed up the batch she's mixing and will have to make a double batch. That's too bad, a double batch of my Grandma Nellie's sugar cookies. These are not the thick ones that are rolled into balls and flattened with a fancy jelly glass, nor the really buttery ones with sugar on top. These are the firm sugar cookies she rolls and cuts out with a pinked-edge cutter made from a canning lid just like Grandma's. You know, the sweet dunkers you can break in two, dip in strong coffee, then nibble off  the coffee softened edge. A double batch, that's a real shame.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Walking On Water

One time when I was a kid, maybe 6 or 8 years old, the Old Man and I were walking out on a frozen lake to go ice fishing. He looked at me and said, "Take your Goddamned hands out of your pockets! Never walk on ice without having your arms free. And here, keep these in your pocket in case you fall through", and he handed me two 4" pieces of broom-handle, each with a sharp nail sticking out of one end and a hole drilled so they could nest together in your pocket.  The idea was it would allow the potential drownee to pull himself out to safety from a frigid hole onto the slippery ice. I would like to say they saved my life and I still carry them, but I never did and probably lost them 50 years ago. Although, becoming more aware and unsteady as I get older, I do not walk on icy surfaces with my hands in my pockets. I opt to break a wrist rather than a hip or my skull. Score one for the Old Man.

Another Weather Report

Snowing to beat hell, maybe a foot today. Even more further north around the Twin Cities. The wind is blowing like a banshee and the temperature will be dropping like a cold brick, or as NOAA puts it:
Tonight: Snow and widespread blowing snow before midnight, then areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow after midnight. Low around -8. Wind chill values between -21 and -31. Windy, with a north northwest wind between 23 and 31 mph, with gusts as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Lorna'a sister Anita was flying out to see her daughter, 'Rissa, who is a student at Cornish School For the Arts in Seattle. The flight was cancelled and they will miss her dance program this evening. They're hoping to make it out tomorrow morning.

Everyone is coping in their own way. We went out to eat lunch. Blondie's was closed, so we ate Mexican. It takes more than a little bad weather to close the Taco King. Then we swung by Fleet Farm for a little light Christmas shopping. We had the satisfaction of putting our backs and shoulders into pushing out a snow-stuck Chevy Blazer parked beside our (not stuck) Honda CR-V. I tried not to be too smug. On the way to the grocery store to lay in supplies, we passed the Eagles Club. Most of the businesses in town either cancelled or closed down early so people could get home safely. The Eagles parking lot was full, SUVs and pickups as far as the eye could see. One suspects that some of those jokers had dig out at home, so they could get could get into town and be stranded at the club. I suspect many of them are there for the duration. I can't imagine trying to drive through ice and deep snow in near zero visibility. Drunk. Let's hope that the beer holds out or they'll get surly. 

When we got to the grocery store, business was sparse except in the baking aisle, which was filled with round Scandinavian ladies buying sugar, flour, eggs, butter and almond extract. It's a Christmas snow day - it's cookie time! We picked up our raw sugars, fats and chocolates and made our way through the snowy streets for home. Cookies may be delayed for a while, Lorna is on page 102 of To Kill a Mocking Bird, curled up with Atticus Finch in a warm fuzzy throw and they are getting pretty cozy. Meanwhile I made one quick pass with the snowblower. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow when the wind is finished rearranging the snowdrifts to her satisfaction.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Ruby Anderson died this morning. She made the best pies I ever eaten. We'll think about her every year at Thanksgiving.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Draggin' Broadway in A.L.

Dragging Broadway was something we did almost ever weekend night, if only one pass down and back to check out the action. It's where everybody was. Times change. They eliminated the turn-around at the north terminus and you can't get around the A & W on the south. That's okay. I wasn't a kid anymore and Broadway's time had passed anyway. This is a shortened and edited (not by me) version of a longer piece from the Feb 8, 1974, New York Times. Why A.L.? Why the N.Y. Times? Beats me.:

It is winter, and there is supposed to be an energy crisis on, but that didn't stop a 21-year-old from dragging Broadway here the other night in his souped-up '69 green Camaro with the wide mag wheels. Back and forth, he drove. Back and forth, on a mile long route from the A & W  Root Beer stand to the Fountain Lake dead end. Back and forth, in that teen-age ritual known here as 'dragging,' in George Lucas's current hit movie, 'American Graffiti,' as 'cruising,' and in other cities and towns as just plain 'driving around.' But no matter what the phenomenon is called, the purpose is still the same: for teenagers, and sometimes those in their early 20's, to show off their cars and try to meet someone new of the opposite sex. In other words, Broadway - and streets like it all over the country - is a mile-long outdoor singles bar for those who aren't always old enough to drink. "I think it's a bad way to do it; I'd rather meet a girl at a party or something", said the 21-year- old ... But he conceded that if he saw an interesting looking female pedestrian, he would not hesitate to invite her to ride around with him. "But right now, I'm just, uh, well, uh, just fooling around." he said as he put $3 worth of gasoline into his car at a service station on Broadway.
Almost all of the dragsters who were interviewed in this city of 19,000 on a recent Saturday night - Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons are the hottest cruising times-said they didn't believe there was an energy crisis, and that even if there was, they hadn't curtailed their dragging activities any because of it."There's no gas shortage!" said a senior at Albert Lea High School. "The only evidence we've had here is that they close the stations on Sunday." 

According to the dragsters, cruising is more fun in the summertime, when it's easier to shout to each other from open car windows without having to worry about catching pneumonia. "But we still do it [shout]," one young male dragster said. "We just turn up the car heater, so you don't notice the cold so much."In the summer, of course the A & W Root Beer stand at the southern end of the drag route is open. A lot of between-car socializing takes place there, not to mention the offers to climb into one's car for a few spins around Broadway. "In the winter, the teenage hangout is Jake's Pizza, where one has to park one's beloved car, get out, walk into the restaurant and sit in a booth in order to make social contacts. But winter cruising lives even in the frequent subzero temperatures of this region because winter is when the high school basketball games are played, and a high school basketball game with cruising afterward is like an A & W Root Beer without a hamburger, tangy but somehow incomplete.

Dragging begins around 7 p.m. and pretty much ends around 11 p.m. "By that time we've found out where the parties are - if there an" one teenager said. A party can deter a dragster temporarily from his appointed rounds. But after it's over, you can be sure he will be back on Broadway, checking to see if there are any interesting new faces driving around. The new faces usually belong to teenagers from the small surrounding farm towns in Minnesota and nearby Iowa, who come to Albert Lea because of it's two movie houses and its lively drag route.

In Praise of Potlucks

In the circle of friends and relatives we socialize with, when someone is invited for a meal, the first response is, "What should we bring?". And a bottle of wine doesn't count; it is assumed. I suspect what killed the Christmas party (parties) this year is that somewhere along the line we lost the Potluck Spirit. Maybe next year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter and Changing Plans

We are winding down our first real day of winter -  winter: the environment as modified by temperature altered forms of water. Or, it's getting real cold and what ain't snow, is ice. We  had a few inches of snow last night, enough that the snowplows were out and I had to crank up the big orange Husqvarna snowblower. Old Hussy is a cold-blooded girl and after her long summer estivation, she was a little reluctant to fire up. After some swearing, threatening and kicking, eventually she woke up and together we cleared away the snow so Lorna could go to one of her Saturday touchy-feely women's retreat things. I suspect mostly the women of the town gather to eat, drink and share stories about how dumb their men are. And of course they're right. The only thing that came out of this one, that affects me, was that Lorna caucused over in the corner with some other Oakwood women.  They took it upon themselves to cancel the annual Oakwood Christmas party at the last minute, in lieu of a New Years Eve party. The Christmas party has gotten to be a contest to up the ante every year and I suspect the food preparation time and cost became onerous. New Years Eve should be easier - BYOB and the snack of your choice and we're ready to roll.

The Empathic Civilisation

Thanks to Jonny over at Consequences Dictate for this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dog's Inner Fears?

Last night, the middle of the night, there was a rattling and banging, loud enough to wake us both up. My first thought was raccoons of course, as I had run one off the night before. The sound seemed to be coming from the living room where Bud sleeps. He has a comfy kennel cage with a blanket draped over it and a heat lamp on chilly days to ease his old doggy bones. Bud's a good sleeper. That is, he does a lot of it. He racks up about 18 hours a day, and as he's quite deaf, sleeps through most night sounds.

The noise was coming from Bud thrashing and banging the cage around quite violently, When I saw him I thought he was having a seizure or something because even when I laid my hands on him he continued his thrashing and twisting. Eventually he stopped and woke up, apparently quite shaken and was very clingy for a while, then started running around in his excited circles. I let him outside to run it off. It was cold, so he was back in the kennel in short order, curled up like a happy little puppy falling asleep.

I know dogs dream. I call them rabbit dreams. Bud's legs kick in running twitches, sometimes softly boofing in his sleep. I like to imagine in his sleep he's a wolf again, running in a pack, bringing down caribou, bringing down the big game and tearing it apart with his packmates. More likely he's reliving chasing a cottontail the day before. Who knows. I think last night was different, it was a dog nightmare, canine night terrors. What awful thing could a Pug imagine in his deepest sleep? They don't seem to have a concept of death, though when Sam died, the separation was traumatic for Bud. Pugs have been bred to be perennial puppies. What are Pugs afraid of deep down in their bones?  I hope he sleeps better tonight. Poor little pup.

Faribault Art Furniture Chair

A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a maple chair, one of five that I bought from the Old Mill Restaurant. Laurie Sather, who made our old chairs, bought the surviving three back for what I paid for the five "new" ones. I think those have already gone to live with his daughter Rose, which pleases me.

Installation No.1 of 5:  Maple Chair on Maple Floor, Backed by Maple Cabinets - Painted Yellow.

I took fine steel-wool and mineral spirits and cleaned sixty years of gunk, glitter and wine stains from one of them. After patching some screw holes (repairs that were a little too honest), I put a light stain on the bare wood then rubbed on a couple of coats of tung oil. I think it looks pretty good, but still has a comfortable butt-worn charm to it. It's ready for another 60 years, or at least until I die. 

The Cyber Inbox

The first item in my inbox this morning was the Albert Lea Tribune with the headlines:

First major snow to blow in today

"Get your snowblowers tuned up and shovels dusted off. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for today in Albert Lea — and much of central and southern Minnesota — which could blow in as much as 6 inches of snow."    

Oh shit, here we go again. I'd better dig out the wools: Malone pants, Filson double-cruiser, stocking cap, lined leather choppers and the L.L.Bean boots I inherited when my brother died. :-(
I'll check on the blower after I clean the house. Cocoa! I'd better see if we have enough cocoa to carry the peppermint schnapps. It'd be a bitch to get caught without the essentials.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Each is a typo of the other. I'm been thinking about this one for awhile, but I can't really put structure to it, so I'm just going to wade in and flail about for a while.

Part 1. Pottery
My neighbor Harvey is a retired mental health professional, but he's alway been a hands-on guy - building things, making furniture, restoring sportscars - even shooting his own paint. The first thing he did upon retiring was get a tattoo on his neck. So it didn't surprise me when he cleared out a room in the basement and started to buy pottery making tools and equipment, first a wheel, then a kiln. After he'd been at it for a year or so, I asked if I could see some of his work. He said, no, that it wasn't good enough to show to anyone. He said he throws a few, fires them and puts them on a shelf. He studies them for a while, then smashes them all to shards. I accused him of just going down to his cave and drinking Scotch, but Jane said she has actually seen the pots through the open door so she knows he's actually working down there. It's been a couple of years now since we've talked about his pottery. I'll be seeing him at a Christmas party in a couple of weeks. I'll find out if he's progressed enough that his pots meet his standard for public display. I hope so.

Part 2. Poetry
I've always enjoyed reading poetry. A year ago I started writing my own to fill some of the winter hours when Lorna's at school. I bought some how-to-books that mw recommended, read a lot more poetry, actually studying the structure. Then I started hacking away at words. One morning at breakfast I mentioned this to LP. He's slow talker, that is, he thinks things through before he speaks. He mulled it over a while, then paused between bites of fried corn-beef hash and asked if I was writing poems because I had something I had to say, or if I just liked playing with words.  I like the question. Thinking about it, I realised, for me, it's just the words. It's arranging the right words, in the right order, laying one after the other, after another, until they read well and convey a thought or image. I suspect to be an even average poet one has to have something more to say. I'm not average. My poetry is simply dreadful - shallow and trite. I work them over, let them rest for a while, work them again until they read as well as I am able, then delete those suckers for good. Harv takes his clay, shapes it, glazes it, fires it, then smashes it. I take words, shape them, glaze them, fire them and smash'em. I am the very Harvey of poetry.