Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lorna's Birthday Field Trip IPA

Picked up by friends for trip to Worth. Arrived at Worth and settled in, had some beer and talked, ordered spicy sausage and jalapeƱo pizza, drank another brew, hailed and talked to unexpected friends, ate hot pizza and wiped the spicy sweat from our brow, talked and drank a different beer. Everybody said, "Oh you can't be that old!" Drank more beer. Renewed my pledge to drink more Stouts and Porters this year. People remarked, "We should do this more often". Came home. Good beer, hot pizza and good company. Generally a pretty satisfying birthday party. A special thanks to JoAnne for being the designated driver.

Selection.   Birthday girl's hands and JalapeƱos slices she picked out of the pizza 'cause it got too hot.  ;-(
Note: As we were in Iowa, considered to be enemy territory on football Saturday, we were in the driver's seat, as earlier in the day the inept Minnesota Gophers sucked it up for the game that really matters and beat the University of  Iowa Shit-kickers and took home the trophy. You have no idea idea how obnoxious those asshole Hawkeye fans can be. I'm not certain how long the two football teams have been rivals, but since 1934 it has been for a pig, Floyd of Rosedale. Originally it was for a live pig, but when Floyd died they wisely decided not to play for a dead pig and opted to play for a bronze Floyd. Go Gophers! A gopher?...not a lion or tiger, but a gopher? Whatever.

Like a Goose Walkin' On Ice

This evening waiting for our ride to pick us up to go to Worth Brewing for Lorna's birthday. The geese have the Minnesota Shuffle, short sliding steps, keeping their center of gravity centered over their feet. 

This Morning

 ... there is a light phase Redtail Hawk sitting in an open oak overlooking the lake. In spite of the sunshine, with the recent cold snap the lake is skinned all the way across with a thin mirror of ice, a scattering of snow patches near our downwind shore. There isn't enough snow yet to cover the grass and it will all be gone tomorrow with temperatures forecast in the low 40s. Make no mistake, the winter witch has come to stay. God bless her icy heart.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We about to head to Rochester for a big Thanksgiving meal with Lorna's family. I have Lorna and Addy. The rest of my life is just extra clutter. Lorna's here with me. Ad's on the other side of the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robert Parker Be Damned

My buddy John and I exchanged books after our wine dinner a couple of weeks ago. John has probably spent as much money on wine as I've made, but he still likes to find good economically priced wines. He is, as his son says, a bottom feeder. This book was a revelation. I would recommend it to anyone who likes wine or thinks they know a lot about wines. If these blind tastings are any indicator, you probably don't. If the labels are covered, we all know a lot less than we thought we did. 

The cork reads "What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch? - W.C. Fields". It is from an $11 bottle of Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. It's a three time trials winner. Now nobody is going to claim a big concentrated Zin is subtle, but this is damned good wine. And besides, it was on sale.

And Goddammit! I don't want every wine in the world to be targeted at Robert Parker's frickin' sweet tooth pallet! Thank you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2011 Announcement

2011 Beers

Typically six WBC brews on tap. Two guest taps
*Year round beers


        Field Trip IPA*                    Brown Ale      Dillon Clock Stopper*    Sunderland Mild*


         Oatmeal Stout*             Vienna Lager-(Jan)            Otis' ESB (Feb)                    Dunkel (March) 


Belgian Dubbel (April)             Bishopweizen  May)      Q.P. Honey Lager (June)     Smoked Rye Porter-(July)



Council Approves Front Street Bike Lanes

In general, the Albert Lea community is probably typical of small towns in that the City Council is not bike friendly, so this was a pleasant surprise. I really don't understand their resistance. The $39,000 is completely bogus. Somebody's covering their ass with that number. It's a handful of signs and painting a strip and occasional bike logo on the street, and most of that will be picked up by grants from non-government organizations. A couple of councilmen haven't been on a bicycle since they were kids and seem to think they're toys. The intersection of Highway 69 and Front is only about a mile from my house, so next year I will have direct access to the Blazing Star Trail. And a better shot to Diana's Cafe (the former Ma's Cafe) or the Elbow Room.

Published 10:37pm Monday, November 22, 2010
After a last-minute vote change by one councilor, the Albert Lea City Council voted 3-2 Monday to approve the city’s first-ever bike lanes — on Front Street from U.S. Highway 69 to Frank Avenue, where the route would connect to the Blazing Star Trail.
The vote came down to 5th Ward Councilor Larry Anderson, who when asked for his decision changed his mind in the affirmative to allow the project to move forward.
Fourth Ward Councilor Reid Olson and 6th Ward Councilor Al “Minnow” Brooks voted against the project — mainly because of the location and the effect it would have on parking in some areas — while Mayor Vern Rasmussen and 2nd Ward Councilor Larry Baker voted in favor of it. Third Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr abstained from the vote because of her role as Freeborn County coordinator of the Statewide Health Improvement Program, which is donating funds to the project.
This was the second time the vote came before the council.
Anderson said his vote came “for the greater good of our community,” and noted he was swayed when supporters of the project began to talk about their plans to educate drivers, bikers and students about biking safety prior to the installation of the lanes. He called this a key part of the project.
The idea of bike lanes is also supported in the city’s comprehensive plan, and Anderson said he was impressed with the collaboration that took place to make the project a reality.
He was initially concerned with the limited parking on Front Street in front of a few businesses and residences, he said.
The project is estimated to cost around $39,000 for the initial construction, including signs, and between $15,000 and $20,000 in annual maintenance costs.
All but $4,000 of the initial costs will be covered in grants from SHIP, Pioneering Healthier Communities and Albert Lea Medical Center.
SHIP is donating $10,000, Pioneering Healthier Communities $20,000 and ALMC $5,000. ALMC has committed $5,000 a year for the next three years.
In addition to the support from these groups, the Albert Lea school board directed Superintendent Mike Funk to write a letter to the council, which ultimately stated it also looked favorably on the project.
The letter stated bike lanes would make it safer for the district’s students to ride to and from school and it approved having parking only on the south side to allow students to be picked up. Parking would be allowed right next to the curb, with the bike lane on the outside.
Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Kehr also spoke of a conversation he had with Kwik Trip representatives. They emphasized that though eliminated parking in front of their business on Front Street might be an issue, they would work around it.
Kehr said the company has a strong wellness program and did not want to be the reason the lanes didn’t get approved.
Almost a dozen people from other entities spoke in favor of the lanes during the public hearing at the beginning of the meeting. No one spoke against the project.
Albert Lea resident Scott Martin said he hopes Albert Lea can become one of the top bike-fiendly cities in the state and nation.
Dennis Dieser, co-coach for PHC, said he feels the bike lanes are a step in the right direction toward creating change.
Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Susie Petersen talked about the economic and tourism benefits that come from bike lanes and trails. She said she hopes Albert Lea can become a true recreational community and destination.
Supporters noted they hope this is just the first of several bike lanes in the community.
The project will be constructed in the spring.
According to the project, parking will be affected in the following ways:
• Parking will be limited to the south side of the street in front of Sibley and Southwest schools.
• Parking will be eliminated from Fourth Avenue to First Avenue.
• Parking will only be on the north side from First Avenue to Spark Avenue.
• Parking will be eliminated from Spark Avenue to Euclid Avenue.
• Parking will be allowed on the north side only from Euclid Avenue to Washington Avenue.
• Parking will be eliminated from Washington Avenue to Frank Avenue.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Ongoing Saga

I was awakened about 3:00 last night by the ruckus of a raccoon running on the roof, banging on the birdfeeders and general raising hell. They are not exactly the cat-burglars of the animal world. I leapt up and ran out on the deck, swearing and flailing with a stick to run the interloper off.  Last night it was about 20 degrees with a freezing drizzle. I was wearing my short nightshirt - naked from the waist down and barefoot. Now I know that's more information than you really want to process, but it helps explain Lorna's reaction when I quietly slid back under the covers and eased my feet over to her side to get warmed up. Personally, I think she over-reacted.

Game With the Drunk Referee

From Tom G. at 20 Prospect, a posting called Life in El Norte, which is North of Minneapolis, as opposed to Nordeast Minneapolis. But oh the travails of Squirt Hockey.
"So when the volunteer ref struggled to his feet, we called the boys in and got ready to start. As our ref got within about 10 feet of the bench, I could smell the booze rolling off of him like a cloud. He stopped by the boards to talk to the coaches, and his eyes looked like two piss holes in a snowbank. This guy was beyond drunk. He was blotto. I looked at the other coaches, and they looked at me and shrugged. So we said what the hell, and tossed him a puck. He dropped it, and when he bent over to pick it up, he went down for the second time. And so began the now infamous “Game with the Drunk Referee”.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friends and Writers

Snipped from an email I received from Cheri on Friday. For Chrissake, she's doing her interviews in Danish! 
"I am rushing around clearing loose ends from my mind tonight as I get ready to leave for Denmark tomorrow.  I'm going there on a book tour, to promote the Danish translation of my 2005 book, Beyond Good Intentions.  I've got a speech, a couple of discussion groups, a radio interview (call-in!), a magazine interview, and a 10-minute TV appearance, thankfully prerecorded so they can edit out my groping for words.  I'm doing it in Danish, which will either be a grand adventure or a great humiliation.  Vi skal se."
This is a good time to hype some books by friends. Follow the links. 

Cheri Register  Her book, Packinghouse Daughter helps define our high school experience.   
Dex Westrum   Another long time friend from school friend. His novel Elegy for a Golf Pro is about his father, Lyle. He has a number of short stories scattered in various literary journals and collections over the years. 
Michael White  "mw". Really fine poetry. He's even willing to scribble greetings in the front for me and take the time to shed my feeble attempts. Thanks Michael.
Matthew Biberman  I have a copy of his book Big Sid's Vincati with personal notes by both Matt and Big Sid. Nice. The book has even gone to paperback. Rich! Rich, I say. He's getting rich! 

"I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself." - Hank Thoreau
Support the arts. Support good people. Buy their books. Nobody's getting rich at this. If any other commenters have books or short stories, or whatever, speak up. We want to read your work.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two X Fours and The Anti-Chris

These clips are from a much longer article in Bicycling Magazine on bicycling in Minneapolis. Link  The first I like because at one time in my life jousting with two x fours on tall bikes would have seemed like a really good idea. The second because I enjoy both Kvale and Noren. Chris is calm, quiet and intellectual. Across the hall is Erik. Even after being warned about Erik, nobody is ever prepared for that degree of intensity. If Chris is classical, Erik is rock n roll -  loud, excited, fast and foul-mouthed. I like the fact that they are soooooo different and yet they are friends and respect each other.
"What makes Minneapolis a great bike town, Hurl answers, are the bike couriers and road racers; the BMX racers; the velodrome in nearby Blaine; the small but growing bike-polo community; the Stupor Bowl (the largest alley cat race in the country and, presumably, the free world, says Hurl, held every winter on Super Bowl weekend); and even the local branch of the Black Flag bike gang—its members fuse kids' bikes together, one on top of another, then ride toward one another and smash each other with two by fours."

"The guys want to ride to a large warehouse right next to the Greenway, to introduce me to a couple of frame builders. The first is Chris Kvale, and he is lean, and white-haired and blue-eyed. The surfaces of his shop sparkle. Classical music hangs softly in the air. He has been making frames for 35 years—only steel, "only classic road frames." He is a former racer, and at age 65 still rides 2.5 miles a day to work. When one of the guys makes an old-man joke about his preference for tubular tires, Kvale says, "I'm a minimalist, and they're the simplest expression of the cyclist. Tubular tires demand something of the cyclist. They demand an involvement with your bike. And that's what I demand."

Across the hall is a man whom Kvale's friends call The Anti-Chris. His name is Erik Noren and he starts cursing when we open the door, and continues doing so for the 30 minutes or so that we stay.

"Fuck Portland!" he opines upon learning I am trying to discover why Minneapolis deserves top status over what would seem the logical choice. "All I ever hear is about how cool Portland is. Who rides through the shit we do? We ride more by accident than they do on purpose."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Messenger

I was just going to post this song on Facebook and let it go at that. I cannot. I am always amazed at the pop culture crap that's out there, when songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and dozens of others fall through the cracks. Bob Dylan was supposed to the the poet of my generation. It turned out he spent all his songs in five years then turned into a two-bit song and dance man. Now that we are old we are forced to fall back on the Ray Wylie Hubbards for solace in our times of need.  I probably like this one because it's the philosophy of someone who is in about the same place in life that I am. Screw Dylan, we don't need no stinking Dylan.

Rainier Maria Rilke
Letters To a Young Poet

All the true believers are out on the road tonite

No matter what happens, you know they'll be okay
And to the rock and roll gypsies may the last song you sing 
Be by Townes Van Zandt and down in old Santa Fe

Now I have a mission and a small code of honor 
To stand and deliver by whatever measures 
And the message I give is from this old poet 
He said "Our fears are like dragons guarding our most precious treasures"

I am not looking for loose diamonds here
Or pretty girls with crosses around their necks 
I don't want for roses or water, I am not looking for God now

I just want to see what is next

Sonnet to a Stilton Cheese

Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I-
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading ‘Household Words’,
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.

C. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drunken Poet's Dream

I'm gonna hollar, and I'm gonna scream
I'm gonna get me some mescaline
Then I'm gonna rhyme that with gasoline
It's a drunken poet's dream

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Danny MacAskill: Way Back Home

Young Danny's at it again. Just a frickin' amazing athlete. Thanks to mw for the link.

Another Ostroushko ...

...and then I'll move on again.

Notice the pace of this. This is life in flyover land. We tend to give our words space, a little extra time to pause and tell the stories that need to be told. Here the narrative is part of the song. He seems to need to tell it to get into the right mindset to play it well. It makes it that much more moving when he finally does get to the music. 
(You folks from the Twin Cities, haul your ass down to the Cedar Cultural Center once in a while. There's something going on almost every evening. Don't take it for granted, beautiful things can slip away unnoticed.)

Monday, November 15, 2010


I've been thinking about Nordeast because of Lee's Liquor Lounge. While technically not in the Nordeast neighborhood of Minneapolis, it's a few blocks west over the river, but my guess is that it's customer base is Nordeast. Nordeast is on the East Bank of the Mississippi and has a different feel than the rest of Minneapolis. The working class folks of Nordeast have their own accent (which they would deny, then offer ta kick yer intellectual ass). I base this observation on the guys hollering in the Setzer I Fought the Sheriff video. For instance someone yells, "Com'n Wayne, do it wid em!"  That is not someone from the West Bank or any other part of Minnesota.  Bicycle content: Curt Goodrich builds some pretty fine bicycles in Nordeast.

From the Schell's Brewery website, which is mostly B.S. because it's "Nordeast" because of the NE street designation, not where the people came from. Not my style, but they're selling a lot of the beer:

"Named after the hardworking neighborhood where the original Grain Belt Brewery established its roots back in 1893. ‘Nordeast’ is an endearing term which comes from the Northern and Eastern European immigrants and their language which helped shape Northeast Minneapolis. This amber American Lager is our way of honoring the storied past of Grain Belt and the people who helped to make it legendary! Cheers!"

   Peter Ostroushko, a good Ukrainian Nordeast boy playing one of his own compositions:
A little piece of Nordeast via the Ukraine.

Old Chairs

This chair is rather beat-up and quite worn. It's old, but technically not an antique. There is evidence of numerous honest repairs. When I say honest, I mean there has been no effort the conceal the fixes. The underside has a number of wood blocks and cleats that have been added over the years. The lines may not be that great; it has a bit of a blocky feel to it. To my eyes the top back extension looks like an afterthought. It was made of local maple in Faribault, Minnesota, probably by the Peterson Art Furniture Company or possibly the Faribault Furniture Company. And it sits like a dream!  Nice curve to the seat and back, everything the right proportions. If form follows function, and it's function is to seat you comfortably at a table for a long period of time, this is a beautiful chair. It is beautiful! It is a chair from the Old Mill Restaurant. It is one of the last of the old chairs, probably sixty years old. The owner, Dave Forland, eventually got tired of continually rebuilding them. Last Thursday he asked if we were interested in some of the old chairs. I've celebrated anniversaries, birthdays, retirements, marked most of my good life occasions in these chairs. I've stayed too late, drinking good wine and sharing good times, with my ass planted in these chairs for a good portion of my life. I was ... interested. As of today, I own five of them. They do need some minimal restoration. Patina? Can wood have patina? I guess not, but there is actually party glitter embedded in the remaining gummy finish, and wine stains in the wood where the finish has worn off. Obviously it would be a travesty to have them stripped and refinished. I think I'll just clean them good and touch them up a little here and there, rub them down with tung oil and let it go at that.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Evolution of a Musician ...

or, where are they now?
To set this up you need to listen to these in order. I am assuming a lot of people have never heard of Brian Setzer. If you have, you can take a pass on the first two. I left out Brian Setzer and the Nashvillians.

...and it goes on for another 7 minutes.

Brian was another one of those people who drifted into Minneapolis, it felt right, and he stayed. Got married, now tours and hangs out listening to live music. He's even wandered as far as Albert Lea, because we have an annual Hot Rod show and it was the childhood home of Eddy Cochran. He spent the afternoon shooting the shit and drinking beer at Eddy's Bar, just because he liked the name. Brian has a history of infusing energy into dead music. We're all hoping he'll take a run at the polka.

Lee's Liquor Lounge.  This is as local as a Minneapolis neighborhood bar gets. I happened to notice, "Every Monday: Classic Country w/Becky Thompson & Old School  8:30pm  FREE to get in!"  Becky's from Albert Lea, a couple of years behind Lorna and related to Penny who lives across the street from us. She used to sing yuppie country on the Prairie Home Companion. Now it's classic country at Lee's. With agee tend to settle into our true comfort zone.

 I found the following when I was doing a YouTube search for Lucinda's Minneapolis.
 From the YouTube comments:
"He was just in the crowd hanging out and watching the show... then he brought Wayne a Coke when he hollered for the bar to bring him one and Wayne pulled him up on stage"

Just punch Wayne Hancock into YouTube. Really honest music, the kind played in juke joints all over America. And guys, ya gotta love a place called Lee's Liquor Lounge. Pretty damned descriptive.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Snowin' Out Guys ...

... and gals. It's gettin' ugly. It's been raining and sleeting, snowing and blowing. Mostly snowin' and blowin' now. Brace yourselves, evil days are in the offing. The White Witch has returned again, to scream at our windows, scrape at our doors and pile snow to the goddamned eaves. The weak-hearted among us will not see the virgin buds, smell the new grass of Spring again. That icy witch will test our mettle. She will once again make us     Minnesotans!

I was going post Minneapolis for someone named Monique that I don't even know. I could only find a 28 second snippet, but it turned out to be a real 28 seconds of joy. Here is a real upbeat winter song. A Jingle Bells for our times.

I've been waiting for you to come back
Since you left Minneapolis
Snow covers the streetlamps and the windowsills
The buildings and the brittle crooked trees
Dead leaves of December
Thin skinned and splintered
Never gotten used to this bitter winter

I've been wasted, angry and sad
Since you left Minneapolis
I wish my thoughts were pure like the driven snow
Like the heavens and the spring's virgin buds
But they strangle me with their sin
Fill me up with poison
Black clouds have covered up the sun again

I can always trace it back
To that night in Minneapolis
Here on the seventh floor in a room I can't call mine
Deadbolt on the door, do not disturb sign
Shaking and trembling
On the clean white linen
Slivers of starlight across the ceiling

A dozen yellow roses
All that's left in Minneapolis
I wish I'd never seen your face or heard your voice
You're a bad pain in my gut
I wanna spit you out
Open up this wound again
Let my blood flow red and thin
Into the glistening
Into the whiteness
Into the melting snow of Minneapolis

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Suck Evening in Oakwood

November 11th, from the deck. Our last mild day of the season?
Barb, the waitress, helping a senior citizen trying to read the fine print. 
After watching the sunset and the geese on the water, we walked down to John and Sally's, then drove over to the Old Mill for a wine dinner. For a while we milled around talking, sampling wines and watching the Barred Owl sitting in the tree outside the window. The owl, or it's progenitors, has camped in that location for years. Eventually food started showing up. The chef and owner, Dave Forland, led off with dates stuffed with spicy sausage and wrapped in crispy bacon (nobody could screw up a combo like that), some herbal goat cheese on garlic bread, marinaded shrimp and other assorted hors d'oeuvrey stuff. A short time later the serious food started arriving. We nibbled our way through a number of courses, eventually finishing it off with creme brulee (wishing for vintage port and ice cream). Along the way we sampled eight or ten wines, maybe more. If they didn't hit the sweet spot for the course, we dumped them in the bucket and moved on. Lorna won't. She doesn't think any wine deserves being thrown away.

I'm not a real white wine drinker, but I appreciated the Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, a moderately priced New Zealand. There were a couple of Chardonnays, a French and a California. I kind of liked the '07 Steele Winery, but John was hoping for something bone-dry and flinty. The best red at this time was an '06 Iota Pinot from the Oregon's Eola-Amity Hills. We also had a Robert Craig '06 Affinity Cab blend that was potentially nice, but probably needed a little more time. Bobby Parker 92 points. I sloshed it around in the glass for a while and drank it anyway. I couldn't bring myself to bucket that one. This is a hard life, but someone has to live it.

Addendum: John liked the Malbec and the Hahn Pinot Noir for the price. I thought the Malbec was adequate and I didn't try the Hahn  because I was already familiar with it. I also have "Ken Wright" scribbled on my notes, but I don't recall tasting any. And I think I would remember.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bettye LaVette

I first stumbled onto Bettye when she sang the following. There is an article in the current New Yorker about her. Apparently no one in the music trade had ever heard of her either, including Peter Townsend and Roger whatshisname. When she walked on stage the applause was so thin that they enhanced it for the broadcast. She reportedly didn't care for The Who or the song, but she had a chance to perform and she grabbed it. She said that being assigned to sing someone else's song was like being introduced to a man and being told she had to sleep with him. I like the look of stunned disbelief on the inductees.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's a Terracotta Day

It's been a beautiful Fall day. We had a hard frost a couple of weeks ago which turned the potted annuals to green mush. Now they were dried out and I took the opportunity of the warm weather to dump the soil out. Terracotta is just dirt, clay which has been formed into pots, dried in the sun and then fired in a kiln at a moderate temperature. The result is a good looking porous pot which breathes so plants don't get water-logged. Most of mine are from Italy, but it's getting harder to find them. There are a lot from China and Korea now. They look the same, but they tend to break over Winter. Actually none of them can handle freezing very well if they are wet. Supposedly the pots from Impruneta, Italy weather better. They are a beautiful soft pink tone, but a little out of my price range. Every Spring I have to throw a couple away and I swear I'll buy fakes that will last forever, but somehow I never do.

The garden in Fall is subtle and textured. It's not slam-bang flashy like high Summer, but still pretty damned fine.

And the brick path, just because it's more clay.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Atheists Just Sing the Blues

McSorley's Old Ale House

For Margadant, who spent a good chunk of his life seeking out the best bars in the Upper Midwest and classifying them - cowboy bars, redneck bars, fern bars, blue-collar bars .... and his Holy Grail, what he called "bar bars". Eventually the whiskey took it's toll and the escalating cost of the pursuit to body and purse became prohibitive, and now as he eases into his graceful years, he has pretty much abandoned his quest.

And for Dex, who also managed to get out of Kansas alive.

By Robert Day

"When I was in college at the University of Kansas, my friend Harris and I made “pilgrimages” to towns we’d read about. Or to places in songs. One summer we drove my open-top CJ-5 ranch Jeep (with the windshield down when we cruised through cities large and small) from Lawrence, Kansas, to Bangor, Maine—all because of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.”

On the way we stopped just shy of Bangor at Old Town, where we discovered a boat builder. After checking our pocket money and double-checking our bank balances, we bought a canoe and rigged it as a top for the Jeep so that we sailed along in shade. The canoe was red like the Jeep. People would honk and wave and flash their lights." continued

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ramblings on Age, Death and Cars for Nov 6th, 2010

I've been thinking some about aging and dying recently.  Before you scream "Morbid bastard!" and "You're still young!", I should mention that this September was a milestone for me. I am now older than my father was when he died. I'm on free time now and I'm not about to take any of it for granted. I will waste it, I will fritter it away, but I will not take it for granted. I may piss it away, but I will appreciate being able to do so.  

My sixty year old friend L.P. and I go out to Trumble's Restaurant together for breakfast. He isn't actually 60 years old, he's been my friend for 60 years, pretty much in an unbroken line. I'm certain I have mentioned it before, but Lyle is funny. He will tell a dry joke with a 50 year set up - something that only two people in the whole world will get, and never crack a smile saying it. I appreciate that.

When you pull into the Trumble parking lot the first thing you notice is the cars. There might be a Caddy or two scattered here and there across the lot, and maybe an SUV, but the overwhelming vehicle of choice for the middle-class senior set are Buicks, usually silver or white. Probably slightly used Buicks ... but with low mileage. L.P. doesn't trust any of their driving skills (any more than he trusts mine) so we have to park way off to the rear, away from any potential action. Trumble's is a fairly large restaurant and when we are escorted into the dining room I'm alway's stunned - we are invariably the two youngest people in the place. Some people say that being around young people keeps you young. Maybe, but if you want to really feel young, go hang out with old people, really old people - people in walkers and funny hats - the Trumblers.

The potentially lethal Buicks at Trumble's remind me of my grandfather, N.C. Berg, the worst driver I ever knew. He had a personal body man the way most people have a barber or a dentist. After a while the word got out locally and when he parked at church or in front of the cafe, nobody would park behind him. He tended to back up until there was a thud, put 'er in Drive and go. If you whack enough of them, eventually they'll give you room to operate. 

Once I pulled in at my grandparents and their big ol' green boat of a Pontiac was parked in the informal visitors row.  The side of the Pontiac was in bad shape. This wasn't particularly unusual, but the degree was. It looked as if he had been sideswiped by a runaway truck. The whole driver's side was scraped and gouged, the paint, chrome and mirror were missing. It was a mess. As I stepped inside I asked what happened to the car. "Well, I always backed out and to the left, and I kept hitting the windmill. So I thought I'd back out and turn to the right and then drive around the windmill instead. The first time I did it, I backed into that big maple tree on the right. So the next time I cramped the wheel hard to get turned before the maple tree. But I hadn't cleared the garage yet and I scraped the car on the side of the door opening."  Grandma Nellie laughed and said," The reason the car is outside is that he also tore off the door frame and the garage door track, and the garage door has fallen down in the way." Ol' N.C. just grinned with his eyes twinkling at his own misfortune. Damn, I miss that old man.

Life and Death in Oakwood

Do not go gentle into that good night...

Animals are not good or evil. They don't have morals. They are just being what they are. I tend to be a live and let-live person. For instance, I can tolerate having my feeders destroyed, and feeding my suet and birdseed to a lot of thieves, squirrels, chipmunks, crows, possums ..... and raccoons. It is part of the price one pays. But then there was The Fish Incident. All of them gone in one night, killed beyond the killers ability to even eat them. I know they were just glorified carp, but in our climate they have to be taken indoors and overwintered in a large tank. I had time, money and had even developed an emotional attachment to them. This fall I didn't protect them as well as I should have. They didn't have a chance. They were fish in a barrel. Sometimes death comes quietly, she sneaks up in the night on soft pussytoes. Other times, death comes as the dark rider wielding a black iron mace. I cannot say what is befalling all of Oakwood's koi-fed creatures, but this one never saw it coming. He was dropped in his tracks by the very hammer of death. And I feel a great deal satisfaction.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Holiday Season

This is from the local paper today. Conger is a small town 10 miles to the west. I really like their definition of the  "Holiday Season". Gentlemen, we are not living in New York City.

Conger Meat prepares for holiday season

CONGER — Deer season opens this Saturday, and Darcy and Jeremy Johnson, the owners of Conger Meat Market, predict a good season.
“All of the corn is out in the fields, so I think compared to last year, we’ll be even busier,” Darcy said. “Last year, there was still corn in the fields so the deer were harder to see.”
This is exactly why the Johnsons are increasing their hours over the next couple of weekends. This Saturday and next, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13, Conger Meat Market will extend its hours until 6 p.m. Jeremy will also be in the market on both Sundays, Nov. 7 and Nov. 14, to take in deer.
They are also ramping up their staff. Darcy said they typically employ 20 people at the Conger and Northbridge Mall locations combined. During deer season, however, they will run a second shift at the locker with four to 10 people, as well.
According to Darcy, Conger Meat Market is especially popular during deer season for one reason in particular.
“We’re one of the few places that still makes dry venison and jerky products,” she said. “Those are very time consuming and a lot of times, lockers are just too busy to do it.”
Other popular items, staples to many patrons year after year, include summer sausage, deer sticks, ring bologna, wieners and breakfast sausage.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mark Twain

"I suppose we all have our foibles. I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness" - Mark Twain

Yesterday, I had a short email discussion with a couple of 1410 posters on T.H. White's The Once & Future King, Huckleberry Finn and The Original Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Both of these gentleman are better read and certainly more intellectual than I am. It was kind of a one-sided discussion, as I have never read The Once & Future King, nor The Original Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I read Huckleberry Finn only under duress. I recall the story line as weak and it became almost unreadable near the end ... but maybe I was just getting tired by then - so much for my take on one of America's greatest novels. I like some of  Twain, particularly his pissed-off, curmudgeonly essays and Letters From the Earth, which I loaned out to Roger Van Horn and never saw again. Book thievery is a serious character flaw. I think he also made off with Heat-Moon's Blue Highways.  I'm looking forward to reading Twain's unedited autobiography. It's hard not to anticipate reading something so volatile that it has been held in bondage for 100 years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leon Russell - 1971

aka Claude Russell Bridges. I gotta break my "two or less" video rule for this.  We sometimes forget how fine a pianist Russell is. I have an early LP with a short haired Leon Russell playing old standards, recorded at the time he was a session pianist, even backing Frank Sinatra for a while. For those of you who keep track of such things, the cool old black dude is Furry Lewis. I don't know who the cook is.

If more records were made this way, we'd be listening to better music.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Day Shot

The old dog and I were on the deck smoking a cigar this evening when the setting sun got us up and off the deck and down to the lake. If ol' Bud appreciates sunsets, he doesn't let on, but he is always up for a walkabout to smell what the other dogs have been up to. He didn't share his findings with me, but the sky and water were stunning.

More Ray Wylie Hubbard

Back among my old dusty LPs I have Ray Wylie singing the original version of  Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother. I suppose I could post it, but most of you have probably heard Jerry Jeff Walker's take on it anyway ... and frankly it was a throwaway song and Ray Wylie has written and sung so many better tunes that it seems a waste. The tale is better than the tune anyway, but it was a rallying cry for all of us cowboy hippies anyway. When he described himself with "knee-high moccasins and a cowboy hat with a feather" it could have been me. Margadant, always a truer cowboy than I, used to cringe when I walked in the door. But then again, he never saw Willie at Red Rocks either, so how could he know.

And who the hell is the stiff with the Santa Claus beard in the audience who doesn't even sing or clap? Stiff.
Try Delirium Tremolos