Who are we? We are our stories.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker, Female!

I just took a number of pictures of the bird in the low light of late afternoon.  In a way this is even more exciting the other pictures Lorna took. Blown up, the other definitely had a red patch on the mustache, which means it was a male. This one does not. It is a female. Guys, we have a pair!

Salute To Bach

Man Stepped On By Cow, Flown to Rochester

The lead story from the local paper. I realize someone was injured and I sincerely hope he's okay. BUT damn, I really do love that headline.
"A man near Hollandale was injured Saturday morning after he was reportedly stepped on by at least one cow, according to the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office.
Freeborn County sheriff’s detective Scott Golbuff said authorities received a call at 10:46 a.m. of the incident at 80492 275th St. near Hollandale.
The man, whose name has not been released, was transported by Mayo One helicopter to Rochester.
Golbuff said the man was conscious and his injuries appeared to be non-lifethreatening, but he was transferred as a precautionary measure.
Golbuff reported bleeding from the mouth and jaw area, among other areas.
At this time it is unclear whether more than one cow was involved and whether the man was somehow knocked down before being stepped on."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Justified: The New Season!

I watch television, but it tends to be random. I sit down, flick though channels and if something interests me I land for a while. Mostly I watch things late at night, like NatGeo, Public T.V., Nova, and such. There is only one program I mark on my mental calendar. Last week I received a package containing three DVDs with all of last season's episodes of Justified. Amazon, about $20. Justified, Tuesday February 9th on FX, based on Elmore Leonard's character, Raylan Givens. I'll be getting the beer from the frig and the popcorn poppin'. Get settled down in the BIG sofa. This is going to be great! 

Trailer from last season.

Sex, drugs ... at least it ain't violent.

Kim's Kvale

From Kim in Tennessee, pictures of her Kvale with new bars and tape. This was originally built and even built-up for her by Chris in the mid 90s. It is a 56 (c-t) with a 53 tt. and originally a had a 700c wheelset. She has retro-fit it with 650b's and Tekro long reach brakes.

here you go.
finished the bars today.
trying to decide whether to shellac them or just let them get dirty.
my friends at my LBS say 'let 'em get dirty!'

interestingly, the head mechanic there (good friend) rode my bike a few minutes ago and has totally FLIPPED OUT.
he wants to bring his bike in tomorrow to set it up EXACTLY like mine.
said he's never ridden a more stable and more QUICK bike.

sounds like a Kvale to me.  ;-)"

La Belle Province - Oscar Peterson trio.

For Dorothy. And Jane and Carol.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ice Racing

Check out Noren's post. It has a couple of videos that I'm not smart enough to steal.

Running Over Brigitte

Last evening we packed some of our best wine and beer into the Honda and picked up Joanne and Steve. Steve brought a six of Porter, just in case. We headed out to the edge of town to Ann and Dave's. Their house is at the end of a dead-end road, surrounded by a state park. The driveway is quite long and forks to their house and what was Ann's parent's home. Ann is amazing; this was a quick little party, organized that afternoon. On the spur of the moment she whipped up a pork loin rolled around a center of cherries, peaches and cranberries (I think), and all the side dishes - salad with a raspberry vinaigrette, asparagus and a chocolate cheesecakey pie dessert. We ate, talked and laughed, and drank enough that at the end of the evening Steve was asleep in a big soft chair. Steve's asleep, must be time to go home.

But back to Brigitte. Brigitte is a golden lab, a sweet friendly dog that likes company. She tends to greet guests at the end of the driveway and escort them up to whichever of the two houses they are going to. About five years ago we were met by Brigitte as we turned into the drive. I was driving a 4-wheel drive Ford Ranger at the time, high with big tires. I slowed way down because the dog was close and I couldn't see her. Then there was a sickening thump and painful yelp as the truck lurched like we just run over a sack of cement. By the time I opened my door to see how bad she was busted up, the dog was up and hobbling off toward the house. When we got up to the house Brigitte was already there, tail wagging, waiting for us. As the front tire would certainly have crushed her, it must have been the rear tire that left the diagonal track across her side. Dave took Brigitte over to his in-laws and they took her in to the vet.

Since the "I just ran over your dog" incident, Ann's mother has passed away and recently her father had to move to a retirement home. The new neighbor acquired Brigitte with the house. Ann says she seems to be doing pretty well, considering she is a seven year old lab that has been run over by a Ford Ranger.

Ain't No Sunshine

Ain't no sunshine. Ain't never been a bad cut of this song ever sung.

Tennessee Waltz

This is for Margadant's youth. And for Aunt Dorothy, who has followed my blog from almost day one and now well into her 8th decade has upgraded to high-speed internet and can finally listen to the tunes. Jim probably remembers the Patti Page version. I've listened to them both. No contest - Patsy wins. As for The Blue Skirt Waltz, there is no good version. I to recall a decent cut by Hank Thompson, which seems to have vanished in time. Frankie Yankovic had it out in the fifties, but I have to maintain a few minimal standards.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pawn Tickets and Marie

Gurf Morlix

Speaking of names, ain't this one a doppelganger (actually this is totally the wrong word, but I've always liked it and it just sounds right). What do you suppose "Gurf" is short for? Gurfield? Gurflan? I received an email the other day from the little record company that was organized to release Blaze Foley CDs. Blaze may have been a drunken angel, but it didn't seem right to have a man with that much talent be shot down and killed without having any music released. Gurf Molix has released a Blaze tribute CD. I have all the available Blaze music, but I think I'm going to take a pass on this one. I don't care that much for his voice. There is also a Blaze documentary out, but I don't think it's on a DVD yet. Here's a link if you want to read more about The Rise and Fall of Blaze Foley. The part that isn't sad is depressing.

And here's another one of Gurf's happy little songs.

Hank Is Still Lonesome

A year ago at Christmas I received the Hank Williams Mothers Best Radio CD set. If you are even a slight fan, this may be worth your time and money. When the masters were discovered it added 50% to known Hank Williams recordings. Here's I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, one of the saddest songs ever sung, when it was new, fresh and cutting edge.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pug Bling

At one time Buddy had a partner in crime, Samantha -  aka Sam. They were a riot. As is the way of life, all great love stories end in separation. Sam died a couple of years ago. Actually Doc Nelson gave her a shot. I let it go on too long and I have promised myself I will not put Bud through that. So I keep an eye on him, continually monitoring his health. He seems to be in pretty good condition except he's become quite deaf and he is slowly going blind - starting to bark at large sticks and odd rocks. He's not as rambunctious as he was as a pup. He now sleeps almost 18 hours a day, curled up under his heat lamp. I think Spring will put a little more zip in him - more interesting things to smell and roll in. More rabbits to roust. Better walks with the boss and naps out on the deck with the old man.

Someone (?) thought he needed a little rhinestone uplift. Personally I think Bud is a manly little fellow and I don't think jewelry really suits him. When Sam was alive they had matching red collars. Now that she's gone he seems to prefer being dressed in black. The picture is on the side of a purse that someone gave Addy when we still had two pugs. The quality is surprisingly good. The rhinestones of the necklace and tiara are glued on the bag. Bling! Bling!  It has stood up very well - even appears to be unused. In Albert Lea, Minnesota there are limited social events where a twin pugster purse would be appropriate.

Buddy (for his thousands of fans)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evergreen Fields

Country Music and Elizabethan Poetry:
This is probably my favorite Billy Joe Shaver song, which of course no one has ever posted on YouTube because it isn't exactly a toe-tapper. I've heard a number of variations of it. As is the nature of music, lyrics change, particularly when sung by the writer. The lyrics as published by others usually have "crippleful" as "cripple for". I've listened. Listen hard. That isn't what he sings, and it a makes a subtle difference in the meaning. I first posted this on my birthday last year. I'm posting it again tonight because I was struck by how universal some themes are. The uneducated cowboy of 1986 and the educated man of 1586 are both talking about  "My crop of corn is but a field of tares" and "No fruit will be borne by his tree".  "The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green" versus "No fruit of the harvest lent weight to my pockets".  Both men are talking about coming to the end of their cycle. Although one much more immediate and terrifying. Maybe we should put Billy Joe under that kind of pressure and see what he can deliver.

Through ever green fields of my youth I'd go singing
My steps left no footprints behind
No fruit of the harvest lent weight to my pockets
Small knowledge was stored in my mind
Now youth has forsaken this old man
My seasons are numbered by three
No seeds have been sown in the plowed fields
No harvest is waiting for me

The crippleful life is the fate of a loner
No fruit will be borne by his tree
These thoughts pierce my mind while in echoes of memory
A small voice too late calls to me
Come run through my green fields you old man
Search beyond your window pane
Go touch my high mountains and valleys
Come sleep 'neath my evergreen fields

Some Sleeping Buds

Old Sleeping Bud
Young Sleeping Bud

We're in the dead of Minnesota winter. Not completely dead though. Spring is afoot. There is bird love in the air. The Chickadees are pairing off and subdividing the chickadee world into building lots. On sunny days the males are proclaiming ownership with their whistled  fee-beee, fee-beee and chasing off any other males that might have intentions.

Things are astir underground. The life energy held safely down in the roots is slowing moving up the branches and into the twigs. The past couple of weeks the catkin-like buds of the star magnolia are starting to swell. It's an ill-placed shrub. I planted it where it can get both too much shade and too much wind. And it's in Minnesota, probably a zone too far north. Instead of being covered with the white floppy flowers like in the catalog pictures, we will have maybe a dozen on the whole bush.  And we will be thankful for every one of them. 

Tichborne's "Elegy"

I have huge gaping holes in my education - no literature since high school 50 years ago, never a writing course in my life and no poetry. In those 50 years I never wrote a thing. I have found I can write, but I'm like a pitcher who can only throw fastballs. No one ever taught me to write, to throw curves, sliders or even an occasional  change-up to keep the hitters from sitting on my fastball. My heart may be full of poetry, but I never learned to pencil it on a scrap of paper. Michael White, The Perfesser, at least the closest thing I've had to a poetry teacher, posted a link to this. I suppose everyone who has taken any kind of  poetry class may be familiar with it, but I was first hit with it yesterday. Hit hard. It is simple and direct - only single syllable words, each carefully selected to do it's job, nothing more. It's very intense. The writer seems to be extremely focused. Read it carefully and slowly, savoring the words, the thoughts. Resist any Goddamned urge to skip ahead. 

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is gone and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
….….…................….….….—Chidiock Tichborne

Written with his own hand in the tower of London in 1586, awaiting his execution by being drawn and quartered.

Just Dropped In

From an unreleased June 3, 1991 demo session. I love hearing a songwriter with a guitar or piano singing the song the way they hear it in their own mind. Often songwriters cannot really sing and I forgive this. Mickey Newbury needs no forgiveness.  This, particularly the first cut, is just stunning - Newbury his guitar, a little whistling, and someone throwing in a little cello now and then. Kenny Rogers version was good too, but in my opinion this is the best version. This is goin' out to The Dude.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Unknown Blues

Stephen Tarter, Harry Gay. Piedmont Blues - much more urbane than country blues. This is a really good quality recording for 1928. Somebody cleaned it up really well.  So much of the old blues, particularly the Delta Blues, was not considered important at the time. It was just "race music" and the recording quality was terrible. This was posted to Facebook by Dorian Henry, a 20 year old French lad who has uploaded 2330 songs, mostly vintage ragtime guitar - a music I like a lot. He found me when I correctly questioned a photo he had on an upload and he invited me on board - along with 5,000 other subscribers. Don't worry, I won't start cross-posting all of them. They will remain in another one of my parallel universes. I burden you poor people enough the way it is.

Cleese On Football

Thanks to Lee Margadant.

On Names

Humans categorize, label and name everything and everybody. The question, "Who are you?" is generally answered with our given name. Names help give us  sense of who we are. I was thinking about that because recently someone asked if my name was Gunnar or Neil. "Which one are you?"  Well, I think of myself as Gunnar, but even that is gray.  I was called Gunner with an E (I think) by everybody in my world until I entered school. My mother told me that at school they would be calling me Neil. This was a bit of a shock, as Neil Berg was my grandfather. I was Gunner. Everybody knew that.

For years I lived parallel lives, Neil in the classroom, Gunner on the playground. In high school my friends, obvious tired of dealing with it, just called me Berg. To this day my brother, two years my junior, still calls me Berg. Later on at work some people called me Neil, others who knew me better, Berg or Gunner.

A few years ago people started shooting each other. A lot. And with the internet I started getting spam and emails that made assumptions about me shooting - being a Gunner.  It suddenly seemed like a more violent name than I was comfortable with. It wasn't so much a name as a label. I decided as it was an unlisted name anyway, I could spell it anyway I chose to. I became Gunnar. I became Gunnar with an A.

Recently I noticed on Facebook when Lorna made references to me she still stuck with Gunner. The old Gunner. I thought, well if she prefers to be married to Gunner, I had better be Gunner.  I changed everything online, Facebook, Gmail, Google, everything. As soon as she noticed it she informed me that she much preferred to sleep with Gunnar. I may be confused about my identity, but I ain't stupid. I'm Gunnar again.
-Gunnar Berg

Monday, January 24, 2011

THEE Honky Hero

... until he dies and a new king is crowned. All others are pretenders to the throne. Long live the King.

"I'm listening to Billy Joe Shaver/And I’m reading James Joyce ....." - Bob Dylan

Real World Food

There are a couple of blogs I follow that post elegant descriptions and beautiful pictures of food and wine (or beer) that are so delectable that they could make a brave man weep. This is a 1410 real world response. 

The soup is wild rice, the last of the Christmas turkey from the back of the freezer and whatever leftover veggies and mushrooms we had on hand. Some herbs, salt, garlic and cayenne. I do not mean to denigrate it; it was very, very good. There was no salad nor side dishes. "You want salad? Here, have some more soup." Dessert? A couple of hard, seedy rolls with a generous smear of Hope Creamery butter. Oh, yeah (check the link).

The wine. It's Rex Goliath. It used to belong to Hahn and was surprisingly palatable. I think they sold the label and now it's just ... wine. I tend to buy the Red Zin, because cheap Pinots and Cabs can be brutal, and most Merlots are simply insipid. This one is called Free Range Red. There is no year designation. We all know it's not a sophisticated blend. It's leftovers. It is also $5.74. Or less.  "Have another glass of wine?"  Enjoy.

Lorna SEZ: The soup veggies were not leftovers! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker At the Suet Feeder

Male Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus  16-19 1/2" (40-49cm).  Photos taken by Lorna G. Berg at 11:00 this morning at our big suet feeder at 1410 Oakwood. Please forgive the photos taken through the window pane. We feed a variety of woodpecker species at our feeders - Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, Flicker, Pileated and one apparently illiterate Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker who shouldn't be here according to the Peterson Guide.

(not "our" woodpecker)

Old Nevermore


Have a look.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Last Newbury ... For a While

American Trilogy

Originally arranged by Newbury. It seems so logical. When he did it it almost moved these songs into the realm of classical music.

This can bring a tear to my eye and I'm not even from The South. Well, southern Minnesota. I guess that must be close enough..

Trouble in Mind

Cortelia Clark: 1907 – 24 December 24, 1969  His only recording, Blues In the Street won a Grammy in 1967.

Newbury's Train Songs

"Between Hank Williams' pain songs and
Newbury's train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feelin' no pain"

Mickey Newbury: May 19, 1940 - September 29, 2002. 

When you're cold there's nothing as welcome as sunshine
When you're dry there's nothing as welcome as rain
When you're alone there's nothing as slow as passin' time
When you're afoot Lord there's nothing as fast as a train

Time - The Revelator

Mr. Airplane Man

Thanks to Mark Sirek.(the other Mark S.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

S.A.D. Music

I am certain there is a name for this genre of music, other than "that kinda dark music that Minnesota kids sing as they slog their way through winter". Slog Music? Whatever.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chris Kvale Frame For Sale

Kvale frame for sale on Ebay.  63cm x 59 cm.  Starting price $1649.

Mark says he really, really needs to sell it. I have his email address if anyone needs it.

"The experience I had with Chris getting that built was probably the most gratifying exchange of money I've ever had." -Mark S. (Sirek)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brake Setup

Paul braze-on Racer rears, Neo-Retro fronts, roller hangers were a gift from Chris Kulczycki. Mirror polished finish. Does anyone know what the cast gob near the end of straddle wires is for?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Wizard of Oz Link

If anyone one local is interested, I set up another blog for Lorna and the Prairie Fire Children's Theatre production of  The Wiz. A lot of pictures of children having fun.

Friday, January 14, 2011

John Prine: Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)

The video quality is poor, but here at 1410 we're seeking enlightenment and connection with humanity, not visual clarity.

My heart's in the ice house come hill or come valley
Like a long ago Sunday when I walked through the alley
On a cold winter's morning to a church house
just to shovel some snow.

I heard sirens on the train track howl naked gettin' nuder,
An altar boy's been hit by a local commuter
just from walking with his back turned
to the train that was coming so slow.

You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
throw your hands in the air, say "What does it matter?"
but it don't do no good to get angry,
so help me I know 

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
wrapped up in a trap of your very own
chain of sorrow.

I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with the black hair
and my head shouted down to my heart
"You better look out below!"

Hey, it ain't such a long drop don't stammer don't stutter
from the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
and you carry those bruises to remind you
wherever you go.

The Wizard of Oz

Rehearsal has been going well. At least Mrs. Berg hasn't come home crying and swearing. Performances are tonight and tomorrow morning.  Small town media coverage  and  Lorna's blog pictures.

Addendum: At dress rehearsal there was a ruckus ("ruckus" - a wonderful word) and one of the Flying Monkeys bit another kid (names are never shared by Mrs. Berg) and actions were taken. Another Flying Monkey could not abide the Flying Monkey rules and had his wings clipped and was picked up by his mother. In spite of all this the first performance went off clean and the theatre critics generally gave the performance a thumbs up.

Time To Go To Church

The Rev has some good stuff over at the Church. Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Written by Mr. Nelson over 50 years ago. I wonder how many times he's sung it. What goes through his head when he sings this. "Man look at that chick in the front row. Where can I get pot in this town? I wonder where I lost those bus keys. Jeez my back hurts today."  When I was digging through Willie this afternoon there are duets with Willie playing with EVERYBODY. I kinda like this one from Willie's 70th birthday. And damned near everybody was there.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walkin' the Pug, 01/12/11

Oakwood is an inside-out neighborhood. There are two tiers of houses distributed on a circle, the inside row facing a round park, the outside facing the lake. There is a street around the park, but most of the garages are off the back to an alley and all of the lake lots are accessed only by the alley.  I guess my point is that there is a narrow circular lane with a lot of short driveways and no place to put the snow. It piles up.

Today was a crisp blue sky, blue shadow day. The shadows are still long and even with the bright sun it only creeped up to 9F. That's -13C for those of you in the civilized world. I had a brief exchange with a woman in England today who has come to the conclusion that Minnesota is only marginally inhabitable. Maybe she's right ...... but we do have ice fishing and hockey. The English have only...what?.... pub darts?

1410 Oakwood  (past the neighbor's garage)

The lake with fish-houses

Pulled the Trigger...

...on polished Paul Racer stud-mount rear and Neo-Retro front brakes. Should be a match made in heaven, eh?

Virgil Leih: Woodturner

The human animal seems to be programmed, even driven, to create what it perceives as beautiful things. Some of them are social creatures who need to do this within an art community where they can get affirmation from patrons or fellow artists. Others do it way off to this side, away from the noise of distraction. I'm more intrigued by these people working in isolation, doing what they do just because "it needs to be done". Virgil Leih is one of those. His chosen medium is wood turning - wood turning on such a scale that it requires hoists, forklifts, chainsaws and a twelve foot tall microwave.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Couple of Old Tillmans

I like the lyrics, which don't seem to exist on the internet. What's the odds of that?

A heavy influence on Willie Nelson.

I See a Darkness

The black dog is still at the door.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stolen CX Photos

Cyclocross is an extremely manly sport, usually involving Mud, Blood, Sweat, and Tears - er, Beers. (Some combinations of words just seem to rightfully be capitalized). I did a little checking and it seems to go back to about 1910, so it's not one of those X-Games, made for television sports. As it is traditionally a fall/winter sport, Minnesota doesn't seem to have developed a huge following. I don't often find a need to steal something this blatantly, but Abe's short link with pictures is worth a look. 

Cyclocross photos are always striking - men and women covered in dirt, mud and blood. Whether on the bike or sitting stone in their too tired to move after-race, they are invariably focused straight ahead in blank hollow-eyed stares, looking like they've just been pounded by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Racing Team. What a great game! Abraham, you are truly a man. My man of the hour. 

Paul Brakes?

Anyone out there have any opinions on using a Paul Racer rear brake and Paul Neo-Retros in front? The goal being stopping the bike, having maximum tire clearance, and rear clearance for panniers or pannier style Amish baskets.  ???

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I love you so much, it hurts me
Darlin, that's why I'm so blue
I'm so afraid to go to bed at night
Afraid of losing you

I love you so much, it hurts me
And there's nothing I can do
I want to hold you my dear, forever and ever
I love you so much, it hurts me so

- Floyd Tillman. He must have known a Lorna too.

It's January 9th ...

... and I need Spring to come....tomorrow. Those that know know how I feel.

 - Thank you.


John Dawson and Malcolm Rebennack

Prairie Fire Children's Theatre

Next week is Prairie Fire. Mrs.Berg has been the local Albert Lea Sibley School coordinator for this for a number of years. This year there are 75 young thespians signed up for The Wizard of Oz. There's no room for small cast productions for this group. L.Berg says that this is the one thing that will temporarily bring her out of retirement next year.

Prairie Fire Children's Theatre (or PFCT) is a professional touring theatre company based in Barrett, Minnesota and has been bringing a theatrical experience to communities across the upper Midwest since 1987. Prairie Fire tours a variety of original musical adaptations of classic tales.

Throughout the entire year, Prairie Fire Children's Theatre sends two professional Actors/Directors to a community for a one week residency. Local children fill the roles, and PFCT provides everything needed to do the show. After a week of rehearsing, the cast will perform the play twice on the weekend.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Most Offensive Bicycle Builder in the WOR-R-L-D!

I just got a note from Erik Noren. I won't go into the history of how he almost tore apart the 2009 North American Handmade Bicycle Show with the first bicycle that was nearly banned from a show. The bike is what it is. Erik is who he is. You can look it up.

This is for Jack ( I KNOW JACK! ) and Barin, who secretly think they're outlaws. Well they ain't. Well maybe Jack. A little bit.

And my best to Erik. You are a man of passion. And you almost make me wish I needed a hipster art single.
Here's a link that explains more about Erik in his own words.

There Will Be Sunshine Tomorrow

I sometimes despair for the future and then I see faces like these. There will be a tomorrow. More pictures of  Mrs. Berg's third grade class, all spit and polished for the twice snow cancelled Christmas program two days ago. This is her last year of preparing our children for more full and rewarding lives. 

Getting Closer To Build

Town bike. I finally decided on the cream with dark red head-tube and seat-tube panel.  I have all the components pulled together except the rear rack and porteur bars, which are in transit from Velo Orange. In actual practice hopefully the front wheel will be round, etc, etc.

Dan Ulwelling

Dan died five years ago today. A good friend. A great human being.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Cast of Characters

Re: The photo links in the righthand column. With the exception of McLean, these are all people I know and / or have done business with. 

1. Myself. I was an industrial designer. Now I'm not. I like bicycles, perennial gardening, and living small and gracefully.

2. McLean Fonvielle: "Originally from Wilmington, N.C., McLean went to the School of the Arts in Winston Salem to study visual arts, dropped out to go to England and learn bike building. He went into a work apprenticeship at Holdsworthy Ltd. in London, under the direction of Roy Thame. In 1972 McLean came back to the States and started his business, Silk Hope Ltd., named after a little mill town near Chapel Hill, NC." He built Silk Hope and McLean bicycles. They ride sweet and are as understated as he could possibly make them. He died at the age of 29.

3. Chris Kvale: The forearms of a lug filer. Builds a handful of bicycles in winter only - mostly road bikes, all lugged, all very traditional. They are as fine as any bicycle I have seen. He has repainted three of my bicycles. I have owned two Kvales and he will soon be building another for me.

4. Erik Noren: Specializes in sometimes ornate hipster single speeds, but will build anything. He has to be experienced to be appreciated. He is loud, proud, fast and profane. His personality is everything that Chris is not, yet they are good friends. His shop is across the hall from Kvale's.

5. Hiawatha Cyclery: Minneapolis bike shop "specializing in products for the cyclist who uses his/her bike for serious transportation, as well as for recreation. We pride ourselves on our selection of distinctive, high quality bicycles and accessories for the cyclist who doesn't accept the widely held notion that the latest technology is necessarily the best choice."  Well, that's me I guess.

6. Ahren Rogers: Worked at Seven Cycles before hanging out his own shingle. Does nice work, particularly beautiful fillet brazing. He is holding my wife's mixte frame, which was a V.O. prototype.

7. Mark Stonich: Machinist. A source for shortened crankarms, 'bents, obscure bike tools, and Sturmey Archer hub parts and repair. He IS the 3-speed man.

8. Dan Ulwelling: He was the owner of my LBS, Rydjor Bike. The link is to his vintage bike collection. He died on January 8th, 2006. He was a good man as I have ever known.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bartali Blades

Geno Bartali. The greatest Italian pre-war cyclist. I had the advertisement posted for a couple of days, which somebody thought was too recent, too modern. Mansini put the same ad for Bartali Blades as a link on his blog. I followed it. This is what I found.



El Parche

I've posted this before I think, but I love the music. And I'm driving.

And the camera flashes go on forever.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lucy Jordan

Some more of Shel Silverstein's work, as interpreted by Marianne Faithfull:

Molly Tuttle

We're about at the nadir of daylight and my seasonal affective disorder has moved in to spend a few days. I don't feel like doing much other then eating, sleeping and posting sad songs. So here's a young flat picker from California playing another Townes Van Zandt song. Somehow the bluegrassers have high-jacked this one and made it a  'peppy' standard.                 God forbid. Don't they realize it's twice as effective at half the speed? This is NOT a happy song.  Maybe she can revisit it in 30 years after half of her friends have died. It won't be a light, fast song then.

By townes van zandt

I'm goin out on the highway
Listen to them big trucks whine
I'm goin out on the highway
Listen to them big trucks whine
White Freightliner
Won't you steal away my mind

Well, it's bad news from Houston
Half my friends are dying
Well, it's bad news from Houston
Half my friends are dying
White Freightliner
Won't you steal away my mind

Oh Lord, I'm gonna ramble
Till I get back to where I came
Oh Lord, I'm gonna ramble
Till I get back to where I came
White Freightliner
Won't you steal away my mind

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shel Silverstein

According to Wikipedia, Shel Silverstein was an "American poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children's books."  Phew! Boy have I been screwing off. With 20,000,000 copies of his books sold, obviously he isn't obscure - still, it's good stuff.  I must confess, we probably have all of his books, and for a time they were the favored bedtime stories for my daughter. There is an obscure LP called Tompall Glaser Sings the Songs of Shel Silverstein. If you ever come across it, buy it, regardless of the price.

I like the following because as a small child I had physical boundaries. I could go past Pete and Enola Sorenson's house, past Levi Peterson's, and on past the Andrew Hanson place. That is where the sidewalk ended. Literally. That was the end of the world as I knew it for six years. From that point on it was weeds and corn fields that went on forever .... "and the children, they know The place where the sidewalk ends."
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

We are all trees.

The Ken Wallace McLean

This one recently showed up on the Prolly blog site. Gabus took the picture above somewhere along the line and forwarded it to me. The second shot is from Velo Cult. As far as know it still belongs to the original owner, Ken Wallace.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Town Talk Round Table

The Algonquin Round Table, or the Vicious Circle as they called themselves, were a group of New York writers and actors that met for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. As near as I can determine the only thing that differentiated them from groups that gather at tables in small town cafes all over the country, was that they wrote what they said in their newspaper columns. The only member of the group that I am really familiar with is Dorothy Parker. She was a sharp-tongued sarcastic bitch - and I love her, especially her snappy little poems.

I never see that prettiest thing-
A cherry bough gone white with Spring-
But what I think, "How gay 'twould be
To hang me from a flowering tree." 

The Round Table at the Town Talk Cafe back in The Grove when I was young was actually round. It was fairly large and situated in center of a large room populated by other smaller, empty tables. The Round Table was a communal table. The table would seat six comfortably, but often there was a second row of late comers who just had enough room to reach between shoulders to set their coffee cup and sweet roll on the table, so you could squeeze in a dozen or so. (Aside: The sweet rolls were made by actual Danish ladies in ruffled cotton aprons with white flour smudges on their rosy pink faces. The rolls were never called 'Danish', because all rolls were Danish.)

Because of the ongoing political debates, there were a couple of articles written about the Round Table in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Tribune, which ran the headline, The House of Knowledge.  The locals took that to heart and a small House of Knowledge sign was soon hung on the support column next to the table. In The Grove political baiting and debating was considered a sport - almost a contact sport. For any politician running for local or statewide office a session at the Round Table was a required stop. While the political bent of the town was decidedly right leaning, the members of the Round Table were equally aggressive with hopefuls of either party. They particularly liked to ask the questions that make candidates squirm, the ones they don't like to answer. The poor candidates would field questions for a hour or more, usually with a reporter off to the side taking notes on every misstep. Now they call them 'Town Hall Meetings', questioners are planted and they're scripted for the media. That is too bad, something has been lost.

There was a lighter side of the Round Table. There were a lot of stories and laughing. The Grove had two or three larger than life characters. Maybe my Old Man when he was young, certainly Kepple, who as a night carrier pilot during The Big War spent his days reading and memorizing all of Bill Shakespeare's plays among other things. Ol' Kepple was an orator and a master of quotation. But the majority of the actors were life size - a few even smaller than life. I lived in a world populated by eccentric characters with appropriate nicknames - Wild Bill, Crazy Bill, the Dutchman, Timber Carl, Fuzzy Larson, Big Donald, Little Joe, and on and on. 

I don't have the time nor inclination to flesh out all the characters is much as they deserve, but there are a couple I just can't pass up right now. At the time I was in living in The Grove, the Dutchman, sometimes called Bill the Dutchman, was a middle-aged, rough-hewn working man. He 'boarded' with a single lady, and when they had a falling out he would move five miles to the east to work in Hollandale. The work there was seasonal so he always moved back to The Grove when he needed work again and/or for female companionship. The Dutchman had a strange speech pattern that was complete gibberish unless you had sat across the table from him for a few years. At first I assumed it was a really thick accent, but John Ravenhorst, who also spoke Dutch, said he was just as unintelligible in Dutch.

Another one I have to tell you about is Crazy Bill. Craze had a Lincolnesque look about him, tall and bony, Lincoln without the beard, and wearing a bill-up baseball cap perched precariously on the back of his head. Craze stepped off of a passing railroad freight when he was already middle-aged and lived in The Grove until he died. He was interesting in a give and take conversation because he was always three or four subjects behind and he was aggressive about it, which made it difficult to move the conversation forward. No one knew much about his past. He claimed to have been in Barney Oldfield's pit crew, which as I recall would have made him about three years old at the time, but we didn't know much else. 

L.P., Bob Horning and I carpooled to work in Albert Lea and on the way home we usually stopped at the Town Talk for one last cup of  coffee and to catch up on the local news of the day. One evening we walked into the Town Talk and there were a couple of suits sitting at the the Round Table. Without giving a second thought to the empty tables, we beelined for the Round Table and sat down with them. Soon the rest of the regulars straggled in and sat down, Little Joe the banker, Craze, Peter a heavy equipment operator, and Kepple, his nemesis who owned the implement dealership - sometimes referred to by Peter as 'that f***ing plow jockey'. Peter also had his way with the language. The two strangers were were still trying to talk about selling tools, with Craze occasionally joining in, but they were surrounded by these odd people having perpendicular conversations across the table in front of them. I could see they found the situation ... uncomfortable. Then the Dutchman came in. He sat down, leaned to the salesman on his left and asked, "Whasda virone und balternut, yo bleeb dat?". The strangers were not threatened, we were not even unfriendly, but the look on the man's face was utter terror. The Dutchman's question had tipped the balance. Immediately they got up, paid their bill and left as fast as they could. The Dutchman shrugged, "I bauthneck lutnido tham?".  No one else seemed to know either. 

Does Poetry Matter?

People go bonkers in rural Minnesota during the long winters. New York Mills, Minnesota, population 1,158. This is one small community's effort to reduce the number of ax murders, though the actual debate is in April.

America’s premier amateur philosophy contest, The Great American Think-Off, releases its 2011 essay and debate question: "Does Poetry Matter?" The New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in rural northwest Minnesota will host this 19th annual Think-Off with live debate (June 11th, 2011). The debate follows an essay contest with entry deadline of April 1st, 2011. Four finalist essay writers will be selected and invited to participate in the debate in June. A $500 cash prize is awarded to each finalist as well as travel and lodging.

New York Mills Regional Cultural Center is a non-profit rural art and culture organization committed to encouraging a dialogue among all Americans that considers important values and questions for our time. This year the focus is on poetry (and the broader field of all the arts). Essayists and debaters may wish to address the role of the poet (artist) in society, whether poetry (and art) can be a vehicle for change either personally or in the larger world, and in what way poetry may play a role in the creation of community, beauty, and creating new ways of perceiving the people and world around us.

Entering the competition is easy. Just submit an essay of 750 words or less by April 1, 2011 (postmark date). You may send your essay in one of three ways: through the mail to Great American Think-Off, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, P.O. Box 246, New York Mills, MN 56567 or email to think-off@kulcher.org (no attachments) or submit on-line at www.think-off.org. There is no submission fee--submissions are accepted at no charge to writers.

Successful contestants have grounded their argument in personal experience. The judges are looking for essays that address the value and usefulness of poetry by speaking about personal experience rather than abstract philosophical reasoning. Tell a good story that shows a firm standing on one side or the other of the question, “Does poetry matter?”

A panel of judges will select four finalists to come to New York Mills, Minnesota, for the final debate to be held June 11, 2011. The names of the four finalists, who each receive $500 plus travel, food and lodging expenses, will be announced May 1, 2011. The audience attending the debate chooses the winner. She or he will be named “America’s Greatest Thinker for 2011”. The second place is awarded a silver medallion and two bronze medallions go to third and fourth. Details about the contest are available awww.think-off.org.  

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Taming the Bicycle

Old Nevermore has a new blog. Never (his friends call him Never) promises "not planning on posting regularly, and when I do, it'll be mostly lies". He says this as if lying on a blog would be out of the norm. Yeah, right. It is a real shame that the blog format was not around for old Sam Clements. He was a great storyteller and an unabashed, unapologetic liar. If I had the skills I would be modeling my writing after his. Alas, I don't. The only part I have down is the lying part. For the writing part you'll have to settle for the original. It's long, but hell, you aren't doing anything  anyway. By the way, this sounds remarkably similar to shorter story told by Margadant a few years ago, when to get into better shape, he bought and mounted a bicycle for the first time since his childhood.  I believe the bicycle has since been sold.

Taming the Bicycle by Mark Twain
I thought the matter over, and concluded I could do it. So I went down a bought a barrel of Pond's Extract and a bicycle. The Expert came home with me to instruct me. We chose the back yard, for the sake of privacy, and went to work.

Mine was not a full-grown bicycle, but only a colt--a fifty-inch, with the pedals shortened up to forty-eight--and skittish, like any other colt. The Expert explained the thing's points briefly, then he got on its back and rode around a little, to show me how easy it was to do. He said that the dismounting was perhaps the hardest thing to learn, and so we would leave that to the last. But he was in error there. He found, to his surprise and joy, that all that he needed to do was to get me on to the machine and stand out of the way; I could get off, myself. Although I was wholly inexperienced, I dismounted in the best time on record. He was on that side, shoving up the machine; we all came down with a crash, he at the bottom, I next, and the machine on top.

We examined the machine, but it was not in the least injured. This was hardly believable. Yet the Expert assured me that it was true; in fact, the examination proved it. I was partly to realize, then, how admirably these things are constructed. We applied some Pond's Extract, and resumed. The Expert got on the OTHER side to shove up this time, but I dismounted on that side; so the result was as before.

The machine was not hurt. We oiled ourselves again, and resumed. This time the Expert took up a sheltered position behind, but somehow or other we landed on him again.

He was full of admiration; said it was abnormal. She was all right, not a scratch on her, not a timber started anywhere. I said it was wonderful, while we were greasing up, but he said that when I came to know these steel spider-webs I would realize that nothing but dynamite could cripple them. Then he limped out to position, and we resumed once more. This time the Expert took up the position of short-stop, and got a man to shove up behind. We got up a handsome speed, and presently traversed a brick, and I went out over the top of the tiller and landed, head down, on the instructor's back, and saw the machine fluttering in the air between me and the sun. It was well it came down on us, for that broke the fall, and it was not injured.

Five days later I got out and was carried down to the hospital, and found the Expert doing pretty fairly. In a few more days I was quite sound. I attribute this to my prudence in always dismounting on something soft. Some recommend a feather bed, but I think an Expert is better.

The Expert got out at last, brought four assistants with him. It was a good idea. These four held the graceful cobweb upright while I climbed into the saddle; then they formed in column and marched on either side of me while the Expert pushed behind; all hands assisted at the dismount.

The bicycle had what is called the "wabbles," and had them very badly. In order to keep my position, a good many things were required of me, and in every instance the thing required was against nature. That is to say, that whatever the needed thing might be, my nature, habit, and breeding moved me to attempt it in one way, while some immutable and unsuspected law of physics required that it be done in just the other way. I perceived by this how radically and grotesquely wrong had been the life-long education of my body and members. They were steeped in ignorance; they knew nothing--nothing which it could profit them to know. For instance, if I found myself falling to the right, I put the tiller hard down the other way, by a quite natural impulse, and so violated a law, and kept on going down. The law required the opposite thing--the big wheel must be turned in the direction in which you are falling. It is hard to believe this, when you are told it. And not merely hard to believe it, but impossible; it is opposed to all your notions. And it is just as hard to do it, after you do come to believe it. Believing it, and knowing by the most convincing proof that it is true, does not help it: you can't any more DO it than you could before; you can neither force nor persuade yourself to do it at first. The intellect has to come to the front, now. It has to teach the limbs to discard their old education and adopt the new.

The steps of one's progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you've got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No--and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can't fall off it and hurt yourself. There is nothing like that feature to make you attend strictly to business. But I also see, by what I have learned of bicycling, that the right and only sure way to learn German is by the bicycling method. That is to say, take a grip on one villainy of it at a time, leaving that one half learned.

When you have reached the point in bicycling where you can balance the machine tolerably fairly and propel it and steer it, then comes your next task--how to mount it. You do it in this way: you hop along behind it on your right foot, resting the other on the mounting-peg, and grasping the tiller with your hands. At the word, you rise on the peg, stiffen your left leg, hang your other one around in the air in a general in indefinite way, lean your stomach against the rear of the saddle, and then fall off, maybe on one side, maybe on the other; but you fall off. You get up and do it again; and once more; and then several times.

By this time you have learned to keep your balance; and also to steer without wrenching the tiller out by the roots (I say tiller because it IS a tiller; "handle-bar" is a lamely descriptive phrase). So you steer along, straight ahead, a little while, then you rise forward, with a steady strain, bringing your right leg, and then your body, into the saddle, catch your breath, fetch a violent hitch this way and then that, and down you go again.

But you have ceased to mind the going down by this time; you are getting to light on one foot or the other with considerable certainty. Six more attempts and six more falls make you perfect. You land in the saddle comfortably, next time, and stay there--that is, if you can be content to let your legs dangle, and leave the pedals alone a while; but if you grab at once for the pedals, you are gone again. You soon learn to wait a little and perfect your balance before reaching for the pedals; then the mounting-art is acquired, is complete, and a little practice will make it simple and easy to you, though spectators ought to keep off a rod or two to one side, along at first, if you have nothing against them.

And now you come to the voluntary dismount; you learned the other kind first of all. It is quite easy to tell one how to do the voluntary dismount; the words are few, the requirement simple, and apparently undifficult; let your left pedal go down till your left leg is nearly straight, turn your wheel to the left, and get off as you would from a horse. It certainly does sound exceedingly easy; but it isn't. I don't know why it isn't but it isn't. Try as you may, you don't get down as you would from a horse, you get down as you would from a house afire. You make a spectacle of yourself every time.


During the eight days I took a daily lesson an hour and a half. At the end of this twelve working-hours' appreticeship I was graduated--in the rough. I was pronounced competent to paddle my own bicycle without outside help. It seems incredible, this celerity of acquirement. It takes considerably longer than that to learn horseback-riding in the rough.

Now it is true that I could have learned without a teacher, but it would have been risky for me, because of my natural clumsiness. The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers; and, besides, he brags, and is the means of fooling other thoughtless people into going and doing as he himself has done. There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life--life's "experiences"--are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never knew one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side. If personal experience can be worth anything as an education, it wouldn't seem likely that you could trip Methuselah; and yet if that old person could come back here it is more that likely that one of the first things he would do would be to take hold of one of these electric wires and tie himself all up in a knot. Now the surer thing and the wiser thing would be for him to ask somebody whether it was a good thing to take hold of. But that would not suit him; he would be one of the self-taught kind that go by experience; he would want to examine for himself. And he would find, for his instruction, that the coiled patriarch shuns the electric wire; and it would be useful to him, too, and would leave his education in quite a complete and rounded-out condition, till he should come again, some day, and go to bouncing a dynamite-can around to find out what was in it.

But we wander from the point. However, get a teacher; it saves much time and Pond's Extract.

Before taking final leave of me, my instructor inquired concerning my physical strength, and I was able to inform him that I hadn't any. He said that that was a defect which would make up-hill wheeling pretty difficult for me at first; but he also said the bicycle would soon remove it. The contrast between his muscles and mine was quite marked. He wanted to test mine, so I offered my biceps--which was my best. It almost made him smile. He said, "It is pulpy, and soft, and yielding, and rounded; it evades pressure, and glides from under the fingers; in the dark a body might think it was an oyster in a rag." Perhaps this made me look grieved, for he added, briskly: "Oh, that's all right, you needn't worry about that; in a little while you can't tell it from a petrified kidney. Just go right along with your practice; you're all right."

Then he left me, and I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them--that is nothing but a phrase --they come to you.

I chose a reposeful Sabbath-day sort of a back street which was about thirty yards wide between the curbstones. I knew it was not wide enough; still, I thought that by keeping strict watch and wasting no space unnecessarily I could crowd through.

Of course I had trouble mounting the machine, entirely on my own responsibility, with no encouraging moral support from the outside, no sympathetic instructor to say, "Good! now you're doing well--good again--don't hurry--there, now, you're all right --brace up, go ahead." In place of this I had some other support. This was a boy, who was perched on a gate-post munching a hunk of maple sugar.

He was full of interest and comment. The first time I failed and went down he said that if he was me he would dress up in pillows, that's what he would do. The next time I went down he advised me to go and learn to ride a tricycle first. The third time I collapsed he said he didn't believe I could stay on a horse-car. But the next time I succeeded, and got clumsily under way in a weaving, tottering, uncertain fashion, and occupying pretty much all of the street. My slow and lumbering gait filled the boy to the chin with scorn, and he sung out, "My, but don't he rip along!" Then he got down from his post and loafed along the sidewalk, still observing and occasionally commenting. Presently he dropped into my wake and followed along behind. A little girl passed by, balancing a wash-board on her head, and giggled, and seemed about to make a remark, but the boy said, rebukingly, "Let him alone, he's going to a funeral."

I have been familiar with that street for years, and had always supposed it was a dead level; but it was not, as the bicycle now informed me, to my surprise. The bicycle, in the hands of a novice, is as alert and acute as a spirit-level in the detecting the delicate and vanishing shades of difference in these matters. It notices a rise where your untrained eye would not observe that one existed; it notices any decline which water will run down. I was toiling up a slight rise, but was not aware of it. It made me tug and pant and perspire; and still, labor as I might, the machine came almost to a standstill every little while. At such times the boy would say: "That's it! take a rest-- there ain't no hurry. They can't hold the funeral without YOU."

Stones were a bother to me. Even the smallest ones gave me a panic when I went over them. I could hit any kind of a stone, no matter how small, if I tried to miss it; and of course at first I couldn't help trying to do that. It is but natural. It is part of the ass that is put in us all, for some inscrutable reason.

It was at the end of my course, at last, and it was necessary for me to round to. This is not a pleasant thing, when you undertake it for the first time on your own responsibility, and neither is it likely to succeed. Your confidence oozes away, you fill steadily up with nameless apprehensions, every fiber of you is tense with a watchful strain, you start a cautious and gradual curve, but your squirmy nerves are all full of electric anxieties, so the curve is quickly demoralized into a jerky and perilous zigzag; then suddenly the nickel-clad horse takes the bit in its mouth and goes slanting for the curbstone, defying all prayers and all your powers to change its mind--your heart stands still, your breath hangs fire, your legs forget to work, straight on you go, and there are but a couple of feet between you and the curb now. And now is the desperate moment, the last chance to save yourself; of course all your instructions fly out of your head, and you whirl your wheel AWAY from the curb instead of TOWARD it, and so you go sprawling on that granite-bound inhospitable shore. That was my luck; that was my experience. I dragged myself out from under the indestructible bicycle and sat down on the curb to examine.

I started on the return trip. It was now that I saw a farmer's wagon poking along down toward me, loaded with cabbages. If I needed anything to perfect the precariousness of my steering, it was just that. The farmer was occupying the middle of the road with his wagon, leaving barely fourteen or fifteen yards of space on either side. I couldn't shout at him--a beginner can't shout; if he opens his mouth he is gone; he must keep all his attention on his business. But in this grisly emergency, the boy came to the rescue, and for once I had to be grateful to him. He kept a sharp lookout on the swiftly varying impulses and inspirations of my bicycle, and shouted to the man accordingly:

"To the left! Turn to the left, or this jackass 'll run over you!" The man started to do it. "No, to the right, to the right! Hold on! THAT won't do!--to the left!--to the right!--to the LEFT--right! left--ri-- Stay where you ARE, or you're a goner!"

And just then I caught the off horse in the starboard and went down in a pile. I said, "Hang it! Couldn't you SEE I was coming?"

"Yes, I see you was coming, but I couldn't tell which WAY you was coming. Nobody could--now, COULD they? You couldn't yourself--now, COULD you? So what could _I_ do?"

There was something in that, and so I had the magnanimity to say so. I said I was no doubt as much to blame as he was.

Within the next five days I achieved so much progress that the boy couldn't keep up with me. He had to go back to his gate- post, and content himself with watching me fall at long range.

There was a row of low stepping-stones across one end of the street, a measured yard apart. Even after I got so I could steer pretty fairly I was so afraid of those stones that I always hit them. They gave me the worst falls I ever got in that street, except those which I got from dogs. I have seen it stated that no expert is quick enough to run over a dog; that a dog is always able to skip out of his way. I think that that may be true: but I think that the reason he couldn't run over the dog was because he was trying to. I did not try to run over any dog. But I ran over every dog that came along. I think it makes a great deal of difference. If you try to run over the dog he knows how to calculate, but if you are trying to miss him he does not know how to calculate, and is liable to jump the wrong way every time. It was always so in my experience. Even when I could not hit a wagon I could hit a dog that came to see me practice. They all liked to see me practice, and they all came, for there was very little going on in our neighborhood to entertain a dog. It took time to learn to miss a dog, but I achieved even that.

I can steer as well as I want to, now, and I will catch that boy one of these days and run over HIM if he doesn't reform.

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.