Who are we? We are our stories.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Cigar Day

This afternoon I was working out in the back yard, working with a heavy hammer slamming and banging 2 x 4s and 2 x 8s around. Christy from next door stopped over to see what was causing the ruckus. After a short exchange we decided it really wasn't a work day, it was more of a cigar day. He went home, dropped off his dog Cricket, and returned with a cigar and we proceeded to fire'em up. Two days ago I had a large suspicious mole cut off and five lumpy growths, like brown facial lichens, burned with liquid nitrogen. As we sat on the garden bench solving the problems of the world, the side of my face he was addressing had three large unhealed sores. They are in prime condition now, scabby, yet open, puss-draining carbuncles, the largest couldn't be covered by a quarter. We sat and smoked and talked for an hour or more, and he never mentioned or asked. We have reached the point in our lives where open disgusting facial sores are considered a norm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adele - Rolling In The Deep

mw posted another version of this on Facebook today. Great voice and delivery.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sendak: A Downer

When I read things like this, it's like listening to the darkest, saddest blues - it makes me feel uplifted. In this case it also makes me feel young. I live in a safe world, where the doors are not locked, where women go for long walks alone after dark. I live in a world where summer children play at night running through wet grass, laughing and squealing, chasing fireflies and young dreams. May you all live in my world instead of Maurice Sendak's.

Recently a mural Sendak painted in 1961 on a Manhattan apartment wall was cut out (1,400-pound wall and all), transported to Philadelphia, and restored. He says he is very sorry he couldn't get to Philadelphia this month to see it unveiled in its new home, the Rosenbach Museum and Library on Delancey Street, where his papers, original art, and ephemera are collected. He had wanted to renew his acquaintance with Rosalyn and Lionel Chertoff's children, for whom he painted it as they "ran in and out of the room."
part of the mural in question
'I'm not feeling great," Maurice Sendak is saying. "I've been rather sick, to tell you the truth. I can make believe I'm well."
You can hear it in his voice. Sendak, 82, on the phone from his Connecticut home at 3:30 p.m. Friday (pretty much when the night owl's workday gets going), sounds gravelly and stuffy.
"I'm old," says the author and illustrator of dozens of children's books, including Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. "It could be anything. Who the hell knows?"
"I was very fond of the kids," he says. "I saw a photograph of them. They're all grown up, and, oh, my God . . ."
His voice fades. Most of his ruminations end this way - not morosely but, as in his books, with a kind of rollicking doom, barreling toward repeated destinations: the passage of time, the state of the world, his own mortality, the basic futility of life, a dark but fun stickball game.
"When I kick the bucket," he begins - about to describe why he's glad his stuff has ended up at the Rosenbach, where it will be seen, not archived - then goes parenthetical: "Which can't be too long from now. I think I'm getting out just in time. Watching the news, everything seems to be in disorder. Everybody seems to be unhappy. We've lost the knack of living in the world with the sensation of safety."
The man who imagined escapes as romps that ended with warm suppers says, "I wonder why people still have children. I mean, why put kids in the world when the world is so insecure? This is how old people rationalize their death. You get a little crotchety with the world.
"That's the one thing that I think makes the mural worth having. It represents a time on a personal level when I was secure and young and happy. And I didn't think about dying . . . about my friends dying."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Star Tool Chest Revisited

When I bought this on eBay it was a little rough. The varnish was brittle and mostly gone, the side panels were separating, the handle mostly tape, drawers coming apart, the felt was stained, - in general it was coming apart, but it was all there.

The first thing I did was re-glue and clamp the box itself and the tuck-away front panel, drive in a few screws here and there, and rebuild the drawers. After dealing with the basic structure, I attacked the appearance. I scraped off all the varnish, sanded it smooth, and stained it where it was needed, then rubbed in two or three coats of tung oil. I sanded off the worst of the crud and rust and buffed the hardware a little. Then I re-felted everything. I tried to keep as much original as I could without everything falling apart and feeling all dirty and sticky, because the wear was the result of someone's lifetime of day-to-day honest use. I tried in vain to repair the handle, but finally gave up and bought a nice leather replacement.

It certainly won't hold everything to build a bicycle, but it does a pretty good job of containing the basic everyday maintenance tools and some of the smaller build-up tools. 

The fastener bins in the bottom drawer were five small plastic tackle boxes from Walmart which fit tight with just a little trimming to get them into the drawer. They seem to function okay. I still haven't sorted all the junk screws and widgets I've saved over the years

(The black inner-tube looking thing in the top tray is the Amish made black leather wraps for my new bike. Nice stuff.)

All in all it looks pretty good, probably better than the photos indicate. Anyway I'm happy.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Normally I wouldn't bother to post a photo that is this poor quality, but it was 6:30 this the evening in failing light and I was shooting through glass and window screens. I heard a thump out on our second story deck where the bird feeders hang and the hawk was sitting on the deck railing. I know I should have adjusted the settings, but hawks don't wait. And in a wingbeat he grabbed a talon full of little bloody bird and was gone.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Myrtles

(not my photo)
For Reverend Dick
Probably of significance to only my mate and I, we had four Myrtle Warblers at the suet feeder today. They are the first of the Wood Warblers to arrive on Spring migration. The newer bird I.D. books refer to them as Yellow-Rumped Warblers, now being grouped with the Audubon Warbler into a single species. Pffft! say I. They were Myrtle Warblers in the little birdbook my mother gave me for my birthday when I turned ten years old and so they will remain until I pass. Since that May 15th the warbler mitigation has been an annual mile marker for me, and over the years my wife has joined me in my love of birdwatching and nature in general. Bless her.

CD Baby

If you are looking for Indie music, things too good for the masses or just plain obtuse and obscure, check out CD Baby. Reasonable prices and good service. For instance they have the new Blaze Foley soundtrack from the documentary Duct Tape Messiah.

Trans Iowa

Trans Iowa V7's new overall champion, Dennis Grelk, was in the front of the event most of the 322 miles and finished with a time of 28 hours and 40 minutes.  Riders have to make time check points and about a dozen out of the 80 starters , including the first woman , Janna Vavrao, finished within the time limits. 

What was learned? Run tough tires  - the early leader was taken out by a series of flat tires.  At least three SRAM rear derailleurs failed. That has to be a huge percentage.  Conclusion - avoid them like the plague on gravel and mud.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Harm's Swift Way

I swore to myself that it was enough about my current fixation on Townes Van Zandt. I lied. I lie even to myself.
This story by Townes Van Zandt's widow, Jeanene, is about how she and their now teenage daughter, Katie Belle, introduced the last demo tape made by TVZ as he was dying, “Harm’s Swift Way”, to Robert Plant. It was to eventually appear on the 2010 album by Robert Plant and Band Of Joy:
"Man Oh Man, the show was Great! I’ll skip to my favorite part. Right before Robert sang Nothin’, Alison sang “Come to the River” a cappella with Plant and two other band members singing harmony on the choruses. It was fabulous. Here’s what Robert Plant said before he sang Nothin’,
“When we began the “Raising Sand” project, and we met and discussed songs that T Bone introduced me, in my naivety to American music, I had never really encountered it before. And this music really has turned the whole tide for me and to illuminate great American writers who I was unaware of. This is a song by the almighty Townes Van Zandt. It’s called 'Nothin' ”.
(Actually, I couldn’t hear the title because Katie Belle was squealing so loud… to my heart’s delight.) Katie got all of this and the rockin’ version of the song on video! What a wonderful thing for her to have! Backstage we got to meet T Bone briefly right away. Townes had introduced me to him a couple of times a long time ago. I had dropped off the gift bags for the three of them earlier in the day with the booking agent’s assistant and my mission for the night was to make sure they ended up with them. I had put two Rolling Stone mags and the Euro and American versions of the ‘Raising Sand' CDs in Robert’s bag to hopefully get autographed by them. To my horror, when we picked up our tickets and passes at Will Call, there was a sheet of instructions that had in capital letters, underlined… "Please Do Not ask for autographs or take pictures backstage!"  CRAP!
We waited till about 2/3 of the folks had cleared out before we made our move to meet Mr. Plant and Alison (who I had met once before at the booking agent’s office.) I found the assistant, who introduced me to Robert’s assistant, who assured me that Robert would sign the stuff and get his gift bag. By now, I could reach out and touch them and I signaled to the booking agent that we wanted to be next for an introduction. She motioned us over and we waited our turn. Robert was standing next to Alison, but had his back to us talking to someone else. Denise introduced us to Alison, who remembered me and I was telling her about me asking Katie Belle that if I introduced her to Robert Plant, would I finally be Cool, and she said “Well Yeah.” and we all laughed. That’s when Robert turned around and said hello. We thanked him for all the nice things he said about Townes on this tour. He talked about how he wished he hadn’t blown his voice already in the show, because usually he does that song real soft but he had to do it loud tonight. We said we loved it and that we were just sooooo happy! And he said, “I bet!”, and we all laughed. Robert told us that he had a child die and about the loss of his friend and drummer and how someone had tried to murder him by giving him a massive dose of LSD and that he was in a comma for five days and woke up Saved. This being the last night of the tour, we talked about Home and where everybody lived. Alison commented on how weird it was that there was a Starbucks in Smyrna now.
Robert said that he would sign the stuff I brought, and I told them about Townes’ last song “Harm’s Swift Way” I put in there, and how Townes never got to record it except for this work tape. That perked their interest. We said our goodbyes, and Robert reached out and gave me a very warm and lingering hug. I whispered in his ear, “Robert, we appreciated you so much!”. I hugged Alison and asked her to make sure everyone left with their gift bags, and she said she would. When we got home, Katie Belle went straight to her guitar and started playing.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall when these guys sit down and listen to Townes’s last song. It’s not just the last song he happened to write, it is the epitome of a genius troubadour’s last statement."
There is a home out of harms swift way
I set myself to find
I swore to my love I would
Bring her there
Then I left my love behind
The desert was long
The mountain high
The road ran steep and winding
The promises so easily made
Unbearable, yet binding
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna count my time

Time will go, it never stays
Memory locked in her passing
Try, oh try to cling to her
Until she becomes everlasting
The world's still blue
My word's still true
I feel I'm turning hollow
She does as she please
If ever she leaves
I'll strangle upon the sorrow
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna mark my time

The road is past, tomorrow the sky
Between sometimes is blinding
Someday soon when I turn to cloud
I will fly on her wings somehow
Wrapped in the road and filled with above
The ground seems to fade away
Hold to the earth like a new born child
Pray she returns someday
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna mark my time

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – A threat to the fledgling presidential campaign of Donald Trump emerged today, as a group of activists charged that Mr. Trump is not eligible to hold the nation’s highest office because his hair does not originate from the U.S.
The group, who call themselves “Balders,” claim that the hair-like substance that crowns Mr. Trump’s head is from a foreign country, which would mean that the candidate is less than one hundred percent American.
“Time and time again, Donald Trump has refused to produce a certificate of authenticity for his hair,” said Leeann Selwyn, a leading Balder.  “This is tantamount to a comb-over of the truth.”
But if in fact Mr. Trump’s distinctive mane turns out to be of foreign origin, such a revelation need not be fatal to his presidential hopes, says Professor Davis Logsdon, who has studied the history of presidential hair at the University of Minnesota.
“Remember, several of our greatest early presidents, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, had hair that originate elsewhere,” Mr. Logsdon says.  “The only thing that could kill Trump politically is if his hair turns out to be from France.”
At a GOP event in Iowa, Mr. Trump made no reference to the Balders controversy, and instead sounded an upbeat theme: “If I am given the chance to do the same magic I did for NBC, America will be the number four country in the world.”
In a piece of good news for Mr. Trump, a new poll showed a majority of likely voters agreeing with the statement, “Donald Trump being sworn in as President would be a great last scene in a Planet of the Apes remake.”


Saturday, April 23, 2011

We Make Things

This is from the current issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. Pictured are Chris Kvale and Chris Cleveland, who along with Vincent Dominguez, shares Erik Noren's work space. Cleveland builds Speedhound bikes, adaptable urban bikes which will accept different rear dropouts and even belt drive. Kvale simply builds ... Kvales.

Quote of the day from Erik, "I wanted people to know we're laborers. We make things."

Gravel Road Race

325 mile unsupported race over gravel back roads, starting in Grinnell, Iowa (east of Des Moines) today. Should be good, the weather forecast is brutal. Link

Looks like rain has been dropped from the forecast. Too bad:
This Afternoon: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 55. Breezy, with a northwest wind around 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. 
Tonight: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 40. North northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph. 

Note: Addendum!!!! Audio updates.  (Start at the bottom and work up, it's more fun.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lunch With Dor

A ramble:
For a couple of reasons I'm not driving at night as much as I used to and occasionally Lorna takes the wheel even in daylight hours. The world as seen through a passenger's eyes is different than a driver, who primarily has to look at the road. Yesterday I was riding shotgun as we drove from the 60 miles from Albert Lea to Mankato to have lunch and spend a little time with Lorna's Aunt Dorothy. I say Lorna's aunt, but after over 40 years, her relatives have become my relatives - our Aunt Dor.

All the roads we took were asphalt two-lane back roads which service the small towns and grain elevators of south central Minnesota. We picked up Mn 13 half a mile from Oakwood and turned north, headed toward New Richland.  It is typical farm country, the fields still laying untended, waiting to dry out enough to be tilled for Spring planting. A few miles north of town we passed through a new large wind farm constructed by our local power company. The three bladed windmills are 120 feet tall, from a distance looking a flock of giant storks slowly waving their wings trying to get airborne in the breeze. Recently I read that there are more people employed in wind generation than in the coal industry. Who knew?

At New Richland we turned left onto Mn highway 30, a chalkline of a road snapped across the flat, black farmland. It's a road that disappears at the horizon - the road that goes on forever, forever or Mapleton, whichever comes first. Along the way we flushed a big Redtail Hawk off a power pole near the Prairie Comfort Cemetery, a long abandoned final rest, about a city block square of grass out in the middle of nowhere, the church long gone, fallen to into the ground or maybe hauled away decades ago to be converted to farm storage. Prairie Comfort isn't much. It doesn't have the symbolic Lutheran pearly white iron gates that so many have. Just a sign. It's just cut stone markers rising out of a patch of overgrown prairie grass. Somebody cares though, because the brush hasn't taken over - some great-great-great grandson must cut the grass once or twice a year. A short distance up the road on the right is a goat farm with little goatish cottages scattered across the pasture, each with a goat standing proudly on the roof. I love goat cheese, but I've never really considered that somewhere in the wide world out here, someone is getting up early every day of the year to milk those goddamned goats! (their adjective, not my own).

Rather than going on forever (or to Mapleton) we turned right on Mn 83, maybe the longest speed-bump in the world. Before we got to the village of Waldorf we passed a wooded farmsite which has become a junkyard. The yard and woods around the house are filled with old trucks, cars and farm machinery, head-high piles of miscellaneous, and over-following into the fields a dozen onetime underground fuel tanks, all of these with the pale faded paint coated with a heavy dusting of brick red rust. Acres of it. This is hoarding on a grand scale. After Waldorf the road continues through the villages of Pemberton and St.Clair, then starts wandering a little before hitting Blue Earth County Rd  82, which we took north into Mankato.

In North Mankato we turned left on Mn 14 which sweeps down into the Minnesota River Valley, across the bridge and back up the far side to high ground. The valley is wide far beyond the scale of the river at the bottom, much wider than the Mississippi River Valley. It was created at the end of the ice age when Lake Agassiz broke through the ice dam and emptied into the Minnesota River and eventually into the Mississippi. This was not a valley created by slow erosion over time. It was sudden and spectacular. Considering that Agassiz covered parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and most of Manitoba and Ontario north to Hudson Bay, for a few weeks of it's life the Minnesota was one hell of a river.

That's about it. We got to Dor's in time for a meal of glazed ham, garlic potatoes, and beans - and a chocolate covered cream-puff for desert, spent some time in her apartment talking family affairs, then headed for home after a pit stop at Barnes and Noble, just in case - so we don't run short of books in the next week or two.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cheri, Cheri, Cheri

This is kind of embarrassing. Cheri Register, my friend from high school is an author by trade and has a website with a blog. We occasionally exchange emails and I guess I must have known that she had a blog, but somehow I just didn't process it. What makes it worse, her blogroll only has three listings and 1410 is one of them. So haul your ass over there, sit down and have a look. If it strikes your fancy, rest and read a little. Cheri apparently doesn't post too often, but life is about quality, not quantity isn't it?   http://www.cheriregister.com/

(If you live in Minnesota and can get the tpt MN public television channel, Cheri's going to be on end of this month on "Threads of Memory", discussing the book that earned her a Minnesota Book Award.)

Spring Bockfest 2011

Saturday evening Fritz, Margadant and I had a light meal at the Elbow Room, then went down to Worth Brewing for the celebration of Spring Bockfest III  - full house, polka music by Big Ben and the Brians, beer, and the selection of a Bockfest king and queen. While Fritz and I drank beer, Margadant screwed around trying to figure out how to use his new flip phone camera. Afterwards, Fritz and Margadant had an in depth discussion of the pros and cons of various bio-fuels and other exciting subjects. Margadant is FX deprived where he lives and is big fan of Dewey Crowe, so we sat up late, watching two hours of Justified while eating Hope Creamery butter on soda crackers. Wowzer, life doesn't get much better than that! The only downside was I forget to take my growler along for a refill.

Note: I was going to post the above last Sunday, but now Jim claims he figured out the camera, has pictures of Bockfest and will forward them. I've known him 60 years - I'm not holding my breath. God, pictures would have helped. Instead, here's a little Dewey for you.
Dewey Crowe: Your brother got shot!
Boyd Crowder: What? Where?
Dewey Crowe: At his house.
Boyd Crowder: No, Dumbass! Where on his body?
Dewey Crowe: I don’t know.
Boyd Crowder: Well, Is it serious?!

Dewey Crowe: Oh yeah! He’s dead.

Thumbs Up For 20 Prospect

Please check out Tommy G. if you want a little writing mixed with a little bicycle. He's taking it where I was headed before I ran out of energy and desire.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

E.O.Wilson is Pissing People Off ...

... again. At my age it's hard to maintain heroes. They keep disappointing me. E.O. doesn't. Now he is pushing a theory he calls Group Selection. I've been reading Wilson for years as he has gone against the mainstream scientific community. Ultimately he tends to be right, and he takes joy in the intellectual battle.
"The alternative theory holds that the origins of altruism and teamwork have nothing to do with kinship or the degree of relatedness between individuals. The key, Wilson said, is the group: Under certain circumstances, groups of cooperators can out-compete groups of non-cooperators, thereby ensuring that their genes — including the ones that predispose them to cooperation — are handed down to future generations. This so-called group selection, Wilson insists, is what forms the evolutionary basis for a variety of advanced social behaviors linked to altruism, teamwork, and tribalism — a position that other scientists have taken over the years, but which historically has been considered, in Wilson’s own word, “heresy.”
"On a recent Monday afternoon, the distinguished Harvard biologist Edward O. Wilson was at his home in Lexington, talking on the phone about the knocks he’s been taking lately from the scientific community, and paraphrasing Arthur Schopenhauer to explain his current standing in his field. “All new ideas go through three phases,” Wilson said, with some happy mischief in his voice.“They’re first ridiculed or ignored. Then they meet outrage. Then they are said to have been obvious all along.” 
Wilson is 81, an age at which he could be forgiven for retreating to a farm and lending his name to the occasional popular book about science. Over the past year he’s tried his hand at fiction writing, publishing a novel about ants — his scientific specialty — and landing a short story in The New Yorker. But he has also been pressing a disruptive scientific idea, one he reckons is currently in phase two of the Schopenhauer progression: outrage." more

One More Last "Last Snow"

This is what we woke up to this morning.  This "last snow of the season" keeps getting rescheduled. This is the third one we've had so far. The snow still coming down, but the temperature is 32F so it isn't getting much traction.  I suppose one could make an argument for beauty.  It's a known medical fact that too much blinding beauty can burn your eyes out. For the sake of my vision, enough! ... I give up, I surrender. Give me green.
Spring is still here, it's energy lurking under the snow and in the sheltered corners. As well as the tree buds swelling, the spring bulbs are blooming. The migratory water birds have been here, especially after the ice went out, some have already come and gone, moving north to their summer homes. The Juncos, birds of the far tundra, are still at the feeders, but most of the Pine Siskins have packed it in and flew north to their boreal forests. Of course the Robins showed up a month ago and after some serious discussions concerning lot lines have divided Oakwood into building sites, which generally seem to coincide with our human yards and gardens. 

Yesterday there were at least four pair of Wood Ducks about fifty feet up on the horizontal branches of the big oaks. They nest in tree cavities and nesting boxes - big birdhouses. They didn't seem to be noticeably looking for nesting holes yesterday, just peeping at each other and flying about from branch to branch, celebrating the feel of the mossy bur oak bark under their feet. They lost one really prime natural site above our deck in the wind storm last summer. I should put up more nesting boxes I suppose. Nesting opportunities seem to be the prime limiter of Wood Duck populations. I only have one box, Andersons to the north have one and Christie to our south, at least one - two I think, though one might be a bat house.  

I've been noticing a Sharp-Shinned Hawk hanging around this Spring eyeing the feeders. Probably a pair. It should help us deal with our terrible Chickadee and Chipmunk problems. I know the hawks don't have any choice; they don't have morals, they are not bad birds, they are just being hawks. I do hope I don't have to watch them eating my 1410 Chickadees though. They can take their bloody job to some dark butcher shop up in the trees where I don't have to watch them, watch them tear off the head with one bite, carefully pick off the fluff feathers, then rip the tiny bird apart. Yeah, I have watched them do their dark, grisly task.

More exciting, for me anyway, is a least two Ovenbirds that have been around the past couple of days. They are a small warblers with an olive back and striped breast - subtly beautiful. They feed almost exclusively on insects on the forest floor and may have evolved a dead end trait - they build a dome shaped nest on the ground. They are becoming rare, at least locally. For some reason they seem to die hitting our windows at a rate way beyond their numbers, so I've had too many of the delicate little things die in the palm of my hand. We have a lot of windows and in the past when we hear the birds hit we put their almost weightless bodies in a ziplock bag and put them in the freezer, filed under B for beautiful. When Lorna taught her nature, bird classes the students were able to pass the bags around, feel how little they weigh and appreciate their beauty up close. Now that she's retiring I suspect she'll still find a way to be The Bird Lady and teach classes.

ADDENDUM - 2:18 PM:  It's starting to accumulate. :-(

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Purloined from Old Nevermore:

Paris-Roubaix is a beautiful thing - look at the beating even their arms are taking! The most wonderful bicycle race in the word ... since 1896.  Big George Hincapie will eventually be running this in his wheelchair. Well, maybe next year.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trailer Court Boys

Two or three years ago one of my nephews introduced me to the Trailer Court Boys. Now Margadant is strapping on his legal guns again, he's hung out his shingle, bought him a new set of law books and is coming out of retirement. This is for him.

Warning: The language is f**king awful. Aunt Dorothy, I know you're out there. This is the worse language you've heard in 85 years. You have been warned.
Bye, love ya.

The Straight Dope

"I would decriminalize drugs in a heartbeat," says David Simon. "Take all the incarceration money, all the enforcement money, and hurl it as fast as you can at drug-treatment and jobs programs".  Bill Moyers interview

Pelicans and Cormorants

Sunday it was a clear blue sky day and Lorna and I were standing out on the deck when a vee of 11 pelicans flew over in perfect composition - 5 on one wing, 7 on the other. When I say "flew" it's a little deceptive, as that implies wings flapping. They drift, with 8 foot wingspans fully spread, subtly reacting to unseen eddies and updrafts, a slow white roller coaster floating through sky. As they went over our heads they were close enough that we could hear the soft whisper of the wind over their wings. It was stunning - the huge white birds against the blue sky. Today is a wet gray day. Birds on the water are easier to photograph. They give you time to go get a camera. The downside is, when you get done they are just white blobs of bird on gray water, not white feathered kites in the sky. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pancho and Lefty

Certainly not my favorite TVZ song, but the most well-known to this point, so lets really kill it.
"I realize that I wrote it, but it's hard to take credit for the writing, because it came from out of the blue. It came through me and it's a real nice song," -Townes Van Zandt

First Willie and the sometimes bizarre delivery of Bob Dylan:

Townes Van Zandt had a number of "true stories" about things, none of which were the same. I have some bootleg live performances and the story below is sometimes over 9 minutes long, always different, filled with exquisite details, but I'll be damned if I'm going sit down and transcribe 9 minutes of drunken rambling, so this is from To Live's To Fly - by John Kurth:
First verse is in the second person - apparently autobiographical, then it shifts to third person, telling us a tale of desperadoes, of selling out friends - of secrets from the past. The choruses change with every verse, subtly moving us forward in time until it's just "a few gray federales say". Townes insisted it wasn't about Pancho Villa, but...? Sometimes it was about Judas and Jesus, sometimes about his manager (a really, really poor manager) and him, or two of his college friends - always changing to whatever the questioner seemed to want. Whatever it started as, at some point, it's just an old song with rhyming patterns that are all over the map.

Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath's as hard as kerosene
You weren't your mama's only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That's the way it goes

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty's mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain't nobody knows

All the federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose

The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty's livin' in a cheap hotel
The desert's quiet and Cleveland's cold
So the story ends we're told
Pancho needs your prayers it's true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he's growing old

A few gray federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness I suppose

As Townes got older, remarkably he could still write songs and poetry through the vodka, heroin haze, but the live performances were very uneven. Here's the original cut from 1973 when Townes was still sober, could remember lyrics, and played clean, sweet guitar:
Speaking of poor managers, the reason so few people are aware of Townes, he spent most of his life playing small clubs and dives, and I don't believe he ever sold 10,000 copies of a record while he was alive. Okay, drugs and alcohol may have contributed to it too.

Blog Maintenance

Recently I deleted some items under BLOGS I FOLLOW.  Actually, I still follow them in Google Reader, but they are those who only post when they actually have something to say (a bizarre concept), so often it's months between postings. I have also added a couple:

This is a blog by Vladislav Luskin, the gentleman I purchased my McLean from. The entries are often quite long with detailed descriptions of century and double-century rides. Unfortunately the subject has recently swung to bicycle crashes and the resulting injuries. Poor Vlad is pretty busted up, but is optimistic about getting back on his bike in the future.

The adventures of Fair Rosamund Ostrud who lives at Fairview Mobile Home Estates, and in my mind.  I'm not certain how this one is going to go. Roz will decide that. She may just suddenly move away and live happily ever after.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rick Kelly

Richard Darrel Kelly was born on October 20, 1962 to Warren and Jean (Cassel) Kelly in Albert Lea.  He grew up in Albert Lea and graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1981.  After school Rick worked in the family business as a carpenter.  He also worked in the Twin Cities as a union carpenter for many years.  He was united in marriage to Karla Werner on June 20, 1992 at Salem Lutheran Church.  Rick was a Cub Scout Leader for Pack 64, and very active in the Albert Lea Hockey Association as a coach and team manager for youth hockey. Rick was a member of Salem Lutheran Church and also the Freeborn County Snowmobile Trail Association.  He served as a Captain on the Pelican Breeze, enjoyed snowmobiling, motorcycles, and camping on the North Shore.  Rick was a devoted father who especially treasured the time spent with his 3 sons and wife Karla.  He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
Survivors include his wife Karla; sons Josh, Ben and Lewis all of Albert Lea; father Warren (Jan) Kelly of Austin; brothers Dale (Nancy) Kelly of Clarks Grove and Kevin (Linda) of Colorado; father-in-law and step-mother-in-law Dean and Kay Werner of Albert Lea; sister-in-law Kim (Scott) Heilman of Albert Lea; mother-in-law Eunice Maberry of Albert Lea; special niece Samantha and many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Rick was preceded in death by his grandparents; mother Jean; and brother-in-law Edward.
Rick was my youngest cousin. He died yesterday morning at home. I didn't see him often as we got older, other than occasionally bumping into each other around town - just stopping, talking and getting family updates. He was a good, sincere man who took good care of his family. Rick was a soft spoken man who knew how to make things and fix things. Don't smoke.

The Beauty of an Untended Lawn

My first day in Birkenstocks. Day by day it is surely coming around.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Sunday In Hell

My favorite bicycling movie. Fascinating, with some really over-the-top dramatic music. Warning, this is an hour and a half.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paris Roubaix

Journeyman rider Johan Van Summeren won and proposed marriage immediately upon dismounting from his bicycle. “She agreed!” he told the press. “It was a special way to make this request. Some people offer a ring, me it’s a stone! Another stone may come soon.”  Thor Hushovd was so worried about his clever tactics, refusing to take his turn pulling with Fabian Cancellara that he managed to take both of them out of contention. One time Thor, God of Thunder - now Thor, God of Slackers.     Team Tactics.

Democracy Storage

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – The U.S. policy of exporting democracy abroad has meant that there is very little of it left at home.
That is the grim assessment of a new study commissioned by the University of Minnesota, which predicts that if the U.S. continues to export democracy at its current pace it may completely run out of it at home by the year 2015.
“We have been exporting democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq while there are severe shortages of it in Wisconsin and Florida,” said Professor Davis Logsdon, who supervised the study.  “This is madness.”
Citing the study, Speaker of the House John Boehner said today, “It has been clear to me for some time that we must explore alternative forms of government, such as oligarchy or plutocracy.”
Noting that democracy originated in Greece, Mr. Boehner added, “We must reduce our dependence on foreign sources of government.”
The University of Minnesota study contains several proposals, such as outsourcing the U.S. government to the world’s largest democracy, India.
“The work done by Congress could be accomplished much more efficiently by a series of electronic phone prompts,” the study recommends.
But Mr. Boehner warned that eliminating Congress entirely would have disastrous effects: “That would destroy entire sectors of our economy, especially the prostitution industry.”
Speaking from one of the states hardest hit by the democracy shortage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplayed the seriousness of the problem, calling democracy “overrated.”
“Teachers may teach our children that democracy is important,” he said, “but the solution is to get rid of the teachers.”

Mexican Potluck

Along with three other couples we were at Irv and Nancy's last night. Actually the women were there most of the afternoon and we men drifted in later. We've been seeing this group since all of our now grown children were in pre-school or yet unborn. It's nice, even though I drank a lot of wine and I talked too much, they were still kind and polite. These people have fed us, cared for us in bad times, even housed us when we needed it. I appreciate all of them and just want to say thanks for past 25 years. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Personal Comfort

The Old Man’s winter was warm
Smelling of coffee, damp wool and leather
Pendleton shirt, leather vest, unbuttoned coat
Whipcord pants tucked loosely
Into open unlaced Bean boots
Mackinaw cap worn flaps up
Tie strings dangling

I am older by five now than the Old Man lived
Still year by year becoming more like him
Out and about on our northland tasked
Filson cruiser with shearling collar
Warm against biting winds
And matching woolen cap
Flap strings still undone

Striding by dark store windows
I sense his presence and sidelong glance
A walking stride for stride reflection
Of the Old Man in wool and leather
He nods and smiles, a lesson learned,
You cannot put a price
On personal comfort.

'Taint Much ...

..so far, but it is Spring. The first volley of rebirth. A week ago it was snow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Be Still My Heart

" ... the handlebar clamp is too narrow and that the binder is not ... appealing." - Vincent

Note: There will be two binders.

It's coming along.

April 05, 2011: View From the Deck

With the recent warmer weather and windy conditions the ice is starting to break up on the main lake. Here on our back bay it's slower, still we're gaining every day. Today is sunny, but with the breeze blowing across the ice, it's still cool on the lake side of the house. The migratory water birds are starting to show up. A week ago I saw the first ducks - Mergansers and Golden Eyes. Lorna thought she saw a Wood Duck, but I'm doubtful, seems awfully early. Today there are a handful of divers (ducks, not people!) that my old eyes can't I.D. The Fall shooters don't care what they are, unless they are Canvasbacks or Redheads, the rest just getting grouped as "Bluebills". When I was a young hunting man we all loved the Bluebills; they were plentiful, seemingly dumb and they decoyed easily. The ones I saw today are probably Lesser Scaups. As my eyes have deteriorated I've joined the hunters, calling them all Bluebills and letting it go at that. This morning, returning from a run to the tax man, I noted a couple of Loons on the main lake. They never stay more than a week or two before moving on up north, but it's aways nice having the Minnesota State Bird around for a while. Also with the open water I'm seeing Bald Eagles more often, drifting just over the tree tops, patrolling the shore looking for something dead or vulnerable. Dead, dying or easy to kill - yep, it's Spring all right.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Go Twins!

April 03, 2011: Goodbye Winter

Yesterday was sunny and blue skies, light so bright it hurt my old cataract winter eyes. For the first day this year I sat on the bench with a cigar and lit up. The pug wandered off a little to find the sunniest spot in the world to lay down and catch a nap. Lorna came down and sat with me a while, but moved away from my drifting cigar smudge to sit on the north low wall, her back to the cow tank, a galvanized one time fish tank - that is, before the infamous raccoon incident last Fall. Lorna bathed her face in the pure sunshine, following it like a sunflower, claiming that 14 minutes would give her her daily requirement of vitamin D - note, not 13 minutes nor 15 minutes, but 14. ??? Who decides these things, the Bureau of Minutes and Hours? I thought that all of the 1410 snow would surely melt, but the last of it was still lurking in the north shade of the arborvitae.  

Today was an overcast 70 degrees, a weathered wood and metal day - steel, lead and aluminum with occasional hints of stainless steel and driftwood - a chilling breeze blowing across the mushy gray ice still covering most of Oakwood Bay. Still, I thought the warming temperature would certainly melt off the last of the tenacious snow clinging in the garden. Late in the day I went down to the bench to fire up another maduro and work on my primary occupation these days - filing and sanding the burrs and flash off a set of vintage C.L.B. bar-end city brakes. Over by the birdbath there were still three small clumps of snow hanging to life. It's supposed to be cold and rainy tomorrow, even possible snow flurries, but the next time I wander down to the garden the real winter snow will be gone.  We may even get a few inches of sticky snow in a late storm, but that will be Spring snow. We are done with Winter. The door is closed. So saith the new Spring robin from atop the overgrown lilac that protects the garden steps.   

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On Poetry

If you are interested in this sort of thing, you might want to have a go at this:
"Semiotics, deconstruction, New Criticism, blah, blah, blah. Poetry is in crisis, says Joseph Wood, and careless theorizing is to blame... more"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dead Flowers

For Beerboy Anderson:
"Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man . Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince.'

Steve Goodman

This is for Tom Sanders, who says of the late Mr.Goodman, "... the guy which , to my mind , was the best of the singer songwriter acoustic guitarists."... "Twice I’ve been able to sit on the floor in a room while he sang the night away…what a treat that was!" This is a very clean sounding early performance: