Who are we? We are our stories.

Monday, May 30, 2011


The Preacher and His Bicycle

ca. 1885

Known as Single-Speed Hodsdon to his friends.

"1854 Rev. Ebenezer A. Hodsdon:

Ebenezer A. Hodsdon came to this state (Minnesota) as a Universalist minister. In early years he led a sea-faring life. He resides near the city. He is a fluent speaker, a warm friend of the pioneers, and a man of generous impulses."

Picture was taken in 1885. It's amazing how little the bicycle has really changed in a 125 years. The angles are a little slack and the seat is far forward - other than that, Rev Dick could mount a rack, load up a six of Hamm's and take it out on the local off-road trails.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


A good day. Chis and I tried three or four different seriously fine stouts as we nibbled on frozen carmelita bars and discussed THINGS. We are both more or less boycotting ales for a while, myself going to stouts and porters, Chris going the lager route. At some point extremely hoppy, bitter ales become boring and lack subtlety. I may come back to them after a break. Then a short garden tour. The flowers are at the ohmygawd stage. Signe is just learning to build sentences. She calls me "Guinea". She is a joy. Later a pizza run. Yep, life is very good.

I should add that Linda and Larry, Anita and John were also good company and the meal yesterday was wonderful. Thanks.

Iris setosa v. candensis ‘Nana’

Signe with Meg.  Signe thinks we're cool ..... 'cause we got books, blocks and dolls to play with.

Scornful Brillance

I suppose everyone knows by now that Gil Scott-Heron died a couple of days ago. This is from the New Yorker:
"He had been a prodigy of a kind; before he left college, he had published two novels and a book of poems and made two records. Instead of promoting them, he became a college English teacher. He took a leave of absence to go on his first tour, assuming he would return once the interest in his work played out. Something went wrong for him, however, during the eighties—his mother said it was the result of his making too much money—and he began taking drugs. Crack is what he preferred, and he went to prison for it twice and another two times for parole violations."         Read more 

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Clarks Grove Cemetery

I posted a note earlier on Facebook, as always edited down to fit the format. This is what I really wanted to say:

This morning I trimmed and flowered eight family graves along with the other old people. Only the old hear that clock marking the passing of time, tick-tocking ever faster, and so go out to tend the graves to deaden the ticking for awhile. The only young people at the cemetery this morning were those resting beneath the stones. All the graves I tended were natural - except Kirby's and Kristina's. They both died too young. After my work I lingered for a bit, remembering, wishing they were still here. Peace.

A Song For Lorna

I guess she'll just have to settle for me, an angel from Clarks Grove. (And I do love the introduction.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anticipation In the Rain

In a couple of days, give or take depending on the weather, this sucker is going to be just covered in big, manly flowers. Flowers as big as 52 tooth chainrings - incredibly over-the-top and tasteless flowers ... unrefined and course ... and so frickin' drop-dead gorgeous they'll leave me gasping for breathe. This is gonna be worth waiting eleven months for. You just wait and see!
Tree peony  'Hanakisoi' (Paeonia suffruticosa rockii hybrid)  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Merckx is Parked"

Have you ever noticed that every photo of Eddy's eyes when he was racing have an almost frightening intensity?

A Rambling Tale of Woe

First of all, I need to talk a little about our native orchids. Given enough years, most of us tend to accumulate mental drawers filled with file folders of worthless knowledge on obscure subjects. For instance I have one labeled "North American Native Orchids". There are about 250 species of orchids in North America. Half of them are only in Florida and they tend to be a bunch of epiphytes, which I really don't care about. All of the orchids up here in the north are terrestrials, they grow in the ground. Most of these are small plants, like Goodyeras, that you would step on in the woods or swamp without even noticing, but some are pretty flashy, for instance our state flower, the Showy Ladyslipper, a plant which grows in two feet tall clumps, each stem with a number of "ladyslipper" blossoms almost the size of hen's eggs.

Terrestrial orchids have developed a symbiotic relationship with very specific mycorrhizal fungi. The orchids have wiry roots with no fine feeder rootlets. The fungi form a web under the soil and grow into the roots. I am not certain what the fungi gets out of all of this, but it's how the orchid gets it's food. A number of the orchids have pushed this relationship to the point where they are saprophytic and don't produce any chlorophyll at all. Anyway, I had to learn all this because I was growing them in my backyard garden.

One time a friend and I were camping up in northern Minnesota. At the time he was growing tropical Paphiopedilums under lights in his basement and we were both growing native orchids, so we were looking for them in the woods, NOT to dig them up, but to see first-hand what ideal growing conditions were. I won't say where, but we hit the mother-lode. There were Ladytresses, Goodyeras, two or three saprophytic Coral-Roots and a lot of Stemless Ladyslippers. (A couple of years ago Lorna and I saw Showy Ladyslippers in the same vicinity.) He said, "This shouldn't be too hard to replicate, cold spring water continuously draining down a cool pine-shaded solid granite slope, all covered with three inches of loose, acidic pine needle duff."

My answer back home was to make a bog (see Holman bog). I sunk a plastic child's wading pool into the ground with holes punched half way up the wall. I filled it with a combination of leaf mold and pine needles to get the pH right and watered it frequently. I couldn't grow the real boreal species. Sometimes growers lay refrigeration lines under the artificial bog to keep it cool, but that was out of my financial reach. Over time I got things sorted out and grew a number of species quite well. I did lose a couple of Showy Orchis once when the sheetrockers disposing of their limey wastewater threw it on what appeared to them to be a weed patch, which seemed to jack the pH beyond repair. Oh, I forgot to mention orchids also decided they didn't need the baggage of seeds with a food supply, so now the seeds are like powder that must fall on exactly the perfect place - perfect pH, perfect fungus, perfect moisture and then sprout immediately and grow for about ten years before they set their own seeds. The point of all this is simply to point out that they are damned fussy things to grow. Tissue culture has changed the rules a little, but they still tend to be expensive plants.

Orchids are the most highly evolved plants, almost to the point of becoming so specialized some may have reached evolutionary dead ends. Once I had figured all these things out and learned to meet them on their own terms, I became calloused. I started to think anyone could grow the damned things, at least those that were more or less local and didn't need terribly acid soil. So when we moved to Oakwood under the oak trees, I thought, this should be easy. I dug in ground up oak leaves and transplanted Showy Ladyslippers, Small Yellow Ladyslippers and Large Yellow Ladyslippers. The elderly lady next door was a wildflower lover, so I gave her an extra Large Yellow as a gesture of neighborliness. The plants, in general, did not like their new home, they missed their home fungus and they languished as their energy slowly ebbed away. All gone except the one I gave to Maude. As is the way of life Maude died and Lorna's sister and her husband bought the house as their weekend place on the lake. Now they are retirement age and considering tearing it down and building a new year-round home on the site where the last Ladyslipper now stands blooming on this fine May day. It'll have to be moved (cringe).

Large Yellow Ladyslipper (Cypripedium pubescens)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Embarrassment of Last Things

(Thanks to mw for the link.)

Already you smile, drop your eyes, and chew your cheek.
Centuries of dire prophecy have taught us all
to be, well, unconvinced. And there have been decades,
entire scores of years when, to be frank, wholesale

destruction didn't sound so bad, considering.
You remember, we were all disappointed.
That the world never ended meant we had to get
out of bed after all, swallow another dose

of stale breath with our coffee, scrape the grim ice
from our windshields one more time. On the way to work,
stuck in endless traffic, the radio or some
incredibly sincere billboard would promise us again

an end to this, and for a moment we almost
see it. But we know it's not an end, not really;
it's harder than that -- some kind of strenuous chore
stretching out ahead like these stalled cars, showing our

general direction, inadvertently or not mocking our pace.

© Scott Cairns, from "Compass of Affection", Paraclete Press, 2006

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dream: The Beer, the Food, the Bar

This is for those readers who harbor The Dream - start a bar, serve great food, and pick your beer own selection. Serve it all to great people and live happily ever after. Did I mention rich? (the article also mentioned that one of their other two bars took in $2.6 million last year.)
Disclaimer: My nephew, Beer Boy Anderson, plays softball for the Bulldog. ;o)

  • Article by: TOM HORGEN , Star Tribune 
  • Updated: May 20, 2011 - 11:05 AM
"At his new bar, the Bulldog founder switches up his style with hot Southern food and a lager-dominated beer list.

"I went straight for the crazy stuff at the Bullfrog Cajun Bar last week. Frog legs, alligator, crawdads. Not your typical bar food in the Twin Cities, but in owner Matt Lokowich's world, bar food nonetheless.
It all tasted like chicken, anyway.
Lokowich is the man behind the Bulldog Uptown and the Bulldog Lowertown (he's no longer involved in the northeast Minneapolis location). He opened the Bulldog's Cajun counterpart three weeks ago in downtown Minneapolis, hoping bargoers will take a chance not only on Southern grub, but a beer list unlike any other in this market.
The space, at 11th and Hennepin, was formerly home to Gladius, a short-lived gay bar that had a hard time getting customers to buy into its Roman theme. Lokowich and business partner Jeff Kaster have replaced the gladiatorial vibes with rustic tones.

The two have known each other since their bartending days at William's Pub in the early 1990s. Both started as janitors, hoping to one day call their own shots. Now they're asking people to rip apart crawfish and drink beer they've never heard of.

So what's up with this beer list? It's full of lagers. The pale lager is technically the country's most popular (thank you, Budweiser), but it's not exactly coveted by beer geeks who find nirvana in tongue-lacerating hops (hello, Surly) and the complexity of Belgian brews. As a bar owner, Lokowich has long supported craft and import beer.
But now he wants bargoers to take a closer look at the lager family.
"I'm done with Belgians, I'm done with IPAs," Lokowich told me, sounding like he was talking about an ex-girlfriend. While he'll continue to sell those beers at his two Bulldogs, Lokowich is basing the Bullfrog's list on his personal tastes." continued

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Garden Today


Two Maid-Rites in every pot.

There isn't much to say about the Maid-Rite, either you grew up eating the spiced loose-meat burgers or you didn't. If you did, they taste of the steam-cooked sweetness of youth. If you didn't, they are just another quaint, failed product from the past. They almost faded from their Midwest home after pizza and McDonalds hit town with their slicker, more aggressive advertising. Who are we kidding here? Maid-Rite never had ANY advertising. They were just there, a staple in almost every Midwestern smalltown. We grew up with them. Then one day we looked up and realized they were gone, replaced by plastic burgers designed by committees and franchise pizza. In 2006 the remnants of the company changed hands for the second time, purchased by a group who came in with an infusion of new capital, computers and management, and there has been a resurgence of the brand. Maybe in the future, kid's with a growing appetite and little money will be stopping at the Maid-Rite for a paperbag full of burgers again.

CUPERTINO (The Borowitz Report) – A new scientific study released today says that iPad owners are less likely to commit adultery “because they stop noticing other people altogether.”
According to the study, commissioned by Apple, Inc., iPad use disrupts what scientists agree are the necessary first stages of extramarital sex: “noticing, admiring, and talking to other people.”
The study, which was conducted on a sample of one thousand iPad owners, found that not only did iPad use make them thoroughly uninterested in extramarital sex, “their nonstop talking about the amazing features and apps on their iPads made them completely unattractive to potential sex partners as well.”
The study also indicated that iPad owners are far less likely to have sex with the people they are married to, but that in two-iPad couples “neither partner seems to care.”
The new findings about the iPad drew widespread praise for the tablet device, including an official seal of approval from the National Association of Housekeepers and Maids.
In Europe, the International Monetary Fund announced that the iPad would be “mandatory equipment” for any candidate who hopes to take the helm of the IMF.
In Washington, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that the latest findings about the iPad made him interested in purchasing one, “but first I’ve got to pay off this damn Tiffany’s bill.”
In other political news, potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) said today that she was preparing for the GOP debates, including “studying up on where the Boston Tea Party took place.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Energy, etc.

"Unlike conventional crude oil, after all, much alternative fuel production requires very large energy inputs, and nearly all of this comes from existing fossil fuels. It takes a great deal of diesel fuel to grow corn for ethanol production, for example, and a fair amount of natural gas or electricity (the latter mostly generated by coal or natural gas) to run the plants that turn the corn into ethanol. Oilseed production and refining for biodiesel is subject to similar constraints, while the Canadian tar sands that have received so much attention in recent years yield a usable crude substitute only with the help of prodigious amounts of natural gas. A meaningful measure of liquid fuels production should at least subtract the total amount of liquid fuels that has to be cycled back in to the process of producing more liquid fuels, and might reasonably subtract the value of nonliquid fuel energy consumed in the process of production, for much the same reason that a company’s balance sheet has to subtract expenses from income when it comes time to figure profits." More

The Presidential Wheels

Normally my bicycles are spotless for a photo op, even with the paint touched up. The Rev requested some shots and I think he will be undertanding.                  Behold, (drum roll ....... spoken quietly ...) "The Ghost of Elvis":

Tires: Reasonably sturdy, but not bullet-proof

The Killer's Gone

Harmon Killebrew died yesterday.

 The picture was drawn by our neighbor, Tom Jones when he was 5 years old.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another Day of High Pressure Politicking

Hamburger cabbage soup?  I opted for the grilled cheese on whole wheat. Made contacts.
Back home after the ride. This photo blows up enough that you can critique the political road dirt
Cigar Day. I had to move the Ghost of Elvis out of the way to make room for Christie who brought  some beer over to aid in the discussion of potential strategies. The man has never met a tax he thought was justified. Christie was a Tea Partier before there was a Tea Party - makes Paul Ryan look like a spendthrift and profligate. We get along just fine.

The Potential First Dog

The Budster takes a break from his busy schedule.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Pre-Announcement Announcement

In the past I have generally tried to avoid politics on this blog, both because we get enough of that mainstream press jibber-jabber already and also because in the past my political leanings have not always been honorable. Today all that will change. I have seen my error of my ways and I will admit to them. I'm turning over a new leaf for the future of our children and for the future of America. For months now a number of close advisers have been encouraging me to throw my hat, a silver-belly Stetson Moose River, into the ring. The announcements today from both Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, that neither will be running, suddenly leaves a vacuum on the right, particularly the religious right. Now there are those among you who would say that I am not a religious man. This may have been true in the past, but I have seen the light. I have been re-born. I asked myself, "How would Jesus vote?" Today I have been reborn a Christian Conservative Free-Market Republican! So I am announcing that shortly I will be forming an exploratory committee to test the political waters and will then be making further announcements on my future political plans. Might I say right here for the record, that both sides of my family came from Iowa and I still consider myself to be a native of that fine state. God bless you all, God bless the Republican Party, God bless the National Rifle Association, and God bless America. Thank you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Warbler Watching at White's Woods

Her cap says "Life is Good'
A great place for a dog - seldom another dog, few people to get mad. It's a place where a good dog can run and sniff and not offend. The scents abound - rabbits and groundhogs, whitetails and deer mice, ground squirrels and coyotes. Bud marked so many trees I began to worry about dehydration and I offered him water from my hat. He refused and all I got for my kindness was a wet head. 

May Apple

Dutchman's Breeches


Forest path atop the White's Woods esker. Lower Twin Lake down the ridge to the north - marsh, swamps and ponds to the south. The ester is covered by typical Big Woods trees, old basswood and maples - a Pileated Woodpecker woods. The rest of the park is wetlands and acres of Oak Savannah. - miles of transitional woodland edges where wildlife can settle in and make a good living.

The only other people we saw, two young mothers from near Bear Lake with their daughters. One of the girls had a flower I.D. book, the other one a bird book. One looking down, the other looking up. Very intense and very cute. The woman on the right said they have been visited by a flock of forty Indigo Buntings. Forty! We have had four or five and we think we're rich. But on the other hand we're trying to keep a hundred Goldfinch in Niger thistle seed. I wept because I had no Indigo Buntings until I met a man who had no Goldfinches.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Green Garden Repost

When Blogger went down for a day or two I lost this post. I have been requested to repost it.