Who are we? We are our stories.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cjell Finishes

The Tour Divide is over. Ollie Whalley of Christchurch, New Zealand was the top finisher. The Z-Man finished yesterday at 4:20 in the afternoon, which puts him in the top handful. I had absolutely nothing to do with his accomplishment, yet somehow I feel proud. My best to Cjell - and to Sue and Bernie, who have to be two of the greatest, most patient and understanding parents in the world. Your boy done good.

Some thoughts from Cjell on money and life.

P.S. Saying the Tour Divide is "over" may be a reach. Most of the riders who have not already scratched, probably fifty of them, are still out and will be on the trail for days before finishing. I admire the guys at the back of the train who continue to grind it out for their own personal victory.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Church Hill Ramble

Ramble: to move aimlessly from place to place.

View from a big leather chair - my life love, Lorna reading a book on her iPad. Everything in the room is used except the rugs and her lamp which are Home Depot. Nothing costs over $100 (possible exception the one rug). There are two of the terra cotta lamps, purchased at $4.95 each, less 40% off! With a little searching the quality of used "things" is amazing. Shame of us for replacing so many things that are perfectly functional and reasonably attractive. 

The view to the north from our deck. Most places that have severe topography have logical streets which follow the lay of the land. Lanesboro was laid out in 1868 as a planned village. Unfortunately the planning was done in New York City by people who assumed the land was relatively flat. The result is some extremely steep approaches to Church Hill. Once you do get to the top of the hill, it is fairly flat, with two old stone churches, a former high school which is now condominiums, and about a dozen homes. Another quirk is that when the lots were sold off they were sold as a certain size without good reference points. As a result of this there are strips of land scattered around the village that don't seem belong to anyone. From both of my neighbors, when asked where the lot lines are, I got a shrug. The steep wooded lots across the alley to the north of us may not be buildable by present codes - no matter, it doesn't seem to belong to anyone other than the deer anyway.

The cap. Eric Thiss is a snake man, a herper. He keeps snakes in cages, rather, he raises snakes and lizards, and makes a living selling books on reptiles to schools, zoos, breeders and hobbyists. I've had some of the old original Lanesboro residents raise an eyebrow at the mention of his name. "He's weird", and "He don't know nothing but snakes". Strange comment. I have found his knowledge to be broad, deep and passionate.  Just the kind of person I like to be around. Recently, to fill the time, he has been helping me to reduce my beer supply and oversee his son Evan mowing my lawn. A couple of days ago we spent the late afternoon working on that beer situation. Later in the evening he returned with his wife Kathy and Evan. As a payment for a few days of beer, he brought gifts for Lorna and me - bird caps(!) a Violet-crowned Hummingbird for her and a Redtail Hawk for me. 

As we sat talking in the house, Evan was outside doing nighttime kid things. He hollered that there was,"A really big toad out here!" We went out to check. BIG TOAD. Eric said it was a female and a toad that size was probably at least 20 years old. As they were leaving we were admiring our new caps. He said that I had struck him as a Redtail man. As I was still admiring that fat toad eating my earwigs I said, "I think I'm more of a Bufo man right now". He took my new hat off my head and said he had something better for me. Half an hour later he dropped off the Toad Cap. What are the odds that a guy would actually have a baseball cap with an American Toad emblazoned across the front? Seriously?

It means a lot to me, I look at it and can't help thinking of my friend, Toad Peterson. His old toady heart is failing, he doesn't have many options left and he's decided to forego all of them. As always, he is the wise Old Toad. Hang in there while you can, let go when you need to. I'll always have you on my cap. 

Also before I go, I have to mention the Smokey River BBQ, It's hidden along the river, down behind the grain elevator on the north end of town. It's not fancy - picnic tables, plastic forks, the smoker is an old semi trailer. I had the pastrami on a recommendation that it was "absolutely world class". It is. Hot and smokey, knife-cut per order. And just fabulous side dishes. I'll fill you in on the rest of the menu as I eat my way through it.

Lanesboro, Mn: Foodie heaven - 750 people, 12 great places to eat and drink. ;-)

Life on Church Hill

We're still high on Church Hill in Lanesboro. No television. No computer other than this, Lorna's iPad. A former renter chose to gain access to a locked bedroom by kicking in the door. He smashed the casing, trim and lockset. The door is also split along the edge, but I'm going to live with that for awhile. It's one of those things that would be easy for a professional, but it was a major project for me. Now I finished my book so I'm soon going back home to Oakwood. More later this afternoon.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cattle Calls

Late afternoon sitting on our deck on Church Hill in Lanesboro with the Eric and his son Evan, we could hear the distant mournful bellowing of cattle under stress. For a farmer who practices good animal husbandry, stressed animals are a bad thing, but at some point the stress cannot be avoided. Eventually the cattle must be taken from their rolling green grass flowery hillsides of Fillmore County to the Sales Barn on the east edge of Lanesboro, where they are sold and trucked to packing houses or small locker plants to be turned into steaks. Because the cattle in Fillmore and Houston Counties are generally grass fed and raised as humanely as possible, they bring a premium of about 40% or more over the corn fed factory feedlot cattle. It also means that the hamburgers and steaks in Lanesboro taste pretty damned good.

In the transfer of animals from trucks to pens to bigger trucks, occasionally a few cattle escape and spend a while roaming the backyards of Lanesboro, hiding out in the the wooded hillsides of town. Eric said that one time a herd of 33 made one last mad dash for freedom. Most of them were soon gathered up, but a few wandered round town for a day or two. The last one spent three days off his backyard happily munching grass and standing up to his belly in the South Branch of the Root River staying cool. Eric said everyone was asked to call if they saw any of the cattle, but he was damned if he was going to help them take away that last few days of pleasure.  See movie: The Great Escape.

The Mantelope From Antelope

In the middle of the Tour Divide, Taylor has changed his name again. He now wants to be known as Mantelope. In the pre-race postings the riders set down goals for themselves, for instance " finish in 21 days". Taylor's goal was "to become a bear in two weeks". Now, with hours on the trail to think, he has restated his goal, "to become an antelope in two weeks". Whatever keeps the pedals turning.

The top riders are on record pace. I think Taylor has a real shot at winning this thing. It's not as intriguing now to look at the map. Before they drove the imaginary golden spike at the crossover, Taylor was a small dot, all alone on a big map and I could see how much he was gaining over the other north-bound riders and how close he was to the on-coming south bounders. Now he's a small dot riding against a sea of oncoming dots.

I obvious have a dog in this fight, so I want all the riders to ride free, fast and healthy ... and Taylor to nick them all at the line because he has more moral strength - more heart in his chest and steel in his legs. We shall see.

Taylor Z. call in from Del Norte

Taylor Z. call in from Rawlins

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Z-Man Progress

As I post this, north bound Taylor Zimmerman, aka Cjell Money, and the posted co-leaders, Walley and Stappler are about to intersect. Judging by the elevation plot, Taylor would seem to be in very good shape.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Help Me Son

And through the years
I have been cut and shot right to the bone
I have been cut and shot right to the bone
I am deathly tired and all alone
So won't you help me son

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In '59

Failing voice - he was on oxygen by this time. Subtle guitar. Still nice.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Swimmer

This Lindsey Horejsi. She is the cousin and the more or less full time summer babysitter for the two young girls across the street. Until this hit the news I didn't even know she was a swimmer - just a pleasant neighborhood kid with absolutely fabulous shoulders!
"Now having completed eighth grade, Lindsey, 14, has made the cut for the Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb., on June 26. She swam a time of 1 minute, 11.95 seconds in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Jump Into June meet at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis last weekend. The Olympic trials qualifying time is 1:12.19."

2012 Tour Divide

The Tour Divide started yesterday. It is a 2745 mile unsupported MTB race following the Great Divide from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. 104 riders started from Banff, 4 from New Mexico going north. One of the four was my friend, Taylor Zimmerman, aka Cjell Money (in the aviators) who rode to the starting point from somewhere in Costa Rica. A resourceful lad, for awhile he lived in a VW bus behind Black Sheep Cycles, cleaning the shop, filing and grinding, and helping in the construction of his own frame. He also worked into the wee Volkswagen hours making his own bags.

 (Schlumpf 2-speed)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Riverside on the Root River

 Phone photos from Lorna's phone last night:


(For the record, I was not drinking a Newcastle Brown Ale.)

Bike bridge in the background. 

View From the Top of the Hill

A Lanesboro neighbor. Philosophy slam?
My Oakwood neighbor Christy and I went went over to Lanesboro on Tuesday with his pickup laden with a bicycle, bedding and assorted sundries. Our main purpose was to unlock the house and help the furniture movers who would be arriving later. As is the way of the world, much later, but they were great about getting things into the house. I was a little worried about getting the furniture moved around. Christy is great company, but because he is small, old and only has one arm, he generally sucks as a furniture mover. 

Wednesday, Lorna and I went back over to Lanesboro again and we continued scrubbing and fixing little things. We got one bed set up -  we are waiting on the other until the floor is clean. We stayed two nights, ate some great meals and met almost all of the close neighbors. Sandy who offered to bake me a banana cream pie, Dustin and Emily next door and their young children, Elly and Addy, Marvin and Carol from the B & B on the other side. Marvin is a great straight man, continually setting up my bad jokes. Carol brought over a platter of scones and she and Lorna settled in to discuss books and book clubs. Last night walking home from a cafe we were flagged down by an older couple sitting on a bench eating ice cream. "Hi neighbors!" It was Kevin and Bea who live diagonally across the street from us and had been watching the action.. There is also a triplex townhouse across the street. It isn't conducive to friendliness. They pull into their garages and close the door. The only one we actually see on foot is a solitary soul who only comes out once a day in his pajamas and robe to check the mail, then immediately returns to his hermitage.

Dam at dusk

Looking over the village.

Through the pines.

There are two churches on the hill. I think this is the Catholic version.

Pretty lady and Pug under the church door light.

Back Home.
Still sorting out our furniture placement. It may look like an old gentleman's club, but she still won't let me smoke cigars.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stuff for the Growlery

Jack Gabus (aka Silk Hope) recently went on a large group ride with Ted Ernst to mark Ted's 80th birthday. Knowing that I am an admirer of Ted Ernst, both as a man and rider, he picked up some swag for the Growlery - an autographed "Frankfurt Road Race 1957" picture, an autographed wine cork and a tire patch kit from Ted's shop.  I got the terrific Pug figurine from my niece Athena. Thank you all for thinking of me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lanesboro Cottage, Day One and Two.

On Friday we loaded as much as we could in our little Honda, two chairs, a couple of small tables, an inflatable bed we borrowed from our neighbor Penny, one old dog, and a handful of our hard earned cash. We laid down the money and took possession of a second home, a cottage at the top of the hill in the village of Lanesboro, Minnesota, at one time known by the up river folks in Preston as Sewer City. Over the years, ol' Sewer City has done pretty well for itself. Friday afternoon after the legals, we began the cleaning. Somehow other people's dirt always seems more disgusting than our own.

At about 7:00 we went down to Jon Pieper's restaurant, the Old Village Hall. It's a small town, as we walked through the door Jon greeted us with, "I hear you bought the house up on the hill today". The weather was beautiful so we took our meal out on the deck. As has become the custom, Jon waited on us. (Note: If the owner waves off the wait staff and waits on you himself, you are probably tipping too much.) A very good meal - we've never had a bad one there. 

Saturday morning we again attacked the cleaning. After we finished we headed down the hill. It was Rhubarb Days in Lanesboro, one of those hokey made up celebrations which are really just a celebration of community. The festivities were held in Sylvan Park, which lays below our hill to the south. There are supposedly stairs down the steep hillside from the old high school (which are now condos), but we didn't know exactly where they were so we took the back alleys down the west side of the hill.

The Honda in the back yard.

Our neighbor across the alley to the north, a tin covered garage with trees growing in it. The house is long gone. Now the only neighbors are the deer that bed down there - more on that later.

As we walked down the alley Lorna stopped to talk to a neighbor, Sandy Solberg. We had never met her before, but she knew us. She had written up the new abstract on the property. She asked what my favorite kind of pie was. "Banana Cream." She said, "I'll make one for you."  As we continued our trek down the hill, Lorna remarked that it was amazing how much friendly people were now that we were residents, if even part time. We were no longer visitors, we were neighbors.
The condos. And yeah, that's a killer hill.

Because of the hill, all the streets and alleys are asphalt. This is three blocks down  the alley from our cottage.

Kenilworth Avenue.

We cut across Kenilworth to another alley down to Parkway. 

Left on Parkway.

Amish parking.

A line to something free.

A straight forward sign: DESSERT.

There were a lot of people. I get a little "funny" in crowds, so I moved on uptown and left Lorna to manage on her own. 
Stopped for a cherry-nut ice cream cone at the pink shop.  
Lanesboro graffiti. The whole side of a building covered by names and initials. Subtle.

I wandered aimless about until Lorna found me and took me up to the Pastry Shop where Brett made us a salmon and spinach salad. Lorna bought some pastry to lay up in case of emergency. Then we walked back up the hill and sat on our deck.

This afternoon this doe walked up to the deck three times, just checking out her new neighbors. The first time she was about twelve feet away when she finally came into the focus of the blind Pug and he went ballistic. I'm not certain what he thought he could do to a deer, but he was willin' to try.