Who are we? We are our stories.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

From one of the great modern philosophic minds:
"While I don't believe in magic and I certainly don't believe that my group's magical theory is grounds for moral supremacy and/or resource appropriation, I do know my kids like to hunt for Eater Eggs."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blood, Ivory ... and Wood

I have long term plans for the Blood and Ivory Kvale. The Ghisallo Sport rims (carbon liner for the rear, unlined for the front) will be eventually be matched to first generation Phil Wood hubs.

The compound curved wood fenders were made by Cody Davis of Woody's Fenders. They are White Oak with a Bloodwood stripe to pick up the maroon trim of the Kvale. The Bloodwood is darker than the photo indicates.

This won't all happen for a few months, probably next Fall. The bike is temporarily visiting Vincent Dominguez where it will eventually be sporting a set of minimalist racks. Honestly, I'm not in a hurry. I savor having something in the pipeline.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

331 Club

My daughter called this morning to tell me about her evening. She lives in Nordeast, Minneapois, an epicenter of bar food, brew pubs and neighborhood bars. Last night she walked the three or four blocks to the 331 Club. The 331 seems to hit the trifecta - cheap food, entertainment, and no cover charge. (And within easy walking distance.) It was a blues night. She said it was fun - all the rest of the patrons were "old guys" who were really nice, all there to listen to a bluesman from Oxford, Mississippi. Jay Lang - she knows my musical preferences and she said she thought I'd like him. Oxford, Mississippi, the birth place of the blues! A Mississippi bluesman, obviously a wizen old black man who learned the blues at the knee of Robert Johnson. Or not.

Income Tax

I finally got our financial life together and pulled all of our income tax information. For two unemployed people, living simple lives, it seems like we have acquired an inordinate number of W-this and W-that forms - enough that I don't feel comfortable doing my taxes myself. This year I had the choice of going to a regular tax service or the new one in a temporary strip mall location patrolled outside by a guy in a Statue of Liberty costume. It was a hard choice, but I opted for the less flamboyant place with accountants and file cabinets.

When I walked in the receptionist asked my name and went to a cabinet to pull my file. Now there are a couple of people in town with the same name. She had one file for each of us. She asked, "What are the last four digits of your Social Security number?" Now I don't have a good memory for numbers and it's gotten worse over the years. I went blank. "Ah ... I don't know."  She looked at me in disbelief, "Well, do you know what your address is?" Address? My address? Bingo, "1410 Oakwood!"  She pulled my file, "Come this way, Paul can see you now."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


wise Toad suffering
an ache of pending losses, 
hold him in your heart

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bud, Strindberg and Ibsen

Tomorrow we will finally get back over to Lanesboro to take possession of the cottage and our old pug, Bud from Miss Ana, who has been caring for both this winter. Friday evening Ana will be featured in the Commonweal Apprentice Company's production of Miss Julie. In mid-April they will also do two performances during the 16th Annual Ibsen Festival with the main Commonweal company returning from touring to do a couple of performances of A Doll's House. Oh yaaa, Strindberg and Ibsen; you betcha we know how to have fun, ya know. 
Who Will Persevere? "A battle royale is being waged at the Commonweal between Scandinavian playwrights Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg. While one author's work travels throughout the region, the other holds ground in Lanesboro. But things really get heated when the two go head to head at the Ibsen Festival! See what happens when Ibsen and Strindberg meet in the ring:"

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Fall To Pieces

First Day of Spring Tomorrow

Holy wind chill, this weather sucks.  Last year it was 80F.

Cjell the Z-Man

There has been some grumbling about a lack of bicycle content here at 1410 recently. All I can say is that while I love classic bicycles they are certainly not my life, my only interest. I've been busy reading my Kindle and finding various ways to stay warm. 

So, here's your daily hit of bicycle, a snip from an email I received yesterday from Taylor 'Cjell Money' Zimmerman, and a couple of pictures of a frame he's building for a friend. 

"Here's some shots from number 1. I am very happy with how the brazing came out. Still working on perfect alignment, but she should be no hands worthy at the very least.

Number 2 will be mine. Lugged 29+ Tour Divide monster. I have one more shift of work at the restaurant and then its full time til April 1 when I start pedaling. AZTR followed by GDMTBR and riding every day in between. I can't wait."

Incidentally, the last I heard from Cjell, he is planning to build up his new Tour Divide bike as a singlespeed ....and ride the Tour Divide south to north. Going against the grain - because that's the way he is.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Weather Report

These photos were taken north of Albert Lea today. There were reportly a dozen vehicles in the ditch in the 10 mile stretch between Albert Lea and Clarks Grove. The weather is cold, snowy .... and ugly. Winds were forecast to crank up to 50 mph - don't know if they were that high, but it was damned windy, moving the snow around quite a bit, icing the roads and reducing visibilty.

Incidently the temperature in Alamo, Texas hit 99F today. I may have missed the timing of our return by a week or two. Maybe.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Green-winged Teal Circle Dance

After we packed to leave Alamo last Sunday we went over to Estero Llano Grande for one last outing. Lorna went for a longer hike while I hung back by the pond watching the last of the ducks that hadn't left for the north. About all that were left were teal - Blue-winged, Green-winged,  and Shovelers, which are actually also an aberrant teal. I was mostly interested in the neat little Green-winged Teal, one of my favorite ducks. Most of them sat sleeping in a neat row on a nearby log. Shortly before sundown they became active with an unusual nervous energy. 

About the time Lorna came back from her walk to the other side of the pond, following their internal command, about twenty of them swam out of the late shadows, all peeping loudly, until they were all out in the sunshine. The timing may have been just a random coincidence, but I doubt it. The late sun hit them perfectly from the side, just lighting up the iridescent green patches on the male's heads. They swan in circles around one pair, still peeping and chasing each other, the males arching their backs and raising a little crest on the back of their head, which I had never even noticed before. Eventually the first pair was replaced by another, then another.

Then as suddenly as it began, it was over, the ducks quietly dispersed to the far corners of the pond, pretending that nothing had ever happen. The sun set, and Lorna and I went home until next year..


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fulton Shrimpers

Tomorrow, Whooping Cranes at Aransas. Tonight, shrimp across the street. The pictures were taken across from our temporary cottage home in Fulton, Texas. The song was sung by Guy Clark a very long time ago. But some things never change, do they?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Goodbye, Lower Rio Grande Valley

A mixed bag of ducks - mostly Whistling Tree Ducks

Here's a handful of pictures I took today at Edinburg and NABA. Tomorrow we pack up and on Monday morning we begin our own migration north, first with lunch on Monday in Port Aransas (Corpus Christi) with our Oakwood next door neighbors, Christy and Judy, who have a condo on Mustang Island. Then we'll take a short trip through Rockport to a motel check-in on Fulton Beach. Rockport is supposedly a very "birdy" area and is also the gateway to the Aransas Refuge, a 115,000 acre home to various birds, including Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. We plan on staying a couple of days, more if it's really terrific - then push on north for two or three days to Oakwood.

Fulvus Tree Ducks. Rare and beautiful. I've tried for a month to get a good shot of these. I got this today. It still isn't great, about at the far reach of my lens, but the best I was able to get all year. There is always next year. Usually.

A Cassius Little Blue I bagged for Lorna. This little bit of flit is about 1/2" long and rarely sits still. Hard to get a shot of it.  I have suggested a net and a refrigerated butterfly for a photo op, but the stony glares have made it obvious that butterfly nets went out with pith helmets Well, at least the nets are out. (Birders are an odd lot, but butterfliers are the most eccentric group of people I've ever met, this side of  moth hunters of course.)

Inca Dove
Clay-colored Thrush

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rosete Spoonbill

Lorna has posted some neat photos.

Santa Ana

The birding activity has slowly but surely wound down as the birds who winter in the Lower Rio Grande Valley are moving on. I assume they are assembling and starting to move up the shore. The locals tell us that the activity will pick up again as the waves of neo-tropical migrants start coming up from Central and South America. We won't be here for that. Most of our winter birder friends have left and on Monday we are headed north to Rockport, Texas (Corpus Christi) for a couple of days to check out the Aransas Refuge and other birding hotspots. Then we will start our own migration back to the prairie potholes, marshes and oak woodlands of southern Minnesota where we belong. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Strange Crops

We went to South Padre Island today. In a week or two it'll be the chaos of 100,000 Spring Breakers. Today it was quiet and beautiful. I took some pictures, we had some great burgers and brew pub beer, I took some more pictures, then we came back to Alamo and I cut up the pictures any way it struck me at the moment. ('Cause it's my blog.)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Quitting Cigars

... at least for a month or so.

I have taken to smoking an Onyx Reserve late in the afternoon in front of the apartment, comfortably tucked in behind the butterfly garden. It was very hot today and the shade across the garden looked cool and appealing. It is extremely dry here (20% humidity) and windy today, so I very carefully put the cigar out, laid it on the patio paving, and took my book (Kindle) and a beer across to the shade.
Now my memory gets a little fuzzy - things started happening pretty fast. Someone yelled "Fire!", or I saw the flame - I don't know for certain. Either way, I thought ......."Shit!" I made a run past the fire into our apartment, grabbed the big drinking water jug, and shifted into firefighter mode. I sloshed water on the fire which was a scary, crackling high blaze by then. I was immediately out of water, but the commotion had attracted a couple of other local firefighters who manned garden hoses and eventually we got the blaze extinguished, though only after wiping out a 4' x 6' piece of the butterfly garden. We had attracted quite a crowd and it was a little frightening; if we hadn't gotten on it in a heartbeat, the whole damned complex could have gone up. And I would have been the guy who did it. 

I feel stupid, careless, scorched, humiliated and damned thankful. And in spite of all this, Keith, our gracious innkeeper, is still talking to me. I can't imagine why.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

National Butterfly Center

The headquarters of the National Butterfly Association is located a few miles south of Mission, Texas. It's a good place to see birds as well as an incredible variety of butterflies. The overall impression of this place is quality - nothing is done on the cheap. Due to Mrs. Berg's passion for butterflies we are now card carrying members of the association and so are doing our part to help pay for this.