Who are we? We are our stories.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Style

It's below zero and the windchill is tough. I cope by dressing for it, wearing heavy, leather trimmed Orvis cords and layers of wool stitched together by the fine folks at Filson Woolens (for which I've been getting a raft of shit from an email group of gentlemen who live in tropical places .... like ... Michigan). It all made me recall this from a few years ago. Here's to winter and the Old Man, who taught me how to dress for conditions, not for style.

The Old Man’s winter was warm

A time for layers of wool and leather

Pendleton shirt, leather vest, open coat

Whipcord wool pants loosely tucked

In unzipped rubber overshoes

Mackinaw cap worn flaps up

Tie strings dangling

I am older by five years than my Old Man lived

Yet day by day becoming more like him

Out and about on my northland business

Filson cruiser with a shearling collar

And matching woolen cap

Warm against the biting wind

Flap strings still undone

Passing by dark store windows

I sense his presence and glimpse

A walking stride for stride reflection

Of an Old Man in wool and leather

We both smile and nod, knowing

"You cannot put a price on personal comfort."

Overcome By Romance?

This is the three Hanson sisters and husbands, including myself. It is in Bella's, an Italian restaurant in Alexandria, Minnesota, which has been voted "Minnesota's most romantic restaurant". 'Romantic' is very subjective, but taking no chances, we all sat with our partners in case we were overcome by romance. Romantic? Well, we were serenaded with Volare by the waitress Frankie, an older woman who learned the song as a child Italy. I did not find it particularily romantic, but the food was maybe the best Italian meal I have ever eaten and Frankie sang a capella on key. Can't ask for more than that.

Hygge and Goatherding

The word this Christmas is hygge, pronounced hyu-gah, a Danish word loosely translated as "cozy sanctuary, good food and drink, quiet conversation with friends". Christmas Eve we had a simple meal with our friend - corn chowder served in mismatched handthrown bowls, coarse bread, sharp cheeses and red wine. After the meal we moved to the small den for sweets and coffee - all very, very hygge. Well, maybe not the iPhone. 
On a small table at the end of the den there is an old framed picture, and a small wood carving - the bottom reading "Henning - hand carved in Norway". 

As a young woman our friend lived and traveled through Europe for about 15 years. In 1975 she was living in Norway, making a living tending goats. The picture is a photo of her milking a goat. She said it was in newspapers all over Norway (a slow news day?). 

This past summer she was in Norway visiting a cousin. He gave her the woodcarving which he had found in a used junk store. Looking closely at the carving it becomes obvious that it was inspired by the photograph.

Our friend found a woodcarving in a foreign country of her younger self milking a goat. 

The arcs have been joined; the circle has been completed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kirby Miles Berg

My brother Kirby died 24 years ago today in a house fire. He would have been 53 years old. 

In this past year he became a grandfather. I wonder. What other things could he have become? 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Parkway Pub

Lanesboro has a number of places to eat, but a shortage of pubs. The Village Hall has a bar with a few draft beers, the Pedal Pusher has half a dozen taps with various Minnesota beers, but they are both really restaurants, not pubs serving good bar food. There are a couple of bar bars in town with big screen T.V.s and the almost perennial banners advertising "Sale on Bud Lite". While these are necessary fixtures in any small town they aren't the kind of place any aging beer-boy hipster would normally frequent. I have always thought that the village with its tourist based economy really needed a brew pub with a few craft beers on tap. 

(This is a serious wake-up call to Riverside On the Root - you have a great location, passable food, fun outdoor music ... and an absolutely dreadful beer selection. No EPAs? No IPAs? None?) 

One of the bar bars is the Parkway Pub, the three story building in the Google street shot.
The rumors: 

The Parkway has been purchased by a local couple who have plans to add an indoor stairway to access an upstairs group room and to remodel the main floor bar into an "Irish style pub". I have no idea what their idea of an Irish pub is. I realize they won't likely be brewing beer (yet?). As my tastes are undoubtedly extreme and narrow-minded, I'll likely be disappointed in the beer selection. I think Guinness stout and it's ilk are incredibly overrated compared with almost any American style ale craft beer. "Guinness: brewing quite ordinary beer since 1756".

Whatever, I'm all for the effort. If they don't turn it into a Disneyland version of an Irish Pub, I may even sidle up to the bar and force myself to choke down a Guinness. Or two.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks 2014

The feast continues even as I post this. I needed a break from the din and love. Somehow missed pictures of the wonderful turkey and magnicent ham - thank you to Larry and Linda. And thanks for Larry's health.

Chris A.
The brewmeister pours his ale.

Miscellaneous wine,

Gravies, rouxes and stews. 

Mother and son.
Mother and daughter.

The feast - course one.

The Hanson sisters.
The heart of our family,
the reason we are together.
Kids, dogs, talk, and football.

And thanks to all for the food, drink, and unconditional love. - G.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Snowgiving Eve

All of the extended Hanson family, siblings, children and grandchildren are trying to fight their way through the weather to get home for Thanksgiving. The snow is just at the beautiful stage, but more, too much more, is forecast. Everyone here has grown up driving in snow so we all know the drill, all know the rules. Be careful out there, don't speed, stay in your own lane, don't do something stupid.

The Growlery Garden:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kvale Details

Still in process - Brooks Swallow saddle, new handlebars will get laced-on honey leather. With the Paul brakes and after I installed the Curtis Odom hubs, the old CLB brake levers looked less and less appropriate. Now I need new bars that will accept the MTB sized Paul levers.

The tires are 700 x 28c Panaracer Fairweather Travelers. The Pacenti rims and the tires are both fine products, but a bitch to marry. Fair warning. The tires need to be stretched like old tubulars to get them on the rims. God forbid I get a flat out on the road. 

Here is what I have so far. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who I REALLY Want To Be

Check out DEC 10.  ;-)
I have a childhood friend, Mary Mac, who left Minnesota after high school and never looked back. Well, that isn't totally accurate. Part of her never left; she still clings to little scraps of news about people that populated a time that probably only exists in her memory. 

Minnesota has storytellers. I have even been told I tell stories. I have heard it from enough people that I guess I have to plead guilty. Anyway Mary Mac refers to me as her own private "Garrison Keillor", which always makes me cringe a little. Minnesota's great storyteller isn't Gary Keillor, it is Kevin Kling. And I think Mr. Keillor would agree to that. Certainly Kevin's stories are far more insightful and philosophical. And, in my opinion, funnier.

Give this video 10 or 15 minutes, then quit if you want. But get back to me if you think he isn't a great storyteller.

Hillcrest Neighborhood Kids

Earlier this Fall our Lanesboro neighbors, Marv and Carol asked if their grandchildren could "use" the leaves under our maples. A couple of weeks ago I figured they had used up all the fun in the leaves and the season was getting long. Winter was coming. Lorna had friends coming over last weekend for a yoga weekend so I went over the day before and chopped the leaves with the mower and dragged them down on a tarp to compost under an evergreen tree.

A couple of days ago we were back in the Boro and my pile of leaves had been scattered about a little. The kids again? Shortly a deer came out of the woods and curled up, soon to be joined by a couple more. Yearlings. Yeah, the kids.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Growlery Ceiling Fan

Lorna is gone this weekend, spending three days with her sister from Alexandria and three close friends at the Lanesboro cottage for a yoga immersion weekend.

It is a little cold to be outside much, but Lestrud came over Friday afternoon and into the evening to help me pass the time. Always a pleasure. This morning L.P. and I went out for a late breakfast and we took a short tour of the north side - mostly checking progress on their remodeling project.

I received a couple of packages Friday, a ceiling fan for the Growlery and bar end plugs for the '84 Galmozzi. A ceiling fan in a shed, you say? Among my numerous vices is smoking cigars and the smoke tends to hang heavy in the confined space of the Growlery. I do have an exhaust fan, but it's noisy. I have been using a small portable fan. but it really wasn't satisfactory. Installing a ceiling fan should take about an hour. It took me most of this afternoon. Christy didn't seem to be around, but I fired up a celebratory test stogie anyway and it seems to work pretty well.

The plugs were were made by Scott Gabriel, He painted the infill to match the blue and green of the bike. The thin green lines don't show much in the photo, but I am quite pleased with them. If anyone needs to pimp out a special bike contact me and I'll give you his email address.

Be well, and stay warm,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Random Shots From 11/2/14

Today Lorna was raking leaves and invited me to do the same. I was busy - busy re-routing the brakes from left to right on the Kvale. Busy listening to Leon Russell's Guitar Blues, a marvelous little self-published CD on which he wrote all the songs and sings them with his wonderful rough soulful voice, and plays all the instruments ... except for the drums, which were played by his son, Teddy Jack. The producers are listed as "Teddy Jack and Dad".  Love that.

While I listened to the blues I was also busy paging through a couple of coffee table books of photos of the gardens of Kyoto, Japan, which were gifts from Tom Sanders. They are books which make me put my primitive little garden into perspective, but inspire me to reach higher and simplify, simplify, simplify. Simplify.

I have been blessed to live in Oakwood, a really lovely little piece of the world. Here's a few shots of my late sunset evening, before climbing the hill to homemade potato soup and my choice of banana bars with creme cheese frosting or homemade apple pie. These are really tough life choices.

I hope your life is half as fine as mine. Live well, be well - G.

Wildflower Garden

The "formal" perennial garden is situated on a flat area which 50+ years ago was a half of a tennis court. The lot was split in two and now Judy and Christy have the other half. But I digress, the hillside between the garden and lake is now dedicated to native wildflowers, trying to do our small part to feed the birds and butterflies. I think there are half a dozen species of Milkweeds, which the Monarchs require. Their population has crashed and I am afraid we may see them vanish. 

Eventually the arch at the end of the perennial garden brick walkway will lead to a grass path through the prairie flowers down to the lake. I was going to get some pictures when the wildflowers were in bloom, but I procrastinate. This is what it looks like after two nights of hard frost. :-(  Next year I'll get some better pictures - I promise.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Time Changes Everything

A Man of Vision: Growlery 2014

I realize nobody cares about the Growlery except me...and Christy from next door. He comes over a couple of times a week to help me sit, pontificate and smoke cigars. Often he looks around and mumbles things like, "This place is just (bleeping) marvelous." He should know; he once owned it. I ended up with the building because Christy and Judy were adding an addition on their house and the storage shed was in the way. It wasn't much. It had a dirt floor, rotten windows and cobbled together shelving. One of his carpenters likened to something that looked like a kid's treehouse. He obviously was not a man of vision.

The first year I worked on squaring it up, pulling in the splayed corners and getting it onto a foundation and putting a floor in. The picture below is year two - insulation and electricity (dropcord through the window). 

The pictures below are as of today. I have enough recycled cedar to side the exterior and I really would like a small garden storage shed off the lake side and a cupola with a wind vane, etc, etc.  I would estimate I'm only about half done with the project.

Be well, enjoy the ride, G.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kvale Update

This thing rides pretty sweet. It did have simple swept back bars which always felt a little awkward and didn't let me stretch out a little, which helps my old back. I still have a bad shoulder, but whatthehell, I'm pushing 70 years old and over the years I've bent and broken some parts a little. I may put a bigger chainring on. Last weekend I couldn't keep up with my daughter on her Goodrich and I don't think she was pushing it hard. Then again, maybe it wasn't an equipment issue. Yeah, it musta been.

Yesterday was warm and sunny. I went over to Lestrud's to sit in the sun and have a drink or two. He is really good at building wheels and he had just finished building a new wheelset for me. They are smooth as silk and beautiful - Kirk Pacenti rims laced to Curtis Odom hubs with DT Revolutions - built up by a disciple of Dan Ulwelling. Nevermind who he was, it makes them even more special to me. 

Perfect? Well, the Colt Saddle looks a bit chunky, but my ass is taking a liking to it. A Brooks Swallow would look sweet. And maybe the whitewall cream tires are a little foppish. But overall it is close to my vision of a perfect town/trail bike.

Hence the photo op:

Curtis Odom's mission statement:  "My mission is to create the most beautiful bicycle hubs ever made".  Well done.

White Industries pedals with Nitto wire toe clips - I do have straps for them, but they catch on my sandals.

The yellow trim on the bars is carpenters cord from Home Depot, purveyor of fine accoutrements to the cycling stars.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Visit To Oz

First picture is from the front step of the Lanesboro cottage. It was a sweet autumn day, so we decided to ride bike to the pie shop in Whalan. We rolled into Whalan to bad news - the pie shop was closed and there was a FOR SALE sign. This may not be as bad as it sounds. It is more or less an annual ritual and when the smoke clears in the Spring it is always still open and selling the best pies on this side of my dead grandmother.

On the way back to Lanesboro we stopped at Frank's rhubarb garden retreat, which he has dubbed "Oz". Hopeful, but I didn't really expect Frank to be there, but I needed to take a piss break behind his shed anyway.

Here's some photos of Lorna - somehow I missed getting a picture of the basketball hoop. Frank shooting free throws? We think we know people, but really never do do we?

Frank's growlery. He may not call it that, but we all know a growlery when we see one don't we? The springs nailed to the side are great, an unexpected flash of art brilliance where it is least expected. Now I am looking for a weathered ladder for my growlery too, to symbolise my eternal quest to climb higher.

A beautiful day. I hope yours was too,
Gunner B.