Who are we? We are our stories.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Vintage Bicycle Component Advertising

I picked up some small vintage bicycle advertising posters last week from Velo-Retro. I am not really sure of how I am ultimately going to use them, so for now they are simply tacked to the back wall. Where they will likely live forever.

I  have the Ron Cooper mixte pretty much wrapped up. As I mentioned earlier, Chris Kvale is booked for now, so I will check with him again in the Spring for paint when we get back from Texas. No matter, it will roll fine, painted or not.

Sunday I had a first time guest in the Growlery - Chuck Jacobson, who is Lorna's cousin Jill's husband. We shared a couple of beers and discussed the history of the miscellaneous knickknacks that fill the Growlery shelves. He was fine company and is certainly welcome anytime he is in the area.

Eat well, stay warm,  Gunnar

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I installed a long cage on the typical vintage Campagnolo Nouvo Record derailleur, in essence creating a Rally derailleur. I think the cage is aftermarket, but maybe it's Campy. It was in a "someday" drawer.

Theoretically the NR derailleur will only handle a 26 or 28 tooth cog. 'Pooh', I say. If you shorten the chain a little it will swing the jockey wheel down to clear the cog, and by moving the axle to the rear you can get to 30 or 32 teeth. Of course the shortened chain precludes a large ring/big cog situation, but maybe you shouldn't be doing that anyway. All this works on a stand; next Spring on the road we'll see if I can handle that big cog.

Now the crankset. This started out as your basic NR Campagnolo crank. It has a conventional 49T big ring, a Red Clover 42T triplizer ring and a 34T granny ring. I do have a 30T, but I have some doubts about clean shifting with the vintage front derailleur I am going to use. (The BB is a Velo Orange with a front spacer to kick it out to clear the granny.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ice On Oakwood Bay

Some would say this is Edgewater Bay. They are misguided and obviously do not live in Oakwood. The ice has come and gone a couple of times this year as the temperature has fluctuated. I suspect it will stay now and in January it will be a foot thick and the ice fisherman will be driving their trucks and setting up fish-houses on it. For now it is just a crystal skin on the water. There was no wind on Thanksgiving when the ice set up so it is as smooth as glass except for crystal etchings where droplets fell from the branches.

Earlier to day I was checking out the frozen garden.     

Okay, I wasn't looking at the garden, I had stepped out of the Growlery to take a good healthy outdoor piss. (This always seems to offend Lorna, but I suspect it is simply jealousy of male convenience.) Off to the south the crows were raising hell about something. I zipped up and walked down toward the lake to see what their issue was, suspecting some poor owl being mobbed. The Great Horned Owls pick off a crow now and then for a night lunch. The crows know this; they remember, they harbor 100,000 years of memory of bloody night raids, and they scream, "Murderer!" at any owl daring to show it's face in daylight.

But it was not an owl, it was a mature Bald Eagle flying a bombing run over the lake to check on the health and fitness of the hundred or two Canada Geese camped out on the ice. Not evil, just keeping their gene pool strong. Very cool to watch.

The Eagle nests a quarter mile to the north end of Edgewater  Oakwood Bay. I don't know if eagles kill crows, but given the chance they damned well would like to eat a goose. And, like the crows, the geese know this, and the 200+/- geese were trumpeting their displeasure at that Eagle in their airspace. Everyone is dissatisfied with their spot, their link, in the food chain I suppose. Anyway, it was a loud, magnificent chorus.

That's all I have, except to say that Thanksgiving was fine again  - 24 people this year, adding more people every year.

Take care, Gunnar

Charlie Parr (for Fritz)

Parr is playing the St. Mane in Lanesboro next weekend. Got our tickets. .... actually I lost the tickets, but they said I don't need the tickets 'cause they know I am old and forgetful.

Be well, take care - Gunnar

Friday, November 13, 2015

John's Self-Service Bar

I am solo in Albert Lea this weekend - except my friend Laurie Sather and I went out for dinner last night, and I am meeting L.P. for breakfast tomorrow - and John Rust was over today. Anyway, I guess "solo" really means I am sleeping alone. Lorna and her yoga retreat friends are in Lanesboro. Our cottage is full of women ... and I was not invited. She called me yesterday because "the toilet exploded" and I should come over and deal with it. It seemed that "exploded" may have been an exaggeration, but nevertheless I "dealt with it" with a phone call to one of our Lanesboro neighbors who is a plumbing contractor. The ladies now have a shiny new Kohler stool to sit on.

Today Lorna called again. They checked the internet last night to see if the Village Hall was open. It was, at least theoretically. When they arrived there was another couple waiting to be served, but no one seemed to be around to serve them. Taking charge of the situation they served a round of beer to the other couple, then picked out a bottle of nice red wine for themselves. 

Only then did they call the proprietor to advise him of his new serve yourself open door policy.

Barbara tending the bar - Jane pouring the wine. I realize Lanesboro is a small town and the tourists have left for the season, but this self-service bar thing may be pushing it a little.

Drink up - Gunnar

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Allen Toussaint - Gone Today

Food Pics

Fancy decor. Late in the season and the tourists are about gone. No one left but locals. 
"Foodies" are generally portrayed as being young affluent hipsters. No one would accuse me or most of the locals of being young. Or hipsters. Or even particularly affluent. But I do love good local food prepared with care. From a recent outgoing email:
"Yesterday morning I walked down to the Pastry Shoppe for breakfast. It was early, midweek and only Brett working. I fetched my own coffee, sat down with John Tuck, and hollered to Brett to just cook whatever he wanted to make, a ploy which has proven a winner in the past. Shortly he set a steak and eggs breakfast in front of me. This is not something I would normally order; heavy, two eggs is a lot and breakfast steaks tend to be pretty bad. This one was about 3" x 8" and 1/2" thick. Amazing piece of meat. Where the hell? How? He said the eggs were from an Amish farm - usually fresh daily and the steak was prime sirloin. "It's the only beef I buy." ??? I said, "What about the hamburgers?" (which I have never ordered because the other stuff is so good). "I just grind up sirloin." By then Lorna had come in and he was telling her about what he had put in the chili for the noon special. Cooked it the day before and again when he came in early to bake. I asked. Yep, he puts ground sirloin in chili."
One of the internet food rating site said the  the Pastry Shoppe had "a very limited menu". What the hell, this isn't Applebee's.  This is real local food prepared when you order it. *sigh*

Okay now pictures. This is why I have never ordered steak and eggs in the past.

 I chose the Reuben Benedict - homemade Hollandaise sauce (simply amazing!) poured over a couple of eggs on corned beef, piled on a hearty biscuit baked that morning.

(a mess)
And yes, Brett makes his own corned beef from scratch from prime sirloin beef. Maybe the best $7.75 I have ever spent. If I happen to die in the next decade or so, I want Brett to cater the funeral meal and John Pieper from the Village Hall to select the wines - yes wine, lots of red wine.

See you there. - Gunnar

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ron Cooper Shifters

I am still sorting through parts for the Ron Cooper before paint. The rear derailleur is a common vintage Campagnolo Nouvo Record except with a Rally type long cage, which will allow me to wrap enough chain to use a 32 tooth rear freewheel. The crankset and front derailleur are regular ol' Campagnolo Nouvo Record ... if anything vintage Campy is "regular".

The brake calipers are vintage Dia-Compe pulled with Weinmann levers which have been filed, cleaned and polished. The little Dia-Compe front rack is likely going to be history for a more elegant option which is still in a drawer.

I was going to use a set of those Suntour shift levers which mount on the stem. Yesterday I was talking to Mark Stonich who has forgotten more about commuting on upright bikes (and 'bents) than I will ever know. He said upright bicycles tend not to be as stable as a drop bar bike and he was never very comfortable moving his hand to the stem and he prefers bar-end shifters. I bought in to his experience, but I can only find a single of a pair of vintage Shimanos I have ...er, had. How on earth can a person lose one of a pair? - like misplacing a left shoe.

Mark has a set of new in the box vintage Campagnolo bar-end shifters and a set of new in the bag Suntours. Mark is generous and we have some history, so either set would be gratis. So now is the issue, do I go with the cachet of the rare Campagnolo set, or the more ordinary Suntours which undoubtedly function better? I guess I am leaning to the Suntours.  

Ride if you are able, write if you aren't - Gunnar

Friday, October 30, 2015


This is about young children trick 'r treating. It is not about those godawful things that we did as teenagers back in Clarks Grove. It would take too much time to write it all down and even if the statute of limitations has long run out, some of our victims are probably still alive, lurking in their retirement homes - still pissed and still capable of nasty senior revenge. (I just reread this and it struck me that at the age of 70 I have outlived virtually all the adults of my childhood. I am a decade or so from being the last link in the chain. I won.)

Halloween isn't what it used to be here in Oakwood. There are no roaming bands of teenagers bent on destruction and because of the bogus poison candy scares of years ago, the number of young children making the trick 'r treating rounds has fallen off drastically. Oakwood is a round peninsula, a picnic/play park in the middle with 42 homes laid out on two ring streets - only one road in. Because it is so contained it is (or was) a trick 'r treat destination for rural parents whose young children didn't have many Halloween options. I believe the local mall has a Halloween party for the young children and the kids who do show up here are usually escorted by a parent. This makes me a little sad; part of the fun of Halloween when I was a kid was being out after dark AWAY from adults. 

Years ago when there really were large numbers of the little goblins about, some adults did their part to scare the bejeezus out of the kids and make them earn their candy. One year I could hear the goblins up the street screaming in fun terror - first one group, then another. I walked over to see what was causing so much yelling. At Rasmussen's three young girls were standing at the end of the sidewalk refusing to approach Jesse standing on the stoop with candy in her outstretched hand, "Come get your candy, I promise the scarecrow won't hurt you."  They steadfastly refused and she eventually took the candy out to them. The scarecrow in question was Ras in costume. When the little nippers, peering through misfitted mask eyeholes, would stumble up to the door to get their treats, "Trick Or Treat!" waiting for the door to open. But Ras would let out a yelp and grab them by their little goblin ankles. A bit unnerving for certain.

Ras got settled back into his scarecrow pose on the steps when a car pulled up and released two or three kids to make the rounds. The driver was just killing time, walking around, leaning on his car. After a while he asked Jesse if he could take a look at her terrific scarecrow. As he leaned over to get a better look, Ras grabbed him by the shoulders and let out a yell. The old boy leaped back onto the lawn yelling, "Wow! Boy! Jeez! Wow! Ya really got me." - jumping up and down, dancing in circles. Eventually he caught his breathe and stumbled back to his car to recover. 

Ras said, "Did you notice, with all that yelling and dancing he never even took his hands out of his pockets."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One Small Step for Man...

Not that anyone in the world cares but Christy and me, he was able to make it down to the Growlery for the first time since his stroke months ago. He declined the use of my arm and apologized for his cane. I was quite happy to see him. That is about it for today. A very good day.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Cooper Update II

It's coming along pretty fast. The decals arrived from England the other day. I still need hand grips, cables, etc and a way of routing the bar-end shifter cable under, around or through the brake lever. I think I have figured out a way to route it cleanly through the brake lever - a couple of hours with a drill, a round bastard cut file, a Dremel grinder and a medium weight ball pein hammer ought to get the job done.  

This color looks pretty good in photos, in the flesh it is just, "oh". I like green, I just want a better green. I was going to pick a contrasting color to feature the ornate Nervex lugs and Chris Kvale's painting skills, maybe dark red or yellow, but the Ron Cooper decals that were available are white, so I think a white head tube and a white seat tube panel to visually balance it a little. 

I have changed my mind about paint half a dozen times. Ron Cooper built over 7000 custom bicycle frames and to my knowledge he never painted one with more than one color. If you tell Kvale you want the paint to look like it was new originally, he will ask if you want the orange peel finish, the drips and runs, and crooked decals. People seldom really do. Some might think me a heathen. Why should I corrupt this one with two colors with perfect cut edges? Because we can I guess. 

These rebuilds used to be how I managed our Minnesota winter- agonizing over little details for hours, for days, for weeks! If I don't slow down this one it may be rideable before we leave for Texas in January.

Sloooow downnn - Gunnar

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ron Cooper Update

I have been dry fitting the  Ron Cooper with parts on hand to see what I have to come up with, It has become obvious that I need a bar stem. My world has mostly involved road bikes. I do not exactly remember where the Nitto stem came from, but it is waaay too long, front to back. If I hope to save my back I need to pull the bars more back in my lap. Other than that and brake levers I am pretty much in good shape.

Okay, let's talk about that paint color again. I was thinking about black, but the ladies rule. Lorna likes the Cinelli green - and I sleep with her. And then Justine played the green poetry card. Green it is. Cinelli green with a yellow head tube and a yellow seat tube panel. You flam red and purple guys can complain all you want, but this is going to be it.

When I shot the picture my wrenches were spread out. I have two sets of wrenches, the wonderful drop forged S-K chromium American made set I inherited from my father-in-law, and a more workman like set of "made in the U.S of A," black oxide wrenches. Inheritances aside, I prefer the black tools that look and feel more like the real tools I grew up with back on the farm.

Continued good health - Gunnar

R.I.P. Digger

One of the locals slipped away. He was not someone that any of you knew, but he left behind a great obit.

Thomas Desmond Donnelly IV of Geneva died Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.
Tom was born on Oct. 15, 1951, on an island just east of Ireland to Thomas and Elizabeth Donnelly.
Thomas Donnelly IV
Thomas Donnelly IV
He spent his childhood in England, Okinawa and Texas and graduated from Dugway High School in Utah, where he was on the varsity teams for football, basketball and golf. He studied macrobiotic cooking in Boston where he met his future and former wife, Sheila O’Leary. They were married in Donegal, Ireland, in 1975. They later moved to the Blooming Prairie area where they farmed organically with draft horses raising cattle, sheep and chickens.

Tom, or “Digger,” as he was affectionately known, dug graves to the top of his head at 13 different cemeteries.
He was beloved by his many friends and could often be found manning the jukebox at Geneva Bar, opening the ceremonial Guinness to start the weekend at Harmony Park as the mayor, or serving as a mascot for the Minnesota RollerGirls as Tom Tom the Leprechaun.

He was quick witted. One of his favorite retorts to those who asked if he dug graves by hand was no, he used a shovel. He finished the crossword puzzle daily and loved to bird watch.

He is survived by his six children, Daniel and his wife, Mary (O’Connor), of Austin, Mary Donnelly and Nathan Matuska of Minneapolis, Bridget Donnelly and her husband, Greg Bandsma, of Minneapolis, Molly Donnelly and Chris Constantini of Minneapolis, Theresa Donnelly and her husband, Orion Henningsgaard, of Minneapolis and Timmy Donnelly of Arcata, California; grandchildren Tommy, Micah, Regan, Hazel, Gwen and North; and brothers Michael, Kevin and Patrick Donnelly. His family gives a special thanks to his dear friends Heidi and Victor Price, Jay Sullivan and Amie Kestner Bartlett, as well as his long time digging partner, Jeffrey Carlson.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and a brother, Jerry.

Tom was small in stature but large in heart.
The family would like to invite all to celebrate his life with a burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery in rural Geneva at 2 p.m. Sunday, followed by food and merriment from 3 to 7 p.m. at Harmony Park.  They also ask those in attendance to wear green, Tom’s favorite color, and come prepared to toast Tom.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Zone-tailed Hawks

The soaring hawks, the Buteos, soar with their wings horizontal while vultures soar with their wings held in a vee. When hawks fly over, the small prey animals hide. As vultures do not attack live animals, rabbits and other prey have learned to ignore vultures, either through observation, or more likely (to my mind) through evolution. 

I stole this photo from Erik Bruhnke. (Lorna made him a Minnesota wildrice hotdish down in Texas so he owes me.) His photo shows a Turkey Vulture (L) and a Zone-tailed Hawk (R). Selective evolution can do amazing things. The Zone-tails are the same color as the Turkey Vultures, they hold their wings at a classic Turkey Vulture angle, AND they tend to soar with flocks of vultures, where they can hide in plain sight to sneak up on their prey. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Ron Cooper

In 67 years (!) Ron Cooper handbuilt over 7000 bicycles frames without help or apprentices, so one cannot say a Ron Cooper frame is rare. He was a quirky and eccentric man in that wonderful British sort of way. For instance he was the only builder I have ever heard of that eschewed frame building jigs, though I have never heard of anyone saying a Ron Cooper frame wasn't straight and true. 

This is from a December 22, 2012 London Times obituary. I like "...and can fetch large sums" ;-)

Cooper in his workshop. His methods were not always fashionable but his frames are now much sought after and can fetch large sums. - Mark McLennon

"Bicycle frame builder whose craftsmanship earned him a devoted following in Britain and the US, Ron Cooper was regarded as one of the world’s master builders of bicycle frames, an artisan who played a part in transforming cycling from a casual form of transport into the global sport. Producing hand-made bikes for racers — he himself was a racer as a young man — and eventually for simple lovers of bicycles, weekend riders and collectors, Cooper helped to put Britain at the vanguard of bicycle-making after the Second World War, setting a standard for the rest of the world to emulate."
This 58cm 1970s(?) Reynolds 531 mixte with Campagnolo dropouts and Nervex lugs is now sitting down in the Growlery.

The decals are obviously virtually gone. I have replacements on the way from Jolly Olde England, although with white lettering. The paint is not as good as it photographs, just little nicks and scrapes, but am not crazy about the color anyway. I was thinking about jet black, or another dark color.

Any thoughts or opinions would be welcome. (And likely ignored.)

Take care, be well - Gunnar

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Wood and Stone

Work by people who were born in Minnesota and had the good sense to leave. ;-)

George Morrison was a Chippewa who grew up on Lake Superior north of Grand Marais, Minnesota. He was skilled enough that it was recognized and he received a number of scholarships to study at the Minneapolis Art School, New York and Paris. He went on to teach art and design at various eastern colleges, particularly the Rhode Island School of Design, returning to Minnesota to teach at the U of M before retiring back home in Grand Marais. His stylized totems and landscape paintings are simply marvelous, but this is about wood. These "landscapes" are quite large, maybe 3' x  8' or 10'.

Because of the generosity of Tom Sanders, I have a book on the stone work of Lew French. Mr. French was born and began his stone work in southeast Minnesota before moving to New England (follow the money?). I only recently realized at how similar some of Morrison's work was to French's wonderful stone work. Below is a detail of a large fireplace.

Continued good life - G.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


This is a photo from a blog entry I posted in 2009. More on that later, I feel a word ramble coming on.

I don't have time to write much now. People who are actual writers (more on "real" writers later), people who would define themselves as writers, have to write - like musicians have to play. Or artists have to paint, have to draw. People are driven to create. Me? I guess I am a gardener; I obviously don't have to write, I do have to grow things. 

There was at a time when I was retired and Lorna was still working. She had our only car and I had a bicycle. We only had one house to maintain. When winter hit I was more or less trapped in life with time to burn. So I wrote blog entries. Now Lorna isn't working and I am living a fuller life, I have two houses and yards to maintain, three perennial gardens, a growlery :-). I have birds, beer and bicycles. These all take time, so writing is pretty much off my radar.

Okay, now back to fishing. I am not much of a fisherman either. The beautiful old split cane flyrods in the photo were inherited gifts. We have a handful of them hanging of on the wall of the Lanesboro cottage and somewhere in the basement I have a couple of modern fly rods - "modern'' being fiberglass, not carbonfiber. I have obsolete modern equipment, which I guess is a function of my age and time past.

Where is all this going? Friday afternoon I ran over to Lanesboro to mow the lawn, transplant a peony or two and do a little bicycling. In the evening I walked down the hill to to the Old Village Hall and parked my tired old ass on my regular stool at the single-malt end of the bar and ordered a Rush River IPA. Much of dining is a shared experience - conversation and sharing the pleasure of fine food and drink. Most important life decisions are done over food. On the other hand solo dining can be a little slow, a drag. It is just ordering food, waiting for it to be prepared, then eating it. So to pass time I was reading a small book of poetry (they tuck neatly into my pocket) while I waited for my grilled whitefish.

I like sitting in corners and watching. Listening. The bar in the Village Hall is an "L" shape so my stool at the end of the short leg faces most of the other patrons. It is like sitting at the corner of a table across from people you do not know and listening to their small snatches of conversion that make no sense and filling in the spaces. That night there were a couple of older gentlemen at the bar, sitting across my table. One asked what I was reading and a conversation ensued.

They were tired, had spent the day fly fishing the small spring fed creeks for native Brook Trout. I inquired where they were from, expecting probably Rochester or maybe the Twin Cities. One of them had driven up the 200 plus miles from Des Moines, the other had flown into Minneapolis from Denver and had driven down to meet his friend in Lanesboro. I asked if it was a annual outing for them. Des Moines said that they met in Lanesboro at least three times a year, more if they could arrange it. Denver said he loved native trout and had never killed one on purpose in his life and he was contemptuous of what he called the "fish killers" - fishermen who chased the fishery stocked Rainbows and Browns on the bigger streams - just catching trout to eat. Des Moines said they weren't real trout anyway, they were just hatchery trout. They had been raised to be caught; they were like cattle. And the argument continued. 

Why Lanesboro I asked? Denver said he had fished all over North America, but for him the Fillmore County fishing was his favorite. He said for him it was mystical, almost a religious experience. He described knocking on Amish farmer's doors for permission, promising to close cattle gates, then clutching featherweight rods, hiking across pastures into the hardwood verges, bushwacking through overgrown shrubs and thorns, then slip-sliding on gravely goat paths down the limestone bluffs, down to little spring fed streams - carefully, quietly slipping into the 55 degree  water to fish for native Brookies - stepping into streams that probably hadn't been fished since they had done it the last time. The joy in their eyes was positively infectious. Sometimes we don't recognize what we have. I may have to see if I can find those old fly rods .

Okay, now that we have fishing out of the way we can get back to the writers. Five or six years ago a commenter showed up on 1410 - signed "mw".  I don't how he found me, but his name was Michael White and he teaches creative writing. He recommended a few books to me - books on poetry writing and books of poetry he thought were worthwhile. The little book I was reading in the bar was one of his, Vermeer In Hell. It was published a few months ago. I think it is his fourth or fifth book of poetry. All good stuff. At the same time his first book of prose, Travels In Vermeer, a Memoir, was also published. I have not read that yet; I am saving it for this winter when I can give it the time it deserves.

Last week The National Book Review long list of Non-Fiction was released. Travels In Vermeer, a Memoir was on the list. Think about that, Michael's first book of prose made .... THE LIST! Is reading an awarded book a more fulfilling experience? Probably. They say people enjoy wine more if they think it is expensive. Anyway, I'm saving it for later because it is supposed to be a very good bottle.

Fish well,  - Gunnar

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lorna In Tuscany

In the past year I have sold a couple of bicycles, which with the weak Euro was nearly enough money to send my wife to Tuscany. Actually she would have gone anyway, but I like pretending that the bicycles were a gift to her.

She and a dozen yoga friends arrived at Fattoria Palazzo di Piero in Tuscany yesterday, Sunday for a yoga retreat. The castle dates to 1599, comes equipped with a chef, and the women have it all to themselves, other than the permanent residents. It does sound quite nice.

For those friends who are not on Facebook, I am going to use this blog posting as a continuing photo dump, adding photos as I receive them. If you are interested in following the trip you might want to bookmark this page.

"So the adventure begins!"
Lorna took this selfie on the way to Minneapolis to have brunch with Addy, before we picked up her friend Barbara who was working an art fair in Edina. I then dropped them off at the airport, hugged them both, kissed Lorna goodbye, and sent them on their way.

(Note the Slant Avenue baseball cap - I am expecting massive discounts for the free advertising.)

___________________batch #2, Monday___________________

Exterior of the chapel. Interesting - sometime in the past 200 or 300 years people got taller and they had to raise the roof. Looking forward to shots of the interior.


___________________batch#3, Wednesday___________________

Lorna - front and center

___________________batch#4, Thursday___________________

Cooking class _________________________________________

________Last days at the castle and traveling after__________


Live well today, for tomorrow we may die- Gunnar