Who are we? We are our stories.

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