Who are we? We are our stories.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Over time we tend to get top heavy

Then we get hit by a stiff wind  

And we need some outside support.

That's life.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


I am going to let my garden blog go dormant. Too many more fun things to do and I just don't care enough.

This morning I took a couple of pictures of irises. When I first started perennial gardening 45 years ago (jeez) I grew irises like my mother grew - Tall Bearded Irises. They were tall monsters and had huge, frilly blossoms. The were too big for a vase and they tended to flop over in the garden. Pointless plants in my opinion. Hell, most perennial plants bloom for a week or two. I have gotten to the point that, with a very few exceptions, the foliage has to justify the plant, flowers are just a pleasant bonus. If you want color either buy a couple of trays of annuals or paint the sidewalk pink. Eventually I discovered the small species irises and found the Miniature Tall Bearded Irises and Intermediate Irises. They are not spectacular as individuals plants, but they work well as a group. I bought a sampler collection of few years ago with a lot of different colors - a few years? Likely 25. Over time I have composted or given away most of them. For maximum impact in the garden a lot of one or two varieties simply works better than a pallet full of color blotches scattered about. I think I'm down to three or four varieties, plus a couple of early species. 

The purple is nice if there isn't too much of it. It tends to form a vase of leaves filled with flowers. It lives in the lower garden because the entry garden is mostly green, the color doesn't work play well up there.

The yellow is part a curving row that snakes through the hostas of the entry garden. The yellow works in the green garden because let's face it, yellow and green are the same color - it is just a matter of degree - how much blue do you want to mixed in your yellows. 

A quick word about Siberian Irises. I have a number of them. They don't like me, they don't like my pH and they want to be fed and watered too much. Sally Chesterman took some from the compost heap a couple of days ago. I'm digging out more if anyone wants some. They are all modern hybrids, some white, some blues and even lavender - quite lovely if they are living in moist compost enhanced soil.

-  Gunnar

Monday, May 16, 2016


"Tryin' mighty hard to look like Gary Cooper".

"Tryin' mighty hard to look like Ron Cooper".

May you have green leaves, fragrant flowers and sunshine days, - Gunnar

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Let There Be Light(s)

LED lights from SOMA. Not for every bike, but seem right on this one.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mixte Lugs

This is a copy of an ad that appeared in the 1948 French Bicycle Trade Directory, "Botin du Cycle. It is advertising a set of lugs (the red tube jointing sockets) to be used in constructing a "mixte" - a step through frame. Nervex was the dominate manufacturer of the pressed steel lugs that ruled the bicycle industry. They were made of two pieces of pressed steel welded together. The lug was rough, particularily the joint, and they required a lot of hand filing. Investment cast lugs came out and Nervez and pressed steel were history. Of course time moved on and now any lug is rare except on custom high end steel bikes.

When Velo Orange decided to sell bicycle frames, Lorna's mixte was a prototype, and when the smoke cleared I ended up with a couple of mixte lugs in a bottom drawer. Now years later I purchased an old man's bike, a manly sized Ron Cooper mixte, and it's interesting to see the raw lugs compared to a finished bike.

Take care, Gunnar

Monday, May 9, 2016

Esoteric Tools

Confession: I smoke cigars in the Growlery. 

As I sit sucking a roll of smoldering weeds do I think heavy thoughts? Well, maybe sometimes, but mostly it's just reading, admiring the lines of an old bicycle, designing gardens, or admiring objects and wondering, "How the hell did they make that?". Process. I made my living designing "stuff". Sometimes it was from materials like plastic or aluminum, but the overwhelming majority was steel. The president of our company accurately referred to us as "just a bunch of metal benders". 

These are cigar tools, a lighter and a multi-tool for cutting, trimming and poking cigars. Both are made in Italy by Xikar. The lighter is graceful, feels good in the hand, and is efficient - squeeze it and a flame leaps out of a small hole in the end. The cutter is 3/16" x 2" folded. As an old metal bender I recognize a nice piece of design and amazing manufacturing skills.

Tobacco cutters?

Lit 'em up! - Gunnar B.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Return To Hvoslef

With Johann Hvoslef's 56 observation notebooks compiled in the second half of the late 1800s, plus modern wildlife management studies, this might be the most documented parcel of wild land in the state of Minnesota. It is surprising that a number of local residents do not seem to know that it even exists. After we found a few morels in our Lanesboro lawn, Frank Wright mentioned that there might be morels at Hvoslef, so Lorna and I went back to search.

We alternately idled the truck and walked the road looking for fungus and birds. There was not much of either, but it was a great day to be out.

Lorna in the Skunk Cabbage
Flood plain

Plum blossoms
Beaver dam. 

The high point of the morning was hiking up a beautiful abandoned lane.

It was a cool dewy morning, but it was sunny and rapidly warming. As we hiked up the trail we began to hear moving water, so I was expecting to round a bend and see rapids. We didn't, we saw a pair of Canada Geese guarding a small pool which was fed by a rill spilling out of a narrow side ravine. 

 A short scramble up the little ravine revealed springs - clear, cold water flowing out of black holes in the hillside, threading over moss covered rocks, weaving together to become a rivulet which tumbles down to add to the flow of South Branch of the Root River.

This is one of those unexpected moments that a photograph simply cannot capture - the movement, the sound, the coolness of the air. You just have to climb over and under fallen trees, slip and slide up that grassy path yourself and be suddenly be ambushed by the scene. I am so glad we were. (Did I mention that everything is very, very green and clean right now?)

 Hvoslef is one of those little places on earth that one could be very easy to fall in love with. I am well on my way.

 - Gunnar

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Wood Duck Morning

It has been cool, overcast and rainy the past week. It is Monday morning, a new day, a new week and a new month. It is time to start over. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and the lake is a mirror. What more could a man ask for?

Wood Ducks.

As most mornings, there are a two or three pair sitting in the oaks. They are still in their egg laying phase, laying one egg a day until they have a clutch, then they will begin brooding them so they all hatch at the same time. We have one nesting box, as do both of our neighbors, and there are more boxes around the bend on the north shore. Apparently there are not enough boxes as there are two females laying eggs in our box. I do not understand the dynamics of that, but I suppose it works. The parents do not have to feed the ducklings, they just lead them to the water and paddle around with them as they eat. We have half a dozen large oaks along the shore. As the ducks do not seem to be territorial in regards to their nesting boxes, I guess I have some carpentry in my future. 

You can lead a duck to water ... Gunnar B.