Who are we? We are our stories.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ron Cooper Mixte build

This started out as an unfortunate green bare frame and has been more or less in storage for a few years. I dropped it off with the painter, Jeff Bock when I was picking up another frame. After he resprayed it I built it up mostly with components I had on hand - leftovers from past projects. Junk from the drawers. Some vintage, others vintage in spirit. 

The bars are Nitto Mustache bars with 1 1/2" cut off the ends, then re-bored for the Suntour shifter. They also have a couple of slots cut in them to route the shifter cable inside the bar to clear the brake lever. And of course they are covered with laced leather. (Just a note, lacing leather is surprisingly difficult for a one-eyed man with marginal vision even in the "good" eye.  Not complaining, it just takes way, way longer and there are a couple of errors.)

Here is the end cap on the non-shifter side. It is a domed buffalo nickel, one of 8 from a leather hat band for a Western hat years ago. 

The rear brake straddle cables were an issue. Because the straddle cable had to be longer to clear the seat post they kept disengaging through the assembly slot. I bored the cable puck hole out to accept Mafac straddle clamps. Look and work damned fine I say.

The rear freewheel is the current iteration of the IRD body, but with the older stepped sprockets. 5-speed with 34 big sprocket. Of course the '79 vintage Campy NR derailleur couldn't wrap enough chain for that, so I installed Campy Rally cage plates. Eventually the Regina chain may be replaced by a "modern" chain, but I like the look. 

- Gunnar B.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas 2020

We have a Christmas Tree. With Ornaments. Quite a number of ornaments, most handmade. Lorna has recently been embracing her heritage and is considering going with more of a Danish theme next year. That does not necessarily mean we will not use all of the existing ornaments. She will find room. 

- Gunnar

Sunday, December 20, 2020


 by Aldo Ross

 "Twas the night before Christmas..."

Always a difficult time for those among us who live alone - the singles, the childless, those who have no close relatives with whom to spend the holidays. Some will spend Christmas Eve by themselves. This is the story of one of them. 

He sits by the fire, sipping hot tea and watching the flames chase and frolic among the logs. At his feet, a warm pile of sleeping cats. Except for the occasional sputter from the fire, it's a silent night. The winter sun is already setting amid a few crimson clouds, leaving a starry indigo sky to the east. His room grows dim, lit only by the dancing orange flames. It's still early - a few more hours must pass before he makes his rounds. Across the room, leaning serenely against the far wall, is a bicycle. Normally it would be stored for the season, waiting patiently for Spring rains to wash away the road salt, but this evening it stands ready for one last ride before it's winter slumber. Headlights are mounted, along with a single red taillight. A thermos full of hot coffee has replaced the water bottles. Tonight will be a special ride - an honor reserved for this bicycle, which has been favored for the past twelve months.

Curious and confusing changes have been made to the bike. The toptube has been wrapped in cloth tape to protect the paint, and over this a split piece of PVC tube has been slipped into place. Twenty-four silver sleigh bells,arranged in three rows of eight, are attached to a strap of leather at each end of which is tied a length of wire. The strap of bells lays over the top tube, hanging down on either side of the frame, and the ends of the wires are attached to the pedal spindles in such a way that, when the crank is turned, the bells are pulled alternately up and down over the PVC sleeve, so that each revolution creates a "jingle-jingle" sound. It's almost 9:30 - the man begins dressing for the ride ahead. Wrapped in several layers of warm wool, he rolls his bicycle out into the chilly night. Lights turned on, leg over the bike, feet into the pedals, and off he goes. First he rides a lap around his neighborhood. His breath turns to frost in the chilly air, but inside his woolen cocoon, smelling slightly of lanolin, he remains cozy and warm. The bells work as planned, jingling with each stroke of the pedals. Most folks are already in for the night, so the roads are silent and empty - there is only the sound of his sleigh bells in the crystalline air. He has lived in this town for many years, and knows it's neighborhoods well. He knows where many of the children live. Passing their homes, he bounces the bicycle up and down a bit to make extra jingling noises, but only colored lights and silence greet him. First loop completed, he turns onto the main road and heads downtown. He has only a few hours to cover all of the little neighborhoods, his small white light guiding him along the darkened streets. During the ride he thinks about his childhood, and all those early Christmas nights when he lay awake, too excited to sleep. He remembers listening as his parents turned-off the television and went to bed. He recalls the low rumbling from the steel mill across town, where the machinery never slept, and the lonely whistle from trains rolling through the farmlands beyond. A sort of panic would build as sleep continued to elude him. He'd toss and turn, wondering what would happen - would he get in trouble if he couldn't sleep all night? And then he'd suddenly awaken on Christmas morning to a world full of magic. Tonight he continues his ride, visiting one neighborhood after another, covering the entire town, the bells jingling all the way. But what if no one else can hear the bells tonight? Perhaps the televisions are still turned on, the kids are up late playing games on their computers, their exhausted parents having surrendered to wishes to open presents early. But perhaps there is one house, one small room, where one child stares wide-eyed into the darkness... one little believer is wishing for sleep to come, wondering perhaps what time Santa will visit, and how He gets down the chimney, and how He manages to cover the entire world in just one night. Perhaps one small soul will think about the glass of milk and the little plate of cookies left on the table by the Christmas tree. And then, perhaps, they'll hear the gentle jingle of bells outside and rush to the window to see a dot of red light disappearing into the distance. And it won't matter if the light is at road level rather than flying up over the rooftops - an amazing site, otherwise inexplicable - not a car taillight or anything like that, bobbing slightly from side to side as it crests the hill and vanishes. It's three hours later, and the rounds have been completed. The bike rests once more against the far wall. The fire is little more than deep red embers. He sits in his chair, three happy cats napping in a pile amid the warm wool. He thinks about this night's work, reflecting on all the Christmas Eves he's spent alone, and probably will continue to spend alone, and how life isn't always what we expect it to be. 

And he's only a little surprised to find that, on the table beside him, someone has left a glass of milk and a small plate of cookies.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Fiddly Brake Stuff

 I am slowly re-assembling my vintage Ron Cooper mixte with parts I had on hand. 

I found nice espresso lace-on leather to replace the brown fabric I just wrapped. Pretty much a match for the paint color. English leather should be here in mid to late January. 

The past couple of days it was brake cables. The first small issue was that there was a way to adjust the front brake cable with the traditional headtube brake hanger, but no way to adjust the rear brake cable length. Digging through the miscellaneous (junk) drawers I came up with a brake ferrule thingy that I could modify. I had to drill it through and then tap threads to match a threaded cable stop. This may sound simple, but I longer have a drill press and I am ... huh, sight impaired. Half blind. So I felt a little smug when I pulled it off. 

Enough for today. 
- Gunnar

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Birthday Carolee and Paul

This past summer I set up a drip, water slowly dripping into a pool.

Pool? Our drip holds about about two cups of water. Originally I set it up only because I had a boulder with a natural cavity. I looked at it for two or three years, imagining a little fountain with hole bored through the bottom. That never happened. This past summer I set up a thin hose fished through a bamboo 'faucet' to drip one drop at a time into the stone cup. The small birds love it.  

But first a Canada Warbler for my Canadian friends, who by random chance, both have their birthdays today. Two of the greatest birders and best friends a man could ask for.  

Pencil in another Oakwood Warbler Spring.  Be well, stay safe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Guy Clark - Let it Roll

I read the obits every day. Just to be certain. 
I love a really good obit, but so many are unimaginative. They talk around the fact that he/she/or it "died".  They "passed away" - like they sneaked off when we weren't looking. Or she ran off, "She went to be with the Lord."  Or her late husband. Or her French poodle Fido. 
This was recorded when Guy Clark was on the down side of cancer. His pause and sigh before, "... so he died" is a bit poignant. At about 2:50 Verlon Thompson's joins in, two friends joined at the hip for decades. 
He's a wino, tried and true.
Done about everything there is to do.
He worked on freighters, he worked in bars.
He worked on farms, 'n he worked on cars.
It was white port, that put that look in his eye
That grown men get when they need to cry
And he sat down on the curb to rest
And his head just fell down on his chest
He said "Every single day it gets
A little bit harder to handle and yet"
And he lost the thread and his mind got cluttered
And the words just rolled off down in the gutter
Well he was elevator man in a cheap hotel
In exchange for the rent on a one room cell
He's old in years beyond his time
Thanks to the world, and the white Port wine
So he says "Son, " he always called me son
He said, "Life for you has just begun"
And he told me a story that I heard before
How he fell in love with a Dallas whore
Well he could cut through the years to the very night
When it ended, in a whore house fight
And she turned his last proposal down
In favor of being a girl about town
Now it's been seventeen years right in line
And he ain't been straight none of the time
Too many days of fightin' the weather
And too many nights of not being together
So he died
Well when they went through his personal affects
In among the stubs from the welfare checks
Was a crumblin' picture of a girl in a door
An address in Dallas, and nothin' more
The welfare people provided the priest
A couple from the mission down the street
Sang Amazing Grace, and no one cried
'Cept some woman in black, way off to the side
We all left and she was standing there
Black veil covering her silver hair
And 'ol One-Eyed John said her name was Alice
And she used to be a whore in Dallas
Let him roar, Lord let him roll
Bet he's gone to Dallas Rest his soul
Lord, let him roll, Lord let him roar
He always said that heaven
Was just a Dallas whore.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Owl of Athena

 ... spreads its wings only at the dusk.

It does not seem fair that most of us only acquire the wisdom to live a really full life as it is ebbing - just when it is starting to get really good we can see the sunset on the horizon. Tempus fucking fugit.

- G.

Saturday, September 19, 2020


I have been maintaining a blog since 2006. Recently Google has been infiltrated by dumbshits. Google's Blogger app has changed the way posts are created, structured and posted, apparently to make it more 'cellphone friendly'. It is awkward and a giant step backward.

Facebook is ephemeral, leaving no tracks that can be retrieved. I am taking a break from Blogger, looking for other options for sharing thoughts and photos, other than breakfast at Hy- Vee.  

I will continue to save photos on Flickr. 

WordPress? Anyone with other options may leave a comment. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Blue-headed Vireo

Still a few Warblers filtering though. Good looks at a Bay-breasted Warbler and two Magnolia Warblers. We saw two or three immatures almost a month ago, but these look to be mature males in winter plumage. 

Also fleeting looks at a first of season Blue-headed Vireo. I had to manipulate the photo more than I like, but the firestorm haze in the sky was causing a weird pink tint to the photos when the Vireo showed up.