Who are we? We are our stories.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Christmas With the Old Norwegian

Lorna and I were spending Christmas with my daughter Adena and her wife Nicole in the Cooper neighborhood of Longfellow in Minneapolis. It is a pleasant neighborhood on the buffs above the Mississippi gorge - a good neighborhood for walking with or without a dog for an excuse. A fifteen minute walk south of their 1925 bungalow is the Seven Oaks Oval, a two acre 35 foot deep wooded sinkhole in the middle of a ring of classic craftsman homes.

While we were in the neighborhood I knocked on the door of an old friend to wish him a Merry Christmas. Chris Kvale answered the door and invited me in. We caught up on backyard birds, music, politics, and the status of his bicycle frame shop, which was severely damaged by fire-fighting water during the rioting following the George Floyd killing. 

Chris stepped out of the house to greet my family who were across the street trying to locate two hooting Barred Owls in The Oval. I followed Chris and pulled the door closed behind me. It latched with an audible *clack*. Locked. We tried the back door. I had locked a man out of his own home and the neighbor with the spare key was out of town. Marcia was going to be gone for hours. Chris used my phone a number of times, but she did not answer.

Given our dilemma and limited options, I gave Chris my jacket and we walked  back to Add and Nick's home ... where we ate cookies,  drank wine and visited. I learned that Chris's friend had originally manufactured his sheet metal paint spray booth several decades earlier. It was first assembled for use in a basement shop, later in two other shop locations. That same friend will be reassembling it one more (last?) time in Chris's shop in the Vine Arts Building. On Monday, after 19 months of forced early retirement (at age 76) Chris Kvale will be begin reassembling his shop, to again build fine bicycle frames to classical music and greet friends for conversation and a day's end drink.

After a couple of hours of "wisiting", Marcia eventually called. She was home, wondering where he was. So Addy took the Old Norwegian back home to a waiting Christmas dinner. 

The Old Dane,

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021


This is the bank in Hartland, 12 miles up the road. Of course some houses are in similar condition, but no one was killed or seriously injured. 
It was one hell of a storm. 60 degrees on a December afternoon in Minnesota should have been a warning that all was not right with the world. The barometric pressure dropped like a ... like a ... like a metaphor. Then it broke loose, unleashing the winds of hell, gusts to 80 mph and straight steady winds, 60 mph+ all night. Not gusts, just steady blowing, blowing until something breaks, wind. 

I am proud of the old house. The 100 year-old lady creaked, moaned, begged for mercy, but stayed upright. Because of wind noise we slept, or tried to sleep, tucked into the corner room behind Steve Hamburg's new basement walls. I had watched the walls going up (and down), thinking it was overbuilt to fill concrete blocks with more concrete and steel re-rod down to footings four feet in the ground. 

Then it was reassuring. 

- Gunnar 

As I lay in bed, wind tired and worn, drifting through the hallway between half-asleep and half-awake, a song drifted in, "When death comes a knocking will God open the door?" 

And for some reason, the Four Horsemen came riding through the dream mist: "Death? Pestilence? Famine? Death? ... or was it Margadant, Grinley, Hurst, Westrum, Berg? No, that's five."

"Oh yeah, that's right, Dock became a Republican"... as I drifted off. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Stone Blind Horses

There are some saints that have been forgotten 
Like most of my drunken prayers 
They say there’s a heaven somewhere above the yonder 
Where there’s no more crosses to bear 

Now there’s ghosts along the highways 
And there’s storms out on the seas 
My only hope is somewhere in that heaven 
Someone says a prayer for me 

I been riding stone blind horses 
Never seen a reason to believe 
Hey sweet Genevieve say a prayer for me 
For wild young cowboys, old drunks, paramours and thieves 

The high slurred whistle of a redwing blackbird 
Sounds like he’s singing 'oh that I might die' 
It’s a song for those who have fallen 
Unrepentant with no more alibis

By Ray Wylie Hubbard, 
From the album The Ruffian's Misfortune. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

I must have posted a dozen entries regarding this damned old bicycle. I have moved on. If you need more, here are more photos that I took within the past week. 

Thank you for your patience.
- Gunnar