Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hand-Lettered Glass Pane on Old-Timer Office Door in St. Paul.

They sure don't make them like this any more. Over in St. Paul the other day I came across this old-timer wooden office door. Check the grains of the wood.  Then the brass lock, plate, and ornate handle. Next, the massive glass plate window, hand-painted office I.D.  The whole package takes me back to an era long-gone in American commerce. Hope you like the pic as much as I do bringing it to you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Workhorse co-owner Ty gives Old Poppy a New Year's Squeeze -- after she makes a 16-ounce iced Latte in her St. Paul store.

Ty and her Workhorse Coffee company have been subjects of the Poppy Blog a couple of times.  The six-month old shop is located at Raymond + University in St. Paul.  The iced lattes are shaken, not stirred, and mighty tasty.

Atmosphere is fun and friendly. And, every once in a while, I'm able to talk management into letting me behind the counter for a hug.

I might add that Workhorse operates the World's Smallest Museum out front of the store. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the "shows" are always worth checking out.

Here's a place worth your consideration and patronage.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

West Yellowstone, MT, Sled Dog Race - Locals Wayne and Dianne Gardiner assure that this is Real Deal.

I've posted about author Wayne Gardiner.  He and wife Dianne sent this shot to the Poppy Blog.  They were front row spectators at a lively sled dog race in Yellowstone.  Not sure which team won the gold.

Merry Christmas from Long Lake!

Carolers arrive in horse-drawn wagon signing their hearts out!  Of Bells, and Good Kings, Mangers and Magi.  Inside our house a cauldron of steaming apple cider awaited the songsters. And old-fashioned Christmas celebration, to be sure;  only a foot of newly fallen snow would have made it better
Santa brought big, indestructible winter gloves and a furry bonnet.

Shire draft horses pull the sleigh-ful of carolers.
Finally, in case you were curious, the unsightly item obliterating my right nostril is a bar on coffee-bean bar soap.  It smells like java, contains all the goodness of hot-brew, and allegedly is good for one's skin.  

I'll report back on efficacy once I try it out.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lazlo Biro invented the Ballpoint Pen, and it's still referred to as a "Biro" in a number of countries around the World.

Our British friend Liz was talking the other evening about the "Biro."

Huh?  The "Biro"?  Had we ever heard of it -- a nickname for the ball point pen.  Not, I, at least, so onto the laptop I went to check it all out.

The image here is from 1943.  It's an ad running (in Spanish) in a magazine in Argentina -- where inventor Biro lived at the time.  

What else I learned: Lazlo worked in the printing business in the 1930's. He noticed that printer's ink was quick-drying, did not smudge, might work better in a fountain pen than whatever else was used at the time. But printer's ink was too viscous, wouldn't flow through to the nib.  No go on this bright idea.

So, as the story goes, Biro and his brother go back to the drawing board, came up with the idea of a rolling ball inside the point where the nib might ordinarily be.  After a few attempts (inventors always try things a few times before they nail it) they succeeded and - voila! - our came the ball-point pen. The Biro.

This post has nothing to do with bicycles, nor my velo adventures.  But I am a writer, love pens, have a ton of fountain pens, and am excited to have learned the lore and legend of the late Biro Lazlo.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Minneapolis School Girls Learn of Eugene Delacroix's Influence on Modern Art.

Here we are at Minneapolis Institute of Art waiting our turn to enter the much-anticipated Delacroix exhibit.  MIA is buzzing with energy and excitement. Art aficionados of every age, size, shape, level of knowledge file into the modern art wing to see this once in a lifetime show.  Our tix were for 11:00 AM on 12/18, and we entered after the school girls in this foto here. Couldn't take any shots inside, so you'll just have to go see the exhibit for yourselves.  You will not be disappointed.  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Paella -- legendary Spanish chicken, rice, clams, veggies dish -- pans on sale in Uptown. Big one serves 200 hungry diners.

Lookee what we came across today: paella pans, small (cooks for two) up
 to humongous (can prepare food for as many as 200 folks at one time).  Little pans start around $20.00 or so.  The biggee is not for sale.  The Kitchen Store rents it out for parties, soirees, weddings, fiestas, whatever.  Also saw kindling wood from Jamaica, Weber grills with manufacturer's suggested retail price of $5000+, and espresso machines that will set the home barista and aficionado back several thousands of euros.  What a store.  What fun we had.  Hello, Santa.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mystery Writer Wayne Gardiner Meets Mentor James Lee Burke.

My good buddy Wayne Gardiner (left in this foto) continues to knock the ball out of the park in his career as a mystery writer.  Wayne and I worked together in magazine publishing, and for all those years we traveled the country,  persuading marketers to advertise their products and services in the magazines we represented, I never knew that Wayne had a secret life!

I did read one of Wayne's earlier spy novels, "The Man on the Left," and have devoured his stories in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  Like most commercially viable writers Wayne learned his craft by practice, practice, practice, and reading as much of his mentors as possible.  I found out this week that Wayne considers the sui generis James Lee Burke a mentor, and finally had the chance to meet him.

Wayne and wife Dianne were in Missoula, MT recently for a book signing by Burke. Gardiner had the chance to hang with the man, something he's always wanted to do.  I am intrigued by what these wordsmiths had to say to each other.

Look for Wayne's work in an upcoming issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I buy my mags at Barnes + Noble in the Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka, MN, but you can certainly find copies on line.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Seen at Snelling + Grand, St. Paul, Minnesota, December 10, 2015.

Check this little cutie, locked up next to his Daddy's full-size touring machine. The municipal rack sits at the intersection of Snelling and Grand Aves. -- maybe the owners/velosters are shopping in Garrison Keillor's "Common Good Books," just around the corner.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Momentum Magazine (digital version) reports this week on "getting your Christmas tree home by bike."

Do any of the rest of you subscribe to ?  Published out of Vancouver, BC, aimed at the urban "practical" cyclist, and full of fun tips, new gear, places to go and see, and how to get there, Momentum Mag is available in a traditional hard-copy print format, as well as on the digital platform.

Check it out.  Solid ideas for transporting even the most recalcitrant spruce or cedar. Fotos shown here were shot by Josh Larios and milknosugar, and represent the high quality pics appearing throughout the publication.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A veritable United Nations of coffee beans waiting to be roasted today in Dunn Bros. store on Loring Park.

Not only is the coffee at Dunn Bros. always tasty, and served just right with a knowing smile, but the aficionados call it  sabroso 

On my way out of the Loring Park store today, sabroso iced skim latte in one hand, a sizable slice of Cinnamon coffee cake in the other, I saw these bean bags next to the roaster, waiting to be prepped, both hot brewed and iced.  Love the color of the bags, the country-of-origin sticks plunged deep in the beans.  Had to go quickly to the car, grab the 'Phone and snap a couple of fotos.

I'm not sophisticated enough in my taste -- God knows I drink enough coffee everyday! -- to catch the subtle "notes" of Peruvian vs. Ethiopian, for instance.  Maybe a private taste test, writing up results for readers of the Poppy Blog, might be the remedy?

Meanwhile, you sure can't go wrong with Dunn Bros. java, no matter its country of origin. The coffee cake is from the Twin Cities, baked fresh daily; can't miss on that one, either.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Brother-in-Law Mark Reports Waves along Washington Coast 25-40 Feet High!

"Your sister and I," 

writes my brother-

in-law Mark, "are all 

hunkered down, 

waiting for the rain 

to stop after several days of deluge and now flooding on 

the mainland."

"Ahhhh, Washington. B-I-G waves at the coast, 25’ to 40’.  

Would love to be there for that."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Travel Pins, Lapel Buttons and Classic Velo Head Badges.

If you're like me you enjoy collecting mementos from wherever you've been.  Like the Channel Island National Park lapel pin -- Pina and I visited the Santa Barbara area a few years ago, took the tour, hit the gift shop, and I picked up the handsome pin you see in this pic.

What else?  From Steamboat Lake, Steamboat Springs, CO, a commemorative badge one might nail on to o a hiking stick to remember trails traveled.

Then two memories of a trip to Spain - the national flag plus a black bull with white horns: promo item for a line of Spanish brandy.

The bridal dinner lapel button handed out by Jessie and Chris the night before their wedding in Stoning, CT some seven years ago.

Finally,  Raleigh head badge pried off a pricey roadster, and a tinny Schwinn badge acquired in the same shop in Minneapolis where Id purchased the Raleigh I.D.

The cushion bag on which the items were photographed served (past tense) to contain all these goodies as I sent them, and other parts of my collection, to our grandchildren.  And while I'll miss not having the pieces all over my desk, I take great joy in sharing them, and encouraging the grands to collect mementos of their own from all the places they'll surely visit when they can. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ferg Carves, Conquers 20-lb. Turkey at our House on Thanksgiving Day.

I never was very good at wielding a carving knife.  Poppina knows this, suggested instead we ask our dinner guest Ferg Weir to do the honors.   He jumped at the chance, made short work of the bird, and before you could say gobble-gobble, our plates were overflowing with white meat and dark, Brussels sprouts, steamed carrots, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and roasted potatoes.  Ferg's mom Liz, seen in the pics above, cooked up the sprouts and brought appetizers.  Ferg's wife Meredith made the gluten-free pumpkin-filled dessert. Jessie Hoyt peeled the carrots, while she and husband Chris created a GF punkin' pie from scratch. Toasts, roasts, poetry, essays and speeches were made and read throughout the evening.  Great times were had by all.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Remember "Drill Baby, Drill"? And when Michelle Bachman predicted that the price of unleaded regular gas would drop again to below $2.00 a gallon?

When U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman, (R-MN), was running for President, candidate Bachman predicted that unleaed gas would again sell for under two dollars a gallon. And she turned out to be right, at least for the moment.

I'm trying o research what her comments were based on ...  likely increased drilling, production and refining.

We're reading these days about a glut of oil, and prices are dropping to reflect supply.  I filled up today in Wayzata for under two bucks.

Wonder how long this will last? And if maybe gas drops even more? Wonder what Ms. Bachman thinks?

My friend Ferg gave me these iconic Moose Socks, and they're keeping me warm today in 30-degree Long Lake winter.

Ferg and I have this sock-gift thing going.  

I'll surprise him with a pair of Old Glory socks from the Hamel Target store.  Then, when it's his turn, he'll give me a pair with sunglasses and bikinis running up and down the sock, toe to heel.

It was Ferg's turn last time we got together.  When Pina and I were over for dinner w/ Ferg and Meri, out came the Moosies you see here.

On they went this morning and I must say they are cozy and toasty.  Pretty smart looking as well. Now who's the one with the stylin' dogs!?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

20-degrees in Long Lake today. Wind out of the NW at 10 mph. I wore 5 layers on top but it was still pretty damned chilly in the saddle.

I'm not so great at selfies, especially when my fingers are frozen solid. 

It was about twenty-degrees today. Despite layering capillene long johns, jeans, tee shirt, long sleeve microfiber top, 2 wind vests, one Patagonia fleece and a zip-up windbreaker -- not to mention a lame-looking face gaiter and a cap, and a pair of leather dress gloves:  I was cold, cold, cold after half an hour on the Giant this afternoon.
Here's the thinking -- not very rational.  Since the sun was shining bright.  And we'd had tons of rain in the past few days. And the gloomy skies that go with it. And I was driving home in my KIA, heater blasting, I thought I felt warm enough to get out on the bike.

So I suited up in plenty of layers, pedaled north up Tamarack, then headed east on Hwy 24. I planned to ride to Starbucks, just imagining how yummy a chai latte with soy would taste when I got there. 

By the time I was a couple of miles into the ride my fingers were tingling from the cold, going numb -- gloves clearly not up to the task.

So once I passed Holy Name Catholic Church, and turned north again to take me over to Medina Road, so I could then turn west toward home, I wasn't having much fun.  And the wind was slamming me on the nose -- making those frigid fingers feel like they were going to break off.

Back home I limped, and glad to get here I might add. Temp is headed into the 40's over the next couple of days.  I'll try again and let you know about that latte.  Thanks for reading this post.

PS - you've surely had cold weather riding experiences of you own.  Please let me hear from you and I'll tell YOUR story here on the Poppy Blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Low-Carbon Footprint Travel in India, ca 1995.

Photographer Steve McCurry has been traveling to India for more than 40 years.  He's seen it all, and then some.  There's a new book of his out now, and I borrowed one of the velo shots.   I plan to buy one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Little Free Library Locations in Excelsior, MN, and all over Twin Cities. Wonder if "Charter # 27638" means there are nearly 30,000 of these across the USA?

I sent this pic from Excelsior, MN to my sister on Whidbey Island, WA, asking her if they had "Little Free Libraries" out where she lived.  

"Of course," came the reply. "And I've read many of the books that are for loan in the Excelsior library photo you sent."

"Plus," she adds, "in Seattle proper, near where my daughter lives, you can find two within a block of her house." 

I helped myself to the J. M. Coetze title, "Age of Iron."  A South African novelist, about my age, Coetze was unknown to me before this Excelsior encounter. I've just started to dig into "Iron," published about 25 years ago.

This little free library is constructed with loving care and attention to detail.  It seems to resemble a rustic small town prairie house of worship.  This little free library sits on the grounds of Zion Lutheran here in Minneapolis.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pumpkins at Mt. Olivet Lutheran as far as the Eye can See.

Thousands and thousands of perfectly plump and picked pumpkins are sold every Fall season at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Edina.

The young volunteers posing in the pic below were busy receiving, arranging and selling the gourds when I asked them to tell me a bit of their story.

The pumpkins come from all over Minnesota, and serve shoppers throughout the Twin Cities. Volunteers come from many high schools, serve a fund raising effort with enthusiasm and style.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Could Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac have driven this '56 Ford wagon and Camper?

Parked on Tegner, out front of the Catholic church in Wickenburg, AZ.  Like-new mid-Century wagon and cozy camper unleash dreams of adventure, memories of Jack Kerouac and "On the Road."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Velo-themed fotos from the web. Wish I'd been the one to get the shot.

 I wondered where the hell I'd seen this photo. Then my Sis e-mailed a link to Modern Met, below. 120 velos are hung on wall of a bike shop in Germany.  Strong branding message, huh?

Sunday afternoon in Jakarta. Bikes are color coordinated with ladies sun hats, and vice versa.  Pic was included in a bullish report on growth of wealth and leisure in Indonesia.  Bikes are emblematic of a rising middle class of entrepreneurs, though there's also reported a growing gap between haves and have-nots.  An income inequality situation not unlike we have here at home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Czech-made 1938 Tatra Stuns at Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Light years ahead of its time, this rare Tatra is super aerodynamic, sports aluminum body, and by the looks of those generous scoops, is powered by an air-cooled motor sitting over the rear wheels.  I'll be checking for more stats and details, and updating this page.

For now check the post between the suicide and rear doors.  The thing-y you see is flag style turn signal.  When you clicked the lever mounted on the steering column inside the Tatra, the "flag" emerged from its safe keeping.  Flag was illuminated and likely flashed, alerting drivers in front and behind of Tatra's intentions.  

These signals were used in a number of European cars that I can remember seeing -- models well into late '50's.  

My buddy JI had a classic VW bug, "Fritz" by name, and I think his little German (ca 1955) may have had flag signals as well.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Around Town the Past Couple of Weeks. Note "Handsome" brand hand-made Velos for sale at Minneapols Institue of Art.

Heavenly Mpls skyline from perspective of St. Olaf Catholic Church, 8th Street btw. Nicollet and 5th Avenue.

Mike Personius runs Chunk's Automotive Service in Long Lake. How does it work?  Check out his one-off tool chest for a clue.

The secret to smelling sweet out here where we live. It ain't the spendy bay rum in those rattan-wrapped spritz bottles, but it sure does the job. 

 Baker Park, crown jewel in the Three Rivers System, hosts special archery hunts (deer would be target most likely) this fall.  I ride my Expressway foldy in Baker, making sure to stay on the paved path, and out of reach of errant arrows.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a harbinger of the coming winter.  Wonder if he knows about the El Nino effect?

Minneapolis Institute of Art now taking orders for Handsome Hand-Made bikes.  They are gorgeous and I imagine a bit spendy.  Check out color combo on bike to right.  Meanwhile, don't even think about touching these velos.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Buffalo Bikes Build Better Futures.

You've maybe heard of Buffalo Bikes?  They are made in (and used by) developing countries in Africa, primarily.  I've read a couple of posts about Buffalo, and saw something tonite about their utility and clean design.  What I did not realize is that these babies cost $150/each, last forever, likely "pay for themselves" in increased productivity in short order.  I borrowed a couple of images from the Buffalo site, and encourage any velo fan to learn more about the good work done by this non-profit.

This field is decidedly not in Africa, and the Giant Cypress posing amid the stalks ain't the Buffalo admired above. Corn pickers have begun their run through the rows; only sweat I'm breaking comes from the 10-mile ride on a gorgeous near-Fall day here in Minnesota. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Float Plane Buzzes Lake Minnetonka, Spectators along Lake Street in Wayzata are Spellbound.

Some hotshot pilot brought his float plane around the Wayzata side of Lake Minnetonka today.  He buzzed us two or three times before coming in for a landing to the south.  Then up he goes again, before settling down, running the aircraft up on the beach on its pontoons.  The pilot shut down his single engine, stepped out on the left pontoon, and was embraced by a gorgeous blond who had been keeping a weather eye, and raced to greet her flyboy the minute he touched down.

Lake Street in Wayzata is becoming more of the "scene" with every passing season, but we're still pretty mellow and subdued up here in Minnesota.  I can assure readers of Poppy's Velo Ventures, however, that the town tempo picked up quite a bit this afternoon when N125P8 flew in and paid us a call.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kayakers Navigate Deception Pass, Washington, while Boat Builders, Tsunami Preparers, and Visitors to Whidbey Island Live with Water Everywhere.

The guys who kayak the treacherous waters of Deception Pass must be having the nautical time of their lives.  When you stand on the bridge, holding on tight, tight, tight to the railing, and look down at the swirling silver eddies 100 feet below, you get some deep respect for Mother Nature and the boaters who test their mettle against the tide.  You also get vertigo in the extreme! 

Hard to say how many people have taken their lives by jumping off the bridge into the chilly maelstrom below.  A small plaque commemorates a young man named Bryan who is "at one with the sea" now. Well wishers continue to bring fresh flowers to honor his memory.

OK.  Now for the boat builders.  My nephew Christian here just finished up his course of study at Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend. We got the grand tour of keel-up restorations of ocean going sloops, work boats, even mahogany lake craft inboards, throw-back to the Roaring Twenties.  Christian represents a new generation of wooden boat craftsmen, a trade and passion currently in decline never mind how strong the demand for builders.
Christian and Dad Mark check out a molded fiberglass rowing skiff built by students at Northwest.

And finally, the Tsunami warnings.  Folks out there in the San Juans take the threat of earthquake and tsunami seriously.  Helpful signs are posted in strategic low lying places.  So far, residents have not been required to "Go to High Ground or Inland."  Phew.