Song, fire, and ice

May 22, 2022

Sign of the times.

Tezcatlipoca, God of the Night Wind, was in something of a mood as we hit the sack last eventide.

The sonofabitch spent the night roaring and rumbling, tipping things over, and generally acting the fool. The power blipped on and off a half-dozen times before I finally toppled into a restless sleep marred by inexplicable dreams.

In one I was outside somewhere with the rest of the bums as Tom Waits sat at a nearby café, trying to compose an opera based on his song “Misery is the River of the World.”

When I moseyed on over to his table and suggested that “Ruby’s Arms” might make a better foundation, Waits snickered and replied to the effect that I must’ve fallen in love with the first girl to kiss me somewhere other than the cheek.

When I wandered back to the bums one of them was gnawing on a sandwich I had scrounged. Let your attention drift for a second and someone will be eating your lunch, swear to God.

Elsewhere other deities were on the job. Coyote took a snowy shit on Colorado, because he thought it would be funny to lay 10 inches of snow on the place right after a 90-degree day. And Xiuhtecuhtli is still torching everything flammable in New Mexico because … well, it’s anybody’s guess. Perhaps he’s croaking the tourist season to punish the pochteca merchant class for sniveling about a dearth of eager employees while refusing to pay a living wage.

Outside+ looking in

May 20, 2022

Ask not for whom the bike bell tolls.

Ring-a-ding-ding, bitches.

It was never a question of if, but of when. The Greater Outside+ Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Silo O’ Sports & Fitness, LLC, has begun excreting magazines and scribes, because that’s what vulture capitalists do: Gobble and shit, gobble and shit.

I knew my time was up last year when I saw the thousand-pound sack of boilerplate contract Outside’s drones expected me to sign if I cared to keep drawing funnies for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

After a quick semantic analysis boiled their bullshit down to its smoky essence — “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” — I trimmed it to a few salient grafs that cut straight to the chase, sent them off, and never heard another peep.

Not long afterward, I retired.

Now, the folks who stuck around and did the work are getting the old heave and also the ho. Talented types like Ben Delaney and Nicole Formosa, to name just two. It’s basically v2.0 of Competitor Group Inc., which gave Charles Pelkey and John Wilcockson the bum’s rush Back in the Day®. Same old guillotine, just different heads and an Outside Gear Box instead of the usual basket.

I can’t speak to the quality of the publications that lost staffers or are going dark entirely. I don’t read them. My subscription dollars are spent elsewhere.

But if these pubs aren’t profitable, I’m guessing it’s probably not Ben’s fault, or Nicole’s. Might have something to do with an overabundance of supernumeraries who don’t write, edit, shoot, sketch, or sell.

If I were showing people the door in an effort to save money I might start with anyone who uses the bloodless words “product” and “content” to describe “stories” and “photographs.” There’s always work for people who think everything is a commodity, including their souls.

Tonight on ‘The Voice’ . …

May 19, 2022

Y’think?

Well, how’s this for the fiery frosting on the smoldering cake that is May in New Mexico?

I wish that whoever is making these prank calls on the Lord’s behalf would find some other pasatiempo. Some of us are gullible and will act on spiritual advice like “Kill all those people” or “Set the bosque on fire.”

When I hear a Voice saying shit like that, I consult a couple of the other Voices in residence between my ear-holes.

“Aw, that’s Nyarlathotep. He’s just fuckin’ witcha. Don’t pay him no nevermind unless you like rubber rooms and tuxedos with wraparound arms.”

It’s liable to get real interesting real fast around here. The forests are “closed,” but a quick assay of The Duck! City’s foothills trails finds them very much open.

If these trails are forced to absorb all the recreational traffic that ordinarily would be spread throughout the Cibola, they’re gonna clog up faster than The Big I at drunk-thirty on Friday.

I eyeballed a half-dozen trailhead parking lots on my ride this morning and not a one of them was empty, though Elena Gallegos seemed to be less busy than usual.

But it was Thursday. Let’s see what the weekend brings. I hope it’s not more red-flag warnings.

Smoked out

May 17, 2022

Done and dusted until further notice.

If you think that little slice of New Mexico looks dry, even parched, maybe, well … that’s because it is.

And so, the word has come down that a forest closure order has been issued effective Thursday for the Mount Taylor, Mountainaire, and Sandia ranger districts of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands. The entire Carson and Santa Fe national forests will follow suit.

Says the U.S. Forest Service:

“Fire danger remains extreme with record conditions only expected to worsen over the foreseeable future. The closure will be rescinded after significant moisture has been received and overall conditions improve.”

It’s a bummer, for sure. But so is getting burned the hell up.

I was just out toodling around in the Elena Gallegos Open Space, with an extra-credit lap around the Menaul trailhead area, and the Steelman Eurocross was cheeping like a nest of baby birds by the time I got home.

That ain’t dirt, it’s dust. And nobody wants a forest they can fit into an ashtray. Or so some of us would like to think, anyway. The quantity of cigarette butts I see along the roads and at trailheads suggests that this is not a unanimous opinion.

Fire works

May 16, 2022

Pine shadows.

It was already 70° when I got up at 6 and the sky looked wrong.

The wind spent the night blowing things open, over, around, and down. It wasn’t the usual thundering roar, reminiscent of life in a 9-by-40 singlewide next to the railroad tracks; more like a conversation at the next table that you’re trying not to hear.

“No, no, no. First, you cut off the head. Then the arms and legs. Bag ’em up separate. Easier to carry.”

Last night’s eclipse, which we could not see, was accompanied by a “Health Alert Due to Blowing Dust,” which we could.

We had forgotten to turn on the bedroom humidifier before retiring, and when I arose my snout was having flashbacks to the glorious days when my friends and I supercharged our Saturday nights (and occasionally Sunday mornings) with a blend of Russian vodka and Peruvian marching powder.

The Duck! City hasn’t updated its air-quality widget since Friday, so I lack the deets. But I’m certainly getting the general drift of things. It’s not a great day to be a woodland firefighter, for instance. That big mother up by Las Vegas is only getting bigger, and it’s got a few smaller ones to keep it company.

Here’s NMFireInfo:

Dry thunderstorms in the afternoon will likely cause very active fire behavior and increase potential for fire spread. The fire is expected to remain active, with critically dry fuels and near-record temperatures.

Oh, good. I can’t wait for Memorial Day weekend. Where the fireworks stands at? FreeDumb®, etc.

Treinta y dos

May 12, 2022

Still sharing the same bench after all these years.

Today Herself and Your Humble Narrator celebrate 32 years of holy macaroni.

O, how they laughed Back in the Day®. “It will never last,” they said. “She is a Woman of Quality while he … well, I mean, just look at him.”

I had a brief moment of fear some years later when she had the Lasik surgery, but as luck would have it enhanced eyesight does not always mean sharper vision.

And now here we are, against all odds, 32 years later and still ticking like a fine Swiss time bomb. Timepiece! I meant timepiece!

The usual massive celebration is under way. We kicked it off by singing the “Happy Anniversary” song, then broke fast with coffee and avocado toast. Someone had to take a Zoom meeting (not me). The same someone had to drop her CR-V off at the Honda shop (a noncelebratory blinking warning light, the prelude to a mechanical fishing expedition).

With an eye toward today’s bloggery I resolved a trio of niggling MacIssues without assistance. If only rebooting a Honda were so simple.

Later there shall be a Feast at an undisclosed location. I will not be cooking and Herself will not be cleaning up. And the vet emailed to report that Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s bloodwork was “amazing.” These are all the gifts we require, and more than one of us deserves.

And the hits just keep on coming

May 8, 2022

A map of the Cerro Pelado fire and the surrounding area.

Well, this ain’t good.

While we’ve all been watching the big fire up by Las Vegas, a smaller one is stealing a march on Los Alamos as the predicted gusty winds drive the flames onward. The county and LANL are to be bumped from “Ready” to “Set” in the Ready-Set-Go evacuation protocol.

From InciWeb:

“Southwest winds are expected to be even stronger tomorrow and unseasonably warm, dry, and windy weather is expected to continue well into next week. Weather and fuel conditions are favorable for rapid fire growth, and in addition to the very steep and often inaccessible terrain, firefighters will be challenged by potential for extreme fire behavior, especially in areas where winds and topography align with the fire.”

We’re starting to get smoke here in The Duck! CIty, maybe from the Bear Trap fire down in the Magdalena Ranger District. Unless we have a fresh fire start somewhere in the neighborhood that I haven’t heard about.

Let’s all be careful out there.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 8, 2022

This one goes out to the Supremes, those muthas.

TGIF?

May 6, 2022

“Go ahead, open that door and reach in here. Make my day.”

It’s Little Old Lady Day here at El Rancho Pendejo, and each of us has a vieja to wrangle.

Herself gets to take Herself the Elder out for a salon cut and perhaps some medium-light snackage. And I, as you can see, got to take Miss Mia Sopaipilla to the vet for her regular checkup.

I thought I’d scored the easy duty. But as you know, I will never be smart.

Shortly after we arrived at the vet’s another customer roared in with a pair of infernal hounds, one of whom was going full Baskerville. This did not improve Mia’s mood — she does not care for cat carriers, cars, doctors, or dogs — and by the time a vet popped round to attend to her, well, she was puffed up to about six times normal size and hissing like a vampire who was a couple quarts low.

So, instead of the simple drive-by doctoring I had been expecting, I found myself choosing between rescheduling (and perhaps sedation) or letting Miss Mia chill out for a while in the felines-only ward, to see if she might turn back into a mild-mannered elderly cat instead of Bastet with a Hulk overlay and a side of rabies. I picked Door No. 2 and headed for home.

Now I’m almost 100 percent certain that if I get all kitted up for what looks to be the last decent day for cycling before what firefighters and weatherpersons are predicting will be “at least four days of wind, dryness and hot temperatures,” why, that is when the phone will ring. It will be the vet, who will tell me that she is off to Las Vegas because it’s safer to fight fires than Miss Mia.

Looks like a hot time in the old town no matter how you slice it.

Talking shit

May 5, 2022

A samurai in a latrine; outside, his three attendants hold their noses. Coloured woodcut by Hokusai, 1834. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

I stumbled across an item from the Poetry Foundation, “Haiku on Shit” by Masaoka Shiki, in my virtual wanderings and thought it a delightful departure from the daily shit monsoon, against which a parasol, a wetsuit, or a subterranean bunker are no defense.