Archive for the ‘Albuquerque’ Category

The fast, and the feast

November 24, 2022

Top o’ the world, ma!

“When out of sorts, walk a hundred miles,” wrote Jim Harrison.

I only managed a hair over six miles, but then I’m not a lionized poet, author, and screenwriter describing the perambulations of Doug Peacock in “The Fast,” written for Smart magazine and collected in “Just Before Dark.” I’m just a retired free-range rumormonger who felt a tad frazzled after a week of backwash from the abrupt departure of Herself the Elder.

She was not my mother, and I am spastic in financial matters weightier than a crisp Jackson in the wallet, so with sister-in-law Beth in town to backstop Herself I felt my place was in the kitchen, feeding the women to keep their strength up as they rassled various fiscal and familial alligators. I think Jimbo would’ve approved.

I baked, sliced, toasted, and buttered bread; scrambled eggs and cooked oatmeal; sliced apples and assembled sandwiches; and made turkey chili with red kidney beans, a more substantial chicken posole verde, pasta with a mildly spicy sauce of tomatoes, garlic, onion, chile, and black olives, and spread the leftover sauce onto prefab shells for pizza.

Not exactly the labors of Heracles. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. I’d have done most of this cookery anyway, just over a longer period of time. But with Herself fetching a head cold home from her visit to Maryland, and Beth occupying the spare room we use to confine Miss Mia Sopaipilla at night, what sleep I’ve been able to scrape together between cookery, cleanup, coughs, and meows has been less than restful.

When yesterday proved to be a beautiful day, I decided to get outdoors for a while. But with the brain firing erratically trail running seemed iffy and cycling positively suicidal.

Looking west from the corner of trails 365 and 365A.

So instead I grabbed my hickory stick and took a two-and-a-half-hour skull-flushing stroll along the hem of the Sandias to the edge of the Cibola wilderness and back again.

The universe mostly accommodated my desire for relaxation, solitude, peace, and quiet, perhaps with an assist from the Albuquerque Police Department.

The APD is disbanding its Open Space Unit, dispersing its four officers and one sergeant to the mean streets of The Duck! City, and giving police service aides the responsibility for locking and unlocking trailhead gates.

This changing of the guard isn’t supposed to happen until February 2023. But maybe someone missed the memo, because the three parking lots I passed on my hike were locked up tight and as a consequence the foothills trails were mostly empty. I took a small water bottle and my own sweet time and thought not at all about food.

This afternoon the sisters are taking a break from estate management and eBaying to whip up a raspberry cobbler. Once that’s squared away Beth will prepare lobster tails, I’ll tackle the salmon, spuds, and asparagus, and Herself may or may not do a small green salad. It’s been a long week, and she’s still not 100 percent. We’re all tired. So it goes.

If you observe the holiday, or even if you don’t, give your loved ones a little more gravy on their taters, maybe a bigger slice of pie. A little sugar, don’t you know. Don’t forget to raise a glass to any empty seats around the table.

“Salmon? Did someone mention salmon?”

Food for thought

November 10, 2022

“Only a bonehead would try to predict what happens next. So, yeah — ‘Reply hazy, try again later.'”

“What do you think about the election?” the waitress asked.

“I’m glad it’s over,” I replied.

It’s not, of course. And it won’t be for a while yet, maybe not until just before the 188th Congress gets sworn in on Jan. 3, 2023.

When we finally get there, more than a few of the noobs — and plenty of the holdovers — will kick off the session by lying through their artificially brightened teefers as they take the oath of office.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

But before we cross that crumbling bridge over the Styx we have many a long, hard mile to walk, through a wall of sound that even Phil Spector would deem overwrought. Enduring the media’s dissection of the 2022 midterms will be like trudging through an animal shelter that takes in only werewolves, banshees, and howler monkeys, and whose keeper is La Llorona.

The National Kindergarten for the Criminally Insane may change hands after Jan. 3, but you probably won’t get bitten if you keep your hands away from the cage.

If the inmates do wind up in charge of the asylum, Sleepy Joe will get carpal tunnel from ripping their frantically scribbled Crayola fever dreams off the Capitol refrigerator. But he has a generous medical plan. And once he’s past the first few impeachments the rest of his shift shouldn’t be any worse than a casual lunch with Hannibal Lecter.

Speaking of lunch, the green chile chicken enchiladas at El Patio were delicious and the service cheery and superb, all as per usual. I paid my tab, left a preposterous tip, and took the scenic route home through the North Valley, with a brisk autumn wind robbing the trees of their gold.

Just chillin’

November 4, 2022

Weather, outside, frightful, etc.

Sorel, God of Cold Feet, paid us a surprise visit last night.

Hard to believe the glider boyos were cruising the friendly skies just the other day.

The day before Halloween Herself and I saw three gliders working the thermals near the Menaul trailhead.

But Halloween has come and gone. We “fall back” on Sunday, and then slide at high speed into Thanksgiving, winter solstice, and Christmas. It ain’t always sandals-and-shorts weather, even in The Duck! City.

I’m not ready. I never am. I used to race in this shit? When? Was I still on drugs?

Herself is made of sterner stuff. She bundled up and sallied forth with a fellow Democrat to distribute campaign literature.

Comrade Eeyore is likewise on the hustings, telling The Guardian that Democrats “have not done a good enough job of reaching out to young people and working-class people and motivating them to come out and vote in this election.”

Hey, comrade, Herself is no passenger in this garbage scow. Ain’t her fault the officers are all rumdums.

Being of the Vanguard, I was needed here at Headquarters to propagandize over hot tea and a Taos Bakes bar. Arise, ye prisoners of starvation, and fetch me another mug of tea.

While I await the Revolution I’m also baking a loaf of bread so I don’t have to stand in line for it like the proles.

Here in a bit I’ll go for a run, if only because I never know when I might have to. It’s all this weather is good for. You can’t ski in it, or make snowballs with it, so you might as well pound ground, keep the muscle memory sharp.

The forecast for the day after Election Day is not encouraging. We may be feeling the heat, but not in a good way. I’m thinking of feet held to the fire.

Halloweenie

November 1, 2022

Upsadaisy. …

All Hallows’ Eve at El Rancho Pendejo was a total blowout, but not the kind one hopes for.

Some aspect of PNM’s power project in the ’hood unplugged half the cul-de-sac, including our place.

Around midmorning I saw a few trucks pull in and park, disgorging their hard-hatted contents into a neighbor’s yard. And so when a couple minutes later The Compound went dark I trotted out into my yard and spied them beavering away at some task beyond the wall.

“Hey, guys, the power’s out here,” I sez to ’em I sez.

“Oopsie,” they sez to me they sez, or something very much not like that.

Over we go.

Long story short, an autopsy found a transformer had been terminated with extreme prejudice and would not arise in three days or even three years. It would have to be replaced.

In case you were wondering, this is a tad more complicated than swapping in a new fuse after you try to run the box fan and hair dryer simultaneously in the ol’ singlewide.

The defunct transformer was in some impossible cranny in the yard, because of course it was, and the hard hats couldn’t just sherpa a new one in there. Superman was taking a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran at Warner Bros-DC, and the Hulk said he wouldn’t work on Halloween.

“This is gonna take some doing,” grumbled one hard hat, giving me the side-eye. Hey, boss, I didn’t hammer a stake topped with a Hillary 2024 placard through your transformer’s heart. I was camped in my office, pounding out the fake news, and free of charge, too.

Or I was until the power went out, anyway.

But I keed, I keed.

What happened next was nothing short of amazing.

We — or at least I — have grown accustomed to the “sucks to be you” school of customer service. “We can pencil you in for between midnight and 4 a.m. on Feb. 31st, if that works for you, or even if it doesn’t.” That sort of thing.

But these dudes got right after it. They disappeared for a while, and I was anticipating a long wait for them to return, perhaps bearing electricity, or more likely, excuses.

Nope. In fairly short order the cul-de-sac was clogged with pickups and flatbeds and a big-ass crane, and before you could say “Thomas Edison” the crane was hoisting a new transformer over the neighbor’s roof and into the yard.

Jack-o-taillights.

As dark fell the hard hats were eating pizza from boxes on the hoods of the trucks, and we were eating jambalaya from bowls, and everyone was watching the crane operator perform his magic.

“That’s something you don’t see every day, hey?” said a hard hat.

For real.

We lit our plastic pumpkin with battery-powered Cygolite tail lights, brightened the front walk with their companion headlights, and used a couple rechargeable lanterns indoors (Biolite and Nite Ize).

But with all the goings-on in the cul-de-sac most of the neighborhood trick-or-treaters decided to give us a pass. Herself handed out some treats to the hard hats, but we have plenty left over. It was easily our worst turnout since the height of the Plague Years.

But the power’s back on, and the hard hats popped round this morning to double-check their work. Well done indeed.

Let there be light.

Shoes for industry

October 23, 2022

The shoes say “Yes, yes, yes,” but the cold feet say “No.”

My old copy-desk comrade Hal Walter and I have a habit of carpet-bombing each other in the morning with news items hot off the digital press, guaranteed to elevate the heart rate.

This morning he hit me with a grim item about a cyclist bludgeoned to death by Florida Man, observing, “Cyclists piss people off for some reason.”

I fired back with some AAA advice for driving in winter weather, since Hal has to take his son Harrison up to Leadville today and snow is in the forecast.

Next, since the lads were doing a 14-mile run before leaving Weirdcliffe, I doubled down with a running mag’s top-10 tips for legging it in the cold — guidance that seemed heavy on the buying of various items.

And finally, for the coup de grâce, I tacked on a hastily freestyled top-10 list of my own, possibly because the wind was blowing about 666 mph here in The Duck! City and the going outside seemed contraindicated. Also, I may have been slightly overcaffeinated.

Dr. DogByte Sez: “Run Right Out and Buy Some Shit!”

Tip No. 1: Buy shit.

Tip No. 2: Buy more shit.

Tip No. 3: You know you can’t be happy without buying shit, so buy some more shit.

Tip No. 4: Buy some shit, then run around the corner to the coffee shop and buy some more shit there.

Tip No. 5: Buy some shit, then step outside, mumble, “Fuck me, it’s cold out here. I should really go back inside and buy some more shit.”

Tip No. 6: Buy some shit for your squeeze. Maybe your squeeze will then buy some shit for you, or even suggest taking your exercise indoors and under the covers, where it’s warm.

Tip No. 7: No, probably not. In fact, she’s out running. So while the cat’s away, you might as well just buy some shit for yourself.

Tip No. 8: Now that you’ve got the carpal tunnel from buying shit, you should probably schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. Which is kind of like buying shit, except you can’t brag about it while showing it to your friends.

Tip No. 9: So fuck that shit. You’d have to go outside, if only to get in the car. Better stay inside and buy some more shit, using your good hand.

Tip No. 10: That knock on the door? Not UPS. Collection agency. Looks like it’s time to run after all. If you don’t have a back door use a window. Think of it as parkour. We’ll have some tips for that if you make it back. With a viable credit card, of course.

The cat’s meow

October 10, 2022

Miss Mia Sopaipilla recharges her batteries with a dash of solar power.

After a week of rain Miss Mia Sopaipilla was delighted to find some sunshine pouring through the back door this afternoon.

Me too. I got soaked during three rides last week, and not with sunshine, either. The kind of drenching that leaves you peeling off soggy kit in the garage and lubing the squeaky bits.

On the bike. The squeaky bits on the bike.

I managed to stay dry today while cycling home from Reincarnation after dropping the Subaru off for its semiannual health check. But I was not exactly toasty.

It was 40-something downtown when I rolled away from the shop, and I was wearing wool socks, tights over bibs, two long-sleeved jerseys, long-fingered gloves, and even a Sugoi skullcap under the old brain-bucket.

Happily, it was all uphill from there, so I wasn’t generating any wind chill. And the Russians weren’t rocketing my area of operation, though I found out later that Reincarnation had scored a direct hit on my wallet.

This is to be expected when your beater is old enough to vote. Also, it’s cheaper than a car payment and just might save me a long walk home at some point. I don’t always have a bike in the back and my cold-weather kit on.

Oculartober

October 4, 2022

HAL 9000? Eye of Sauron? Nope. The last of the morning coffee.

Some people say I suffer from ocular rectitis — a condition that causes the nerves of eyeballs and asshole to switch roles, leading to a shitty outlook on life — but I knew that the PNM project PNM says it has not been doing in the arroyo for the past couple of weeks would eventually provide some entertainment around El Rancho Pendejo beyond the monotonous “beep beep beep” of heavy equipment in reverse.

So color me unsurprised when Herself texted me at the grocery to say our Internet had gone down as she was trying to do a bit of eBay bidness before heading out on her own errands.

Not a PNM project. We were never here. Now you gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?

Now, our elderly ActionTec modem takes a conniption from time to time. But I knew this time would be different. Just ’cause I got the ocular rectitis doesn’t mean I’m blind, y’know.

And sure enough, when I got home, the DSL indicator on the modem was bright red. And it stayed that way through three reboots.

So I step outside, stick my head over the back wall, and ask one of the hard hats, “You guys didn’t happen to clip a cable by any chance? Our DSL is down.”

And yea, all was revealed to me. The backhoe giveth, and the backhoe taketh away.

Neither PNM nor CenturyLink* could give a rat’s ass about our little predicament, so it seems we will be MacGyvering our online presence here for at least a week. An iPhone 13 makes a swell hotspot, but Lord, does that shit ever burn through a battery.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, Eric Idle isn’t dead yet. Cue the crucifixion scene. …

* Props to Raoul at CenturyLink for getting us back up in running in less than 24 hours, not the week-plus we had expected. He was down in a hole on a rainy day, which is a good deal more like work than cycling a DSL modem/router on and off while swearing a lot.

Fall

September 28, 2022

An arroyo upstream from El Rancho Pendejo.

Fall indeed. Some might, when cycling at speed into such a mess.

But not Your Humble Narrator, a veteran cyclocrosser with the “mad skillz,” as the kids mostly don’t say anymore.

Morning temps are in the 50s now that autumn has arrived, with afternoons in the 70s. And last afternoon we got a half-inch of precip’ in about 15 minutes’ worth of rain and hail pelting down sideways out of the NNE.

Not a PNM project. You gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?

The sand and gravel from the neighborhood arroyos tend to go walkabout under such conditions and thus I rode a touring bike today, with fat tires and fenders.

Puddles there were also on a few of the foothills streets, one of them stretching from curb to curb, if the road had had curbs, which it did not.

The fat tires make short work of sloppy streets and the mudguards help keep the dread Brown Stripe off one’s bibs.

I might need them both again tomorrow. There is a sound of thunder. Could be the rumble of heavy equipment from the power project PNM says it’s not doing in our ZIP code, despite all evidence to the contrary. But I’m betting on more rain.

Tunnel vision

September 19, 2022

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is locked and loaded.

Everything old is new again.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla has rediscovered the joys of an old crinkle tube, some coarse wrapping paper, and a Wholeazon Amafoods shopping bag, all of which make fine sounds when run through, sprawled upon, or snuggled into.

Me, I likewise got back on the old hoss, metaphorically speaking, which is to say I started running again after giving my damaged toe a month of downtime.

Bikewise I hardly broke stride. Kept cranking out the 100-mile-plus weeks even with a pulverized piggie, and so far (knock on wood) I have avoided doing anything else inexplicably stupid to myself.

It’s nearly fall here in The Duck! City, but you’d hardly know it. Oh, the leaves are coming off the trees, but the weather widget says 87° in midafternoon and the hummers are still hitting the feeders like a cluster of knee-walking bog-trotters who just heard the barman call, “Time, gentlemen, time.”

Time, indeed.

A certain restlessness I ascribe to muscle memory. Come September Back In the Day® I would be in the early throes of cyclocross season, with a side of Interbike, and there would be much motoring and bicycling and running around to no particular purpose.

Your Humble Narrator at Dirt Demo circa 2005.

My Septembers are less hectic now. I did my last ’cross race in Bibleburg, way back in 2004, rocking a Steelman Eurocross but no spare bike, not even spare wheels. I rode to the course from the DogHaus, and when I flatted midrace, I simply replaced the tube and rode back home. It could be argued that I was not taking the whole thing seriously.

Thirteen years later I did my last Interbike. I lasted longer at that game because the finish-line payout was better and getting sockless drunk on the publisher’s dime was more or less a condition of employment.

But the publishers changed, and so did the game, and in January 2022 I retired, an event with all the significance of a mouse fart in a haboob.

I hadn’t expected to waltz offstage in the middle of a plague — which is over now, I understand, so, yay — but as the fella says, you go to retirement with the virology you have, not the virology you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Anyway, here it is September again and I still haven’t tapped my generous pension to buy a Peace Van and finally buckle down to the serious business of writing my great American road-trip story, “Travels with Snarly.”

Some days that Nobel Prize in Literature seems farther away than the finish line  with a slow leak and no spare. At least I’m still riding and running.

This bites

August 16, 2022

Glass don’t be even half full, yo.

It’s bleakly amusing that The New York Times water scribe is named Henry Fountain.

And that’s about the only giggle in the “news” that we’re draining the Colorado River like a parched gaggle of Draculas tapping a hot blonde while not doing much to answer the question, “Why does the Southwest have so many vampires working out on this one skinny gal?”

It should go without saying that when you’re long on bloodsuckers and short on arteries you’re gonna start running a deficit. Is it too late to hit the Home Depot for a shitload of wooden stakes and hammers?

My fellow Burqueño John Fleck is on the case as per usual. See “How We Got Into This Mess on the Colorado River,” and a “strongly worded letter” from John Entsminger of the Southern Nevada Water Authority about the failure to reach a deal on Colorado River cutbacks.

NPR also has a piece, from The Associated Press.

And yes, I know, having spent much of my life bouncing around four of the states that draw water from the Colorado River, that I am part of the problem. What can I tell you? I am a creature of the desert, known to howl at the moon of an evening.

The children of the night! What music they make!

Just call me Bozo Lugosi.