Archive for the ‘Celebrations’ Category

The reason for the season?

December 18, 2022

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

The War on Christmas continues apace. And leading the charge: preachers?

From The New York Times:

This year, church leaders are grappling with what may seem like an odd dilemma: Christmas Day falls on a Sunday for the first time since 2016, and that’s a problem.

“Christmas morning and Sunday morning are sort of in tension with each other,” said Timothy Beal, a professor of religious studies at Case Western Reserve University. “Most people who are churchgoers think of Christmas morning not as a religious time but as a family time: stockings and brunches and staying in your pajamas until midday or later.”

In other words, Ho ho ho, Baby Jesus. Happy birthday and all, but come Sunday morning we’ll be in our jammies, worshiping that golden plastic calf from the Church of St. Costco. Feed it four D-cells and it moos “Away in a Manger.”

• • •

If you happen to find yourself with a little change left over after your holiday shopping’s all finished, please consider kicking a bit of the extra to Charlie Cunningham’s GoFundMe, which Jacquie Phelan uses to help underwrite his care following an awful crash in 2015. She would welcome your warm wishes and cold cash.

• • •

And finally, John Fleck comes away from a Sin City water convo more hopeful that the states can reach some class of a compromise over Colorado River water use — management based on inflows rather than reservoir levels — before the feds step in.

Now that would be a useful Christmas present. Not this year — but maybe next?

A friendly gesture

November 24, 2022

We’re taking out the garbage, but we’ll be back later for some observations and a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat (if Officer Obie doesn’t get us en route).

While you wait, walk into the shrink, wherever you are, and sing a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant.”

Scary monsters

October 31, 2022

Nothing says Halloween like a plug-in plastic punkin.

I used to love Halloween. It was my favorite holiday by far. Who doesn’t want to be someone or something else for at least one day per annum?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird … it’s a plane … no, it’s The Kid with the Giant Head!

Mom made more than a few costumes for me: Superman, Mike “Sea Hunt” Nelson, even one of my own cartoon characters, Loadedman.

I can’t remember how the hell I talked her into that one. Surely I never let her read any of the comics. They did not promise a future of fame and fortune for Your Humble Narrator.

Eventually I started cobbling together my own getups, but found my options limited by my everyday appearance, which was long on hair. The pirate thing is easy, but gets boring after a few voyages.

So I stretched myself a bit. I was Chihuahua Guevara one year, and Jesus another. The Che getup was easy — basically pirate, but with assault rifle and beret instead of cutlass and bandana — but the Prince of Peace required a little more skull sweat.

An early Eighties Halloween in Oregon

Chihuahua Guevara, Fido Castro, take your pick.

It was a combo act. A newpaper colleague and I planned to crash a divinity-school party as the Deities from New Jersey, with accents to match.

Robes and halos were a snap, and I used green trash-bag ties to fashion a crown of thorns, but we couldn’t talk anyone into joining us as the Holy Ghost. Something about “blasphemy.”

Yeah, right. Like we weren’t already going to Hell for running an afternoon newspaper.

One aspect short of a Trinity, we were forced to improvise and adapt. In short, to evolve. We bought a white helium-filled balloon and slapped a happy-face sticker on it. Hallelujah. The Lord helps those who help themselves.

At another newspaper I managed to catch the publisher napping one All Hallows’ Eve. I throttled back my prodigious beard, then braided my hair and stuffed it down the collar of a very pro dress shirt. Took out the earring, added tie, slacks, and footwear, and went to work.

Well sir, I don’t mind telling you the publisher was impressed. Shook my hand and congratulated me on finally joining the human race.

Later I left for lunch and returned clad in motorcycle-outlaw finery — all hair and earring and black boots and denim, including a vest with homemade “Hell’s Editors” colors on the back and a “No Morals” button on the front.

The publisher subsequently went dotty. I like to think I contributed in my own small way.

These days I mostly play it straight. We hang around the house and wait for all the little goblins to pop round, screeching for sugar.

If anybody asks what I’m doing for Halloween I tell them I’m going as an old white guy. I can’t imagine anything scarier.

Rode hard and put away wet

October 17, 2022

The sky was crying as we motored home.

Can a weekend be both long and short at the same time?

The answer is yes, if you’re driving from The Duck! City to Manitou Springs and back again to join some old comrades in honoring the spirit of one who’s gone west.

The friends and family of John O’Neill crowded into Mansions Park in Manitou on Saturday to eat, drink, and swap tales of a grumpy old sumbitch who loved his wife Cindy, dogs, running, the Three Stooges, mountain biking, and margaritas, and who left the party far too early at 69.

Herself and I had to think fast to arrange the 400-mile trip north. Do we drive up the day of the celebration, spend the night, and come back on Sunday? Or the day before, spend the night, and then race home right after the gathering on Saturday? Who’s going to keep an eye on Miss Mia Sopaipilla now that she’s an only cat? We’re short a couple of neighbors, one who’s off with the family on her own road trip and another who just had knee-replacement surgery. Decisions, decisions. …

In the end we arranged a room, engaged a pro pet-sitter to check in on Mia, got up at stupid-thirty on Saturday, and roared north in the recently reconditioned Fearsome Furster, making it to Bibleburg with just enough time to spare for a detour down Memory Lane, which in this case led to Bear Creek Regional Park, where John and I and the rest of the Mad Dogs put on so many cyclocrosses Back in the Day®.

From there we drove straight to Manitou, grabbed a parking spot across the street from the park, puzzled out the robo-meter (Is everything smart these days except me?) and did a quick bit of recon.

The uniform of the day was to be flannel shirts and jeans, and we soon saw one, then another, and another. Many, many of them, as the hour approached. We helped shift a few picnic tables and folding chairs around, but there were not nearly enough of either to accommodate the swelling flannel-and-denim herd, which spilled over the designated parking spots and onto the lawn.

There were tales and tears, laughter and applause, a slideshow and still photos, food and drink. We paid our respects to Cindy and to John’s Colorado Running Company partner Jeff Tarbert, and caught up with a smattering of cycling and running buddies from The Before-Time, when the Mad Dogs had a good deal less gray in their muzzles and more glide in their stride.

Time is a toll road, and the longer your journey, the more descansos you pass.

We couldn’t find a way to attend a remembrance for our B-burg bro’ Steve Milligan, a sharp wit felled by an aggressive cancer in 2020, at age 73, just as he and his wife were preparing to enjoy their retirement.

I was able to make it to Denver this past July to say a belated adios to my first editor in the cycling racket, Tim Johnson, who worked long and hard to help build VeloNews into the preeminent bike-racing mag’ it became after Inside Communications acquired the title and moved it from Brattleboro to Boulder in 1989. Early-onset Alzheimer’s devoured what remained of Tim in November 2021, at 63, after gnawing away at him for years.

Now, I am not a believer in the Next World. I’m not certain I believe in this one. But I found solace in these remembrances and the sheer number of celebrants they drew. One person can make a difference. The ripples from their passage through our lives spread far and wide, lifting many a lesser vessel.

They say you’re not supposed to make a big wake by the dock, “they” being the slackers bronzing their buns on the boards. The only time those posers get their feet wet is when they piss on their flip-flops.

The big boys jump right the hell off that dock. Make a huge splash, the sort of cannonball into the deeps that will have people talking and laughing and toasting your memory long after you’re gone.

School’s never really out

May 28, 2022

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Right. Time for some good news from the school front.

Today, Harrison Jake Walter will graduate from the Custer County Schools. He’s bound for Colorado Mountain College, with a couple of scholarships in hand.

Some scoff at the proverb that “it takes a village” to raise a child, but I think it was provably true in this instance. Custer County had Harrison’s back for 18 years, and his parents, Hal and Mary, will be the first to tell you that this was not always easy.

So, gassho to Harrison, Hal, and Mary. And also to the school, its students, and their community.

College is the next journey. There will be bumps in the road. But this is the nature of roads. The Great Way for Harrison and the rest of us is one step after another.

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.

Hot lap, señores!

March 28, 2022

On your mark, get set — go!

Zoom, off we go for another circuit of Old Sol. Here’s hoping it’s not the bell lap. If it is, I don’t think I’m gonna finish in the money.

The birthday bash was low-key. A couple of phone calls and texts, a few choruses of “Happy Birthday,” and a great big ol’ green chile cheeseburger with bacon, white cheddar, and fries at the Range Cafe. This is something I’d never cook for myself, so yay, etc.

That’s a lot of comics rat there, Skeezix.

Herself, knowing my history with comics, scored me the collected “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins. I was a superhero fiend early on, starting with DC and moving on to Marvel, then diverted to the underground comics for some years before losing track of the medium for an extended period.

When “Watchmen” came along in the mid-Eighties I was into changing newspapers like underwear and racing bicycles, and never heard a peep about it. I found Zack Snyder’s movie incomprehensible — Terry Gilliam had been tapped to direct but deemed the comic “unfilmable” and bailed — but I loved the HBO miniseries, so I’m looking forward to examining the original source material.

Got the 68-minute bike ride in on the trails around Elena Gallegos Open Space, and was lucky to escape unscathed for another lap of the sun. It looked like the Big I at the cocktail hour on Friday, is what.

Of course, back when I was still a man, instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would’ve ridden my age in miles, not minutes. But the rides were shorter then, and didn’t burn quite so much daylight.

Hell, I didn’t get my burger on until 2 in the peeyem as it was. If I’da gone for 68 miles I’da been having it for breakfast this morning.

Spring, forward!

March 13, 2022

Them ol’ Sandia Mountains blues.

Today we take our text from the Gospel According to the Rev. Ken Layne of Desert Oracle Radio:

“Despair eats away at our souls. The most Orwellian thing we can do is wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, “I wonder how the war is going today.’”

I woke up this morning and said to myself, “I wonder where I should ride today.”

Yesterday was Herself’s (mumble-mumblest) birthday, and we celebrated with Herself the Elder, sister Beth, and pal Sue. The eating was medium-light and required assembly, not cookery: smoked salmon and shrimp, various cheeses and crackers, guacamole and chips, and a selection of desserts from the Range Cafe. I slapped a candle in a slice of key lime pie, lit ’er up (the candle, not the pie) and we all sang “Happy Birthday.”

Today, I feel like springing forward on a bike of some sort. The weather is supposed to be stellar and if you miss one of these days you’ll forever be one behind.

Ho ho ho

December 25, 2021

Why the long shadow?

December 21, 2021

Gandalf the Grey? Nah. Gradaigh the Groady.

No, it’s not some dark twist on the old “a horse walks into a bar” joke.

It’s solstice! Short day, low sun, long shadows. Huzzah, etc.

Don’t forget your cap, squire.

I start carrying a cycling cap on rides this time of year. Generally I get a late start, because it’s not exactly toasty out there in the mornings, even in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert. And if I’m headed home into that low sun come midafternoon, I want some sort of eyeshade so I can see who’s trying to kill me.

Likewise on hikes I favor a broad-brimmed hat, either a Carhartt crushable boonie or a Broner fedora if I’m feeling stylish.

For runs I go back to the cycling cap — not the Rivendell, but a beat-up Campagnolo model that is so old I can’t recall where or how I acquired it, since I’ve never been a Campy man. I usually fetch a light Sugoi watch cap along too, and wear one while tucking the other into my waistband. Got to keep the brain-box warm since I don’t drink the antifreeze no mo’.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo. …

Just remember to keep moving, like the Earth around the sun, and the Milky Way around the amazing and expanding universe. Don’t crouch indoors like a gargoyle, puzzling out that goddamn WordPress block editor or how long it’s been since your last shot and whether you dare have your great-aunt Fannie over for tea and biscuits. Get out there and chase yourself around.

I know, it’s dark out there. It’s dark when you get up, dark when you go to bed, and in between it’s just dark.

But keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. While you’re at it, you might pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth. And keep one hand on your liver.

Good night, moon.