Archive for the ‘El Rancho Pendejo’ Category

It’s nobody’s business but the Turk’s

November 26, 2022

I ain’t opening that door. I’ve seen “Poltergeist.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla was being a pill as I performed my coffee ritual this morning, so after a couple sips to get the motor running I figured I’d best tend to the litter boxes.

There’s one in the guest bathroom’s tub and another in the spare room where we contain Mia’s restless nature at night. This two-holer setup is a relic of the Before-Time, when we had two cats. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) insisted upon having his own personal latrine, and one feels obliged to give a 16-pound cat pretty much anything he deems mission-critical.

I dealt with the tub box first, and yep, it had seen action overnight. Then I headed for the spare room and noticed the door was closed.

Well, hell, I thought. No wonder Mia was pitching a bitch. She was locked out of her quarters. So I opened the door, gave that litter box a cursory inspection, and … it had been used too.

So I cleaned that one up, hauled what had become a sizable bag of feline exhaust outside to the trash, came back inside and asked Herself, “Why’d you close the door to Mia’s room?”

“I didn’t close the door,” she sez to me she sez.

“Well, I sure didn’t,” sez I.

A moment of silence.

“Mother?” she inquires, glancing around.

No reply.

I doubt it was Herself the Elder. She was never much of an eater, and while she had a great head of hair she wasn’t a furry, barring the occasional chin whisker. Plus, I don’t think her shade could squeeze into that litter box, which has a lid on it. It would have been undignified, even in extremis.

When Turks attack.

No, I’m inclined to suspect the Turk. My old comrade had an interesting sense of humor that encompassed leaping at you from hidey-holes, flashing the bathroom lights at us the night he died, and triggering a hallway smoke detector that requires a stepladder to reach as I was rehabbing a broken ankle.

Now there was a cat who found a loo with a lid to be an awful tight fit. He had to poke his blue-eyed brain-box out of the one we kept downstairs in Bibleburg. We called his bathroom breaks “driving the Turkentank.”

When you gotta go, you gotta go, they say. But if you’ve gone, do you gotta come back? If you do, leave the door open, or at least crack a window. Maybe light a match. I’m trying to enjoy my coffee here.

The Commander inspects his (purely defensive) chemical-weapons stockpile.

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.

The Dog, the Cat, and the Voices

August 2, 2022

Dark-thirty at the DogHaus.

Tuesday is “Pay Your Dues Day” at El Rancho Pendejo.

Herself gets up at stupid-thirty to prepare for the first of two weekly 10-hour shifts at the Death Star, and somebody has to make her breakfast and lunch. I keep hoping this somebody will turn up and clock in, but nix.

So I crawl out of my coffin like a dime-store Dracula with the insomnia, head out to that kitchen, and rattle those pots and pans.

By this time Herself has brewed a cup of what she calls “coffee,” given Miss Mia Sopaipilla an amuse-bouche, and returned to her sanctum sanctorum. So I toast a thick slice of bread, slather it with Irish butter and French jam, and deliver it posthaste. Miss Mia gets a butter-finger out of this and another small helping of cat food.

Next it’s lunch, which is usually leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. But honey-chipotle chicken tacos with black beans and Mexican rice seemed a tad aromatic for a business lunch, and so this morning I whipped up a basic tuna salad and built her a sandwich with provolone, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of watermelon chunks.

Miss Mia is always very interested in tuna or anything even vaguely tuna-adjacent, so she got a couple tidbits in the process.

After Herself hits the door running at 5:30 I’m free to do whatever. Going back to bed always seems attractive, but so does a midafternoon nap, and what the hell, I’m already up.

So I have a couple mugs of authoritative black joe and sit in the dark living room for a while, half-listening as the birds sing up the sun, Miss Mia snores on the back of the couch, and the voices in my head start tuning up.

This is the sweet spot of a Tuesday morning. No NPR, no Zoom meetings, no phone calls, no online exercise/yoga classes … just the Dog, the Cat, and the Voices. And the distant grumble of traffic, which is someone else’s bête noire.

Going nowhere fast is just my speed on a Tuesday morning. I’ve paid the toll and everything.

Autumn, leaves

September 25, 2021

The third and best season is upon us.

The autumnal equinox seemed an auspicious occasion for the flushing out of headgear.

I hadn’t left the confines of Bernalillo County since October 2019, and the walls of El Rancho Pendejo had passed the time by slowly creeping inward. Most people wouldn’t notice. But I am a Professional Journalist and know a hoodoo when I see one (our mantra is hoodoo, what, when, where, and why).

So I got out of Dodge. Threw too much camping gear into Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster, left the MacBook Pro where it sat, and sputtered off to see if all my long-neglected outdoorsy stuff still worked. Just in case something didn’t, I planned to be gone for not too long, to nowhere too remote, and not too far away. I favor multiple redundancy systems, but still, just because you’re paranoid, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

Hoodat?

The great thing about car camping is you can overpack without flattening your tires, feet, and/or spinal column. So I took two sleeping pads (Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp and ProLite Plus), and I layered them sumbitches between me, the tent floor, and the ground, just because I could.

You wouldn’t want to backpack that BaseCamp, which goes about 3.6 elbees in the large model, but it is the shit for car camping.

I didn’t double up on tents, going with one Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. Big Agnes says you can fit two people in there, but not if one of them is me. The voices in my head take up a lot of square footage when they come out at night. But what a great one-person tent. Sets up fast, comes down even faster. Just the thing for that third season, which is my favorite.

The bag was a Marmot Elite 30, which is plenty toasty for a hot sleeper like Your Humble Narrator, but a tad on the snug side. It’s kind of like wearing a puffy coat with a hood, but in a duster length.

For a backpack, I chose the Gregory Stout 45. If I need to carry any more gear than fits in a Stout 45, I ain’t going. I may be a jackass, but I ain’t no burro. This is one comfortable pack for traveling fast and light (or for fetching your gear from the car to the campsite to minimize the back-and-forth).

However, since I was car camping, not backpacking, I brought along two items that didn’t fit in the Gregory: a camp chair from L.L. Bean and my elderly Coleman two-burner propane stove.

Now, I have had more than a few camp stoves over the years, from an MSR RapidFire isobutane burner that for years was my main road-trip rest-area stove, to itty-bitty bikepacking boogers like the Soto Micro Regulator, which fits with its canister in a Snow Peak Trek 700 titanium pot. But man, that old Coleman does the business. It was our backup cooker for when the utilities went south up Weirdcliffe way.

Like everything and everyone else, the Coleman two-burner has been through some changes over the years — my old model has a piezo igniter — but it’s still getting rave reviews, and it’s still as cheap as the dirt you’ll sleep on.

And the Subie? Glad you asked. Seventeen years old and she’s still kickin’. If I don’t drive like the Road Warrior, she won’t set me afoot in the desert. That’s the deal we struck, and so far so good. But sometimes I take a bicycle along just in case (see paranoid, above).

An ominous rattle developed on the return trip, but it turned out to be coming from the plastic garage-door opener clipped to the driver’s side visor.

They say you can’t go home again, but it opened the door for me just like always, so in I went.

Hello, sunshine.

Mission accomplished

August 31, 2021

The backyard maple is shedding leaves, and it’s not even Labor Day yet.

’Twas a glorious day to ride the bike in ’Burque.

Nobody told me I had waited too long, or left too soon, or was just plain doing it wrong. That I had left my wife and cat behind raised nary an eyebrow among the chattering classes.

This may be because El Rancho Pendejo remained firmly under the control of said wife and cat; their autocratic ways are not exactly breaking news. Herself has been in the driver’s seat since 1990, and Miss Mia Sopaipilla has been a key member of the ruling class for nearly half that time.

In my absence they do exactly as they please, which is pretty much what they do when I’m around, the United Nations and Geneva Conventions be damned.

The only uproar arose when I returned after 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

“What’s to eat around here?” they yowled. The knives were out, along with the forks. Can a call for comment from The New York Times be far behind?

It’s a family affair

July 24, 2021

Beth, Herself the Elder, and Herself.

We’re halfway through round three of The Visitation, this time hosting Herself’s elder sister Beth.

The sisters have been working mom over pretty good, inflicting a pedicure, salon cut, shopping, and restaurant meals.

Me, I’ve been keeping my head down, trying to stay out of trouble. This is not easy, with three women barking orders and nowhere to hide. Four, if you count Miss Mia Sopaipllla, who is not shy about expressing herself either.

The photo is courtesy of Beth’s giant iPhone 12 and its gee-whiz camera array, which makes my original SE look like a Mesopotamian wax tablet and stylus.

The meaning of life

July 15, 2021

We enjoyed quite the early morning rainstorm today, with thunder and lightning. Makes for one hell of an alarm clock.

Busy, busy, busy. Even a slacker has to take hold now and then.

We have a dispersed conga line of kinfolk snaking through El Rancho Pendejo, all of them from Herself’s side of the family, come to visit Herself the Elder between plagues.

The first of four visitations occurred yesterday; some very nice folks out of Texas, who took time away from a visit to Pagosa Springs to pop down and say howdy. A bit of tidying up was mandated, because somebody around here is remarkably untroubled by clutter (not Herself).

Round two commences Sunday with more visitors from the Lone Star State (Herself the Elder was born in Nacogdoches back in 1933). Then Herself’s eldest sis pops in from Maryland for a week starting Wednesday. Finally, yet another Texican niece drops by sometime in August.

Meanwhile, The Work goes on, as it must. I banged out a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News yesterday, learning in the process that the Outside+ Global AdventureStuff Conglomerate had snatched up a couple more properties, Pinkbike and CyclingTips.

This, as Monty Python has taught us, “brings us once again to the urgent realization of just how much there is still left to own.”

Me, I’m still a rental. And something of a fixer-upper, too. Still, I’m open to offers. …

Masks and margaritas

May 17, 2021

I didn’t have a mask to keep bugs out of my teefers
on the descent of Tramway Road.

Firsts:

Hey, Spike, you missed a few flowers.

• Riding the bike without a mask. That was fun. I’ve been half-stepping it, draping a Buff around my neck, but yesterday I left it at home. I’m still all buffed up; I’m just not Buffed up. Ho, ho.

• Having people over for drinks. Yup. Couple friends from the ’hood who are likewise all shot up came by for strawberry margaritas and a bit of guacamole. We hung out on the patio, shooting the breeze and enjoying what little foliage Spike the Terrorist Deer found unpalatable.

Two little things, to be sure. But satisfying nonetheless after a very long year indeed. Next up: Dancing on Sundays!

Hardest jigsaw puzzle ever

May 16, 2021

This reminds me of the visual migraines I used to get as a teenager.

So. There I was, doing a bit of yard maintenance with the old string trimmer, when I heard a pop.

The first thing that comes to mind in these parts is, “Did someone just try to bust a cap in my ass?” So I scan the yard for assailants and see bupkis, unless one of the house finches at the feeder has a 9mm Beretta concealed somewhere beneath his feathers.

Then I have a look behind me.

Oopsie.

My guess is the string trimmer found a small chunk of brick paver or a stone or whatever and pitched a Shohei Ohtani fastball at the sliding glass door. Right on the money it was, too. And I do mean money.

In other yard news, the wildife cam reports that Spike the Terrorist Deer and a pal popped round last night to eat most of the roses and sample the immature fruit on the ornamental pear tree while a raccoon inspected the grass for interesting tidbits. Just two more indicators that yards are a plot by the home and garden/psychiatry/whiskey cartels to create a perpetual-motion money machine.

The natives are restless

May 3, 2021

I wasn’t even the Mad Dog when I lived here in 1980, the year I worked for The Arizona Daily Star. My nick then was “Shady.”

An Albuquerque native recently told me that he’s had just about enough of the place.

With an eye toward putting the old hometown in the rear view he’s been spending some time in Pagosa Springs, Colo., which he likes quite a bit. Except for the part about winter, which Pagosa Springs actually has. Here in New Mexico we call that season “Not On Fire (Probably).”

Elsewhere in Colorado, my man Hal Walter reports that pretty much every property in Crusty County has been sold, except for his, and that’s only because his little rancheroo is not on the market.

Hal has likewise soured on winter, possibly because up there it drags on into May, and occasionally, June.

“It is foggy and snowing here,” he told me this morning. “It will not do.”

It will not do. The thought has caused me to pack my bags more than once. As a (chronological) adult I have (briefly) settled in Alamosa, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Denver, and Weirdcliffe, Colo.; Springfield, Mo.; Winooski, Vt.; Tucson, Ariz.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Española, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque, N.M.

Sometimes it was professional; other times, personal. More than once it was simply the place. It will not do. So off I’d go, like a roach from under the ’fridge, looking for some place that would.

Each bailout involved a little more baggage, both actual and psychological. When I fled Springfield in 1972 I had a backpack for possessions and a thumb for transportation. Forty-two years later it took two cars and a professional moving company to get us from Bibleburg to ’Burque.

It will not do. The thought seems to be occurring to quite a few people who have taken a good look around at the places where they’ve hunkered down during the Year of the Plague and wondered just what the fuck is it that they’re doing there anyway.

Any of you folks planning to relocate? Got a dream destination in mind, or is it basically “Anywhere but here?” Give us your thoughts in comments.