Archive for the ‘El Rancho Pendejo’ Category

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.

Just another manic Monday

July 20, 2020

Anybody else feel like their rhythm is a little off? Like you’re dancing with one foot in a bucket?

Makes it hard to shake your moneymaker, that’s for sure.

Today we had a routine AC/furnace check on The List, and in Plague Time these things are scheduled in a window rather than on the dot. Ours was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is a really big dot. Basically a picture window.

I took five at the Piedra Lisa parking lot to snap a quick pic while letting a fleet-footed woman blast past.

I didn’t like the view, but there it was. I usually do a medium-long hike on Mondays, but we both overslept and by the time the morning chores got done I had about 45 minutes to work with if the dude was closer to 10 than 2. Herself had the usual conga line of nightmares moonwalking through her office and I didn’t want to slip another foot-dragging zombie into the mix.

So, boom, I’m out, I’m back. Zip and zip and zip. So pro. No word from the dude. So I figure I’ll do a little light resistance training just ’cause. The phone rings halfway through, a number I don’t recognize, but I pick up on the off chance it’s the dude, which of course it is. He’s five minutes away and on the move.

Anyway, we passed the checkup. The heat heats and the cool cools. I managed a third of a hike and half of a weights session. Herself made bank. What’s not to like?

Speaking of which, here are two new recipes worth a look:

A simple no-cook pizza sauce from Kitchn. Herself likes these corn-meal pizza crusts from Vicolo and with two of those, this sauce, some mozzarella, a little leftover turkey-taco meat, and a handful of chopped black olives and mushrooms, we had two nights of dinner dialed in.

Turmeric and black-pepper chicken with asparagus, from Ali Slagle at The New York Times. This was really good. Simple and quick and versatile and really, really good. It goes into the rotation. But “serves four” me bollocks. The only reason we didn’t eat it all at one sitting was that we wanted some leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

The bad news: Our local Penzey’s Spices shop is closed. And that ominous oinking you’ve been hearing from Portland? It may be coming soon to a town near you.

Rebooted

March 11, 2020

If spring hasn’t quite sprung, well, it’s thinking about it.

It was a pretty pleasant morning yesterday in the Duke City, so I bit the bullet and ventured out for a short walk around the flattest parts of our neighborhood, which made it a very short walk indeed.

I did a bit with both crutches, and a bit with one, and a bit with none; chatted up a few neighbors who wished to plumb the depths of my stupidity; and finally headed back to the rancheroo for a spot of lunch.

Then I pulled off the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, leaned back in my chair, and put both dogs up on a footstool to rest awhile.

Just out of reach. Like a cat.

Not until I settled in and got comfortable did the smoke alarm go off.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Etc.

So I put on the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, levered myself out of the chair, crutched into the entryway … and it stopped.

“Turkish, are you fucking with me? I asked. The question seemed relevant, if a tad mystical.

For starters, as all cat people know, your cat will never assign you some vital task until you are settled in and comfortable.

Second, the night Turkish died, as Herself and I were settling into bed, and I rested my right hand on the spot where our big, big boy would usually lounge for a bit, the bathroom light suddenly turned itself on, and then off.

Now there was this. And it wasn’t lost on me that I had instructed that my old comrade’s remains be cremated.

I crutched into the kitchen for a fresh battery, because why the hell not, and the smoke detector started up again. So I returned with the battery and a small stepladder, and — praying there wasn’t a giant, pissed-off, blue-eyed spectral cat in a cloud of smoke up there somewhere  — made the swap without incident.

Turkish always liked the high spots.

 

The deer hunter

June 30, 2018

Our new lawn-mowing service.

This little guy materialized in the back yard last evening as Herself and I were enjoying a refreshing beverage on the patio and giving the cats a good airing. Never even saw him hop The Wall.

But Bambi appeared instantly on the radar of Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Force).

His aide-de-camp, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, has always worn a harness when she goes outdoors, and as the interloper arrived she was quartered on the southeast side of the compound, tucked away in the shady remains of the irises, near a favorite scratching stump.

But El Turko was free-ranging it to the northeast, inspecting the perimeter, and he froze, watching the interloper nosh on his lawn, as he had been doing himself just a few moments earlier.

It was something of a moment. We didn’t want to extract His Excellency and risk disturbing the deer at his dinner, the pickings being slim in the foothills. But we didn’t want El Turko to choose the better part of valor, leap The Wall, and beat a strategic retreat to Placitas, either. Until this evening he had only monitored trespassing deer through the stout double-pane windows of the ultra-secure Turkenbunker.

Then abruptly the dilemma resolved itself. The deer turned his back on the Turk — which is almost always a bad idea, as we have learned through bitter and painful experience — and the old soldier charged into battle.

“Santiago!” he may have screamed, but probably not.

Bambi bolted for The Wall, but a heartbeat too late. El Turko gave him a good swat before he cleared it.

Afterward I saw to it that the field marshal had an extra helping of Feline Greenies with the usual spartan rations he permits himself in order to stay in fighting trim. The best defense is a strong offense.