Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

Hot and cold

October 30, 2019

The backyard maple is giving up the ghost, just in time for Halloween.

Elections should not be held as the days grow shorter, darker and colder.

One is not inclined toward optimism or fellowship as the furnace begins clicking, on and off, on and off. Our better selves are very much not in evidence. What we’re thinking about is not how we might strive together to build a brighter future, but rather which of our neighbors we would kill and eat first when the power goes out, the grocery stores have been stripped of toothsome tidbits, and the backyard gardens have been grazed down to the bedrock.

Which is the scenic route toward saying, yeah, I punched the buttons that activate the Compound’s heating systems last night. Also, and moreover, I am wearing pants this morning. The horror … the horror.

But at least I am in my own house, unlike at least one of my people out in Santa Rosa. My man Merrill has fled south to his brother’s pad in Hell A, which may be called an improvement only because Hell A is not currently on the barbie. Yet.

When last heard from, Mayor Chris was sheltering in place and continuing his bid to become Commissioner Chris. More from that smoke-filled room as I hear it.

One wonders about the mood of the electorate in Sonoma County. If PG&E were a candidate for anything other than a vigorous tarring and feathering I would predict a massive beating that would make Nixon-McGovern look like a friendly rub-and-tug in a Healdsburg hot tub.

But who knows? The People are a fickle bunch, and winter is coming. They might just elect PG&E president.

Rough commute

October 26, 2019

That’s one way to beat the traffic at the Big I.

I mostly get to ride mostly whenever I please, so it’s always something of a shock to ride when circumstances dictate I do so.

Like, say, Tuesday, when it was pretty much the coldest morning we’ve had so far this fall.

How’s this for your basic socialist-realism selfie? “Forward, comrades!”

Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster needed her 30,000-mile checkup, so off we went to Reincarnation, down off 1st and Mountain.

And since I had things to do while the rig was on the lift, this meant (a) fetching a bike along for the 15-mile trip home and (2) digging out the winter kit to go with it — tuque, tights, long-sleeve jerseys, jacket, wool socks, long-fingered gloves, in short, everything save the shoe covers.

It was worth it, though. I got two rides in, the last considerably warmer than the first. And I saw a balloon sailing low along the North Diversion Channel Trail just south of I-40.

I wonder how often the pilot has to have his rig serviced. Makes me glad all my mechanicals occur at ground level. I bet AAA won’t tow a broken-down balloon.

Blind

October 15, 2019

Where’s the Turk? He was here just a minute ago, I’d swear it.

After a brief encounter with actual fall weather we’re back to what passes for normal here in the Duke City — heat and homicide.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) returned to his favored observation post upon the battlements, to wit, the ledge of our bedroom window.

His adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, has been shifting among various cozy spots — atop one of the Twin Towers, across a sun-splashed stretch of carpet next to the living-room coffee table, near the foot of the bed  — and sometimes burrows under the covers, where she adopts her alter ego of Lumpy the Bedbug.

There are worse places to be than astride the saddle of a Vespa on a sunny day.

A fella has to be careful where he sits on the bed when Lumpy’s in residence.

I was able to run in shorts and a T-shirt by 9:30 or thereabouts, chatted productively with a local bicycle retailer (road bikes are out, mountain bikes are in), and late in the day decided to take the Vespa for a spin to charge the battery and keep its vital fluids circulating.

The highlight of the day may have been this little news nugget, from my old hometown of Greality, Colorado. As I sez to one of my old UNC bros, I sez, ’tis often that we were crazed on the auld L-S-Dizzy Back in the Day®, but ne’er e’er did we try to bite a constable in the cojones. We were hopin’ for a nip at the coeds so.

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Hot plate, señores!

September 17, 2019

Nothing like a hot plate on a cool evening.

It’s not quite autumn yet, but what the hell. Behold the green chile chicken enchiladas with arroz verde.

’Tis the last rose of summer

November 12, 2018

It’s not a poppy, but it will have to do.

This is a very confused rose.

It popped up a few days ago on the southwest side of El Rancho Pendejo, which proved fortunate, because the northeast sector is getting flogged by a light snow driven by a heavy wind. The thermometer tells me it’s 26F outdoors, feels like 16.

If I felt like 16 I might go out for my usual Monday-morning run. But I don’t, so I won’t. It seems a fine day to stay indoors and practice the guitar, script the next podcast, or fiddle with technology.

Over the weekend I hopscotched the 2009 iMac from Yosemite to High Sierra, and while the patient briefly took a turn for the worse yesterday, this morning I am cautiously optimistic.

For some time the auld fella has suffered from a bad case of thermal mismanagement that for no good reason cues the fans to crank up to swamp-boat ferocity.

Neither the Apple Geniuses nor I have been able to find the root cause, so I figured what the hell, give it a Dr. Gumbyesque brain transplant, and if it croaks on the table, well, off to the boneyard with it. Cupertino won’t even take this bucket of bytes as a trade-in; Apple’s GiveBack program deems both it and our 2010 Mini suitable only for recycling.

But ’ee’s not dead yet, and while ’ee may not be foolin’ anyone, it seems ’ee still doesn’t want to go on the cart.

Reynolds and rabbitbrush

October 22, 2018

Blue and yeller, ’crossin’ feller. The mango Steelman Eurocross is practically camo’ in the rabbitbrush until you lamp those electric-blue Mavic Open Pros.

Killer diller chiller

October 15, 2018

It was chilly enough down here at the foot of the Sandias. Up at the top, where Herself and friend Kelli were, it was downright wintry. Photo | Herself

The temperature was in the 30s this morning when I decided to go for a run.

Rogue killers trying to shove me off by subtly inflicting a chill that blossoms into pneumonia? Who knows?

I bundled up and got after it anyway. Tights, tuque, the works. A fella can’t burn daylight, however feeble, just chillin’.

 

Days decrease, and autumn grows

October 10, 2018

Yesterday’s clouds were a harbinger of mildly unpleasant weather,
the sort one expects in October.

It’s that time of year again.

This morning, instead of going straight to The New York Times to see what deviltry Cheeto Benito has been up to while we slept, I cued up Weather Underground to find out what Thor has in store for us here in our little corner of the Duke City.

Also, I was wearing socks. And pants. O, the humanity.

I already miss my summer routine. Reveille at oh-dark-thirty as Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) leaps into my rack. After a brief exchange of the usual courtesies it’s up and into the Columbia shorts, guinea tee and Tevas for the trip to the kitchen, where I burn an English muffin for Herself, pour a cup of joe for myself, and top off Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s kibble.

Next, open the sliding glass doors and a kitchen window. Fresh air reminds me we have two cats who haven’t mastered the flush toilet. But the litter box will have to wait. First, the news. One foul chore at a time, please.

With the international, national, regional and local butt-nuggets exhumed, examined and expunged, and a second cup of coffee to wash down a snack of some sort, it’s time to generate a bit of bloggery and/or paying copy before embarking upon some healthy outdoor activity.

Here we have another indicator of the relentless passage of time, as reliable as falling leaves. Come autumn, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and Adventure Cyclist reduce their frequency of publication, and my income stream — hardly a raging torrent, even in the heart of the cycling season — becomes more of a dribble, the last warm sip from summer’s water bottle.

I delivered the video teaser of my Jones Plus SWB review to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, and yesterday the November “Shop Talk” cartoon went off to BRAIN. Now I’m fresh out of other people’s bikes to ponder, and there’s just one more ’toon to draw for 2018.

And that healthy outdoor activity? Come autumn, it’s as likely to be a run as a ride. This year I started jogging again in July; this lets me sort of sneak up on my knees, give them time to grow accustomed to the idea that we enjoy this sort of thing, before winter winnows our options.

It’s a useful fiction, one that keeps me in shorts a while longer.

The foggy dew

September 23, 2018

Uh oh, look out, it’s clouding up over the Sandias.

And boom! That’s it. Summer’s a goner.

I could feel it yesterday. The day was sunny but cool, and nobody would have sneered if I’d started my ride with arm warmers, even knee warmers. The hairy legs might have drawn a few hoots back in the day, but that was … well, back in the day.

“Yes indeed, this will do nicely,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla was inspecting the Winter Bunker on behalf of His Excellency, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment).

Spike the Terrorist Deer has slipped inside the wire a time or two in recent days and The Leader often feels it wise to devise strategy far from the distractions of frontline combat.

Today seemed a day to boil the breakfast earlyMcCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Twining’s Irish Breakfast tea, and like that there.

Why, yes, funny you should ask, Herself is still a-roving around County Sligo with her younger sister, inspecting waterfalls and poets’ graves, quaffing pints of the black, and shooting iPhone video of a harpist playing “The Foggy Dew,” one of the tunes collected from the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 by Edward Bunting, a 19-year-old organist from Armagh.

When I was 19 the only Harp I knew came in bottles. You don’t want to know what I was doing with me organ.