Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

¡Feliz año nuevo!

January 1, 2020

Another one bites the dust.

Well, here we are. 2020. A whole new year to play with. It’s like bringing that new bike home from the shop. Can’t wait to take it out for a spin.

Actually, I’m in no rush. It’s still below freezing out there at the moment, and it wasn’t much warmer when I took an old bike for a spin yesterday afternoon.

It was a Steelman Eurocross, and the only reason it and I were on the trails was to squeeze one final drop of fun from the old year. There was a chilly wind from the north, and I was wearing my heavy-duty bib tights, two long-sleeve polypro undershirts, a stout long-sleeve winter jersey, tuque plus cycling cap, winter gloves, wool socks, and winter shoes.

The trails were just a bit tacky, which was fine, especially when I took a detour through a gravel wash. This is a long, gradual uphill, and not ideal for 33mm tires in dry conditions unless you’re Belgian or Dutch. I put ’er in 36×28 and ground me some gravel, just like the Kool Kidz do.

All in all this proved a relaxing interlude between bouts of tech support at Herself the Elder’s place. She’s been having trouble getting her iPhone and hearing aids to make nice together via Bluetooth. The cable-TV setup is likewise challenging. Once again we find engineers making things more complex than they need to be, just because they can.

“Lookit me, I’m engineering!” Indeed you are, Poindexter, and I hope your granny writes you out of her will.

So, yeah, studying the catechism of elder tech, pondering the mysteries. Lacking faith, but doing the works in hopes of enlightenment.

After some success that can be described only as limited Herself and I came home to El Rancho Pendejo, warmed up some leftovers, watched a bit of standup on Netflix, and called it a night long before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Tomorrow, we agreed, would be another day. Year. Whatevs. Where the gravel at?

What won’t stay down, must come up

November 20, 2019

“Patrick O’Grady to the white courtesy phone. …”

Well, this has been quite the week.

Herself the Elder came to town Saturday with Beth, the eldest daughter, and the next few days were your basic whirlwind of activity: getting her settled in the assisted-living place; acquiring and configuring a TV that was too smart for anyone’s good; rounding up an adjustable bed and all the other bits that make a room a home; doing battle with the medical-industrial complex; and meeting the staff and other residents.

It was going pretty smoothly, all things considered, until Monday evening, when I contracted some variety of nuclear gut-rumbler, and the less you know about that, the better.

Then Herself got it yesterday, which meant she couldn’t go to work this morning or drive Beth to the airport at 3:30 a.m. In the rain. Because it always rains at stupid-thirty when a fella who has spent the last 36 hours cuddling the commode suddenly finds himself drafted to drive to the airport at 3:30 a.m. In the rain.

Anyway, Herself the Elder and Beth seem to have dodged whatever floored me and Herself, so, yay. We are taking light refreshment and shambling around El Rancho Pendejo like the living dead. And I finally got caught up on HBO’s “Watchmen,” if getting caught up means continuing to wonder just what in the sweet holy motherfuck this thing is about.

Now I have to catch up on the news, which likewise. Pray for me.

Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

This one goes out to every aging child who, come Veterans Day, misses the old man (or old lady, for that matter).

Or maybe you just miss Steve Goodman.

Happy birthday to Herself the Elder

November 5, 2019

Herself the Elder and Herself the Younger.

Herself the Elder celebrated a birthday today with two of three daughters and one son-in-law (not me).

I’d never tell a lady’s age, but rumor has it she first appeared on the scene in the same year as White Sands National Monument, Esquire magazine, and the Marx Brothers Movie “Duck Soup.”

“I didn’t come here to be insulted!”

“That’s what you think.”

Anyway, a delicious seafood luncheon was had, “Happy Birthday” was sung by a son-in-law not in attendance (me, via FaceTime), and now the birthday girl and her middle daughter are kickin’ it back at the crib.

Which will not be her crib much longer. With the Not-So-Great Pumpkin poised to become the apostheosis of Florida Man, Herself the Elder will be abandoning the Sunshine State and setting up shop in the Land of Enchantment. She’s not overly fussy as regards neighbors, but one must have some standards.

Herself the Elder should be in residence here in ’Burque by Thanksgiving. Seafood will not be on the menu. Once she realizes we’re all sand and no ocean she’ll probably join a club and beat me over the head with it.

The river of dreams

July 12, 2018

Lately dreams are sliding right out of my brain-pan as I awaken, like eggs from a non-stick skillet.

It’s slightly irksome, on a par with an overzealous server who whisks your plate away before you’ve mopped up the final toothsome tidbits. “Hey, I was still savoring that. …”

I’m pretty sure I’m being entertained as I sleep, but maybe it’s a lowbrow sort of dreaming, like some off-brand Netflix movie you’re trying to describe for a friend.

“It was pretty good. It had whatsisface in it, you know, that guy who’s in everything, and there was that gal from what the hell’s that TV show that never really took off? It wasn’t a rom-com but there weren’t any car chases or fight scenes either. It was based on a book by that dude from Spokane, or is it Reno? You know the one. No, not that one. The other one. Can’t remember the name of it but yeah, it was pretty good.”

Or maybe the dreams are simply being overwhelmed by reality, like the aftermath of an election. Herself is still in Flawduh, taking care of business mom-wise, and so instead of lounging around in the sack of a morning, reviewing the work my subconscious did overnight, I have to get up, feed and water the cats, empty the dishwasher and the litter box, make the coffee, and like that there.

Speaking of cats, ours will be giving me poor marks on Yelp. Herself is generally up and at ’em around 4:30, but in her absence I don’t spring into action until 6. None of us has a job, and we’re not going anywhere fast, so what’s the rush?

Try explaining that to a cat sometime. They have a finely honed sense of justice, which they perceive as “just us.” You can see them mentally counting down the days until you croak of an aneurysm while reading The New York Times and they finally get to eat your lips.

We should sit like a cat

July 9, 2018

“I heard there are alligators in Florida,” says Darby. “I’ll be taking my meals right here, thank you.” Photo: Herself

“If anything is more irresistible than Jesus, it’s Mickey.”

Carl Hiaasen, “Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World.”

Herself the Elder has gone to Mickey.

It happened the way Ernest Hemingway described going bankrupt in “The Sun Also Rises” — “gradually and then suddenly.” One minute she’s in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the next, boom! Mouse Country. It was that quick. Except for when it wasn’t.

Herself the Elder retired a couple years back and decided shortly thereafter that it might be nice to be closer to one of her three daughters. I could dig it, as I live fairly close to one of them myself.

She checked out a few places in the Duke City, and did likewise in the Greater Orlando Mousetropolitan Area, and unless you acquire a concealed-carry permit, a theft-proof auto and an ocean with attached beach, Florida is going to win that matchup two falls out of three.

And then things just sort of stalled out, because moving is a huge pain in the ass and doing nothing is always an option. As far as I’m concerned, anyway. Gives a fella time to think.

“Why did you sit around all day?”

“I am the Buddha known as the Quitter.”

Jack Kerouac, “The Dharma Bums”

This laissez-faire approach doesn’t work for everyone, of course. It seems particularly ill-suited to most women of the female persuasion, who appear to have an innate compulsion to take hold while the menfolks sit around scratching themselves, farting, and hooting contentedly. And thus, eventually, the creaky familial machinery started rumbling to life.

Beth, the Florida daughter, stood, rolled up her sleeves and said something to the effect of, “Are we doing this or what?” HtE replied in the affirmative, a strategery was devised, and they were off to the wars.

Herself booked a flight to Florida to help set up the new digs. Beth ordered up the movers and jetted to Oak Ridge to supervise the packing up, then flew back with HtE in tow. And Heather, the Tennessee daughter, collaborated with family friend Janet to chauffeur Darby the cat to Mousesylvania by auto.

It’s not that simple, of course. Nothing is. But for the moment, everyone’s settling in. Even Darby, who was not consulted about any of this.

We should

sit like a cat

and wait for the door

to open.

“Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry,” by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison

Holy macaroni!

May 12, 2018

Good God, what a motley crew. No wonder I drank. I bet this photo wound up on bulletin boards in newspaper HR offices nationwide, bearing a red stamp reading “DO NOT HIRE.”

Herself and I celebrated 28 years of unholy matrimony this morning with the traditional “Happy Anniversary” dance in the kitchen.

And what a long, strange tripping of the light fantastic it’s been, too. When we got shackled up at Jekyll & Hyde State Park outside Fanta Se in 1990 Herself was managing the DeVargas Center location of B. Dalton Bookseller (anyone remember bookstores?) and I was an editor at The New Mexican (anyone remember newspapers?).

“Is there a bus ticket and some fake I.D. in here somewhere? Goddamnit!”

Just shy of three decades further on down the road, she is a skilled, respected information-services professional burrowed like a tick into the leathery hide of the Military-Industrial Complex, while I … I … ai yi yi. The less said about that, the better. For every up, there must be a down. That’s Scripture. Ballistics. The Scripture of Ballistics? One a them there.

Anyway, that we have nearly made it to the Big Three-Oh is not my fault. She had Lasik. She can work an Excel spreadsheet. She knows where the guns and the airport are.

But Herself is in the habit of collecting stray animals and is reluctant to concede defeat, even in the face of tattered furniture, soiled carpets, and a dwindling income stream that one might blame on an aged prostate if a work ethic had one.

Fortunately one of us remains viable. We started small, in that teensy rental roach motel on Romero Street, and now we have this fauxdobe hacienda with a great big yard. Sometimes she lets me off the leash to chase rabbits.

That’s what she’ll tell the cops and neighbors when they wonder why they haven’t seen me wobbling around on the bike lately, anyway.

“I took my eyes off him for one second and he was over the wall and gone! Beg pardon? What’s with the shovel and the mound? Oh, just turning over an old flower bed. Why do you ask? ’Scuse me, I have a flight to catch.”

Happy New Year

January 1, 2018

The evening meal consisted of bean burritos smothered in green chile with a side of Mexican rice. Dessert? Raspberry cobbler.

It was a quiet New Year’s Eve around El Rancho Pendejo.

Since I no longer smoke, drink or dance the hoochie-koo, I’m no fun on the big night. And we didn’t have any invites to fancy shindigs at which I might not act the fool. So we spent the day catching up with distant friends and family, cooking a bit of this and that, and going to bed long before the ball dropped in Times Square.

Neighbors with more stamina blew me out of a sound sleep as 2017 sequed into 2018, discharging their muskets, flintlocks and blunderbusses with wild abandon. If there was any body count, it didn’t make the morning paper, no doubt because those misfits were out in the street banging away too.

Having already achieved perfection I have no New Year’s resolutions. I’m taking a 30-day break from Twitter that may become permanent because I think it’s making my head fat and I’d like to be able to squeeze into my old hats again. Plus I think there may be more productive ways to pass the time, like pounding sand down a rathole, pissing into the wind, or baying at the moon like some infernal hound.

And there’s riding the bike, too. In 2017 I managed 2,767.8 miles, more than in 2016 but without a single, solitary tour. Bad Adventure Cyclist! Bad, bad, bad! Go sit in that office chair and think about what you’ve (not) done! And then blog about it.

This unspeakable sloth will persist throughout today. After a light breakfast Herself and I plan a short New Year’s trail run. At some point the black-eyed peas and cornbread will make an appearance, and the burritos smothered in green may get an encore, too. The raspberry cobbler, alas, is a goner.

Meanwhile, happy happy joy joy to thee and thine, and a thousand thank-yous for popping round the old cracker barrel during 2017. Let’s do it some more in 2018.

No turkey, but a trot

November 24, 2017

Black Friday me arse. Here in the Duke City we’re expecting blue skies, a high near 70, and no bloody shopping.

Another Thanksgiving done and dusted. A thousand thank-yous to everyone who continues to pop round to the rumormongery, if only to see whether I’ve croaked and left them a slightly used bicycle or two or three.

Posole verde on the fire.

We kept it light this year. Neither family nor friends were in attendance (we phoned Herself the Elder, my sister, and our former Bibleburg tenant Judy) and thus the kitchen drudgery was nothing out of the ordinary.

I cooked a simple posole verde based on a recipe by Rodrigo Bueno, Herself whipped up a raspberry cobbler, and that was that. No leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy and whatnot for snacking purposes, but the post-feast cleanup was greatly expedited.

Before sitting down to eat we went out for a short and leisurely run, neither of us having legged it around and about for a while. It was a gorgeous November day, with temps in the 60s and nothing but blue sky overhead.

Indeed, it was so pleasant we gave the cats a good airing, too, and they spent the rest of the day snoozing in their respective towers by a window.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), keeps an eye peeled for Rooski ratfuckers.

Ordinarily we watch “Home for the Holidays” on Thanksgiving, but this year we opted for a few episodes from season two of “Baskets,” a weird little series starring Zach Galifianakis. It’s not for everyone — especially now, since disgraced weirdo Louis C.K. is one of the co-creators and producers — but it’s definitely … different.

Elsewhere, there’s nothing different about the way special counsel Robert Mueller is pressing his inquiry into the Rooski ratfucking of the 2016 elections.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla favors a sunny spot underneath the yard art.

The Old Wise Heads speculate that Mike Flynn has rolled over and begun chirping canarylike arias, which is generally what happens when the laws have you by the short and curlies and wish to grab hold of someone a little higher up the criminal chain of command.

It’s probably a tad early to give thanks. But may we please have a few indictments neatly wrapped and under the tree by Christmas, Santa baby?

Property rites

September 7, 2017

The fabled House Back East®, soon to be under new management. Or so we hope, anyway. …

Hoo, nuts around here lately.

The House Back East™ in Bibleburg is under contract (for the second time in a week). Down here in the Duke City, meanwhile, the tree dude is popping round tomorrow to (what else?) have a squint at El Rancho Pendejo’s trees. The Furster, a.k.a. Air Subaru, gets a cautionary peek under the hood on Monday. ERP’s HVAC gets likewise on Tuesday.

And I finally found an affordable bike to review for the Adventurous Cyclists.

Whew.

Also, I got released from jury duty this afternoon. Hauled into court twice in three weeks, but never got to hear a case. Always a bridesmaid, etc., et al., and so on and so forth. Good for about $60 if the robes actually pay a guy for sitting on his ass … which, come to think of it, is what I do for a living, albeit at a slightly higher pay scale and in sloppier garb.

Most definitely not sitting on her ass is my sister-in-law Beth, who with her husband are beating it out of the bullseye Hurricane Irma has sketched on the east coast of Florida.

Herself thought they were bound for Pensacola, just a hop, skip and jump from the ancestral moonshining grounds of the O’Gradys in Perry. May the road rise up to meet them, but in a nice way.