Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

And now for something completely different

June 1, 2020

“If you want anything done in this yard you’ve got to meow
until you’re blue in the mouth,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

We’ve been cocooning a bit, I suppose.

It’s not easy to watch America doggedly screwing its head even further up its own arse, especially while striving to make some novel observation about the practice. The bon mot proves elusive. So we’ve turned our gaze elsewhere.

The back yard has needed work for a while now, and it’s been getting some. Weeds pulled, vines excised, lilacs pruned, pond rock and red mulch laid down, balky gate repaired, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

In the process we discovered a few new aches and pains along with an old faucet and four sprinkler-system heads we didn’t know we had. They could be part of some prehistoric irrigation network; for sure there are a couple real anachronisms on the other side of the yard, metal jobbers buried in the pine duff like the plungers on land mines.

We’re not great with roses, but occasionally we get lucky.

The apple tree by the kitchen window has had the schnitz. All the neighbors say it’s never been worth a damn, and we’re starting to agree, though Spike the Terrorist Deer, that notorious outside agitator, seems fond of its bitter, undersized fruit.

So that will probably come down directly, along with a Siberian elm that is more than a match for my skills with a shovel and bad language. Probably have to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

The neighbors with the little girls have partnered with another couple up the street to form a collective of sorts. Between them they have five munchkins to educate and entertain, and they share other interests as well, so it seems a great leap forward.

The gang performs a daily bicycle/scooter rodeo that relies heavily upon our steep driveway for a launching ramp, so we’re making our own small contribution. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Elsewhere in the cul-de-sac, a four-legged neighbor went west. Daisy was a sweet old Lab who, with her cousin Gunner, served our little community as a combination of early warning system and welcome wagon.

Gunner is deaf, and a bit shy, but Daisy had been known to stride into homes like a Monty Python bobby, as if to enquire, “Wot’s all this then?” Their human has already arranged a new companion for Gunner, a black Lab pup tentatively named Henry.

Beyond our immediate ’hood, Herself the Elder’s assisted-living home has undergone a round of Bug® testing, and the all-clear has been sounded, though the lockdown remains in force.

Last Friday we delivered a load of Asian food for the joint. Pre-Bug®, Herself had been taking her mom out on Fridays for a bit of shrimp fried rice, and we decided to revive the practice as a take-out deal after Daisy and Gunnar’s person said he’d been doing something similar for his mom.

Then we thought, “Why not spread the wealth a bit?” From each according to his ability, etc. So everybody got some, including us, because I am a sucker for a six-pack of gyoza and pretty much anything else I don’t have to cook.

Speaking of wealth, when the light is right we can enjoy what the previous owner of El Rancho Pendejo called “the golden hour.” Once the day’s chores are finished we park ourselves on the back patio with frosty beverages in hand, admire our handiwork (such as it is), and hope to pan a little color from the dung as it all runs downhill.

The golden hour. “Well done, Yahweh,” as Doc Sarvis once said.

‘Better weird than not at all’

May 16, 2020

I settled for a snap of the balloons because old guys taking snaps of children unrelated to them is mega-creepy.

One of the kids next door celebrated her sixth birthday yesterday.

There was a party of sorts in the cul-de-sac. Instead of hugs and kisses, she got social distancing and masks; in lieu of cake and the slicing thereof, we noshed on individual cupcakes in either chocolate or vanilla.

From the vantage point of someone who turned 6 in 1960, it seemed a strange way to mark the Great Leap Forward from kindergarten to first grade. Or it did until I recalled that when I reached this milestone Elvis was being discharged from the Army, a few thousand of his countrymen were heading off to Vietnam, and Francis Gary Powers was enjoying an unscheduled layover in the Soviet Union.

So, then, as now, there was lots of weirdness going on, and not just in your friendly neighborhood cul-de-sac, either.

“It may be weird, but better weird than not at all,” as a neighbor and I agreed.

A hummingbird had a bird’s-eye view of the party from her nest in a pine just off our driveway. According to Audubon New Mexico, the hummers lay two eggs a half inch long in nests the size of a walnut shell, and this one has done a fine job of camouflaging her tiny nursery. Herself and I saw the little nipper zip to the limb yesterday as we were leaving for a bike ride; I took a closer squint and spotted the nest.

It takes a bit of squinting to find this hummer guarding the kids.

LUG rides again!

May 14, 2020

Remember this guy? He’s gonna be on Zoom and ESPN.
And here I always thought he had a radio face, too.

This time around, the acronym stands for “Legislative Update Guy,” and the live updates will include a video component.

No, not old “Monty Python” clips. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person.

My old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey and his fellow Wyoming state legislators will be participating in a special session via Zoom beginning Friday. And yes, we can watch. And without having to drop any of our DonnyDollars® into the Tip Jar!

Bonus! Winning! So. Much. Winning.

Charles rang me up last night to wish us a belated happy wedding anniversary and we spent a few minutes catching up. In addition to attending virtual special sessions of the leg’, he’s continuing to practice law, and while he’s not exactly burning up Wyoming’s roads on the old two-wheeler these days, he is finding time to do a bit of walking.

He’s also appearing in the latest HWSNBN documentary, “Lance,” as you can see from the screen grab above, which I liberated from the trailer.

Filmmaker Marina Zenovich has directed works on Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Roman Polanski. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of them, and I don’t believe I’ll be seeing this one either, having exactly zero interest in the latest version of Ol’ Whatsisface’s “truth.”

But it was cool to get a live update from an old pal.

Welfare check

May 11, 2020

Herself chats with her mom jailhouse style,
on the phone, through a pane of glass.

We swung by the Dark Tower yesterday, bearing gifts.

Herself the Elder had requested huevos rancheros for Mothers Day. So we ordered up the takeout from Weck’s and ran it on by.

“You’re spoiled!” exclaimed a staffer. Dern tootin’. As spoiled as one can be in an assisted-living facility under lockdown in plague time, anyway.

Ain’t nothin’ a couple sacks of mulch and a cat statue can’t fix.

Afterward we continued a ongoing backyard-cleanup project. I’m a lifelong asthmatic with a personal, portable plague of allergies, the most severe of which is to yardwork.

But the space was starting to look like a tumbledown Tinkertoy tower of rusty playground equipment, a bullet-riddled ’63 Rambler American on blocks, and a three-legged pit bull with bowel issues would actually constitute improvements.

So, yeah. Yardwork.

Up north, where the yards are 35 acres, my man Hal forwards a Colorado Public Broadcasting piece about how gig workers there — including him — are getting the runaround from the plague-jiggered unemployment system, such as it is.

“This is exactly what happened to me when I applied,” he said. “I apparently need to call there. But of course cannot get through.”

Well, you can always get through here, bub. What’s going on out there in Greater Dogpatch? Are you digging holes and filling them in again? Redistributing wealth? Fetching takeout to shut-ins? As the Year of the Plague drags on toward Memorial Day, we want to hear how our readers are getting by. Wag your tales in comments.

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.

 

Going nowhere fast

October 19, 2019

The leaves are changing faster than what remains of Il Douche’s mind.

Ever been stuck in the mud, or the snow?

You get out of your rig to evaluate the situation, consider your options, and compute the probabilities. Eventually you arrive at a conclusion.

“Well, shit.”

Everyone else is motoring gaily along and yet here you are, mired to the hubs in a mess of your own making.

“Well, hell.”

And, no, I’m not talking about our national political quagmire, though, yeah, that too.

“Well, fuck.”

This was simply a matter of me taking my eye off the seasonal ball for a second, and suddenly, boom, here it is, half past October and I haven’t ventured beyond the city limits more than a couple of times all year.

Thus there was something of a piling on, envy-wise, this week.

Old Town Bike Shop’s John Crandall and his wife, Kathy, rolled through town on a short motor tour of the Southwest. The neighbors headed north for a weekend in Taos. And Herself, a confirmed non-camper, sallied forth with a friend to overnight with the Sierra Club at Chaco Culture National Historical Park before Il Douche’s pals decide to strip-mine, drill, or otherwise frack the place all to hell and gone.

“Well, goddamnit all anyway.”

This last was particularly irksome. The Chaco junket had come up in casual conversation some time back, but I have the memory of a Mac 128K and some data gets overwritten in fairly short order.

Suddenly the trip got scrawled on the calendar in the kitchen and I found myself pressed into service as quartermaster officer, furiously inspecting, rejecting, and selecting neglected bits of this, that and the other. Camp stoves and cookware; sleeping pads and bags; and various creature comforts of our modern age (the BioLite PowerLight is a charming little torch/lantern/charger combo, particularly so when paired with SiteLights.)

All for a trip that I was not taking.

You know how your dog looks at you when you’re loading up for a car trip? Imagine my expression as we muscled all this gear into the companion’s Honda CR-V. Things they thought they needed and things I thought they needed — including two bicycles, because of course they were taking bicycles too and there was no bike carrier on this auto.

Like Rufo’s little black box in Heinlein’s “Glory Road,” the thing had to be bigger on the inside than the outside. I should’ve taken a picture. Sardines in a can have more elbow room.

The spartan Camp Dog, featuring the North Face Expedition-25, at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2016.

I was not consulted as regards the tent, and when I caught a glimpse of the companion’s eight-person (!) tent in its sack, I knew immediately what Private Pyle’s body bag must have looked like. Especially if they stuffed Gunny Hartmann in there with him.

There was no time to dig out the old North Face Expedition-25 and provide instruction on setup and takedown, so I kept my lips zipped. But I’ll bet that cavernous sonofabitch got cold last night.

Me, I was toasty in the old king-size with a couple of unauthorized cats. Today is shaping up to be sunny and warm, and I have a new review bike to ride, a Cannondale Topstone 105.

But I’ll be riding it on the same old roads, and you what they say about familiarity.

 

Snow fun

February 24, 2019

Harrison and Hal. | Photo: Nancy Hobbs

My man Hal Walter and his boy Harrison suited up for a 10K on my old cyclocross course in Bibleburg on Saturday, but it wasn’t exactly a triumph, or even one of those father-son interactions that makes you go “Awwwwwwww. …”

Still, as Hal notes over at Hardscrabble Times: “Sometimes you ‘win.’ Sometimes you learn.”

Give it a read.

 

The long run

February 25, 2018

Harrison Walter (#575) competes on his school’s
cross-country and track teams. Photo | Hal Walter

The Walter family’s struggle with autism came in for a little attention in the press over the weekend.

My friends Hal and Mary and their son Harrison have been enduring the tender mercies of the Medical-Industrial Complex as mom and dad strive to get their teenager the expensive behavioral therapy that may help him with the impulse-control issues common among the neurodiverse.

Harrison focused on his schoolwork. Photo | Rebekah Cravens

Regan Foster of The Pueblo Chieftain — where Hal and I first met back in the Eighties — wrote about the Walters’ difficulties in a straight news piece and a more personal sidebar; both made the newspaper’s home page this morning.

The details of this particular tale of woe may be new to you, but the overarching theme is all too familiar: What happens when circumstances upend a hard-working American family that earns a bit too much to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to cover the out-of-pocket costs associated with private insurance?

“A $3,000 deductible plus a 30 percent co-pay is the same as not having insurance, except you have to pay for the insurance,” said Hal.

Harrison is designated as disabled, but does not qualify for a Children’s Extended Services waiver for Medicaid because his sleep habits, “while not great, are not entirely horrible,” according to Hal.

The amount of paperwork required in raising a neurodiverse kid (like appealing a Medicaid waiver denial) would be enough to put anyone to sleep.

That this is a stumbling block instead of a side note seems absurd; Harrison’s abilities as a student and athlete can be offset by his impulsive, occasionally violent behavior, which seems a greater concern for society than how many Z’s the family bags nightly. Someone is definitely on the nod here, and it’s not the Walters, who are appealing the decision to deny a CES waiver.

Hal and Mary are both long-distance runners, with all the stamina that requires and then some, but theirs is a race against time. Harrison is 13 going on 14, and as special-ed teacher Carrie Driver notes: “We have four and a half years to get him ready for life and to give him skills that are appropriate for him to be independent.”

• Editor’s note: You can read more at Hal’s blog, Hardscrabble Times (which is updated irregularly), and in his column at Colorado Central.

Mayor Chris meets The Outspoken Cyclist

January 21, 2018

Hizzoner having a spot of fun between mayoral chores.

Diane Jenks recently spoke with my old college roomie Chris Coursey for “The Outspoken Cyclist,” her radio show-slash-podcast.

They discussed cycling, journalism and Santa Rosa, Calif., which continues to feel the aftereffects of last fall’s horrific fires in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Don’t let the cycling kit fool you — you’ll recall from earlier posts that Chris is the mayor of Santa Rosa, and I expect he’s logging most of his miles in that capacity these days.

“We are still very much in the middle of this disaster, and hopefully on the road to recovery,” says Hizzoner.

You can give the interview a listen here:

T H E   O U T S P O K E N   C Y C L I S T:

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.