Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

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.

Barbarians at the gates

November 26, 2017

Semper felinus.

An old friend and colleague, Steve Frothingham of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, popped round for a short visit yesterday, bringing his special lady Diane and their two largish dogs.

The chair recognizes the Minister for Photography.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) immediately declared a red alert, and he and aide-de-camp Miss Mia Sopaipilla stationed themselves at the sliding glass door leading to the back patio, both of them puffed up to Death Star size.

Mister Boo, a 4-F, conscientious objector and suspected canine sympathizer, was interned in the kitchen, where he sang “Kumbaya” softly to himself before nodding off to dream of lunch, snacks and dinner.

Once the invaders had retreated the all-clear was sounded and the commander and his staff assumed a more relaxed defense posture. That is all.

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?

California dreamin’

October 21, 2017

The mornings are a little cloudier and a little cooler in October.

Green chile stew for dinner. Oatmeal for breakfast.

Oh, yeah: It’s definitely fall in New Mexico.

Reheating the leftovers for Friday-night dinner.

My old newsie pal Merrill stopped by Thursday on the final leg of his move from Noo Yawk City to Santa Rosa. Thus the green chile stew. Merrill was in the mood for Mexican food, but the best beaneries are way over on the north side, and I figured he’d had enough driving for one day (central Oklahoma to the Duke City). So I got out in that kitchen and rattled those pots and pans.

There was some brief discussion of a bike ride. Merrill had a two-wheeler in his rig, but it was a road bike and his shoes were for the mountain variety, and while even I can handle a quick pedal swap, he had the itch to move a little faster and a little farther.

So off he went, bright and early on Friday, ticking off the 830 miles between here and his brother’s house in Simi Valley, California.

Incidentally, if anyone’s in the market for a new ride, Merrill is piloting an AWD Mazda CX-5, which seems to be getting solid reviews from all and sundry (including Merrill). The important thing: You can stuff a bike in the back without removing the front wheel.

El mejor

October 14, 2017

The mayor-to-be Back in the Day®, with a much lighter ball in the air, and only one of them, too.

Back in the Seventies, after Chris Coursey and I had completed our majors in beer with minors in journalism and gone to work for an unremarkable Colorado daily, neither of us had the slightest inkling that he would one day be the mayor of Dresden.

If there’s any good news to be found here, it’s this: Chris has already been to hell and back, and more than once, too. Santa Rosa is in good hands.

Hell on earth

October 10, 2017

The peloton prepares for a training ride from Santa Rosa to Hopland back in 2006. The mayor-to-be is at left, and the retiree-to-be is in the middle. The unemployable at right you already know.

You never like to see your friends on the hot seat, and my old bro’ Chris Coursey is on a very warm squativoo indeed.

Chris is mayor of Santa Rosa, Calif., which abruptly went from a pretty close approximation of heaven on earth to something else entirely on Monday.

You can survey the damage courtesy of The Press Democrat, where Chris spent a couple decades as a reporter and columnist. He and I go way back, to the Seventies — roommates at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, we later worked for what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg before I left for Tucson and Chris split for Santa Rosa.

Chris spoke about the fire to his old paper, and to NPR, too; you can listen to that report here.

Another of our old Gazette pals, Merrill Oliver, recently retired from The New York Times and bought a place in (wait for it) Santa Rosa. He’s in transit — last I heard he was in Denver, which is too cold to burn at the moment — but clearly, this is not going to be the joyous change of venue he had been anticipating. I’m told Merrill’s new home was not among those destroyed, but it seems like early days yet, so keep your fingers crossed on his behalf.

We have other friends in the area — Gazette and Press Democrat alum Mike Geniella and his wife T, up Hopland way; Lo Esparza and Scot Nicol in Santa Rosa; Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer; and many, many more. Here’s hoping everyone comes out of this OK. Stuff you can always replace, but friends are always in short supply.

Rain, rain, go away. …

May 10, 2017

We drove out of that to ride the Paseo del Bosque and whaddaya know? I didn’t even need knickers, much less the rain jacket.

Yesterday I laid down my hammer and sickle and took time out for a refreshing spin with Friend of the Blog™ Pat O’Brien, who with his lovely bride Sandy popped round to see what’s what in the Duke City.

I didn’t document this major tourism event with photography, because frankly I didn’t think we’d get ‘er done. It was raining when Pat arrived in his manly Toyota Tacoma to pick me up for the drive to the Paseo del Bosque’s Alameda trailhead, and the forecast was grim indeed.

But my iPhone photo above depicts the worst of it. Down by the Rio the weather was warm and windy, and we did the full lollipop, riding south, then curving in a northeasterly direction to Rio Bravo before returning to the bosque trail for a (mostly) tailwind-supported return.

We were both aboard Somas, naturally. Pat rode his Saga whilst I piloted the old Double Cross, freshly equipped with SKS fenders just in case. This, and the fact that we both carried rain jackets, is almost certainly why the clouds didn’t open up during the ride.

Back at El Rancho Pendejo I learned that a deluge had struck DeeCee, washing away the stain on democracy that was Jim Comey. King Donald the Short-fingered, alas, remains perched atop his golden throne, his personal roll of Constitution toilet paper close at hand. Here’s hoping it’s a harder rain gonna fall on his crooked highway before much longer.

De la lluvia a la nieve

April 29, 2017

Stucco, wisteria, evergreens and snow.

Well, we went from rain to snow overnight — not much of it, it’s true, but still.

I was glad to not be Herself’s librarian pal from Colorado, who popped round for a visit en route to Arizona only to find her auto’s heater had crapped out as the weather worsened outside of Santa Fe. Also, and too, her windshield scraper seemed to have vanished mysteriously.

Good times. Maybe not. Anyway, she probably won’t need the heater or the scraper in Sedona.

We may not need them here much longer, either. Tomorrow’s high is expected to be in the low 60s, with 70s on tap for a few days afterward.