Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Memorial Day 2017

May 29, 2017

Mementos from wars fought by other men.

What a strange time to be honoring those Americans who’ve sacrificed everything — lives, fortunes, sacred honor — on the altar of freedom.

We’ve thanked them for their service by installing as commander-in-chief a creature who has sacrificed nothing. Not his life, which he still lives mostly as he pleases. Certainly not his fortune, about which we know next to nothing. And sacred honor? Puh-leeze. He has none.

Since he has no shame, we must bear it in his stead. Shame on us.

As a child I desperately wanted a uniform. It’s probably the only reason I submitted, briefly and without distinction, to a tour of duty with the Cub Scouts.

What I really craved was a uniform like my dad wore to work on Randolph AFB, that tan U.S. Air Force summer kit. But the old man gave me a stern talking-to about that, explaining that uniforms were something to be earned, not bought.

Harold Joseph O’Grady certainly earned his kit, beginning with flying Gooney Birds out of New Guinea during World War II. So did his brother, Charles Declan O’Grady, tail gunner in a B-29, also in the Pacific Theatre.

Mom’s dad served, too, in WWI, but of him we know next to nothing. Both grandfathers were long dead when we kids came around, and neither of our parents were inclined to discuss their respective early histories in any real detail. It was as though they had never existed apart from each other.

Children of war and depression, they ensured that their offspring would have an easier row to hoe. We didn’t get the best of everything, but lacked for nothing, especially when it came to education, from kindergarten to cap and gown. We didn’t get any little million-dollar loans, but neither I nor my sister had to sweat the college debt that cripples today’s youngsters trying to find their way in the world.

And a good thing it was, too, because neither of us has exactly killed it on the golden-toilet scale used to measure success and failure. Sis has spent her life helping people navigate the murky waters of our social-services system. I, as you know, was a minor cog in the fake-news machine before deciding to hang out my own shingle as an artisanal purveyor of free-range, non-GMO, sustainably sourced, gluten-free, 100 percent organic designer bullshit.

Neither of us followed in our father’s footsteps. But we’ve known men and women who served, from World War II through the apparently endless war in Afghanistan. And the least of these stands head and shoulders above the preening back-alley huckster who purports to command them between pep rallies, nest-feathering, and rounds of golf played from the cart. Stamina!

We owe these people a debt, and we keep reneging on it. In this, at least, we are well represented in the White House.

Chow dog

December 26, 2016
From left, taters, tea, bacon and eggs. Not pictured: English muffins.

From left, taters, tea, bacon and eggs. Not pictured: English muffins.

Christmas Day was one chilly sonofabitch, with a nasty bit of wind, so naturally Herself and I decided to go out for a short run, reasoning that we could do anything, no matter how sucky, for a half hour.

You will recall that I have “run” exactly once since May, while Herself pounds ground a couple days a week and did a half-marathon back in October. So imagine if you will an elderly, portly Irish setter chasing a young border collie over hill and dale.

After such a massive caloric expenditure I felt compelled to prepare a pot of pre-Mexican hominy stew, and this morning topped that off with a mess of pan-fried potatoes, hickory-smoked bacon, eggs over easy, English muffins, coffee and tea.

And now I feel slightly sluggish for some reason. Probably the bonk. I should eat something.

White Christmas

December 25, 2016
I'm thinking we won't need to break out the Acme Atomic Snow-blower™ for this one.

I’m thinking we won’t need to break out the Acme Atomic Snow-blower™ for this one. Photo inspired by the works of Michael Brangoccio.

Well, a kinda-sorta white Christmas, anyway. We do what we can. Happy happy joy joy to the lot of yis.

Light entertainment

December 3, 2016
I call this one "Christmas Lights 2016 II: Holy Shit, Either This Is Really Good Mescaline Or I'm Having a Stroke."

I call this one “Christmas Lights 2016 II: Holy Shit, Either This Is Really Good Mescaline Or I’m Having a Stroke.”

Cranks, stanks ‘n’ thanks

November 24, 2016
Shut up, kid.

Shut up, kid.

Editor’s note: This was intended to be the kickoff to a podcast, but I couldn’t quite corral the folks I had hoped to rope in as contributors. So instead it’s just words in a row, in the usual fashion.

Thanksgiving, man.

The holiday is practically synonymous with “turkey,” and man, did we ever have a big one come home to roost this year. Orange. Noisy. Indigestible.

He looks more like a turkey buzzard, when you get right down to it. Your turkey buzzard sings no songs; when it speaks, it does so in grunts and hisses. It roosts on lifeless trees, and will shit on itself to stay cool when things get too hot for it.

And if you fuck with it, it will puke on you. Generally around three in the morning, on Twitter.

Still, hail to the Chief, right? Right.

Thanksgiving, man. Definitely a holiday with its ups and downs.

In my misspent youth Turkey Day around the O’Grady table was often an exercise in intoxicant management and impulse control, which can be rough on the digestion. Also, the crockery. Once I left home and took up the news biz I generally worked holidays, having no family of my own to preside over with a scepter of vodka and crown of thorns. It’s a lot more fun to argue with people when you’re getting paid and can eat whatever you want for lunch, especially if it’s whiskey.

Once I was married and the parents were gone, the daily news biz receding in the rear-view mirror as I detoured into the cycling press, holiday mealtimes mellowed considerably. Herself and I spent Thanksgivings with friends and neighbors, or my sister and her husband, since Herself’s kin were a ways off in Texas, Tennessee and Maryland. Lacking a sparring partner, I indulged my contrarian streak by cooking non-standard meals — Chinese, Mexican, Italian, whatever. “Home for the Holidays,” “Alice’s Restaurant” and (if we were driving to my sister’s place in Fort Fun, for some reason, “Sam Kinison: Live From Hell”) replaced the turkey in our family tradition.

Thanksgiving, man.

Herself the Elder joined us for our first Thanksgiving here at El Rancho Pendejo, but I can’t remember what I cooked. Last year, with just the two of us, it was chicken cacciatore, Emeril-style, with a side of Martha Rose Shulman’s stir-fried succotash with edamame.

And this year? Braised turkey thighs with roasted spuds and steamed asparagus. It’s just the two of us again — sis and bro-in-law had hoped to come down, but work intervened, and Herself the Elder is in Florida inspecting another daughter’s new quarters. Thus, something easy, for a simple mind in complex times.

One thing that won’t be on the menu: Arugula. Twice now I’ve come home from the Whole Paycheck with bad batches and I’m kind of over cracking the lid on its plastic coffin and getting a $4 snootful of stank. Who knows what’s going on there? The arugula dude probably left his 18-wheeler parked in the sun while he was doing the nasty with a lot lizard in the sleeper, but who am I to judge a man by how he spends his lunch hour? I like to spend mine eating lunch, but it’s not for everyone, especially if you’ve been taking those little white pills and your eyes are open wide.

Thanksgiving, man.

I’m lucky I made it to the grocery at all last week. I put it off until Friday afternoon, which is amateur hour — all real pros shop on Tuesday or Wednesday — and I nearly didn’t get there on Friday because it took three or four tries and about two hours to send a two-minute video review to the Adventurous Cyclists in Missoula, almost certainly because the Duke City remains mired to the driveshaft in the Adobe Age and uploading video via our internet hookup is the equivalent of tossing a thumb drive into the arroyo behind the house and hoping the wind blows it to Montana.

So I’m sitting here watching the progress bar mostly not move and thinking Jesus, the Merrick Garland nomination is moving faster than this file. Hell, the entire federal government is showing more speed, if only in reverse, motoring back to the Articles of Confederation or maybe King George III, if George wore an even cheesier wig and was the shade of an overcooked yam.

I stopped the upload and restarted it, then stopped it again and restarted it again, and finally unplugged the modem and stomped around the house, which still smelled faintly of rotten arugula. Then I plugged it back in and hey presto! The file finally transferred and off to the Whole Paycheck I went.

So I’m thankful for that.

And I remembered not to get any arugula this time, for which I am also thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Boo!

October 31, 2016
A headless Boo-man? Nope, he's just barking for dinner.

A headless Boo-man? Nope, he’s just barking for dinner.

And a happy Halloween to you, too.

 

Workin’ like a dog

September 5, 2016

Turkocalypse now

December 31, 2015
Never get out of the bed.

Never get out of the bed.

“Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”

Maybe. Especially if the bush is in a sunny window. It’s nearly noon, and all of three degrees above freezing, and the weather wizards say that’s about as good as it’s gonna get around here until sometime in 2016, when we could be looking at 45 and sunny.

The horror … the horror. …

Still, a man must ride. The world is full of bicycle reviews and deadlines, and never the twain shall meet if a man doesn’t ride.

And after the riding there shall be the cooking and the eating of the tinga poblana, a recipe I found when I was purging my collection in the process of searching for something I hadn’t prepared yet.

And after the eating there shall be … resolutions? Naw. I’d like to ride more in 2016, maybe (gasp) do some more self-supported touring, and toward that end I’m throttling back on the workload a bit, discarding the most irksome of my chores like unused recipes. That’s about it from this end.

How about you folks? Any big plans for the New Year? Sound off in comments.

Here comes the sun

December 21, 2015
Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Happy winter solstice to thee and thine. Once again I will not be attending the annual illumination of the inner chamber at Newgrange — the 5,000-year-old monument is not among the locations served by Air Subaru — but I will be there in spirit.

The weather wizards say we can expect a high in the upper 40s today here in the Duke City, but it won’t be long now before this space is devoted to bitching about the intolerable heat. To everything there is a season.

Meanwhile, back at Thanksgiving. …

November 27, 2015
Chicken cacciatore and a side of stir-fried succotash with edamame.

Chicken cacciatore and a side of stir-fried succotash with edamame.

It was quiet around El Rancho Pendejo yesterday. No friends, no family, just the five of us — Herself, Mister Boo, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and Your Humble Narrator.

Ordinarily we do the holidays with my sister and her husband, but with Fort Collins now an eight-hour drive each way, and the road conditions decidedly Novemberish between here and there, we decided to give the road trip a miss and instead treated them to a FaceTime video tour of our new digs.

Thanksgiving Day breakfast: leftover taters smothered in green with eggs over easy, English muffins and a side salad.

Thanksgiving Day breakfast: leftover taters smothered in green with eggs over easy, English muffins and a side salad.

This seemed a particularly bright move after we heard from our pal Hal, who did the big U-turn from Weirdcliffe to Highlands Ranch and back again, narrowly avoiding disaster. Via e-mail, he reported that Bibleburg “was dry on the north end and a fucking skating rink on the south end. A six-car pileup happened right in from of me on I-25 and I was lucky to not be No. 7.”

Good times. Maybe not.

So, yeah. We stayed home, and I whipped up a mess of Emeril’s chicken cacciatore with a side of Martha Rose Shulman’s stir-fried succotash with edamame. Herself was detailed to prepare a green salad and a raspberry cobbler but instead chose to lean on her shovel, sipping a glass of vino, and who can blame her? Not me. Plenty of veggies in that succotash, yo. Plus we had a salad with breakfast (right), which included eggs over easy atop spuds slathered in green chile. And we had ice cream for dessert.

Hope your day went as nicely as ours did.