Archive for the ‘Home and hearth’ Category

Cold blow and the rainy night

February 22, 2023

In comments Pat O’B reminds us that Sprinter, Wing, or Wang, whatever you call it, is not done with us quite yet.

The forecast for the Greater Duck! City Metropolitan Area calls for a rough aul’ day in the barrel, starting right about now and lasting until 2 a.m. tomorrow. From the National Weather Service:

Southwest winds 30 to 50 mph with gusts of 60 to 75 mph expected. … Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Damage may occur to mobile homes, roofs, sheds, barns, outbuildings, and fences. Widespread power outages are expected.

Oof. Batten down the hatches, mateys.

We’re semiprepared for Apocalypse Junior.

The lanterns are charged, and the headlamps and flashlights all have fresh batteries, with a candle lantern in reserve.

Jugs of filtered water abound, and a few days of nonperishable edibles are close at hand, so we won’t have to eat the neighbors. Yet.

The ovens will be out of commission, but we have a gas cooktop, and a two-burner Coleman for backup.

Staying warm might be an issue — we have a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy and two fireplaces, but have never used either of them. We could end up warmer than we like (on fire) or colder (dead). Thus, the three-season sleeping bags in reserve.

We have battery banks for our iPhones, for all the good that will do us, because our cul-de-sac is a sinkhole that cellular signals float past unmolested unless the phones can mooch off the wifi.

Finally, my main MacBook Pro is plugged into an APC battery backup. This is likewise useless since without power the Innertubes will deflate, and trying to use the iPhone as a hotspot (see “cellular signals,” above) is the hee, and also the haw.

At least I can take copious notes on the End Times. I hope the alien archaeologists who stumble upon my chronicle are fluent in Snark.

• Musical note: The headline is taken from the Planxty tune of the same name. They know something about the shite weather in the auld sod, so they do.

A matter of degrees

January 26, 2023

Bare trees, gray light. Oh, yeah, it was a cold night.

We’re still in the freezer section here in The Duck! City.

The thermometer has been pegged at 13° since I got up way too early this morning because I was feeling chilly even in the bed, which Miss Mia Sopaipilla appropriated after I had adjusted the thermostat (and provided her a couple helpings of kibble, a tuna-water ice cube, and a soupçon of butter from my morning toast).

“I’d like my meals delivered, please.
As in ‘now.'”

Of course, 13° ain’t shit to you stolid Midwesterners, Canucks, and other polar explorers. And my man Hal reports minus-11° this morning at his compound in our old stomping grounds of Crusty County, which makes me miss the place not at all, not one itty-bitty bit.

I remember stuffing chunks of cedar, oak, and aspen into our Weirdcliffe woodstove like a Vegas bluehair shoving nickels into a one-armed bandit. But Hal can’t even do that, because his stove is on the DL.

Thus he burns propane and electricity like a city feller while he awaits parts for his wood-burner, a Drolet Outback Chef, some Quebecer deal with an Eyetalian overlay.

I don’t suppose Hal will pass the time by reading the continuing adventures of The Count of Mar-a-Lago, now available on Twatter and Buttface. But he does have a perverse streak. How many people do you know who cook their meals on a woodstove in the the Year of our Lard 2023?

Step, child

January 12, 2023

You gotta beat the sun down out of those hills.

Hoo, the sun hits the deck fast in the afternoons come January.

I burned the best part of today’s daylight doing chores. Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster needed her registration renewed, which means she needed an emissions check, and we oldsters don’t like going to the doctor if nothing is visibly broken and/or leaking crucial fluid. One suspects a fishing expedition.

The clouds were headed one way and the sun the other.

Nevertheless, we went, and she got a clean bill of health and two years’ worth of driving privileges in The Great State of New Mexico and wherever its plates are honored.

Then I rang up our HVAC people to discuss some repairs to the combo unit on the roof at El Rancho Pendejo, and it turned out that they could handle the job right then and there rather than next week. So, yeah, by all means, take my money, please, we like being warm in winter.

The work completed, and the ugly topic of money and its distribution having arisen, Herself and I discussed some pressing financial matters. Then it was lunchtime, after which Miss Mia Sopaipilla required some light entertainment, and before you could say, “Sun’s getting a little low in the sky there, Skeeter,” it was a quarter after three in the peeyem and I had taken no exercise. None. Zee-ro.

I almost blew it off. Almost. But Herself had just told me a horrific tale about someone’s 70-something mom who was in a state of collapse and bound for The Home if she couldn’t walk 10 steps, and those financial matters we had been discussing concerned who gets what when I croak.

Not today, goddamnit. I got my 10 steps in before sundown. The Home ain’t getting me today, and neither is the Devil.

Tidings of comfort and joy

December 26, 2022

Santa pisses off to the North Pole.

Whoosh! Solstice in the rear view, New Year’s dead ahead.

So far it’s been a quiet holiday season around the rancheroo. Kinfolk were chatted up and a medium-light feast prepared (green chile stew with flour tortillas and an avocado-and-tomato appetizer, plus pecan pie for dessert).

No white Christmas here. The bomb cyclone gave us a miss and we were able to get out for a daily run without Jack Frost nipping at our noses or any other critical bits.

Today we’re looking at a high of  … no, I won’t say it. It would be cruel to any of yis who have to crawl out of a second-story window to take a leak in the snow because the terlets are all frozen solid.

In other tidings of comfort and joy, we failed to move the economic needle very much in a gift-giving sense.

Herself acquired a new vacuum cleaner to replace a battered unit that would be old enough to run for president if it were human (and is still smarter than many of the humans currently surveying the campaign trail).

Me, I ordered up a pair of Merrell Hut Mocs because wearing socks with Tevas, even in winter, is apparently a fashion no-no. I also scored some Darn Tough micro crew cushion socks because my DT light hikers are starting to feel a tad beat down after a couple years of stumbling around on the local trails like some homeless old soak who hit the exercise-wear jackpot at a Sally Ann clothing giveaway.

I doubt we’ll be crushing the after-Christmas sales, either. Herself and a co-worker have some pagan ceremony planned (a dark rite involving fire and French 75s). And while Capitalism is carpet-bombing my in-box with any number of fabulous deals, I get a jolt from my shock collar every time I — Yowtch! — reach for the credit card.

I don’t really need anything anyway. Except maybe some insulated bolt-cutters for this goddamned — Ow! — shock collar.

Cookie monster

December 24, 2022

Star with royal beauty bright.

Yesterday we made a batch of shortbread cookies for distribution throughout the cul-de-sac.

We were a tad late to the holiday party. Four neighbors had already laid goodies on us by the time we got our asses in gear. And had I been in the driver’s seat, we would still be idling by the curb.

As usual, it was Herself who got us rolling. She dug out the recipe, added a few items to my grocery list, and started cranking out cookies like Mrs. Fields once I came back with the fixin’s.

I provided tech support for our elderly oven, which is the baker’s equivalent of driving a stick. I also took on the gruntwork of sliding trays of dough in and cookies out so that the baker could focus on her Art.

In the end we had just enough cookies to accommodate everyone who hadn’t fled The Duck! City to spend the holidays shivering in a snow-covered ditch or kipping on an airport floor.

While Herself distributed the sugar bombs I pulled on the rubber gloves and started policing up the kitchen. I was in dire need of a haircut and shave and didn’t want to frighten any children looking forward to a visit from St. Nick rather than Old Nick.

“Mommmmmmm! We already did Halloween! It’s supposed to be Christmastime!”

The Dog, the Cat, and the Voices

August 2, 2022

Dark-thirty at the DogHaus.

Tuesday is “Pay Your Dues Day” at El Rancho Pendejo.

Herself gets up at stupid-thirty to prepare for the first of two weekly 10-hour shifts at the Death Star, and somebody has to make her breakfast and lunch. I keep hoping this somebody will turn up and clock in, but nix.

So I crawl out of my coffin like a dime-store Dracula with the insomnia, head out to that kitchen, and rattle those pots and pans.

By this time Herself has brewed a cup of what she calls “coffee,” given Miss Mia Sopaipilla an amuse-bouche, and returned to her sanctum sanctorum. So I toast a thick slice of bread, slather it with Irish butter and French jam, and deliver it posthaste. Miss Mia gets a butter-finger out of this and another small helping of cat food.

Next it’s lunch, which is usually leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. But honey-chipotle chicken tacos with black beans and Mexican rice seemed a tad aromatic for a business lunch, and so this morning I whipped up a basic tuna salad and built her a sandwich with provolone, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of watermelon chunks.

Miss Mia is always very interested in tuna or anything even vaguely tuna-adjacent, so she got a couple tidbits in the process.

After Herself hits the door running at 5:30 I’m free to do whatever. Going back to bed always seems attractive, but so does a midafternoon nap, and what the hell, I’m already up.

So I have a couple mugs of authoritative black joe and sit in the dark living room for a while, half-listening as the birds sing up the sun, Miss Mia snores on the back of the couch, and the voices in my head start tuning up.

This is the sweet spot of a Tuesday morning. No NPR, no Zoom meetings, no phone calls, no online exercise/yoga classes … just the Dog, the Cat, and the Voices. And the distant grumble of traffic, which is someone else’s bête noire.

Going nowhere fast is just my speed on a Tuesday morning. I’ve paid the toll and everything.

Toasted

July 29, 2022

Skeeters drove Herself indoors to sit in the dark and play with her iPhone.

A power outage woke us at 5 a.m., and the usual comedy ensued.

I keep a largish Mag-Lite under the nightstand for the illumination/bludgeoning of evildoers, so I grabbed that and wandered around El Rancho Pendejo trying to remember where all the other battery-powered lights were hiding as Miss Mia Sopaipilla followed me ahead of me yowling, “WTF, dude?”

With the Petzl headlamps and BioLite lantern located I stepped outside for a quick assay of the situation. It was the usual weirdo, with half the cul-de-sac dark, and an iPhone peek at the PNM website disclosed a 40-something-user outage, no cause determined, restoration of power guesstimated at a couple hours.

Some dope fiend probably liberated a transformer, I thought as I made coffee on the gas range by Petzl-light. Afterward, Herself went outside to feed the mosquitos on the patio while I dug out my little JBL Bluetooth speaker, dialed up R.E.M. on YouTube, and cranked “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)” at maximum volume for the amusement of the neighborhood. Or not.

“Shut that shit off,” Herself advised. But I played it right to the end and then danced around the house singing, “It’s the end of the toast as we know it,” because our toaster is not gas-operated. Oatmeal would have to do.

Piece of Cake

April 7, 2022

OK, I know you folks floating around out there in the Innertubes are dying to know all the deets about the exotic life of the retired velo-scribbler.

So, hold my fake beer and dig this:

Yesterday I went to Lowe’s for some lawn soil to spread over the recently seeded bare patches in the yard and gave ’em a good watering, then mowed the healthier bits of grass. Later I cooked up a big ol’ pot of jambayala.

This morning I toasted and tea’d Herself, who has a full day at the lab. Then I fed and watered Miss Mia Sopaipilla, giving her a few head-bumps in a sunny spot for dessert, and emptied her litter box.

Next I got a loaf of bread going and set about watering a few shrubs and one tree out front, using SuperDuper! to back up The Main Mac to an external drive, downloading an OS update, and washing the breakfast dishes (two cups of strong black coffee and one of strong black tea will lead to multitasking).

And now the garbage is going out. Boom! You can’t stop me, so don’t even try.

I hate to go all Hollywood on you little people like this, but I figure the few of you who still have jobs deserve to know how I’m pissing away your Social Security contributions on my rock-’n’-roll lifestyle.

Incoming!

February 26, 2022

Russians? Nyet. Incoming? Da.

Nope, no Russians up there this morning. Good thing, too, as we’re going to be too busy over the next couple weeks to repel hostiles. We have incoming friendlies, and the High Command says I am forbidden to take up arms against any of them.

One of Herself’s second cousins arrives this morning. She apparently has divested herself of some Dallas real estate and is on an extended auto tour of the nation’s Airbnbs. As a Man of the People® who knows that all property is theft, I look forward to hearing the details.

Tomorrow one of Herself’s old friends zooms through. This is a real whirlwind tour — she’s been visiting Santa Fe with another companion and is en route to The Duck! City airport for the trip home, so it’s a hi-bye kind of deal, heavy on the high-speed gossip.

Tuesday brings the regularly scheduled vet visit for Miss Mia Sopaipilla and a second crack at a bedroom carpet installation (the first go-round left a seam I could see in the dark without my glasses). Wednesday, Herself the Elder gets a checkup of her own.

Sometime next week I hope to get Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster in for her annual physical, if the folks at Reincarnation aren’t swamped working on vehicles that actually get driven.

And the week after that Herself’s eldest sis and a pal drop in for a week’s lodgings at El Rancho Pendejo. I anticipate some medium-heavy eBaying, much raucous recollection of various Texican kinfolks who are straight out of a Dan Jenkins howler, and yes, this is why I’m having the Subaru serviced, in case you were wondering.

If the Russians come calling don’t expect me to be of much use. I got a reverse Alamo going on over here.

Loafer

January 7, 2022

Get it while it’s hot.

Behold the first loaf from our “new” $40 Toastmaster Bread Box, acquired on eBay. The Wirecutter boyos can keep their $300 Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus with my compliments. Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!

In other news, retirement is proceeding swimmingly. This morning I arose late, ground beans, brewed coffee, made tea, toast, and oatmeal, did the dishes, emptied the litter box, took out the trash, refilled the bird feeders, shooed Herself out the door to chauffeur Herself the Elder to a couple appointments, scratched Miss Mia’s back, and glanced over the news, about which the less said the better.

Soon, the healthful outdoor exercise. Herself and I went for an hourlong run yesterday and nothing hurt any more than it should, so I think my back may have finally realigned itself (knock on wood).

Joe Walsh was right.