Archive for the ‘Home and hearth’ Category

55? Do I hear 60? 65?

November 7, 2015
The road goes ever on and on, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

The road goes ever on and on, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

I’d like to run away from home. But which home?

There’s the one in Bibleburg, which is under contract. The prospective buyers would like a couple electrical and plumbing issues corrected before the deal goes down, and while they seem to be minor items at casual glance, our plumber has a second home in Hawaii.

Then there’s the one in the Duke City, which has a slight in-law infestation that can’t be eradicated by the usual pest-control outfits. People would talk, especially the ones being eradicated. (Editor’s note to in-laws: I keed, I keed.)

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup.

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup.

Alas, furthermore, moreover, and too, deadlines loom, with words, cartoons and video all very much in demand and yet proving elusive for some reason(s).

Add a soupçon of inhospitable weather — my God, I’ve actually taken to wearing pants, and indoors, too! — and it’s no wonder a paranoid misanthrope might get the feeling that some stealth contractor is adjusting the walls inward during the night, while Realtors®, repairpersons and relatives harry me through my dreams like the coyotes Herself and I heard singing last night as we walked The Boo.

The only possible solution is — yes, you guessed it — a great big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. It cures everything. I even got a cartoon done while it was cooking.

Property rights (and wrongs)

April 24, 2015
The weather wasn't all that welcoming, despite the sign.

The weather wasn’t all that welcoming, despite the sign.

Rather than chance being mistaken for Helen Collins and Doug Bruce, Herself and I decided we (meaning Your Humble Narrator) should dash up to Colorado to check on our vast real-estate holdings, make sure they hadn’t been turned into meth labs, crack houses or empty, boarded-up, Collins-Bruce-style blights on the community.

The back deck needed a few new boards.

The back deck needed a few new boards.

This I did, earlier this week, and I’m happy to report that the only boards involved were the three replaced in Chez Dog’s winter-ravaged back deck by Senior Executive Dude With Tools and Skills Dennis “Heavy D” Collard, who had a few uncommitted moments in his busy schedule that I was happy to fill for him, knowing from experience that idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

The weather did a number on the back sidewalk, too, so I asked a local concrete merchant to estimate the cost of repairs. I checked in with our friend and tenant Judy, comfortably ensconced in The House Back East®, and chatted up a couple other members in good standing of the Patty Jewett Yacht & Cricket Club.

And finally, I did a quick inspection tour of the interior of Chez Dog, the operative word being “quick,” as a certain somebody had rented the joint out from under me and the paying customers would be checking in the next day.

Chez Dog is still standing ... and, thanks to Herself, still earning.

Chez Dog is still standing … and, thanks to Herself, still earning.

I had planned a rather leisurely stay in The Old Home Place®, catching up with friends and neighbors while performing my slumlordly duties, then fetching a few more bikes home to Duke City.

But when money comes a-knockin’, Herself is always right there at the door to greet it. So instead of chillaxin’ in the ‘hood for a spell, I blew 40,000 Hilton points on two days at the Homewood Suites.

The Hilton it ain’t. Shit, it ain’t even Chez Dog. Feeble coffee, punk grub, and I was reminded once again why we don’t pay for television. The bed was comfy, though.

After two days of that I was burning up the road back to Rancho Pendejo, with a short stop in Taos to take on sustenance at Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe. Their Los Colores platter is a marvelous restorative.


Lord, I'm southbound.

Lord, I’m southbound.

Apple, Samsung and Hanes

February 2, 2015
What director Quentin Ferrentino sees just before the iMac hiccups, stutters and croaks.

What director Quentin Ferrentino sees just before the iMac hiccups, stutters and croaks.

Is the Super Bowl finally over? No, I see we’re still second-guessing coaches, lip-syncing sharks and that crucial, botched call — Nationwide’s decision to run that dead-kid ad instead of throwing it into the trash.

We didn’t watch any of it here at Rancho Pendejo, not even the ads. Herself was on a mission from God to clean up the joint, and I was doing a job of work, hammering away at a video review of the Novara Mazama for Adventure Cyclist and trying to troubleshoot ongoing technical glitches with the old iMac.

At 6 years of age, this ‘puter may be nearing the end of its useful existence, though a 15-year-old G3 “Pismo” PowerBook is still ticking right along with all its original equipment. Not so the iMac. Its optical drive croaked a while back, and ever since I “upgraded” to Mavericks I’ve been enjoying occasional and inexplicable freezes that force me into an irksome hard reset that occasionally costs me a bit of work. Kindly old Doc Google tells me I’m not alone in my suffering, and this is one of the reasons I’m dragging my feet on the Yosemite and iOS 8 upgrades.

Last night after a weirdo crash that left both monitors black, but with a moveable cursor, I booted into Safe Mode, which runs a few diagnostics, then said fuck it and booted again, this time into the Recovery HD, and ran Disk Utility.

The hard drive “appears to be OK,” says DU, so I repaired permissions and called it good. This morning nothing was on fire or defunct, which is better.

Now if Samsung will get around to installing a new drain pump in our 5-month-old washing machine, we’ll really have it going on. The goddamn thing has been on the sidelines for a week and I need to upgrade my undies to something a little, um, fresher.


St. Nicked

December 26, 2014
Mister Boo enjoys his Christmas chew.

Mister Boo enjoys his Christmas chew.

Christmas has come and gone without incident, mostly.

On Christmas Eve, at the urging of Herself, we streamed “The Interview,” because freedom, and now I consider that freedom owes me about $7 and 112 minutes of my life. Herself only gets about 90 minutes back because she fell asleep before the big denouement.

Come the big day we cooked up a mess o’ U-nited States of America American® vittles, just the way Jeebus likes ’em (roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy,  stir-fried succotash with edamame, and raspberry cobbler). Later we rang up or emailed various friends and relatives, and parceled out tasty tidbits to all the critters.

The Turk rests up after an exhausting day of sleeping.

The Turk rests up after an exhausting day of sleeping.

We engaged in no elaborate gift-giving. The move to Duke City and the ongoing reconstruction project that is The Six Million Dollar Boo did to our Visa card what Seth Rogen did to Kim Jong-un’s head, but our executive decisions and the consequences thereof have failed to draw the compensatory attention of the White House and the media.

Then it was early to bed — but not to sleep, not right away. Just as we drifted off, The Boo somehow tumbled out of the rack and onto the deck. I leapt from the sack to see whether his sole remaining eye was skittering around the carpet somewhere like a ping-pong ball that had escaped the table.

Nope. No harm, no foul. As Herself clicked on her bedside lamp, there sprawled The Boo, with a slight list to port, peering at me through the Cone of Shame like a dimwitted Soviet cosmonaut who’d forgotten to close the visor on his helmet before launch.

I’ll call that a Christmas gift.

Mia decides to vogue a bit as Herself and I have a bite of lunch.

Mia decides to vogue a bit as Herself and I have a bite of lunch.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

December 1, 2014
The previous owner of Rancho Pendejo called this time of day right around sunset "the golden hour" for its effect on the Sandias.

The previous owner of Rancho Pendejo called this time of day right around sunset “the golden hour” for its effect on the Sandias.

December? Sez who? The calendar? Well, all righty then.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are in the rear-view mirror — and also in the toilet, holiday-sales-wise — and Cyber Monday is upon us, with Solstice dead ahead.

Herself the Elder has been shipped safely back to Tennessee, Herself the Younger is back at work at the Sandia National Libraratory, and I am overseeing various maintenance operations at The House Back East® from Rancho Pendejo.  (Handy Household Hint: Never own more than one house at a time, and make sure it has wheels, an engine and a parking spot down by the creek. And yes, this is strictly a First World problem.)

I won’t torture those of you in wintry climes with reports of our weather (52 and sunny) or my plans for the morning once I hear an electrician’s report (hourlong run through the desert). Neither should you expect me to threaten anyone on Facebook, not even the Supreme Court, which lord knows has it coming.

Finally, Little Chris Horner seems to have stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum in the form of a gig with the Continental team Airgas-Safeway. No word on whether they’ll have the 2013 Vuelta a España champ bagging at the register, working a wet cleanup in aisle nine, or delivering propane to my new home down by the creek.

System maintenance

November 16, 2014
Enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno's on Fourth.

Enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno’s on Fourth.

Downtime. Hasn’t been much of that sort of thing around here lately.

If you haven’t moved for a dozen years or so, it’s something of a shock to the system, like waking up in a strange room with the notion that you’ve been misbehaving again. The police may or may not consider you “a person of interest.” Nothing is where it should be — groceries, banking, your favorite ride.

Little disruptions abound. Walls without art, windows without shades, a wife with a job that no longer permits working from home three days a week.

Things need doing, and all of them take more time than they did back home. Just where the hell are the English muffins in this Bizarro World Whole Foods, anyway? Not where I’d put ’em, that’s for sure. The eyeball doc says Mister Boo needs another procedure? Put the English muffins back, we’re all gonna be eating dog food for a while. The city won’t pick up glass for recycling? No wonder the bike lanes are full of it.

Oh, the humanity. Caninity. Velocity. Whatever.

Then, suddenly, a pause for the cause. Nothing needs doing. Well, not right now, anyway. So there’s time for a short ‘cross-bike ride through the desert, a fiery platter of enchiladas de Herrera from El Bruno’s Restauranté y Cantina, and our millionth viewing of “Blazing Saddles” in honor of David Huddleston, a resident of Santa Fe.

How ’bout some more beans, Mister Taggart?

High time to hit the road

October 30, 2014
Through a windshield, darkly.

Through a windshield, darkly.

It was 4:20 p.m. (smoke ’em if you got ’em) when I fired up the Forester for the latest six-hour drive from Bibleburg to Duke City.

Herself and I had been in the old hometown to prepare Chez Dog and The House Back East® for new tenants, a project I’d hoped would take only a couple of long, hard days, but I got there on Friday and didn’t get gone until Tuesday afternoon. Herself beat it on Monday, having one of them obnoxious “job” thingies that requires regular attendance.

So there I was, once again piloting a heavily laden Japanese automobile solo through the starry American night. It reminded me of the good old days, when all I needed for a cross-country jaunt was a bridge burned at one newspaper, a job offer at another, and a battered old rice-grinder that was nearly as full of shit as I was.

“What kind of sordid business are you on now? I mean, man, whither goest thou? Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?” — Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”

I used to love those long nights behind the wheel, in part because I generally enjoyed some sort of illicit chemical assist, having studied at the feet of Jack Kerouac, Ed Abbey and the redoubtable Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Once a friend and I even took a page from the Good Doktor’s book — to be specific, a page from “Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas” — and ate some acid before stalking into the old MGM Grand to see what we could see, which proved to be much more than was actually there.

In short, it was a bad idea, like so many of the Good Doktor’s, and we quickly jumped back into our auto and drove straight through the inky darkness of the Intermountain West to Alamosa, Colorado, for a steaming plate of enchiladas and beans served up by my companion’s mom, who either didn’t notice or didn’t care that we were horribly twisted on LSD and Budweiser.

After a few hundred thousand miles of that sort of thing, coupled with deteriorating night vision, a bad back and a considerably diminished drug intake (I’m pretty much down to a cup and a half of coffee in the morning these days), I lost interest in snorting that long white line through the windshield and sleeping it off under the camper shell in some rest area or unpatrolled parking lot. When the sunlight started fading, so did I. A motel bed sounded a lot better than drumming on the steering wheel with ZZ Top, Bob Seger or the Allman Brothers cranked up to 11.

But I got a little of the old love back Tuesday night. As I motored southwest with the cruise control set at a safe and sane 75 mph a banana moon hung brightly in the sky dead ahead, the highway stripes rising up as if to meet it on the hills. Where to go? Mexico? San Francisco? Albuquerque, as it turned out. I left the stereo off and listened to the music in my head.


Bienvenido a Nuevo México

September 26, 2014
The view from Tramway, on the descent to Interstate 25.

The view from Tramway, on the descent to Interstate 25.

I managed to squeeze in my first ride as a born-again resident of New Mexico yesterday.

Nothing special, just an hour or so riding the Tramway bike path north from Rancho Pendejo, peeping out the terrain, getting a feel for things. We’re just a couple of blocks from the path, which links up neatly with the Paseo del Norte trail about 20 minutes up the hill. Other east-west feeder routes abound, and I hope to explore them directly.

I think this is Sandia Peak, as seen from the base of the road to the tram.

I think this is Sandia Peak, as seen from the base of the road to the tram.

Lots of folks on bicycles out and about, most of them roadies, though there’s also some class of mountain-bike trail network in the area that I’ll inspect at some later date. Right now, the old plate is full to overflowing with chores and annoyances.

For starters, we have no Innertubes at the new place, and won’t until Oct. 3. This forces me to play “Hipster In the Coffee Shop,” a role for which I am far too unhip.

Also, and too, the cell service is only slightly evolved beyond the log drum, smoke signals, or two tin cans linked by a waxed string, so using the iPhone as a mobile hotspot is right out. One bar on the iPhone does not a data connection make. Coupled with the dearth of Innertubes this renders communications a bit, shall we say, spotty.

Likewise, we have almost none of our shit — the movers won’t show up for another four days or so, so we’re getting by with some stuff we bought from the previous owner and whatever we could cram into the rice-grinders.

Speaking of which, two of our three critters have more or less successfully made the transition via Subaru to new quarters. The lone holdout, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), spends the wee hours walking the battlements, inspecting the perimeter, and issuing challenges to foes only he can see.

As did Herbie Goldfarb in “The Milagro Beanfield War,” I find my brain going all foamy, like a vanilla milkshake, from lack of sleepzzzzzzzzzzz. …

Homes, homes on the range

September 16, 2014
The view from the back yard at Rancho Pendejo.

The view from the back yard at Rancho Pendejo.

The move to Duke City is going two ways, gradually and then suddenly, like Mike’s bankruptcy in “The Sun Also Rises.”

Since August we’ve managed to shift Herself, her toiletries and a subset of her wardrobe, and Mister Boo to Rancho Pendejo. Then, a week from today, boom! The movers show up and in two days Chez Dog will be stripped bare, its innards exported to New Mexico.

Mister Boo supervises my cycling coverage from the other side of the couch.

Mister Boo supervises my cycling coverage from the other side of the couch.

I spent Saturday night at the new place. Herself had scored a queen-sized bed for one of the guest rooms, which meant we could dispense with the inflatable mattress in the master bedroom, and come morning I did a few hours’ worth of paying work in the living room before stuffing the mobile office back into the Subaru and motoring north.

I’m out of practice at working on the go, and it shows. I tapped away at the MacBook in a crouch from the couch until I remembered the previous owner had left a cheapo desk and chair in a back room. Duh. That took a few of the kinks out of my process.

But I missed having the Turk sprawled out on my drawing board, and Mia peevishly demanding someone’s attention (“Meow? Meow? Meeeyow!”) So it was good to come home, even if “home” is something of a fluid concept at the moment — here today, there tomorrow.

And I even managed a ride, the first in a good long while. And just in time, too. Last night I dreamed that I had shed so much muscle mass since this two-speed exodus commenced that my bib shorts had become baggies.


Interbike 2014: Homeward bound (part one)

September 13, 2014
A room with a view.

A room with a view.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — Another Tour de Interbike is nearly in the books. The penultimate stage is today (Flagstaff to Albuquerque) with the finale tomorrow (Albuquerque to Colorado Springs).

The Mad Dog Media nerve center at the Luxor.

The Mad Dog Media nerve center at the Luxor.

It was the usual nutty cluster of fuck on the show floor, and thus my best-laid plans for bloggery gang aft agley. My cell at the Luxor was as far away from the action at Mandalay Bay as one could be and still be in Las Vegas, so my dogs were barking so loudly by the time I got “home” that I just tumbled into bed. Mornings were spent over at helping Sir Charles wrangle the Vuelta.

I did another round of that this morning from my sunny suite at the Hampton Inn in Flag’ — a mighty improvement from the Luxor it was, too — and now I’m fixin’ to head east at high speed for Duke City. Mister Boo is not the only critter in the house with a bed now, thanks to Herself. ‘Oorah, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking that left turn at Albuquerque that Bugs was always missing. I wonder what the cats have in store for me? Best not to think about it, the way Bugs never worried much about Elmer.