Archive for the ‘In the neighborhood’ Category

Everything’s rosy

September 3, 2017

Winter may be coming, but it ain’t here yet.

We’re getting a burst of late roses here at El Rancho Pendejo. Red, pink, yellow. The works.

The four-day (!) Labor Day weekend has been a rousing success so far. Herself and I went for a short trail run on Friday. On Saturday she performed yoga while I did 90 minutes of hills on the Bianchi Zurigo. Afterward I burned a couple slabs of defunct bovine and served ’em up alongside some spinach fettuccine topped with smoked salmon and asparagus in a shallot cream sauce. Herself provided a refreshing green salad. Teevee was watched, and chocolate eaten.

Today there was more yoga and cycling (the latter on the Sam Hillborne, just rolling around eyeballing some of the top-shelf real estate over by the tram). Afterward the neighbors popped round with baskets full of homegrown goodness — tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers — that went nicely in a salad alongside the leftover moocow from yesterday, plus some mashed spuds. Also, and too, ice cream.

We are neither on fire nor under water, are unlikely to be deported, and there are no inbound missiles of which I am aware.

Is this the winning we’ve heard so much about? If not, why, then, it will have to do.

And now, it’s time for ‘Kiddie Korner’

December 4, 2016
When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

The ‘hood is about to get a new resident. One of the neighbors is majorly preggers, as in due any second now, and since she and her husband already have one on the deck, Herself and I have become part of a small army of folks drafted into service as amateur anklebiter monitors in case the deal goes down in the wee small hours.

In loco parentis, as it were, with an emphasis on the “loco” part.

The one underfoot is a cute lil’ munchkin, freshly hatched when we first viewed the property that would become El Rancho Pendejo, and we’ve watched her go from wide-eyed newborn to astoundingly sentient being in two short years. She and mom pop round for regular visits, mostly so the kid can see Mister Boo and lay curious hands upon bits of technology that some careless person leaves lying around where pretty much anyone, no matter how short, can glom onto it.

In a couple months I expect she’ll be editing my columns, unless she gets distracted by her new little sister.

Elsewhere, my man Hal Walter is soliciting recommendations for a budget Windows laptop. His son, Harrison, is addicted to the game Minecraft, and I guess the PC world beats Apple at this sort of thing.

I know even less about Minecraft and Windows than I do about everything else, especially children and the care and feeding thereof, so if anyone out there has some suggestions for Hal, feel free to leave ’em in comments.

 

Interbike 2016: Sucking it up

September 26, 2016
The Duke City vortex.

The Duke City vortex.

ALBUQUERQUE (MDM) — There must be something to all that vortex talk about Sedona. Something was definitely sucking there on Saturday. Mostly the drive in, down Oak Creek Canyon, on what should have been a beautiful fall afternoon.

I suppose if you have to be trapped in a traffic jam there are worse places for it. I had just left one of them, Las Vegas (“Gateway to Bankruptcy and Repossession”), and was glad of it, too.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Still, you expect all manner of inconvenience in Sin City. Sedona bills itself as “The Most Beautiful Place On Earth In So Many Ways,” but this linear parking lot was not one of them.

Right behind me were a couple little yos in a red Kia getting their smoke on, their rap music polluting the air nearly as badly as the conga line of cars. (Pro tip: A red Kia is not “gangsta.”)

Up front, a sign proclaimed “Speed Reduced Ahead.” Not possible, I thought, glancing at my speedometer, which was flirting with zero. This made driving through Taos on Memorial Weekend look like barreling down I-25 between Raton and Wagon Mound at 3 in the morning. At least nobody was hollering or honking.

I hadn’t been to Sedona in years, and I wouldn’t see much of the new-and-improved version this trip. After inching through town to my hotel, I slouched over to the inevitable Whole Paycheck, bought a mess of juice, salami, cheese and crackers, and slouched back. Thusly fortified, I reclined on a chaise lounge at poolside and set about enjoying the comparative peace and quiet of the bubbling hot tub after the clangor and din of the Luxor-Mandalay Bay Dante Alighieri Memorial Circles of Hell (Two Through Four Inclusive).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Just about then a couple wanders in and of course they are in a mood to chat, having just come from the annual Sedona Winefest. He was a copper miner from Globe-Miami, and she was a phys-ed teacher and coach … who just happened to have cycled with a trailer from Canada to Mexico and was a member of the Adventure Cycling Association.

(“Cue “It’s a Small World After All.” Everybody sing!)

Anyway, they told me that on any given weekend Sedona was pretty much as I had already seen it, and so bright and early the next morning I arose, loaded the Subaru and got the hell out of Dodge. Vortex. Whatever. I took the back door through the hamlet of Oak Creek, which allowed me to use fifth gear and my inside voice.

I made it back to Duke City and El Rancho Pendejo in time for a light dinner and a short walk with Herself and Mister Boo. Turkish and Mia bestirred themselves, albeit briefly. (“Oh, you were gone? We hadn’t noticed.”) We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an early bedtime.

All this peace and quiet will be shattered by tonight’s debate and the subsequent spinning of same, of course. Some vortexes suck more than others.

 

Ridesharing

August 9, 2016
A three-seater?

A three-seater?

So, like any good gabacho hipster, I’m riding my Rivendell Clem Smith Jr. to the coffee shop when I encounter a couple of vatos trying to negotiate the pedestrian signals at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk without getting centerpunched by a speeding SUV.

They missed their east-west opportunity, so they pivot to the north-west crosswalk, and the older of the two, sporting a cane and a limp, says to me, “Hey, can you give us a lift to Taco Bell?”

“Sorry, man, I forgot my basket,” I quip.

Unfazed, he replies, “That’s OK, he can ride on the handlebars and I’ll ride in back.”

Ay, Robot

August 8, 2016
I'm up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

I’m up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

Electricity is your friend, until it isn’t.

We were watching the finale to season one of “Mr. Robot,” the one in which Eliott awakens in Tyrell’s SUV to discover that his hack has taken down the global financial system and all is chaos, when the lights first hiccuped and then went out altogether.

Bzzzzt. Game over.

The culprit wasn’t FSociety or any other anonymous (har de har har) hacktivist collective. Seems a bolt of lightning drilled a West Side Public Service Company of New Mexico substation, starting a fire and turning out the lights from Santa Fe to Los Lunas — affecting some 135,435 customers, including our little cul-de-sac. PNM said later it was the worst power outage in years.

After a bit, everyone in the ‘hood wandered into the street, exchanging quips about who tripped over the cord, passing out candles to the light-deprived, and generally just catching up on idle chitchat. Nice and dark it was, and cool, with just a soupçon of rain.

About the time we decided we’d better eat all the ice cream before it turned into ice-cream soup, click, the power came back on. Civilization — or the feeble substitute we’ve all agreed to settle for — marches on.

O, wholly night

December 26, 2015
My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

A neighbor couple had invited us to join them for a full-moon Christmas ride on the Sandia foothills trails (.pdf), and while the field was halved by start time last night — his wife was recovering from a cold, and mine thought her headlight gravely underpowered — Phil and I soldiered on.

Alas, the moon likewise declined to participate, and my lighting system also proved less than illuminating (an elderly, AAA-powered trinity of Cateye Opticube HL-EL450, Princeton Tec EOS, and Princeton Tec Remix). Happily, Phil was content to lead the way with his new Cygolite, so we got around and about without issue.

My "lighting system." Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

My “lighting system.” Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

I was reminded how much fun it is to do something different, and how good this can be for the bike industry, because you discover how woefully clapped out your equipment is.

There was the lighting issue, for starters. Also, my old Pearl Izumi winter gloves seem to have gone walkabout in the move, I have no clear lenses for my prescription Rudy Project Rb-3 cycling glasses, and my decrepit Kucharik toe covers no longer cover all 10 toes.

And which bike to ride? I ride these trails on a cyclo-cross bike in the daylight, but that seemed unwise in the dark, with old snow and ice likely to be lurking in any north-facing bits. The old DBR Axis TT mountain bike seemed an ideal choice, until I found a big hop in the rear tire that no amount of inflation, deflation, removal, replacement, and yanking this way and that could resolve.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff? That would have been fun, but I didn’t fancy fixing a rear-wheel flat in the freezing dark (the Rohloff hub and Gates belt drive complicate that chore a bit, and I was out of practice).

Thus, the Jones. It’s the perfect bike for this sort of outing. Big-ass Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 tires, a Shimano XT drivetrain with a low end of 19.3 gear inches for creeping through icy rockpiles in the inky blackness, and Avid BB7 discs with 200/180mm rotors for knocking down the MPH as necessary. Plus you could hang 12 headlights on that H-bar, if you had ’em, which I did not.

Speaking of which, I’m taking recommendations for a reasonably priced headlight. Sound off in comments if you feel so inclined. And a happy Boxing Day to one and all.

 

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.

Return of Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

April 17, 2015
Out near El Malpais National Monument on a shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

Out near El Malpais National Monument on a shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

The New Mexico Touring Society, New Mexico Bicyclist Educators and the Adventure Cycling Association are throwing a hoedown on Sunday at Balloon Fiesta Park, right here in Duke City, to celebrate the new Bicycle Route 66 with presentations and speechifying, New Mexican grub and (of course) a bit of cycling.

In honor of the ACA’s visit to my little ciudad, I have been empowered to arrange a number of free six-month trial memberships to the beautiful and talented people who follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or lurk around this blog waiting for me to pull my thumb out and get caustic, funny or both.

Members get discounts on maps, access to special organized tours, and Adventure Cyclist magazine, wherein one may discover glistening pearls of wisdom from cycling authorities who are not me. But I’m in there too.

Click the link and saddle up. See you on the road.

One, two, tree

October 18, 2014
The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big silver maple back in Bibleburg is quite a sight come fall. Also quite a bit of work. It’s a rare year in which we don’t get more than a dozen 32-gallon bags of leaves off the auld fella.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

But it’s worth it, because that tree sits on the south side of The Old Home Place®, and keeps the afternoon sun from cooking us like a pair of rotisserie chickens.

We have some class of a maple here in Duke City, too, but a much smaller model, on the east side of Rancho Pendejo™. It’s further along in the leaf-shedding process, but tidying up its droppings should be a damn’ sight easier on the lower back.

This also suits me right down to the ground, because frankly I’d rather be riding a bike than raking leaves. I’ve been discovering the wanderings of Trail 365 north of here, and it makes for some fun riding on the old Voodoo Nakisi. I surprised a couple of mountain bikers in a blind corner the other day and one exclaimed, “Nicely done,” clearly thinking I was on an actual cyclo-cross bike instead of a MonsterCrosser® with a triple crankset and 700×45 Panaracer Fire Cross tires.

Actually, check that, I’ve dialed the front tire down to a 700×42 Continental CrossRide. So I guess I am a manly man after all.

 

Moving in, on, and around and about

October 9, 2014
The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

Rancho Pendejo is coming together, bit by bit, inch by inch.

The Pink Room is now Livable Green, as is the master bedroom. The living room is likewise livable, but not green, with the furniture more or less arranged, some works from my old college pal Michael Brangoccio on the walls, and the home-theater setup ticking along nicely, serving up Blu-Ray, streaming video via Mac Mini, and KUNM-FM. And the kitchen is open for business whenever I’m inclined to cook, which lately is not often. Folks actually make edible grub here, and it’s been fun playing culinary explorer.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

We’ve also been exploring the local trails, which are abundant, eclectic and accessible pretty much from the front door.

The excellent Tramway bike path can be found just a couple blocks west on Comanche Road. And there’s a bike lane on Comanche itself that runs most of the way west to the North Diversion Channel Trail. The Paseo del Norte trail will get you there, too, but there are a few hiccups along the way.

Just a couple blocks east is Foothills Trail 365, a short stretch of which makes a nice out-and-back run for Herself. I’ve been hiking around and about there, jogging the uphills to see how the knees feel, and yesterday I took the Voodoo Nakisi out for a short exploratory ride on the trails that fan out from 365 and stumbled across the entrance to a bit of local wilderness, all of three miles from Rancho Pendejo. Fat city.

We got a light rain last night, and there’s more of the same in the forecast, so I’ll probably give the trails a rest today, maybe have a whang at the Tramway instead. It goes without saying that neither of the two bikes I brought from Bibleburg sports fenders. Duh.