Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Winter is coming?

December 29, 2021

I’ve put more white powder than that up me snout on a weeknight.

I know, I know — don’t tempt the Fates, never let your blog write a check that your ass can’t cash, and so on and so forth.

But sheeeeeyit: You call this “snow?”

The Bread Box is baked.

The appalling lack of precipitation aside, it was not so warm outside today, and not so hot inside, either.

Our $20 garage-sale bread machine seems to have toasted itself after a year of medium-heavy use, churning out a bleak pan of something one might expect to find in the toilet at a dive bar on St. Paddy’s Day if the menu featured a questionable shepherd’s pie and some heavily stepped-on blow.

Thing is, y’see, I have about 20 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour on hand. So I may be forced to learn how to bake bread the way me forefathers did, only without the dubious advantage of being knee-walking drunk.

Or I could just buy another Toastmaster on eBay.

Chipseal, choo-choos, and curses

December 23, 2021

Take me to the river.

Yesterday was one of those rare December days in the desert, the sort where you think, “OK, so if we survive the Parade of Plagues we’re all going to be drinking our own wee-wee come summer. It’s worth it.”

I was overdressed when I slipped out midday for a quick 20 miles of rollers, but not ridiculously so. Temps ranged from the low to mid-50s, and the sky was as you see.

Choo-choo-cha-boogie.

Still, there have been Dire Portents of the End Times. My totem, a clockwork railroad engineer who waves from his locomotive-slash-mailbox as I pass, withheld the friendly gesture on Monday. But yesterday he was back on the job, so make of that what you will. Some of us just don’t feel the wave on Mondays.

And one of the cute little girls from next door swore at me like a Vegas Teamster. She’s a bit of a dervish, but usually she doesn’t whirl that way. Mom caught her at it and she was compelled to offer an apology watered down with a grinning decline to make eye contact, followed by a quick ascent of our front-stoop trellis. I suspect a mild case of demonic possession. No vaccination for that.

Speaking of vaccinations, Herself got boosted yesterday, and this morning she feels like she got shot at and hit and shit at and hit. That’s a Thursday Two-fer for you.

Still, better to be poorly for a little while than a long while. This Omicron cootie gets around faster than bad news on cable TV and we have a little old lady in our orbit. Wouldn’t do to fire a round of The Bug into assisted living. That’d be like turning a hyena loose in a Texas Roadhouse.

Speaking of which, who picks the names for these things? I’d just as soon not get croaked by something that sounds like a bush-league Avengers villain hoping for a callup to The Show. Whatever happened to proper plagues like the Red Death? Eddie Poe must be spinning in his grave.

Why the long shadow?

December 21, 2021

Gandalf the Grey? Nah. Gradaigh the Groady.

No, it’s not some dark twist on the old “a horse walks into a bar” joke.

It’s solstice! Short day, low sun, long shadows. Huzzah, etc.

Don’t forget your cap, squire.

I start carrying a cycling cap on rides this time of year. Generally I get a late start, because it’s not exactly toasty out there in the mornings, even in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert. And if I’m headed home into that low sun come midafternoon, I want some sort of eyeshade so I can see who’s trying to kill me.

Likewise on hikes I favor a broad-brimmed hat, either a Carhartt crushable boonie or a Broner fedora if I’m feeling stylish.

For runs I go back to the cycling cap — not the Rivendell, but a beat-up Campagnolo model that is so old I can’t recall where or how I acquired it, since I’ve never been a Campy man. I usually fetch a light Sugoi watch cap along too, and wear one while tucking the other into my waistband. Got to keep the brain-box warm since I don’t drink the antifreeze no mo’.

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo. …

Just remember to keep moving, like the Earth around the sun, and the Milky Way around the amazing and expanding universe. Don’t crouch indoors like a gargoyle, puzzling out that goddamn WordPress block editor or how long it’s been since your last shot and whether you dare have your great-aunt Fannie over for tea and biscuits. Get out there and chase yourself around.

I know, it’s dark out there. It’s dark when you get up, dark when you go to bed, and in between it’s just dark.

But keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. While you’re at it, you might pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space, ’cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth. And keep one hand on your liver.

Good night, moon.

Getting wood in Weirdcliffe

February 22, 2021

The fireplace in Weirdcliffe, before we installed a Lopi woodstove insert.

When Texas sank back into the Ice Age, I was reminded of the good old days on our wind-scoured rockpile outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado.

There, the power only went out whenever it was inconvenient. And it usually would stay off for an hour or two at minimum, which was the time it took for a utility guy from Cañon City to flip a switch somewhere.

We learned early on that not much works during winter at 8,800 feet in the ass-end of nowhere if you don’t have power. No water, no cooking, and most important, no heat.

I remembered the joys of a heat-free home from my stint in a 9×40 singlewide trailer in Greeley back in 1974. Its oil furnace was forever seizing up in the middle of a winter night, and there’s nothing that clarifies the mind for higher education quite as well as the backsplash from a frozen toilet when you get up at stupid-thirty to offload a sixer of the long-neck Falstaffs you enjoyed for dinner.

Our private road. I went backwards on this stretch in 4WD one evening. I wasn’t scared or nothin’, but somebody shit on my seat. | Photo: Hal Walter

So on our hillside, we kept ourselves prepared. There were canned goods and jerrycans of water in the hall closet, along with a Coleman two-burner and several 1-pound propane bottles for emergency cookery. And we had several candle lanterns and flashlights at the ready because this shit never happens in broad daylight on a weekday.

But the smartest thing we did was have a Lopi woodstove insert installed in our fireplace, along with buying a chainsaw and ax. When you heat with wood, it warms you twice — while you’re cutting it, and while you’re burning it.

And speaking of getting wood, yes, yes, yes, it’s time for the latest episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: I recorded this one in the Comedy Closet, using a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with a sonic bump from Auphonic. Music by Infernal Hound Sound; sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat. Special guest appearance by Shel Silverstein.

Mardi Gras on the rocks

February 16, 2021

Save your beads, boys. Ain’t nobody pulling off their tops today.

February almost always looks better somewhere else.

In February 2014 I fled Bibleburg for Albuquerque. In 2016, I traded Albuquerque for Fountain Hills.

And this year?

Well, shit. I appear to be sheltering in place, like everybody else.

Well, maybe not everybody else.

At stupid-thirty I looked outside and noted that our neighbor to the west had laid down some tire tracks in the snow that fell overnight. It kept falling, and after sunrise, the neighbor to the east laid down a matching set on the other side of the cul-de-sac.

They both have jobs and munchkins to manage. Me, not so much. I don’t have to be anywhere, and so I’m not going there.

• Lone Star Update: In Texas Monthly Mimi Swartz feels her hurricane reflexes kick in as the power grid is pushed to the limit.

Blather warning

February 14, 2021

Cold? Yah. Blizzard? Nah.

The weather wizards are proclaiming a blizzard warning for the Duke City and its environs, but Boreas seems to have pissed off somewhere. Maybe he’s stalking Cupid.

Anyway, we have maybe an inch of snow on the deck, and some flurries continue, but the wind speed is far short of double digits.

It is colder than relations between Mitt Romney and Ron Johnson, but they’re both as rich as Croesus so I’m sure they’ll get over it.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

February 12, 2021

Red sky at morning, Mad Dogs take warning.

So much for the days of knickers and short sleeves.

I’ve gotten out every day this week, including two short trail rides — the first on a Steelman cyclocross bike, the second on the DBR hardtail — and one short but luxurious hike on a day so warm I could roll up my sleeves and go bareheaded, get a little vitamin D into the old chrome-dome.

A fella has to make hay while the sun shines, don’t you know. The weather wizards predict a wintry one-two punch this weekend, with the Duke City getting the worst of it on Sunday.

In the meantime, we were treated to a colorful sunrise this morning. A warning if ever I saw one.

 

Nocturnal emissions

January 26, 2021

The view from the guest bedroom at 5:34 a.m.

“It’s a winter wonderland!” Herself sang as I flung open the bedroom door, growling like an elderly bear, a hitch in my gitalong after a night of imperfect sleep.

Son of a bitch. Right again. No wonder they pay her the big bucks.

Happily, neither of us has to take our chances on the Duke City streets this fine frosty morning. Herself continues to work from home in Year Two of the Plague, and I am a senior citizen on a fixed income who doesn’t have to do jack shit other than sit on his arse, bitching about this and that, while waiting for Uncle Sugar to give with the free money.

I’ve seen two fine auto crashes in the past two days. The first was on Tramway near Comanche; a Honda Element and some other vehicle came to grief in the southbound lanes as I was cycling northward on Sunday. The second ate up two northbound lanes on Juan Tabo near Lomas on Monday, as I was taking the Fearsome Furster in for an emissions check and re-registration.

The  emissions tester was a man unhappy in his work, probably because he was freezing his nuts off in his tiny shed, which let the bitter southeastern wind roll in with each customer. Nevertheless, he and the State conspired to rob me of a couple hundy for the dubious privilege of courting death on the mean streets of the Land of Enchantment in a 16-year-old rice grinder, and then we were both in a bad mood.

I won’t take my brand-new sticker out for a spin today, thanks all the same. We have already established that my neighbors can’t keep the shiny side up on a sunny day, and I’ve just paid in advance for two years’ worth of happy motoring.

Anyway, it’s cold out there. Colder than a gut-shot bitch wolf dog with nine sucking pups pulling a number-four trap up a hill in the dead of winter in the middle of a snowstorm with a mouth full of porcupine quills. …

Happy trails, or the slime’s best inside the tires

January 28, 2020

Blue skies above, brown trails below.

It’s not all politics, podcasts, and posole around here. Some days I actually get outdoors to ride the bike.

But lately a bitter north wind has been whistling down our cul-de-sac, making the weather surrounding El Rancho Pendejo seem worse than it actually is.

The sun spends its mornings skulking around behind the Sandias, burning its daylight where I can’t see it. The trails seem a little muddier than usual for this time of year. And the streets are curb to curb with the usual multitasking mutts who think “hands-free” refers to their use of the steering wheel, not the cellphone.

Back when I was a man instead of whatever it is I am now, I’d ride wherever, whenever, in all manner of weather, fair and foul.

But that was then. And this . …

This is another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

On the road again. …

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The pigpen belongs to zecraum at Freesound.org. Shovel and pickax courtesy CameronMusic at the same joint. The Dubliners gave out with “Poor Paddy Works On the Railway.” Tom Cotton and Alan Dershowitz address us through the holes in their lying arses. All other sonic enhancements are courtesy of Your Humble Narrator and his handy, dandy little Tascam DR-05 portable audio recorder.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2019

The Sandias, as captured by my “new” iPhone SE.

O sweet irony, that the first day of winter should be the warmest we’ve had all week.

Your Humble Narrator has been doing more running than riding lately, so once the temperature inched past 45 I scooted out the door with a Steelman Eurocross and logged a refreshing 90 minutes on mixed terrain.

I didn’t want to ride a bunch of road, because all the drivers are drunk and texting relatives about what size orthopedic socks to buy Uncle Junior for Christmas and will they fit under his ankle monitor. And I didn’t want to ride a bunch of trails because all the cyclists are using them to hide from the drunk, texting drivers. Thus, “mixed terrain.” Keep the fuckers guessing.

I took my “new” iPhone SE with me, but didn’t think to take any snaps until I got home. The transition from iPhone 5 to iPhone SE was surprisingly simple — swap SIM cards, charge and boot the SE, load it with an iTunes backup of the 5, zip and zip and zip. Mere minutes only. And everything seems to be working. Even the old Tech 21 case fits like a glove.

It goes without saying that my first two calls on the “new” phone came from bots. But I’m saying it anyway.

And I’m also saying, “A happy solstice to thee and thine.” Grianstad Sona Daoibh!