Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

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!

Put on your sailin’ shoes

February 22, 2019

Everyone will start to cheer when you put on your sailin’ shoes.

Man, it seems I’m not the only person with a bad case of the Februaries.

Bicycle Retailer’s Steve Frothingham is at Frostbike in Minnesota, but it’s not a social call, and seems unlikely to break a streak of two weeks without exercise.

“S’what’s on the menu this evening?” I asked yesterday. “Partying with industry leaders?”

“Typing,” he replied.

Adventure Cyclist‘s Nick Legan, meanwhile, was riding that fabled Road to Nowhere in Colorado and looking forward to the Roll Massif, which will be conducted outdoors, with any luck at all in warmer weather.

Ooo, datsa baaaaaaad ol’ puddy tat.
| Photo by Hal Walter

“I was on the trainer myself,” he said. “Tried distracting myself from the misery with intervals and a movie. Worked in some respects, didn’t in others.”

Up Weirdcliffe way, Hal Walter was dealing with single-digit temps, wind, and writer’s block in what he called “the worst winter in recent memory.”

He was also keeping a weather eye out for unwelcome company. When I asked what made those tracks, he replied, “Something that could eat you.”

Me, I was making my own tracks. I put on my sailin’ shoes — along with fleece-lined tights, two Patagucci long-sleeved shirts, an old ShaverSport wind jacket, tuque, and gloves — and lumbered off into a strong southerly wind that bore nary a whiff of sun-splashed desert.

I hit some sort of weirdo thermocline just past the turnaround and set about unzipping this and unbuttoning that. But by the time I’d left the trail and hit the short paved stretch leading home I was freezing my huevos off again.

It wasn’t what I’d call fun, but it was exercise, and some days that’s enough. Still, if you must run, don’t forget to take your Little Feat with you.

Doctor, doctor, well, I feel so bad
This is the worst day I ever had
He said, Have you this misery a very long time?
Well, if you ill, I’ll lay it on the line
You’ve got to put on your sailin’ shoes
Put on your sailing shoes
Everyone will start to cheer
When you put on your sailin’ shoes

Fixin’ to take a WIPPin’

February 21, 2019

Looking west from El Rancho Pendejo. Somewhere over the horizon Flagstaff is taking another pounding.

Yahweh is supposed to have another go at us over the next couple of days, and then the weather is expected to return to something more in keeping with late February in the upper reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert, which is to say sunny and warmish.

Meanwhile, DeeCee is getting all hot and bothered over rumors that it will be Mueller Time almost any second now, no shit, really, this time we’re not kidding, it’s for reals, duck and cover, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

Can you imagine how many Old Wise Heads will explode if he hits us with the prosecutorial equivalent of “Heckuva job, Trumpie?” Or if the Justice League buries the report down at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant with a 24/7 guard of Terminators? Maybe has China express-mail the sucker to the far side of the moon?

“The public is welcome to inspect the report there,” says Justice Department media liaison Phuq Yu. “We are nothing if not transparent.”

White-line fever

February 20, 2019

Base camp at the overflow area in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2004.

It’s been a chilly, damp winter in Albuquerque, which isn’t saying much.

Still, it grates after a while, and never more so than during February, a month that is simultaneously too short and too long.

Herself has been to Costa Rica, the neighbors just fled to Mexico, and some other friends beat feet all the way to France.

And yet here I sit (no, this is not a poem, and it is specifically not that poem), rattling the bars on my window of opportunity and losing arguments with the voices in my head.

I’ve written often and at length about my irrational hatred for February, and I was getting set to do it again when I realized, “Hey, I’ve written often and at length about my irrational hatred for February. Why don’t I turn it into a podcast?”

Which I did. This is it. You’re welcome. Now hand me the snow shovel on your way out, would you? I want to smack myself in the head with it.

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

• Editorial notes: The “Mad Dog Unleashed” column headlined “On the Road Again: Frown Lines Search for a Few Tan Lines,” which is my onion at the bottom of this bitter pot of bitch stew, first appeared in the February 2004 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. My line about February having roots in the French “febrile” is, as you may already know, complete and utter bullshit. The Cactus Cup has returned to McDowell Mountain Regional Park since that 2004 column — this year’s edition is slated for March 8-10. And finally, did you know that Peter “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow, pedal steel player for The Flying Burrito Brothers, was also a visual-effects artist and stop-motion animator who worked on “Gumby?” Neither did I.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited in Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired through fair means and foul via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in an admittedly casual approach to various copyrights). Speaking of which, the pedal steel riff that closes the episode is from Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever,” as performed by The Flying Burrito Brothers on their eponymous 1971 album. The background music is “Trapped” from Zapsplat.com. And the rewind sound is courtesy of TasmanianPower at Freesound.org.