The path is the Way

November 9, 2021

Light traffic, muted colors

I hate to do this to those of you who are wrestling with actual November weather. But oh, was yesterday ever a fine day to ride the ol’ bikey-bike down to the bosque.

It was a little late in the season to catch the prime fall colors, but there was a flash or two here and there.

Traffic was light on the Paseo del Bosque trail, so instead of heading south past I-40 to Mountain and heading home via the mean streets, Indian School and whatnot, I pulled a U at the interstate — pulling off the arm and knee warmers — and enjoyed a double dose of the auto-free environment.

Then I enhanced the experience by riding the Paseo del Norte path, the North Diversion Channel Trail, and the Arroyo del Oso/Bear Canyon Trail. Hey, you got all this bicycle infrastructure, why not put it to use?

The whole trip added up to a little more than 40 miles and made a nice change of pace from the usual dawdling about in the foothills. I enjoyed my departure from the norm so much that I did it again today.

No, not the 40-mile bike ride. Today, I went for a run.

Rise and shine

November 7, 2021

Time for coffee.

Fall back. As in, fall back into bed for another hour.

Or, you can just not get up. Which is what I did.

Herself arose as per usual. Miss Mia Sopaipilla doesn’t know from time changes, and she will parade up and down the hall giving out with “Reveille” until someone — almost always Herself — gets up, marches into the kitchen, and pours some chow into her bowl.

I’m not a morning person, no matter what time it is. I like this bed. I paid for half of it, and I’m gonna get my money’s worth, thank you very much.

As long as someone feeds the cat. Jesus. Sounds like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Louie Gohmert doing the nasty out there.

Not so hot

November 5, 2021

The wisteria is calling it quits for the year.

The mornings are brisk around here lately. Upon arising I find myself compelled to don pants. This will not do, not at all.

This is one of the few downsides of living snuggled up to the Sandias. Come fall the sun doesn’t peek over the mountains and through the trees until 9:30 or later, which causes Miss Mia Sopaipilla to burn the early morning hours hunting a toasty napping place that does not yet exist as such.

Here comes the sun. “About time,” grouses Mia.

The geezers I ride with a couple days a week likewise search for that sweet sunny spot. There has been some debate as to whether rides should continue to begin 9-ish or be delayed a tad to minimize the need for extensive layering.

It’s not unusual to experience a 30-degree temperature swing in the course of a 90-minute morning outing, which fills the jersey pockets to overflowing with wind jackets, arm and knee warmers, long-fingered gloves, skullcaps and whatnot. Jersey zippers rise and fall with the terrain.

Our location here, at the bottom of a cul-de-sac in the shadow of the foothills, often causes me to believe it’s colder outdoors than it really is. Yesterday I rode the Jones south on the foothills trails and inside 10 minutes I knew I was ridiculously overdressed. Nevertheless I persisted, because there wasn’t much I could do about the long-sleeved jersey and I didn’t stuff any short-fingered gloves into a pocket before leaving.

I found myself riding with a distinct lack of competence, confidence, style, and grace, dabbing on pretty much everything that wasn’t a nice flat sandy patch, and swearing a lot. After a series of miscues on mild obstacles I lost my mojo entirely and tried to focus on simply avoiding injury. This was nearly as irksome as wearing pants in the morning.

After an hour of embarrassing myself I called it quits and headed for home. I should probably get back out there right now and seek redemption.  But I’m thinking about dialing it down to a road ride. Maybe I should wait until we fall back before I fall off.

Many treats, no tricks

November 1, 2021

Behold the Red Punkin.

Man, am I ever glad I doubled up on the sugar stash. We had a veritable thundering herd of trick-or-treaters last night.

We had been thinking that turnout would be on a par with 2020 — basically, the kids in the cul-de-sac and their minders. But some Voice from the Other World suggested I snatch up a couple more bags of goodies when I was in the store the other day. And as soon as I locate a Ouija board I’ll thank him/her/it for the tip, because the little goblins started hitting the doorbell at dusk and didn’t quit until we croaked the lights at 9 p.m.

Maybe it was the light show. Ordinarily we just plug in the Not-So-Great Pumpkin, set it in my office window, and call it good. But this year I gave it some bush-league mad-scientist backup, planting six bicycle taillights around it to add an eerie red glow: three big Busch-Müller jobs that cast a steady light, and three smaller Cygolites set to “Zoom” mode. Muah haah haaaaaah.

More likely it was just some cabin-feverish parents deciding to air out their munchkins for a couple hours. “No, we’re not watching ‘Frozen II’ again. Now put on this Wonder Woman costume and let’s go make your dentist crazy.”

Whatever. It fairly made my shrunken black knuckle of a heart go all pitter-pat. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. You get to be somebody else for a day, or at least part of a night, and who doesn’t want to climb out of his or her boring ol’ skin for a spell at least once a year?

With all the evil news-droppings poisoning our spiritual wells day in and day out, it was comforting to see that we can still trust each other a little bit, share a moment now and again.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. … oh, wow, Mom, Snickers!”

Dia de los Viejos Gringos

October 31, 2021

Nothing says Halloween like a plug-in plastic punkin.

Here we are again, All Hallows’ Eve, boogity boogity boogity.

I don’t have any idea what to expect, trick-or-treatwise. Last year we kept our lights out and restricted candy distribution to the neighbor kids and their keepers. The supplicants included two cats, one cow, a fairy, a princess, and Wonder Woman. The booty was sealed in individual Ziploc bags. We didn’t quite toss it at them from the roof.

“G’wan, gedoudaheeh, y’little Petri dishes! I’m warnin’ ya, I got a bucket a hot bleach up heeah!”

In other news, Ken Layne is back from the road just in time to crank out a Halloween episode for Desert Oracle Radio. Author Tod Goldberg joined him to tell a spooky story, and I liked it so much I dashed right over to Page 1 Books and bought one of his books, “The Low Desert,” a collection of short stories. The first was worth the price of admission. There is a scary clown. I shall say no more.

Me, I don’t have a scary story for you today, or even an original costume idea. I’m dressing as Old White Guy, just like always, because in these dark days I can’t think of anything more frightening. Boo, etc.

Going to the mattresses

October 30, 2021

“Is there a pea under this mattress? I haven’t slept a wink.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla knows what to do with a brisk fall morning — make a blankie burrito out of herself at the foot of our bed.

Ordinarily she’s not a bed kitty, though if we leave the door ajar at night she will jump on our heads at stupid-thirty to see if we’re interested in playing with and/or feeding her.

But come fall, once everyone’s up and doing their little bits of business, she’ll burrow under the covers and assume her nom du sommeil of Lumpy the Bedbug.

Joe-wee

October 27, 2021

I wonder what we could get for this pee tape?

OK, so we chain Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to the bottom of an empty Olympic-size pool. We charge average Americans $5 a go to pee in the pool, and sell the “streaming” rights to the highest bidder.

All proceeds go toward eliminating the debt and deficit, minus a small cash prize to whoever finally puts the two of them under water.

There will be some who say this won’t eliminate the debt or the deficit, or even shove Sleepy Joe’s Incredible Shrinking Build Back Better bill through the legislative sausage grinder. And they’re absolutely right.

But let’s do it anyway.

Taconook

October 26, 2021

Well, now I know what I want for Christmas.

Start passing the sombrero*, y’all. I think you’re gonna need a big one.

* A tip of the hat to Adventure Journal, which agrees with me that “if Toyota was fun and not merely practical, they’d put this sucker into a production run.”

March in October

October 25, 2021

“Hup, hoop, hreep, horp … hey, where’d that senile old fool get off to now?”

I’ve been neglecting my footwork lately, so I left the bikes on their hooks yesterday and took a hike.

Herself thought this a fine idea and joined me, setting a brutal pace as per usual. I had to take a picture just so I could remember what she looked like in case some good Samaritan happened upon me as I lay collapsed in a weepy heap at trailside.

“Have you wandered away from the Home, old timer? Mind if I rummage through your pockets? You won’t need the wallet; the coyotes don’t take Visa, and they sure as shit won’t honor this UnitedHealthcare card. Say, you don’t have a keeper somewhere nearby, do you?”

“Yes (sob) … she looks like this.”

“Oooh, iPhone, cool, I’ll take that too.”

Dune buggy

October 23, 2021

Your Humble Narrator cultivates desert power.

I’m not casting a very long shadow around here lately.

Frankly, there’s not been much to report. That little tease La Niña is in town again and I’ve been chasing her around on the ol’ bikey bikes.

While all you Left Coast/PNW types deploy your parasols and Gore-Tex your loins against the Million-Pound Aquahammer, we here in the desert Southwest are enjoying a balmy period which makes us forget that before long we will be drinking our own sweat and tears, like Paul Atreides and his mom in “Dune.”

Yep, we watched Part I on HBO Max, and it was a’ight, pretty damn fine actually, not bad atall atall. Made the 1984 David Lynch flick look even worse than it actually was, which was pretty fucking bad.

Denis Villeneuve’s take on the Frank Herbert novel might’ve worked better as an HBO series; then he could’ve used a scalpel instead of a cleaver to move things along over the course of a season or two. But only a geek like myself, a science-fiction dweeb who’s read the book 1,207,275 times, is liable to grouse about the subtleties steamrollered to make the narrative march.

Too, if a series proved successful, there would be the temptation to milk the rest of the “Dune” tales. (We may have to deal with this in any case.) Me, I lost interest after trudging through “Dune Messiah” and “Children of Dune,” which is a very short trek indeed through the vast Duniverse.

Anyway, Rebecca Ferguson is the best of the bunch as Lady Jessica, and Timothée Chalamet is a whole lot better than I expected as Paul. He brings a whiff of Nic Cage and maybe a soupçon of Christian Bale to the role. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem as Stilgar is definitely channeling Anthony Quinn’s Auda abu Tayi from “Lawrence of Arabia.”

And the Hans Zimmer score is a character all its own, though digging it through our obsolete surround-sound system was like listening to the London Philharmonic performing Metallica over a walkie-talkie.

Still, it beat squeezing into the old stillsuit, flagging down a passing sandworm, and crossing the Duke City desert to the Harkonnen IMAX. We got beverages around here ain’t even been drunk once yet.