Posts Tagged ‘Fall’

Hot and cold

October 30, 2019

The backyard maple is giving up the ghost, just in time for Halloween.

Elections should not be held as the days grow shorter, darker and colder.

One is not inclined toward optimism or fellowship as the furnace begins clicking, on and off, on and off. Our better selves are very much not in evidence. What we’re thinking about is not how we might strive together to build a brighter future, but rather which of our neighbors we would kill and eat first when the power goes out, the grocery stores have been stripped of toothsome tidbits, and the backyard gardens have been grazed down to the bedrock.

Which is the scenic route toward saying, yeah, I punched the buttons that activate the Compound’s heating systems last night. Also, and moreover, I am wearing pants this morning. The horror … the horror.

But at least I am in my own house, unlike at least one of my people out in Santa Rosa. My man Merrill has fled south to his brother’s pad in Hell A, which may be called an improvement only because Hell A is not currently on the barbie. Yet.

When last heard from, Mayor Chris was sheltering in place and continuing his bid to become Commissioner Chris. More from that smoke-filled room as I hear it.

One wonders about the mood of the electorate in Sonoma County. If PG&E were a candidate for anything other than a vigorous tarring and feathering I would predict a massive beating that would make Nixon-McGovern look like a friendly rub-and-tug in a Healdsburg hot tub.

But who knows? The People are a fickle bunch, and winter is coming. They might just elect PG&E president.

Going nowhere fast

October 19, 2019

The leaves are changing faster than what remains of Il Douche’s mind.

Ever been stuck in the mud, or the snow?

You get out of your rig to evaluate the situation, consider your options, and compute the probabilities. Eventually you arrive at a conclusion.

“Well, shit.”

Everyone else is motoring gaily along and yet here you are, mired to the hubs in a mess of your own making.

“Well, hell.”

And, no, I’m not talking about our national political quagmire, though, yeah, that too.

“Well, fuck.”

This was simply a matter of me taking my eye off the seasonal ball for a second, and suddenly, boom, here it is, half past October and I haven’t ventured beyond the city limits more than a couple of times all year.

Thus there was something of a piling on, envy-wise, this week.

Old Town Bike Shop’s John Crandall and his wife, Kathy, rolled through town on a short motor tour of the Southwest. The neighbors headed north for a weekend in Taos. And Herself, a confirmed non-camper, sallied forth with a friend to overnight with the Sierra Club at Chaco Culture National Historical Park before Il Douche’s pals decide to strip-mine, drill, or otherwise frack the place all to hell and gone.

“Well, goddamnit all anyway.”

This last was particularly irksome. The Chaco junket had come up in casual conversation some time back, but I have the memory of a Mac 128K and some data gets overwritten in fairly short order.

Suddenly the trip got scrawled on the calendar in the kitchen and I found myself pressed into service as quartermaster officer, furiously inspecting, rejecting, and selecting neglected bits of this, that and the other. Camp stoves and cookware; sleeping pads and bags; and various creature comforts of our modern age (the BioLite PowerLight is a charming little torch/lantern/charger combo, particularly so when paired with SiteLights.)

All for a trip that I was not taking.

You know how your dog looks at you when you’re loading up for a car trip? Imagine my expression as we muscled all this gear into the companion’s Honda CR-V. Things they thought they needed and things I thought they needed — including two bicycles, because of course they were taking bicycles too and there was no bike carrier on this auto.

Like Rufo’s little black box in Heinlein’s “Glory Road,” the thing had to be bigger on the inside than the outside. I should’ve taken a picture. Sardines in a can have more elbow room.

The spartan Camp Dog, featuring the North Face Expedition-25, at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2016.

I was not consulted as regards the tent, and when I caught a glimpse of the companion’s eight-person (!) tent in its sack, I knew immediately what Private Pyle’s body bag must have looked like. Especially if they stuffed Gunny Hartmann in there with him.

There was no time to dig out the old North Face Expedition-25 and provide instruction on setup and takedown, so I kept my lips zipped. But I’ll bet that cavernous sonofabitch got cold last night.

Me, I was toasty in the old king-size with a couple of unauthorized cats. Today is shaping up to be sunny and warm, and I have a new review bike to ride, a Cannondale Topstone 105.

But I’ll be riding it on the same old roads, and you what they say about familiarity.

 

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Days decrease, and autumn grows

October 10, 2018

Yesterday’s clouds were a harbinger of mildly unpleasant weather,
the sort one expects in October.

It’s that time of year again.

This morning, instead of going straight to The New York Times to see what deviltry Cheeto Benito has been up to while we slept, I cued up Weather Underground to find out what Thor has in store for us here in our little corner of the Duke City.

Also, I was wearing socks. And pants. O, the humanity.

I already miss my summer routine. Reveille at oh-dark-thirty as Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) leaps into my rack. After a brief exchange of the usual courtesies it’s up and into the Columbia shorts, guinea tee and Tevas for the trip to the kitchen, where I burn an English muffin for Herself, pour a cup of joe for myself, and top off Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s kibble.

Next, open the sliding glass doors and a kitchen window. Fresh air reminds me we have two cats who haven’t mastered the flush toilet. But the litter box will have to wait. First, the news. One foul chore at a time, please.

With the international, national, regional and local butt-nuggets exhumed, examined and expunged, and a second cup of coffee to wash down a snack of some sort, it’s time to generate a bit of bloggery and/or paying copy before embarking upon some healthy outdoor activity.

Here we have another indicator of the relentless passage of time, as reliable as falling leaves. Come autumn, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and Adventure Cyclist reduce their frequency of publication, and my income stream — hardly a raging torrent, even in the heart of the cycling season — becomes more of a dribble, the last warm sip from summer’s water bottle.

I delivered the video teaser of my Jones Plus SWB review to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, and yesterday the November “Shop Talk” cartoon went off to BRAIN. Now I’m fresh out of other people’s bikes to ponder, and there’s just one more ’toon to draw for 2018.

And that healthy outdoor activity? Come autumn, it’s as likely to be a run as a ride. This year I started jogging again in July; this lets me sort of sneak up on my knees, give them time to grow accustomed to the idea that we enjoy this sort of thing, before winter winnows our options.

It’s a useful fiction, one that keeps me in shorts a while longer.

The foggy dew

September 23, 2018

Uh oh, look out, it’s clouding up over the Sandias.

And boom! That’s it. Summer’s a goner.

I could feel it yesterday. The day was sunny but cool, and nobody would have sneered if I’d started my ride with arm warmers, even knee warmers. The hairy legs might have drawn a few hoots back in the day, but that was … well, back in the day.

“Yes indeed, this will do nicely,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla was inspecting the Winter Bunker on behalf of His Excellency, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment).

Spike the Terrorist Deer has slipped inside the wire a time or two in recent days and The Leader often feels it wise to devise strategy far from the distractions of frontline combat.

Today seemed a day to boil the breakfast earlyMcCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Twining’s Irish Breakfast tea, and like that there.

Why, yes, funny you should ask, Herself is still a-roving around County Sligo with her younger sister, inspecting waterfalls and poets’ graves, quaffing pints of the black, and shooting iPhone video of a harpist playing “The Foggy Dew,” one of the tunes collected from the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 by Edward Bunting, a 19-year-old organist from Armagh.

When I was 19 the only Harp I knew came in bottles. You don’t want to know what I was doing with me organ.

Gasbag

October 8, 2017

No snow here yet, but the trees know it’s fall.

No, not that one.

Last night Herself and I were walking The Boo around sunset when I noticed an object in the northwestern sky.

“If that’s a balloon,” I observed, “it’s not tethered. That sucker is on the move.”

And so it was. The gasbag sailed right over El Rancho Pendejo at dark-thirty, bound for the East Mountains and points east, as part of the 22nd America’s Challenge. I hope the pilot got over the Sandias without incident. There’s more than gold in them thar hills. Yogi and Boo-Boo would dearly love a pic-a-nic basket, especially if it’s delivered.

Meanwhile, as you can see from the photo up top, the trees are turning with all possible haste. And there’s a winter-storm watch in effect for the Front Strange.

Lucky for us we’re residents of the Duke City, where we’re looking at a sunny stretch of 60s and 70s.

 

The days grow short

September 27, 2017

Leaves are turning, and so is the sky.

Some evildoer swiped my beautiful desert climate while I was on the road. A fella can’t leave nothin’ unlocked and unguarded in these parts.

I should be out and about, logging miles on the Marin Nicasio. But instead here I am, in the office, catching up on correspondence and expense reports, brokering real-estate deals, and drinking green tea.

Why, I may even put on pants. That’s how dire the situation has become.

Damp, gray weather like this is why the Mid-Willamette Valley and I proved such a poor fit back in the early Eighties. It makes me want to eat everything, with a side of everything else, and wash it all down with buckets of brain-eraser. Cost me my girlish laughter it did, along with a few buttons on the old 501s.

And now Twitter is testing a 280-character tweet, doubling the previous limit we’ve all come to know and love. Good Gawd Awmighty. Has the world gone mad? Zombie Russian novelists must be running that op’ these days. Tolstoy needed more than 140 characters just to clear his throat.

What Twitter really needs is an editing function. But if we had that, I expect more of us might come to realize that we only have 140 characters’ worth of wisdom in us on a good day.

My (Euro)cross to bear

October 15, 2016
Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

More cycling yesterday. I think I’ve finally broken my annual post-Interbike slump.

For some reason, probably that we’re suddenly in the middle of October, I decided to pull my favorite Steelman Eurocross off its hook, give it a bit of a wash and brush-up (plus two new Michelin Jets), and go chase myself around the Elena Gallegos Open Space for an hour or so.

I like to enjoy this sort of foolishness on a weekday, during business hours, the trails come weekends being thick with body-armored double-boingers, texting dog-walkers, the iPlod People and other impediments to forward motion. No need to have an audience while one struggles up a rocky pitch in the 36×26, with 700×30 tires.

One of these days I need to give the old beast more than some fresh rubber. Nine-speed Ultegra, maybe? That eight-speed STI is the velo-equivalent of stone knives and bearskins these days, though it seemed just the ticket back when I still had a song on my lips and a spring in my steps.

Welcome Matt

October 7, 2016
Definitely a hint of fall in the air, and in the trees as well.

Definitely a hint of fall in the air, and in the trees as well.

One of my brothers-in-law recently took a job in Florida — the east coast, naturally — and looks like the welcome wagon has finally rolled up.

No worries. As Hurricane Matthew came a-calling he evacuated westward to a town just outside Chez Mouse, and with any luck at all, he’s just getting his windows washed for free. My bro’-in-law, not Mickey. The sis-in-law is still up north, wrapping up their affairs there.

Here in the Duke City the mornings and evenings have grown brisk, but the days themselves remain stellar. I went for a nice hike in the foothills yesterday so I could get a little October sunshine on my head. And today I plan a mountain-bike ride while everyone else in town is milling around at the balloon festival.

If I want any gasbag action, I’ll check the news when I get home. Whoops, there it is. 

Footloose

September 13, 2016
You'd never know it from this pic, but there's a suburban neighborhood just a few feet to the left of that tree.

You’d never know it from this pic, but there’s a suburban neighborhood just a few feet to the left of that tree.

I should’ve ridden the bike today, but for some reason I felt like hoofing it, so I did.

Not running — I took a break from that nonsense back in mid-May — just walking. Walking is a nice change from cycling, the same way that cycling is a nice change from driving.

Lots of color out there. None of it neon.

Lots of color out there. None of it neon.

You … just … plain … slow … down.

With trails just two blocks in either direction, I can enjoy what feels like country life in fairly short order. The rains have sprinkled flowers all over the place, and it’s relaxing to spend a little time wandering around among them after a few days of watching the Hilldebeast try to lose this campaign while assembling journalism kit for medium-heavy duty at Interbike.

The idea (as usual) is to strive for some sort of multimedia extravaganza, an electronic bouillabaisse of words, pix, audio and video documenting The Experience. As long-suffering readers are all too aware, the reality, once I hit Sin City, is likely to be entirely different.

So, too, with the walking. Instead of sand, sun and flowers I will be navigating concrete, smoke and bad noise.

Thus I’m gathering my rosebuds while I may.