Posts Tagged ‘Hal Walter’

And now, here’s Patrick with the weather

April 17, 2021

The maple shares the eastern horizon with blue sky
and a few clouds … for now.

The furnace was chugging away when I woke up this morning. This, after some days of riding around and about in knickers and arm warmers. (Not the furnace. Me.)

Our weather widget in the kitchen told me the temp outside was smack dab at freezing — 32° Fahrenheit. No wonder I was wearing pants, socks, and a long-sleeved shirt, I mused.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla says she would like her meals delivered.

In my office Miss Mia Sopaipilla was tucked away in the Situation Room, monitoring developments, largely through closed eyelids.

The forecast calls for snow, which some of you are already enjoying. Any inclination I might have to bitch about it is tempered by the ongoing grim news about the state of the Rio Grande, which is likely to be drier than the proverbial popcorn fart this summer. Pinning our hopes on a stout monsoon season seems about like asking Santa Claus to lay a few bazillion gallons on us. We have not been good girls and boys.

Speaking of water, if you are fortunate enough to find yourself restricted to the great indoors by inclement weather you might have a sip from this week’s episode of Desert Oracle Radio. Ken Layne discusses the “accidental miracles” that spared so much of the American Southwest’s mountains and deserts from growth for growth’s sake, which Ed Abbey dubbed “the ideology of the cancer cell.”

Then change channels to KLZR-FM in Weirdcliffe, where my man Hal Walter — who seems to be Mister Multimedia these days — chats with Gary Taylor about the joys of running and other things.

Hal is enjoying a bit of snow himself up to Weirdcliffe rather than running his ass off at the Desert Donkey Dash in Tombstone, Ariz., where the forecast is for a high in the 70s. If he has any regrets about this as he feeds the woodstove he is keeping them to himself.

Saddle up, buckaroos

April 6, 2021

Longtime Friend of the Blog Hal Walter got a little teevee time on the Tube of You recently when Nancy Hobbs, executive director of the American Trail Running Association, popped round to his place with a videographer in tow.

Nancy wanted to chat about burro racing, which Hal has been doing for more than 40 years, winning seven world championships along the way. So naturally he had a few thoughts on the topic.

The video is a three-parter. The first is up top, and you can catch the others here and here.

Substacking the hay bales

February 11, 2021

Who is that masked man? Photo by Hal Walter.

My man Hal Walter is getting into the groove with his Substack newsletter.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, have a peek at the archives, and give it some thought.

His latest is about wearing the mask, something he was doing long before The Bug® came calling. When he’s not writing, editing, or wrangling his teenage son, Hal runs a jackass ranch, which means moving large quantities of hay around and about. Seems it helps to have something covering your face-holes to keep them from clogging up tighter than a bull’s butt in fly time.

In fact, everything I know about masks I have learned from hay. I’ve gotta figure over the years I’ve moved more than a quarter-million tons of the stuff by hand, and have eaten my share of dust, mold, pollen, fungi, actual grass and alfalfa, and no doubt been exposed to salmonella, tularemia and hantavirus in the process. At some point I started wearing a bandana, and then along came the face/neck gaiters. I’ve not moved any serious amount of hay without one since.

I mostly move serious amounts of words, which is easier on the snotlocker, and the lower back, too. Although I’ve thought on occasion while penning something particularly outrageous that wearing a catcher’s mask might be smart.

The sky’s the limit

January 22, 2021

And the skies are not cloudy all day? Where’s the fun in that?

My man Hal Walter hasn’t been writing a ton lately. But when he settles down to it, he does a job of work.

His latest can be found over at Substack, a platform that helps free-range weirdos like Hal and me crank out whatever for a small fee. But you needn’t reach for your wallet quite yet — you can have a look around without signing up for a newsletter subscription.

I’m not certain that email newsletters are the way to go. Not for me, anyway. Unlike Hal, I’m fairly comfortable with the WordPress platform, and I’m not really interested in trying to make money off this little one-ring circus of mine.

Anyway, does anyone really need another newsletter cluttering up the in-box? That’s pretty much all I get anymore, or so it seems. I have to scroll a long way down the in-box to find an email from an actual human being.

Hal’s Substack presence is very much a work in progress — at the moment, it’s a blog without the email newsletter. But while you’re waiting on the mail, you might pop round to see what he’s nailed to the wall.

 

’Round about midnight

September 9, 2020

The dread Crusty County Snow Spiral of Doom. Photo by Hal Walter

A wind-driven rain blew us right out of bed last night about three hours after lights out.

I say “last night” because it was still dark. But it was just after midnight. And it sounded as though Poseidon was power-washing the house, or maybe shot-peening it, which probably doesn’t do much to harden stucco against the elements.

As I will never be smart, this was about the time it occurred to me that I probably should’ve taken down the various bird feeders hanging around and about El Rancho Pendejo, maybe cinched down the cover over the gas grill, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

But this morning, all the feeders and the grill cover remained in place. The only damage was to the plastic footlocker we use to store the cushions for our patio furniture; that sucker got blown over and one of the gas struts FUBARed.

The cushions, as you might deduce, got wet.

I estimate that we got a foot or two of rain, but since it was coming in sideways at warp 5 it only amounted to a quarter inch or so. We can expect more of the same later today, it seems. And with the weather widget showing 43° at 8:48 in the ayem it’s about as warm as it’s going to get.

About 12,000 Burqueños lost power last night, and the problem persists this morning. Khal S. reports that he and a few thousand of his fellow Santa Feos were back to kerosene lanterns, wood heat, and carrier pigeons too. Up north my man Hal Walter was likewise back to a traditional mountain lifestyle (freezing to death in the dark), and woke up to snow; the icing on the cake, as it were.

All in all, it seems a good day to stay indoors and listen to Miles Davis. Even if it’s not ’round about midnight.

The corral-based lifestyle

May 14, 2020

As long as we’re checking in with old compañeros, say howdy to my man Hal Walter.

Hal is Bug-bound up to Weirdcliffe, in Crusty County, Colo., where he’s helping his son finish his sophomore year in high school; trying to cobble together something approximating a living (he doesn’t call his blog “Hardscrabble Times” as a party gag); and pondering the cancellation of the marquee events on this year’s burro-racing calendar.

“You know, these are weird times,” he says in the video up top. “I’ve been in the sport of pack-burro racing for 40 years, and the idea that we wouldn’t … have a season is just unbelievable to me. The important thing, I think, is for us all to stay connected — stay connected to our animals, the earth, and the sky.”

Social distancing isn’t much of an adjustment for guys like Hal and me. We’ve been home-based scribes for hire since forever (some days it seems so, anyway). And we weren’t all that cuddly when we had reg’lar newspaper jobs. Ask anyone.

But The Bug® is out to bite us all in some tender place, no matter what we do or where we do it. The sumbitch got Hal and his burro-racing buddies right in the ass. So, like the rest of us, he’s just trying to keep himself plugged in and plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other.

You can download a free copy of Hal’s latest e-book, “American Flats,” at “Hardscrabble Times.”

Welfare check

May 11, 2020

Herself chats with her mom jailhouse style,
on the phone, through a pane of glass.

We swung by the Dark Tower yesterday, bearing gifts.

Herself the Elder had requested huevos rancheros for Mothers Day. So we ordered up the takeout from Weck’s and ran it on by.

“You’re spoiled!” exclaimed a staffer. Dern tootin’. As spoiled as one can be in an assisted-living facility under lockdown in plague time, anyway.

Ain’t nothin’ a couple sacks of mulch and a cat statue can’t fix.

Afterward we continued a ongoing backyard-cleanup project. I’m a lifelong asthmatic with a personal, portable plague of allergies, the most severe of which is to yardwork.

But the space was starting to look like a tumbledown Tinkertoy tower of rusty playground equipment, a bullet-riddled ’63 Rambler American on blocks, and a three-legged pit bull with bowel issues would actually constitute improvements.

So, yeah. Yardwork.

Up north, where the yards are 35 acres, my man Hal forwards a Colorado Public Broadcasting piece about how gig workers there — including him — are getting the runaround from the plague-jiggered unemployment system, such as it is.

“This is exactly what happened to me when I applied,” he said. “I apparently need to call there. But of course cannot get through.”

Well, you can always get through here, bub. What’s going on out there in Greater Dogpatch? Are you digging holes and filling them in again? Redistributing wealth? Fetching takeout to shut-ins? As the Year of the Plague drags on toward Memorial Day, we want to hear how our readers are getting by. Wag your tales in comments.

Hit the road, Jack

January 24, 2020

A few more days like this and the trails will look more like trails
and less like muddy creeks.

It’s hard to believe, but today’s outing was my first road ride of the new year.

Oh, sure, I’ve been riding the road, but on a cyclocross bike, or a gravel bike, and then only to get to the dirt, where the fun is.

But the trails have gotten pretty gooey lately, and with the sun peeking out and the temps inching up I’d just as soon not add my 33mm scrawl to the graffiti being carved into Mother Earth. Thus, today, the road.

In other news, my man Hal Walter is talking about pulling together another e-book with the tentative title of “American Flats,” a reference to a section of the World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay. More as I hear it.

All stove up

November 27, 2019

The HAL 9000 unit effects repairs upon the Frigidaire 666 unit.
Photo: Hal Walter

The Retro-Grouch, Continued: Some people, and the devices they devise, can be too smart for their own good.

And more importantly, for ours.

Case in point: My man Hal up in Weirdcliffe just replaced a $200 control-board/keypad widget in his $1,500 Frigidaire oven for the third time, after being ovenless since March 29. He’s slightly over it, but consoles himself with the knowledge that had he employed the local appliance-repair dude to do the job(s), he’d be out another six hundy or so.

Next time around he may fix it for good.

“If this thing breaks down again, I will shoot it full of holes,” he said. “The backside of this fucker looks like the wiring to the starship Enterprise.”

And why is that, d’you suppose? What do we require of an oven? That it boldly go where no one has gone before? Nope. That it bake things, and roast things, and broil things, and not take eight months off per annum, amirite? What do we need for that? Heating coils, a thermostat, and knobs to make it all hop, yeah?

My old Whirlpool double-decker uses analog knobs and is about as smart as an Iowa Republican. The knob that sets the clock is missing. Happily, unlike an Iowa Republican, I know what time it is.

And unlike Hal, I never have to crawl into the backside of the fucker with a toolbox, like Scotty, with Kirk hollering into his communicator.

“Captain, I canna make ’er cook nae faster! She’s about to blow!”

When Ross was boss

November 7, 2019

Heavy metal: The Ross Mt. Rainier.

BRAIN honcho Steve Frothingham takes us on a spin down Memory Lane with a look at Ross Bicycles, then and now.

I saw my first Ross mountain bike in the mid-1980s. My man Hal Walter had one, a blue Mt. Rainier acquired from Great Divide in Pueblo, and what a beast it was. A steel burro that never needed hay.

“That was a great bike,” Hal said today via Messages. “It was almost heavy enough to get a workout.”

Oh, indeed. Ishiwata 4130 chromoly tubes, 48/39/28 Sakai crank, Suntour derailleurs, 14-34 freewheel, Dia-Compe cantis, and chromoly Bull Nose bar and stem, a heavy-metal package that tipped the scale at 31 pounds.

It encouraged me to get my own mountain bike, a 1986 Trek Antelope 830, a comparative featherweight at just 28.9 pounds. Light enough for me to throw it into an arroyo on some BLM land outside Española when it failed to climb a loose, steep pitch after several tries. Only as the bike was leaving my fingers did I recall that I would need it to get home.

Of course, this was when men were men, and so were the women, and we all rode rigid steel, with thumbshifters, rim brakes and 26-inch wheels. I will concede, however, that today’s machinery is a whole lot easier to throw when it lets you down. Which it will.