Posts Tagged ‘Herself’

Tower of flowers

December 1, 2022

What a thoughtful gesture.

Isn’t this lovely? Herself found it waiting for her when she returned to the Lab after her mother’s passing.

And you thought the military-industrial complex didn’t have a heart.

Well, actually, it probably doesn’t. But many of its core components do, and I doff my Rivendell cycling cap to them.

Bugged

November 29, 2022

Tea and oatmeal. Yum, yum. Maybe not.

Have you ever noticed that when you get sick, there’s no restorative food in the house, especially if you feel like maybe you could eat a little sumpin’-sumpin’?

If you’ve caught a stomach bug and have trouble keeping air down, as was the case the last time I fell ill in November 2019, you have all manner of delicious items rotting in the fridge because you dassn’t even think about food or it’s back to The Big White Telephone for another call to your old pal Ralph. Or worse.

But if it’s a case of Snotlocker Surprise, like the one Herself fetched back from Maryland via flying aluminum test tube, the cupboards are practically guaranteed to be bare.

I thought I had dodged this particular bullet, but nope. Shortly after the sis-in-law flew home I was hacking in harmony with Herself, thankful that the gals had loaded up on Kleenex during a trip to Costco and sleeping — well, “not sleeping” would be more accurate — in the spare room.

The Boss is past it now, it seems, and has toddled off to work. But I’m stuck here, making “Andromeda Strain” noises, slurping cups of hot tea, and wishing I had made a pot of chicken soup instead of turkey chili, which is pretty much it for medicinal purposes around here unless you count the bottle of Herradura Silver tequila hidden away behind the breadmaker, which I do not. I don’t think there’s a lick of chicken in there.

In case you’re wondering, given the events of the past couple of weeks, yes, indeed, I did take a COVID test and it was negativo, as we say south of the border. This means exactly jack shit, of course, but I’m going with it because this bug feels familiar. It has caught me between grocery trips before.

It’s nobody’s business but the Turk’s

November 26, 2022

I ain’t opening that door. I’ve seen “Poltergeist.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla was being a pill as I performed my coffee ritual this morning, so after a couple sips to get the motor running I figured I’d best tend to the litter boxes.

There’s one in the guest bathroom’s tub and another in the spare room where we contain Mia’s restless nature at night. This two-holer setup is a relic of the Before-Time, when we had two cats. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) insisted upon having his own personal latrine, and one feels obliged to give a 16-pound cat pretty much anything he deems mission-critical.

I dealt with the tub box first, and yep, it had seen action overnight. Then I headed for the spare room and noticed the door was closed.

Well, hell, I thought. No wonder Mia was pitching a bitch. She was locked out of her quarters. So I opened the door, gave that litter box a cursory inspection, and … it had been used too.

So I cleaned that one up, hauled what had become a sizable bag of feline exhaust outside to the trash, came back inside and asked Herself, “Why’d you close the door to Mia’s room?”

“I didn’t close the door,” she sez to me she sez.

“Well, I sure didn’t,” sez I.

A moment of silence.

“Mother?” she inquires, glancing around.

No reply.

I doubt it was Herself the Elder. She was never much of an eater, and while she had a great head of hair she wasn’t a furry, barring the occasional chin whisker. Plus, I don’t think her shade could squeeze into that litter box, which has a lid on it. It would have been undignified, even in extremis.

When Turks attack.

No, I’m inclined to suspect the Turk. My old comrade had an interesting sense of humor that encompassed leaping at you from hidey-holes, flashing the bathroom lights at us the night he died, and triggering a hallway smoke detector that requires a stepladder to reach as I was rehabbing a broken ankle.

Now there was a cat who found a loo with a lid to be an awful tight fit. He had to poke his blue-eyed brain-box out of the one we kept downstairs in Bibleburg. We called his bathroom breaks “driving the Turkentank.”

When you gotta go, you gotta go, they say. But if you’ve gone, do you gotta come back? If you do, leave the door open, or at least crack a window. Maybe light a match. I’m trying to enjoy my coffee here.

The Commander inspects his (purely defensive) chemical-weapons stockpile.

The fast, and the feast

November 24, 2022

Top o’ the world, ma!

“When out of sorts, walk a hundred miles,” wrote Jim Harrison.

I only managed a hair over six miles, but then I’m not a lionized poet, author, and screenwriter describing the perambulations of Doug Peacock in “The Fast,” written for Smart magazine and collected in “Just Before Dark.” I’m just a retired free-range rumormonger who felt a tad frazzled after a week of backwash from the abrupt departure of Herself the Elder.

She was not my mother, and I am spastic in financial matters weightier than a crisp Jackson in the wallet, so with sister-in-law Beth in town to backstop Herself I felt my place was in the kitchen, feeding the women to keep their strength up as they rassled various fiscal and familial alligators. I think Jimbo would’ve approved.

I baked, sliced, toasted, and buttered bread; scrambled eggs and cooked oatmeal; sliced apples and assembled sandwiches; and made turkey chili with red kidney beans, a more substantial chicken posole verde, pasta with a mildly spicy sauce of tomatoes, garlic, onion, chile, and black olives, and spread the leftover sauce onto prefab shells for pizza.

Not exactly the labors of Heracles. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. I’d have done most of this cookery anyway, just over a longer period of time. But with Herself fetching a head cold home from her visit to Maryland, and Beth occupying the spare room we use to confine Miss Mia Sopaipilla at night, what sleep I’ve been able to scrape together between cookery, cleanup, coughs, and meows has been less than restful.

When yesterday proved to be a beautiful day, I decided to get outdoors for a while. But with the brain firing erratically trail running seemed iffy and cycling positively suicidal.

Looking west from the corner of trails 365 and 365A.

So instead I grabbed my hickory stick and took a two-and-a-half-hour skull-flushing stroll along the hem of the Sandias to the edge of the Cibola wilderness and back again.

The universe mostly accommodated my desire for relaxation, solitude, peace, and quiet, perhaps with an assist from the Albuquerque Police Department.

The APD is disbanding its Open Space Unit, dispersing its four officers and one sergeant to the mean streets of The Duck! City, and giving police service aides the responsibility for locking and unlocking trailhead gates.

This changing of the guard isn’t supposed to happen until February 2023. But maybe someone missed the memo, because the three parking lots I passed on my hike were locked up tight and as a consequence the foothills trails were mostly empty. I took a small water bottle and my own sweet time and thought not at all about food.

This afternoon the sisters are taking a break from estate management and eBaying to whip up a raspberry cobbler. Once that’s squared away Beth will prepare lobster tails, I’ll tackle the salmon, spuds, and asparagus, and Herself may or may not do a small green salad. It’s been a long week, and she’s still not 100 percent. We’re all tired. So it goes.

If you observe the holiday, or even if you don’t, give your loved ones a little more gravy on their taters, maybe a bigger slice of pie. A little sugar, don’t you know. Don’t forget to raise a glass to any empty seats around the table.

“Salmon? Did someone mention salmon?”

Just chillin’

November 4, 2022

Weather, outside, frightful, etc.

Sorel, God of Cold Feet, paid us a surprise visit last night.

Hard to believe the glider boyos were cruising the friendly skies just the other day.

The day before Halloween Herself and I saw three gliders working the thermals near the Menaul trailhead.

But Halloween has come and gone. We “fall back” on Sunday, and then slide at high speed into Thanksgiving, winter solstice, and Christmas. It ain’t always sandals-and-shorts weather, even in The Duck! City.

I’m not ready. I never am. I used to race in this shit? When? Was I still on drugs?

Herself is made of sterner stuff. She bundled up and sallied forth with a fellow Democrat to distribute campaign literature.

Comrade Eeyore is likewise on the hustings, telling The Guardian that Democrats “have not done a good enough job of reaching out to young people and working-class people and motivating them to come out and vote in this election.”

Hey, comrade, Herself is no passenger in this garbage scow. Ain’t her fault the officers are all rumdums.

Being of the Vanguard, I was needed here at Headquarters to propagandize over hot tea and a Taos Bakes bar. Arise, ye prisoners of starvation, and fetch me another mug of tea.

While I await the Revolution I’m also baking a loaf of bread so I don’t have to stand in line for it like the proles.

Here in a bit I’ll go for a run, if only because I never know when I might have to. It’s all this weather is good for. You can’t ski in it, or make snowballs with it, so you might as well pound ground, keep the muscle memory sharp.

The forecast for the day after Election Day is not encouraging. We may be feeling the heat, but not in a good way. I’m thinking of feet held to the fire.

The Dog, the Cat, and the Voices

August 2, 2022

Dark-thirty at the DogHaus.

Tuesday is “Pay Your Dues Day” at El Rancho Pendejo.

Herself gets up at stupid-thirty to prepare for the first of two weekly 10-hour shifts at the Death Star, and somebody has to make her breakfast and lunch. I keep hoping this somebody will turn up and clock in, but nix.

So I crawl out of my coffin like a dime-store Dracula with the insomnia, head out to that kitchen, and rattle those pots and pans.

By this time Herself has brewed a cup of what she calls “coffee,” given Miss Mia Sopaipilla an amuse-bouche, and returned to her sanctum sanctorum. So I toast a thick slice of bread, slather it with Irish butter and French jam, and deliver it posthaste. Miss Mia gets a butter-finger out of this and another small helping of cat food.

Next it’s lunch, which is usually leftovers from the previous night’s dinner. But honey-chipotle chicken tacos with black beans and Mexican rice seemed a tad aromatic for a business lunch, and so this morning I whipped up a basic tuna salad and built her a sandwich with provolone, lettuce, and tomato, plus a side of watermelon chunks.

Miss Mia is always very interested in tuna or anything even vaguely tuna-adjacent, so she got a couple tidbits in the process.

After Herself hits the door running at 5:30 I’m free to do whatever. Going back to bed always seems attractive, but so does a midafternoon nap, and what the hell, I’m already up.

So I have a couple mugs of authoritative black joe and sit in the dark living room for a while, half-listening as the birds sing up the sun, Miss Mia snores on the back of the couch, and the voices in my head start tuning up.

This is the sweet spot of a Tuesday morning. No NPR, no Zoom meetings, no phone calls, no online exercise/yoga classes … just the Dog, the Cat, and the Voices. And the distant grumble of traffic, which is someone else’s bête noire.

Going nowhere fast is just my speed on a Tuesday morning. I’ve paid the toll and everything.

TGIF?

May 6, 2022

“Go ahead, open that door and reach in here. Make my day.”

It’s Little Old Lady Day here at El Rancho Pendejo, and each of us has a vieja to wrangle.

Herself gets to take Herself the Elder out for a salon cut and perhaps some medium-light snackage. And I, as you can see, got to take Miss Mia Sopaipilla to the vet for her regular checkup.

I thought I’d scored the easy duty. But as you know, I will never be smart.

Shortly after we arrived at the vet’s another customer roared in with a pair of infernal hounds, one of whom was going full Baskerville. This did not improve Mia’s mood — she does not care for cat carriers, cars, doctors, or dogs — and by the time a vet popped round to attend to her, well, she was puffed up to about six times normal size and hissing like a vampire who was a couple quarts low.

So, instead of the simple drive-by doctoring I had been expecting, I found myself choosing between rescheduling (and perhaps sedation) or letting Miss Mia chill out for a while in the felines-only ward, to see if she might turn back into a mild-mannered elderly cat instead of Bastet with a Hulk overlay and a side of rabies. I picked Door No. 2 and headed for home.

Now I’m almost 100 percent certain that if I get all kitted up for what looks to be the last decent day for cycling before what firefighters and weatherpersons are predicting will be “at least four days of wind, dryness and hot temperatures,” why, that is when the phone will ring. It will be the vet, who will tell me that she is off to Las Vegas because it’s safer to fight fires than Miss Mia.

Looks like a hot time in the old town no matter how you slice it.

Spring, forward!

March 13, 2022

Them ol’ Sandia Mountains blues.

Today we take our text from the Gospel According to the Rev. Ken Layne of Desert Oracle Radio:

“Despair eats away at our souls. The most Orwellian thing we can do is wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, “I wonder how the war is going today.’”

I woke up this morning and said to myself, “I wonder where I should ride today.”

Yesterday was Herself’s (mumble-mumblest) birthday, and we celebrated with Herself the Elder, sister Beth, and pal Sue. The eating was medium-light and required assembly, not cookery: smoked salmon and shrimp, various cheeses and crackers, guacamole and chips, and a selection of desserts from the Range Cafe. I slapped a candle in a slice of key lime pie, lit ’er up (the candle, not the pie) and we all sang “Happy Birthday.”

Today, I feel like springing forward on a bike of some sort. The weather is supposed to be stellar and if you miss one of these days you’ll forever be one behind.

Incoming!

February 26, 2022

Russians? Nyet. Incoming? Da.

Nope, no Russians up there this morning. Good thing, too, as we’re going to be too busy over the next couple weeks to repel hostiles. We have incoming friendlies, and the High Command says I am forbidden to take up arms against any of them.

One of Herself’s second cousins arrives this morning. She apparently has divested herself of some Dallas real estate and is on an extended auto tour of the nation’s Airbnbs. As a Man of the People® who knows that all property is theft, I look forward to hearing the details.

Tomorrow one of Herself’s old friends zooms through. This is a real whirlwind tour — she’s been visiting Santa Fe with another companion and is en route to The Duck! City airport for the trip home, so it’s a hi-bye kind of deal, heavy on the high-speed gossip.

Tuesday brings the regularly scheduled vet visit for Miss Mia Sopaipilla and a second crack at a bedroom carpet installation (the first go-round left a seam I could see in the dark without my glasses). Wednesday, Herself the Elder gets a checkup of her own.

Sometime next week I hope to get Sue Baroo the Fearsome Furster in for her annual physical, if the folks at Reincarnation aren’t swamped working on vehicles that actually get driven.

And the week after that Herself’s eldest sis and a pal drop in for a week’s lodgings at El Rancho Pendejo. I anticipate some medium-heavy eBaying, much raucous recollection of various Texican kinfolks who are straight out of a Dan Jenkins howler, and yes, this is why I’m having the Subaru serviced, in case you were wondering.

If the Russians come calling don’t expect me to be of much use. I got a reverse Alamo going on over here.

Rise and shine

January 8, 2022

If you sleep in, you miss stuff like this.

Marriage, freelancing, and New Mexico gradually turned me into a morning person, kinda sorta.

I spent the bulk of my newspaper career working nights on various copy desks scattered around the West. Clock in around 3 or 4 in the p.m., clock out when the presses start running at stupid-thirty. If you’re lucky, there’s a bar still open somewhere.

But when Herself hitched her little red wagon to my jackass in Fanta Se there were accommodations to be made. I was on the usual night shift at The New Mexican, but she worked like normal people, running the B. Dalton Bookseller in the DeVargas Center.

She was asleep when I came home; I was asleep when she went to work. We saw each other at dinner and sometimes on the weekends, if I wasn’t chasing commas or racing bikes. Our wedding vows may have included the endearment, “Shut the fuck up, I’m trying to sleepI”

In case you’re wondering, kids, this is how you make a marriage work.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla insists on sunlight as soon as it becomes available, if not sooner.

In 1991, when my mom developed a hitch in her gitalong and we moved to Bibleburg to deal with it, my routine went out the window. Herself found more retail work, but I was trying to freelance, and the first thing you learn in that racket is fear. You fear that the last dollar you earned will be the last dollar you earn.

So I said yes to every job, worked a lot, and all the time, not just from afternoons into the dark of the night. In point of fact, I was compelled to embrace the early morning hours.

It wasn’t awful. Not nearly as bad as I remembered from having a paper route. For starters, I was working indoors, and I was writing the news, not sidearming it onto stoops.

Nor was I restricted to a copy desk, where the routine is … well, routine. Daily editorial meeting, editing copy, writing headlines, sizing photos, writing cutlines, laying out pages, drinking dinner, overseeing pasteup, proofing pages, taking a quick look at the paper hot off the presses as they began rumbling up to speed, and going home.

Going freelance took me off that daily merry-go-round. When the deadline was every other week, or once a month, I found I could squeeze the work into my life instead of my life into the work.

Yeah, I worked almost every day, and at all hours of every day, but I did it in bite-sized pieces and a lot of different flavors. Cover an early morning Tour stage for VN.com, go for a ride. Write a column for Bicycle Retailer, do the grocery shopping. Edit some copy for Inside Triathlon, drink a beer (editing triathlon copy would make a stewbum of a Seventh-day Adventist). Draw a cartoon for VeloNews. And so on.

True, I was not always at my best in the early morning hours. Old habits die hard. And Mom had her own routines, which included wandering the house at night while chatting with the voices in her head (yeah, that shit runs in the family). But you get used to it, or at least learn to manage it.

Eventually she passed, leaving only one of us to argue with his invisible friends. And the mornings got a little easier, whether sunup came in Weirdcliffe, Bibleburg, or The Duck! City.

My paying chores have drifted away one by one, but the mornings have not. Herself rises earlier than ever, working four 10-hour shifts as a librarian for Sandia National Lab. But I insist on sleeping in, until 6 a.m. if I can manage it, before dragging the old bag of bone splinters and bad ideas out of the sack and into the kitchen.

Somebody has to make breakfast and inspect the sunrise, make sure God’s on the job. Some days one wonders.

Early morning watermelon at the foot of the Sandias.