Posts Tagged ‘Miss Mia Sopaipilla’

Tunnel vision

September 19, 2022

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is locked and loaded.

Everything old is new again.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla has rediscovered the joys of an old crinkle tube, some coarse wrapping paper, and a Wholeazon Amafoods shopping bag, all of which make fine sounds when run through, sprawled upon, or snuggled into.

Me, I likewise got back on the old hoss, metaphorically speaking, which is to say I started running again after giving my damaged toe a month of downtime.

Bikewise I hardly broke stride. Kept cranking out the 100-mile-plus weeks even with a pulverized piggie, and so far (knock on wood) I have avoided doing anything else inexplicably stupid to myself.

It’s nearly fall here in The Duck! City, but you’d hardly know it. Oh, the leaves are coming off the trees, but the weather widget says 87° in midafternoon and the hummers are still hitting the feeders like a cluster of knee-walking bog-trotters who just heard the barman call, “Time, gentlemen, time.”

Time, indeed.

A certain restlessness I ascribe to muscle memory. Come September Back In the Day® I would be in the early throes of cyclocross season, with a side of Interbike, and there would be much motoring and bicycling and running around to no particular purpose.

Your Humble Narrator at Dirt Demo circa 2005.

My Septembers are less hectic now. I did my last ’cross race in Bibleburg, way back in 2004, rocking a Steelman Eurocross but no spare bike, not even spare wheels. I rode to the course from the DogHaus, and when I flatted midrace, I simply replaced the tube and rode back home. It could be argued that I was not taking the whole thing seriously.

Thirteen years later I did my last Interbike. I lasted longer at that game because the finish-line payout was better and getting sockless drunk on the publisher’s dime was more or less a condition of employment.

But the publishers changed, and so did the game, and in January 2022 I retired, an event with all the significance of a mouse fart in a haboob.

I hadn’t expected to waltz offstage in the middle of a plague — which is over now, I understand, so, yay — but as the fella says, you go to retirement with the virology you have, not the virology you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Anyway, here it is September again and I still haven’t tapped my generous pension to buy a Peace Van and finally buckle down to the serious business of writing my great American road-trip story, “Travels with Snarly.”

Some days that Nobel Prize in Literature seems farther away than the finish line  with a slow leak and no spare. At least I’m still riding and running.

Double dumbstruck

September 11, 2022

Gassing up for the long commute.

“This heat’s not good for the brain. Turns out nothing much is good for the brain in the 2020s. TV rots it, the Internet turns it to jelly, the miserable climate bakes it, 90 percent of what we call ‘work’ is deliberately designed to actually erase the human brain; this has been proven. Podcasts: Now there’s a guaranteed way to reverse years of book-learning and social skills. There’s online gambling, TikTok … and then Queen Elizabeth II passed away and it was like a Bat-Signal in the sky to make everybody go extra double-dumb. … Only in Ireland did they seem to sort of be enjoying it all.” — Ken Layne, “Like a Hurricane,” Desert Oracle Radio

You said a mouthful, brother.

The news has been so relentlessly grotesque that I found myself double-dumbstruck, which is to say rendered speechless by astonishment while simultaneously catching a puck in the gob from a wildly flailing eejit.

The prospect of commenting on any of our ongoing Dumpster fires felt like pissing into the drinking water in Jackson, Mississippi — an enhancement, to be sure, but not a solution any sane person would swallow.

So I kept it zipped. Averted my eyes. Instead I watched the hummingbirds mobbing our feeders; the little buzzbombs will be leaving us shortly. Played with Miss Mia Sopaipilla, who remains extraordinarily kittenish for a 15-year-old cat. Rode the bike(s) — 130 miles last week, 140 this week.

With “Better Call Saul” in the rear view we branched out a bit in our evening TV-watching. I can recommend “Letterkenny,” (absurdly funny Canadians); “This Fool” (snarky South Central working-class vatos); “Belfast” (The Troubles through a child’s eyes); and “The Sandman,” derived, like “Watchmen,” from a high-gloss DC comic of which I had been ignorant.

• Honorable mention: “Funny Pages,” a bent coming-of-age story about a teenage cartoonist who gets an up-close-and-personal look at the subterranean bits of “underground comics.” Could be straight out of “Zap,” “Bijou,” or pretty much any other comic you read back when weed was still illegal. And yes, Your Humble Narrator recognized more than a few unsavory aspects of himself in this film.

What about literature, you ask? Check out a couple road-trippers on the ragged edge: the cabbie Lou in Lee Durkee’s “The Last Taxi Driver,” and the shaggy mercenary Will Bear in Dan Chaon’s “Sleepwalk.”

• Honorable mentions: “Night of the Living Rez” by Morgan Talty (his first book; dark tales of a Native community in Maine) and “Homesickness” by Colin Barrett (his second; darkly funny tales of the Irish at home and abroad).

If none of these diversions from the daily disaster does the trick for you, find a hummingbird to watch or a cat to play with.

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.

Gata gallivant

June 19, 2022

The patio gets power-washed.

What a difference a rain makes.

At 9:15 a.m. the temp was just 60 degrees. A few days back the overnight low was higher.

The official precip’ tally for the past two days is 0.58 inch, or about half again what we had received all year long before the monsoons kicked in. Our widget shows 0.71 inch.

And it was still raining when we got up. Might keep raining for a while, too, if you believe the Wizards, who have greatly improved their batting average lately.

I rode a bike with fenders yesterday, and yes, I needed them. Not often, but still, glad I had ’em. Cyclists in the desert look askance at a bike with fenders until they’re sporting the chilly Brown Stripe up the backside of their bibs. Then they’re all like, “Hm, good idee,” as they’re doing the laundry and hosing the grit off their drivetrains.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla celebrated the change in the weather with a fine gallivant this morning, launching off the furniture, rocketing around the house, and diving in and out of a paper bag in my office, before finally tunneling under our bedspread and curling up for an extended snooze.

A nap sounds like an even better idea than fenders. But I haven’t had my gallivant yet.

Rolling boil

June 6, 2022

Getting steamy out there.

It’s warming up right smart here in The Duck! City, and will stay that way for the foreseeable future, with nothin’ but 90s in the 10-day forecast.

Could be worse, though. Here’s Pat O’B with the Southern Arizona weather!

They are predicting record heat down here later this week. Friday’s high predicted to be 101 here and 107 for Tucson. Saturday and Sunday will be 109 in the Old Pueblo. Night temps above normal too, entire period. The grid will be tested Thursday through Sunday.

Chillin’ like a villain.

We’ve resisted the temptation to deploy the refrigerated air, instead strategically adjusting blinds, curtains, and fans, and so when Miss Mia Sopaipilla feels a nap coming on she seeks out the cool spot of that particular moment, flattening out like a Russian-blue rug.

On today’s geezer ride one of my fellow graybeards interrupted the traditional jawboning at a High Desert trailhead to suggest we generate a little wind chill lest we melt into colorful puddles of fossil-fuel garb, sunscreen, and boner pills. And so we did.

You could call it a “rolling boil,” if only for headline purposes.

Treinta y dos

May 12, 2022

Still sharing the same bench after all these years.

Today Herself and Your Humble Narrator celebrate 32 years of holy macaroni.

O, how they laughed Back in the Day®. “It will never last,” they said. “She is a Woman of Quality while he … well, I mean, just look at him.”

I had a brief moment of fear some years later when she had the Lasik surgery, but as luck would have it enhanced eyesight does not always mean sharper vision.

And now here we are, against all odds, 32 years later and still ticking like a fine Swiss time bomb. Timepiece! I meant timepiece!

The usual massive celebration is under way. We kicked it off by singing the “Happy Anniversary” song, then broke fast with coffee and avocado toast. Someone had to take a Zoom meeting (not me). The same someone had to drop her CR-V off at the Honda shop (a noncelebratory blinking warning light, the prelude to a mechanical fishing expedition).

With an eye toward today’s bloggery I resolved a trio of niggling MacIssues without assistance. If only rebooting a Honda were so simple.

Later there shall be a Feast at an undisclosed location. I will not be cooking and Herself will not be cleaning up. And the vet emailed to report that Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s bloodwork was “amazing.” These are all the gifts we require, and more than one of us deserves.

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.

April is the cruellest month

April 8, 2022

“This is not the Door into Summer,” observes Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

One of Robert A. Heinlein’s lesser-known (and mildly creepy) novels, “The Door into Summer,” takes its name from the protagonist’s snow-phobic cat, who is forever looking for same.

“This will do nicely. You may go now.”

We have one of those, too. Miss Mia Sopaipilla has never been an outside cat — she tours the yard on a harness now and again — but she does love a nice sunny indoor spot on a cool April morning. And after she’s had a nibble, a nap, and another nibble, she insists that I escort her to one with all possible haste.

Thing is, Miss Mia is almost always a few steps ahead of the sun, which doesn’t really give us much love until around 9 a.m. this time of year. So we have to visit the living room, the spare bedroom, and the master bedroom to take sun samples until, like Goldilocks, she finds the spot that’s just right.

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.

Chicken Kyiv

February 22, 2022

A Red Dawn behind the Tree of Liberty?
Nah. Just sunrise behind a cottonwood.

Early on, as a retired pinko turned journo, I was something of an amateur Kremlinologist. Read a lot of George Kennan and Adam Ulam; subscribed to Foreign Policy magazine. Never did get what you might call a handle on the folks who caused me to spend a portion of my childhood crouched under various schoolroom desks.

The Soviet leadership invariably seemed avaricious, belligerent, paranoid, and treacherous (do unto others before they do unto you). Their people, meanwhile, seemed to possess a limitless capacity for suffering.

It’s more or less a straight line from Stalin’s “Socialism in One Country” of 1925, which made Moscow the Vatican City of Communism, a palace of never-ending intrigues, to Khrushchev’s “We will bury you!” of 1956.

But the ol’ shoe-banger couldn’t even bury Stalinism.

Khrushchev — who made his Red bones early on as a Stalinist henchman and later as the Soviet Union’s top man in (wait for it) Ukraine — eventually came to realize that if the Marxist-Leninist family were to prosper, Mother Russia would have to acknowledge a few red-headed stepchildren.

But once he started talking about International Communism being a sort of stern Baskin-Robbins with a flavor for everyone, that was his ass. Uncle Joe cast a real long shadow.

Khrushchev’s successors, among them Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, tried to rattle-can a new coat of paint on the old red Zil, kept it chugging along for a while. But it finally wound up in the ditch, and gangs of roving oligarchs stripped it for parts.

Now we’ve got this former KGB spook behind the wheel. Clearly a man with a fondness for the classics, Putin wants to put the band back together. Those Ukraine girls must really knock him out.

Gimme shelter.

Not exactly a mission from God. More like a mission from Stalin.

Jesus H. Christ. Can’t somebody get a permanent hammer-and-sickle-lock on this guy? I’m getting too old to keep crawling under my desk. And anyway, the cat beat me to it.