Posts Tagged ‘The House Back East’

Weeds and grass roots

August 17, 2013
The front yard

The House Back East™ gets a front-yard makeover.

The rain has abated for the moment and the home-improvement projects have resumed with a vengeance.

The deluge reminded us of just how badly the garage roof leaks — it had become less of a garage and more of a free car wash — and so the roof got replaced yesterday.

The back yard

The back yard looked like a scene from “Platoon” before Herself and I spent an afternoon defoliating it by hand.

Also ongoing is landscaping at The House Back East™, which had developed a bumper crop of noxious weeds during our extended monsoon season. The front yard has gotten a colorful layer of mulch, and the much larger back yard is awaiting similar treatment.

You want a reminder of how feeble you have become in your dotage, spend an afternoon doing squats while pulling a metric shit-ton of weeds. The next morning, assess the plummeting property value of your crumbling temple of the soul. Comparables from the immediate vicinity probably won’t help much, if your wife is seven years younger than you, lifts weights and does yoga.

Speaking of things getting fixed up, a group of local investors has transformed the old Ivywild School, shuttered due to declining enrollment, into a mixed-use development that houses Bristol Brewing, Old School Bakery, the Meat Locker deli and any number of other worthwhile operations.

“This is a celebration that says, hey, if people work together, this is what can happen,” partner Mike Bristol told The Gazette. “We can do this again. Not me personally, but as a community. We can do other things like this.”

Yes, please. And thank you.

Welcome to the working week

July 22, 2013

It’s Monday. Know how I can tell? There’s a plumber in the driveway and my Visa card just spontaneously combusted.

One of the few downsides to living in an old neighborhood like ours is that the plumbing is even older than the residents. I think Hammurabi laid the original pipe, and the Romans handled most of the maintenance (But other than that, what have the Romans ever done for us?) until the Vandals came along and ensured that the pumps would no longer work by appropriating the handles.

Anyway, the lone bathtub at The House Back East™ has become something of a wading pond, and a plumber is over there panning for gold as we speak. I expect he’ll find some.

In like a lion

March 8, 2013
Novara Verita

The Novara Verita from REI.

March, is it? Whose idea was it to make February so short and start Daylight Saving Time on Sunday? Jesus, I take some time away from the blog to do a spot of work from my deathbed and the whole place goes to hell.

I brought some heavyweight class of an upper-respiratory bug home from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and mostly have been sleeping at The House Back East® to keep from catapulting Herself out of bed and into the madhouse with my coughs, which sound remarkably like an M777 howitzer in action, if M777 howitzers fired 155mm olive-drab snot rockets.

Between booger barrages I have had to crank out the word count for Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the latter now back to twice-a-month publication. Doubling up on the funny is heavy lifting when your brain is braising in bacterial tapioca.

The past couple of days have brought some mild improvement, happily, and I’ve even been out and about on the latest review bike, a Novara Verita, one of the steeds in REI’s velo-stable. I’ve tried not to dribble on it, because the green would clash horribly with the nifty blue-and-white color scheme and might even dissolve the tubeset.

I shan’t have access to that refreshing little pasatiempo this weekend, however. The wizards predict rain, snow and wind — to wit, March weather.

Just as well. Another round of deadlines is upon me like some fresh plague, and I might as well stick to embarrassing myself in print instead of upon the bicycle until the sun comes back sometime next week.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2012

Psychotic interludes from the NRA aside (can you imagine how much fun “Saturday Night Live” is gonna have with Wayne LaPendejo’s dreams of transforming every grade-schooler into a grenadier?), it was a pleasant solstice here in Bibleburg.

Herself’s mom is in town for the holidays, staying at The House Back East, and while they visited a local spa for expensive and superfluous purposes of beautification I took a break from chores to squeeze in a short ride.

I’m been running more lately, so a bit of load-bearing exercise made for a nice change of pace. It was chilly, so long sleeves and leg warmers were the uniform of the day. And fenders were a must, as there is some water on the deck; also caution, thanks to a bit of ice in shady spots.

The weaponry I left at home, even though my route took me past two schools, which thanks to LaPendejo have been exposed as exemplars of the Pussification of America and thus low-hanging fruit for the zombie slaves of Hollywood who would perforate us all in a nanosecond were it not for the eternal vigilance of the NRA (bonus Internet joke: Q. How many NRA members does it take to screw in a lightbulb? A. More guns).

But I kept the rubber side down, and nobody drew down on me, so it was all good.

Now I’m enjoying a glass of wine, getting set to feed the Pigeons (har har) and thinking about how early I have to get up the next two days. Just shoot me.

Fire on the mountain

June 24, 2012
Waldo Canyon from Palmer Park

The Waldo Canyon fire as seen earlier today from Palmer Park — which is now closed to keep it from getting lit up, too.

The mercury is knocking on the century mark down here in Bibleburg, but it’s a whole lot hotter in them thar hills.

Manitou Springs got cleared out last night and early this morning, and the Air Force is weighing in with a couple of C-130s that can drop 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in less than five seconds, according to The Denver Post. Two more are inbound from Wyoming.

Down here in the flats it’s oddly quiet. Lots of folks are watching the fire the way a bird eyes a snake, taking cellphone pix and muttering to themselves.

We’ve gotten a few calls from friends and family who wonder if we’ve been forced out onto the open road with only a few simple possessions and the menagerie enjoying a Romney ride atop the Subaru.

Nope. Herself is still at large in Mouse Country, I’m stuck in an un-air-conditioned office wrangling word count and the critters are trying to find cool spots to stretch out. Good luck with that. It’s not exactly fur-coat weather, is what I’m saying.

Still, there are worse things. We know a few folks who’ve been chased out of their homes by this bloody fire, and a few of them are staying next door until things cool off a bit. They may be waiting a while — there’s nothing but sun, heat and wind in the forecast for the next 10 days.  Y’all start doing your rain dances now, please. And thank you.

A bed and barkfest

June 19, 2012

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Idiocy as regards real estate abounds in the O’Grady genes.

My paternal granda abandoned first County Clare in Ireland, then Canada, for Bogalusa, Louisiana, and later Perry, Florida. One of his sons, my father, bought land outside Ash Fork, Arizona, based on an ad in TV Guide. If you want to see what the End Days will look like, I’ll give you directions.

Herself and I have purchased property outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado, a town with no stop lights, more cows than people, and more rattlesnakes than cows. And we have owned no fewer than three houses right here in Bibleburg.

I’d say that last pretty much proves my thesis.

Which brings me to the House Back East, otherwise known as the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Crooked House.®

It was the home of our beloved next-door neighbors Marv’ and Judy, with whom we shared a common driveway, garage, political philosophy, sense of humor, the occasional meal and not nearly enough time. When Marv’ died, and Judy decided it was time to move back to Chicago to be with family, we agreed that rather than share a driveway and a garage with strangers who might not appreciate our politics, humor and cookery, we should buy her house. And so we did.

It seemed smarter than playing the market. We made a bundle when we sold the Weirdcliffe place with its 43 mountain acres, and immediately sank it into the market, which promptly transformed said bundle into a flaming bag of fiscal poop on our retirement porch, from which we had hoped to tell generations of snotnoses yet unborn to get the fuck off our lawn.

So, yeah. With the market still tottering about like a drunken O’Grady from County Clare, we thought more property would be the ticket. But what to do with it?

Rent it long-term? No, thanks. Mom and Dad tried that on a small scale and quickly grew weary of tenants skipping on overdue bills, setting kitchens ablaze and generally acting the fool, which they could get a-plenty from their eldest child in their own home.

Turn it into office space for Your Humble Narrator? That would be swell if I earned enough to justify more space than it takes to make shit up for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, or review bicycles for Adventure Cyclist, a task that occurs mostly on the open road.

Aha! How about short-term rental? We’ve enjoyed renting vacation houses in California and Hawaii, and for reasons that elude me at the moment there may very well be people who wish to visit scenic oligarchical Bibleburg, if only to tell friends and family, “It was every bit as bad as you’ve heard.”

Well, to be fair, there are worse places than Bibleburg, and I have lived in most of them. The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Crooked House® is minutes from Monument Valley Park, your jumping-off point for cyclo-cross-bike-friendly, off-road bike rides to Fountain on the south end, Greenland on the north end, and any number of places to the west that are not presently on fire.

Palmer Park, 730 acres of pure joy enclosing some 30 miles of trails, is about a 10-minute ride from here.

Group road rides leave at 10 a.m. weekends from Acacia Park downtown, a short leg-stretching spin away. Saturday’s ride is strictly for the insane, but Sunday’s goes to the U.S. Air Force Academy, which has the best roads in the Pikes Peak region. All  of them are uphill in both directions.

Dogtooth Coffee, the official java supplier to Mad Dog Media, is but a block to the south. Patty Jewett Golf Course is a chip shot to the east. Grog, groceries and other goodies are likewise within easy reach just a few moments north at the Bon Shopping Center, home to the fabled Safeway of the Living Dead. Organic vittles may be found a short drive west at Mountain Mama Natural Foods. And as it happens, the best liquor store in town is on the way there — Coaltrain Wine & Spirits.

The house itself, you ask? It’s tiny, like ours, under 1,200 square feet, with hardwood floors. One bathroom and two bedrooms, only one of which has a bed at present, a queen size. The second bedroom is part office at the moment and will eventually get a full-size bed. Soon there will be a love seat in the living room that folds out to a single bed. The largely unfinished basement hosts the furnace, washer and dryer.

The small kitchen has a gas range/stove combo, refrigerator, sink and no dishwasher. It adjoins the living room, which at present has a four-seater table, a giant ugly-ass hutch of dubious lineage, a minimalist Sony stereo and a rocker with footstool. Expect a few comfy chairs, a table, and perhaps an TV/DVD-player combo to be added directly, along with an Airport Express extension to the DogNet across the driveway. Oh, yeah, and there is a lockable shed for bikes in the fenced back yard. Pets are welcome.

We haven’t settled on a daily rental charge, but it will be reasonable and include free wireless Innertubes. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to either Care & Share, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region or Bike Clinic Too.

The biggest downside is that there are crazy people next door, but since you’re visiting this website you’re hardly in a position to be judgmental about that sort of thing.

Up periscope!

June 16, 2012
Our house back East

Motel 666: We’ll keep the fire hot for you.

Hm. Rough seas ahead. Texus Maximus has fleas again, nobody who served the Dark Lord on Discovery/U.S. Postal made the U.S. Olympic road/TT team, and the 40th anniversary of Watergate is upon us. Down ’scope, rig for silent running.

Christ, it’s been a long week. Deadlines and related editorial chores out the wazoo, the basement remains very much a work in progress, and we’re slowly furnishing, piece by piece, our second house back East (east of our driveway, that is).

Planning a visit to our scenic dingbatopolis? Forget that seedy Motel 6, folks, we have substandard accommodations for you right here, the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Crooked House®, with all the comforts of home — a table, a chair, a bed, and crazy drunkards with guns right next door. There’s even beer in the ’fridge. We’ll leave the light on for you.