Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Creeping White Death

Since we moved out here I’m doing more housework until my freelance picks up. With email, cell phones, and a landline it’s only a matter of time before someone gets a hold of me. (Ring, damn it, ring!) If your home needs a good cleaning I’d like to recommend Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar. Let’s face facts. Frank Sinatra is just fine for dusting or placing napkin rings for a dinner party. Hell, I’ve even used Aaron Copland for washing the dog. But for deep cleaning there is nothing that helps get rid of those stubborn stains than a pissed off rockstar. I particularly like “Angels with Scabbed Wings” track when scrubbing a toilet. Maybe it was the fumes of the Pine Sol inside a closed space with the windows shut, but I believe I reached a new level of cleanliness. When my wife returned from work several hours later and found me on the cold ceramic tile the first thing she said was “Boy that’s one clean bowl!”

There are a few other things I learned living out here. The plural of buckaroo is not buckarii, pork can be considered a vegetable, and that people actually look forward to snow!?! Can you imagine? Growing up on the east coast I don’t think I ever saw a weatherman smile when announcing a storm racing closer dumping 10-20 inches. The glee, the absolute twinkle in the eyes of these stalwarts of nature’s terror is more than perplexing. It’s downright criminal. How dare they not warn me of the creeping white death, of chains and wipeouts, of drifts and black ice? How am I supposed to be afraid if not for them? Don’t they realize we need to stock up on enough milk and bread to hold us until the spring thaw? The grocery shelves are still filled with eggs and juice! Come on people. Is a little panic too much to ask?

But they are all as happy as mice at a dirty diner about the blanket that never warms. They can’t wait to get to those slopes and go sliding down on whatever they can strap to the bottom of their feet. Can you image the first guy (And of course it was a guy. You see any women in the Jackass club?) that thought of it? “Vhat’s Crazy Olaf doing now Sven?” “Oh he invented a vay to get down da mountain faster.” “Faster vay to get to Vahalla you mean!” “You got that right Erik, yahar yahar.” Vahalla can just wait until I’m good and ready, and my plan is to never be good.

So for now I’m locking myself up in the house until this storm blows over, which they predict will be sometime in April. I have plenty of company with Joe Strummer, Bono, Sid Vicious and of course Joan Jett. I guess you can say my masculine side is coming to grips with my feminine side, but either way the grout has never looked cleaner.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pretty quiet week around here, so I thought I drag out my sketchbook. This is Coon Lake. It's really just a pond, but just as beautiful and only a mile and a half from our house. There's a sign here to stay on the paths because of rattlesnakes. I asked a local who grew up here if that was just to keep people out of the brush. "Oh no, they're in there," he warned. "Best to keep on the trails." You best believe I do. In case you were wondering, I drew this while sitting in my car with the windows up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Bike or Not to Bike

As I mentioned in the last blog I’m doing my best to get into the spirit of the west and began biking in earnest. When I was a kid you biked because it was fun or it was the easiest mode of transportation. My father wasn’t going to be spending time schlepping me around to friends while he could be watching the Cubs lose on our twenty-inch Magnavox. Even if it meant that I would be out of his hair for a few hours I was on my own. But us older folks, we bike for exercise, for stamina, for endurance, for the pure sense of piling on the mileage. There is nothing fun about it. And I know I need to do something before my winter fat settles in like a twenty-year-old house cat on the divan in the sunroom.

The problem is I suffer from what I term paranoid-hypochondriasis. I admit I’m in good health but I just know I’m going to get sick, it’s just a matter of when and what. This feeling of gloom being just around the corner haunts my every move. If I don’t go biking my health will decline and could lead to hardening of the arteries, or perhaps diabetes. But if I do, I run the risk of having a heart attack or stroke as I push myself too far. “He should never have gone over that last hill,” says a mourner at my wake. Thanks, just what every funeral needs, twenty-twenty hindsight. It doesn’t help that I notice every little ache and pain too. Was that a leg cramp or a blood clot heading towards my cerebral cortex?

One of the many mistakes I made when younger was visiting a fortuneteller. I was always under the impression they would treat you like a mom, but with more a flamboyant closet. “Stay avay from strangers!” “In the future you vill vear a seatbelt.” While she was reading my palm, and keep in mind this is a true story, I asked her about my lifeline. “It’s this one isn’t it? It seems kind of short?” “Vell, I vouldn’t take any chances vhen you are in your fifties and sixties,” she warned me. This only hastened the paranoia that was first planted by my older siblings during my formative years. No matter how many times I grease the gears I can still hear her voice with every turn of the pedal. “Don’t take chances! Don’t take chances! Don’t take chances!” I’m like the little engine that shouldn’t.

So everyday I am faced with the same dilemma. Do I go riding not even sure if I’ll make it across the road without getting hit by some high school kid texting her friends about Glee, or do I stay home and eat five-dollar chocolate bars from Whole Foods pondering my waistline and how I should be out biking.

Thanks God it’s raining today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paths of Gorey

As it says in the subhead this is the land of cycling. I think it has replaced Christianity some time back in the sixties. Communities have a way of making you feel unwelcome when you don’t follow the pack, and since I always enjoyed biking it was easier to join then making my first communion and promised to be have laughs.

The first thing I needed was a bike. Well, I actually have one but I thought when in Rome get yourself a bike. The only problem was I hadn’t bought a bike in some time and was in for a bit of sticker shock. My last bike cost $59.99 and that included the guy from Model’s putting it together for me. Those banana seats can be a bitch! I was prepared to pay more and scraped together $150 to get the best I could. Turns out $150 doesn’t even buy you the best helmet you can get let along what goes under it. The whole concept of helmets is wrong. Their main purpose, really only purpose, is to protect your head. It’s sort of like insurance for your brain. But just as I wouldn’t be paying the same premium for a Maserati as when I’m driving a Ford I shouldn’t be paying for the same kind of protection a NASA scientist is. Pound for pound he has a lot more to protect then I do. (This is where my friends and family jump in and say “oh stop that”, but all I’m hearing are crickets.) Until they fix this wrong I’ll just keep using my home made one of half used paper towel rolls and rubber bands.

Speaking of crickets, we have some very adventurous ones out here. While taking my Schwinn for a jaunt I keep hearing strange noises. It sounded as if I left my Carl Yastrzemski rookie card in the spokes, which I clearly remembered I removed back in ‘88. The path I was on was littered with grasshoppers and they wait until the last possible moment before jumping out of the way. It was as if tiny quiet fireworks were going off as they jumped hither and thither. This game of insect chicken resulted in a number of cricket fatalities as many of them became caught in my wheels and gears, resulting in the needless destruction of innocent lives. When will they learn that life is not a game of chance but of luck? As I sat on the side of the gravel path, toothpick in hand, picking out grasshopper guts out of my derailer for the past thirty minutes I wondered if the church would take me back.