Thursday, April 28, 2011

Man vs. Cactus

We went riding into the desert as dusk fell, myself and three others.

It was to be a perfect evening for mountain biking - low 80's and breezy - with well maintained trails, and an experienced veteran, Tim, along to point out things like gearing ratios, weight distribution, following your line and such.

I'd borrowed his wife's extra bike, and after a couple of spins around the parking lot to get my bearings, we hit the trails.

I should mention, I own a bike and ride fairly often, but what I own is essentially a stripped down ten-speed - thin tires, heavy tubular frame, and handle bars like ram's horns pointing down - and its primary use is to navigate between coffee houses, bars, theaters, and galleries throughout the downtown area.

Typically, the most perilous obstacles to such meanderings are the occasional drunk, patch of rough-hewn asphalt, or vacuous vehicular operator - all fairly easily avoided.

Traffic lights abound, after all, and I hardly ever run into any of those.


Enter... the Cactus.

The thing about mountain bike riding in Arizona - there's a fair amount of cactus. There's the iconic, some would say, majestic Saguaro. There's the almost equally well known prickly pear, indigenous to more northern climes. And then there's the Staghorn Cholla.

Myself, I've never found Cholla all that visually appealing, or even noticeable, really - just a part of the landscape, something that receded into the background.

They're sort of thorny and dirty, and tend to attract a fair amount of debris, looking most like a mound of something you'd rake up from hell's own backyard (spines, thistles, brambles and thorns being primary components, with maybe a little dirt and leafy bits thrown in for good measure).

Did I mention my rash?

Well okay, it's not really a rash. Just looks like one. A little raised red bump for each point of introduction with my new friend:
So... about 5 minutes away from returning to the car, I was riding point when Tim called out to take the right line on the drop into an upcoming wash. Which sounded sufficiently daunting that I turned my head away from the path and called back to him to come around.
Then I turned back.

Say hello to my little friend.
(more later...)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


It's 4:40 in the a.m. and I've gotten up early to work out.*

The alarm went off at 4:15 and though I turned it off and dozed for a few minutes, I managed to swim up from the depths a few minutes later when a deep, thumping rhythm woke me up.

But what had filtered through my subconscious as the rumblings of a bass-thumping low rider, sliding slow and sinister by, was actually the click and clack of a distant train.

So yeah, I've been sleeping with the windows open , which can get noisy in the evenings, with the ebb and flow of baseball fans parking on the street below or the meanderings of the Job Corp peeps from next door, but the mornings, most recently:
A cool breeze creeps in with the morning light (blue-gray at first, then growing luminescent) as the birds rise, lyrically chirping. They are accompanied briefly by a drunk, warbling in the distance (think Eddy Murphy singing "Roxanne" in 24 hours) but I'm awake and it only adds to the ambiance, so what the hell.
This morning -apparently- it's all about the music.

*And now I've missed my opportunity to work out while waxing poetic. Eh. I'm doing a bike ride tonight and frankly, Gold's Gym, though conveniently close, is starting to wear a little thin. More on this later...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 1

I recently started a book called "Vows and Observances", a collection of writings from Mahatma Gandhi.

The body of work is about what you'd expect - do unto others, etc. - but the foreword, written by his grandson, Arun, caught my attention.

It speaks of the importance of vows in Hindu culture and recalls two examples from the Gandhi family, one humorous, the other, less so:

1. Arun, as a child, had boasted to his fasting sister he could live on nothing but bananas and milk, which, when overheard by his parents, became his vow.

2. Mohatma's mother, on the other hand, had vowed to eat only when the moon shone. This was during the Monsoons, when clouds dominated, and the whole family grew more and more concerned, keeping urgent watch on the night sky to allow her to eat.

Why that particular vow?

Really, I have no absolutely no idea, and what's more, I don't think it matters.

The keeping of the vow - the promise made to one's self - that's the crux of it and that's what sparked my imagination.

And so, in keeping with that sacred tradition, I've decided to make a vow of my own.


I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.*

*So yeah, it's not Ahimsa! : )**
**Ahimsa - The practice of non-injury in thought, word and deed to other living beings.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Puffer Fish

Each day I grow larger,

acquiring lost little bits

of glittering accretion

and breathing life into the husk of my former self.


to be devoured

from a small white plate

- the clink and scrape

of cuttlery,

my requiem;

but crammed into that fleshy-lipped

and gaping maw,

a delicate/toxic morsel

to be savored.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Against Type

Went to Cottonwood yesterday to help Mom with yard work.

In spite of a defunct lawnmower, and the weed whacker from hell, was able to carve order from Chaos and reclaim her back yard.

And the front yard? Well... I had to leave by noon (both for a social engagement and to retain my own sanity*) so the front yard remains amiss.

There's always next weekend, I suppose.


Driving back to Phoenix, I passed a Prius with a stereo-typical, thin-lipped, waspy, 40-something woman behind the wheel and thought, is there some law I'm unaware of?

Just once, I'd like to see a giant, hairy, lumberjack-looking guy with a toothy grin, bushy beard and sweat-stained armpits shoe-horned in there.

Hell, at this point I'd call it even to see the lady in a grimy trucker's hat.

Can I get a witness?

Oowa, oowa?**

*Though having arrived at my 4th decade, the regression from man to child is never more quickly accomplished than in the presence of my own mother!

**"Can I get a witness?" followed by oowa-oowa is the remnant of a rap song trapped in my head. Translated, it means something like "I am speaking truth and ask your confirmation - do you affirm?" Followed by a resounding "yes!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

Saturday, April 02, 2011