Friday, March 30, 2012

Hang with it

Whatever it is, whatever has got you on the run- don't give up. Hang with it. Make it wear out first. Is it your 7 year old hammer-headed cat with no tail walking around with a cone on his head and a catheter hanging out of his butt? Hang with it. Working on something hard? Building a new business? Starting a new job? Just getting over the tracks? Don't give up.Hang with it. Got a broken collarbone? Indulge your mind. Wait, rest and hang with it. You will get better. You can wait it out.

Make it blink. Hang with it.

Whatever it is, hang with it. Don't give up. It is as tired as you are.

To struggle is divine.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Bombsies, Keepsies, and Playing for Fair

We hosted two of the sweetest, kindest children for a few days of spring break fun. At seven and nine, their eyes are full of innocence and hope. They gazed at us with stars in their eyes, and then they broke us down and scattered the pieces from Mysterious Waters to Highway 20.

Many of you know that I have passed the last 10 years easing into my days like a scalding bath- heavy sighing and slowly moving from coffee to sweatpants like Turnaround Norman. Responding to the endless needs of adorable children requires a bit more effort.

The first mistake was scheduling events that required our physical participation. "We will wear them out. They will sleep like babies." So ignorant, so avoidable, the only babies I have ever known did not sleep until they turned 13, and these? They slept, but not until they planted their flag in my tired behind and still they were there in the morning, with their searching doe-like eyes. "You want some more of this?" They queried, with their tiny poker faces.

Interlude: How do you wake up Lady Gaga? Poker face.

I have been thoroughly informed as to the inherent lack of fairness in the world, because nobody is treated less equitably than a tiny 7 year-old girl with a canary-like voice. People move around her like giant icebergs floating through her sea, and all conversation occurs above her head. She spends her days looking up at everybody, and straining to get what she has coming to her, and I am here to tell you, IT IS NOT FAIR!

The nine year-old understands he will be expected to be a man one day, and he is not sure how much time he has to prepare. He would prefer you let him handle his own boat, chop his own wood, and tuck himself in. He indulges a barrage of hugs from all who love him, but if we could just stay focused on the Army and some football, he has things to learn, and he suspects hugging will not one day pay the bills or defeat the monsters that live under his bed. A strong kick and a sniper rifle seem much more practical at this point. He is hindered by his tender heart, and it takes a lot of chin-jutting and arm-crossing to overcome a tender heart.

We saw 107 individual animals including a Florida panther, a black bear, 3 Emus, a manatee, a few alligators, some dogs, birds, squirrels, and a black and white striped worm. Every animal was counted and loaded aboard their vacation story.

Speaking of dogs, they have nine back home, and my tribute to these great kids who wore me out to the inner sole and made me feel like a special grown-up- has been to memorize the names of all nine. Here goes.

Sookie, Sarah, Scrappy, Bama, Butch, Bennett, Ginger, Gracie, and Roscoe.

Good kids these, as all kids truly are.


Friday, March 23, 2012

U.S. 231

We are going back to Alabama tonight, just a for a little joy ride up old highway 231, one of my personal favorite highways. I rank it right up there with U.S. 19 along the west side of Florida. In fact, 231 is just a good swimming hole away from taking the top spot. Driving 231 into Alabama makes me feel all southern in an irrational way. The South is the hot sun glaring off the cotton fields, the patient pace of traffic rolling less than 80 mph, and seeing the green signs for holy ground like Selma and question mark towns like Rehobeth. Sometimes I stop at the outlet mall in Red Level, just to browse the racks of Carhartts and contemplate a switch to full-time overalls.

Overalls, all the time and nothing but, now that's an aspiration.


Monday, March 19, 2012

American Flyer

Munson Monday is back in full swing. Munson Monday is of course, not a race, but rather a display of naked aggression and chaos similar to the encierro de San Fermin. As Neal said to the crowd of 30 riders,"Okay flat bellies, get going, you know who you are." I stood poised on the pedal, gunning for the last flat belly. I marked him and we were off, leaving the rest of the riders to enjoy a Munson promenade in the late spring air. I enjoy a stately procession now and then, but for me Munson Monday is a chance to run with the bulls and plumb the depths of my tank. I traded spots (got passed) by a kid on an 18 year-old bike that creaked like Granny's rocker. I hung onto his wheel with the grip of death and clocked a personal best time of 32:55 for the 7.5 mile lap. You can click the title to see the stats if you are into that.

Loved it!


Monday Funday

You all know you love the internet and chicken, I don't know why you won't admit it. That is between y'all and your makers though, and not my business.

Here is a picture of the famous Oak Mountain chicken, which is found in the Rock Garden section of the Oak Mountain State Park mountain bike trail in Pelham, AL. Tallahassee really needs to get its act together in the spontaneous art representation aspect of the local trail systems. All we have are signs that say, essentially, "This is a trail." Boring and short-sighted. More art in the woods please.

I pulled up at the Rock Garden for just a moment to acknowledge those friends and riders out there who are suffering, on and off the bike. Good thoughts manifested on sacred dirt carry more impact so things should start looking better for many of you. Don't thank me, I am happy to do it.

We stayed in a motel so close to the interstate that you had to cross two lanes to get to the breakfast buffet, and that's just the way we like it. Thin walls and a high bedbug count make us feel all warm and cozy.

I think it is time for me to face facts and figure out what to do about a new ride. It might be time to sell the Titus. If you have ridden a 29'er and then gone back to a 26" wheeled bike, please weigh in, but I suspect there are a tiny and insignificant number of people in that ridiculous club. Who doesn't like to go faster with less effort? That is all I am saying.

I'm going to blog my way out of this,


Friday, March 16, 2012

Round Up


Let's get started with an update to Juancho's Not Recommended Reading List- I got ambushed byTen Little Indians by Sherman Alexie, the noted Indigenous American author. I have a friend in Alaska who works with the tribes under the Indian Child Welfare Act, and his stories of life on the res got me curious to learn more. Now that I have finished this little book of 10 short stories I can't tell if I am more inspired than ever to write fiction, or if I am positive that I will never bother trying. This book is amazing, and it goes to the top of my not recommended reading list.

Miami was hell, so I guess we get what we expect. Getting from the tarmac to the airport exit was like having to navigate blindfolded through the airport with periodic stops to solve a Rubik's Cube and hand out $20 bills. Once you accomplish this series of challenges, congratulations, you are in Miami.

This morning we are loading up for a weekend run to Birmingham, AL and for me that means Oak Mountain, one of the finest mountain bike trails in the country. It never fails to tear me down to a smoldering nub. While M is preparing a young bride's hair for her wedding day, I will be riding through the trees, a 41 year-old man in tights, and sweating like Rod Blagojevich.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I'm in Miami...

...but I am not l-ing my f-ing a off. I am just working, and I'm not there yet. I'm sitting on the couch in Tallahassee lamenting the fact that under no circumstances will I be able to look like anything other than a middle-aged social worker when I hit the streets of South Biatch. We went to Thomasville, GA over the weekend and passed the afternoon at Sweetgrass Dairy
as though we were in Paris, France in the 1930's. Cava and cheeseboards and loosely tucked shirts- a diorama of elegance in repose.

But now it is all scramble and brushing teeth, a tiny plane, and not enough middle fingers to go around when I get on the streets of Dade County.


Friday, March 09, 2012


Those Thursday night boys are a pack of coyotes, out to steal thunder and glances in the woods. Thirty wild miles of scrubby terrain and where the hell am I? What a magnificent ride on such a magnificent evening. I finished carrying a peanut butter sandwich in my jersey pocket with one bite taken out of it, and I was lucky to get that bite down my gullet. I flatted about 2 hours in, when the sun was almost gone. Aside from one other mechanical earlier in the ride, that would be about all of the stopping available. Coyotes run, they don't stand around.

The moon rose over us long before we finished and it was huge and amber and it dripped all over the trees, but we had no time for lunar voyeurism, and no time for Jupiter and Mars either. It was all "face!" and "log!" and lay back those shoulder blades and tuck in those knees.

Spring is here, calendar be damned, and if last night is the early benchmark things are going to get scary fast this summer. I rode blind for missing my goggles, and I suppose that slowed me down. Without depth perception I am a two-dimensional man riding into a two-dimensional frame. I just queued up on Dogboy's wheel and put my trust in the lord.


Thursday, March 08, 2012


When you are hanging (get it?) with Pa Ingalls, there is often a moment when you say to yourself, "This is it. I have to learn to say no to this guy." You don't mean it though, and you know it. He only wants what is best for you. It's not his fault that he lives life in more vivid colors than most of us- it's just how his mama made him.

I was in the area for a work trip, but I managed to catch up with the Barred Owl Plantation crew for a few hours this week. Sometimes a few hours is all it takes.

I attended a regional summit meeting at Santos with representation from the Jensen crew provided by Rollo, or Rolio, or something like that. He rode the trail on a borrowed bike in slip-on Vans, board shorts, and no helmet. Yes, he is about 40 years old. Is that a problem? It doesn't matter, we could not drop him. He brought cigarettes too, although we weren't out long enough for him to enjoy one. It was a serendipitous event for the three of us to converge on sacred ground for a couple hours.

The next day I stopped off for a quick ascent of "Dr. Lyons" an old grey mare of an oak tree on the Ingalls' property. 75 feet of free-hanging line that twines above the surrounding treeline. I could see the lights of Reddick and Orange Park from up there. Other than a little Elvis-leg during the last 6 feet I felt comfortable in the tree saddle. Looking at the world from a slightly different point of view can have a refreshing impact on your mental and emotional well-being. After reclining in the nook grown just for me over a span of 500 years or so, I let all the work stress go and thought only of the slow spin back to Earth and how lucky I am to know such interesting and inspiring people, present company included.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

In which the general surveys the field of battle after the campaign

No noisy crowds this time. No lycra army skewing towards the white male 28-45 demographic. No fluorescent tape. Nothing going on at San Felasco except single track burned into the ground by a thousand tires. Future archaeologists will remark on the leisure time available to the middle class during the late twentieth and early 21st centuries. They will shake their leathery heads in shame thinking of all of the misspent kilowatts that could have been diverted towards building the innovative solutions to survive the Great Adjustment period of the 2050's, like the human gill and the implanted braInpod. These ones enjoyed themselves they will say The two-wheeled Roman Fiddlers Society.

Taking the Redline to the cornering limits, I surfed the grey line through the slippery pine needles and tasted fresh air instead of dust. After losing myself somewhere in the back corners of the Red Bug Run I topped out in the late day sunlight, my mind eased at recognizing the way back as the day grew dark. I should just about make it if I keep this speed and make no mistakes, not that I was ever concerned. I keep that speed and make a couple of mistakes. The sun is gone but the day still glows. A flock of deer blow across an open pasture, eyes flickering as they pass into the trees.

I sit on the tailgate of the van and strap tomorrow back on, the pants and the measurable outcomes. That is the real trail back home, and this one just a skirmish in a much larger campaign.


Monday, March 05, 2012


In 1985 I put on a burgundy polyester vest and learned to make coffee 5 gallons at a time at the Village Inn Pancake House. That was probably the first task I ever performed for money that was recorded by the I.R.S. The coffee was nothing special, but you got the whole pot delivered to your table and if you had the right server, it would be fresh and not just recycled from the party that sat there before you.

In college I worked at a deli as the opener, and the first thing I did when I got there was get the coffee rocking and rolling. It was a standard two pot drip coffeemaker, a Bunn, but nothing special. It did have a dedicated water line, which is a real benchmark in the industry.

-This post is now interrupted for a tour of San Felasco-


Thursday, March 01, 2012

To Hell and Back

Better than an Easter egg, is a poem in the hopper from Scotty B. I reckon he is lauding the annual ride through Tate's Hell swamp. Click the title to ask him for details.

Ride west young men
beyond the smell of sunscreen
beyond the single-file smear
of "dayglo above clay"
ride west into the prevailing winter gale

Ride west my friends
past the polluted sinkhole
where the white-flight feeder-highway
turns from two lanes two four
and the "groundwater reclamation" pump
drones on into eternity beside the abandoned gas station

Ride west where there are more hills and
miles and miles of abandonment
taken over by bears and grizzly old fuddy duddys
squealing "whoop-de-doo - de - whoop-de-do!"
getting lost themselves - in their own respective homes
like CeBe Tate so many years ago

Ride west good fellows - into the yaw of the abyss
across the miles and miles of abandoned motorcycle single-track
covered with pine needles and small saplings
feel the whir of the smylak as it takes over your drive train
go and go and go
until you are spit out
at Trout Pond
behind the airport
into the "back-forty" acres of a squalling fuddy duddy with a shot gun
into the giant sand pit
onto Bice Road
onto Wallace Road
past the forgotten homages to Danang and Quan Tri
and rotting City bus tires
until you reach the edge of the wide hurling ooze - the sprawling swamp of the Apalach

then - if you are stupid enough
take that deepest gathering of air into your perception of reality
And pedal westward - into the "great beyond"