18 March 2012

The huddled masses

Click to enlarge
I hadn't planned to post about our trip down to Glendale this week to see Radiohead.  I mean, it was awesome and all that.  Out-of-my-head awesome really.  And it's a memory that I will always be grateful for.  But, chances are, you weren't there (sad for you).  And reading about someone else's experience at a rock show that you didn't attend is always a less-than stimulating experience.  In my experience.

So, I was gonna keep quiet about it here on the old blog, keep most of the memory just for myself.  But then my brother sent me this picture he found online, which a random fan took from center-stage at the pit-rail, probably at some point during the reset after the opening act.  I was very stoked about our general-admission-floor tickets and where we ended up in the crowd.  This photo tells that part of the story a lot better than I do.

So there it is: a post about our adventures at the Radiohead show.  But, while I have you, you really should have a look at this: the closing song, Paranoid Android, from the the show we saw.  The dude who shot it was standing just to our left.  It's pretty incredible.

Of course, it was even better live.


17 March 2012

The Pigeons of Papago Park

I probably brought at least 20 floppy, featherless baby birds home to my mother as a kid, weak, un-nested foundlings which I'd gathered up gently and with great hope in both hands from beneath the dozens of trees in our yard.  Sparrows, robins, and finches mostly, and she gave tender, deliberate care to each one, in an always-futile effort to revive them.

They all died.  Their tiny, flightless, bony wings splayed out dramatically and their little yellow beaks agape on the floor of the makeshift shoebox nests we'd fashioned for them.

But for two.

Who lived.

And then invaded.

I found them both together one Saturday afternoon while wandering in the alley that ran behind our house, hidden beneath the overhanging bows of the neighbor's oleander bushes, two immature pigeons, still baby-feathered, but noisy and demanding to be let out of the tattered Castrol motor oil box someone had placed them in. The neighbors had recently had their tall palm trees trimmed and, I suspect, these two castaways had been found nested high up in one of them, obviously very much in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Some partially-sympathetic tree-trimmer, unable to simply euthanize them on the spot, there and then, as I suspect most tree-trimmers do, instead sought out a box from the nearby trashcans and placed them both into it, to die instead by degrees in a somewhat more bloodless, but certainly no-less terrible manner.

But, by the sound of their peeping, they were not giving up too easily.

I quickly gathered up the box and, as always, took these two, who were easily the noisiest and most charismatic foundling-birds I'd ever recovered, home to my mother.

She cared for them.  And they lived.  They outgrew their shoebox-nest and moved into a larger nest-box on the shaded back-patio. And they stayed there and grew some more. Soon they became large, fully-fledged pigeons who greeted us each morning as we awoke and went out to feed the dog, and welcomed us home, perched atop the fence near the carport, every afternoon after school.

So tame you could pet them, yet indistinguishable from one another, we named them: Bert and Ernie.

Everyone knows: pigeons are messy.  And eventually my parents came to dislike the bold streaks of acid-white bird-poo which began to adorn their cars with greater regularity as Bert and Ernie's range expanded and their abode shifted from the back-patio to the carport.  Despite their flightedness, they seemed to prefer to stay-put much of the time... and usually atop my father's fancy, new company-car.

So a plan was hatched.  Our gregarious, sibling-birds would be returned "to the wild" near the ponds at Papago Park and the Phoenix Zoo where they would live out their days among their kindred folk as well as migrations of ducks, geese, zoo day-trippers, and picnickers.

I was there this week, at Papago Park, and, as I watched my daughter and her cousins climb on the rocks and feed the ducks scraps of stale bread, I found myself wondering if any of the pigeons I observed wandering in and out of the nearby ramadas were still the multi-generational offspring of my two gentle, messy foundling-birds.  No way of knowing, I know.  But it was a pleasant, unexpected memory some 35 years after their release.  I hope they became the progenitors of many of the pigeons of Papago Park.

13 March 2012

Your mileage may vary

Four days riding, all in a row!  Yee-haw!  Feels so great to be back on the bike!

Got down to Sedona today with Rockman Joe.  Joe's just so much fun to ride with down there.  He knows his way around like few others do and has twice the courage on the really sketchy stuff than I do.  It's a real thrill to watch him ride.

Today we rode the Double H.  The Double H is a ride which, it will come as no surprise, is one loop short of the Triple H.

I've done the Double H ride a few times now. The Double H forms a bow-tie-like shape when fully completed (see map). It takes a little over three hours to ride the Double H's approximately 15 miles at a reasonable pace and, most notably, includes Highline and High On The Hog trails. The Triple H, for whatever it's worth to you, adds Hangover trail, and must be an extraordinarily long ride.

Both of the Double H's H-trails are seriously spectacular and a real credit to the wildcat trailbuilders in Sedona who built them.  In fact, High On The Hog has recently been adopted as a USFS system trail, and I'm told the same may soon be true for Highline, too.

I'm little banged up after our double-loop today.  Took a tumble on the way across Highline, and then slipped and fell while walking down a sketchy section on the way down to Baldwin, too.  Ended up with a golf-ball sized contusion (or is it a hematoma?) on my left elbow and some missing skin on my left shin, too.  A bit gimpier than usual, even for me.  But that's one of the things I really dig about riding in Sedona, it always causes me to feel like I've pushed myself to my limits in so many ways.  Everything's steeper, sandier, and more dangerous and just-plain intense down there than it is here in Flag; that's my opinion, of course.  As they say: your mileage may vary.

12 March 2012

As only a day-off on your bike in the woods can bring

Riding three days straight makes me remember how much I love to ride. And how too-busy-to-ride I've been.

Late on Friday afternoon, my head buried in both hands, I made plans, promises to myself really, to go in to work today.  Not because I had to.  I didn't.  But because I needed to, or at least I felt I did.  However, once today arrived, as a crisp clear morning and the first official day of Spring Break 2012, having had two days off to contemplate the massive pile of I-don't-know-what-it-is that's piled on my desk at work, I made the decision to just go ride after breakfast, and think-on-it-all, rather than go into my office and make a feeble attempt to muddle through it all once again.

It was a cop-out, a dodge  I'll admit that.  But a manageable one, I think, in the long run.  This work I have to do right now, which I know will make no one happy, will all eventually get done, one way or another, like it or not.  Has to.  Today, had I gone in, I would have had a chance to, perhaps, make a little headway toward better understanding some of it.  But it probably would have amounted to very little.  Or nothing at all.  Because I don't really understand yet what I have to do and even less about how to do it.

Or maybe I just don't want to.

So I went out and rode. Up the Dogfoods to Newham.  Until the snow finally turned me around.  Made a rock-stack. And sat in the sun.

To think.

I figured nothing out.  Had no epiphanies.  Did imagine myself, briefly, in a time and place where I didn't have to make unpopular decisions about complicated things.  And then I got back on my bike.  Resolved to ride down this hill resplendently splattered with mud, with more than a fair measure of joy in my heart, as only a day-off on your bike in the woods can bring.

04 March 2012

Happy accidents

Those who know me well know well: I love the life I've been given. But I'll be honest, like most everybody, there are times when I revel in the fantasy that this or that factor of my existence could be different. Nonetheless, I am generally content, and even occasionally at ease, though there are still myriad frustrations and unfulfilled aspirations in my life. Yet the fact remains: given the opportunity to actually change any part of it with a wink, in a moment, I'd probably forgo the chance.

Too much good to wish too hard for too much to change.

I never expected to live a life so full of blessing. But that's probably because, as I've stumbled through it for he past 45 years, I've never really been able to see all that much of the trail in front of me. Mostly the twists and turns of my life have come as a surprise, as a series of happy accidents, and often well-after bitter disappointment and loss.

Long-term planning is neither something I'm good at nor is it something I've found I can count on.

But that's okay. Because I've learned, I think, to be a little less afraid of life's changes as they come.  And even, at times, to welcome the unexpected.  Likewise, I like to imagine that I've grown in my ability to recognize that sometimes happy accidents do occur, that in fact my life has been a long series of them. And in the main, it's all worked out pretty well as far as I'm concerned.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey