At Twilight

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Location: Midwest, United States

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Dude

Granted, I don't look all that happy. I rarely do. Hell, that's just me. The past decade has taken its toll. Be that as it may, I feel a bit o' glee all the same. This evening, my hair "stylist" informed me I still have enough follicles that no bald spot is visible.

That may not mean that much to many/most.

It certainly means little-to-nothing to the vibrant young.


Vanity reigns in the province of the decrepit.

Still, it kinda makes me smile.

I've lost SO much. But I still gots me my hair.

It may not be much.

But it's something.

* * *

(I feel like dancing)

* * *

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Chase

I had grown complacent. There had been a time (decades ago) when a certain farm dawg would give earnest chase as I cycled by. I knew the specific farm well and would begin accelerating a coupla hundred yards before I reached the (ever) open gate. I’d get me up a good head o’ steam and pedal past the hound on the fly. That was then. The dog was old and I was (relatively) young.

But I’d grown complacent...older...grayer...weaker...slower. Lots slower.

I cycled quite a bit this summer. Logged close to a thousand miles on two wheels. Covered lottsa ground, passed a whole lotta farms. Sure, there were dogs. They barked a lot. Some growled a bit. But this is the age of passive entertainment, dontcha know. None gave chase.

I found a new road to explore last week. An east-west leg of diverse charms. I traipsed down and back a few times and rather enjoyed myself.

This day was different. And I didn’t even see it coming. The farmhouse was secluded, tucked behind tall pines. A long stretch of blacktop its only tether to the world. I dreamily coasted past the driveway entrance. It was only then that I saw the jet black cruise missile. I assume (s)he began its sprint when I came within its distant peripheral field of vision. By the time I reached the driveway entrance, this protector of hearth and home was racing towards me at Mach 2, afterburners fully engaged. I kinda hoped against hope that my nemesis would screech to a halt curbside. Mission accomplished.


Oh, no, no, there was no stopping this passionate, hellbent heart.
(S)he paused reflexively at junction of driveway and road then, seemingly with a shrug, muttered “Oh, what the Hell” and took off after me. I was on my feet, stompin’ on the pedals with all I had, all I could muster, all I could pray for. (S)he matched me lope for stroke. Teeth glistening “Crest-white” millimeters from bare ankles. I looked at him/her, he/she stared unblinkingly right back at me. Fear met bad intent and both hung in precarious balance for what seemed long enough to cause cardiac arrest. Then, as unpredictably as it had all begun, the chase was over.

The thing is...the road dead-ended ‘bout a quarter mile farther on. I had to turn around and pedal back the way I came. I spun the bike around, exhausted. Genuinely concerned. I stomped on those pedals. I gasped and wheezed. I prayed to the gods of velocity for undeserved (though much needed) blessings. Smoke poured from my ears. And, as I approached the gates of Hades, I saw the beast resting on the front steps of its home. I swear, (s)he smiled.

I like that dog. We’ll meet again, I’m sure. But, next time, I’ll be ready.

Chase on!

* * *

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eyelids Heavy

Skull full o’ music

Glass o’ wine

Too many


Tunes and musings

Happy dreams?


* * *

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Asphalt Calls...

The week after next, I’ll clamber into my cluttered, poor neglected car (I’ll change the oil first and fix the brakes, I promise). I’ll buckle up. Shift to “Drive.” Roll east and farther north, then south visit loved ones. To see my sister, cousins...and hug the dearest of dearest hearts along the way. I got half a continent to traverse and that’s OK by me. It’s been waaaay too long since I did exactly that. Waaaay too long. The fault’s been all mine. And a grievous fault it’s been.

It’s been too long, way too long, since I’ve reached out to those who’ve meant so very much. To those who’ve meant...well...
everything to me. It’s been too long, way too long, since I’ve basked in their warmth and slobbered love all over them.

It hasn’t been easy being a solitary soul.

But...week after next...I’ll make amends.

* * *

I’m just selfish that way.

* * *

Monday, November 08, 2010

Languid Cows

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. Perfection incarnate. Well, OK, OK, not exactly perfect. I had to contend with strong headwinds for half my ride. Even so, it was as near perfect as any soul could have desired.

I have a favorite twenty-mile loop for my cycling sojourns. It takes me past a number of farms where cattle and horses abound. I rather enjoy them. Some, in turn, find me a curious sight. We nod to each other in appreciation.

There’s this herd of Charolais I’ve come to admire. I see them each time I pass their way. Almost always, I find them standing in the field, munching cud contentedly. Not today. This gloriously sunny and warm fall afternoon found them resting (basking, actually). A polite breed the Charolais is. Almost all sat primly with their legs tucked discreetly beneath. Except one. The one I found most endearing.
S(he) languished on her side, belly to the sun. Legs splayed indiscriminately. Ah, a hedonist!

I was transported to a memory of a study done by an aspiring graduate student who mapped the course of cow paths using orbiting satellites to trace the trails. And what exactly did this student find? Well, unlike what may have been predicted by some “animals are dumb, unfeeling brutes” theorists, cows did not wander to the barn at dusk in a straight path. Neither did they travel paths of least resistance. No. What the student/geographer/techno-wizard found was that cows traveled the “scenic route” to home. That’s right, cows took their time wandering from field to refuge, taking in all the sights along the way.

I like that about cows.

And I got a bone to pick with any and all who claim that animals don’t have an emotional life. Proofs abound that they do, indeed. There was Temple Grandin, the autistic savant who viscerally came to understand cow terror. There are the studies of rampaging elephants that were killing rhinos. Turns out each and every one was orphaned at an early age by poachers who slaughtered their mothers. There was my feral cat, Edie, so wild that no human could touch her EVER, except me (but only when she pleased). She would formulate elaborately devious plots to steal food. Her machinations impressed me no end.

We’ve come a long, long way in understanding animal behavior. Even so, our insights constitute nothing more than a slim gap in our ignorance.

I spent the remainder of my ride musing about poet penguins, shaman snakes, skeptical sea lions, philosophical spiders, political bullfrogs and locusts falling hopelessly in love.

Who is to say I am wrong in thinking this?

* * *

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Zenyatta is a racehorse. She's lost only once in twenty races. Her claim to fame is her trait for winning high-purse stakes while starting slow, hanging off the back of the pack, then sprinting to the finish. Yeah, she's a show-off. She's magnificent and she knows it.

Then, of course, there’s this: Zenyatta imbibes a goodly quantity of Guinness stout for breakfast. Plus...she’s damn good looking.

I gots me a “thing” for thoroughbreds. I have great affection for all animals, actually, but racehorses kinda take my affection to a whole ‘nother level. They’re athletes. They’re nothing like their fellow equines. They've got personalities. They’ve got moxie. Well, OK, lotsa horses have personalities and moxie (like the horse I see on my bike rides who's always practicing yoga), but thoroughbreds got beautiful bodies and champion hearts. And I loves me champion hearts, in whatever body they may inhabit.

I remember Phar Lap. An Ozzie with a heart bigger than most...who died mysteriously. I love Ozzies, horse and human alike. And if one is gonna die, why not die mysteriously?

There was Affirmed. The Triple Crown winner who smoked Seattle Slew and raced ferociously against Alydar. Affirmed simply seemed to know who his nemesis was. Alydar made him snort and prance.

And I remember Barbaro, fracturing his hind leg in three places at the Preakness. Imagine a sprinter racing so ferociously his/her bones shatter. Yes, that was Barbaro. Many surgeries and complications ensued. He was laid to rest shortly thereafter. Yes. I grieve.

I've lusted after Secretariat. Prolly one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen. He was a Triple Crown winner, mocking his competition at the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths! 31 lengths! When he died, he was buried whole with full honors (a rare tribute). His heart weighed 22 pounds, almost twice the size of the heart of your average horse. The U.S. Postal Service even issued a postage stamp honoring him. He was THAT magnificent.

Then, of course, there’s Seabiscuit, Man O’ War’s miscreant grandson. Seabiscuit got no respect. He wasn’t pretty. Looked kinda scruffy, actually. He was the classic “underdog”. So much so, that his legend has been the stuff of novel and film. Seabiscuit’s my kinda guy. He had “tude”. He’d die tryin’. Kinda like Steve Prefontaine, my all-time favorite human track star. If you’re not familiar with Steve Prefontaine, well, root around the Internet for a bit. Watch a coupla films.

He (Pre not Seabiscuit) was quoted as saying: “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” And then he said: “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”

Yeah, “Pre” was unique. He died when he crashed his Porsche one drunk night...just like James Dean. My working theory is that Seabiscuit was reincarnated as Steve Prefontaine. I may be wrong but, then again, it all makes sense.

And that brings me to Man O’ War. A horse before my time. Like Zenyatta, he only lost one race. And in that one race, Man O’ War was actually facing backwards when the race began. Nevertheless, he finished second. He passed along his greatness (though not his looks) to his grandson. Genetics...what a trip.

So, yeah. I gots me a “thing” for beautiful horses with hearts unlike any other. And that brings me full circle to Zenyatta, who’s beautiful, athletic and drinks beer for breakfast.

And I’m not at all ashamed. Just hopelessly in love.

* * *

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Perceptions are funny things.

I’ve taken to falling to earth quite a bit these last few months. It’s been kinda weird considering that I haven’t crashed all that often for decades.

It wasn’t always that way. As a child, I fell often. Quite often. Most children do. Most urchins sport band-aids and plasters because, well, children are ever exploring possibilities. And, in the process, they learn realities.

It’s best to become acquainted with the art of falling whilst young. Very young. I envied the tots I met on ski slopes. Tiny humans no taller than my kneecaps would gleefully glide past as I learned to a college student. I envied them. Their off-balance mayhem wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic (bruising) as my own. Two-foot high urchins weighing little more than a bag o’ Skittles don’t leave deep ruts in snow when they I did.

So. I fell often enough as a toddler, a youth, a young adult. But then I learned enough to stop falling (unless I was traversing ice which is a whole ‘nother story). I simply stayed upright. Feet planted firmly on ground.

Oh, there was the occasional face plant whilst running on forest trails. Autumn was my season for that, when leaves hid rocks and roots from these less-than-discerning eyes. I didn’t mind the occasional stumble and tumble. I was earning my trail-runner’s stripes. It all kinda came with the territory.

Even so, I stayed mostly upright throughout my “adult” years.

No longer. I’ve probably fallen more often these past three months than I had in the past three decades. I’ve become a bicyclist. It’s a sport requiring a modicum of skill and a good dollop of balance. I possess neither. What I possess is a badly corroded right hip that makes cycling (the mounting/dismounting aspect, particularly) an adventure.

So I fall. Often enough that my neighbors shout out to me (as I arrive home steam emanating): “Did you fall today?” Don't misunderstand, they’re good people, they don’t mock. I believe they are genuinely concerned (albeit amused) by my routine calamitous dismounts.

But, here’s the thing: Each and every time I fall to ground, it feels as if it’s all happening in Super Slo-Mo. It’s the weirdest phenomenon. Nowadays, when I lose my balance, bicycle keeling whilst feet are locked onto pedals, it all seems to happen at an inordinately leisurely pace. I have time enough to reflect upon my stupidity, my inadequacies, my family, friends and neighbors. I can ponder at length just how much it’s gonna hurt. It seems as if I have time enough, from initial teeter, to write my memoirs while I totter.

Perceptions are funny things.

* * *

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