Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chicken, Beans, Bread and Eggs

The Once and Future Cyclist
After a month on hiatus I planned to come back strong with a kick-ass post about epic rides to far away and exotic places. I was looking forward to relating my thoughts and dreams and taking my readers along for the ride. I was even planning a dramatic and colorful New Look for the Trailer Park Cyclist website. There would be Exciting Contests and Fund Raisers and, and, Pictures!   And once a month I would give away a shiny new carbon fiber bicycle. Yee-Ha!

Well, that didn't happen. But I promise that if I ever find myself in possession of a carbon fiber bicycle I will Give It Away.

Life's A Bitch AndThen You Move Into A Trailer Park
What happened instead is pretty mundane stuff. As you all know, I was recently restored to my post as trailer park repairman. Although stripped of my former title (Head (Only) Big Man In Charge of Fix-it) I still had plenty of work to do, work of a rather dismal nature. Rotten wood in bathroom floors requiring scraping and chipping and frequent hand washing. The usual tearing out of rotten walls and floors and all the while I was trying to think up Great Things to say for the benefit of my constituency.

But there was nothing in my head but moldy dust and the pressure of getting these trailers ready and constant thoughts of “why didn't I stay in college” and

“Chicken, beans, bread and eggs...anything else?”

“What? Don't do that! I'm Blogging! Blogging is Holy!” The Blonde is on her way to the Winn-Dixie and getting supplies for this afternoon's cookout. Uncle Bill is going to whip out a big pile of chicken and ribs. But there is a House Rule that when I am composing  one of my masterpieces, There Shall Be Silence.

I talk all the time while you are Blogging, said the Voice.

“Don't I know it, Voice. And shut up. Now where was I?” Once my concentration is broken it can take days for me to get it back.  Let's see..."It was the Best of Times",  that ain't it.  Uh,  "Call me Ishmael."..  no, dangit...

“OK, Honey, I'll be back. I'm taking the dogs with me. If you think of anything else, just call me.”

Arghh! This must be why Beethoven went deaf and Van Gogh cut his ear off!

The Life Of the Trailer Park Cyclist (Sans Cycling)
And so it goes. If anyone is interested, here's the latest in the Life of the Trailer Park Cyclist. And don't worry, I'll get bicycles in there somehow.

Be They Ever So Humble,  There's No Place Like (Mobile) Homes
Off in one dusty corner of Whispering Pines Trailer Park there is a trio of seriously dilapidated trailers. Well, actually, only two of them are dilapidated now. One of them got the Tim Joe Whang-Dang-Doodle put on it last spring and now it is a shiny clean and new-like mobile home. It sold immediately to a guy who was obviously not able to afford it and then the money ran out and he was vacated rather rudely by yours truly and the Blonde moved in. I'm sitting in the kitchen there now.

Next door is a trailer that is so bad that it was uninhabitable and we were going to tear it down for scrap (about $600 at the recycling center) but then I got one of my bright ideas and bought it really cheap from the owners and so after hacking away at the other units in the Park all day I go hack away at my New Castle. I'm halfway there and there is an Old Chinese Proverb that says “Before undertaking any adventure, put your trailer in order.” Or maybe that's an old Tim Joe Proverb. I can never tell.

So I'm ripping that trailer down to the bare frame and then putting it back. The Blonde and the Twins  are safe and dry and comfortable here in their own space and I am putting mine back together with a dedicated Bicycle Repair Center  up front and a Writer's Nook in the back. I have truly gutted this trailer. There will be a sweet little kitchen space designed for Barbecue Sauce cooking and bottling and there will be Books and Bicycle Parts strewn throughout.

A Man's Trailer Is His Castle
Best of all is I will be putting in a cool drawbridge between the two trailers that really works so that when I am pontificating and blathering I can retreat into my manse and pull up the bridge. On the bottom of the drawbridge will be signs that say Keep Out! And Genius at Work! And maybe a Skull and Crossbones.

I must be entering my second childhood. All I think about is bicycles and my not-so-secret-diary (This Blog) and trying to look cool. I basically wear the same kind of clothes I did when I was eleven years old. I like it.

A Father and Child Reunion
Speaking of kids, My Number One Son flew out from Los Angeles at Thanksgiving just to see his Dear Old Man. Well, that's not exactly true. He also had business in Tampa Bay trying to hustle some kind of deal from some investment guys he knows. But he came by Hawks Park and we went to the Crooked Angel Saloon where he bought the Old Man several Yeungling Black and Tan draft beers. He doesn't drink so he had grapefruit juice. It had been over three years Since Last We Had Met and it was a pretty potent afternoon.

We walked around the Beachside District where we had lived during his childood. We went down to the River where he had fallen in that time, setting free a dead snook he had caught.

“Dad! Look at this big fish I caught!” It really was big. But he didn't have a fishing pole.

“How did you catch that fish, Beau?” I named him Beauregard, to the outrage of all four Grandparents.

“It was just floating by so I grabbed a bucket and put him in it. Can we eat him?”

“Not a good idea, son. Better throw him back.” He was disappointed but not surprised by this answer. Beauregard has always been a pretty smart (and resourceful) kid. He had to be smart and resourceful,  with me for a Dad. I wasn't always there. Beau was seven at the time.

Secrets of the Universe
But when he swung the bucket to throw the big fish back into the water the magical forces of Inertia and Centrifugal Force took the Boy, the Fish and the Bucket in with them and he fell in, getting a bad cut on an oyster bed that was there. He got several stitches in his hand and wrist and that night when I was tucking him in, showing him how to elevate the wound on a big pillow (a trick I learned the Hard Way) he was in a little pain.  I could see that he was fighting back tears.

“But at least I got the Indian River in my blood now, Dad.”

I was fighting a few tears myself.

“Yes, son, you certainly do. And you are a very brave little man. Now, what shall we read tonight? “The Red Pony” or “I Wish I Had Duck Feet?”

“Duck Feet!” At seven years old Seuss always trumps Steinbeck.

And that boy Beauregard who bought the beer the other day is no longer seven years old; he has grown.  He is now Big and Strong. His intelligence and resourcefulness has endured.

He has read his Hemingway and his Steinbeck and all the rest and he is blasting his own way through Life and the Universe.  Soon enough I suspect he will find himself reading Seuss and Sendak  to another in the line of Comstocks.  I hope so.

As Usual (Sigh) the Philosophy Part
What is the Meaning of Life?  This: We are a Young Species.  We're only getting started.  Raise smart, strong and resourceful children and the Universe will handle the rest.  The Reason and Purpose is not ours to know.  Not yet, anyway.  And remember this, you guys:  every other species on this Blue Marble is involved in doing the same thing:  raising smart and resourceful offspring and it isn't a contest, not really, but those species that go too fast will lose.  So it actually  is a contest,  I guess.  Each species verses itself.  And thus I fear for ours.  

Ahem...OK,  I Got Carried Away...
I know:  What about the bicycles?  There is actually huge news on the Bicycle Side of Life here at the Park (and also Marin Co., Ca.) but not yet.  I don't deserve to talk about it yet but soon enough I will and then we'll have some fun.  Meanwhile,  I feel sorry about the lapse but there ain't nothin' I can do about it.  Sometimes I ride, sometimes I hide.  Try to hang with me and I'll try to make it worth your while.

yer pal, Tim Joe

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Barbecue Shack

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sharp Dressed Man

But Then Again,  They Might Have Been Car Salesmen
One day last summer I was out earlier than usual, doing a fast run to Daytona and on the way I was cutting along on my beloved Riverside Drive and two Roadies were coming towards me on the other side of this fairly narrow road. They were guys about my own fiftyish age, but they were clearly not Trailer Park Cyclists. They had that Look, that silver-haired-tanned-corner-office look and they were wearing matching jerseys of maroon and gold, their club colors I suppose. Of course they were riding those bikes that are made of the same materials as the Space Station and these two dudes were pedaling along really slow, laughing and having a good time out there in the early morning sunrise. They both smiled at me and waved and for one quick moment I didn't want to be the Trailer Park Cyclist anymore, I didn't want to be this Ragamuffin Bum that takes pride in poverty and rides around trying to encapsulate salt-of-the-earth observations on Life...hell no, for one quick moment I wanted a Corner Office on the Twentieth Floor and and a Hot Secretary and a Trophy Wife and all the other things that flashed through my ravaged brain on a morning run to Daytona.

Those guys looked sharp! Man they looked sharp and well-coiffed and at ease and rich and as I turned North on my old nitty-gritty Highway One for the highway part of my sprint North to wherever I was going I was a little embarrassed to be me, at the moment. I was grateful that those two dazzling Captains of Industry had deigned to acknowledge my existence and I was a bit ashamed of myself for not working harder at the American Dream. Then You-Know-Who butted in.

Those two guys probably wish they were YOU. 

Good Ol' Voice.

Tales From Days Gone By
“I doubt it, Voice, but thanks anyway.” But who knows? Here's what I'm talking about: Thirty-five years ago I  dropped out of college and went looking for a job. I got lucky and landed a position with a restaurant equipment supply firm as a district sales manager and just like that, I went from being a long-haired hippie freak college kid to a guy with a closet full of suits, a new company car and a haircut I picked out of a haircut catalogue my over-priced hair stylist wanted me to try out. No, really.

Quit laughing. This is serious.

Once A Pirate...
I drove from meeting to meeting and never really knew what my job was, exactly, but it seemed to involve a lot of flirting with receptionists and laughing at jokes told by old fat guys sitting behind desks. Every once in a while if I needed extra cash I would cajole and bully and con some poor Mom & Pop team into buying WAY more equipment than they needed at prices they could not afford. We sold it to them on a buy-here pay-here deal and when they inevitably failed, I would pull up with a big truck and our warehouse crew. While I stood there sympathizing with the bankrupt and bewildered victims, the crew would take the stuff back to the warehouse and steam clean it and polish it up and get it ready for the next unsuspecting Hopefuls who came along. I remember more than once these people would apologize to me for failing. They felt they had let me down. I was twenty one years old.

Don't Do It If You Can't Live Up To It
It just never sat right with me and at twenty-one I thought I was just being a killer salesman and a future Captain of Industry and I was proud to announce my title and flash a little cash at the local Disco (I said stop laughing!) but when I would on occasion find myself having a beer at a corner bar I would lie and say I worked construction. Man, one of the things I have always tried to get across to my sons is never do anything you can't brag about.

You've done a lot of things you can't...

“Shush, Voice, I'm pontificating here.”

Meanwhile,  Back To Bicycles
What does this have to do with cycling? Everything. I just can't stop to explain right now.

So ultimately I left my job as a scummy suit-wearin' fancy haircut-havin' disco-dancin' douche and hitchhiked to California. I got a job in construction and started doing all the stuff that I am still doing Lo Unto This Very Day. Except I added Bicycles.

Back To the Car Salesmen
So when I saw those two sharp-dressed cyclists cruising by that morning I knew that I had made a choice many years ago  and just for a moment I regretted that choice. Those guys had really good haircuts.

Tales of Brave Ulysses
But I am, after all the Trailer Park Cyclist. Had I continued on the Path of Avarice I might have ended up  pedaling along with those two Corner Officers in their matching kit, but then I would never have found my way here to the Whispering Pines Trailer Park. For the first time in the Park's history, we have a Full House. We have a waiting list. The other day the elderly Owners came to me and thanked me and gave me a  raise in pay. I am Changing this Park and thus I am changing the neighborhood. To celebrate, I went to Walmart and bought two new inner tubes and some much needed socks and underwear.

Uh Oh
Then, while I was doing my extravagant shopping something snapped inside my brain and I decided to Go Back Out and Make a Little Cash.

Go ahead and get it off your chest

“Shut Up, Voice.” But as usual, the Voice is right.

If It Ain't Fun,  Why Do It?
It has been a real blast here just fiddling around with trailers and I haven't even seen the inside of a motor vehicle in over a month. My beat up old Dodge Caravan threw a belt awhile back and the battery died and I just let it sit. Come to think of it, that was three months ago. I work where I live and I have become pretty comfortable and it took about a year for me to settle down and realize I was happy. I started writing this Blog and made many new friends who are just friends. They don't work for me and sometimes they give me stuff. I got started with Uncle Bill and our whole Barbecue Sauce Venture and just everything I do is fun.

For Cryin' Out Loud, Just spit it out!

I Get Gifts
“OK, OK, Voice! Sheesh!” What happened is that my Long-Time Reader and good friend Agent Kaz, (code name The SwellGuy) sent me a Care Package recently. He had some old clipless shoes lying around and decided I needed an upgrade from my infamous practice of riding around in flip-flops. I wondered what I would do with them since I don't have any clipless pedals and no extra cash to buy any, but today the UPS truck pulled into the parking lot and as usual everybody came out of their trailers Hoping for a Miracle. Today's miracle was mine, though, and as I carried my prize into the trailer I thought those must be some big shoes for such a big box, but I knew.

Aww, KAZ...
I knew and I was already blushing and embarrassed and the Blonde was there and when I opened the box there were the shoes and of course some Shimano SPD pedals and a cool little hat and a saddlebag with a multi-tool and some gloves. There was also a Really Nice Saddle and...a Bell Helmet. And some brand new Bontrager Bib Shorts.

A Helmet and some Bib shorts and I am wearing them right now and wearing nothing else and when Miss Jo came to my open trailer door a minute ago she was startled at first but then started laughing.

“What in the hell are you up to now” she asked.

“My friend KAZ sent me some bicycle stuff. Pretty cool, huh?” I stood up. “They have padding in the seat to make them more comfortable on the bicycle.”

“No Way!”

“Way,” I said. “Come feel.”

“Yeah, right.” she said. “I wasn't born yesterday. Are we still going to Home Depot in the morning?”

“Can I wear my new outfit?” I asked.

“Whatever,” she said, shaking her head and heading home. Miss Daisy had a huge dog-smile on her face.

See what I mean? Fun. It's more fun now and for a long time it wasn't and I don't want to rock the boat but I gotta hustle a few grand for the Sauce Thing and a couple other minor projects. I don't know. I'll figure it out.

Say thank you, KAZ

Thanks, Karl! I never get gifts so I don't know how to do it right but I really appreciate it, buddy!  And thank Miss Neen for me!

That's All,  Folks
Goodnight Everyone! Thanks for coming along for the ride! 

 Yer pal, TJ

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Trail's End Haberdashery

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Ride Report In Three Parts: Part Four

A Century is A Lot
I got sidetracked halfway through yesterday's Blog and started telling the heartwarming tale of the Family Life of Old Tim Joe, for what it is worth...but I also left myself stranded without beer or succor way up in Ponce Inlet, about thirty miles from the Whispering Pines Trailer Park. The ride did not end there. I had Miles to Go and there was a certain darkening to the sky that made me think I better go those miles pretty quick. The day was getting late and my business and reminiscing about Days Gone By was done and I was more that ready to leave the past behind and hustle on South to yet another little Market where there would be beer and peanuts and a quick sprint home.

Florida Climb
Florida ain't much for hills but we do have these artificial hills called bridges and the big ones are pretty big and I am on one now, climbing and spinning and going pretty quick considering how many miles I have traveled today, but it has been a segmented journey so filled with good moments and swift riding and short breaks that I don't feel a thing. I'm riding Me Little Darlin', a 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour that I got from Coyote for twenty dollars, but there is considerably more money in her now. Early last summer, I installed a Mavic 36 Spoke Open Sport rim with a Tiagra hub. I also put on a Sram cassette and a new Sram chain and listen, those Were Dollars So Well Spent that I wish I could spend them again, but it may never happen. After 1500 miles or more they look and feel the same as they did the day they came off the truck. The Kenda Kwest tire I put on is showing just a little wear and all things considered I can only report Absolute Satisfaction with these products.

But right now I am descending on the down hill side of this big bridge and going pretty fast and there is something happening with the road surface. It is pretty rough and I just remembered that this is the original 27” front wheel with the rusty spokes and Kmart tire and is this safe?

Something New, Something Old
Sure, why not? I retained the big old wheel because I liked the way it looked and I get a kick out of doing things that might shock the purists; but also my brain tells me that this big thirty-six spoke rim is probably doing more than a little to create this super smooth ride that I get when out ramblin' about on Me Darlin.' Whatever the case, I made it just fine and cut left onto the river road again and it is only ten miles to the beer store and that blessed wind that has held steady out of the Northeast all day has cooled now in the late afternoon and has shifted slightly to the North and this will be a sleigh ride home with a cool, hard tailwind and a heart full of memories and joy of life.

Mumbles the Clown
I put the hammer down and blast those ten miles like nothin' and there it is, the Nova Road market and I dash inside to grab a Foster's and some more honey roasted peanuts. I really love those things. At the counter the cute teenage girl clerk wants to chat. I notice my hands are shaking a little and that I find it hard to speak. I am in Long Road Mode and I realize that I have not spoken out loud in hours and suddenly I feel the effect of almost ninety miles of pedaling my bicycle. I nod spasmodically and mumble at the clerk who now thinks I am a Challenged Person (which I am, sometimes) and then I step outside and I go over to the bike. I stash my peanuts and my beer into my messenger bag and I look at the sky. It is clear enough for now; there are only twelve easy miles left to go and I have a beer break coming up so it will be alright.

The Afternoon Break
I swing a leg over and hit a couple licks on the pedals and once again I am gliding. On days like this I feel more natural while pedaling than I do when I am standing and walking. The bicycle is part of me, or I am part of the bicycle;  it is a thing that is hard to define. I'm pushing hard, stroking steady and smooth in front of that following breeze and now I am crossing these three little bridges that will take me Home. Just on the other side of the third Little Bridge is a secret Creek-Side Clearing that houses the Homeless on occasion and sometimes serves as a Break Room for a certain Trailer Park Cyclist when he is Homeward Bound from a Journey to the North.

 Here it is a Quiet Spot and only six easy downwind miles to the Whispering  Pines Trailer Park and listen:  it makes all the difference,  stopping here.   Stopping here to stretch, fuel up on beer and honey-roasted peanuts is just what I need to get me through to the end. One  Hundred Miles Is A Lot.  One hundred is a lot of miles,  but not really;  today one hundred miles is hardly enough.  Right now  I'm sitting here At Peace and In the Moment;  right now I'm sitting here by Side of Stream: sitting here in the Here and Now  and being the good Zen Monkey I one day hope to become.  I am  Stopping By Stream, I am breathing, sipping the cold Foster's Beer and chomping on peanuts. I am  chewing them really good, so that they can  get in there and do their job. I need that juice now! I am  having a staring contest with a small school of fish that are just a few feet away, wondering who I am and what I am doing.

No Getting Out Of the Philosophizing
Which brings up a point that has beleaguered my brain for Lo These Many Weeks. What is a Century? It finally soaked through to my sometimes almost impenetrable conciousness that what I am calling "Riding a Century" is actually “Riding a Hundred Miles.” An actual Century is a group ride, and organized event. I guess. I really don't know. Nor do I care.

They Came From Outer Space
I saw some comment somewhere saying something to the effect about trying to finish a century ride in five hours, which of course is an average of twenty miles per hour. Now, in a group, working together, why not? But it sounds stressful to me. It makes me think of Responsibility and Concentration and a certain Regimented Procedure and it sounds like trying not to crash into the other guy's wheel and having to watch where you blow snot and worst of all, trying to “chat” and be a Good Fellow.

Not that there is anything wrong with all that. I've never done it, although I suppose it is inescapable and some day I will find myself in a group of guys wearing space-man suits and saying manly things and talking about stocks and hedge funds and carboluminum, even though I don't have any of those things and never will, by plan and design.

But What About Tim Joe?
But what I call a Century is something else. I may have to rename it. The Homeless Century. Those Homeless Guys you see out there on their bicycles are not out riding for exercise. They are not really riding to get someplace, either. What they are doing is Living On Their Bikes. They have no where else to properly be, except to sit in some stand of trees where their tents are and where they sleep. So they spend most of their day on their bicycles because once they stop moving, sooner or later they will encounter the police.

Don't ask me how I know all this.

How I Do It
 This is not a Homeless Rant. I know a lot of those guys and most of them know what they are doing, they know what they are doing and why they are living the way they are living.  It might surprise some of you to know that they like it just fine and that they see some of you as the victims of society.  But for now, let us set that aside. What I am trying to say here is that over the last few months I have fallen into the trap of being a Conscious Cyclist, of thinking about speed and cadence and carboluminum and Shimano and Sram. And while all of this thinking was made necessary by the many long miles that I have been riding in the Year of our Lord 2011, I fear that it has caused me to think of Me Darlin' Schwinn as a machine and myself as a cyclist. She used to be my Easy Chair where I would relax on Long Summer Sundays while I lounged about the countryside that surrounds my home. The casual observer would see a rather bedraggled old guy out pedaling around on quiet roads alone, but I was never alone, as you can see. I was riding with old friends who are gone and thinking about friends who are here. I was sneaking up on wildlife to whom I was no threat. I won't be making any road kill today.

The best parts of my long bicycle journeys are the moments like this one, where I pull off on my stealth machine into a small clearing at creekside and enjoy a well-earned beer and reflect on the day.  Many, many  times at this spot I have wanted to keep going.  I did not want the Ride to Stop. But the Ride never really stops.  The Ride never really stops if you are doing it right.

I think I will call it a Free Century.

And Then,  Home
So that's it! Six easy miles and I will be home. Slightly more than a hundred miles, but when you ride a Free Century, nobody's counting. I will pedal on back to the Park and hopefully Uncle Bill has stoked the fire in the Quasitron 6000 Steam-Powered Search Engine and hopefully he left me a couple cold ribs and some of the potato salad in the fridge. Remember, it is still Sunday Afternoon at Whispering Pines Trailer Park,  Where Time Stands Still. And I know those ribs will be there and I know Cold Beer will be there too, because that is how Uncle Bill (one of the friends still here) Rocks and yeah,  that is How I Rock Too.  Thanks for staying with me,  my friends!

By the Way:  Happy Birthday Uncle Bill!

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Rib Shack

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ride Report In Three Parts: Homeward Bound

And just like that, We're on the Downhill Side of a Hundred Mile Ride. I'm doing the Homeless Pirate Run. I'm blasting South along a River Road that is beautiful enough on it's own; but there is so much Magic and History wrapped up in this trail that we are riding on that I fear my Beautiful Dreamers will find their credulity stretched to believe it. Relax, guys, I am done with the history lesson. Maybe. Maybe not.  Ya never know.

South, then! Destination, Ponce Inlet. Let us pause for Visual Enlightenment:

This is the place where I live and ride

This is what happens the first time you taste Uncle Bill's Gator Sauce

Dangit!  I told the Blonde to get out of the way,  I'm photo-journalizing here!

Okay,  here is the picture I was looking for

Back to the Bicycling 
Ahem.  South to Ponce,  then.  I get there, I do that aimless Drifting Around by Bicycle thing I do,  I drift some more and then I pedal over to a Little Market that has served Ponce Inlet for many, many years.  Back when the TPC was building Hideouts for Millionaires me and the Crew would retreat there for lunch and shade.  These days,  I go there on my bike rides and  for you-know-what.  Beer,  I mean.  And after a pretty fast (even for me) blast down the river,  after meandering around this really nice sanctuary,  I am ready for the Homeward Beer and interested in seeing what changes have taken place at that little market since the  last time that  I was there, several months ago.  And change has indeed taken place:  They Are Closed.  Out Of Business.

OK, Now I'm Pissed
While it is true that I write this blog for fun and because I don't have anything better to do,  sometimes I have got to break it down and step aside from the jocularity (sparse as it may be) and tell the truth.  Twenty years ago,  before I went over to Tampa for a two-week job that evolved into seven years of hard labor and wheelbarrows of money,  I was a Pirate Captain and builder of Big Houses and I had a semi-loyal crew that went where I went and helped me do things that made all of us some money.  Not a lot of money  (for me that came later) but we made enough money to feed the fires and to feed the three-foot tall junior pirates running around in our various yards while the Big Pirates built fires and cooked meat and drank beer and said Har!

Listen Up 
The Best Pirate of them all was a guy we'll call Broc Branham and he was my Right Hand and a Better Man and all that and all those houses we built,  a lot of those restaurants throughout the South and etcetera may have been funneled through me and my various creditors but it was Broc and his Motley Crew that made it happen.

It was Broc Branham who made piles of lumber become buildings and and it was Broc Branham who made empty lots become places to eat and live.  One day we were sitting on the side of that  little market in Ponce Inlet, Florida.  It was the only market in the Village.  Off to the side was a retaining wall and some cool deep shade and we would go there to get Gatorade and slices of Pizza and yeah,  sometimes,  beer.

"We ain't gonna make it, brother,"  I said to Broc.  He knew what I was talking about.

"It'll be alright," he said.  "I'll make it."  

Fuck it man,  we were way down on payroll.  Being the Master of Disaster that I am,  I had conned the payroll company we were using at the time into carrying us for a couple of weeks until we got to the point in this McMansion where the tide would turn and I could get a big enough check to settle the waters.  But it had been a steady 100 degrees everyday and the boys were hurting and the contractor we were working for was holding the check that would solve everything until we did This Much Work and the payroll company was holding the payroll until they got a check...which was leaving the boys a little less than motivated.  And it was Friday.

"Look, Broc.  We'll send them home now and call it eight.  Then tomorrow you and me will come in and hack it out until we get the fuckers their money."  He looked at me with that hard-core direct way he had.  This was a man that was a little over five-foot-eight and about 150 pounds.  He could stare a hole through a brick wall.

"OK, Boss," he said.  

 And we did.  We sent them home and we all drank beer and whiskey that afternoon.  I learned a long time ago the Hard Way:  if you can't make payroll at least Buy the Beer and I did and the next day me and Broc Branham went up there and hacked away at it and got our asses kicked by the heat and by what came down to two guys doing the work of ten guys;  we hacked away at it until our hearts were nearly broke.  Then we hacked away at  it some more and we fucking kept doing it for six days until I could walk into that fat-assed contractor's office and not say a word.  He took one look at me and Broc and cut the check.

This is..Well...
Twenty years later I have come to this little market in Ponce Inlet to grab a beer and sit in the shade of that retaining wall and remember my brother Broc Branham.  But the market is closed.  No Beer.

And Cancer took Broc six years ago,  while I was off in Virginia, not here at home;   I was off working in Virginia and there is No Beer Here and no Market;  just these memories and the Blonde that Broc left behind and the two nine-year-old blonde-headed twins that lost their Dad...this must be why I like to ride Long Miles Until It Hurts but then,  I too am  getting old.

The Happy Ending
But what of that?  Old Tim Joe was an Old  Orphan his Ownself, Fat and Drunk and Dying the Hard Way over in Tampa Bay,  dying of loneliness and depression and one day he took a drive over to his old stomping grounds on the East Coast and accidentally-on-purpose bumped into the Blonde and the Twins and now we have been five years together...the Twins are sixteen now and the Blonde is her Old Self and I Am Here and I Am Pedaling My Ass Off and sharing all of this with you guys.

Magic and History,  wouldn't you say?

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Orphans Home

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Ride Report In Three Parts (Everybody Still Awake?): Pirates

The Story Thus Far
The Way I was headed this Sunday morning was a meandering run first to the west.  I had not been on the bike for days and just wasn't ready to fight a headwind at 10 A.M, so I took a morning boost to the West. After that I will turn right and feather my way into the Northeast, taking the wind on my starboard bow, angling in such a way that were I sailing I would be close-hauled and shouldering my way against wind and wave, doing some pounding and getting a bit wet. But not today; today I am only doing a little urban pedaling on a Long Ride.

Where I will turn right it is pretty far Out There on what was a Country Road when I first moved to this part of Florida  almost thirty years ago; but that infamous housing bubble and those rascally mortgage companies fixed that. Now there are a lot of three story office buildings and strip malls and condos that sit eerily quiet on a brisk Sunday Morning, and I fear they are just as quiet for the rest of the week as well. But these buildings suit me just fine. They are dampening the effect of the wind and this shiny new wide commercial lane is empty and I am a ghost, a ghost cyclist pedaling fast to the Northeast and putting down miles. I am looking all around me and trying to remember what this place was like when I first saw it, but there is not much to remember. Cow pastures and huge oak trees, primarily, those huge moss-draped Live Oaks that I call Worship Trees, because on a really hot Florida summer day they are good to sit under, drink your water and say a prayer.

It's True: I Am A Druid
I look at one office building parking lot. There is a big For Sale sign out front, worn and peeling and forlorn. Just behind the sign is one of those big Worship Oaks, spreading its branches wide and shading an empty parking lot. Once it had shaded cattle lying underneath to escape the sun.

Progress Is Its Own Reward and the plight of those cows and realtors don't concern me this morning. Today I am all about the miles and going nowhere. This stretch will give me thirty miles of progress, thirty miles of angling up on this route and then I'll have fifty miles and then I'll turn South. That will put the wind on my Port quarter, a broad reach with a lift and I will ride to Ponce Inlet. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Today, so far, it is.

Florida is a Pirate Place, and we are still here, all around, everywhere, if you know how to look. (Some of the worst pirates used to sit in those empty office buildings; but they have taken their plunder and moved on.) Were you to enter the woods behind many of these buildings you will find a tent and a bicycle, sometimes two or three. They go by the name of the Homeless, but that ain't it. These are Florida Pirates, unshipped crew waiting quietly for a Captain and a boat and a horizon. These guys live outside normal society but they are here, all the same. Were you to give them a  house to live in, you would soon enough find them sleeping out back around a smoldering bonfire.

Florida was founded by pirates. They called themselves explorers and Conquistadores, but if you ever ran into them on the high seas you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. One of the mightiest of these pirates was a diminutive little man with a giant ambition and a touch of the poet. His name was Juan Ponce deLeon.

I won't go into the history and story of Juan Ponce, not yet. I'm saving all that for a novel I'm working on about a couple of beach bum Hobie sailors who run into an old guy claiming to know where the Fountain of Youth is and who may or may not be Don Juan himself.

The Inlet
Today the only importance of the Spaniard Who Owned Puerto Rico is that an opening into the sea on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, an opening once known as Mosquito Inlet, was ultimately re-named Ponce Inlet and a Lighthouse was built there and a fishing fleet established and then, just like that, two hundred years go by and it has become an elegant tourist stop and an exclusive hideout neighborhood for retired corporate pirates.

My long Northeast trek is behind me. Those empty buildings did their job well enough, they efficiently blocked and tempered the wind and I am grateful for that; but I miss the pastureland. But what of it? Here now is Old Ormond Beach, once home to some of the greatest Pirates of all time, men with names like Flagler and Rockefeller. Here now is Ormond Beach and I am turning right again, the wind has not changed and I will get that bit of lift from a breeze that started out strong enough and is only growing stronger. This is cycling!

Break Time
I know a park where I can sneak a beer and a banana and some honey roasted peanuts. The market where I buy these supplies is frequented by those guys I mentioned earlier. Their pirate-cycles are out front. They're buying beer too, and why not? Nobody here but us “homeless” guys. 


Do Herons Fly At Night?
Last night before the wine took over I had gone out behind the trailer with Daisy so we could do our business. There was a small bonfire and meat cooking on the grill.  Looking up, I noticed the wind was pushing the palms around pretty good, and pushing the clouds out of the sky creating one of those crystalline nights when the stars twinkle and shimmer and seem close enough to touch. As I look two huge Herons fly over, pushed by the wind and looking not so much as though they are flying but rather hurtling through the sky, sent on a mission by whatever god deals with the ways of birds and leaving me (as always) glad just to be here.

I need a new saddle and often look longingly at pictures of Brooks B-17 leather beauties on the interweb, but what of that? I toss my empty beer can and banana peel and so on into the nearby trashcan, step from the bench of the concrete table where I am sitting (so that my feet do not touch the ground) and into the pedals. My old saddle is a cheap plastic thing I pirated from some other bike and is wrapped with black electric tape and so far this year I have put in almost 2500 miles sitting on that seat, so I think she will be good for a few more. It is about 26 miles to Ponce Inlet and that beer was good and the day is only getting better and my butt feels fine.

The River
I will be following the  River South to Ponce Inlet.  The tide is unusually high,  a result of that stiff East Wind  trying to blow the Ocean over the barrier island and into the river.  Helped by the gravitational pull of a nearly new Moon,  the waves are lapping up over the seawall and there is salt spray misting across the road.  The temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and I'm breezing along at 19 mph and I have to control myself to keep from bursting into song.  I am a bit wary;  the right combination of wind and wave could slap me down and off the bike and I am hard pressed to imagine a mishap I would cherish more.

This is a Blast!  Pirate Cycling!

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Pirate Hideout

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Ride Report In Three Parts (Unless I Forget): The Beginning

Coffee Can Fix Anything,  Almost
I crawled out of my bunk this morning and after stopping by that one little room I went into the big (for a trailer) kitchen/office/bike shop room to make some coffee and try to piece together events from the night before.. It was the last Sunday of the month so I had a long ride to do and I also figured it was high time for a blog post but the high time of the previous evening was creating something of a fog in the area of my brain.

“No problem,” I thought, “I'll just make the coffee extra strong and fire up the Ol' Quaz to see What's What on this fine Sunday Morning in the Year of Our Lord 2012.”

2011, said the Voice.

“What, Voice? I thought I told you to keep quiet until I get my first cup in the morning.”

It's 2011, not 2012. And how on earth did you manage to drink most of that jug of wine?

“Wine? What wine?” But I knew. I had already seen the way-less-than-half -full jug of cheap screw-top sitting on the counter. I got down the coffee filters and the coffee and threw an approximate amount together, filled the pot and poured it in. It hurt to do this and out of the corner of my eye I was certain that I had seen Earnest & Julio smirking at me from the label. Note to self: never drink wine that is bottled in New Jersey.

Ya Gotta Keep the Home Fires Burnin'
While the Mr. Coffee started doing that gurgling thing it does I went over to my trusty Quasitron 6000 Steam Powered Search Engine. With the right amount of lever pulling and knob turning, with a judicious pull on this chain and a tap on that dial, followed by a firm kick in the right spot, the Ol' Quaz can be counted on to spit out some juicy fact or rumor or photo or some tidbit or another that I can then weave into a Blog Post of Magic and Delight.

But not today.

Tales of Brave Prometheus (Revised)
The night before, while fascinating Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog with tales of my Victories and Exploits in Days Long Gone, while waiting for Uncle Bill the Gator-Slayer to hurry up and get those ribs off the grill and while yelling at the Blonde to get another fruit jar because Coyote's comin' over...while thus occupied with the busy business of a Trailer Park Pundit I had forgotten to put to bed the Quasitron 6000 by filling and banking her night coal and That Was Bad. I ran out to see if there were any coals left in Bill's cooker and tripped over an apparent corpse on the front porch.

“Bill!  Wake up,  Dangit!  The Quaz has Gone Out!   This Is Bad! And leave my dog alone!"  Billy mumbled something about Dale Earnhardt and went back to snuggling happily with Miss Daisy. We always joke about how if Uncle Bill and his Old Lady ever split up him and Daisy could get married. If he keeps hangin' out with me at the Park on Saturday nights that might happen sooner than later. On my way back inside Daisy growled at me as I awkwardly stepped over the two of them. “Good Girl,” I said absent-mindedly. I knew it was useless.

Better drink some coffee, said the Voice.

When In Trouble,  When In Doubt,  Saddle Up and Head On Out
“Good idea, Voice. And shut up. I gotta think.” The voice has this highly aggravating trick he does of fading away while laughing anytime he wants to let me know that  I'm screwed. I poured a big mug of black coffee and sat at the table gazing forlornly at the Quasitron 6000. One would think that after going to all the trouble to get a three-ton antique steam-powered search engine installed in a forty-five foot long single wide trailer, I would take care of the thing. But, Hey, I'm the Trailer Park Cyclist, and we all know what that means. So now there was only one thing to do.

Follow Standard Operating Procedure
I got my Goodwill messenger bag down from the hook over my repair bench and threw in my pump and a spare tube. I got a couple bananas and put them in too. I already knew I didn't have any trail mix. I checked the pressure in both tires and added forty (!) pounds to the front and fifteen to the rear.

I tickled the chain but I knew she was lubed just fine and I took Me Darlin' down from the stand and went out into the sun. Uncle Bill was sitting on his cooking stool and rolling a cigarette. “Hey Bill, do me a favor and fire up the Quaz on your way out, if you don't mind.” He just smiled and nodded and bent over to fish through the cooler, looking for any survivors of the previous night. I did that Stepping Off of the Porch and Onto the Bike Thing that I do and headed out.

Here There Is Magic
All of you know the feeling. You make those first few pedal strokes and just like that, you're flying. Just like that you are not a Normal Human anymore, because now you can fly. My morning start is beautiful: about six pedal strokes puts me on a gentle downhill to the Morning river and birdsong and river mist and I adjust the straps on my toe clips and wiggle around saying hello to my saddle and feeling the grip of that Cinelli cork tape and I am transitioning from my incarnation as a hungover, worn-out, past-his-prime Trailer Park Refugee into  something swift and sleek and swooping and free and ready to go.

I hit the river road and today the wind is from the East and I am so wrapped up in self-indulgence and happy-to-be-here-ness that I Head West,  against all convention, letting that breeze push me along like,  like, uh, push...dang cheap wine!  It is a pretty stiff late-morning East Wind on the Atlantic coast and I know just the road that I can use to ride West on this sunny Sunday and be alone. I have only been pedaling for ten minutes and I am sailing along at twenty-three miles per hour and yeah, baby, I'm in Church and This Is My Religion and I know I'm cheating but it is okay: I'm going west for about ten miles of Mind-Erasing wind-filled Glory and then I will start angling around in a sneaky roundabout fashion that will cheat the Wind.  I'll ease my way into the Northeast and by then I will have the Stuff, the Stuff we cyclists get for free; but not really; it isn't free at all. It feels free on a Sunday Morning like This One but it is very much earned. We earn it by riding our bikes for miles and miles and we earn it by thinking about bicycling and we earn it by learning about bicycles and keeping our bicycles clean and lubed and ready and the Stuff is the reward. The Stuff is that kick, that feeling of strength that makes us speed up when we see a hill.

Up Yours,  Aeolus
And I've got it now, I'm turning into that angled crosswind that I knew would be there and I say “Hello, Aeolus, good morning, how ya doin'?   Now excuse me if I just shoulder on through and you might want to step aside, pal.”   'Cause it's Sunday Morning and I got the Stuff and I got Miles To Go.

Aeolus said something I won't repeat,  even if it was in Greek.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Temple of the Stuff.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Too Little Miles and Too Many Links: Blame Bill & Aeolus

What I Didn't Do
Man what a beautiful day! It is seventy-three degrees Fahrenheit out of doors, right now, the sun is crisp and the day is clear and fine. I just got back from a little eighteen mile ride on my bicycle. I am a bit disconcerted at the short mileage: there is only one Sunday left in the month and I have yet to ride a Monthly Sunday Century, a custom I have been loyally observing since I got my “81 Schwinn Super Le Tour back in April, I think it was...of course, there have been a few occasions when that Sunday Century happened on a Saturday, if I check my records I think there is a Wednesday Sunday Century also, an accidental Century...

But the point of course is to get out there and just do it, get the ride in and log the mileage.

What I Did Do
But not today. I did not set out with the idea of doing a hundred miles today. I was only planning my usual 25 mile “training” run. I didn't take any beer money or food. Also, I have been guilty of quite a bit of Practice Carousing in celebration of the changing of the season and as a warm up for the strenuous, professional-level carousing that takes place in the coming Holiday Season.

It starts with the Waiting for the Great Pumpkin down at Uncle Bill's house. Sometimes I think that dang UB likes beer as much as I do even though he is always trying to convince me that he only drinks beer when I am around. What a crock. That little rascal always has a case or two of Bud when he shows up here at the Park.

After the Pumpkin doesn't come, we start the pre-Thanksgiving eating and drinking. Hams and ribs (always ribs) and whatever else comes around. This necessitates the Drinking of the Beer and along about sundown the Rum comes out. What a bunch of sinners.

Blame the Big Box
Anybody who ever goes to Wal-Mart already knows that Thanksgiving and Christmas are all one month-long holiday and there is nothing to be done about it. Except drink heavily.

Bicycles, TJ...What About the Bicycles?
But what about the Bicycles, you ask? I don't know. I was not a roadie last year. I just goofed off around the neighborhood (and beyond) on my old Mongoose Alta Single Speed. Training rides? Hah! Training for what? The Apocalypse?  Then it happened. My Buddy Coyote brought me an old Schwinn and the rest is history. Suddenly I was Fast (a little) and sleek and geared up and rockin' and rollin' and staying up late shopping for bicycle parts on the Internet and thinking about bicycles and then I wrote a guest Post for Fat Cyclist and then I started this here Blog and started writing down how many miles I rode and what the weather was like during the ride and thinking about riding my old bicycle  to California to see my son and become a Movie Star and get a really nice trailer in Malibu...

By the way, last week  I wrote another Guest Post for Fatty called Life and The Wind. You can see it here, anybody who is interested.

What's the Point?
Frequent Readers have probably given up looking for any rhyme or reason to my posts. I just get on here and free-style type and what comes out comes out. Today, for example, if there is any theme, it is one of Confession and Expiation. Confessing for not riding a hundred miles today and all the boozing I have been doing. And preparatory confessing for the hell-raising I am planning to do in case I forget to feel guilty about it later. Feel free to join in, both with the guilt-producing behavior and the expiation. I won't tell.

OK, We Give Up. Send In the Sauce
As some of you are aware, Uncle Bill and I have hatched an evil plan of Gastronomic Hijacking and World Domination based on his Mother'sSuper-Secret Barbecue Sauce. She got the recipe from her mother, and that mother got it from  hers, and so on back in line to the first Lost Buccaneers to ever wash up on the shores of our remote little corner of Florida. I have applied my minimal marketing skills to the problem and it shows. While we produced a few bottles of sauce, shipping costs are such that we are at a loss as to how to get the Sauce to you guys without making it so expensive that it becomes impractical to sell over the Internet.

What I decided to do last week was to send out samples to my Booger friends in a kind of Betty Crocker Ponzi Scheme. If any of you will send me the price of shipping (about $5.00) I will send you the Sauce. Then you get your friends hooked and put together a case order. I figure if I send it out in 12 bottle or even 24 bottle cases shipping will be spread around and get the per-bottle price down to something reasonable.

This whole thing is at the embryonic stage and I didn't start this Booger to sell barbecue sauce. But Hey! I told UB that I would see what I could do and so far nobody is complaining. Anyone who wants to can write a review on your Blog or write a Guest Post Review on here or at the Uncle Bill's Site. My buddy Matt over at Dillon Bikes wrote one you can see here. We swapped Sauce for a T shirt.

Aeolus LOVES Uncle Bill's Gator Sauce
Not really. I don't know if Aeolus ever even tasted barbecue.   He's a Greek God and me,  I don't know any Greek Gods:  I just hang out with Uncle Bill and various Pirates and Cyclists and Boogers. But I would bribe Old Aeolus  with a whole case of sauce if he would just make up his mind and blow from one direction or another. Part of why I ended up taking such an abbreviated ride this morning was that the wind was doing that blowing from everywhere thing so that no matter which way I turned the wind was in my face and frankly, I had a gentle but persistent hangover.  I also had a nagging list of chores waiting at home so I just packed it in and pedaled on back to the Park. It's not the first time this has happened, on the same route. It happened back when Agent KAZ visited, so I have a witness.  Sometimes the best way to beat the wind is to not be in it.

Tired of Typing (How Do I Blame the Wind for THAT One?)
Blah. It's a beautiful day but here I am saying Blah. There were a lot of Links in today's post, which I don't like to do, but I wanted you guys to see some of those Other Places. This Sauce thing, I don't know. I want to shift from talking it about here and move the ordering and promoting over to the Uncle Bill's site. You can link to it from my Blogroll. I want to set up a little bit slicker package but right now I don't know how, there's no money in it and let's face it, I'm basically giving it away. I'm giving it away to you guys for fun and something to do and I also think it is Good Stuff.

That's All For Now
That's all I got right now. There's beer in the freezer and the day is crisp and clear and cool and beautiful and Old Tim Joe is gonna go out and sit in the sun and rub Miss Daisy's ears. She likes it and I do too.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Bierstube

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

But What About the Bicycles?

You Have Got To Be Kidding
Last week I was thinking that maybe on my Booger I should try to be a little more Socially Conscious and stick in some Politics, or a Statement or somehow otherwise do something except pretend that I am happy about being poor and living in a Crappy Trailer Park and being old and slow. Maybe I owe it to somebody somewhere to stick my two cents in (if I had two cents but believe it or not, I don't). But I have two beers (part of what happened to the two cents) and maybe enough energy to Rant a Little so here goes. My Booger is about Evocation of Mood, it is about Encouraging Others to Ride Their Bikes and it is about being  Grateful for What You Have by showing everyone what little I have and how happy I am about it.

But What If
And I am happy about it, pretty much. But what if things get worse? What happens when you go to the ATM and it says Go Fuck Yourself and so you go around to the bank doors and they are locked? Or you head over to the grocery store and those doors are locked too?


So you join a bunch of other people and go down to City Hall to say Hey! We need money and we need food or we will huff and puff and blow City Hall down. But they just call in the Fire Department and the Police (two groups who have jobs and plan to keep them). They hose you down and arrest a few of you and tase a couple of you and then everybody goes home to dry off, calm down and get some rest.

There's Got To Be A Morning After...Maybe
Then when you wake up in the morning the electricity is turned off and you think to yourself “That's odd” must be a transformer or something so you decide to take a shower and get dressed and then go outside to see what's what. But when you get to the shower you discover that the water is off, too.
Uh Oh
What the Hell, you think and you decide to go next door to check with your neighbor. When you step outside you are surprised to see all your neighbors milling around out there in their bathrobes and bunny-rabbit slippers looking like they need to shave and brush their teeth and looking like they damn sure need a cup of coffee but they can't, they can't do any of those things and you can't either.

Can't happen here, you say? Why not? Says who?

Cold Hard Truth
All of the suppliers of these suddenly missing things, these Banks and Water and Food and Electricity, are provided to you by who? Let's say it together:

Corporations. Really Big Corporations.

Bring In the Clowns
So right now there are a bunch of people standing around various City Centers in various cities needing a shave and needing to brush their teeth but apparently having already had way too much coffee.

Trailer Park Manifesto
The Official Trailer Park Policy on OCCUPY is this:

We're for them. 

 I like it. If I wasn't Professionally Poor Me and Uncle Bill would be out there cooking huge piles of Barbecue for them and bringing them Kegs of Beer and trying to sell them sauce. Listen up, gang, whatever those nuts are doing out there OCCUPYING they are doing SOMETHING. They're out there in the rain and the weather Raising Hell and getting arrested and doing something else: They are getting National Attention and they are on our side, they are for us, the Human Beans.

They are for Us, the People. Will the world change due to their antics? It already has. This is one of those god-awful election years and these blow-hards running for the Right To Steal the Most Money In the World will have to answer to the OWS crew in one way or the other. The only thing those so called leaders respect more than Filthy Lucre is POLLS. This Blog here at the Trailer Park is a Poll.  So go ahead and spit it out.  What do you guys think?  Don't worry,  I'll still send you some Sauce.  Speak your minds.


Coming Up Next: The Trailer Park Cyclist Explains God, the Meaning of Life, and How to Maintain a Steady Cadence.. All surprisingly related.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Bully Pulpit

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dog Days Again

Who Let the Dogs Out?
I finally got chased by dogs today. Other cyclists frequently talk about being chased by dogs and it never seems to happen to me. I was starting to get a complex about it. Am I such a wreck that I can't even get a dog to chase me? Of course, it doesn't help that I spend so little time on the bike these days that any dog that wanted to chase me would have to get in his car and drive over to Whispering Pines Trailer Park and chase me around whatever crappy trailer I am trying to put back together.

Back In the Game
Yes, it is true, Miss Jo the Trailer Park Manager had to bring me back out of retirement. The New Guy she hired to replace me made a noble effort to Be Me but let's face it. There's only one Me. 

 Not counting the Voice,  the Voice said.

"Shut up Voice.  You don't count.  And you're getting me confused."

It's So Easy Anyone Can Do It
The funny thing about carpentry is that the better you are at it the easier it looks. Take a set of stairs for instance. Nothin' to it, right? What could be simpler? Hah! The New Guy's first effort was so dynamic, so artful, so creative that it drew fascinated attention from every tenant in The Park. Plus the fact that the NG's artwork was being displayed on the side of the Blonde's trailer. This...creation was nailed to the side of the Blonde's trailer in a feeble effort to replace the rotten steps that had collapsed beneath her and Miss Daisy the Yellow Dog at bath time. (Not the Blonde's bath time. Miss Daisy's. The Blonde takes her baths inside now, and has ever since we moved into town. I do miss bath time in the country, though.)

Hey!  Eyes Up Here
While Blondie and me don't always agree, she has always respected my skill at cutting pieces of wood  into various shapes and then nailing them back together so that they are a stairway or a house (or even a nice juicy pile of money when I get a bunch of other guys to cut and nail with me).

Look at this crap,” she said, gesturing disdainfully at the NG's work. “You can build a better stairway than that even when you're drunk. Which is a good thing since you...”

Yes, yes, Honey,” I said, interrupting. “But I'm sober now and I must confess, looking at this work here before me is sobering indeed. Don't try to use these.”

Oh, don't worry. I wouldn't go near that thing. It made Toby bark.” Toby the Trouble Puppy has grown in size quite a bit since his rowdy arrival at Whispering Pines but his brain seems stuck on “Puppy”. In this instance, however, he was quite accurate in his assessment. Those steps made me want to hike my leg and bark like a dog.

It Ain't Over Till It's Over,  Rover
Later that afternoon I was sitting at my table and running my fingers listlessly over the keyboard of my computer. I had a nice clean blank screen in front of me but I also had a nice clean blank brain inside of me. Nothing was happening. Then I saw Miss Jo coming across the parking lot. Now something was happening. Miss Jo has a determined and purposeful stride that gives her the look of someone on the way to kick somebody's ass. She was coming towards my trailer. Our last meeting had been alcohol fueled and less than pleasant and I looked around for a place to hide but it was too late and she was on the porch.

Can we talk?” she said.

Of course,” I said, “And I'm sorry about the other night. You don't really remind me of a...”

Whatever,” she said. “That's water under the bridge. I want to know if you want your job back.”

Well, Jo, I don't know. I saw those stairs that Your New Guy built and I have to confess, I just don't have it in me to do that level of work. You gotta remember that I'm  only a carpenter. That guy is an artist and apparently an idiot savant, only without the savant part.”

I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I,” she said.

Never. And I demand that all my demands be met.”

Tim Joe, half of those demands are illegal and the other half physically impossible. And you're too old for that kind of stuff anyway. I don't want to be responsible for giving you a heart attack.”

I found this intriguing. The only demands I remember making was to be allowed a little more bicycle time and a new deal on my trailer rent. And a new hammer.

OK.” I said. “Where do I start?”

Where else? Replace those stupid stairs.  That Ex of yours is threatening to call the Building Department and the newspaper and PETA and anybody else she can think of that might give me more heartburn than I already have.”

Yes, ma'am,” I said. “By the way, you didn't happen to write down any of those demands I was making, did you?'

But she was already off the porch and on her way to another meeting. With the New Guy, no doubt.

No One Here Gets Out Alive
So once again I find myself crawling around tearing out rotten floors, re-framing collapsed walls, building simple but functional non-artistic stairs and generally picking up where I left off. And getting so little time in on my bicycle that I can't even get chased by a dog.

I'll chase you, Dad.” said Toby the Trouble Puppy.

That's good of you, puppy, but I don't want you chasing bicycles. And dog's can't talk.”

That's what I was going to say, said the Voice.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Asylum