Amy, Neil and family were here for an Easter visit. It was the first planned visit for them here in Paradise since the pandemic began. I say scheduled because there was that time a year or so ago when we were camping with them on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Some local yahoos driving pickup trucks came roaring through the small campground as their idea of midnight fun, but it was when they started discharging firearms just down the road from us that they really put a big dent in our composure. We broke camp immediately when the guns started going off. The idea of remaining in a remote area with armed and irresponsible drunks-in-trucks did not compute, and our friends spent the rest of that night at our home before returning to Durango later in the morning.
During Easter Sunday we played a couple of songs from Jesus Christ Superstar for old time’s sake. Beginning in the year when I first heard the music in 1971, when it was all a brand new thing, listening to at least a song or two every year somehow evolved into a tradition on its own.
So what is that … fifty-one years?
We are waiting once again for new credit cards to arrive in the mail. Five days ago VISA sent us a message asking if we’d charged $19.60 at *********, and when we told them we hadn’t they immediately went into the cut-up-your-old-card-and-we’ll-send-you-a-new-0ne loop. The last time this happened was less than a year ago. Each time there was some small charge against our names caught by the VISA algorithms, and each time we were forced to try to remember with which companies we have arranged for standing withdrawals using that account.
Otherwise we get that dreaded message: On April 7 we tried to charge your newspaper subscription to your VISA account and it didn’t go through, you pathetic loser. Either get this fixed or we’re sending Benito and Adolf to talk to you, and believe us when we tell you that you don’t want to meet them.
It’s actually not hard to see how this might occur. It seems that every hour or two I read about yet another data breach at a company I have done online business with. Or the clerk at the motel takes my card and does something with it where I can’t see his hands. Or … the possibilities are varied and endless. Maybe I should be surprised that it happens only once a year.
When those hackers broke into the National Security Agency files and stole our nation’s secrets a few years back, I finally fully realized that individual internet security was a fiction. They hacked the NSA, for cripes sake! Possibly the most secure site in the country/world! And here I am complaining about a $19.60 charge that I didn’t even have to pay.
But … you know what? It still ticks me off something fierce.
I have another mouse story. From thirty-plus years ago.
I had talked my friend Bill into joining me on a weekend camping and fishing on a northern Minnesota lake. The weather was promised to be three perfect October days. We took off on Friday afternoon, and the first intimation that the weatherman was possibly unbalanced was the sleet on our windshield, which started to appear even before we got to Fargo ND. Next morning dawned cold and cloudy, but since there was nothing falling from the sky we went on to Mantrap Lake and set up our tent in forty-degree drizzly weather, with beaucoup misgivings.
To shorten the story, it started to snow/sleet, and we froze for two nights and days before we gave up and headed home. Saturday morning we cooked bacon and eggs which cooled the second they left the pan, but were delicious anyway. Because it was so nasty, we did not wash the cookware, but left it out while we went fishing.
Here are the highlights of that excursion:
- In the whole lake, there was a single metal sign out in the middle, identifying a spawning bed where fishing was illegal. One sign in the entire lake and we hit it with our small boat. Why? Because it was sleeting hard and the wind was blowing fiercely in our faces and no one was looking where we were going.
- One night we went into Park Rapids to find some warmth and decided to go to a movie. At first we were the only patrons in the theater, but then a group of developmentally disabled adults were brought in to see the show. They laughed at all the wrong places but we didn’t care. We came for warmth, not conversation.
- Midday on Sunday we drove to town for another indoor break. First stop was a bait and tackle shop. I bounced up to the counter and said Hi, there. What sort of things do you use to fish with in weather like this? The man’s response was perfect: We don’t go fishing in weather like this.
- At that tackle shop, I purchased two large plugs suitable for musky fishing, because the clerk had told us about a “submerged island” in the lake where these fish were wont to hang out. We trolled around that “island” for about an hour and suddenly I hooked a fish which turned out (amazingly) to be a musky after all. It was 35 inches long, but the regulations were that only fish 36 inches or longer could be kept. The irony of it all was almost too much. The biggest fish I’d ever caught was too small to keep.
- Bill is under normal circumstances one of the most fastidious of people. But remember that cookware we didn’t wash? The next morning he picked up the pan to cook the bacon and there were hundreds of mouse tracks in the congealed bacon fat from the previous day. There were also numerous droppings in the pan. Shivering in the gray morning light he simply wiped away the evidence with a paper towel and cooked the morning’s meal. (Gross, right? But I ate the bacon that he cooked …gratefully, as I recall.) Since that trip, Bill has refused to ever go camping with me again. I don’t know if he does with other people or not, but I am definitely on his no-fly list when it comes to this sort of outdoor entertainment.
From The New Yorker
Awright, I don’t need it. And if the guesses about what it is going to cost are correct, I might not be able to afford it, either. But as the previous owner of not one but two Volkswagen microbuses, I seem not to be able to help myself … I lust after this thing.
It’s the newest iteration of the VW bus, called the ID Buzz. It is all-electric and in just about every way you might imagine is technologically superior to the old ones. For example, it has 201 horsepower, which is four times as many as either of mine did. It has all wheel drive, while mine had two in the rear. It is rumored that it actually has a heater worthy of the name, which mine only pretended to have.
The only question for me is … does it have a soul? We forgave those older busses their too-obvious deficiencies because we created the myth that they had something spiritual going on. Our feet froze on the floorboards in a cruel Michigan winter – no matter. The lawn-mower-sized engines couldn’t pass anything on the road but other vehicles like themselves – piffle. No possibility of air conditioning – faggedaboudit.
None of that mattered in 1974, though. And an elevated price tag might not matter as much in 2024 or whenever we can finally buy one, if VW pulls off the remarkable sleight of hand tour de force that it once did. Selling us the idea that whatever was lacking here was unimportant. What mattered was that the bus reflected who we were, which was someone both countercultural and inoffensive at the same time. Quite a trick.
On our bicycle ride in the rural on Monday we were treated to:
- the songs of Western Meadowlarks
- the sight of hundreds of new lambs in a very large flock of sheep, so young their tails had not yet been docked
- a BIG red-tailed hawk that cut across the road in front of us, not fifteen feet away and little more than a man’s height above the ground. Magnificent bird! I’d never seen one that close and on the wing. I didn’t take the photo below, but the bird looked just like this as it passed right in front of us. At that moment I was entirely glad that the hawk and I are the relative sizes that we are. If it were bigger and I were smaller I wouldn’t have been out there in the country riding that bike, that’s for certain. Nossir. I would have nothing to do with cycling as prey.