Mean Streets

My son Jonnie came home for a weekend visit on a college break. As he was unpacking I had some music playing … can’t recall exactly what, but it was during my New Age period. This was after my divorce and that time I was playing quite a bit of stuff that promised to bring some order to my disordered thought processes. It didn’t quite deliver, but didn’t require much of me, either.

Anyway, I think that it might have been David Arkenstone and his Valley in the Clouds album. At one point Jonnie raised his head to listen and then he observed: “And to think that this was once a house where rock and roll was played.”

Well, wasn’t a minute before Mr. Arkenstone was retired and the J. Geils Band cranked up as the background music du jour. I had been properly shamed.

I admit that on occasion, when there is no one to hear what I am doing, I will still bring some of this genre of music out for a listen. But I definitely wouldn’t want it to get around that I do. ‘Twould ruin my street cred.

Ancient Legend, by David Arkenstone



We are just now finishing up our Christmas leftovers. When you plan ahead and precook several entrees, as I did, and then you infect your guests with a disease that involves messing profoundly with their digestive tract, well, you have lots of leftovers. A ton of them.

But … and I say this with some small pride … they were excellent. That beef roast for eight (including one teenager who resembles a machine designed to inhale food without chewing) but which only three people nibbled at … delicious. That may have been the best of them all.

We’ve kept track of the survivors of our holiday miserableness, and all have made full recovery. Some of them have declared that it will be a cold day in Hell before they come back to our casa for another meal, but I take that to be only a temporary posture because their wounds are still so fresh. Allow enough time to pass, I think, and all will be well.

What we have promised them, should they ever feel inclined to return, is the following:

  • a hospital tent set up in the back yard, manned by retired EMTs who have only recently surrendered their licenses
  • an old but serviceable large Dodge van would be available complete with stretchers, for transport to and from the hospital
  • family members who are still conscious would be allowed to play with the siren during van rides
  • a full line of gastrointestinal products will be available in-house, including antacids, Milk of Magnesia, chicken noodle soup, Pepcid, and generic PeptoBismol
  • three full cases of comfortable toilet paper will be stored on the premises to avoid those highly annoying shortages
  • all the orange Gatorade they can handle while rehydrating, available after that as a cash bar

Sounds pretty attractive to me.



On Sunday last we drove to the outskirts of Delta CO for a little bird-watching. There is a resident population of sandhill cranes which winters over in the area, and can usually be found by following the Uncompahgre River as it passes the town. We were not disappointed, but found perhaps 400 of the birds along tributary creeks north and west of the village.

It is always a thrill to see these creatures, which seem to be something right out of Jurassic Park. The other-worldly cronking sounds they make only add to their uniqueness.

It’s a real privilege to be able to see them basically whenever we choose to make the small effort. It’s only a 20 mile drive to Delta, then add another few miles to search out the birds, and that’s it. As we watched, new additions to the flock were coming in for landings, which was doubly fascinating. These big birds hit the ground running, but oh, so gracefully.

Birds, by Neil Young


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