We’re going to a party party

The first time I drove out West was early in 1971. I went with my high school friend in the 1966 Buick Special convertible I drove at that time. We drove as directly as we could, which was basically, go north to I-40, turn left and keep going. When we got to New Mexico, parts of I-40 were unfinished, and traffic was dumped onto the old highway.


Route 66 is a historic highway these days, sometimes a local road and sometimes completely abandoned. It’s mostly kept around out of nostalgia but not much use for anything practical.


And, speaking of that, today is my birthday. We’re not really going to a party party. Our plan is to go to Los Portales, our Mexican restaurant of first choice, for huevos rancheros. It’s our normal practice to have huevos rancheros for lunch on Wednesdays. We have been doing it for long enough that the waitress doesn’t bother giving us a menu and usually brings out our drinks without our having to order. She brings one sweet iced tee, one unsweet, lemons, a bowl of regular salsa and one of ranchera sauce. Then she asks, “The regular?” And we, of course, say, “Yes. Suave, please.” That ensures the yolks are soft and runny.

If we happen to mention that it’s Leah’s birthday in March, or mine in May, they usually bring a complimentary sopapilla in the Eastern style (a flat toasted tortilla with sugar and cinnamon, topped with ice cream and whipped cream — not the puffy New Mexico style eaten in one hand with a squeeze bottle of honey in the other hand).

Back when I was younger, in my 30’s and early 40’s, I didn’t expect to live past 50. It wasn’t that I was in poor health or anything like that, it was just that I thought of myself as a young(ish) person. A young person is not 50 years old, so I couldn’t be 50 years old. I have since figured out that no one actually is a young person. They may be at a young age, but they’re only passing through; age is not a destination.

I see it kind of like we’re all falling from the top floor of a very tall building. As we age, we pass lower and lower floors. So as someone passes the 20th floor, it’s ridiculous for someone who’s just now passing the 99th floor to look at him and say, “Ha ha! Look at the old guy. He’s almost reached the ground now.” We’re all headed towards the same end.

So now I find myself at an older age, an age that I thought of at one time not as “older” but as flat-out old. People older than me probably think, “Why, that young whippersnapper, he thinks he’s old. He’s not old. I’m older than him, and I’m certainly not old!” Just like I do when someone turns 30 (or 40, or 50, or even 60 …) and moans about getting old.

My body is old. My knees are bad (Bad knees! Bad!). My shoulder is bad (Bad stepladder! Bad!). My eyes are kind of bad, bad enough that I need reading glasses and a little bit of long-distance correction, although I can read highway signs without glasses, not to mention the writing on the wall.

But I’m not old. The me that’s looking out through my somewhat bad eyes remains pretty much the same me as it ever was. Maybe a little wiser. Probably not much, but enough so that when I look back on some of the things I did or said at a younger age, I cringe.

What idiots young people can be. I’m glad I’m not one of them.


Our two dwarf gardenia plants are starting to bloom. Gardenia was my mother’s favorite scent. I suppose it’s probably pretty old-fashioned these days, but the real thing is nice.


The amazing thing is how many buds there are. There are hundreds of unopened blooms.


It looks like there are more buds than leaves.

They won’t all open at the same time, but if they did … that would be a sight.


Dusty spends a lot of his time in culverts.


He’s lying with his eyes almost closed in the culvert at our neighbor’s driveway.

The culverts are his refuge from scary things, like loud cars or Dusty. He’s spent so much time hiding out in this culvert as well as the one at our driveway that I think he feels secure there. We’ll have to get a length of pipe for him to use at the new house. He’ll be too far from a culvert there.

Green and black, and blue and white

Sometimes you have to look up as well as down.

Here are some of Zeke’s favorite roadside foods.


They’re a little blurred, which I will blame on Zeke and Sam pulling on me while I tried to take a picture. These are unripe blackberries. Zeke checked them but they were too green even for him. This was Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, we looked up instead of down.


There were lots of cirrus unchains (this is a link to a source other than Wikipedia, for a change), or mare’s tail clouds. They were changing very quickly, even as we walked along the road. When we got home I saw these from our back deck.


They were slowly fading to pink. I sat for a few minutes, but the sky was changing so quickly that they were gone before the setting sun could paint them.

The sky on Wednesday seemed particularly beautiful to me because we had some good news earlier in the day. A second flooring contractor came out and measured for tile and hardwood. He sounded knowledgeable, even about electrically-heated bathroom floors. He gave a reasonable estimate for the work, less than I had expected. And, what’s more, he said he could almost certainly start by May 23. That will work out almost perfectly, because I hope the interior painting will be done by then, and, maybe, just maybe, the power and heating/AC as well. The timing was very good, although it’s clear at this point that we will not be in the house by the end of May. However, I am willing to bet (a small amount) that we can be ready to move in by the end of June, assuming our buyers’ bank is able to move reasonably quickly. It even seems that I will be able to do the trim work in the new house.

I’m pretty happy about things right now, but don’t tell Fate about that.


House progress

I have finally made some progress on finishing the basement of our current house. I took this shot a few days ago.

basement floor

I used the blue masking tape to make sure joints didn’t separate when I was snapping a new piece of flooring into place. Since then I have completed the flooring in the den. That leaves the flooring in the downstairs bedroom closet, which should take only a short time. Then it’s hanging doors and installing baseboards, and the basement will be essentially finished. Of course I still have to replace some cracked tiles in the master bathroom.

We are also approaching completion of drywall in the new house. The drywall contractor has been taping and mudding. He expects to be done by the end of the week.

The interior of the house looks like an actual house now. I expected to see it differently at this point, but I think I have been visualizing it so much that I already knew what it was going to look like.

Attic insulation comes next; that is tentatively scheduled with a helper for this Saturday. I have to do a little more in the attic and then I’m ready. The only thing standing in the way is a decision about whether to use blow-in cellulose or blow-in fiberglass. The biggest disadvantage to cellulose, other than the big mess it leaves, is that it will take at least 135 bags, while the fiberglass will take only about 50. I think I can get 50 bags on my truck and trailer, but not 135 bags. The big-box store gives a free one-day rental of the blowing machine if you buy enough bags of insulation (I’ll meet that requirement several times over), but it might well take more than one day to blow in the cellulose. I’ll have to make a decision on that in the next couple of days.

I saw my doctor on Tuesday about my right shoulder, which I injured in a fall in the new garage. (Step ladders were invented by the devil.) When I first injured it, it seemed to be a minor inconvenience. After a week or two, it was a major inconvenience. I couldn’t lift my right arm high enough to brush my hair, and I had to use my left hand to help my right hand reach the steering wheel when I drove. But Sunday I surprised myself by being able to raise my right arm over my head without any significant pain. I was pretty sure it was a torn rotator cuff, but the doctor is not certain. Leah suggested earlier that it might not be. The doctor ordered an X-ray to make sure the shoulder is not dislocated, and some ibuprofen to help with any inflammation. No visit to the orthopedic surgeon yet, and possibly not at all. And it seems that I can use my right arm for some things if I’m careful.

Like unloading about a half a ton of floor tile for the new house.


I’m supposed to meet a flooring contractor Wednesday morning to get an estimate for tile and hardwood. The contractor I had originally intended to use says he is booked through June, and that just won’t work.

My forecast is for completion of attic insulation this weekend, and the start of painting early next week. Some time during the weekend I hope to install the final exterior door so the house can be locked, and after that, to get electrical power inside the house. Then it’s a clear path to an air conditioned house and hardwood flooring. And, if my right shoulder behaves itself, I may be able to install the interior doors and do the trim work myself.