Driving west

From the South Rim, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Hope is packing up
our privilege and masks
and bicycles and hiking boots
and driving west
to explore the future.

It is trekking higher in thin air,
trusting our hearts and lungs,
daring to imagine a bright new chapter
that begins around the next bend
in the dusty trail.


Read more Raw verse.

Beware the little cyclists (and big people, too)

Experienced cyclists like Mrs. Smith and yours truly know a good bit about avoiding road hazards. I learned some of that the hard way – once by going too fast around a curve on an asphalt trail that was covered in wet leaves, for example, and once by hitting a rough railroad crossing at a bad angle in the rain.

Some of the scariest moments on a bicycle involve children, the scary part being fear of running into and hurting them. After witnessing a number of hazardous situations the other day on some busy, beautiful trails in Summit County, I thought it might be good to state the obvious that is not obvious to everyone.

  • You are not quick enough to avoid hitting a child who swerves into your path if you are riding as fast as you want to. Slow down. Trust me. A child walking or pedaling on a trail or anywhere else will be in your way at some point. They are learning.
  • Many adults are still learning. Some never will.
  • Don’t assume a cyclist or pedestrian you’re passing hears you say, “Passing on your left.” Not everyone has good hearing, and many others are listening to music or podcasts.
  • Far too many people will not give you a polite “Passing on your left” as they approach you from behind.
  • You cannot trust anyone who is driving a car, truck or other motor vehicle. That includes me. We are human and we all make mistakes, not to mention those who are drunk, texting or otherwise negligent.
  • You cannot trust other cyclists, so be responsible for your own safety. I’ve had a cycling friend yell out that a road was clear to cross only to see him nearly hit by a speeding car a second or two later. Always check for yourself.

Summary: Pay attention.

Pedal on.

B.J.

Making my day: Friday flash

It doesn’t take much to make my day lately.

Today, for example, I dropped my Colorado primary ballot in the box at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. That didn’t make my day, but the act of voting did give me some satisfaction as the next step in sending Sen. Cory Gardner from Washington, D.C., back to the Eastern Plains.

I voted on the way home from picking up my monitor and keyboard from the big building on a hill above Boulder where I’ve spent most of the last nine years doing my day job. After more than three months of working from my basement office, I finally accepted that it could be months if not years before I go back to the big building. A few people have returned so far, but most of us still don’t have that choice. My ultimate choice may be to work from home indefinitely, as much as I miss the view from Boulder.

That thing about retrieving my monitor and other stuff so I don’t have to use the company-issued laptop all by itself didn’t make my day either. It was a sad thing.

What made my day was having a little short story accepted for publication in an online journal. It took maybe 90 minutes to write a couple of months ago. After a handful of rejections, the first flash fiction I’ve written in years has found a home. It may or may not have something to do with a kite.

If you read my story when it’s published next month, it will take you however long it takes to read about 630 words. That’s the flash part – few words that go by fast.

Read on, my friends.

B.J.

Last wish

If on some cold, dreary day a virus takes my breath away, please burn me up and say a prayer then toss my ashes in the air.

My final wish I may regret and I’ll be damned, or so you’ll fret, but when to dust I do return don’t let it be just to an urn.

Do this for me, darlin’ please, just send me off into the breeze so I can float off through the sky and come to rest when time goes by.

I want to fall to Earth again upon a madman’s head so when he rants and raves above the din he chokes on me as he breathes in.

Waiting for Susan

It used to be – back in the day, maybe last month – that Mrs. Smith always got home from work before I did. Now that I work in the basement of our Longmont dwelling rather than a basement office in Boulder, Red Dog and I wait for her return instead.

Red often waits just inside our front door, right by the little stool where Susan puts her bathrobe and a towel each morning on her way out. So far I haven’t curled up by the door with him.

When my wife gets home, she says a quick hello and sheds the clothes that will go straight to the washing machine. Then she steps into the shower in the bathroom just a few feet away from the front door. She is following the advice of her employer. The idea is to reduce the chances of sharing a virus that she may or may not have been exposed to while helping mostly elderly people rehab from hip replacement surgeries, strokes, and various other conditions.

So far she has not had to venture into the isolation area of the care center, where people who have been released from a hospital spend a week or so proving they are asymptomatic. I hope she can avoid that area, but if she is needed she will go there.

She is remarkably cheerful most of the time and brushes the fatigue away like a pesky gnat that comes around now and then. Somehow she has the energy to work out or do yoga upstairs, take Red Dog for long walks, and bicycle with me.

Susan is one tough cookie.