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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gladys Breaks Wind…

GladysI’m on mare’s shanks again in the Valley. Yes, hoofin’ it is my principal means of transport these days and I’ll be afoot indefinitely, I fear. A few days ago I was spinning along on Gladys and coming up on the Barrell Man’s house when I heard a sharp crack and subsequent whistle, then a long sighhhhhhh. I can’t approach Martys’ place without thinking about moles: their property is currently under heavy siege. My first thought was “gunshot,” and too close for comfort: the Martys are fighting back. Or am I, myself, under fire? A quick glance at my surroundings revealed no weapon, no shooter, no need to hit the deck. In quick order I processed the situation: Gladys had just plain let me down. Down in front anyway. Her front tire as flat as a pancake. Strike that last: The Ripple can do far better… flat as the Earth before the Enlightenment….flat as a three-day old ‘possum on a state highway… flat as…. In short, Gladys had gone flat out. In the Old Gal’s favor, though, she didn’t leave me far from home; I always expected she’d strand me somewhere on the lower Loop, near the point of no return. I parked her next to a laurel bush across from Martys,’ footed it back home for the truck, retrieved my vintage ride, and hauled her home, dignity still intact.

Human nature seeks to find a scapegoat, point fingers, fathom out the well-source of blame while denying complicity. pancakedGladys and I have been gliding the Valley for years with scarcely more than an occasional wheez from the old harridan. So invoking the spirit of human nature, I armed my forefinger, and like a water witcher with his willow wand, waved it around until it waggled and settled upon the culprit, none other than Jimmy Dennis, as the root cause of my current pedestrian status.

Jimmy Dennis, the Valley’s diminutive self-appointed block watch captain. How many times have Gladys and I waved as we passed? How many times afoot have I high signed the Valley monitor, the sentinel of Tualco? Just the day before Gladys left me pounding the asphalt, I’d flagged Jimmy down, coincidentally, adjacent to the Frohnings’ mobile chicken hut and, tongue in cheek, chastised him for his laxity in guarding the hen house. Two days before, Sandy Frohning had led me to a pile of feathers that the day before had been her prime 3-P rooster, guardian of the hutch, now reduced to a pile of down and feathers that would scarcely fluff a small pillow. “You’re falling down on the job,” I tell Jimmy. “Whadddya mean?” he replied, and I break the sad news of of the guardian of the flock, lately deceased, victim of a coyote prowl. My gentle jest prompted a rant, a tirade from Jimmie D in which he excoriated the very existence of coyotes and eagles. Of the latter something about their numbers not warranting the “endangered species” ranking. My ears singed and the fumes of vituperation burning my nostrils, Gladys and I beat a hasty retreat.

Only to have Jimmy pull alongside us again a couple miles down the road. The ever vigilant Valley watch captain rolls down his window and  informs me: “Did you know your tires are flat?” New information to me. “No wonder my rides seem to take forever,” my weak response. Jimmy nods, smiles, and continues on his Valley beat, leaving Gladys and me to waddle our way home.

Let’s face it: Gladys and I have a lackadaisical relationship. Before our next outing I drag out the portable air tank and fill her tires to the “no give when pinched” level. The serious cyclist, I suppose, must have some inkling of the proper air pressure his ride requires. Even wouldn’t surprise me if a pressure gauge was somehow involved.When I’m astraddle Gladys, it’s difficult to look down over my shoulder to see what’s happening where the rubber meets the road. The blowout a coincidence? Or cause and effect (over inflation?) that Gladys aired out? In all fairness to Jimmy D I suspect it was obsolescence that left me stranded and afoot in the Valley. Contrary to her wishes, I posted her bio on The Ripple (“Roll on Columbia, Roll on…,” 3/2/2010) and outed her age. Who knows: her front tire might be the one she was born with. That tire had most certainly been around the block a few times (and countless trips around Tualco Loop, as well). Frayed

Three years ago I replaced Gladys’s rear tire. Two weeks it took to backorder a replacement for my Bicentennial vintage ride. I haven’t a clue where to begin looking for a front tire replacement, so while I search for new rubber, Gladys is biding her time in the garage, leaving The Ripple afoot, thus the news south of Swiss Hall  unreported. Until Gladys is up and running again, The Ripple would appreciate a “heads up”on news,Valley south, that needs reporting. Meanwhile the old matriarch sits in the garage with a deflated ego. Well, make that half an ego.

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  1. Did you know the Beebe's had a baby calf? I got to take pics of her. :)

  2. I didn't know Matt was a cattleman. Did he get a hat and boots, too? Read Frost's poem "The Pasture." Thanks for the comment. TMJ

  3. No hat, I didn't notice the footware. They have a few Jersey cows but they don't milk them. Not really sure why they have them actually. I think they are left over form when one of the kids was in 4H and they were milking them but they aren't there anymore to milk them.