Not in that order. Sitting here, taking in some fuel, getting ready to go out but much later than I had hoped because I couldn’t unglue myself from the Tour last night. There was a taping failure yesterday (digital cable complicates some things, and recording TV is one of them. No accident, since they’re pushing their own version of TiVo), forcing us to watch the evening coverage. Lots less riding, more features, and Al Trautwig, who seems to have calmed down a little bit. I don’t think he interrupted Bob Roll once. Still, Bob and Kirsten Gum was a much better combination. Where the hell is she? Even so, I was just going to record it and catch up with it on the weekend, but it started to get intense, and the next thing I know, I’m up ’til 11:30, which is not a good way to get out riding by 6 a.m. The run up to La Mongie cracked a bunch of leading riders and broke up the field, and it put Lance into 2nd place with a 2nd place finish on the day. He didn’t quite have it to take the stage win, but he gained another two and a half minutes on Jan Ullrich, who looked like baked roadkill by the end, even more on Hamilton (whom we all want to do well, but not so well he beats Lance), and even more on Iban Mayo. Basso emerged as a continuing talent, and Mancebo, my personal vote for a potential surprise, was right there and moved up the general classification. And what about Voeckler?! He’s the Little Yellow Jersey That Could! Nobody expected him to really push his advantage in the mountains . . . he was only going to keep the maillot jaune until others gained on him in time. Well, he’s not sitting back and waiting for that, and one of the most touching moments of the Tour came when Richard Virenque pretty much abandoned his hunt for points yesterday to help Voeckler — not on the same team — keep up with the pack. He came in four minutes behind Basso — not too shabby. Every day he’s worn the yellow, he’s earned it.
Last night, sleep disturbed by the Tour; tonight it’ll be disturbed by the neighbors. The high school twins across the street are having their delayed graduation party, and their band will be playing. Why not? They’ve gotta live once. They’re good kids and don’t bother us, though the late summer night bullshit sessions are a little loud under our bedroom window sometimes. But we like they.
The neighbors on the other side of the house are a different matter. For years and years we had an old man next door, Erwin Willgeroth. He had lived in that house his entire life, and apart from adding aluminum siding sometime in the ’70s and cutting down a tree in the yard around the same time, he had never done a thing with the place, a tiny little cape cod. I’d love to say that knowing him was a delight, because that would make me look like a better person, but in fact we used to hide when he was out wandering around because there was no way to get in and out of a conversation with Erwin in less than an hour. I’d be out hanging rafters in the garage or sawing up studs, and he’d just wander around the work zone, oblivious to danger, noise, or that my mind needed to be elsewhere. He was a nice enough person, just a clueless one. I used to want to say, “Erwin, less is more,” but he wouldn’t have understood, and he was dreadfully lonely, so you can see that in fact I’m a heartless clod.
So, Erwin died and we were terrified of what would happen to the place. Luckily, a contractor bought it for his single-mother daughter and fixed it up quite nicely. She moved in and things were generally pretty quiet, and if the kids are allowed to run around outside until 11 or midnight every night, well — other people have different styles of parenting. They have no garage or shed, so the yard started to become an accumulation of toys, picnic tables and gas grills, but what can ya do. Then the father moved in (and out, and then in again, I think), and the yard started accumulating cars and a truck. All working, all moving around at different times of the day, but never ever parked in the driveway, just driven up on the former lawn. The truck is employed to carry around various debris from the yard, such as a big section of stockade fence. Sometimes it’s down on the ground, sometimes it’s up in the back of the truck. We don’t know why. For a couple of months, the lid for the kids’ sandbox rode around in the back of the truck. Currently, there’s a completely broken chest of drawers back there. And there’s a motorcycle in the mix, but it’s really not too bad, he doesn’t just sit in the yard revving it. I will say, the kids are much better looked after than they used to be. But is it too middle-class of me to wish they would park the cars on the driveway?