Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

SWMBO was spectacular with a simple dinner.  An Alsatian onion tart and a salad of field greens and tangerine with raspberry vinaigrette.



 Accompanied with a glass (or two) of Prosecco.

Snow in Arizona at the end of 2010

Now, here is video proof of the snow that fell December 30th, 2010, outside my home in Prescott Valley, ARIZONA!


 

How to get from 2010 to 2011

There are a variety of ways to get through the turning of the calendar page from one year to the next.  One can go out, have a good (or worse) meal in a restaurant, drink copious quantities of champagne with friends (or complete strangers), dance, toot on paper horns while wearing paper hats, or . . . . you can do it like three "members of my family" do it.



May I present Muggles.


and Jazz.


and Blackwell.


And one more of Muggles.  Not because I love her any more than the other two.  It's just that she seems to be the most expressive sleeper.

From the three of them, from SWMBO (who is napping in another room) and from me - may you all have a most happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

December 31, 2010

2010 is going out like an iceberg in Arizona.  Here's a photo of Glassford Hill I took within the last hour.



I had to go down to the corner store and it was c-o-l-d!  How cold was it?  Here's the reading (in Fahrenheit) from my indoor/outdoor thermometer at 11 o'clock in the morning.


Needless to say, I will not be venturing out again until Monday, when the outside temperature should be up in the 30's, at least.  I mean, take a look at the sun.


So much for warm, sunny Arizona, huh?  Ah well, as we always say, this, too, shall pass.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow


Blackwell looks out the window this morning and says . . . WTF?




A little later, the sky darkens, the snow begins again and the wind picks up.


 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The beginning . . . and Tombo!

The storm that moved through California yesterday has arrived in my area - Arizona - today.  Mostly rain mixed with snow at my location but considerably sloppier in Prescott where more of the snow was sticking.  Out here in Prescott Valley, there was what the weather people are calling "snow mist" this afternoon.  Looks an awful lot like fog to me.



The snow is expected to continue tonight and tomorrow and colder temperatures should mean it will start piling up.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I almost forgot to mention that I had lunch with the irrepressible TOMBO today . . he of Tombo's Blog and also of widespread travel.  Tombo is a Prescott, Arizona born-and-bred native who has decided to see a bit of the world.  He's recently returned from an amazing trip that took him to San Diego, all the way up the coast to Seattle, across the gut of the country to Wisconsin, NEW YORK CITY, Massachusetts, down the East Coast to Charleston, Key West, then back west to New Orleans and (new favorite) Lafayette (that's Lah-Fay-Et), Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and eventually back to Prescott for Christmas.  But he won't stay long, he says.  Soon it's back on the road with his faithful companion, Scrappy Doo, to bigger and better horizons.

It was neat to see the well-bearded lad and hear of his adventures.  It makes a white-bearded old-timer like me a bit envious but glad he's doing what I only talked about many decades ago.

Travel well, Tombo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The lull before the storm

Lots of sunshine . . . blue skies . . .

. . . but wait!
That nasty old man winter is supposed to come storming through our area beginning tomorrow and dumping lots and lots of snow.

We'll see.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

One from the sun

The northeastern U.S. is getting snowed in for awhile so here's a little something to help ease you through the day.  At least until five o'clock.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A foggy day . . .

Prescott Valley was blanketed with fog this morning.



Some birds seemed confused . . .



Homes were shrouded in a ghostly vapor . . .




A football field was abandoned . . .



But eventually the sun began to burn off the fog and the mountains became visible . . .



Santa will be able to find his way tonight!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome, new blogger!

There's a new writer on the horizon.  My long-time friend, Tom Cochrun, has started a blog: Light Breezes from his redoubt on the Central California coast.  He's a talented boy*.  Check him out.


* - He's been my friend for over 40 years so I guess the term "boy" may be questionable . . for him or for me.  But I won't hedge on the other term - "talented".

It's not the Alps, but . . .

video

It's all I've got.  Fresh snow on our Black Hills/Mingus Mountain.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New construction

Everywhere I've been this holiday season, store owners and employees respond to my question - "how's business?" - with positive answers.  They say people are coming in, shopping and buying.  Maybe the economy finally is turning around.

Out in my neighborhood, construction has begun on a U.S. 89-A bridge over Viewpoint Road.  It's only been a couple of days and the project is expected to last until next October but at least there are signs of movement.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The face of a loser

The U.S. Senate approved a cloture motion today that will lead to approval of the Start 2 treaty with Russia.  I'm ashamed to say that the state I live in produced the Republican Senator who continues to oppose the treaty.



Arizona U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A great Saturday

SWMBO and I made a day trip down to the big city today.  We met our granddaughter, Christina, at the Chinese Cultural Center.  (No, she's not Chinese . . it was just a convenient meeting place that she wanted to see and we had been there before and knew where it was.)  We watched some martial arts demonstrations, did a little grazing through a store jammed full of Chinese tchotchkes, then spent some time in the humongous Ranch Market, which is full of all kind of Asian food items.  She loved it and left with a bottle of sake and some other things.

Then it was on to Christopher's fine French restaurant at the Biltmore Shopping Plaza for a great lunch.  This is our granddaughter, Christina, who . . . when we first saw her today in her black trenchcoat, high heels and big sunglasses, looked like a New York model.



 And (I know I'll get in trouble for this sneaked shot) her grandmother, the legendary and rarely photographed SWMBO.


Yes, we really were at the Biltmore Plaza.
 

That Christmas tree, by the way, is made of poinsettia plants.


And the plant pots are stocked with . . . well . . . maybe not Christmas flowers . . . or are they?


We capped the day with a visit to Trader Joe's.  Christina's first time there and she loved it.  Even the "two buck Chuck", which is now $2.99 Chuck . . . or better yet, "Three Buck Chuck."

(I love the holidays!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The pressure is on

One week from tomorrow is Chri$tma$ Day.  The time is running short for procrastinators.  They'll be chewing their nails, pulling out their hair, trying to imagine what could possibly be the best gift for those they love.  I used to be like that.  But I have reached an age that allows me to lean back, relax, ask my significant other what she wants for Chri$tma$, then go with her to a store, pick out the gift together, pay for it and hand it to her.  End of story.  End of stress.  End of shopping.

She asked me what I wanted.  I said an I-Pad would be nice.  But I don't really want that and I told her so.  I have enough trouble getting away from my computer as it is.  To have one small and portable enough to go everywhere with me?  It would drive me crazy.

I always ask her for something unattainable, like a Lamborghini or a Maserati.  But I'm not sure I could get in or out of either one of them nowadays.  I went to a drive-in pharmacy the other day driving our 1988 Dodge Neon.  The drawer, the window, the credit card slot, the girl talking to me from behind the glass - - all were far above me.  Apparently access was designed for those driving huge SUV's.  So if I had a Lamborghini or a Maserati, the attendant probably wouldn't even know I was there.

My first two whimsical wishes having been disposed of, I said "I don't really want anything.  I've got everything I want."  That got a negative sneer.

So I fell back on an old favorite - "World Peace".

Yeah, a lot of hope for that one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vlad the . . . . singer???

This is a video you have to see to believe.  The performer is Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  No kidding.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today's advice column

A gift from today's e-mail:

Some words to live by, or at least think about.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.


"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons
life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.”


1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.


2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.


3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.


4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.


5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.


8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.


9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.


10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.


11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.


12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.


13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.


14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.


15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.


16. Take a deep breath it calms the mind.


17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.


18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.


19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.


20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.


21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.


22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.


23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.


24. The most important sex organ is the brain.


25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.


26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'


27. Always choose life.


28. Forgive everyone everything.


29. What other people think of you is none of your business.


30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.


31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.


32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.


33. Believe in miracles.


34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.


35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.


36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.


37. Your children get only one childhood.


38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.


39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.


40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.


41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.


42. The best is yet to come...


43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.


44. Yield.


45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

=========================================


Ordinarily, I would have deleted any of these that have to do with God since my (lack of) belief in and relationship with a supreme, divine power normally prevents me from putting him/her/it forth.  But after reading #32, I decided to leave them in.  Do with them what you will.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The beginning of a new day

7 a.m. - December 9, 2010 - 28 degrees F.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm getting fat!

Latest installment in the cookie baking going on at my home.  Two more recipes today.


The ones on the left are Willow's delicious cranberry-walnut shortbread cookies.  I am not a fan of shortbread but SWMBO is so I passed Willow's recipe on to her.  She made them.  We BOTH love them.

The ones on the right are Lemon Pepper Cornmeal cookies.  They are also delicious, with a taste of lemon and an aftertaste of black pepper.  Amazing test sensations.

Take a closer look.


I know.  I know.  You're probably getting tired of all this.  But think about me!  My waistline is beginning to look like Mario Batali's!  Ooooohhhh, but they're so goooood!!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Me and the Duke

I was reading an e-mail from a friend today and she mentioned something about John Wayne.  Whenever I hear his name, it takes me back to a day in the 1970's when I was a television news reporter in Phoenix, Arizona.  To make a long story very short, I wangled (you can look it up, it's in the fictionary) an interview with Wayne on the back patio of his home in Newport Beach, California.

I always said the caption on this picture should be "Isn't it about time for you to get the hell out of here, young fellah?"

Actually Wayne could not have been a nicer guy.  He had been in the hospital a short time before and he died not too long after this interview.  But on that day, he was fantastic.  He treated us well, took a great interest in my photographer's camera, took us inside to show us his huge projection cameras in his screening room, let us fondle his Oscar for True Grit, told us what he thought Richard Nixon should have done with the tapes, and shared a few "inside" stories about his co-stars.  He was a great guy and he even seemed sad to see us leave.  In a 30 year career in radio and television, I have always maintained this was the highlight.

The Duke.  I think we all miss him.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More cookies!!!

Yes, SWMBO has been imbued with the holiday spirit of late.  This dish should have been filled with these apricot/pecan pinwheels but I've been devouring them like a starving man. 

Yummy!


(If you double-click the photo you can almost taste them!)

Hoopin'

As gawd is my witness, I read about this video in the Sunday New York Times.  What to do when you're bored out of your mind.  (And you have a bodyguard close at hand.)  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The softening of Scrooge Catalyst

After my annual Christmas screed last night, I got one of the longest e-mails I've ever received from the BRD.  And it was one of the sweetest.  She remembered many happy things that happened to her on Christmases during her childhood.  One of her fondest stories was about the year she circled several items in "the Christmas catalog" that she'd like to get but did not mark the doll she really wanted because she knew it was too expensive.  Nevertheless, when the presents were opened on Christmas morning, there for her was the doll.  She was amazed and extremely grateful.  But, she said, she was so nervous about it's beauty that she never took it out of its box to play with.  She would look at it, occasionally straighten it's dress, but she kept it prim and pristine for over 20 years!  She finally gave it to her younger sister to give to her first daughter when she got old enough to appreciate it.  Now that's a Christmas story to melt any old Grinch's heart.

And to compound it, SWMBO and I were talking about it and she said the same exact thing happened to her when she was a girl.  Her mother later told her when it arrived in the mail she knew it was a mistake because there was no way they could afford it.  She had a serious moral dilemma that she fought over in her mind for days.  She resolved . . . and this is a woman who had a somewhat casual relationship with religious belief . . . by determining that the doll had come for her daughter by divine intervention.  Well!  What can I say?

What I had forgotten when I was garrumphing (you can look it up, it's in the fictionary) was all the Christmas goodies.  And today that started, with SWMBO's first Christmas cookies coming out of the oven.


Needless to say, they're delicious.

Man, I love the holidays!

Keepin' an eye on the road


I'm pretty well disguised . . . but I can see you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Joy - - - or whatever

All right.  Here goes.  It's time for my annual Christmas message.

You see I have a variety of acquaintances.  One is a friend who SWMBO called the other day and asked if she was watching a particular program on television.  "No," she said.  "I was listening to Christmas music." 

She told us once that she just loved the Christmas season because the radio stations played Christmas music all the time.

SWMBO didn't tell her that she avoids Christmas music like the plague!

Then . . . while a nurse was attending me in my cardiologist's office today, I asked "Are you all ready for Christmas?"  (Gawd, how I do hate myself for asking everyone I see at this time of year that ridiculous question.)  The nurse . . . snickered.  No, it was more like . . . snorted.  So then I asked her if she was ready for Thanksgiving.  (Careful followers of daily events will note that Thanksgiving occurred a week ago.)  The nurse said something like "that's about it."  Then she said the words that endeared me to her.  "I just wish I could go to sleep and wake up on January 2nd!"

Now those, I think you'd agree, are the two poles about Christmas.  Quite obviously I fall into the second group.  But I still enjoy my friend from the first group and listen to her tales of Christmas sewing and cooking and baking and planning and shopping and decorating and parties and get-togethers.  She is, quite literally, Mrs. Claus! 

On the other hand, SWMBO and I try to ignore the season as much as possible.  We may attend one or two events.  Or we may not.  We very much enjoy the BRD's annual Christmas Eve steak and lobster dinner.  We may even accidentally watch one of those Christmas movies that tend to tickle the gag reflex.

But I've gone too far.  Let me just say that I could enjoy Christmas a bit more if . . . .


So, what do you think about Christmas?  Go ahead.  I can take a beating.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remotely Problematical

 Yesterday apparently was my half-zeimers' day.

It began when I was commenting on a blog post by my friend Meggie in Australia.  I was writing about one of our cats, named Blackwell.  Except, I called him Blackwood.

Then, a little later, SWMBO was having a problem at a discount store that refused to accept either of her credit/debit cards.  We both knew that each account had funds in it.  So, I told her on the telephone to go to the bank to get it figured out.  After several permutations, the nice lady at the bank told SWMBO that the problem was with the terminal in the store and had nothing whatsoever to do with her cards.  As a matter of fact, she said, she had had the same problem with the same store with one of HER cards recently.  Apparently the store's card readers get dirty and that's the result.

Of course, as SWMBO was relating this entire story to me, I was getting more and more "worked up" and more than a little ticked off at the store for treating my wife as if she was a common crook and embarrassing her. 

Then I had to go run some errands and when I got to the car I found in my hand (1) the car keys, (2) my small camera that I take with me everywhere, (3) a notebook that also accompanies me, (4) my billfold, and (5) the remote control for one of the television sets in our home!

I walked sheepishly back into the house, handed the remote to SWMBO and said "I don't know what I thought I was going to do with this!" 

She laughed and said "You certainly would have confused me when I tried to turn the television on."

My response, "Maybe you could have tried one of your ATM cards!"

Yes . . . old age is a b_____ but at least it can be amusing some times.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

I don't care what you say.  It's cold!  Normally when Northerners laugh at Arizonans who are complaining of cold temperatures, it is because the temperature has fallen down into the 60's.  That is not the case today.  It's 12:45 in the afternoon right now and, while sunny, the thermometer says it is stuck at 36 degrees outside with an afternoon high of 39 predicted.  Overnight, the mercury dropped to 19 degrees and we had snow on the ground yesterday morning.  Sure it was just a trace but it was snow.  And it snowed again yesterday afternoon though none of that apparently stuck.

Now don't you Northerners give me a lot of static on this.  I grew up in North Dakota, just about 50 miles from being a Canadian, and I have known some cold, cold days, weeks and months in my time.  But I was smart (or lucky) enough to get out of there 41 years ago and I've managed to live in much warmer climes ever since - Indiana (which had three mild winters while I was there, Arizona, Mexico, Texas and back to Arizona.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the balmy days and nights as opposed to plugging my car in at night to keep it warm enough to start in the morning.  Or shoveling snow.  Or walking daintily on ice.  Or much less daintily through drifts of snow that I hadn't shoveled. 

I like sunshine and warmth.  And right now I only have one of the two.  It's supposed to begin warming up tomorrow, though.  I can't wait.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My old machine

Those of you who read my pacemaker post  get a special treat today.  After my surgery, my nurse came in with a plastic bag and said "I thought you might like to see what we took out of you."



Yup!  That's my old pacemaker.  Presumably there's another one that looks a lot like it back in my body.  Actually, just under the skin up by my collarbone.  At least my heart is still beating and it wouldn't be if they'd forgotten to insert the new miracle machine.

Like a bird on the wire


 30 degrees when I went out to buy a paper this morning.  It appeared the birds were trying to warm up their wings before flying.


This bird has been flying for some time.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

I probably have more to be thankful for today than on many other days.  Yesterday, I checked into a hospital and spent about 5 hours having my heart pacemaker replaced.  (Actually probably only an hour or two in surgery.)  The old (3-1/2 years) one's battery had gone down far enough to require the new machine.  As one of the nurses told me, they can't recharge them.  That had to do with my telling the nurse about my first pacemaker.  I was in surgery, scrubbed and shaved and hooked up and about ready to go when one of the technicians said "We can't do this!"  Everyone else looked at him in wonder and he said the pacemaker they were about to install in my frame had a very low battery.  Apparently it had been sitting on a shelf somewhere and didn't keep its charge.  That would not have been a good deal for me so they sent me home with instructions to return in a week.

My introduction to pacemakers came after I was visiting my primary care doctor and her nurse couldn't find my pulse!  The doctor ordered an electrocardiogram and, after reading the results, came in and told me I was in atrial fibrillation.  To put it simply, that's an irregular heart beat that can result in strokes and . . . death!

She sent me to a cardiologist who put me through a number of tests before determining that I needed a pacemaker.

People ask if I have a lot more energy since I got it.  No.  Possibly because I have never, to this day, had any symptoms of my heart disease.  Actually, I have less energy these days but I attribute that to getting old(er) and the sedentary life to which I've become accustomed.

At any rate, I found that getting the pacemaker replaced was a piece of cake.  Didn't take long.  All I have is a compression bandage where the doctor sliced and stitched me back up and no pain at all.

Modern medicine continually amazes me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall has fell





If you double click on the photos, you can get a better look at what I have to clean up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A smoky day

I don't know whether this was a fire caused by nature or a careless camper or a tossed cigarette . . or whether it was what we call in Arizona "a controlled burn".  But it certainly caused a lot of smoke in the area.  By the way, for those who might be concerned, I did take the photo through the windshield of my car but I was stopped at a traffic light.  Don't worry!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010