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Thursday, February 28, 2013

CATS IS STRANGE ANIMALS

With SWMBO gone all week, house sitting with the BRD's 3 cats, our cats seem to have gone into hibernation, at least in the daytime.  Muggles sleeps all day on the foot of the bed and this morning I caught her in a completely relaxed and unguarded moment.


Blackwell, on the other hand, is enjoying our packing and stacking boxes everywhere.  He frequently goes to the top of a tall stack just to see what's there.  And I have no idea how he got to this perch in an empty bookcase, about four feet from the floor.


Good climbing and leaping skills, I guess.  And he gets down by himself when no one is looking!

Meantime SWMBO and I are off to Phoenix to look at several houses for a possible new home today.  Wish us luck.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'M GOIN' TO KATMANDU!!!

Colonel Colonel asked yesterday (in a comment on my post) if I was goin' to Katmandu.  I responded that I wasn't but I might sing it.  Needless to say, while I enjoy the famous song by that name, there is no way I could sing it.  But the legend from Detroit, Bullet Bob Seger certainly can.  Turn up your sound, folks, and look out for the next more than 6 minutes of rock and roll.


SOME THINGS ARE BEST NOT POSTED


I want to go to Annapurna
to watch the Annapurnans dance.

Perchance,
they’d let me dance
with them.

Or maybe they’d just say 
“Ahem,

We really do believe
that you had better leave.”


(For some reason, this poem(?) created itself in my head last night.  I'd explain it.  But I can't.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

SEQUESTER OR SESQUICENTENNIAL?

Take your pick.  There's been a ton of talk in the media and elsewhere about the Sequester the nation is facing on March 1st.  But another important day is today.  In Arizona, at least.  This is the sesquicentennial of the Arizona Territory.  President Abraham Lincoln created the territory exactly 150 years ago today.  Joanna Dodder Nellans has written a fine article about the history in today's Prescott Daily Courier newspaper.

Darned if there wasn't a light dusting of white stuff greeting early risers today to mark the occasion, I guess.


But the sun is up and the snow is rapidly melting off and being blown away by gusty winds.

Meantime, the BRD and her Beau Jack leave this morning for California's central coast, where the high temperature is expected to be in the 70's most of the week of their vacation.

Oscar night tonight.  We've only seen a couple of the films that are nominated but here are my predictions, based on many articles I've read.

Best Picture - Argo
Directing - Steven Spielberg
Leading Actor - Daniel Day-Lewis
Supporting Actor - Tommy Lee Jones
Leading Actress - Jennifer Lawrence
Supporting Actress - Anne Hathaway

But, as all "predictors" are wont to say - "who knows?"

Saturday, February 23, 2013

OOPS!

I have neglected you, blogger friends.

I have just been reading your blogs, many since I have last entered my timeless thoughts.  Yours are very good.  Mine, not so much.

So, what have I been up to?  Today I watched a lovely movie, "Robot and Frank" with the excellent Frank Langella and the always delectable Susan Sarandon, among others.  I liked it.

And I have finally finished a book, "Telegraph Avenue" by the fantastic Michael Chabon.  I have no idea how he mastered the black lifestyle (good and bad) and "talk", but that he did.  He has already won a Pulitzer Prize (for "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay") and this novel is, while trying at times, ultimately fascinating and lovely.  I recommend it.

We are still packing boxes full of our belongings.  Well, at least, SWMBO is.  I've kind of fallen down on it but I am trying to find a realtor or property management person in the Valley who will do us some good.  But it will happen.  Our move, that is.  Eventually.

The BRD and her Beau Jack are off to San Luis Obispo and environs tomorrow.  SWMBO is off to Flagstaff to spend Academy Awards night with a good friend and her annual party.  Then she'll return briefly on Monday before leaving to spend a week house-sitting (or cat-sitting, actually) at the BRD's house.

Speaking of cats, I took our beloved Blackwell to the Humane Society yesterday to have a microchip implanted in him and to have his toenails clipped.  As has been noted before, he is a bit of an escape artist (though he has, to date, always returned).  But the microchip will give us an added feeling of certainty that we won't lose him in the move.  He was very good, very brave through a long waiting period in a room full of dogs, some barking.  But I think he's glad to be home.

I have another movie to watch.  "Little White Lies", which SWMBO (who watched it today) tells me is a French movie with subtitles about a couple of couples who go on a vacation at the beach . . and all that brings to mind.  Hmmmm.

Food!  Two nights ago SWMBO surprised me with one of my favorite meals: Chicken piccata with pasta alfredo.  Leftovers last night.  Tonight, baked chicken and rice.  It's smelling delicious as I write this.  And salivate.  I have a New York steak thawing in the refrigerator for my "escape night" dinner.  Steak and baked potato.  Just for me.  Only when SWMBO leaves me alone for a night.

So it goes for we older folks.  Books, movies, food.  What else does one need.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

ARIZONA?????


Scottsdale, Arizona.

Yesterday afternoon.

That

Is

Snow

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

24 LITTLE HOURS

Yesterday, I was in Mesa standing around talking to friends under sunny skies in 70 degree temperatures.  But I had checked the forecast and I knew a change was coming.  Just a day later, this was the scene as I was driving from Prescott Valley to Prescott this afternoon.


But as I said to one of my North Dakota buddies yesterday, at least in Arizona it doesn't last long.  A couple of hours later the sun was out and the snow was gone.

Incidentally I was watching a golf tournament that began today at Marana, just a bit north of Tucson in southern Arizona.  It started out cold with the players wearing stocking caps and jackets.  A bit later and as Jason Day put it, "First it started to rain, then it changed to sleet and then to snow."  The rest of play was called off for the day as about two inches fell in less than an hour.  Most of the golfers were incredulous and some of them had never seen snow before.

Just an average day in the deserts of Arizona.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

THE BIG PICNIC

As I promised you yesterday, I drove 110 miles or so to Mesa's Pioneer Park today for the annual Stanley picnic.  

I grew up in Stanley, North Dakota.  Many of the people of my home town are snowbirds in Arizona.  (A snowbird is a person who flees the northern climes during the winter to spend the cold, snowy months in some more civilized climate - like Arizona's.)  Some of them have given up on North Dakota altogether and now live in Arizona year-round.

At any rate, old friendships die hard.  So once a year those part-time residents of Stanley or former residents of Stanley gather in Pioneer Park for a picnic, or North Dakota pot-luck.

I last attended one nearly 40 years ago and since I have grown older and have a new car and am retired I decided to attend this year's picnic.

A childhood friend of mine, Jim Burbidge, was instrumental.  He planned to come from his home in Federal Way, Washington to spend time with his brother and sister and attend the picnic.  So we agreed to meet.


Here are the two jolly old codgers, both white-bearded.  Please note that Jim's hair is white, too, unlike mine.  But then he is 7 months older than I am.

Jim's brother and sister also attended.  Jack is my brother's age and I believe Jean is older still.


Jean always was a short young woman but to give you an idea of how short she is now, here's a look at the top of her hat.


When I showed that picture to Jean she said "How did you get that?"

I said, "Well, I am a little taller than you, Jean."

In fact, I didn't even have to stand on tiptoe and I'm just a shade over 6 feet tall these days.

And finally there was Stan Wright.  Stan has lived in Stanley nearly all his life and that life has been a long and fruitful one.  He has been involved in probably every good thing that has ever happened in that small community.  I can remember him as a grown man when I was just a tyke, which must put him at close to 90 now.  I kidded him today about his trombone.  (He's a musician, among his other talents.)  He said he has about three invites every week from some band or another asking if he'd like to sit in.  


Stan the Man.  A life well lived.

I met lots of other people from my home town today but had to be reintroduced to practically all of them.  I haven't seen them for decades and somehow they don't look the same.

My wife said, "Y'know what?  Neither do you!"

"Ouch!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

TRAVELS

On a clear day, you can see forever . . .



Those snow-capped mountains are the San Francisco Peaks which contain the highest mountain in Arizona, Humphreys Peak at a little more than 12,630 feet.  They're about 80 miles away but on a clear day like today they are very visible.

I always think about the first people to come upon these scenic wonders on horseback hundreds of years ago.  I can't imagine what they thought.  Later the West was being civilized (sort of) and the mail had to get through.


Until the railroads made their way to the Pacific Coast, that job was left to a brave bunch of riders on horseback known as the Pony Express.  This sculpture is on a plaza in Scottsdale, which used to be known as the West's Most Western Town.  Nowadays it's more commonly known as Snobsdale because of all it's wealthy residents.  The New York Times described downtown Scottsdale as a desert version of Miami's South Beach.

The BRD has just returned from a trip to Florida for the 80th birthday of her father.  He surprised her at the airport with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.


And tomorrow I'm heading for Mesa (another suburb of Phoenix) for the annual Stanley picnic.  I'm sure you've all heard of it so I'll save further discussion until I get back.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

ONE FINE DAY & THOU SWELL

SWMBO told me a short time ago that Lady Gaga has had to cancel her current tour and is going to have hip surgery.  In spite of all the show biz Gaga is an excellent singer and I wish her well.

Meantime, I'm still gaga over Kat Edmonson, who eschews the show biz but is a wonderful singer and writer.


When I "discovered" Kat recently and SWMBO heard her sing she said she reminded her of the late Blossom Dearie.  Take a listen.


I must agree.  I think they're both great and quite comparative.  What do you think?

Friday, February 15, 2013

FRIDAY FOLLIES

This has got to be the biggest and the happiest beach baby ever.





And as brother Ratzinger fades into the sunset, the humorists have him in their sights.



"Pope Benedict surprised everyone and announced that he is stepping down at the end of the month.  Or as God put it, 'Well, at least he gave me two weeks notice."
                                                    --Jimmy Fallon

And on and on it goes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

101!


It's our birthday today.


Arizona is 101 years old today.


February 14, 1912 the Arizona Territory became the state of Arizona.  It was the 48th state admitted to the union and the last of the contiguous states.





It's a pretty good state to be in.  A lot of beauty lives here.


Not the least of that beauty is in our official state flag.



The top half of the flag has thirteen rays of alternating red and yellow, representing the original 13 states.  The copper star in the center represents the copper mining industry of Arizona.  The bottom half of the flag is the same blue as in the United States flag and represents liberty.  The actual design of the flag wasn't adopted until February 17th, 1917 by the third state legislature.  And that's your history lesson for today.


Oh and by the way, Happy Valentines Day!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WHO AM I? WHY AM I HERE?


I was recently tagged by Scott of Flight Plan to participate in this 25 question "getting to know you" exercise. Here goes:

WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Stanley, North Dakota

WERE YOU NAMED AFTER SOMEONE?
Yes, my first name is Franklin, the same as my dad.  But I've always been known as Bruce, my middle name.

IF YOU HAVE ANY CHILDREN, HOW MANY DO YOU HAVE?
Five, only one of my own blood.  Curiously his name is Scott, as is one of my stepsons.

HOW MANY PETS DO YOU HAVE?
Two.  Blackwell and Muggles, both cats.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST INJURY?
I guess breaking both of my pinky fingers, years apart.  Neither were set and both have a malformed joint.

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I took seven years of piano lessons when I was a kid.  The end result was I used to be able to play Sentimental Journey, badly.  Now I can't even play that!

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO BAKE?
Probably bread.  I just got a baguette pan today and plan to try it out tomorrow.

FAVORITE FAST FOOD?
Pizza.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
No, my days of daring stunts are long over.  I have enough trouble just walking these days.

WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Hmmm, how much trouble can I get into here?  If it's a male, probably sense of humor.  If it's a female . . .(never mind).

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
I can't remember but it's usually when I'm reading my wife something and I get to the great ending and can't get it out.

ANY CURRENT WORRIES?
Not really.

NAME 3 DRINKS THAT YOU DRINK REGULARLY.
Coffee, Diet Coke, Vodka-and-water.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?
That's a tough one because I've always been a reader.  "Slaughterhouse Five" by Kurt Vonnegut used to be a favorite.  Most anything by Hemingway.  Several by T. Coraghessan Boyle.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A PIRATE?
I would to "have been" a pirate.

FAVORITE SMELLS?
Sauteed onions, lemons, fresh baked bread.

WHY DO YOU BLOG?
I've been a writer (of sorts) all my life and this just keeps it going.  'Course now I can add pictures, videos, music.

WHAT SONG DO YOU WANT PLAYED AT YOUR FUNERAL?
We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn.  Also The Lumberjack Song by Monty Python.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
My appearance.  I'm overweight by about 30 pounds. 

FAVORITE HOBBY?
Oh, just about anything connected with this damnable computer!  Also reading.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A FRIEND?
I'm sticking with what Scott said:  "Someone who can make me laugh, and who I can always trust."

NAME SOMETHING YOU'VE DONE THAT YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD.
Walked the complete base path at Chase Field in Phoenix.  I have a picture to prove it. 

ANY PET PEEVES?
Rap and hip-hop music.  "Celebrities" who are famous for being famous and who act badly.

WHAT'S THE LAST THING THAT MADE YOU LAUGH?
A nasty joke I received by email this morning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The instructions say I'm now supposed to tag 10 other people and challenge them to reveal 25 things about themselves, too.   Folks, in no particular order....you're up:

Tom at  Light Breezes

Cupcake Murphy at Odd, Good, True

Frank at Vinyl Stats

Oh, heck, I'm gonna let it go at four.  Have at it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CAR REPAIR

I have stated several times before on this blog that the last automobile I owned that I could open the hood and perhaps fix a problem was the 1948 Chevrolet which I drove in my college days.  It was ten years old when I started.

I believe I have told you about the winter when the brakes went out. I was impoverished in those days and my college sat high on a hill above the rest of the town.  Whenever I had to go into town I would creep down a snow- and ice-covered hilly street in second gear, hoping against hope that no other traffic would be coming on the street at the bottom onto which I had to make a u-turn.  There never was and I would skid across the street backwards until my wheels struck the curb.  Then I could proceed on into town.

It went like this throughout the winter because I knew I didn't have enough money to get my brakes fixed.  And then spring came, the snow melted and for some strange reason I had some money in my pockets.  So I nervously took the car to a garage and waited for the expensive repair estimate.  Finally the mechanic came out and said something like "you're good to go.  That'll be eighty-five cents!"

"What?", I said.

"You just needed some brake fluid," he explained.

OMG!  I had spent all winter risking life and limb when all I needed was some inexpensive brake fluid!

Well, that should tell you all you need to know about my automobile repair expertise.

Until today.

We recently bought a brand new 2013 Nissan Altima car.  But over the past week or so we began to notice a rattle which seemed to be coming from the dashboard on the drivers' side.  We had less than 2,800 miles on the car and already it was falling apart!  After the latest drive by my wife she came home, steaming, and said "We've got to get that thing fixed!"

So I took it to the local Nissan dealer, whose service manager said that day was not a good day and we made an appointment for this morning.  I showed up right on time, having first removed everything from the car that might cause the rattle. A few minutes later he asked me to go for a test drive with the mechanic.  We had a tough time finding a road with bumps in it that caused the rattle but he did hear it and confirmed that I was not crazy.  Back to the dealership.  I returned to the waiting room, he took the car back into the shop.

About 15 minutes later the service manager came out with the verdict.  I braced myself for the bad news.  He said "the mechanic found the problem.  Your sun visor wasn't clipped."

"You're kidding!" I responded.

But he wasn't.

I drove home with the radio turned off, listening intently for any tiny rattle.  There weren't any.  The car drove like a dream.  Silently.  Rattle-less.

Car repair.  It's not for amateurs.

Monday, February 11, 2013

HOT - COLD

Readers of a certain age or those of you who are fans of gangsters movies of the 30's or 40's will recognize the term "the hot seat".  It's a euphemism for the electric chair which ended the life of do-badders.

Let me now introduce you to "the cold seat".


It's not a place one would readily choose to sit.  Here's a slightly bigger view.


It shows you what happens when your lazy correspondent fails to take his deck chairs into shelter when he knows . . HE KNOWS . . that the weatherman is going to bring snow.

Today, the weather was moving away from us.


As the clouds and the rain or snow move to the north and east, over the Black Hills, over Mingus Mountain, still dropping more moisture, it leaves us with blue skies and a great view in the sky.

And, one of these days, I'll take my deck chairs in.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

THE SUNDAY VARIETY SHOW

First of all let me wish you all a happy new year.  No, I'm not late, this really is New Year's Day.  If you're Chinese.


And in case you're wondering, it's the year of the snake.

Now as you know, we're moving to the Phoenix area sometime soon (we hope) and I wanted to show you something wonderful.  We went desk shopping recently for a real desk instead of the door-and-computer-files I've been using for years and years.  Here's the present set-up.


Serviceable but ugly as sin.  SWMBO has hated it for years.  I have clung to it.  But then.  We found an oak desk at a thrift store, bought it and had it delivered to our garage.  It sat there for a few weeks until the weather warmed up a bit and then SWMBO went at it.  It had a couple of dents in the surface and I wanted more of a cherry look.  She filled the dents, sanded the surface, stripped it, stained it a couple or three times, she put a sealer on it and finally it is ready to go.  It's still in the garage, waiting for the movers to take it to it's new location.  But here's a preview shot of it.


I think she did a fantastic job on it and I can't wait to use it.

Now, if I can just find a back yard like this to go with it.


Thanks go to the following people for this post:  my friend Phil for alerting me to Chinese New Year, my beloved wife for making my new desk beautiful, and my friend Jerry for posting that dream-backyard-photo on Facebook.  How's that saying go . . . it takes a village . . .

Saturday, February 9, 2013

SATURDAY SILLINESS

With apologies to you folks in the Northeast, here's what I found when I opened my eyes this morning.



I know, I know, it's nothing compared to the two feet or so you have in Boston but give me a break.  I live in ARIZONA!  What am I supposed to tell my friends and relatives in The Frozen North?

Well, a sight like that calls for something to lighten the mood and nothing does it better for me than the Elvis routine of the late, great Andy Kaufman.



By the way, SWMBO and I are planning a move to warmer climes soon, as I think you know.  We've been packing and packing boxes.  But cats can sense a change in their environment.  I think Blackwell was giving us a subtle message last night: don't forget me!



Friday, February 8, 2013

A SIMPLE QUESTION

What is the Internet for anyway?

Why, to bring you stuff like this:


I checked out all of these hints for home safety and personal health on Snopes and all are for real!
AMAZING, SIMPLE HOME REMEDIES:

1. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.
2. Men can avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink in their bathroom.

3. For high blood pressure sufferers, simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins.  Remember, it’s important to set a timer.
4. An old fashioned spring loaded mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
5. You need only two tools in life:  WD-40 & duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the wd-40.  If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
6. If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

And stuff like this:





And this:


See?  That's what the Internet is for!

Friday, February 1, 2013

GLOBAL WARMING?

Is it or isn't it?  You be the judge.

A NEW BEGINNING

We have begun our search for a new home in Phoenix.  Moving is one of my least favorite things to do but you'd never know it from my record.  This will be the 31st and I'm hoping the final move of my life.

We are busy packing and labeling boxes.





As is obvious, we are book lovers.  We used to run a bookstore and we have hundreds of books.  Most but not all of them are packed into boxes now.  As they become packed for the movers our bookshelves are becoming empty.




Every time we have moved, we have said "Never again!  We must stop accumulating things!"

And, of course, by the next move we are inundated with more and more "stuff".  The late George Carlin had a wonderful routine about that.

I keep saying to SWMBO "but we're packing all our stuff and we don't have any place to go yet!"

She says "shut up and pack!"

We made an exploratory trip to Phoenix this week and drove all over town checking out areas we might like to live in.  The ones we really like, of course, are too expensive for us.  We contacted a realtor or two and learned from one of them that what we want is a property management person.  We think we've found one so, as SWMBO keeps telling me, "we will find a place to live."

One thing we have discovered is that there don't seem to be a lot of classified ads for homes in the newspaper anymore.  Apparently digital media has virtually eliminated that form of advertising.  Since that is a huge portion of any newspaper's income it is not surprising to see so many newspapers stopping publishing or cutting back and going to the Internet.

I said at the beginning of this that I had moved 30 times in my life.  You might be surprised to learn that we have lived where we are now for nearly 12 years and one previous home for about the same amount of time.  That tells you one of two things - either I've had a lot of short tenures in homes or I'm very, very old.

I think the first is true.  As to the second I'm feeling older every single day.