Wednesday, July 31, 2013

CHECKING THE STATS

This post, I frankly admit, was prompted by this post today by The Chubby Chatterbox.  Go ahead, click the link, read his post, then come back for the rest of mine.

I discovered that I began this blogging adventure on Halloween in 2008 with this post.  Fortunately that scary pirate did NOT succeed in becoming president.

This, I learned by checking my stats, is my 1,418th blog post.  But there were more, now lost to history.  I had blogged before, grew disenchanted and dumped all I had written.  They may be recoverable somewhere but right now I don't have the patience to search for them.  I find it amazing that I have written 1,417 posts prior to this.  What on earth can a person find to babble on about that much?  Of course, some posts contain only a video or a cartoon but most of them have some words flowing like a muddy river from my brain and fingertips.

As for this mutation of my blog, I discovered today that it has had 81,646 page views.  More than 50,000 of them came from readers in the United States.  Next was Germany followed by Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia and the Ukraine. Since I write only sparingly (a few words at a time) in other languages I must assume that those readers are English speakers.  (Given, of course, the old saw about the U.S. and the U.K. being two countries separated by a common language.)

Well, now, what interests these people, I wondered.  I learned that my most popular post was one called simply "LBJ", about the late President Lyndon Johnson, in June of last year.  It was a fairly short post with nothing really pithy in it but to date it has had 325 page views.  The second-most popular was titled "JACKIE", and I can suspect that many of the viewers of it may have been drawn thinking it was about Jacqueline Kennedy, given my occasional penchant for political punditry.  (The three P's.)  But in fact it was about Jackie Robinson and was not political at all.

So perhaps some people come by mistake.  Some stay, some leave never to return.  While I was researching this post I noticed several names in the comments section that have disappeared.  I've lost track of many of them. One, the legendary Granny J, passed from our midst in May of 2010, leaving a great hole in this world of blogdom, or bloggery, or whatever.

Of so many others I guess their disappearances are just the way of the Internet.  Some have gone on to other universes . . Twitter, Facebook, et al.  Somehow I miss them all.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A STORY ABOUT FORTITUDE

The BRD is making a change in her life.  For 30-some years she has been making dental crowns of porcelain and gold and palladium.  Like her mother she has an artist's talent and designing new "mouthworks" for dentists was a perfect career for her.  But she has grown tired of the work and the industry has changed and she was ready for the second stage of her working life.

Her Beau Jack is a realtor of some 40 years standing and he convinced her to study for and test for her real estate license.  Not to sell homes, though that is something she could do, but to handle the endless paperwork that other realtors hate to do.  After some persuasion, she agreed to give it a try.

So she signed up for a series of classes that were conducted over 90 hours of long and intensive three-day weekends for several weeks.  After the first day she was despairing a bit.  The room was too small for all the students, the breaks were minimal and short, the bathrooms were too few and didn't always work.  But she continued on.  At the end of the grueling schedule came a test.  She aced it.

But that was only the beginning.  Now she had to take the state sanctioned tests to gain her license.  They are divided into one test for national rules and regulations and one for the Arizona state equivalent.  She studied and studied the massive amounts of paper she had already studied during the course.

Finally came the day for the tests.  She felt confident and, indeed, passed the national test with flying colors.  But not the state exam.  Her tester told her he had never had someone come as close without passing.  He said she was one percent below passing.  ONE PERCENT!

She came to our house that night.  (The test was conducted in Phoenix.) While disappointed, she was still confident.  She studied some more that night and again the next morning.  Then she went off confidently to take the state exam again.

When the phone call came, she told us she had failed once again, missing one more question than she had the first time.

But she said she would come back in two days, after more study, and try again.

This time Beau Jack came with her.  But he was not allowed to stay in the classroom or even the building.  He had to wait outside in a courtyard while she took the test.

Some time later, the BRD came out with a disappointed face.  She told Beau Jack "That's it.  I'm through.  I am never going to take that damned test again."

Beau Jack was consoling and saying "Now, now, don't say that.  You'll just have to study harder and put your mind in the right place.  You'll pass it next time."

She responded, "No, I'm never going to do that again."  Then she grinned and shouted at him "BECAUSE I PASSED IT!"

I would imagine there was laughter, a hug and probably a kiss and then Beau Jack said "wait a minute."  He went to the back of his car and came back with a chilled bottle of champagne and a stuffed teddy bear wearing a realtor's jacket.

She said "What would you have done with this if I hadn't passed?"

Beau Jack said "Hell, I've been carrying it around with me for three weeks!"

More laughter, probably more hugs and kisses, and on to a celebratory dinner before heading up the hill to home.

Congratulations, girl.  A job well done.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

BLUE SKY, WHITE CLOUDS, WHAT MORE D'YA WANT?

The sky over Phoenix.  This afternoon.  Late.



Saturday, July 27, 2013

DARCY & CHERYL

Darcy and Cheryl, our Canadian neighbors, are in town and came over for happy hour tonight.  They arrived bearing gifts.  For SWMBO . . .


That brought a smile to her face (and lips).

For me . . .


. . . WOW!  An official cap.  Darcy is a fire captain with the Edmonton Fire Department.  And now I'm an honorary.  Well, I got the cap anyway.

BTW, you will notice the temperature on the device on my desk.  At 8:30 p.m.  95.5 degrees Fahrenheit!  It's still hot in Arizona.

And lastly but definitely not leastly . . .


. . . Cheryl's maple-bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers!

OH!

So good.

What's better than good neighbors?  I can't imagine.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

BASEBALL FUN

Thanks to my friend, Steve, I went to a baseball game tonight at Chase Field and watched my beloved Diamondbacks beat the Chicago Cubs 3 to 1 to split a four game series with them.


This is my view of the field from what I kiddingly tell Steve are the "nosebleed seats" in the third deck.  But the view, nearly right behind home plate gives a good look at the stadium action.


Here are my seat-mates.  Steve on the right appropriately attired.  His friend Frank on the left is, for some unknown reason, wearing an Oakland A's cap.  (And it is not for the benefit of that other A's fan who reads this blog and comments on it from far-off Germany, even though his name, too, is Steve!  ☺)

As I arrived at the stadium tonight I encountered these two guys from the Legends race held at some time during each game.


They represent a couple of Diamondbacks legends, Mark Grace and Matt Williams.  They are joined by legends Luis Gonzales and Randy Johnson in the evening races.  It's part of the joke that of all of them, Matt Grace is the only one never to win a race.

All part of what happens at Chase Field on what President and CEO Derrick Hall refers to as "an entertainment stage."  There's nothing quite like an evening or an afternoon at the ball park.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

KITTY UPDATE

It's been awhile since I've posted pictures of our family.  So here are a couple I took just the other day.


Muggles the magnificent, posing near a pot which SWMBO says sort of shares her colors.  I think she kind of disappears into the floor.


And the beautiful but bored Blackwell, perched on the back of the couch.  He seems somewhat suspicious of having his picture taken.

Say what you will about cats.  They are our friends, our children, our much loved family.

Monday, July 22, 2013

MEAT LOAF


Sure, that's the "singer" known as Meat Loaf.

But that's not the one I had in mind to write about today.

This is the one.


This is the before picture of SWMBO's meat loaf that she made yesterday.  Couple pounds of ground beef, a pound of breakfast sausage, 3 eggs, sauteed onions-leeks-carrots-celery, some bread crumbs, some Mrs. Dash, some Worchestershire sauce, some salt, and some Ketchup.  Mix it all up, shape it into a loaf, then (for Low and Slow's benefit) top it with bacon and finish with a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Here's the finished picture.


The cook gets the heel.


And I get a healthy slice.


Oh, and there's some roasted potatoes and onions and peppers, too.

Pretty doggoned good!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

AND THEN . . .

Finally . . .

video

A cell came over the mountain just south and moved directly over us at mid-morning today, dropping heavy and cooling rain for perhaps 10 minutes.  It was glorious.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

PROMISES, PROMISES

We had clouds and lightning and wind and the temperature dropped to near 80 degrees and we got a few drops of rain.  But that was all.  Watching the weather radar, the storm moved in mightily from the east, then split and went south of us by a few blocks or miles or whatever.  But here was our promise before all that.


Pretty.  But like a flirtatious but fickle young lovely, ultimately disappointing.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SOME FUN

It may be in Italian but it has English subtitles. Auctioning off a one million euro Ming vase in 45 seconds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

THE QUIZ SOLUTION

That was fun.  Lots of guesses and some of them were actually correct, including one on Facebook and one that arrived in an email.  I think those folk know me too well.

I did like Steve's guesses (JPG photos) and I'd say those were correct as well.

But here is the real solution, as displayed by a somewhat overweight and out of shape model.


It's the Hawaiian shirt I was wearing yesterday.  To the mystery solver who said it was a Tommy Bahama shirt, I'd have to say I don't think so.  Good Hawaiian shirts are made with the patterns meeting perfectly across the fronts.  As you can see, this is kind of a mish-mash.

As for those who suggested it might be some type of seat cushion, I think you've been conferring with Blackwell, who occasionally climbs on board my reclining figure and kneads my ample tummy.

Thanks for playing along!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

IT'S A QUIZ

Can anyone tell me what this is?






Monday, July 15, 2013

NICE TRY

The monsoon finally arrived in our area this afternoon.

Sort of.


The sky was promising late in the afternoon.  But the rain fell beyond those mountains in the distance and all we got was a few drops.  (By the way, sorry about the power lines.)

There was a lot of hue and cry on the local television channels and, to give them their due, some areas of The Valley got some heavy rain for a few minutes.  But here?  Nada.

Still the temperature cooled 10 or 12 degrees and there is hope for the coming days.


Meantime, all we have is some pretty skies.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

OUR MISCHIEVOUS FAMILY

SWMBO and I were sitting in the living room watching television when we heard a sharp report.  We both looked toward the front door and I said "that sounded like a gunshot outside."

But as I got up and went to look out I remembered that I had left the door to my den open.  I glanced in and here's what I saw.


That's an old piece of furniture I use in which to store magazines and other overflow stuff.  But if you look upper left in the photo you'll see the face of Blackwell, the mysterious and inky boy cat that lives with us peering guiltily out.  Down on the floor below him is a magazine that he dislodged when he jumped into this strange perch.  It made a sharp "whap" sound as it hit the floor.

Kind of like a gunshot outside.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

ANOTHER DAY . . ANOTHER MUSEUM

Many people asked us why we would move to Phoenix when we lived in a semi-retirement town in the cool country of Arizona.  Our answer was: for the culture.  We have been fulfilling our desire for culture in many ways since we returned to the desert that we left 28 years ago. Today was a visit to the MIM - the Musical Instrument Museum.


Now we had been there once before, for the Iris Dement concert.  But that was in the evening after the museum except for the theatre had closed.  So today we went for the exhibits.  And to mark Bastille Day (which is actually tomorrow).  The MIM was taking two days to celebrate, with special French meals being served in their cafe and French music at various times during the two days.  We were treated to a short performance by a Phoenix-based gypsy jazz band - Zazu.


Marvelous to hear the musical styles of Django Reinhardt and other French bistro songs. Talking with the musicians after the concert gave truth to the old expression - you can't make a living playing jazz.  The excellent bass player is also a general contractor.  The young man playing the white guitar said this was his last gig because he's starting medical school. Sad that these talented musicians can't support themselves with an art they are so good at.

But on to the museum.  This is the only museum of its kind, devoted to music of all kinds and types from around the world.  There are instruments on display like the world's first Steinway piano.


And an early harpsichord.


There are drums . . .


. . . and in the Experience Gallery, youngsters and adults can have a hands-on experience of their own.


There are drums and rattles and bells and gongs and chimes and everyone is invited to "chime" in!  The kids love it!


Oh, I forgot to mention there were face-painters on hand and this young lady is also wearing a French rosette that she made herself to commemorate the day.

Here's another example of the face-painter's art.  Looks like a Lion King to me.


But, once again, back to the museum.

There are guitars galore.



Including some famous ones.


Many of the exhibits feature video screens with short clips demonstrating the art as part of the display.

In the artist gallery there are exhibits highlighting performers from Pablo Casals to Elvis Presley.




That last one is the belt and holster Elvis wore in his movie, Charro.

I'm wondering now why I didn't photograph Casal's cello, or the yellow legal pad sheet that has Roy Orbison's printed lyrics to Pretty Woman.

So what else is there?


A display of Zildjian cymbals, the world's best . . .


. . . and, speaking of drums, one of the drums that opened the 2008 Beijing Olympics . . .


. . . a huge organ in the mechanical music gallery . . .


. . . a four-horned instrument of some kind or another . . .


. . . a display of bowed instruments . . .


. . . one on the beginning of an orchestra . . .


. . . instruments from seemingly every country in the world.


And costumes from musical celebrations from countries far and wide.  (above: Sardinia)

There is much, much more to see.  I haven't even begun to show you the galleries from Latin America or Africa or Oceania.  My feet, frankly, wore out.  But I'll be back, again and again.  And when the weather cools off, there's a delightful outdoor gallery to rest in.


Friday, July 12, 2013

WATER

What it's like to live in a golf course community.


Every night.  The sprayers come on.  Never mind that Arizona is in a decade-or-longer drought.  Spray-spray-spray.


I have also seen the sprayers doing their work in the daytime, under the hot Arizona sun.  So why is that?


To keep those lush fairways and greens . . . green.

I definitely have mixed feelings.