Tuesday, December 31, 2013

ONE DAY - BIG DIFFERENCE

SWMBO is now calm.  The Credit Union approved our line of credit today at the amount she wanted.  I finally reached the realtor in Prescott Valley and learned that we have the house.  We will move on January 15th, if not before.

Here's our new "cottage".




I say "cottage" because the front of it has that sort of "cottage-ey" look to it.  But it's actually a quite large house with a two car attached garage in the rear.  And there's a great view of the Black Hills to the northeast.  You can't see Mount Rushmore, though.

O.K.  I know.  THOSE Black Hills are in South Dakota.  But someone named these the Black Hills, too.

At any rate, we're headed back to cooler but milder weather in just a couple of weeks so I'd better get busy packing.

Oh and one other bit of business from yesterday's post.  Texas Tech's Red Raiders thoroughly humiliated the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl last night.  I turned the television off when they intercepted a pass in our end zone with about 3 minutes left in the game.  So much for my pre-game bravado and, apparently, the opinions of a lot of sports pundits.

So now I think I've covered everything.

Happy New Year, everyone!



Monday, December 30, 2013

NOTHING NEW

SWMBO is beside herself.

We don't know if we have a new home or not.

I emailed the realtor today and asked her.  She has not responded.

Then we went to our Credit Union to apply for a small loan to cover our moving expenses.  We have not heard yet.

Judy (SWMBO) is having the dreads.  I try to keep reminding her that we are doing this in the midst of the holidays.  People (even realtors and money loaners) have other things on their mind.  Just wait until Thursday (I say) when it will be a New Year and the bloodsuckers will be hungry for new meat.

Oh, that's unkind of me.  I apologize.  (Heh-heh-heh)

So, basically, I have nothing to report to you, dear readers.

Except . . . it is December 30th.  In a little over an hour, the mighty Arizona State University Sun Devils will begin their domination of the Texas Tech Red Raiders in this year's Holiday Bowl telecast on ESPN.  I will be pleased.  

SWMBO will be closeted somewhere else.

Tomorrow will take care of itself.

All is well.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

CHRISTMAS 2013

Christmas for us this year was one of uncertainty as we pondered a move from the Phoenix we've enjoyed back north to the Prescott area. But we spent a great Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the BRD and her Beau Jack at her beautiful Prescott home.


My bride, SWMBO, clad in holiday red.


The BRD, mugging while wearing her dog Wrigley's Christmas antlers.


And a bit later, preparing her traditional Christmas Eve feast of steak and lobster.  Yum!

The next day we gathered once again for Sunday brunch.


This wonderful fruit was just one portion of another delicious meal.


The always smiling Beau Jack and I took simultaneous pictures of each other.


This is one of my favorite pictures, showing the beauty of this woman in repose, contemplating an afternoon nap.


And finally, one of many sets of salt-and-pepper shakers the BRD owns with magnets that allow a formal kiss.

It was a lovely Christmas and the next day we found what we believe will be our new home in Prescott Valley.  More on that later.

Friday, December 27, 2013

FRIDAY FUNNIES

Bet you thought I'd forgot, huh?  Not a chance.  Roll 'em, CB!











Y'all have a good weekend and frolic freely, folks!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

IT'S GETTING CLOSER


"Something is about to happen.  I can just tell."


Sunday, December 22, 2013

WHO IS THAT?

Who is that big fat guy with the white hair and beard, wearing a red suit and yelling "Ho!  Ho!  Ho!"?  Who is that guy anyway?  And what is he doing in my house?


Credits

The cat:  Lilly

The plant:  by Mother Nature

Photographer:  The BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

HERE COMES WINTER!

Today marks the beginning of winter up here in the Northern Hemisphere, or as the scientists call it the Winter Solstice.  Living in the Arizona desert, actually properly known as the Great Sonoran Desert, we welcome winter as a time of moderate temperatures, a relief from the freaking days of 100+ temperatures.

But I remember winter.


That picture was taken some time in the mid-1940's in my home town of Stanley, North Dakota.  That's me on the left, my older brother, Wayne, on the right with his hand on the shovel. Apparently he had been detailed to clear the sidewalk and steps in front of our home.  I gather I was supervising and generally getting in the way.


This picture was taken just after the big blizzard of 1966 in Bismarck, North Dakota.  My Chevrolet Impala with my personalized ham radio license plate had been buried by snow drifting off the roof of the home I lived in then.  I had been shoveling it out but stopped to take this picture.


This one was taken in 1975 showing the frosted trees in front of the home I grew up in.  (Note the television antenna on the roof.)

So I can sympathize with you folks in other parts of the country that are currently (and many for the past several weeks) fighting their way through snow and ice and freezing rain.

But as we say in Arizona - "You don't have to shovel sunshine!"

Friday, December 20, 2013

FRIDAY FUNNIES

O.K. folks, put on your "grin face".  Ain't nothin' serious here today.











Have a great weekend and remember if you're thinking of sending me a Christmas gift cash is always handy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

CATS RULE!

If you have ever doubted the title of this post, just check out this video.

And, just to lighten the mood further, here's a picture the BRD sent me this morning of one of her cats, Lilly, guarding a Christmas garland.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

They aren't mine.  They belong to a former colleague of mine and a long-time friend.  I didn't know he was blogging.  In fact, this may be his first blog.  But I would suggest you encourage him, if you like his stuff.  I do.  His name is Roger, or as I call him "Rajah".

Try Ball Points

Monday, December 16, 2013

TURNAROUND



This is kind of how we feel right now.

We have given notice to our landlord that we will be leaving by January 31st, at the latest.

Once again we are looking for a place to live, preferably in Prescott, where the BRD lives, or nearby Prescott Valley, where we lived for 17 years before moving to Phoenix in March.

"Why?", you're probably wondering.

The basic reason was a severe reduction in our income that we hadn't seen coming.

But there was the heat, also.  We had lived in Phoenix for nearly 15 years before and thought we could handle it.  But it was severe and brutal and we didn't handle it very well.

So we moved to Phoenix in time for the summer heat.  Now we're moving back north in time for the winter cold.  Are we crazy or not?

Moving is a joyless task and, frankly, we're getting too old for this. So hopefully this will be our last move.

Hmmm, isn't that what we said when we moved to Phoenix 8-1/2 months ago?

We've enjoyed Phoenix for the most part.  The art museum, the Musical Instrument Museum, the concerts, the restaurants.  But we'll still only be about 80 miles away so we can visit.

Now...just where did I put that Powerball ticket?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

JUST VISITING

We had a visitor the other day.


This mainly white cat showed up at the back door.  She had a tag so she belongs to someone and she looked well-fed and healthy. Blackwell was the most curious of our two and he and this stranger were nose-to-nose through the glass in the door.

The stranger didn't seem alarmed by either of our cats or even by me taking pictures of her.  (I assume she was a "she", just by the looks of her.)  She walked around the yard and even lay down for awhile on our patio.


Muggles checked her out but after a short look he wandered off.

She posed for my camera and the girl, even with a moustache, could melt any cat-lover's heart.


A friend of ours, Carol, sent  us a Christmas card and a book of poems "written" by cats.  Here is one of them.

O  Christmas Tree

O  please

O  come on

O  like you didn't know

What you were getting for Christmas

before I ripped open all your gifts

O  by the way

The tree looks better on its side

O  I really do think so

Saturday, December 14, 2013

AS PROMISED . . .

Thursday evening, SWMBO and I spent a wonderful evening at the Musical Instrument Museum along with a packed house of enthusiastic fans of BeauSoleil avec (with) Michael Doucet.


Fiddler, accordionist, lead singer and founder of the group is the Santa-like fellow in the center.  His brother, David, is on the guitar on the right.  Just behind him is the remarkable Tommy Alesi on drums, behind the conga drums on the left is Billy Ware and on bass at the far left is Mitchell Reed.  

Here's a sample of what we heard but I warn you, headphones will give you better audio than the usual tinny computer speakers.

video

The group pleased the crowd greatly with the selections of Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music from their Lafayette, Louisiana repertoire. Michael Doucet was amusing with his stories about the songs and repartee.  The group was formed 38 years ago and has been going strong ever since, winning a Grammy award in 1997.  And the frequent smiles on the faces of the players revealed what fun they have playing together.

Reed doubled on fiddle and played face to face with Doucet on several improvisational jams.  David Doucet showed amazing finger picking on the guitar and occasionally played a ukelele.  (And it wasn't "My Dog Has Fleas"!)

Ware played the conga drums and a variety of other percussion instruments, including a washboard.  Alesi was a wonder on drums, playing languidly but always right on the mark.  More of a wonder was watching him struggle off his stool at the end of the night and walk out slowly with the use of a cane.  When the group came out for an encore, Michael explained that Alesi had just had a hip operation.

The concert was called "A Cajun Christmas" and Doucet delighted in introducing several songs as Christmas music.  But there was no Jingle Bells, Silent Night or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Doucet donned a Santa hat for a few numbers and Reed and Ware donned elf hats.


video

Most of the songs were sung in French.  Doucet said it wasn't Paris French but a Cajun dialect.  All in all it was a terrific evening.

Oh, yes, and I said I had a surprise.  It was a surprise to me for sure. As SWMBO and I were taking our seats, a woman in a row just in front of us turned around and said "You're Oddball Observations, aren't you?"  I was stunned to be so recognized and after chatting with the lady discovered she was the proprietor of a blog called "Quilted Dogs".  I asked how she knew who I was and she said she followed my blog and she even knew about SWMBO and the BRD! It was fun to meet her and, though I don't have a photo of her, I can assure you she is a QD (cutie)!

Friday, December 13, 2013

THE FRIDAY FUNNIES

I know you all are just dying to hear about the concert last night by BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet . . . but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  And I have a big surprise to tell you about in connection with that concert.

But today is Friday and that means . . . THE FRIDAY FUNNIES!

So without further ado . . .


May seem dumb to you but it makes sense to me.


And then . . . there's Christmas.





And with two mischievous cats in our house, that's why we don't have a tree.

Have a fun-filled weekend, folks!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A CAJUN CHRISTMAS

I know I've been lax of late in writing posts for my blog and today will be no exception.  Of course if I have Judy and Loretta to write posts, who needs me?  Anyway, we're off to the Musical Instrument Museum again tonight for a concert by the Louisiana band BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet.  (Actually they say "avec" Michael Doucet but I didn't know how good y'all's French was.)  I've been a fan of this group for years so I'm very much looking forward to the concert which is billed as "A Cajun Christmas."  I'll probably have a review on Saturday but in the meantime here's a sample of their music to tide you over.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

IS SANTA CLAUS REAL?

I'm learning constantly about the wonderfully creative, talented people in my extended family.  This was posted on Facebook today by my niece, Loretta.  In spite of my usually crusty exterior, this got to my inner "nice person".

I most assuredly perpetuated the lie. I had so many wonderful memories of Santa coming to my house when I was a kid, that it brought me great joy to do the same for my child. Unfortunately my son was very observant and put my lying skills to the test. Questioning why Santa's presents were in packages like the store and the worst one, why Santa had the same wrapping paper as us. The latter is how he figured it out. We had told him at the time that Santa had run out and had to borrow some from us. After that year Santa's presents were always wrapped in paper that was completely different and hidden away. When my son was 9 we moved and when we were hauling stuff into the new place, he found the Santa wrapping paper. That was the moment he figured it out. He was so upset, but not that Santa wasn't real, but that we had lied to him. You lied, you lied to me is what he kept saying. This was in August. By the time Christmas had rolled around he had calmed down and one evening on a drive home from some event we had a conversation. My son at the age of 10 told me that really Santa was real. Not that he was a real person, but he was real in the spirit of giving. That's what Santa was all about. I was a very proud parent at that point. Deep thinker my boy. Now at the age of 21, my son has fond memories of Santa coming to visit and understands the lies. We have been forgiven. So even though I was scolded for lying I would do it all over again without hesitation. Everybody needs a little magic in their lives.


Monday, December 9, 2013

THE TALE OF THE MYSTERIOUS LEAK

Today's post was written by my wife, Judy, better known here as SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed).  While the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) was in Mexico last week, SWMBO house-sat for her and her three cats in Prescott, about 100 miles away.  Here then is her story of her return and an ensuing adventure.


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

I got home Friday after being gone for a week .  Unpacked my stuff and went through a week's worth of mail. Did some reading.  Went to bed and got some sleep.

Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. I walked into the kitchen to find a stream of water running from the refrigerator across the kitchen.   Decided that the evaporator pan must be over-flowing for some reason.  We moved the monster double door fridge out far enough to get behind.  As I was gathering tools to remove the back panel of the fridge, Bruce decided to get the hell out of there and go to the store.

I removed the LOWER BACK panel.  This didn't do a whole lot for my lower back.  There were about eight screws to undo. I used a refrigerator coil brush (didn't think I had one, did you) and the crevice tool of the vacuum cleaner to remove dust, cobwebs and cat hair from everything I could reach.  The evaporator fan started running while I was doing this, so I decided it had been jammed up with debris. I took the front panel off and vacuumed under there too. Now all would be well. I mopped up the water for the third or forth time, but decided to leave the fridge out in the middle of the room...just in case.

Then I went away for a while and came back ....to another stream of water.  I went online for solutions and everyone talked about the evaporator pan, etc.  One guy mentioned the drain hole in the back of the inside of the fridge which could be stopped up by food debris.  Use a pipe cleaner to clear it out and run some water down it and your problem should be solved.  So after about an hour on the computer looking for solutions I went back to the kitchen.  I took the bottom crisper drawer out and found about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water in the bottom of the fridge.  The puddle had not been coming from the outside/underside of the fridge.  It was coming from the INSIDE.

So I took the next crisper drawer out......and the meat and cheese drawer, cleaned them and set them on the floor.  Still no evidence of where the water was coming from. So, I emptied the rest of the three shelves of the upper part.  Food all over the kitchen. As I got to the top shelf I could see some water dripping down the back left  side. That is the shelf that our box of red wine and our cold water container and tall bottles, like coke and milk sit on.  About this time Bruce (who had slunk back from the grocery store) mentioned that a leftovers container had had water on top of it this past week when he took it out of the fridge.  I took EVERYTHING off the top shelf and they all were wet on the bottom.  It suddenly dawned on me that it might be that the cold water container, which I had filled the night before, and was now half empty.....MIGHT BE THE CAUSE!  Within a minute, Bruce, who was watching a football game across the room said, "It might be the water container".   I dried it off completely and set it on a paper towel to see what would happen. In seconds, the paper towel was soaking wet.

I have the cleanest refrigerator in the state...inside and out.   But there is no water container in there right now. 

That's all, folks!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE

Vacation time!

The BRD snorkeling off of Cabo Pulmo, Mexico.




(What the guy on the boat is saying at as he points to the water:  "Oh, wow, look.  It's a great white shark!")

Saturday, December 7, 2013

VIVIR LA BUENA VIDA

Here are a couple of views from the room where the BRD* spent last week with her Beau Jack.




It's Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  Two hour nonstop flight to and from Phoenix.  She liked it.


English translation of the title of this post:  Living the good life.

* - Beautiful Rich Daughter

LEST WE FORGET

(From today's New York Times)

On December 7th, 1941, Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U. S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, drawing the United States into World War Two.

More than 2,300 Americans were killed.



Friday, December 6, 2013

FRIDAY FUNNIES

The mercury dropped to 33 degrees here last night.  That's cold. And not funny.  So to remedy that . . .





Then, of course, there's the plague of the Holidays.


And, of course, where would I be without a cat picture or two.





Where would Internet humor be without PhotoShop, eh?

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

NELSON MANDELA . . . AND MONOPOLY

Nelson Mandela died today.  For those of you who don't know his history, I will recap it.


As a young man, he was arrested after co-founding a militant group which led a bombing campaign against government targets as part of a protest against apartheid in South Africa.  He was convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government and sentenced to life in prison.  After 27 years, he was released.  Rather than being angry and bent on vengeance, he worked with the white power structure to change South Africa.  Four years after his release he was elected president.

He was a forgiving and reasonable man in his later years and a symbol of virtue.  Today, at the age of 95, he died at home, surrounded by family.




Now, about Monopoly.  A friend sent me this by email today and I found it fascinating.  Here's hoping you will too.


In 1941, increasing numbers of British Airmen became prisoners of the Third Reich. The Crown was looking for ways and means to facilitate their escape...

Obviously, one of the most helpful aids would be a useful map, which showed locations of 'safe houses' where an escaped POW could go for food and shelter.

However, paper maps had drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into mush.
Someone in MI-5 (similar to America 's OSS ) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.


At that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, John Waddington, Ltd.

When approached by the government, the firm was happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly.
'Games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified to be inserted into 'CARE packages', sent by the International Red Cross to prisoners of war.

Under strict secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where
Allied POW camps were located. When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing piece.

The clever workmen at Waddington's also included:
1. A playing token, containing a small magnetic compass 
2. A two-part metal file that could easily be screwed together 
3. Useful amounts of genuine high-denomination German,             Italian, and French currency, hidden within the piles of             Monopoly money!

Before taking off on their first  mission, British and American air crews were advised, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set -- by means of a tiny red dot, cleverly disguised to look like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated one-third were aided in their flight by those rigged Monopoly sets.  
Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British Government might
want to use this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were honored in a public ceremony.

Some of you may be too young to have had any personal connection to WWII (Dec. '41 to Aug. '45), but this is an interesting part of history.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THERE'LL BE A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER . . .

As I frequently say on this blog: what a difference a day makes. Yesterday I sat out on the patio enjoying the sun and near 70 degree temperatures.  Today the mercury hasn't risen above 62 and the sky looks like this.



A cold front is moving through the state and much colder temperatures are expected through Tuesday.  Highs in the 50's and a freeze warning is in effect.  I hope we don't get a hard freeze because a number of roses are just about to bloom and the orange tree and the lemon tree are heavily laden with ripening fruit.  There was a hard freeze last winter which killed off a number of outdoor plants.

It has been said that animals can predict earthquakes and other weather occurrences.  I don't know if that's true or not but our cats sure seemed to be battening down for cooler weather last night.


Or maybe they were just cat-napping.