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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MONSOON STORM REACTIONS

Here's the way the monsoon moved through our neighborhood yesterday for the second day in a row.


Once again there was thunder, lightning, torrential rain, some hail and water flowing in the street.

video

Muggles and Blackwell weathered the storm under the coffee table with their two humans.


Well, the two humans weren't under there but they were close at hand.

There was about a 55 minute power outage later when an electrical   transformer blew out, down the hill from us. A guy who I spent considerable time with today told me he was driving by when it blew and the light was as bright as the sun for a few seconds. Then it died down and he noticed lights in nearby stores flickering.

I spent quite a bit of time with him today because he was repairing my computer at his business. The power surge, apparently related to the transformer blowing, took out the power supply in my computer. He replaced that but when I got home I couldn't get the cordless optical mouse to work. After a couple of hours of fooling with it I finally went back to the repair shop and his assistant learned that the surge had also blown out all four USB ports in the computer. So, after a lot of hours of frustrating computer dealing and spending too much money that I don't have, I am finally back in business.

I will take his advice though. He said many people who have lost power supplies due to lightning strikes say "but I had it plugged into a surge protector."

He says if lightning can travel 12 miles in a second it can easily jump a little quarter inch gap in a surge protector. His advice? When a storm is imminent, unplug the computer from the wall. In future, I shall and I relay his advice to those of you in storm country.

Right, cats?



"Right on, daddy-o"

Monday, June 29, 2015

MONSOON!

The 2015 monsoon has arrived. But don't feel bad for us. It's not one of those apocalyptic Hollywood-style thunderstorms. It's an annual event in the Southwest, when the prevailing winds switch from the southwest to the southeast which brings low pressure and moisture into the state. Following, as it usually does, a stretch of intense heat the season is welcomed by most Arizonans.

So yesterday the skies darkened, lightning flashed, deafening thunder cracked around us and those rain clouds overhead released their bounty onto the land. (Poetic, ain't I?)

video

More such storms are promised for the next few days, which could "put a damper" on the Fourth of July parades and fireworks shows and turn the Prescott rodeo into a mud bog.

So it goes in our annual monsoon season.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

IF IT SITS ON A RITZ . . .

One of the strangest food trends has been the resurgence of pimento cheese. Really! It's back in popularity. I found a recipe at the New York Times Food page to make your own. I showed it to SWMBO who said she remembered pimento cheese from her childhood, said the recipe looked good and volunteered to make some.

She did. It was good and like the commercial says it sits on a Ritz cracker just fine.


Make your mouth water? Here is a link to the recipe. My personal chef tossed in a pinch of Cayenne pepper at the end to, as Emeril Lagasse would say, "kick it up a notch."

Enjoy.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

AN OLIO

Definition - olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Today is the birthday of two Americans who ran for president. Ross Perot is 85. Bruce Babbitt is 77. 

You probably couldn't find two more diametrically opposed politicians. 

Babbitt is a tall Democrat who served Arizona as Attorney General and, for 9 years, as governor. He later became U.S. Secretary of the Interior and was twice considered by President Bill Clinton for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. He ran for president in 1988 but dropped out after disappointing results in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Perot is a pint-sized billionaire Texas businessman who ran for president twice in the 1990's. The first time he was an independent and the second time as the candidate of The Reform Party.

Both men were unsuccessful.

Speaking of businessmen running for president, there's Donald Trump.


And speaking of creatures trying for future glories, consider this one in my backyard.


Need a closer look?


He appears to be considering a high dive into the bird bath but I've never seen him there so he may just be checking it out.

The other night a different creature was checking out our patio lamp.



The praying mantis crawled briefly into the lamp but apparently decided it was too hot and came back out again. Fascinating critter.

O.K. That's all I've got today. Except for one last thought on the Charleston tragedy and its aftermath.



Friday, June 26, 2015

(the return of) THE FRIDAY FUNNIES

My fellow smartphone addicts, today's edition has a common theme. See if you can detect what it is.




















It's an unhappy commentary on modern life with a funny slant. Thanks to my contributors, have a great weekend, pray for some rain in Arizona (and California) and remember to always keep laughing!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY


I was best man for my old buddy, Karl, when he married the love of his life, Cathy, a "few" years back. (Think my glasses are large enough?)

Coincidentally, today is another big day in Karl's life. It's his birthday. Happy day, pal.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

ROCKIN' ROBIN

Here's what I want you to do. Turn up your audio and take a time travel trip back to the days of your youth. You'll see some familiar faces in the video, though much different than they are today.


And why, you might ask, did I ask you to take that journey with me?

Simple, (he said.)

I had a new visitor at the bird bath outside my window the other day.


The original rockin' robin.

Robins are famous for their wild and seemingly-frantic bathing in bird baths. But this fellow was content just to sit by the edge of the "pool" and take an occasional sip. Might have been too early for his swim.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

CHRISTMAS IN JUNE

Regular readers of this blog may recall SWMBO's struggles with her Christmas Cactus, which was showing real signs of life around St. Patrick's Day. You can re-read that short post here.

Eventually she placed the cactus out on the back patio and just look at it now.



Apparently it is more cactus than Christmas as it has burst into bloom in the high 90 degree temperatures of recent days.



The blossoms are beautiful to behold. The BRD's plant bloomed properly at Christmas last year but its blossoms were white. These are all this gorgeous orange-red color.


It's kind of nice to have Christmas during this pre-monsoon period of intense heat.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

CELEBRATE!


To all of the dads in the world lean back, relax and have a great day of being honored today.

Oh wait! 

It's also the first day of summer so get thee to the grill and burn some meat for dinner.

Speaking of summer and burned meat, the period (hopefully brief here in the mountains or high desert) of "extreme heat" is upon us. Be careful of it and remember . . .


Saturday, June 20, 2015

THE ANNUAL WARNING

Contrary to what you may have heard, the 15-year drought in Arizona is not over. It is dry out there.


And with that dryness comes the annual fire danger warnings. Right now there are no fire restrictions in our local forests but 24 abandoned campfires have been reported in this area in the last two weeks. With hot dry weather just one of those could spell disaster.


It is true that we had a wet spring but that has turned into a dry summer, with temperatures already reaching 95 degrees F. and humidity as low as 6 percent. It doesn't take many days like that to totally dry out the forest. And it's not even summer yet! The solstice doesn't hit until just after mid-day tomorrow.

So as Smoky the Bear always said: Only you can prevent forest fires.

And as Sergeant Esterhaus used to say on Hill Street Blues "Let's be careful out there."

Friday, June 19, 2015

FRIDAY

I'm not posting the Friday Funnies this week.

I don't feel funny.

I feel sad about my country.

Instead of laughing this weekend, join me in a few moments of meditation on the tragedy at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

THROWBACK THURSDAY

Father and Son


Some years back, two Taylors - - Bruce and Scott - - in an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale. I don't know whether the meal put him to sleep or it's just relief that I have my wallet out ahead of him. It was a fun evening.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UN LAPIN MALADE

The other day I wrote about our wildlife in the neighborhood and mentioned that SWMBO was mourning the lack of bunnies this year. Well it wasn't two days later that we were watching the warblers taking turns flying to their nest over our front entryway feeding a new baby when a bunny hopped right into our front yard. He then found a spot partially sheltered by some shrubbery and parked himself.


To SWMBO's delight, he then assumed a rock-solid equanimity and barely twitched a whisker for about half an hour as she watched him and the warblers.


This second picture is taken from my unsteady stance and through a screened window, hence the fuzziness. But, come to think of it, fuzzy might be just right for a bunny portrait.

Which brings to mind a bit of doggerel from my childhood:

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear.
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.
Fuzzy Wuzzy WASN'T fuzzy,
was he?

With that bit of second-childhood nonsense I'll close this and leave you alone for awhile.

Oh and if you don't read French, the title of this blog post is Francaise for "a patient rabbit." (And I do know that it can also be translated as "a sick rabbit" but this one was definitely healthy. And, for the moment at least, free of bobcats.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TUESDAY TRAVELS

Contrary to the signs, I think this was in West Missouri.


But I could be wrong. Show me.

Monday, June 15, 2015

ALIEN VISITORS

I have recently learned that we should have one of those huge signs that states, in very black letters, capitalized with an exclamation point, kind of like this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

What brings this to mind was an elderly couple (well, elderly like me, probably) driving very slowly past the front of my house in a bright blue Volkswagen Beetle convertible the other day. Wondering if they were looking for someone that I might be able to help them with, I stepped out. They backed up and the man asked me if I had seen the bobcat. 

"Bobcat?", said I. "No. Where?"

He said there had been a bobcat sitting in either my front yard or my neighbor's the night before and that it had then turned and leaped over the wall between our houses and disappeared.

Well!

Now another neighbor who works nights and comes home in the early, early morning had told me once that if I was up very early I might see bobcats, deer, coyotes, javelinas (wild pigs), and assorted other wildlife just walking down the alley between the houses or in the middle of the street. But I never have. Seen any of them or been up that early.

Oh, wait. One time a couple of months ago when SWMBO and I had been on a rare nightime outing and were coming home after dark our car's headlights had picked up a coyote at the side of the road. But that was in a ravine, not real near to houses.

Back to the fellow in the VW. He was a chatterer. He told me had lived in 31 different places in his life, around the United States and in Europe and Asia and he believed this was the best place he'd ever been. When I admired his car, he said it was his wife's toy. I jokingly said to her "but he doesn't let you drive it, eh?"

They laughed and he said that she calls him her chauffer.

He also said that they had been married for 62 years and that she was a Texas girl who he had chased and chased and chased until finally she caught him!

Anyway, he asked if I had any small animals. I replied that we had two cats but they were "inside cats" and he said "don't let them out or that bobcat will get 'em. They go after cats, rabbits, even small dogs."

Later, it occurred to me that I should alert my neighbor, a lady who lives alone but is presently caring for two medium-sized dogs. She was quite surprised about the bobcat but then told me that she had come home fairly late one night recently after attending a play and saw a pronghorn (frequently and mistakenly referred to as an antelope) standing in her front yard.

Well!

I'd have loved to have seen that. Or even the bobcat. Through a window from inside my house.

I did see a herd of cows in the savannah the other day. And I occasionally see a cottontail or a jackrabbit. But that's been about it so far this year.  SWMBO has been mourning the absence of "her" bunnies. Last year she had a steady group of them in our yard that she was feeding with carrots and lettuce. But this year none at all.

Maybe the bobcat got 'em.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

YOUNG TORBECK . . . ISN'T!

My baseball buddy Steve looked like this when I first met him.

I'm surprised his back lasted with all the toting of that big old Auricon camera. But in time the cameras grew smaller. This is one of the few times I remember Steve wearing a tie.


Before he became Baseball Steve he was beer drinkin' Steve. That may have been why he was such a lousy pool player.


He's the guy in the corner trying to figure out which one of those balls is the cue ball.

Probably because of my huge influence on Steve, he grew a beard.


Looks happy doesn't he? He kept the hirsute look for many years before he finally shaved it off one day. It doesn't look like it made him happy.


I have tried to get him to grow it back over the years.


So far his wife Debbie has had more influence over him than I have.

But I'm glad to say that he has regained his sense of humor. Maybe it was that duet with Jimi Hendrix in Seattle.


Whatever it was, the irrespressible Steve Torbeck smile is back again.






A couple of months ago, I celebrated a big birthday and here's how Steve showed up for it.


Still a whack-oh! 

He's celebrating his 66th birthday today but he told me on the phone last night he still won't stop the Old Taylor lines.

Oh well. After 40-some years, I still love yuh, buddy. Have a great birthday.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

AN EVENING MEDITATION

Another week is nearing its end and the sky is darkening with the setting sun lighting some clouds.


The wind has quieted and the wind chimes are still and silent for a change.




A tiny hummingbird stops by for one last drink, only his tail visible from this angle.


Soon the arms of darkness will wrap around the land and all will be quiet.

Except for these two idiots.


Sigh.

Perfection is difficult to attain.