Sunday, February 28, 2010

Magpie Tales 3

This was a tough one. I couldn’t summon the muse at all, no matter how many times I looked at that damned picture of a kilo weight. Coming from a certain generation, I kept getting hung up on that word "kilo".

Back in the day . . . way back in the day . . . I have to confess to a momentary fascination with the effects of marijuana. It only lasted for a short time. A couple of days. Or was that weeks. Or months. Or years. I sort of forget. But it is far in the past now. (That makes me think of the scene in the movie "It’s Complicated" where Meryl Streep and Steve Martin are sharing a joint and one or the other of them says (approximately) "This sure is different from what we smoked 30 years ago!")

Anyway I had a friend . . . back in the day . . . who smoked way more than I did. One time he went to Hawaii and while there acquired a sizeable amount of what was known as Maui Wowie, much of which he brought back to the mainland in his wife’s suitcase. She didn’t know it was there until they got home and boy was she pissed at him.

He decided to share his wealth with me and mailed a package of it to me. It arrived at my home when no one was there, with his return address on the outside of the package. AND WITH POSTAGE DUE!!!

Now there’s a sidebar to this. Our yard at the time had a large number of snails. I had told him we were going to gather them up, purge them by feeding them cornmeal and then cook them up for an escargot feast. Snails . . . or garden slugs, as he insisted on calling them . . . were not his cup of tea. But when he was in Hawaii, he toured a botanical garden and took an extreme close-up photo of the biggest snail I’ve ever seen. In the picture which topped off his "gift", it looked about the size of an old Buick.

Well, the good news is the postman didn’t open the package, we paid the postage due, we didn't "process" the snails and the rest is lost to history.

Until Willow’s photo prompt for Magpie Tales 3. And the only thing I could think of was this little limerick.

The mailman while making his rounds,
Brought a package that brings joyful sounds,
A box of fresh weed
All foil-wrapped, indeed,
A kilo that weighs two-plus pounds.

And if that's not enough, you can join in and/or read much more from more talented writers at Magpie Tales 3

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A rant

O.K. It's time for a rant. Those of you who don't want to read this should delete it now.

Our sainted Arizona legislature, overcome by Republicans, has decided rather than try to solve its budget crisis that the most important thing to do is to object to President Barack Obama's right to serve. To wit, that he is not a citizen of the United States. He has never produced a birth certificate that confirms that he was born in Hawaii (a state) but that his birthplace was in Kenya. There is a photo circulating on the Internet showing a sign that says "Welcome to Kenya, birthplace of President Barack Obama." Of course, it has been shown to have been Photoshopped and is totally false. But the "birthers" still proclaim it.

Now, a crazy woman from a place known as Skull Valley, in Arizona, has introduced a bill in the Arizona legislature to insist that future candidates for the presidency proclaim their birth as U.S. citizens.

It is obvious hatred.

What is painful is that some 40 members of the legislature (Republicans all) have signed onto this crazed piece of legislation.

What is wrong with them? Are they crazy? Or are they just so biased against a popularly elected president of the United States that their sensibilities have become enraged and biased?

Lucy Mason, Andy Tobin and their co-horts in the legislature should be ashamed of themselves.

And most of all . . . Judy Burges, who sponsored this abominable legislation.

If you, as responsible voters, have any common sense at all, you will vote against all of these people in the future.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Elvis breakfast

Elvis Presley was known for some pretty unhealthy eating habits, like his deep fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But I adapted that for a tasty breakfast snack this morning. First I toasted an English muffin, then spread it with creamy peanut butter and topped that with a sliced banana. Very good! I'd show you a picture but I ate it before I thought of the camera.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympics Fever

I was about to turn out my light and go to sleep when SWMBO called from the other room: "Did you see that?"

I obediently padded down the hall and said "What?"

She said a woman from a two-woman bobsled team had just been thrown out of her sled and skidded down the track on her backside.

I asked if the sled had run over her and SWMBO responded "No, she was behind it."

I unfeelingly said "I don't really have any use for the Olympics, winter or summer."

SWMBO responded sharply "Oh, yes, you'll watch 9 months of baseball or football games on television."

. . . . .

After thinking that over, I returned to the fray and said, smartly, "Baseball is the national pastime and I'd certainly rather spend my time with it than to watch a bunch of silly girls fall out of sleds or a bunch of girly-guys use brooms to sweep the ice in front of what they call a stone!"

. . . . .

I know.

I'm going to pay for that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catalyst's big Oscar predictions

I'm 11 days ahead of the actual ceremony but here are my Oscar winner picks at this year's Academy Awards for 7 awards. An asterisk (*) indicates I have not yet seen the movie.

Foreign Language Film:

"The White Ribbon" *

Supporting Actress:

Mo'Nique in "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" *

Supporting Actor:

Christoph Waltz in "Inglorious Basterds" *

Actress in a Leading Role:

Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia"

Actor in a Leading Role:

Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart"

Best Director:

Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"

Best Movie:

The Hurt Locker

I know this goes against the huge push for "Avator" and James Cameron and I have not seen the movie. But I was so impressed by the Hurt Locker and by the fact that this high testosterone movie was directed so well by a woman that I can't overlook it. And things I've read about Avatar and its big-ego director make me believe the Academy may turn on it.

March 7th . . we'll all see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Magpie Tales II (Two)

The Hotel Forum. Now, the Hotel Crowne Plaza. In Bratislava. How the times have changed. Slovakia. It dates back to 270,000 BCE. Before the Christian Era. Not the hotel. The country. But it’s all changed. Now the Hotel Forum is the Hotel Crowne Plaza. It’s still across the street from the Presidential Palace. But it’s different.

Restaurant Magd a Lena is still there. But there is now Restaurant Fusion. Fusion? What the hell is that? Fusion music is awful. What can the restaurant be like?

But . . . the Forum. Let’s take it back in time.

I was there in 1959. It was dark then. The rooms were lit by multiple candles. It was warm, from the heat of many fireplaces and by the ambience of those candles. Hundreds of candles, throughout the restaurant and the hotel and the halls. Candles in sconces on the walls. Warm. Beautiful.

There were exotic women in gorgeous gowns. Men in tuxedos. Gourmet meals. Champagne.

And then.

(No, I didn’t wake up.)

There was more.

I was posing as a businessman but I was really an operative for a government agency I won’t identify, even now. I waited inside the hotel lobby, looking for a certain man.

Then I saw him. He was tall. He had a dark moustache. He had dark hair. His eyes were intense, also dark, betraying nothing except that he was dangerous. He and I had long been enemies. I had been told he was in Bratislava to assassinate the president. He was Drago.

Our eyes met and he smiled slightly as we nodded to each other. I walked slowly into the cognac bar at the hotel. He followed. I sat at a small round table. He gazed around the room. We were alone in the room except for a bartender who was watching a noisy soccer game on the television over the bar. Then he approached me, pulled out a chair and carefully sat down at the same table. We each ordered and the bartender brought us our cognacs. I gazed into his eyes as we both sipped from our glasses. We knew we were enemies. Yet friends.

I drew a cigarette from my pack of Gauloises and offered him one. He declined and took one from his own pack. A Russian cigarette. He took out the matches from his box . . . Hotel Forum, Bratislava . . . and moved to light his cigarette. In the glare from his matchlight, I quickly pulled my silenced gun and shot him between the eyes. And killed him. The bartender heard nothing over the blaring sound from his television.

I left Drago’s burnt match lying across the open box on the table and slipped quietly out of the bar.

The president was safe.

For now.


This is the second in a set of writing exercises under the name of Magpie Tales, organized by Willow. You can read more and join the fun by clicking here.


We got hit with a snowstorm this morning. Not much but enough to whiten the territory.

By noon the sun was out and the snow was rapidly melting. But my buddy, Reed, has visitors in from Juneau, Alaska, and they (Princess ME and her guy JO) said it was colder with more snow than they had at home!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winter returns - - - - - maybe

Today was a perfect example of that old saw - "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute."

The weather forecast says we could get 5 to 8 inches of snow tonight. We'll see.

Update: It's now down to 1 to 3 inches of snow if we get anything.

In the meantime, here are some sky scenes all shot within a few minutes of each other.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

R.I.P. Smoky

This is our big boy cat Smoke. We had to put him down today. He got sick, seemingly in 24 hours, and when a veterinarian examined him this morning, he found his red blood cells were down to nearly nothing. It was probably feline leukemia.

It's a pretty sad day around here but I wanted to leave a tribute to a great cat.

I used to joke that when he was younger he liked to read.

He adopted us one day but grew to be larger than either of his step-sisters. Even so he was the most placid of the three. Jazz (on the left) used to hiss and growl at him but Smoke never retaliated. Occasionally Muggles (center) used to have words with him. Smoke just gazed at him.

While he was the only one of the cats we allowed to go outdoors, he spent a lot of time in contemplative poses inside.

But when he did go out he seemed to be a natural poser for my camera.

Or a snoozer on my deck chair.

He was nimble, whether tip-toeing around the edge of a fountain for a sip or two of water . . .

. . . or doing his gravity-defying walk across the top of the fence.

He liked to snooze on the tiles, while keeping a lookout for any brave small birds, or lizards, or bugs.

He is gone now and he will be missed. Our Smoky.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Signs of spring

Even though they came in pots from stores, just the appearance of tulips and heather raise hopes of warmer temperatures and perhaps the end of gray, snowy days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Magpie Tales #1

I walked into the dusty, dark antique store in Ankara, Turkey. Stopping to adjust my eyes to the lack of light, I gradually began to see outlines of objects scattered here and there in the dusky light.

My eyes scanned ancient swords, broken pottery, stuffed owls, long out of date clothing, and then - - - the pot. A pewter pot. It was about 12 inches tall, with an intricately curved handle on one side, engraved with strange cueniform along the top edge and a wreath on it’s front surface.

I carefully reached out and picked it up. It was heavier than it looked. I used my right hand to grasp the handle and my left caressed the other side as I balanced it in my hands.

And then.

A puff of smoke came from the inside of the vessel, rising and building in the air and slowly forming into the turbaned head of . . . a genie. He gazed down on me with a fierce expression. He opened his mouth to speak.

And then I woke up.


This was a writing exercise prompted by Willow. It is explained at Magpie Tales. Click on it for the rules and to join in, if you like.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou?

It kind of looks like Italy and a balcony where the fair Juliet might call out for her love.

But it's not.

It's actually on a building housing lawyers' offices in downtown Prescott overlooking El Gato Azul. My eyes were caught by it this morning and I snapped one photo before my camera's batteries died.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stolen - - for the community good

Suzy, a Facebook friend of mine, posted this on her page today.

After laughing about it and then telling several friends about it I took the easy way out. I swiped it. There is no honor among bloggers. (Or at least . . this one!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stormy sky

A look across Prescott Valley toward the Bradshaws.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Facing the sun

This is a solar array at the edge of the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University campus in Prescott.

I have no idea what it powers but it's fairly impresssive.

Equally impressive is the array of signs lining the road leading into the campus. The school is proud and rightfully so.

Monday, February 8, 2010


A piece of land that has been "for sale" on the north side of Prescott Valley for years is finally being developed. I stopped one day when I saw the earth being scraped and levelled to ask what was coming. A workman told me it was to be a large chiropactric clinic and a couple of other spaces still to be leased. Rats! I (and many others) had been hoping for a long time that Basha's or some other grocery chain would put a store in on this side of town. Not yet, I guess. But if any development is coming, it bodes well for the future. Maybe some day we "back siders" will be noticed and catered to.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The New Orleans Saints Win!


A recommendation

I've discovered a wonderful new blogger. His name is Jerry and he lives in Houston, Texas. He's new to the "art" of blogging but has displayed great talent. Check him out at Gently Said and feel free to tell him I sent you.

Yes, it IS Arizona!

It was raining yesterday with snow predicted above 6,000 feet. I live at 5,100 feet elevation. This is what I found early this morning outside my door.

It looks a good day to stay inside in front of the television set watching the Super Bowl!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Going to the dogs!

You might wonder what these two alert dogs are waiting for.

They're waiting for their turn to enter Prescott's Dog Park!

Let's hope they obey the warning.

The dog park is located in north Prescott and obviously is a very popular spot, for dogs and their owners.

I overheard that this miniature dachsund was meeting other dogs for the very first time. His eyes tell the story.

The park is large and gives dogs plenty of room to roam. But it also provides some necessary items.

During the time I spent there, there was some occasional barking but all of the animals seemed to get along well with each other. I saw no fights but a lot of curiousity and gentle playing.

The dog park: a good idea.