Monday, November 29, 2010


I don't care what you say.  It's cold!  Normally when Northerners laugh at Arizonans who are complaining of cold temperatures, it is because the temperature has fallen down into the 60's.  That is not the case today.  It's 12:45 in the afternoon right now and, while sunny, the thermometer says it is stuck at 36 degrees outside with an afternoon high of 39 predicted.  Overnight, the mercury dropped to 19 degrees and we had snow on the ground yesterday morning.  Sure it was just a trace but it was snow.  And it snowed again yesterday afternoon though none of that apparently stuck.

Now don't you Northerners give me a lot of static on this.  I grew up in North Dakota, just about 50 miles from being a Canadian, and I have known some cold, cold days, weeks and months in my time.  But I was smart (or lucky) enough to get out of there 41 years ago and I've managed to live in much warmer climes ever since - Indiana (which had three mild winters while I was there, Arizona, Mexico, Texas and back to Arizona.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the balmy days and nights as opposed to plugging my car in at night to keep it warm enough to start in the morning.  Or shoveling snow.  Or walking daintily on ice.  Or much less daintily through drifts of snow that I hadn't shoveled. 

I like sunshine and warmth.  And right now I only have one of the two.  It's supposed to begin warming up tomorrow, though.  I can't wait.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My old machine

Those of you who read my pacemaker post  get a special treat today.  After my surgery, my nurse came in with a plastic bag and said "I thought you might like to see what we took out of you."

Yup!  That's my old pacemaker.  Presumably there's another one that looks a lot like it back in my body.  Actually, just under the skin up by my collarbone.  At least my heart is still beating and it wouldn't be if they'd forgotten to insert the new miracle machine.

Like a bird on the wire

 30 degrees when I went out to buy a paper this morning.  It appeared the birds were trying to warm up their wings before flying.

This bird has been flying for some time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

I probably have more to be thankful for today than on many other days.  Yesterday, I checked into a hospital and spent about 5 hours having my heart pacemaker replaced.  (Actually probably only an hour or two in surgery.)  The old (3-1/2 years) one's battery had gone down far enough to require the new machine.  As one of the nurses told me, they can't recharge them.  That had to do with my telling the nurse about my first pacemaker.  I was in surgery, scrubbed and shaved and hooked up and about ready to go when one of the technicians said "We can't do this!"  Everyone else looked at him in wonder and he said the pacemaker they were about to install in my frame had a very low battery.  Apparently it had been sitting on a shelf somewhere and didn't keep its charge.  That would not have been a good deal for me so they sent me home with instructions to return in a week.

My introduction to pacemakers came after I was visiting my primary care doctor and her nurse couldn't find my pulse!  The doctor ordered an electrocardiogram and, after reading the results, came in and told me I was in atrial fibrillation.  To put it simply, that's an irregular heart beat that can result in strokes and . . . death!

She sent me to a cardiologist who put me through a number of tests before determining that I needed a pacemaker.

People ask if I have a lot more energy since I got it.  No.  Possibly because I have never, to this day, had any symptoms of my heart disease.  Actually, I have less energy these days but I attribute that to getting old(er) and the sedentary life to which I've become accustomed.

At any rate, I found that getting the pacemaker replaced was a piece of cake.  Didn't take long.  All I have is a compression bandage where the doctor sliced and stitched me back up and no pain at all.

Modern medicine continually amazes me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fall has fell

If you double click on the photos, you can get a better look at what I have to clean up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A smoky day

I don't know whether this was a fire caused by nature or a careless camper or a tossed cigarette . . or whether it was what we call in Arizona "a controlled burn".  But it certainly caused a lot of smoke in the area.  By the way, for those who might be concerned, I did take the photo through the windshield of my car but I was stopped at a traffic light.  Don't worry!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wrigley's day out

Come on, I've posed for your camera but I'm ready now.

Let's go to the Dog Park!

Hey!  The gang's all here!

I tellya . . there is just so much stuff to sniff here.

Wrigley loves to go to the dog park.  Yes he does.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cautious neighbors

Lots of barking but there are two fences between us.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The week ahead

Well, it's Saturday.  Looks like a fairly quiet week ahead.  The BRD and her Beau Jack are off to Cancun.  SWMBO is house/pet sitting.  So I'll be batching it.  I went to the store the other day and bought three steaks to get me through part of the week.  I'll figure something out for the rest of the time.  I told SWMBO yesterday I probably would cook some lamb chops, to see what they're like.  I've never had them except at a cheap buffet meal and I didn't care for them.  But everyone keeps talking about how good they are.
It doesn't seem to me like there's a lot of meat on 'em but perhaps I'm wrong.  Or perhaps they're richer and one doesn't need a lot of meat.  I just don't know.

Odds are lamb chops won't make it in my door though.  I've never been a big fan though I did have some great lamb shank at a restaurant in Greektown in downtown Detroit maybe 30 years ago.  They also featured something they called flaming cheese, which they served on a platter doused with vodka or ouzo or something.  Right before the dish arrived at your table, the waiter hit it with a lighter and flames rose three or four feet into the air.  It was spectacular but it seemed a bit dangerous to me as I gazed at the char marks on the ceiling!

It was good though.

I don't think I'll try any flaming cheese at home either.  I've wanted to try to flambe something some time but I've never been able to work up the courage.  The smoke detectors probably wouldn't like it either.

By the way, don't compliment my photography.  I swiped the photos from the Internets.  (Good ol' Google!)

Have a nice week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sometimes . . .

 . . . they manage to get along.

That's Jazz (on top of the headboard) and Blackwell (just below) enjoying a bit of cat nappage the other day.  Usually when they're awake they just can not seem to get this close together without problems arising.

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

Sadly news came from the BRD this morning that she had to take her cat, Sheba, to the vet to be euthanized.  Kidney failure.  Just a few days ago Sheba, the mighty hunter, had caught a bluejay.  It seems to happen fast with cats.

Jet and Lily remain. 

As does Wrigley, the dog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Armistice Day

Though it has been known as Veterans' Day in the United States since the end of World War Two, the original name for this day of remembrance was Armistice Day.  It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany on November 11th, 1918 at 11 o'clock in the morning.  Though the signing ended fighting on the Western Front, war went on in other areas for some time.  Eventually the fighting ended and World War One was over.

While we remember those who died in past wars, we mourn the continued and continual fighting and killing all over the world.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mag 40

The golden amulet hung from a chain of uneven pearls, glowing in the half-light as it lay there on the dark velvet in the jewel box. I stared at it, wondering what it meant. No answer came to me. So I took it to the Professor.

He had been a professor at a university which I shall not name at one point in his past. But certain irregularities had occasioned his fleeing the academic life. Now he lived in solitude in a small apartment, a seven floor walkup in the city. He made his meager living from his knowledge of archaelogical wonders not often seen by honest men. They were secreted out of countries of their origin and discovery and sold often to the highest bidder. The new owners dared not display them. They were consigned to locked private museums for only the possessor to gaze on.

I had dealt in some of these wonders in my checkered past, which need not be detailed here. And when I was stumped by some new but obviously valuable piece, I often went to see the Professor.

On this day, I found him in his flat, surrounded by heavy tomes, the air in his dank rooms heavy with the smoke of some Egyptian tobacco he consumed in his Calabash pipe with the Meerschaum bowl. I coughed and then held out the box containing the golden amulet.

The Professor eyed me from beneath his bushy white brows, then took the box and gently opened it. I cannot describe my shock at the change in his appearance. While still holding the object in shaking hands, he appeared to lurch back from it as his face turned pale.

“My god” he said, then repeated it “my god”.

“What is it?” I asked. “Are you all right?”

For a time the Professor was silent, seemingly trying to gain his breath and search for words. Finally he spoke. “It is the sacred medallion, the only one of its kind in the world”, he gasped.

“But sacred medallion of what?” I inquired.

He looked up at me and I could see the fear in his eyes as he said “It is the symbol of the Rodent King.”

With trembling hands he closed the lid on the box, handed it back to me and said “take it away, please, take it away before it . . .”

At that moment, I was struck with fear myself and slowly backed away and closed the door gently behind me, wondering what had come to my hands and what curse it held.

I never found out. I accidentally left it on a bus as I was returning home and never saw it or the Professor again.

The amulet of the Rodent King is a product of my much two fervent imagination prompted by Willow as part of her fiendish plot on Magpie Tales to extract writings from we, her slaves.  Click on that link to find more imaginative whimsies.

Mexican food

One of the most misunderstood areas of culinary interest is, I think, that of Mexican food.

I freely admit that the first time I was in the Southwest, back in the 1960's, the only Mexican food I had tasted was that from some cheap t.v. dinner.  It bore no resemblance to the tacos I tried at a drive-in restaurant somewhere around St. George, Utah.  But neither, I learned many years later, was truly Mexican food.  Take, for example, what is generally thought of as such in the United States today.  Tacos, enchiladas, flavored rice and refried beans, begun initially with chips-and-salsa and accompanied by a Margarita.

That is what is more well-known in the Southwest as Tex-Mex or border food.  It's good but it's only faintly Mexican food.  I know because back in the middle 1980's I moved to Mexico, anticipating the joys of an early retirement.  We lived, variously, in villages along the north shore of Lake Chapala and in the big city of Guadalajara for nearly five years.

You might be surprised to learn that perhaps my favorite restaurant in the city was Chez Pierre, a French restaurant, where I dined many times on steak poivre (pepper steak).

But that begs the question.  What I learned from my Mexican sojourn was that any cuisine has a wide, very wide, variety in tastes and sensations.  For example, seafood is very popular in Mexico . . from one of SWMBO's favorites, Red Snapper Veracruzana,

to the grilled fish (complete with heads and tails) we used to enjoy at a small place in Guadalajara.  Octopus is popular in Mexico, though I never tried it.  Shrimp, of course, in many preparations.

A favorite country restaurant we used to go to had a huge fire pit with various types of meat on re-bar roasting vertically.  My favorite was roast suckling pig and, darn it, I can't remember the Mexican term for it.  Incidentally goat is very popular in Mexico and this restaurant had a large goat pen adjacent to it!

Another favorite was Queso Fundido con Chorizo - basically a small pot of melted white Mexican cheese with chunks of chorizo sausage, to be spooned out into a quarter of a tortilla and eaten. 

 Incidentally, flour tortillas are more common along the U.S. border and corn tortillas more common in the bulk of Mexico.  Or so I found.

Another favorite we discovered was dark mole from Oaxaca.

This was doled over chicken and it was delicious.  The one we had at a Oaxacan restaurant was actually jet black.  I remember one of our friends who refused to touch it.  Her comment?  "I don't eat black food!"

Quite obviously, as I sit here drooling over my keyboard, I could go on and on.  But I'll stop.  Just remember: Mexican food is a lot more than tacos, enchiladas and chimichangas.  (I've heard that last one was invented in Los Angeles!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Here comes . . . something

It looks dangerous, sort of like a huge storm coming in from the Southwest to cover us in snow or rain or mud or lava or . . or . . or . . nothing.  As it turned out the cold front just blew through . . and I do mean blew.  It was cold(ish) and mighty windy in the afternoon.  But apparently it came and went so fast that it didn't have time to drop anything on us.

But that won't last.  The weathermen are predicting another much bigger cold front coming from the NORTHwest later in the week.  Those poor folks in Phoenix are going to have to suffer through temperatures in the 70's.  Brrrrr.  It will be a little colder up here in the "high desert", as it is called but I think it's a bit early for snow of any kind.

Oh, yes, we do get snow in Arizona.  Around here we may get an inch or two in a storm though it usually doesn't last long except on the north side of buildings where the sun can't reach it.  But 80 miles to the northeast, in Flagstaff, there are winters where they get 7 or 8 feet of it.  And there's a ski area, whimsically called the Snow Bowl, just outside of that town.  'Course it's a couple of thousand feet higher than around my neighborhood.

My elevation is just about the same as Denver but being further south we are saved from the big storms of winter, I guess.  I remember as a boy in North Dakota drifts so high we could climb up to the roofs of two story houses and slide right down to ground level on drifts of snow.  And ice-skating through town on the frozen-over streets.  And playing outside when it was 20 below zero.  I have no desire to go back to those "carefree" days.  Bring me some sunshine, balmy temperatures and some Mexican food!

Monday, November 8, 2010


As I look around some of my favorite blogs it appears everyone is writing about Fall and colder temperatures either present or in the offing.  It feels a little chilly coming in my open window today too so I guess I'd better check the weather forecast.


Ohhh!  Can winter be far behind?  The sun is still shining but weakly and there are a lot of thin clouds up in the sky. 
Let's see.  Where has SWMBO put my sweaters?  Time for the turtlenecks to take over.  And, yes, I do still wear turtlenecks, mostly black ones.  I remember once a couple of decades ago when a young intern in my office stared at my beard and my black turtleneck and asked "Are you a beatnik?"  Guess I was a bit of one back in the late 50's.  I don't know what I'd be called now.  Maybe an ageing hippy!
I had to go to The Google to look up whether there should be an e in ageing or not, as aging.  Neither looks right to me but The Google says "ageing" (with the e) is associated with British and Australian English and "aging" (without the e) is more used in American and Canadian English.  I'm an American who grew up within 50 miles of Canada.  But since I've been blogging I've made many friends in Britain and Australia.  So now I don't know how to spell it.  Maybe I'll just go with my standby: an "older" hippy.
Or is that hippie?
Well . . . now you know how blog posts are made.  From nothing.  To nothing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mag 39

Who killed Cock Robin?

Not I, says the coyote.

Not I, says the farm dog.

Not I, says the rattlesnake.

Uh, me?  (Asks the farmer, with a toothpick between his teeth.)

Well . . uh . . er . . . . . .

(What do you think?)


It's just a little writing exercise prompted with a photo from Ms. Willow at Magpie Tales.  Check 'em out!

Yet another change

I have taken your comments and suggestions, as well as my own opinion, into consideration.  And brightened the blog and my outlook.

Hope you like it.

The sun is shining here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Every once in awhile, it's time for a change.  Today was one of those days for me, I guess.  I'm not sure I'm happy with this new look.  Time will tell.  I'd be happy for your input though I may totally ignore it.  That's one of the perks associated with reaching my age.

I can't think of any others.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Passage of Power

O.K. Republicans.  You've got the power.

Now what?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween redux

The BRD and her Beau Jack are crazy for Halloween.  They hosted a dinner party at a Prescott saloon and eatery Saturday night and this was their appearance.

In case you're not aware, she went as Cruella Deville and he was Count Dracula!

They visited some watering holes after dinner and the BRD won third place for best costume at one of them and FIRST PLACE and $100 at another!

Halloween is gone . . . but . . .