Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black and White

My "all" black cat has a surprise for me when she likes to warm my bed for me at night.  As she turns onto her side, she reveals a bit of white underneath!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Color is everything!

How to make sure no one can miss your business.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A word of wisdom about cats

My friend, Tom, has blogged today about an incidence of vicious, bloodthirsty, killer cats.  You can read about it on his blog by clicking here.  Just scroll down past his commentary on elephant seals.  Or, better yet, read about the much larger and more threatening seals to get to a link about the sweet little house cat.  Then come back here.

Okay.  Done now?  Then to lead further credence to his story, I'll relate one of my own which occurred only yesterday.  I was sitting in an easy chair, watching a basketball game on television, when a large black cat landed in my lap.  My beloved Blackwell.  But he's gotten pretty fat and pretty heavy and a surprise is a surprise.  So, to tease him a bit, I picked him up and suspended him for a moment or two upside down.  Now, I can tell you, cats don't like to be upside down.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it is uncertainty about whether they will remain suspended or be dropped.  At any rate, he lashed out.  Not viciously.  Just looking for some element of "purchase", as my wife's father used to say.  He found it.  Here's the proof.

So it goes.  Never tease a creature that is much faster and has longer sharper claws than you do.

Jus' Lookin'

When the back door is opened to the outer world, Blackwell is the first to arrive . . to look and listen, to ponder on this world of chirping birds and barking dogs.

But like any good watch-cat, he is also aware of sounds behind him.  Take a look at these next two photos to see one of his ears turned on it's 180 degree axis to detect what may be creeping up on him from his rear.

Ah, that we could do the same.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A sick day

I have had a lousy 24 hours.  I don't know why.  It started last night with a pain in my chest.  Now, don't worry.  It wasn't "chest pain" as my cardiologist asks me about.  Though early in the morning, I began to wonder about that.  No, it was heartburn, I think.  Nothing I tried seemed to do anything to relieve it and I was awake most of the night.  SWMBO finally convinced me to drink a cup of tea this afternoon and that seemed to start my recovery.  I slept most of the day, off and on, but I still feel weak and weary tonight.  But definitely on the mend.  My loving and worrying wife also convinced me to dine on some egg drop soup and a fruit salad this evening and that, plus a shower I took a couple of hours ago, has me feeling much better.  The chest pain has gone away but my "love handles" are a bit sore from straining on the toilet.  (Yeah, I knew you'd want to know that.)  As Scarlett O'Hara said "tomorrow is another day" and I expect I shall be back in the pink by then.

Now then.  To a matter of some concern.  And I shall excuse you non-sports loving people at this time if you wish.  To the rest of you a report on my reaction to today's results in the NCAA basketball tournament.  I was amazed and thrilled once again at the success of the Butler University basketball team.  It was an exciting game today that ended with their victory over Florida in overtime.  And for the second year in a row this team, which last year was called "the Cinderella team" as it made it to the Championship game only to be finally defeated by Duke University, has won its way into the Final Four.  When tomorrow's games are done, there will be only four teams left in the tournament and Butler will be one of them.  The school is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I lived and worked for three years back in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  That explains my support of the team.

On the other hand, the Arizona Wildcats from the University of Arizona in Tucson went down to defeat a little while ago to the University of Connecticut.  Arizona had knocked Duke out of this year's tournament the other night so there was considerable hope that they, too, might advance to the Final Four.  But it was not be as they missed two shots in the closing seconds.  Either one of them would have resulted in a victory.  But that's basketball.  More to the point, it is truly March Madness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So long, Liz

Elizabeth Taylor died today.  She was 79.  In her final years, she was often confined to a wheelchair and her beauty had faded.

But that happens to all of us.  Let us remember her instead for the ravishing beauty she was most of her life.

And let me put one other lie to rest.  Despite my claims over many decades, she was neither my sister nor my cousin.  But I'll still miss her.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just a hint, weatherman!!!!!

The late, great Carl Perkins (with George Harrison alongside) doing some picking on The World is Waiting for the Sunrise (Sunshine!!!).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring? Hello? Hello? HELLO?

The spring equinox kicked in at 4:21 yesterday afternoon, Mountain Standard Time.  (We're rugged individualists here in Arizona - we don't go for that sissy Daylight Time stuff.)  But who forgot to tell the weatherman?

It was blowing like crazy yesterday afternoon and through the night.  The first full day of spring dawned like this.

By this afternoon it had turned to snow, even if it was melting once it hit the ground.

Even the patio lights seemed to be tearful.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A loony post!

What is that strange object???

Ahhh, it's just the moon striated by cloud layers.

Here you can see it rising over my town.  It's called a Super Moon because it's the closest it will be to Earth for the next 18 years.

A little later, in my backyard, the moon is a bit higher and framed by some mysterious shapes.

Not that mysterious, once I put some light on the shrubbery.

Ah, La Luna.  The moon.  A serene goddess, cloaked with mystery.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Color bursts

Seemingly overnight the flowering trees have been bursting into color in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Since I know how many of you wait with bated breath for the updates on our overpass, I rushed out this morning to snap the latest photo.

As you can see, the contractors and sturdy workmen have bridged the gap this past weekend and taken down the detour signs for the time being.  Progress is apace and in just a few . . well, let's say six or seven, . . . months more we shall have a completed project, no traffic diversions, no workmen and nothing else to report.

A sad day indeed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introducing a new artist

A very good friend of mine, one Ed Stattman of Indianapolis, has a facile mind.  He has sent me several things for my blog, once he knew I had one.  Most of them were too obscene to publish here.  But today he has come through.  He didn't send it for my blog but only to amuse me.  Surprise, Ed, you've hit the big time. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the following is by a great artiste, Ed Stattman.

California prepares for The Big One


SACRAMENTO – Governor Brown advises:

If we have a big earthquake please

Pretend we all are Japanese.

Walk calmly to a public shelter.

Do not panic helter-skelter.

If all of us will follow suit,

We will not pillage, shoot or loot.

If darkness reigns for some brief time,

Let us not go committing crime.

Line up for gas without a din

Of honking; rather sit and grin.

Children, teens, fathers, mothers;

Be sure that you are kind to others

Who cannot buy what you afford.

So share with them and do not hoard.

There is no more for me to state.

Please join me as I meditate.

Fickle cats . . . and some feckin' laughs

Have you ever noticed . . when you want a nice face-on profile of one of your darlin' kitties, how they just refuse to pose for you?  There must be something about that camera lens.  They just won't look into it.

Blackwell looks off to the side.

Jazz looks to the other side.

And Muggles just turns his back.

Cats.  Can't live with 'em.  Can't live without 'em.

But now for something entirely different.  If you're Irish, you might be offended by the language.  Or not.  Anyway . . the following is for adults.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sleepy Sunday

It's just one of those days.  On a bed, Blackwell and Muggles indulge in some togetherness as they nap the day away.

In the other room, Jazz takes her rest though her open eyes evince a bit of wariness.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A slow Saturday

Ho-hum.  This Saturday has been lazy.  Nothing much going on.  So . . . it's a day to try making cinnamon rolls.  First the batter.  Built it in the bread machine.  That took about two hours.  Then rolling out the dough and topping it with butter and a mix of sugar and cinnamon.  Then rolling it up and cutting it and putting into a pan.  That took nearly another half hour.  Then letting it sit, covered, for another hour.  Finally, into the oven for 25 minutes.  Then top them with a glaze.

By this time, SWMBO was about to break down the non-existent door to the kitchen.  Which may explain why my photo is of a partially-eaten product.

Ah, the perils of the new cook.  Or baker, I guess.  I'm not sure it was worth three hours or more.  But the boss said they were good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Construction update

I know you've all been waiting for this - an update on the construction of the Highway 89-A overpass at Viewpoint Road in Prescott Valley.  Well, here it is.

Let me give you a closer look.

The crews are getting ready to lay girders above Viewpoint Road, maybe this weekend.  There are already warnings that traffic will be detoured at least through the weekend.

I noticed a huge black bin up on the side of the construction.  You can see it off to the right in the first photo. 

Here's a closer view.

Well now, I wondered, what else would you put in there?  Gold ingots?  Paper money?  Loose change?  Stock certificates?  But no, that bin is only for trash.  So watch yourself!

By the way, little old Prescott Valley - known by the snobs in Prescott by it's old name "Jackass Flats" - may have already passed the hot shots in population.  Word came out today that Prescott actually lost population in the year from 2009 to 2010 and P.V. was only a little more than 1,000 people behind it in population.  Prescott's population grew by 17.4 percent in the first ten years of the 21st Century to 39,843 in 2010.  In the same period, Prescott Valley grew by 65 percent to 38,822.  By this time, it may be bigger than Prescott.  It's been a lot of years of being put down by the big shots down the road but that may soon be a thing of the past.  Hurrah, I say.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


One of the great ones is gone.

David Broder, the longtime political reporter and columnist for the Washington Post, died at the age of 81 from complications of diabetes.

Broder was one of my idols in my days as a political reporter.  I used to watch him in his television appearances on Washington Week on the Public Broadcasting Service.  He always seemed calm and full of wisdom.  I read in the many tribute pieces appearing everywhere that he was the consumate reporter, spending many more hours than any other reporter knocking on doors and listening to the average voters across America.  He was not real good with technology, his colleagues say, coming late to computers and the Internet, preferring instead to use his manual typewriter.  Lots of young reporters today don't even know what a typewriter is, not to mention never having seen or used one.

All things come to an end.  Typewriters.  Hard-working political reporters.  Nowadays it is just too easy to put on some makeup and appear on television.

I think that's too bad.

So long David.  Some of us will miss you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tumbling Along

The wind is blowing and in my neighborhood the tumbleweeds are tumbling.  This pair almost kept up with the traffic.


What is it in us that demands change? 

Someone wiser than I once said "the only constant is change."  I remember learning that decades ago and using the expression ever since.

But is it dissatisfaction with our lot?

If it is winter, there will come a time when there is too much snow, too much cold.  If it is summer, it will soon be too much hot.  And we growl or whimper - "when will this damnable weather change?"

Generations ago people lived where they were born, pretty much their entire lives.  But . . with some exceptions . .  new generations seem to move around the country, even the world, as often as they change their clothing.  It would take me a long time to figure out how many homes I've inhabited in my 70 years but I do know that I have lived in two countries, five different states, and 15 communities.  Some of them more than once.

Maybe I'm the exception.  A friend of mine once told me he had taken to writing my address and telephone number down in pencil because it changed so often.

Well, so it goes.

This is written to explain why, if you've visited this blog before, the colors and perhaps some of the layout and my picture have changed since your last visit.  And undoubtedly it will change again in the future.  Only one thing has not changed.  The author.  Good old Catalyst.

Oh, one other thing.  I've thought about this for a long time and finally made the plunge.  You will now see my real name up there by my photo.

Now put your hands together for the late Harry Chapin.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cat habits

What are you going to do when you have a home with three resident cats and only one door that opens to a screen door?  Normally you just sit back and watch what happens.

When I opened the inside door this morning Jazz was the first to make it to the screened viewing position.

But that was short lived.  Blackwell, now sometimes known as The Big Cat, soon showed up hoping to take a spot next to her.  But Jazz is not big into togetherness.  When a snarl didn't scare him off, she left.

A little hostility doesn't faze the big one and he settled down into the place of dominance.

But that left Muggles, the oldest but most nervous of the three.  She crept up behind Blackwell, thankful to peer over his shoulder.

But that only lasted for a moment and she soon fled the room as well.  Blackwell settled in for a session of watching whatever moved outside the door while the other two pouted.

Cats.  Can't live with 'em.  Can't live without 'em.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


I noticed this decal on the front fender of a car adjacent to mine in a parking lot this morning.

And I wondered.  Does this guarantee any special protection?  The little fairie, or whatever it is, doesn't seem real war like.  But who knows what hidden powers she may have.

I do know one thing.  She made that white car appear to be blue in my photo!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


As I said in my previous blog posting, I have no idea where this recipe originated.  I just found it in a file and made the (delicious) cake last night.  For all of you who, like me, don't give a damn about calories and sugar . . here it is.

Banana Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake

If you live somewhere where sour cream isn't available, you can use buttermilk, plain whole milk yogurt, or fromage blanc.

For the topping:

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter; cubed, at room temperature
3-4 ripe medium bananas
a few drops of lemon juice

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter, salted or unsalted
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 g) banana puree (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream, regular or low-fat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (80 g) chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1. To make the topping, place the brown sugar and butter in an 8-inch (20 cm) square cake pan. Warm the pan directly on the stovetop over low heat, stirring until the sugar is thoroughly moistened.   Stir until the sugar is moist and bubbling, then remove from heat. (It won't melt completely smooth, and there may be a few bare spots, which is normal.) Let cool to room temperature.

2. Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4-inch (1 cm) slices. Arrange them in slightly overlapping rows over the melted brown sugar. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl, making sure there are no lumps. (note from Catalyst: you will notice there is no salt in the list of ingredients.  I considered this for awhile, then threw in about half a teaspoon.)  Mix in the granulated sugar.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, banana puree, sour cream, and vanilla.

6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until almost combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold in the chocolate pieces.

7. Scrape the batter into the pan over the bananas, then use a spatula to carefully spread the batter over the sliced fruit.

8. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake feels just set in the center when you touch it.

9. Cool the cake for about 20 minutes, then run a knife along the edges of the cake to help it release from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.  It should look something like this:

There's a picture of my whole cake in my previous blog posting.

Serving: The cake is best served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or by itself as a snack. If made an hour or so in advance, it can be inverted on the serving platter, and left with the cake pan over it, to keep it warm. Otherwise it can be rewarmed in a low oven, covered with foil. Or enjoyed at room temperature.

Storage: The cake can be made up to two days in advance, although it is best the day it's made. To freeze it, wrap it securely in plastic wrap; it can be frozen for one to two months.

Bon appetit!