Thursday, December 31, 2015


After reading my post about the ice in the birdbath the other day, SWMBO said "I think I can fix that."

She said her dad had rigged up a small light bulb underneath the basin in his wife's birdbath which kept the water warm enough that it didn't freeze.

So she found a small bulb and jammed it up inside the pedestal under the water dish with some aluminum* foil.

She added some duct tape to keep everything in place, ran the wire out the bottom of the pedestal, connected it to an extension cord which was connected to another extension cord which was plugged into an outdoor socket.

The Weather Gods tell me it got down to 15.8 degrees F. (-9 C.) here last night.

So I was mightily curious when I rose early this morning.

I couldn't tell from my window spy position until a bird finally showed up and took the first sip.

Not a bit of ice!

For the first time in days!

My early morning ice-chipping days are over!

SWMBO (and her dad) are brilliant and she is reigning triumphant today.

The birds seem as grateful as I am.

They've been swarming it for a couple of hours, having their morning drinks.

*Have you noticed some of the cooks on the Food Network saying they used some "tin" foil in a recipe. I think it's all aluminum these days.


How we used to ring in the New Year.

How I ring in the New Year in more recent times.

Whichever it is for you, my Loyal Gentle Readers, may your New Year's Eve be a safe and happy one.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


It was only about 17 degrees F (-8 C) this morning as I tried to break up the ice in the bird bath/drinking fountain.

Obviously I didn't do too good of a job.

Still, the finches and their friends found dribs and drabs here and there as they arrived for their morning drinks.

Yesterday must have been warmer or at least I did a better job as the water was ice-free, much to the birdies satisfaction.

Sometimes I wish I'd never started this but having been praised for my efforts, now I figure I can't stop.

You may call me Bird Brain.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


What did I say???

Mugging in Salzburg, Austria. 1985.

Monday, December 28, 2015


SWMBO and I have toned down our Christmas celebrating over the years.

It's almost a non-event anymore.

This year it involved a visit to the BRD's house for a couple of Bloody Mary's and a champagne brunch.

Only a few hours and then we were back home for naps and resting.

With a tiny exception for the BRD, we don't gift anymore.

We have decided we have everything we need. More than, actually, as we've begun divesting ourselves of old photographs and letters and other family documents that we've held onto and moved and moved and moved over the years.

We have become Senior Citizens.

How did that happen?

Back in a previous century when we lived in Mexico we would get together with our friends on the holiday for way too many drinks and a feast.

One year I wrote limericks for each of the participants. I think I still have copies of them around somewhere.

A number of those friends have died since that great party.

This is a picture taken at our going away party when we had decided to return to the United States, back in 1991.

Three nations are represented there: Germany, the U.S., and Mexico. Our ex-pat friends were an international group.

This is also a time for traveling among some of our blogger friends.

Tom and Lucy (who live in Brittany) made a several day trip to Iceland for the steaming pools and the Northern Lights and a ride on and a visit with some beautiful horses.

Dr. M and Dana Bug have just returned from a Caribbean cruise that took them to tours on several islands.

We don't do that kind of traveling any more although SWMBO has just left for a two-day visit with our friend, Diane, in the Big Valley.

(As I was writing this, I just had a telephone call from her. The car's tire pressure was low and I had told her to stop and have them pumped up. She called to tell me she now had the tires filled and to ask if I knew the horn honked when the proper pressure was reached. I did not and said "I'll bet you scared the hell out of the guy filling the tires."

She said he was startled and she told him "I'll bet you thought I did that," but another worker said that this car horn honks automatically when the proper pressure is attained.

You learn something every day.)

So I am batching with the cats for a couple of days.

Since I don't have a car I will probably stay in my snuggy new reindeer pants that I got for Christmas for the duration.

I know, I know, TMI.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


My new banner photo is in honor of the next holiday we're all facing: New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The picture was taken in a tiki bar in Phoenix a couple of years ago when we lived down there, once again.

I've been tending to our bird bath and drinking fountain this morning as the temperature hovers in the teens and twenties.

It was frozen solid when I first went out, a little before eight this morning, and I couldn't budge or crack the ice.

I poured some warm water in and a bit later it too was frozen.

So I've repeated this exercise several times, each time banging a bit of the ice loose.

The finches and their friends (whom I haven't identified as to species yet) seem to realize when the fresh water is there and how fast it's freezing over as they flock to the moisture.

I've seen as many as six birds at one time at the dish where under normal conditions only one or two will be there at once.

The mercury only rose to 37 F. (3 C.) here yesterday but it's supposed to be about 10 degrees warmer today.

I can barely wait.

Speaking of rushing the season, I saw this on the street recently.

That's a sweet old vintage Corvette convertible.

It reminded me (once again - I think I've told this story before) of springtime in North Dakota.

When the temperature would get up to the 30's anyone who had a convertible would put the top down and cruise proudly around town.

With the heater running full blast.

But no convertible in my family so I didn't partake of the springtime ritual.

As Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday in "Tombstone" says, "My hypocrisy only goes so far."

Saturday, December 26, 2015


I know Christmas 2015 is now in the past but some review of it is in order.

This is the Christmas tree in the showroom at Lamb Nissan in nearby Prescott.

I left the chair in the photo to give you an idea of the size of the tree.

The warranty on my Altima ended on December 5th.

16 days later the inside door handle on the driver's side broke.

It cost $75 to repair it.

As I said to the service advisor,  "Isn't that always the way?"

The elf seemed quietly pleased.

We went to the BRD's house for a Christmas brunch.

She's very artistic and always does a nice job with decorations.

The chandelier over the dining table was draped with holiday decor.

But it was what was ON the table that interested me.

Crab cakes Benedict adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe. Yum!

Meantime back at the manse, in spite of cold weather and occasional snow, one of our backyard shrubs was showing it's holiday color.

A generally happy Christmas season.

Friday, December 25, 2015


Did Bad Santa come to your house last night?

Were there any cookies left for him? Or did your dogs get them?

This next one is especially for Lori Down the Street.

I'm embarassed to tell you how long it took me to figure out the next one.

That's all I've got, Gentle Readers.

Weather Report: it's cold and windy here in the Arizona Central Highlands today. There was some rain again during the night and there's just the tiniest trace of snow here and there. But a white Christmas we shall not have.

I hope your holiday is filled with joy and the year ahead finds a lot of mirth. And not just in the Friday Funnies.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


Some views around my neighborhood.


Pictures from Christmases past.

SWMBO (My beloved Judy) and I at the Fiesta Americana hotel Christmas Party in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1987.

The sombrero was a gag hat taken around to place on the head of intoxicated gringos for their idiot picture.

But coupled with that beard I look like I should have ridden with Zapata, don't you think?

A few years later. 1990 and another Christmas party in Guadalajara.

My very dear and late friend Walter Nixon (father of Cynthia) and my beautiful wife. (I think SHE looks like a movie star.)

To one and all we wish you the very, very best of the holidays on this Christmas Eve.

And, as Sergeant Esterhazy used to say on Hill Street Blues, let's be careful out there. (Lots of holiday cheer will be consumed tonight.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


In the lobby of a large hotel on the Yavapai Apache Indian Reservation a few miles from us there is a Christmas wonder.

Every year the tribe invites schools and businesses and organizations to build and display gingerbread houses.

The constructions range from the simple to the fantastic and it's always a treat of the season for youngsters and oldsters (like me) to view them.

However for me the biggest excitement comes from watching the model train that winds its way through the village and through a couple of tunnels, round and round all day.

Oldster I am but when it comes to trains I guess I'm just a kid at heart.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Back in the day when I was living in Austin, SWMBO and I took a little road trip one day and wound up down at the end of an unmarked* road in . .

At that time Luckenbach consisted of a very cluttered bar and a fair sized dance hall, as I recall.

We didn't see Hondo Crouch but we did have a beer and look around the place made famous by Waylon and Willie.

It's a good song and Luckenbach is a good place to forget about the outside world for awhile.

*"Unmarked", so the story goes, because fans keep on stealing the road signs that point to Luckenbach.

Monday, December 21, 2015


To a heathen like myself, the holiday season surrounding Christmas and New Year's Day means just one thing: food!

Particularly sweet treats like cookies and cakes and candy and such.

So, armed with a recipe I copied off the Interwebs a couple of weeks ago, to the kitchen I headed. (Is that Yoda speak?)

The cookies I built yesterday are called The Browniest Cookies by their creator, Deb Perelman of the Smitten Kitchen.

They combine a sizeable amount of butter and sugars with three kinds of chocolate to make a cookie with a fudgy interior.

As I commented to Deb's blog yesterday judging by the sounds coming from SWMBO after she had downed two of them I can only describe the cookies as "orgasmic".

I thought they were pretty darned good too.

You can try them yourselves, if you like.

Here is the recipe.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2015


It occurred between 6 and 7 this morning.

A sudden snowfall that moved quickly through our area.

As regular readers of this blog know, there is a town down there. But it's obscured in a strange weather phenomenom called snow fog this morning.

Judging from my look-see around the neighborhood I don't think I'll need to use the garden hose for awhile.

This snowfall appears to be a very wet one, piling up on shrubs and bushes.

The Russian Rocketman Sage is covered nicely.

The white sun face appears to be enjoying it. I'm not sure about the other fellow.

Since we don't have a fireplace with a tall chimney on our house, Santa will just have to walk through the snow to the back door I guess.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Muggles, our older but smaller female house cat.

SWMBO and I were watching the television news last night and I glanced over at our two cats sleeping on the other end of the couch.

"They are the laziest cats in existence," I said.

SWMBO replied "that's what cats do. They sleep."

I knew that but I went to the Mighty Google this morning to do a little research.

I learned that the sleeping habit comes from feral cats who have to hunt for their food.

That takes a lot of energy so they compensate for it by sleeping.

But Muggles and Blackwell are house cats. They don't go outside. And they certainly don't have to hunt for their food.

The MG told me the near-constant sleeping is something that has been passed along nevertheless.

And most of the time they aren't deeply asleep.

They're alert and the first indication of danger brings them instantly and fully awake.

But still.

The MG said adult housecats sleep 16 to 20 hours a day. 

And the older the cat is, the more it sleeps.

On another note, take a look at Muggles' tail.

I swear she has the longest tail of any housecat in existence.

Guess I'll have to go back to the MG to find out why.

Friday, December 18, 2015


It's that time of year again, Gentle Readers.

Yes, it's the season of . . . . Star Wars, yet again.

Actually I think I saw the first one but I've missed the other six.

But there's another season rolling around, too.

Only one week to go. Got to get busy on those Christmas cards.

By the way, if you're in a part of the country (like I am) where the weather has turned cold, ponder this: the beginning of winter is still three days away.

That's all, folks.

Well, except for the obligatory kitty picture.

This week, a quartet just trying to stay warm.

Have a splendid weekend, friends.  

Only 7 more shopping days until Christmas.

And always try to keep laughing.