Friday, April 11, 2008

Another celebration

April seems like a busy month for us. As previously noted, the SWMBO and I celebrated our anniversary last Monday. Today was the BRD's birthday. She has reached an age where she lies about her age so I won't reveal it. My birthday arrives in a couple of weeks and then SWMBO has another one in mid-May.

At any rate, the BRD and her beau invited us to share in the fun and we left for Sedona in the beau's "hog", as the BRD calls it. It's actually a Cadillac Escalade SUV. For the life of me, I can't figure out how he manages to keep gasoline in it. I filled up my little Dodge Neon this week and it took 30 bucks at the cheapest place in town.

But we headed off for Sedona...which is only about 50 miles away. The two-lane road into Sedona, which is always clogged with traffic, was even more so today since there was some kind of construction going on. Since SWMBO and I had been over that way the last time, several "roundabouts" have been added at sites that formerly were intersections with traffic lights. We all agreed the roundabouts were an improvement but making the road a four-lane would have been even better.

When we got to Sedona, we went to Shugrue's restaurant . . one of the BRD's favorites . . and had a delicious lunch. The beau had informed our waitress that it was the BRD's birthday and when dessert arrived, her plate was decorated artistically with "Happy Birthday" in chocolate!

We drove up into Oak Creek Canyon a way, then back out through West Sedona, marveling at how new construction is being shoe-horned into this already crowded place. I remarked that this was probably the first time I didn't have to be concerned with the road and could actually look around at the scenery!

Enroute to Cottonwood in the Verde Valley, we were amazed at how green the landscape was. Our winter snow and rain has done wonders for it though we know it will dry out and brown as the summer advances.

We stopped at Orion Bread - a wonderful artisanal bakery in Old Cottonwood. It's fairly new to that thriving area and we had read about it awhile back. Walking in, we were smothered in the wonderful aroma of dozens of loaves of homemade bread. We left with several loaves of different types after talking with the owner, the baker and the sales person - all the same person. He's a young man who obviously loves what he's doing. I just hope he can keep it up. It is worth the drive over the mountain just to pick up some of his products.

Then it was on up through Jerome, which like Sedona seemed amazingly crowded on a Friday in early April. Can't imagine what either town will be like this summer.

We didn't stop in Jerome this trip. I have spent many an afternoon in the Spirit Room and stayed overnight a couple of times in the old Connor Hotel upstairs before it was renovated. But we were all stuffed from our lunch and a few drinks we already had consumed so it seemed sensible to keep going.

Up and around the winding road to the Mingus Mountain pass, then down the other side and back home again. A great trip, good company and a fantastic day.

And I didn't have to drive!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Le Patio

As I have said before, spring is here and with the advent of warmer temperatures comes the onrushing tide of yardwork. Our front patio is a thing of art and beauty, designed and built by The Ladies: SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter).

But that was a few years ago and time and the weather have caused some problems.

The up-raised gardening area is protected by a curving row of paving stones. But because they are curved, there are cracks and crevices between some of the stones. Through which, SWMBO has learned, dirt tends to leak out and tumble onto the patio. So, she came up with a solution this year. First, she would stuff some newspaper in the cracks. Then she would spray it with one of those aerosol foam dispensers. The foam becomes hard when it dries, which is damned near instantaneous.

So she sent me to the store the other day to get some of the foam stuff. But she hadn't revealed her plan to me at that point and I have learned through the years just to run her errands without asking questions.

But the lady at the store asked me what I was going to plug with the foam and I had to confess that I didn't have the faintest idea. She said if it was something in the house it would be best to use the fireproof stuff. So I bought it.

Later, SWMBO revealed her plan to me. And today she set about carrying it out. I have also learned over the years not to get in her way when she is set on a project so I was inside, dinking around with the computer when I heard a thud. I called out (always the concerned male) "What's the matter?"

SWMBO responded curtly, "Don't talk to me right now!"

A bit later, I wandered past the bathroom and observed SWMBO working on her hands. I inquired if she had got some of the foam on her hands. She responded in the affirmative. I asked why she hadn't worn gloves. She gave me a withering look and pointed out that she has a brace on her left arm and hand, treating a bout of tendinitis.

She also said that the foam comes out of the can a kind of pukey (her word) orange and that you can't control the stuff. So I wandered out to look at her handiwork.

Well, we agreed that a touch of paint and some of the flower pots shoved up against the walls will take care of that problem.

Next is the patio itself. The Ladies had decided they wanted it to be a sort of adobe red color. So they stained it. That worked fine on the paving stones but not so good on the paved patio, which is of a smoother and considerably less porous texture. After a couple of years it was showing signs of wear. First, an outdoor carpet was placed over the central section and that worked good for awhile. But now, some 7 years after we moved in, the carpet had faded and partially disintegrated and it went into the trash. Leaving this:

SWMBO has decided this time to paint it. First, however, it needs to be cleaned with some type of solution and then left to dry for several days. Today was the day "we" were going to tackle the cleaning. But it's in the low 50's and our typical spring wind is blowing hard enough to move people, cars and small buildings. And it's cold out there.

But SWMBO knows the BRD is anxious to plant and move her big plants out to the patio from inside the house. And by Sunday, it is supposed to be 80 degrees here. So the cleaning must be done today.

I am looking forward to it. (This is a lie.)

Further progress reports will follow.

UPDATE: Patio is cleaned. It wasn't that bad after all. And the foam seems to be as fragile as an eggshell so trimming it back will be no problem.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Frightful beginning - happy ending

Yesterday was the 37th wedding anniversary of SWMBO and I. I said I was going to take her to dinner at a swank place, the Hassayampa Inn's Peacock Room.

I was also arranging a bit of a surprise: the BRD and her beau would be joining us a few minutes after we were ensconced. Setting it up with BRD in the morning, she said get a booth and tell them it's for four but to only have it originally set for two. So I did.

There's something to remember when you try to do this. The person you make the reservation with earlier in the day is usually not the person who will seat you in the evening. When we arrived, he said "Ah, it's a table for four."

I mumbled something about their being a mistake, there were only two of us. So he took us to a table for two. I pointed at the booth I had been promised and said, "Couldn't we sit there?"

He responded, "But that's set for four."

Oh, damn.

I finally had to whisper in his ear that we had two more coming but my wife didn't know about it, that it was a surprise. So he switched us to the larger booth. But, of course, by this time SWMBO had tumbled to the "surprise." With a grim expression, she asked if BRD and her beau were joining us, then said she wasn't happy about going to an expensive restaurant in the first place and now I was doubling the price! Well, she calmed down after getting into her FIRST martini.

The other couple arrived and the rest of the evening went fairly well, though the girl's scallops initially weren't cooked enough and had to go back to the kitchen for more heat. The evening's chef . . . who we learned actually was the sous chef since the head guy was off for the evening . . . later came to our table, apologized repeatedly and bought us a dessert.

I could tell you a story about the BRD's attire but I think I'd better not.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the beginning of this idyllic evening.

As we were heading out, probably a mile from our home, we came to a 90 degree turn in the road. I saw a car approaching from the opposite direction and figured that we were both likely to get to the corner at the same time. We did. He had the setting sun in his eyes and, like many drivers including myself who come through that corner every day, he cut the corner. I had slowed down but hit my brakes as we two drivers found ourselves staring into each others eyes and he swerved to avoid a head-on collision. As one of my friends noted this morning - avoiding a head-on collision: priceless.

Oh, but let me go back even further. Before leaving home, I nicked myself while shaving. As SWMBO noted, I haven't cut myself in years doing that but because we have a big night out planned . . .

No styptic pencil at home so I wandered the house wearing a small piece of tissue stuck to my face. SWMBO suggested applying some "New Skin". She didn't tell me that it was going to burn like fire. And, it didn't stop the bleeding! After a second application and then some make-up work by SWMBO, I was ready to go. And the rest is history.

Next year it may be the drive through lane at McDonald's!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


This year's Republican presidential nominee (and one hopes eventual loser) John McCain is in my neighboring village this morning. Ever since Barry Goldwater launched his pitiful presidential campaign in 1964 by speaking from the courthouse steps in Prescott, Republicans have come here to emulate him. Considering that Goldwater, who was more Libertarian than Republican, got stomped in the presidential campaign, one wonders why subsequent Republicans want to remind people of their "common legacy."

I knew Barry somewhat. I first covered him in that '64 campaign when he came through North Dakota. Later, as a 15 year resident of Phoenix, I went to his news conferences when he was "home." I also did an interview with him back in the 70's when I was a stringer for a national magazine. I heard stories from Barry's friends about his early days, pre-politics, when he used to get in trouble across the border in Nogales, Mexico. But Goldwater was a decent, honorable man who generally stuck to his beliefs, whether they angered Democrats or Republicans.

I can't say the same for John McCain. As someone has said this year, the Straight Talk Express has gotten derailed in this campaign. McCain has changed about as many positions as that other flip-flopper, Mitt Romney.

One little lie, fairly harmless but irritating to Arizonans is that McCain has a ranch in Sedona. McCain's "ranch", which consists of two or three houses, actually is located in Page Springs. And his mailing address is Cornville, a burg which matches its name and is about as far in the opposite direction as the tony and spacey Sedona.

So, I didn't go to the courthouse square to see McCain this morning. Like I suspect most of the country will demonstrate in November, I can do without him.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who IS that guy?

Ah, the slightly older Catalyst.

In Minot, North Dakota, where he was known as "Bruce on the Loose", keeper of the nighttime airwaves on KCJB radio.

Rock on!


Sorry folks. A couple of spam comments yesterday have led me to enforce comment approval on my blog. It won't really affect regulars and non-spammers except that it may take longer for your comment to show up.

Damn spammers!

Monday, March 31, 2008

What is this?

Without scrolling down for the answer, can anyone identify what these strange structures are?

They look a little like grain silos.

They might also be some kind of rocket launching platforms.

What are they?

O.K. Here's the answer.

They're just supports for a dock at Watson Lake near Prescott. It's the ground level approach of the first photo that may have fooled you.

It was a beautiful day to visit the lake, which is full of water from the rain and snow we've had this winter.

In years past, there was an ugly white ring around the lake, showing where the water level previously had been and now once again is. The "bathtub ring" is under water this year.

Also enjoying the day were some waterfowl.

March 31st, 2008. A nice day for a swim.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This one's for you, Granny!

Knowing how Granny J likes the color R*E*D, especially on cars, I figured it was time to give her a look at BRD's warm weather car, as she calls it.

Even the centers of the wheels are R*E*D!

Since this is a 1983 Mercedes, the BRD has secured a most apt personalized license plate for her car.

We have a friend who, at middle age and unexpectedly single again, bought himself a little red sports car. He said every single man should have one.

I guess that goes for single (sort of) girls, too.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March Madness - - - - - truly!

Before I begin, let me warn those who aren't interested in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that this post might get pretty boring.

I was looking at the bracket today and realized the Elite Eight, as they're called, has four Number 1 teams (North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis and U.C.L.A.) still remaining. Sounds like pretty good rankings by the people who do such things, right? After those four things fall off a bit but not much. There is one #2 team (Texas) still playing and two #3 teams (Xavier and Louisville). That leaves only one team and the ranking drops way off to #10 Davidson. Davidson? Who'd a thunk it? Well, I can tell you who the believers are. Gonzaga, which came into the Midwest Regional as the number 7 team; Georgetown, which was the number 2 team; and Wisconsin, which was the number 3 team. Those three powerhouses were all unceremoniously beaten by little Davidson, led by little (6 foot 2) Stephen Curry, who has scored over 100 points in the tournament so far.

Next up for Davidson is mighty Kansas, one of those four remaining #1 teams, Sunday. Will Davidson surprise yet another basketball powerhouse?

Ask the boys from Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin.

It could happen and a true Cinderella team could be playing in the Final Four. They don't call it March Madness for nothing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mr. Romance

Spring is in the air and romance rises to the surface. A long red (very red) limousine pulled up in front of our living quarters this morning and the driver opened the rear door for . . . Mr. Romance!

Now, Mr. Romance goes by another name and he's the BRD's steady beau. For three years in a row, he has shown up about this time of year in a stretch limo and he and the BRD drive off to the Marriage License Bureau. When the BRD comes home, she sticks the license up on the refrigerator door and there it remains. Until the next year. The license is good for one year. So far none of them have been acted on.

This year?

We shall see.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Old Age Rag

It started this afternoon. SWMBO was taking a nap and I was paying a handful of bills. I had a couple of life insurance payments due. (Sidebar: I first got these two policies, relatively small ones, when I was about 18. My dad bought them for me because he thought it was important for me to have them. I've been paying on them for . . oh, man, almost 50 years now. As I was writing another check, I thought of how much money the company had received from me over the years and of how little my heirs are going to get out of it. But . . that's another story.)

Anyway, I was paying my bills chronologically according to when they were due. When I wrote out the check for the second insurance payment and put it in an envelope, I suddenly realized I couldn't find the envelope and payment for the first payment. I began looking all over. I went through a large trash basket several times. I went through my receipts file at least 4 or 5 times. Finally, SWMBO woke up and came in and I said "I have a mystery for you to solve."

So she went through the trash basket. I went through the receipts file again. I looked under my computer monitor, under the CPU, under my printer, under my bed, all around the desk on the floor. I had previously . . . because I was also doing my weekly chore of cleaning out the cat pans and refilling them . . . been through the entire house and garage, tracing my tracks. I even went out into the back yard and took a look around. I went out to the mailbox to see if I had taken the envelope out there.


Somewhere late in here I shouted "There's another one missing." The check for the company who picks up our trash also is missing. This caused yet another search of, now, all the old familiar places.

SWMBO finally gave up and said "Just write another couple of checks, put them in an envelope and mail them."

"But", I said, "what if I end up paying them twice?"

"You won't", she said, "the 'lost' ones will eventually turn up."

After a few more rounds of the house, I succumbed to this logic. I was in the closet, getting a couple of envelopes out and looking once again in the drawer where I keep the stamps . . thinking that I might have laid the envelopes in there . . when it came to me.

I had written these two checks out earlier this morning and mailed them.

Oh, shit.

I have a birthday coming up in less than a month.

And . . . this is a symptom of old age.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

One noisy bird

There's a large tree in our neighbor's yard and birds of all kinds (as well as the occasional hunting cat) inhabit it from season to season. This morning it was one of my favorites - a Texas grackle. They are raucous but the variety of calls they make is amazing. I think they are even more vocal than our mockingbirds, though the mockingbirds are usually more gentle in their vocalizations.

I sat outside and listened to the grackle this morning and wished I could have put some of his calls on this blog for you all to hear. At several points, there were sounds that appeared to be from him flapping his wings. SWMBO says he must be courting.

You can read more about grackles

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring and yardwork!

As I have noted, spring is here. That always brings joy to my heart.

Except when I realize what that means.

Yes, it means warmer temperatures and beautiful blue sky days.

But . . . it also means . . . . . . . yardwork!

Now, normally, I shuffle most of this off onto SWMBO and the BRD. But the BRD has been busy and SWMBO has been having a problem with a wrist she broke many years ago so . . .

That leaves me.

First job, doing some pruning on our mimosa tree.

Now, I must admit that SWMBO did the original cuts but then called on me to get some of the higher branches.

Incidentally, that tree behind the mimosa is a Globe Willow.

It always buds up and greens out about a month before the mimosa, which has caused me to refer every year to the latter as "The Dead Stick." I threaten every year to just cut it down because it is obviously dead and a blight on my landscape. I bet if Meggie's GOM was here we could get the job done before the girls would notice.

But, to continue, next on my item of hacking and slashing was what SWMBO calls the Fountain Grass. I should have photographed it before I starting cutting because I thought it looked quite nice, tawny in the sun with curling fronds. But SWMBO said fresh green growth was starting to show so it needed a haircut. Here's what's left (poor thing.)

SWMBO thinks this should be shorter so I guess I'll be back out there.

BTW, while out laboring in the balmy sun today, I noticed the mailman coming.

Remember when mail jeeps were red, white and blue? Well, take a look at this one:

The driver says the color change is because the Postal Department doesn't own the jeeps now. He's a contract worker and says when he bought the jeep he wanted something that would stand out. As I told him, I don't think there's much danger of anyone hitting him by accident.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring is here!

Oh, yes. Spring is here! 70 degrees in our parts yesterday and already 62 at 11:15 this morning.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is President George W. Bush insane?

I keep wondering about this.

Recently, he spoke to some of his warriors in Afghanistan. He said, approximately, -If I'd been younger and didn't have a job here, I'd like to be over there. It must be romantic to be part of a new adventure in democracy.

This from a man who dodged the Vietnam War and did not live up to his responsibilities as a member of the National Guard. The President is addressing people who are dying for his adventure. Granted, the Afghanistan war is at least more reasonable than the one in Iraq. But, what is this man thinking?

What is he thinking when he is doing his soft shoe shuffle in front of the White House?

What is he thinking when he cracks jokes and tells financial people that the economy is strong and he's optimistic about the country?





Monday, March 17, 2008

It's a fine green day

Well, now. I had forgotten that today is Saint Patrick's Day until some friends sent me an e-card, noting that on March 17th . . everyone is Irish.

I was particularly pleased because the automated card culminated in a big pint of Guiness Stout.

Once upon a time, back in another city, when I was working for a radio station, I went to a true Irish pub on Saint Patrick's Day. The owners had removed every stick of furniture from the pub and covered the floor with thick rubber matting. They posted a policeman at the door so that once the pub reached its posted maximum occupancy no one could enter until someone left.

And the Guiness began to flow.

I was calling my radio station throughout the afternoon and doing live reports on the activities from the pub. Of course, I had to indulge in a wee drop of the brew. Every once in awhile. As the afternoon wore on, my reports became . . . . more fluid. I'd like to tell you how it all ended but for some strange reason, I can't remember. So I'll just leave you with this final thought:

One correction for true lovers of that dark Irish stout. The correct brand name is Guinness. I lost an "n" somewhere in that mad crowd back years ago.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Submarine Races

Here it is folks!

The first annual coverage of the great submarine races!

Well, what did you expect??????

Special thanks to my pal, Danny Bananas, for the coverage!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Hole in the Wall Gang

It all started when Lowe's decided to build a new home store in our neighboring community. The spot they picked was a ravine that needed to be filled in. It was. But there was a small community just to one side of the new Lowe's site. Lowe's had a huge wall of compacted dirt facing the community. They covered the wall with stone facing.

But then . . . the wall began to collapse.

One home sits facing the wall, only feet away from a huge grey wall. Previously, the homeowner had a view of a small creek and trees on a hillside. After considerable complaining, Lowe's bought the house from him.

A security car now sits in the driveway of that house. The guy in it told me there had been some movement at the edge of both of the holes even today.

The folks from Lowe's and the city have been talking, and talking, and talking about repairing the wall for months now. They say the problem was caused by some kind of moisture build up behind the facing. It appears the entire wall will now have to be torn down and rebuilt.

There was a lot of angry talk and letters to the editor in the local newspaper calling for a boycott of the Lowe's store. While some people are honoring that and shopping elsewhere, the parking lot at the store is never empty

Meantime, the scars in the wall get uglier, day by day. And the homeowners in the nearby development lose sleep at night, wondering if the entire wall will let loose and come down on their homes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A couple tips of the hat

It's supposed to be close to 75 here today. Spring has sprung. Right? Well, maybe, maybe not. By Sunday, the National Weather Service is predicting a possibility of snow showers and a high temperature 25 degrees lower. We have often remembered that our heaviest snowfalls occasionally come in March.

But SWMBO is already planning a plant-buying trip and the last couple of days saw her pruning the mimosa tree out front, with some help from yours truly. But for a real sign of spring in the high country, check out Granny J's blog today. She's getting her pots ready.

And, if your weather is bleak or you just need some laughs, my man Tombo has some hilarious videos on his blog today. I had tears running down my face from laughter.