Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chihuly at the Desert Botanical Garden

SWMBO and I made a trip to Phoenix yesterday to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden. The garden is a spectacular place on its own but the amazing glass art of Dale Chihuly brings it to new life. With, as they say on television these days "limited commercial interruption", take a look. (As always, the photos are much more spectacular if you click on them and expand them individually.)

Keep in mind that everything you see is made of glass. These next objects are hollow and, therefore, so light they actually float on the water in a pond.

If you'd like to more know about the artist and his work, you can find it here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ahhhhh, spring!

Doesn't this just make you feel like spring is in the air?

Sure made me feel that way when I saw this wagon load of flowers outside a shop in Prescott the other day. I had to go back the next day with my camera to get a few shots. But when I got up close, I discovered these were SILK flowers!

I stepped inside the shop to complain but was quickly shown a case full of REAL flowers.

They were even better than the silk ones outside so I promised the folks some free advertising.

Oh, so you say that's not enough? O.K. I also scanned their business card. (A little wobbly but you get the idea, right?)

Joe and Vikki are very nice people so give 'em some business. Buy some flowers.

C'mon, there's a recession on! Everybody needs a little help.

There's even a toll free number!

(Oh . . . and by the way . . . it's not really spring here yet. It only got up to 55 today!


Feeling burned up?

So, this fine Thursday, let's see what's going on in our neighboring "city".

Prescott is known to some as "Everybody's Home Town."

To others, it's just "P-town."

If you lived around these parts, you might have been heading for the hills this week.

Or, "from" the hills if they looked like this.

But, not to worry. It's just the annual ritual called "slash burning". The Forest Service burns off some of the dead trees to keep them from burning in an "uncontrolled burn" later in the year. One of those fires, apparently started by homeless transients, nearly burned the town out a few years ago.

So every year, the Forest Service tries to protect folks from themselves and we see letters to the editor in the paper about all the terrible smoke.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cal-o-ries . . my mouth does crave cal-o-ries!

So, you're feeling kind of hungry.

And you don't feel like you want any more sushi.

No raw tuna.

No tofu.

I know what you need.

It's popularly called "The Bacon Explosion."

Now that your mouth is savoring it . . . here's the full story:

(Be sure you watch the slide show)
You're welcome!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well, look at this!

What a difference a day makes!

Monday, January 26, 2009

THIS is ARIZONA???????

At least it's not sticking and the weatherman says it will move through by morning.

(Click on the photo for a larger and better view)

Friday, January 23, 2009

A gloomy day

These photos were taken yesterday and may be indicative of yesterday's blog. First, clouds settling over Granite Mountain.

Clouds may be breaking up down toward Phoenix.

But it's still pretty dark above Glassford Hill.

And a mixed sky back toward Prescott.

Meantime, south toward the Bradshaws, you can see snow on the north-facing peaks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Signs of the times

Today we take you on a little tour of our neighboring city - Prescott - "Everybody's Home Town." Except maybe it isn't. Following up on a rumor we paid a visit to one of P-town's oldest restaurants - the Pine Cone Inn.

Well the sign shows promise of fun.

But wait! High noon and this is the parking lot.

What's going on? Aha, the rumor is true as this sign on the front of the building points out. (Sorry about the blurriness. Photographer failure)

The word is the restaurant had been for sale for a couple of years but so far no buyers have surfaced so the doors have been locked.

Well, moving into downtown in the heart of the restaurant and bar area, we found another place shuttered.

We heard the same story on this place. Been for sale for a couple of years but no one is interested. Looks like the luck of the shamrocks didn't help.

And finally, here's one that's been closed for quite awhile. Last time around it was called N'awlins. Before that it was Zuma's. And who knows what before that. It's a nice building with a roomy interior and only half a block from the center of town but apparently no one wants it either.

Could be the recession but I don't know. My town has recently opened two new hotels and at least one new restaurant. Maybe "Everybody's Home Town" has lost it's charm.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

Now the tough work begins.

Photo courtesy the Los Angeles Times

Monday, January 19, 2009

Only a few more hours

Tomorrow . . January 20th, 2009 . . will be an historic date for America as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America.

I have some years on me and, like many others, I had never thought I would experience the inauguration of an African-American as president.

Today was Martin Luther King day and tonight my memories have turned back to the middle 1960's. I attended a radio-television news director's convention in Chicago. At one noon luncheon we were addressed first by former president Dwight David Eisenhower. I grew up in a Republican family and, while my father had supported Robert Taft for the Republican nomination in 1952, when Eisenhower won and then won the presidency . . he became a hero and somewhat of a demigod to him. But Ike was not a good public speaker. He read his speech to us and even that was not a stirring address. Later, Martin Luther King spoke. I was sitting in a front row, just a few feet away from the podium. King began in his slow, Southern way of speaking by apologizing because he had forgotten his notes back in his hotel room. And then he delivered a spellbinding speech with no hesitations, no ers and uhs (as Eisenhower's speech had contained), but just an amazing oratorial performance. I have no memory of what he said but I still remember how amazing a public speaker he was.

I have seen the "I have a dream" speech many times over the years and it still sends a chill up my spine. And I have seen the speech King gave the night before he was murdered in Memphis, where he said that he had seen the mountain top, that he may not get there himself but that he knew the mountain top would be reached.

Well, I ramble. Barack Obama is also a great orator though not as chillingly good as King, in my opinion.

But tomorrow, he will become the president of a nation that is facing great challenges and serious problems. Four or eight years may not be enough for him to solve all of the problems.

But he has a huge majority of the population favoring him and backing him. In a country beset by problems and the worst economy probably any of us have experienced, we wish him well.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I can not believe it.

Barack Obama is about to be inaugurated as the President of the United States

...and . . . .

the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl!!!!

What a year.

Sing out! (2 more days!!!)

(Thanks, Tommy)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

3 more days

As I'm writing this, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are speaking to the crowd in Wilmington, Delaware as they make their train trip from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. (It's a little colder than it was when the picture above was taken.)

It seems like all of America, if not all of the world, is waiting for this new team to take office.

Me too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

6 more days . . or 5

Less than a week left of the Bush presidency. As we here in America watch countless interviews with the President and the Vice-President, we ask ourselves . . . WILL IT EVER END?

Here are some of the soon-to-be ex-president's "finer" moments.

To the world: we apologize.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


O.K. I know I'm a bit looney over the moon. But this is a big one.

I just wish I had a longer lens for my camera. As it is, the moon just sort of washes out with the brightness. With a longer lens, I might be able to show you some detail. But here's the 100% full moon tonight.


I cook in spasms. That is, I go for awhile where I am enthused about cooking and tackle some unimaginably beyond-my-abilities recipe, am disappointed by it and refuse to enter the kitchen for weeks.

But I'm learning to do simpler recipes. Most recently that has come down to Mark Bitten's column and blog from the New York Times. I also recently discovered that a friend from my bookseller days, J. Godsey, is writing a blog about cooking for one. I found a recipe in her blog for simple popovers. So yesterday I decided to try it. SWMBO has some of those neat silicone muffin tin liners so there was no need to spray the pan. I followed Godsey's instructions carefully but discovered the popovers were crispier than I would have thought they should have been.

SWMBO reminded me that Godsey lives at about sea level in Massachusetts and we are at 5,100 elevation in Arizona. She reminded me that in baking, the elevation can make a difference and adjustments are often required.

So today I tried it again but reduced the oven temperature from 400 degrees to about halfway between that point and 375, and also baked the popovers for only 30 minutes as opposed to 35 in Godsey's recipe.

Voila! They were perfect!

Slice one open, toss in a dab of butter or margarine and a slathering of Trader Joe's Boysenberry jam and it was a little dab of heaven.

(Sorry about the slight blurriness of the second photo. I must have been trembling with hunger and anticipation!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

What the hell is that?

I took this photo a short time ago.

Any one have any idea what it is?

It looks like the fallout from one of those old paper punches on a dusty floor.

Or a mysterious hole into another dimension.

Well, that last one might offer a clue.

Or not.

O.K. Enough teasing.

Here's a more distant look.

Yup. It's the moon over my neighborhood on a crispy cold evening.

But more than that. The Internet(s) tell me it is a Waxing Gibbous moon that is 98% full.

Now there's some information you can use at the bar.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Rumor on the street is that Prescott Newspapers Inc., which prints and publishes the Daily Courier in Prescott and several weekly papers around the immediate area, has laid off 90 employees recently. No confirmation yet but it would not be surprising considering the problems in the industry, the shrinking size of the Courier and the news-stretching going on there. Half a page of new baby pictures? C'mon!


Prescott restaurant operator Barry Barbe has put down a rumor that he's closing his tapas restaurant El Gato Azul. He says next year he may close it for the winter season because the tiny place with a larger outdoor patio is more of a summer restaurant. But he insists it is successful.

Barbe also operates 129-1/2 An American Jazz Grille and has a new interesting looking lunch menu.


President-elect Barack Obama tells NBC's John Harwood he's going to try to hang onto his Blackberry, in spite of protests from the Secret Service and Washington lawyers. He also seemed embarassed by questions about his shirtless photos in Hawaii while on his recent vacation.


Vice-president Dick Cheney told Mark Hollinger of CBS that he's really a warm, lovable sort. He also denies that he called the shots in the White House, saying President George W. Bush always was in charge. I don't know. I just read the Cheney bio Angler and there seems to be too much evidence to the contrary.

Of course there's that old line about politicians: how do you tell when they're lying? If their lips are moving.


In Cleveland: Blagojevich headed for impeachment.

In Washington: Burris headed for the Senate.



Granny J has been kind enough to point out, gently, that Cleveland is in Ohio while the Blagojevich impeachment trial is being held in Illinois, where he is the embattled governor (temporarily). Which is to explain why this is being written in the same color as my face. Sorry, Cleveland.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Alone . . but eating well!

There must be some single folk out there in my vast multitude of readers who battle with the recipe books, trying to figure out how to boil down one of those delicious sounding dishes that serves 4 to 6 people. Well, bachelors and bachelorettes, I have help for you. A friend of mine has a blog devoted just to you. Her name is, as she insists, j. godsey and her blog is Well Enough Alone. I urge you to visit it and examine her simple but tasty recipes and great photography. She has pointed out to me that any of the recipes can be easily increased if you have someone to share with. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Uncle Jay - 2008

My dear friend, Granny J tipped me to this one:

End of the year

As I write this, 2008 has just 8 hours remaining. Some of my readers will be close to that midnight kiss, the uncorking of the champagne or . . perhaps if they are of my age . . happily in dreamland.

As the year draws to a close, here's a look at the bottom of a birdbath in our back yard. Some leaves, a rock, some water, some ice.

And a twisting trunk of a wisteria vine.

These aren't really Christmas lights. Well, they are. But we didn't put them up there for Christmas. They're always up there. And rarely lit.

And I was sure you'd want to see a current picture of old Catalyst so I took this one, with a piece of metal latticework.

Meantime, just inside the rear door, the impatient Jazz awaited my return. She always wants to go out if I go out, although she is never allowed to. So she watches through a window, crying and squalling. Poor Jazz.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

The visitor

For the second time in a week, we had a visitor just outside my den window this morning. He seems to like his high vantage point and the sun.

I don't know whose cat he is but he's a pretty thing. Of course, SWMBO always likes the orange Toms. (Click on the photo to get a better look at his inquiring eyes.)

Friday, December 26, 2008


It's over!!! Christmas is over!!! Yayyyyy!

Now let's take a look at the year behind us.

Big political winners -

Barack Obama (of course)

Sarah Palin (Oh, my god)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy - Doing the right things after a shaky start. Great looking wife.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown - Another guy who didn't look like he'd get through his first year, post-Blair, but has recovered his footing.

Big political losers -

Robert Mugabe - Lost the election but still stayed in power. Says there is no cholera in his failing country.

John McCain - Too many compromises with people he didn't even like. Joe the Plumber? C'mon John!

Bill Clinton - Has lost his political skills, it seems. Can't hold his temper in check or keep his mouth shut.

Rod Blagojevich - The Illinois governor with the weird hairdo and weirder idea of governing. Even in Illinois.

Ted Stevens - Longtime Alaskan power broker gets convicted, then defeated for re-election.

Madelyn Dunham - Missed seeing her grandson elected president of the U.S. by two days.

Other big winners -

The New York Yankees. - I know, they didn't even make the playoffs but next year they've got a brand new stadium and they've spent half a billion dollars on several of the best players in baseball.

Clint Eastwood - Keeps making great movies.

Other big losers -

Wall Street firms, banks, the American taxpayer.

Detroit car companies and their union employees. It's sunset and getting darker.

Heath Ledger - Ooops, mixed too many drugs.

There are probably plenty more but that's it for now. Add your own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Scandinavian Christmas

My mother was Norwegian. Though we did avoid like the plague eating lutefisk at Christmas, we did load up on lefse. This year, my beloved cousin Bonnie Rae sent me a huge package of homemade lefse. For that, I thank you, darlin'. And to show my appreciation, here's a special treat.

To those of you who, like Lucy (see comment below) don't know what lefse is . . . think flour tortilla (if you're familiar with Mexican food) but made with left over mashed or riced potatoes. What you end up with is a circle of thin fried dough on which you spread butter and sugar, roll into a "cigar" and eat it. If you have a sweet tooth, you'll love it. Here are some recipes, history and the like.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Cookie Rules

Christmas Cookie Rules

1. If you eat a Christmas Cookie, fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus is calorie free.

2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

3. If a friend comes over while you are making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calorie free, rule #1, yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.

4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas Cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.

6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have 3 and Green ones have 5 - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!

7. If you eat cookies while watching "Miracle on 34th Street" these also have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.

8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!

And finally...10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the season to get lit

I set out to take a few pictures of the Christmas decorations around town tonight.

I swear to you I did not have a drop of alcohol before this venture.

As usual, the photos look better (or worse) if you click on them. At least they show up bigger on your screens.

Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday horrors

Hi, folks. How ya doin'? Enjoying the holidays? Ahhh, you sick b______!

SWMBO and I went down to the Big City this past week for a couple of days. Canceled out of the Chihuly exhibit because of cold weather. We'll get back later for that.

Had some great meals in restaurants. $48 for four martinis and $20 for a glass of wine at The Capitol Grille. But it was worth it. Food was good. Wait a minute. Did I say it was worth it? The menu said they were pouring Smirnoff vodka. I could have bought a bottle of it for 12 bucks! Oh, what the hell. It's once a year or so.

We drove around the Valley. Used to be called the Valley of the Sun. Now you'd have to call it the Big Valley. Something like 5 million people crowded in now. One street near our resort (a free ride thanks to the BRD's time share plan) had a Mercedes dealership next to a Hummer dealership next to a Land Rover dealership next to an Audi dealership next to a BMW dealership next to a Jaguar dealership. I think. It was something like that anyway. Amazing.

Couple of days later we drove around the perimeter of Metrocenter, which was the first big shopping center in the Phoenix area, back in the 70's. Now we found empty stores that used to house Trader Joe's, Best Buy, Circuit City, Bennigan's and more. Signs of the recessionary times. A friend who lives in the Valley told us later it was partly that and partly a changing neighborhood: now people are avoiding it because of the fear of drive-by shootings.

Quite a contrast.

But the oysters, blackened catfish and gumbo were still fantastic at the nearby Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.


Watched our Arizona Cardinals in the snow in New England today. They lost 47 to 7. I called a friend after the game and exclaimed "They scored!" The team made the playoffs for the first time in god knows how many decades. Now they've decided to lose the rest of their games, I guess.


I look at the obituaries in the Sunday New York Times each week and I figure maybe . . . just maybe . . . I might have ten years left. Or ten months. Or ten minutes.

Eat and drink heartily, my friends, and best of the holiday wishes to you.

(Bah, humbug!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The White House

I was watching a CSPAN special tonight about the White House. Laura Bush was giving Brian Lamb and the viewers a tour of the building. I was amazed at how large the quarters are, with very long hallways. I have seen the White House, from across the street near the Washington Monument. I was there during President Nixon's first inaugural week. I was thinking how small the building looked then but how spacious it looked tonight. Right now CSPAN is showing a tour Jackie Kennedy gave Charles Collingwood back in the early 1960's. What surprised me about this one was that it was in black-and-white. I was working in television in 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. I had to go back in my memories to recall that color television was just coming into its own then. I remember our television station a year or two later had film or videotape in color, then, but our studio cameras were still black-and-white. So it presented a strange contrast to the viewers, I'm sure.

But I digress.

SWMBO was surprised by Laura Bush's ad libbing ability during tonight's tour. But I recall that she was a teacher, or at least a librarian. And she is an educated woman. So her ability to talk easily about something she loves does not surprise me.

Another surprise was the amount of art on the walls. Some amazing pieces, including one of Mrs. Bush's favorites . . a Mary Cassat painting that has hung since at least the first President Bush's time in the White House.

SWMBO said "I wonder how Barack Obama will feel about all the old black servants there." I said "Well, they're not slaves, they're servants!" I think he'll be okay with them.

It will be an interesting time and I hope to be able to one day see Michelle Obama giving a tour of the White House.