Friday, May 29, 2009


I have just finished reading (in one day - it's a short book and an easy read) Christopher Buckley's book about the death of his parents in the space of less than a year. They were the famous conservative William F. Buckley and his stunning wife Patricia Taylor Buckley. Christo (as his family called him) was at his mother's bedside when she breathed her last. He was at home in Washington when his father died in his study in Connecticut. He talks about becoming an orphan in his 50's. It caused me to think about my own parents' deaths.

I became an orphan when I was 40.

But my mother died, of a brain tumor, when I was only 13. She had suffered through a year of increasingly severe headaches. My aunt had visited us in a small North Dakota town from California and my grandfather was driving her to visit other relatives in Minnesota before her return home. Seemingly to me at the last moment Dad sent me with them. While we were visiting in Minnesota, my mother worsened. She was sent to the nearest hospital 60 miles away. Then it was determined that her condition was serious enough to send her to Minneapolis. But she died in the night before that trip could begin.

I was in another aunt's house in Minnesota when the telephone rang. I had no idea of the seriousness of my mother's condition but I could tell from the graveness of the telephone call what had happened. At 13, I just wanted to be alone. I went for a long walk by myself. I'm not sure I understood until I got home what had happened.

Now we flash forward 27 years. I am living in Phoenix. My father has spent several winters in Arizona, found a trailer court where he had purchased a trailer home and was happy. But, while SWMBO and I were on a trip to New Mexico, we heard from him that he was in a hospital and was going to have his gall bladder removed. We cut short our trip and hurried home. He had already had the surgery and soon we brought him to our home to recover.

Dad was a big man but he had lost a lot of weight in the hospital. Additionally, for perhaps the first time in his life, he had lost his appetite. He worried about both of them. After a few weeks he said he wanted to go back to his trailer home, where his friends were.

I was working in the news media and had to go to to Detroit to the Republican National Convention. Only a day or two after I arrived there, I received a telephone call from SWMBO, telling me that she had gone to pick up Dad to bring him to our home for the week to watch the convention together. Instead she found him dead in his bed.

That's how I became an orphan, not being anywhere near when either of my parents died. Reading Christopher Buckley's book today I couldn't help wondering - is it easier if the surviving one is at the bedside or far away and only gets the news by a long distance telephone call?

I'm not sure I'll ever know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm still here!

I have been very remiss in my blogging recently. I didn't feel I had anything to say.

But then! My buddy Mike , who has been absent for even longer than I have, finally blogged today.

So, I thought, "...well, if he can blog . . . so can I!"

So here's my life recently.

Yesterday, I came home from running some errands. When I put the car in the garage, Smoke (that grey bastard at the top of this page) was waiting at the door to be let into the house. So, like a good guy (that I am) I stepped up to the door to let him in. Almost immediately, he whirled and grabbed my ankle with both paws, claws extended, and also locked on with his teeth. I, innocent that I am, screamed some sort of profane words at him and tried to swat him off with a few papers I had in one hand. I, naturally, was wondering why this dear cat of mine had turned into a raging hell-demon intent on taking my life out through my ankle.

Suddenly it came to me! (As Mike would say, "I'm old and I'm tired.") As I would say, if I had enough sense to say ANYTHING, "Oh, shit, I'm...standing...on...his...tail!" I DID say something like that, at least in my head. I let up on my OTHER foot and Smoke (mercifully) let loose of me.

After I took the stuff I had in my hands into the house and told SWMBO that I was wounded to the bone I went out to look for (and apologize to) that (bastard) cat. He was out on the sidewalk in front of the house. When I called to him, he walked away, looking over his shoulder with a hateful glare in his eyes.

I asked SWMBO to try to call him into the house. He came in. I tried to stay out his way.

I don't know whether cats have short memories or if they forgive their people or what. But later he let me pet him and accepted my heartfelt apologies.

I love my Smoke.

My ankle, covered with spot bandages, . . . hurts.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I am NOT a stalker!

Well, I thought you oughta know.

Y'see, I have a blog list that is LARGELY occupied by ladies. And they ARE ladies. (Well, most of 'em.)

Heh-heh. Now you're all trying to figure out which one of you . . . AREN'T!

Well, for my money, you all are ladies.

But, with the exception of Mike and Colonel and Lynn and Steve and Tombo (not too sure about him .....KIDDING!) and Anaglyph . . .and Warren. They're all girls! And they're really HOT girls.

But..........I am NOT a stalker.

Sure, they're is Dawn (Whew! - Newfoundland is melting), Joanie (South Carolina is hotter than ever), Kitty (HAH! Don't tell me England is cold!), Sweet Lucy (Hey, France, what can I say!), Meggie (Down Under? Need I say more?), Malicious Intent (The title says it all!), Miss Cellania (Have you seen her pictue?), and finally, but not last, Willow (Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, wow!)

And finally, there's Granny J . . . or Julie. She's the only one of the group that I've actually met. And she's a beautiful young lady.

But . . . . . I am NOT a stalker!!!!

Spring blooms

Blooms from SWMBO's garden.

First, the common petunia.

Then the clematis.

And finally, the tropical-in-appearance honeysuckle.

More detail is observable if you click on each of the photos.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicken Piccata

Due to a vast (well, 2 or 3) number of requests, I present herewith SWMBO's recipe for Chicken Piccata.


4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Salt & Pepper (optional)
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons dry white wine
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons small capers
8 thin slices fresh lemon


Sear chicken on both sides in mixture of olive oil and butter until golden brown. Set aside and keep warm.

Deglaze pan with mixture of lemon juice and wine. Reduce volume slightly.

Replace chicken in liquid in pan and turn to coat.

Top each piece of chicken with two lemon slices.

Sprinkle capers over all. Add chopped parsley.

Cover pan and let simmer for two minutes.

We love to add some freshly cooked fettucini mixed with heated Alfredo sauce. (The stuff in bottles in the store is fine.) A sliced baguette also helps the meal, along with a nice glass of white wine.

Bon appetit!

p.s. Recipe also works with veal or even turkey.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oh, y'gotta have friends . . .

Oooooohhhhh, I got a prize!!! From my bestest friend, Delicious Dawn away up in Newfoundland or some such place. Here's the prize.

But wait! There are rules. Here they are:

The following rules came with this prize: These blogs are exceedingly charming.These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

So here are my nominees:

Granny J
Malicious Intent

Go for it, youse guys!

Questions . . . and answers

Oh, my. Meggie has tagged me to answer some questions. Unaccustomed as I am to public answering, she's such a good friend I'll have to give it a try. So here goes.

1. What are your current obsessions?

As always, the computer. And my poor Arizona Diamondbacks, off to a lousy start this year but winners of their last two games!

2. Who would you most like to have dinner with?

Hmmm, well first of all, SWMBO, my most consistent dining companion. And I think Tim and Jeanne and Tom and Lana . . four old friends with whom we shared many a gourmet meal in the past. Famous people would probably awe me too much to enjoy the food.

3. Last dream you had?

What? Anyone can remember dreams? Daydreams, maybe - Having lots of money and living somewhere near the sea and a good, mostly private beach.

4. Last thing you bought?

Other than lunch, a fancy three-foot USB cable to hook up my friend Reed's new DVD player to his HD television set. 28 bucks! Incredible!

5. What are you listening to?

Mostly the sound of silence and an occasional bird tweeting.

6. If you were a god/goddess, who would you be?

Ares, the god of war, so I could take out a noisy neighbor.

7. Favorite holiday spots?

Generally the beach. But that was in the past. Now I spend holidays at home where I am most of the other days of the year.

8. Reading right now?

Nothing, actually. But I just recently finished "Columbine".

9. Four words to describe yourself?

Witty, Handsome, Sensuous, Wise. (You didn't say they had to be true!)

10. Guilty pleasure?

Admiration of the female form. Though the older (and more harmless) I become, the less guilt I feel.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you're weak?

For some reason having to do with my Norwegian/English ancestry, I'm not a big laugher. I find many things amusing but don't express it that much. However, a standup routine by Eddie Izzard can bring me to rollicking laughter (and tears).

12. Favorite odd thing to do?

Tearing up at some ridiculous movie moment. Well, I guess that's not a favorite because I hate it but it certainly seems odd to me.

13. Planning to travel to next?

Hopefully, Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona, in the autumn.

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?

Last night's dinner, one of my favorites: Chicken Piccata with Creamy Pasta. I've loved that since we finally found a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine many years ago and realized capers were the ingredient needed to duplicate a wonderful dish I first had in a Georgetown restaurant.

15. When did you last get tipsy?

Perhaps last night but I can't remember!

16. Favorite ever film?

Oh, too many to select but here are some of them: "Casablanca", "Key Largo", "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" . . . hmm, those are all old ones. A couple I saw recently that I thought were great were "Frost/Nixon" and "Elegy".

17. Care to share some wisdom?

Ah, a friend e-mailed it to me this morning: "Buddha taught that the desire for pleasure is insatiable. As soon as one desire is satisfied, another arises. Witness the couple who light up a cigarette immediately after sex."

18. What item could you not live without?

Oxygen. (Fooled you, didn't I? You thought I was going to say my computer!)

19. Thing you are looking forward to?

Lunch. Then, dinner. (I'm a simple man.)

20. What's your favorite smell?

Onions cooking on the stove.

21. What food makes you heave?

When I was a child it was parsnips and rutabaga. Since I haven't gone near them in decades, I don't know about them now. But I detest liver and salmon, much to the regret of SWMBO.

22. How many REAL regrets have you got in your life?

Ye-gods, too many to enumerate. I am prone to constantly making mistakes!

Now, I'm supposed to tag 8 people but I think I'll leave it up to you, dear readers, to decide for yourselves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not yet

There's a period in Arizona we affectionately call "the Monsoon". Natives and newcomers associate it with the coming of rain after months of drought. I drove through what was nearly a downpour yesterday. There was more falling today and the skies were very threatening.

But I heard a fellow from the National Weather Service saying this was not the monsoon. It might get wet in Northern Arizona for a couple of days but it was a couple of months too early for the monsoon.
Incidentally, "monsoon" really has nothing to do with moisture, though rain usually accompanies it. A monsoon season just means that the prevailing winds have shifted direction.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Name and date, please

You know how people love to make marks in wet cement? That urge apparently doesn't go away as one becomes older. When we built the duplex where we now live, SWMBO left her sign and the date. It's still there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Foolishness

An interesting combination!

Spring flowers

The BRD and SWMBO picked up some flowering plants at the store yesterday. Tomorrow they'll be planted.


(With temperatures pushing 90 degrees, it feels more like Summertime!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Balancing rocks

There seems to be a lot of these things around here.

This one, though, appears to have been placed there. It's in a Prescott residential area and I think the developer "placed" it there.

Still . . . it's impressive. Especially, probably, to the guy whose house is directly below it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More Weird Art

You've all read my writings about the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter). Here's a picture taken today of her and her beau.

But about her taste in art. Here are some photos of her back yard. As you can see, she's fond of "gazing balls". But if you look at the lower part of the first photo, you'll also see some bowling balls. She started buying them at yard sales a few years ago. Some she half-buried in her yard and told people they were growing there. Now, they just lie on the surface.

Meantime, one of her twin dogs just watches with curiosity.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mayer Daze

Took a drive down the road to Mayer today where the locals are celebrating Mayer Daze (Days). I got there just in time for a typical small-town parade. Lots of military . . .

The Pony Express riders . . .

A small motorized cart pulling a wagon with rider . . .

Motorcycles . . .

Lots of horses, including this Clydesdale . . .

A local bagpiper . . .

Pretty girls on horses . . .

Representatives of the Sheriff's office (who look like they've had a few too many doughnuts) . . .

Some miniature donkeys . . .

With all these equines, there have to be pooper-scoopers . . .

A shoot-out near the bank . . .

Some wild women of the west . . .

And more motorized vehicles . . .

After the parade, a stroll around town found a beautiful turkey . . .

A llama . . .

And a chance to get a close-up look at that Clydesdale's hooves.

All in all, a pleasant day in Mayer.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Surf's down!

Watson Lake.

The Granite Dells.

Blue sky and a very calm day. Not even a ripple on the water.

Of course, if this boulder rolled down into the water, there might be some waves, for a time.

I often wonder about the perched boulders around these parts. How did they get there? What keeps them from toppling? I guess weight and gravity answer the last question but I'm still wondering about the first one.
As always, the photos are bigger if you click on them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A visit

We had a good visit this week from our friends, Tom and Lana, from California. I've known them for nearly 40 years, since Tom and I worked together at a radio station in Indianapolis. That period lasted less than three years but it formed a friendship that has lasted all these years.

While showing them around our area, I got a chance to snap a few pictures. Here are a couple I took on the courthouse square in Prescott of the statue dedicated to the memory of "Bucky" O'Neill. Taking the photos from different sides of the statue shows the different effects one can achieve.

The next one shows one of the most photographed sites in Arizona . . right up there with the Grand Canyon. It's a distant view of the mountains at Red Rock Crossing, which turns up in many western movies of the past.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Folk singer Pete Seeger will be 90 years old tomorrow. And he's still singing, playing his banjo and speaking out as an activist.

I had the great good fortune to see him and Arlo Guthrie together in concert in Phoenix many years ago. He (they) were great!

Pete is one of my heroes.

Happy Birthday, Pete, and I hope you have many more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Sweet Love

I think I've posted these pictures before. Fairly recently. But tonight, Jazz was back in my lap, enjoying the warmth, and I thought I should write about her.

She is my love slut.

Nearly any time I sit down in the chair in my den she is soon in my lap. Especially if I have the Mexican blanket across my legs. It's getting too warm now for the blanket but still she comes.

She is my lover.

She looks at me with her large green eyes, wondering . . . what is he thinking?

Does he love me as I do him?

I wonder, too. What does a cat think? Does it think like we, as humans, do? Does it SEE, as we .. like I have heard not. I wonder, as she lies upside down, staring at me, what she sees.

I wonder . . . does she love me as I think she does?

SWMBO brought her home from the animal pound a few years ago. She said Jazz was not pretty, not near as pretty as the other cats. But she seemed so grateful for her attention that she couldn't resist her.

I have always defended Jazz. I think she is beautiful. Perhaps she has heard me and appreciates my love for her. She has seemed to me for these few years to have responded with love for me.

My sweet Jazz.

My love.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A lazy day

I have been neglecting my blog of late. Sorry.

Today it's sunny, calm and near 80 degrees here. A perfect day to loaf around by a lake.

This is Willow Lake, one of several lakes in our immediate area.

There's even a fishing dock.

So where is everybody?

I saw only one woman heading out from shore in a kayak. If I had a kayak I'd be out on the water too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Big. Bigger. Biggest!

Roberts Marketplace, out here in Prescott Valley, finally got a flag up their brand new flagpole in front of their brand new store recently.

As I gazed at it with wonder, I couldn't help thinking - - is it

a. Advertising . . a banner designed to lure folks in to the store and gas station,

b. A sign of the patriotic fervor of the store owner,


c. A stick it in your eye display that says "Mine's bigger than yours!"