Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Magpie Mystery

Magpie Tales are created by writers from around the world after viewing a weekly photo prompt posted by Willow. This is number eleven in the series. After reading and contemplating it, you can find links to view other submissions at Magpie Tales. And now to the mystery.

The only clue was a black wooden walking stick, capped with silver. There was engraving of some kind in the silver but it was impossible to determine what it said or what it meant. The stick had been left leaning against the the white-washed wall of the room. There was nothing else.

Montclair had lived in this room since arriving in St. Elys three weeks prior to his disappearance. He never left it in the daylight, only slipped out in the dark of night wearing a black trilby hat which matched in color the cape he also wore. No one really saw him leave or knew where he went. He was just a ghostly shadow passing by. Wherever he traveled, he was always back in his room by morning light.

His meals were left on a tray outside the door to his room and though no one saw him open the door, the empty and soiled dishes appeared back in the same place some time later.

This went on for three weeks. Then the food dishes weren’t picked up one day. The landlady knocked repeatedly on the door and called Mr. Montclair’s name but there was no answer. Finally, after calling the town constable to her establishment, the two of them unlocked the door and cautiously entered.

There was nothing. No sign that anyone had ever been living in the room. The only sign of anything out of the ordinary was that silver-capped walking stick leaning against one wall. Montclair was gone. With the exception of the walking stick he left behind it was as if he had never existed, never been there.

The landlady has kept the walking stick, waiting for its owner to return or to write or to call, asking for it. But all these years later, the request has never come. And the man in the cape and the hat known only as Montclair remains a mystery to this day. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Three score and ten!

When I awoke this morning and discovered I was still alive, I knew I had done it. I had reached three score and ten, as the book of Psalms puts it - I was now 70 years old. I remember a friend telling me that one day, spite of his emphysema..that at least he had reached his allotment of three score and ten.

I seem to be in considerably better health than he was at the time, though I do make do with a pacemaker to keep my heart beating and a plethora of prescription medicines, along with a handful of vitamin supplements, to keep everything else working. Of course, the drugs cause other problems . . like thin blood, swelling on the bottoms of my feet, a weakness in my right leg that usually prevents me from walking or standing for a period of time, some weird type of skin ailment that causes intense itching and red spots, and the like. But still, I am alive.

This comes as a great surprise to me and to many who have known me. I recall making contact with an old friend from my college days after some 40 years and her first comment was "My god, are you still alive?" SWMBO has been convinced for decades that either my smoking or drinking or other bad habits would cause me to succumb. I was pretty sure, as were my parents, that I would not survive an emergency operation for a ruptured appendix when I was around 12 or 13 years old. But still, after 70 years, I am alive.

What a wonder that is when so many friends and relatives have departed. One good friend left me less than a week ago.

So what advice can I give, now that I have reached an age where I can feel free to offer advice? Stay curious, see the doctor, take your pills, listen to your wife. If you smoke - stop. If you do all of these things, perhaps you will also make it to three score and ten and beyond. And you won't wind up looking like I do at this age.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We asked for this!

I had to drive into Prescott today. This is just a little of what I encountered. May I remind you that this is April 22nd and this is ARIZONA!

I encountered one woman who said "I want to know who ordered up this weather. I have friends visiting from Buffalo!"

My comment was "Might as well make them feel at home!"

I think it's payback from all the silly laws the state legislature has been passing. (see yesterday's posting.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Goldwater Country!

Barry Goldwater was a U.S. Senator, twice, from Arizona and the Republican presidential candidate in 1964. In his last years, he revealed himself to be much more of a Libertarian than a Republican. But he must be rolling in his grave, chuckling, at the shenanigans going on in Arizona today.

First, the Republican-dominated Arizona legislature passes a bill which the Governor signs, allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit or any training. Actually that followed an earlier bill which allows people to carry concealed weapons into bars and restaurants but states that they then can't drink alcohol.

Then, the Republican-dominated Arizona legislature passes a bill which the Governor signs, which states that people may carry concealed weapons without having a permit or any training in how to use such a weapon.

Then the Republican-dominated Arizona legislature passes a bill which the Governor has yet to sign which would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and requires local law enforcement to determine an individual's legal status if there is reasonable suspicion that he or she is in the U.S. illegally. Arizona's current U.S. Senator and twice-failed presidential candidate, John McCain, who is locked in a tight primary race to make it back to Washington with a right-wing yahoo named J.D. Hayworth, endorses the bill as a "good tool" because he says the federal government isn't doing the job of protecting our border with Mexico.

And finally, the Republican-dominated Arizona House has passed a "birther" bill requiring the Arizona Secretary of State to verify the citizenship of U.S. presidential candidates! That one came from the mind of Representative Judy Burges of a tiny town called Skull Valley. Even the current Secretary of State, former Senate President Ken Bennett, said the bill is of questionable constitutionality.

Back in the day, former Republican Governor Evan Mecham rescinded the state's holiday for Martin Luther King and a boycott strained the state's finances for a year or so when Arizona became a national laughing stock. Mecham later was impeached.

There is a lot of talk about a boycott of Arizona once again, folks, and right now the state can't afford it!

I'm embarrassed. And Barry is shaking his head.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Goodbye, Reed

I have lost a really, really good friend. Reed Schonfeldt died last night. He was, I believe, 62. Muscular Dystrophy was the cause. He was a great man.

I met Reed when SWMBO and I had a bookstore in Prescott Valley. Reed used to call on us to try to sell us some advertising in the Sun Shopper. But he loved books and he frequently spent more in our store than he ever collected from us in advertising revenue.

We used to talk about his days living in Juneau, Alaska and he always had great stories to tell. He never seemed to forget birthdays and a card would always arrive from Reed, written levelly across the top of a ruler the way he did.
He was one of the sweetest men I've ever known and I will miss him terribly, as will all of his many friends.

Reed - we loved you and we will always love you.

These photographs were taken at one of his favorite restaurants, the Prescott Pantry, which recently went out of business after many decades. It seems like everything goes at once.

And this photo was taken of Reed and one of his proteges and greatest friends, Cindy Brown.

May you go well, Reed, and may we all live our lives as well as you did.

Mag 10

Magpie Tales continue with Willow confounding us with strange pictorial clues that are intended to prompt some type of creative urges from us. This is her prompt for Magpie 10.

A diller, a dollar, a ten o’clock scholar!
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o’clock,
But now you come at noon.
--Mother Goose

What kind of Zen koan is that?

And who knew Mother Goose was a Buddhist?


Hopefully, better submissions may be found at Magpie Tales.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


My friends, Tim and Jeanne, had a couple of special anniversaries this week.

Today is their daughter's 25th birthday.

Yesterday was Jeanne's 5th anniversary of being free from breast cancer.

Both girl's are doing great.

What a treat!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cell phones

A friend needs a new cell phone. I've been asked to help. I know absolutely nothing about cell phones. But, as I told my friend's friend, I am good at asking questions. Oops. I may not be so good at this as I thought. My friend needs a phone with big numbers. None of the phones that I saw in the Sprint store had anything other than miniscule numbers. Not a flip phone, my friend's friend said. Looks to me like all of them are "flip phones". One the salesman showed me has a slide cover, rather than a flip. That would work but, again, the keypad is miniscule. He says the numbers turn blue when the phone comes on. That would help but still . . those keys are so tiny. And the company apparently won't transfer my friend's remaining balance. And his present company apparently isn't represented in this area.

Do you get my drift? I'm too old for this crap.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Franklin Delano Roosevelt died 65 years ago today. He had been the 32nd President of the United States of America for a month more than 12 years.

As I read a mention of the anniversary of his death, I began to think about the polarization in Washington that is currently said to be the worst ever in history. I say "not so." I can remember that in the Republican household in which I grew up, Roosevelt was considered little better than Satan. In my wife's household he was considered a Saint.

Likewise, in Abraham Lincoln's day the vitriol directed at him was sickening. He was portrayed in editorial cartoons as an uncivilized ape. Yet many admired him and he became perhaps the most beloved president of all time, by politicians and citizens of both parties.

I can understand that people of different persuasions can have differences with politicians of "the other party". What I can't understand is the outright hatred and the lies that people believe and spread.

We all need to calm down and try to think rationally.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

..and that's jazz!

There was a free (my favorite kind) jazz concert on the "square" in downtown Prescott the other day. Mike Vax (flugelhorn and trumpet player) is the author of the group. It was a preview of the jazz festival later in the year. And it was good!

I wish I could bring you the sounds but you'll just have to imagine it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mag 9

Magpie Tales originated in the mind of Willow, who posts a photo each week and invites any- and everyone to write a poem, a song, a vignette or a story prompted by the photo. Here's the current photo and what I came up with. You can join in the fun and read more at Magpie Tales.

It was the 1950’s, a much simpler time. Or was it? I had gone to the dance with Johnny Jay, the captain of the football team. Johnny and I had been going together for about three weeks and I just knew it was true love and going to last forever.

Anyway, we were at the dance and Johnny said he was going to go get a soda and he’d be right back. Well, gee, he was gone for over half an hour! I was about to go looking for him when he finally came back. At first I was really glad to see him. But then I noticed something else.

"Lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you
Lipstick on your collar
Said you were untrue
Bet your bottom dollar
You and I are through
'Cause lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you."

"Oh, Johnny, how could you do this to me?"


"You’ve been necking with another girl. There’s lipstick all over your collar."

"Huh? Oh, don’t you remember when we were in the car before we came in here? It got a little hot and heavy there and it was just you and me."

Well, a little flush went through me as I remembered that. I was about to forgive Johnny and apologize for accusing him. But then . . .

"You said it belonged to me
Made me stop and think
And then I noticed yours was red
Mine was baby pink
Who walked in but Mary Jane
Lipstick all a mess
Were you smoochin' my best friend
Guess the answer's yes!"

"Oh, Johnny! You’re just a liar! Go on and dance with Mary Jane, I’m going home!

With Karl, who’s been after me all night."

"Lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you
Lipstick on your collar
Said you were untrue
Bet your bottom dollar
You and I are through'
Cause lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you, boy
Told a tale on you, man
Told a tale on you, yeah."

(With apologies to Connie Francis, who sang this song in the Fabulous 50’s!)


63 years ago today, Branch Rickey signed Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson to a contract to play baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson thus became the first player to break the color line as a Negro athlete in the Major Leagues.

I was just shy of my 7th birthday then but I soon became a fan of Jackie and the Dodgers. That lasted for some 50 years, until the Arizona Diamondbacks came to my adopted state.

Jackie was, and is, a legend as he kept his mouth shut and his volatile temper under control in the face of bigotry from his competition and even many of his fellow players. He also became one of the greatest players to ever don a uniform, especially famous for his base stealing feats, including stealing home.

Regrettably, complications of heart disease and diabetes brought Jackson's life to an end at the age of 53. But he will be remembered always by baseball fans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Springing into color

I have been late in showing some of the color this spring but I snapped a few photos today.

Curiously enough, while all of these trees and flowers are blooming mightily, there is still quite a bit of snow on the mountaintops clearly visible from within the town. (These photos were all taken either in or near to the BRD's front yard in Prescott, Arizona.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Guitar Hero

I ran across this video while doing a Google search on Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie was one of those fantastic Texas musicians who come along once every once in awhile, that can make your hair stand on end. Take a look and listen.

Stevie died at the age of 35. Not of drugs. But because some dumbass helicopter pilot flew him into a hill in Wisconsin in the middle of the night.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter dinner

SWMBO comes up big on holidays. We're not big on such days but she can outdo herself in the kitchen.

So we started with some delicious deviled eggs.

Then there was the centerpiece . . . a pork loin.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

It's even better when coated with gravy, accompanied by dressing (not stuffing) and some delicious sweet potatoes.

Trust me. It was as delicious as it looks.

Mag 8

A mystic globe
entraps a futile struggle
between a man
and a Roc.

Or is it a Phoenix Bird,
rising from the ashes
of the man’s

I gaze at the scene,
unfolding its miniature terror,
and I wonder . . .

What bird is this?

What dreams are these?

What is this thing?


Read the thoughts of others at Magpie Tales.

And, Willow, thanks for driving me crazy with this prompt!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A little mystery

"So what's the deal, Frankie?"

"Boss, there's a new girl in town. Dark hair, nice eyes, sassy. Goes by the name of Tess. Tess Kincaid. We're not sure yet what her racket is but she looks dangerous."

"Tess Kincaid. Now that's a monicker. You got any background on her at all?"

"Well, we hear she came from Dillinger country . . Indiana . . but she turned up here around Columbus some time back. And get this . . . we only just found out her real name. She's been goin' by the name of Willow and claims she lives in a haunted house that she calls Willow Manor."

"A haunted house?"

"Yeah, she claims people have heard strange noises at night and even seen wispy spirits walkin' around. But she doesn't seem scared of 'em at all, just kinda laughs it off."

"Hmmm, that's a little strange. Any idea what she does to keep payin' the rent?"

"Apparently she doesn't have any problems there. She's got some guy who travels a lot who takes care of that. So she just stays at home and writes poetry."


"Yeah, she's pretty good, too. Whimsical, I think they call it."

"Well, she sounds harmless but let's keep an eye on her."

"O.K. Boss. That'll be a pleasure."

"Tess Kincaid, aka Willow. Interesting."


This little mystery was prompted by a blog posting here this morning. I just couldn't resist.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yellow is the color of Spring

Yes, we do have daffodils in Arizona. Just down the street, as a matter of fact. Click on the picture for a better view.

This was brought up by comments posted on my Mag 7 posting yesterday. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mag 7

Magpie Tales is a writing exercise begun for bloggers, poets, writers and the like by the illustrious Willow of Willow Manor. Each week she posts a photo and she and the rest of us are to write "something" . . . a poem, a vignette, or whatever based on the photo. This week is a bit different as we explore Magpie Tales 7.

"We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow subm . . ."

What’s that?

A daffodil?

Are you quite sure?



Never mind, then.


I told you it was different. To see the other creations click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

I know, I know.

I haven't posted since Monday. Living on my Mag 6, you say.

Well, not really. I just haven't had a thing to say. I've been watching the NCAA basketball tournament and following, with glee, the fortunes of Butler's Bulldogs, which are in the Final 4 next week.

I've been keeping tabs on a friend, who is in the hospital.

I've been reading "Game Change". It's a book in the likes of those written by Theodore H. White but it's more superficial. Maybe it's perfect for this era but it's fun, with lots of gossip on the 2008 presidential race.

And I've watched a couple of movies - "The Men Who Stare at Goats" - a totally mindless hour and a half but a bit funny; and "Broken Embraces" - with the perfectly lovely Penelope Cruz and her favorite director, Pedro Almodovar. That one was better.

So, you see, I've been kind of busy. I'll be back.