Saturday, May 15, 2010

Prescott Flora

These trees are a common sight in Prescott.

They begin with a pinkish color but change to dark red which can look nearly black from a distance.

I asked the expert in my home, SWMBO, what they were. She didn't know. I asked if they were Flowering Plum trees. She said they were not. Then I went to the Interwebs. Guess what? Flowering Plum.

Here is a somewhat murky attempt at a macro look at the leaves.

Then nearby was this little bush, covered with yellow posies, so far unidentified.

And finally, one of the banes of this area. Can you guess what it is?

If you guessed detritus from Cottonwood trees, you would be correct. This white stuff sheds from the trees, floats through the air and lands on the ground. Many people are allergic to it so it is not a pretty sight when it begins the moulting process this time of year.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Magpie Tales 14 - Blue Willow

This week's Magpie Tales photo prompt from Willow of Willow Manor is a Blue Willow plate. Writers are to compose a haiku, a poem, a vignette or a story based on the photo. Here's the prompt.

I usually write a story based on the prompt but this week I did some research on the photo. When I learned the legend behind the plate, I thought for awhile about what I could write. I finally decided the legend was better than anything my imagination could come up with. So . . here it is:

Long ago in China lived a Mandarin and his daughter, Koong-shee. Koong-shee fell in love with a commoner, a man named Chang, and their love grew as they met beneath a willow tree in the palace garden. When the Mandarin discovered their secret, he banished Chang and imprisoned Koong-shee by encircling the palace with a zigzag fence.

Soon the Mandarin promised Koong-shee to another, and the marriage date was set. A great feast was held to celebrate, but afterward, when everyone had fallen asleep, Chang crept into the palace and fled with Koong-shee.

The Mandarin awoke and pursued the couple across a little bridge that spans the river. The lovers escaped, but soon the Mandarin discovered where they were hiding and sent his men to kill the couple. The men came upon Chang as he was working his fields and killed him. Koong-shee, who witnessed the entire scene from afar, rushed into the pavilion and set it afire. She was determined to be with Chang in death as she had been in life.

The gods, looking down on the tragedy, took pity on the lovers and transformed their souls into a pair of immortal lovebirds to forever live in the pagoda.

We can still see Chang and Koong-shee flying over the willow tree where they first pledged their love. Their story lives forever on the Blue Willow pattern.

With apologies for my plagiarization, I gathered the legend from The Blue Willow Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona

So you think you can dance?

It's called the Boogie Woogie, kids!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ladies Days!

I've just done a count of the comments on my latest Magpie Tale. At the moment, there have been comments from 26 people. 20 of them were female and only 6 male. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that blogging is a great way to meet women.

Just my opinion.

Monday, May 10, 2010

R.E.D. for Granny J

One of my inspirations as a blogger is Julie, known to one and all as Granny J. One thing I have learned about her is that she loves the brightest of bright reds . . which she amplifies as R.E.D.! So, having seen and photographed two very red cars recently, I dedicate this posting to her.

There is something about a bright red car that draws the eye.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring on the Square

You can tell when spring has truly arrived and is heading toward summer. Not just because of the blue skies, sunny days and mild temperatures. But because the first arts event is taking place on the Square. That's the courthouse square in the center of Prescott.

Lots of vendors under their tented roofs displaying their art. You can see the courthouse through the trees.

I walked around a bit but after my trip to the Highland Games (yesterday's post), I didn't have the stamina to continue. One interesting booth had a loom set up to weave rugs like those displayed in the booth.

And can you guess what this fellow is marketing? Take a good look at his hat.

That's a replica of a humongous head of garlic clove and he was selling all kinds of garlic products.

Nice day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Highland Games

I paid a visit to the Highland Games at Watson Lake Park this morning, a festival of all things Scottish.

Gaining a lot of attention was the caber toss, in which contestants hoist a 23-foot-long wooden pole, take a few steps and try to throw it in such a way that it tumbles end over end.

It's not easy to do at all but just try doing it while wearing a skirt! O.K., I know they're called kilts and they're traditional Scottish garb. And I would never think of making fun of them. These guys are strong.

Then there are the Jacobites, who brought weapons.

There was traditional musical entertainment, provided by a group called the Knockabouts, from Flagstaff.

I couldn't help wonder if this lassy might have turned up at the wrong festival.

But the fellow wearing this shirt was definitely in the right place!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Magpie Tales -13

Ooooh, that nasty Willow. She challenges us to write a poem, a story, a vignette, or whatever based on her photo prompt. And here's what she gave us this week. And what it prompted in my somewhat crazed imagination.

Cholly was a good time guy. He always was solid for a drink and the dollies loved him. He wasn’t bad looking neither. He dressed a little too Italian for me but, y’know, some people go for those open necked shirts, gold chains and hairy chests. He always had a tan, no matter what time of year, and his teeth were sparkling white and perfect. All in all, Cholly was just about great for the front of the house.

By house, I’m talkin’ about my restaurant – Danny’s Steakhouse. We’ve been top of the heap in Delphi City for more years than I can remember. We got a great meat market in town and they give us top grade steaks, and our kitchen knows how to cook ‘em.

The bar runs great, the bartenders know what they’re doin’, we got a pretty great wine list and the drinks come out fast. The prices are moderate and everybody seems happy.

So what is my problem?

Well, it’s Cholly. Y’see he had an accident when he was a kid and he lost his left eye. One of those kid things, y’know, nothin’ to talk about really. But he ended up with a glass eye. It’s a really good one and hardly anybody ever notices it. But, y’know Cholly, he takes a drink or two through the night and sometimes more than that. Sometimes he just can’t help himself. His mouth gets the better of him, y’know.

Well, this big restaurant reviewer was in tonight and we all recognized him right away. ‘Course we didn’t let on we knew who he was but he got the best of the best from the kitchen. Appetizers, salad, entrĂ©e, side stuff, dessert, a couple of glasses of the old vino, I mean this guy was treated first class. We thought we had it in the bag, a great review and an upsurge in customers.

But then Cholly screwed the pooch. We knew the guy from the paper had noticed something different about Cholly. He had stopped by the guy’s table half a dozen times during the evening, checkin’ on his food and his wine and everything. And he’d done great. Until the guy paid his bill and got up to leave. He smiled at Cholly and said "a great evening, I’ll be back again."

And Cholly, with maybe one too many drinks under his belt, grinned and said "Great! I’ll keep an eye out for you!"


You can read more from, I hope, much more talented writers at Magpie Tales.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

5 de mayo

As one of the alleged 30 percent of Arizonans who thinks the state's proposed law banning illegal immigrants (in spite of the fact that the Anglos stole the land from them in the first place) should NOT become a state law, I'd just like to wish all of you on one side or the other a most happy Cinco de Mayo!

When I realized the date, I hied myself to a restaurant currently called "Puerto Vallarta" for a Mexican lunch and a bottle of Dos Equis Amber. The BRD and SWMBO, by the way, were lunching at a Thai restaurant. No respect, I say.

Viva Mexico!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At last

The warm weather (upper 70's) has finally arrived and the Mock Roses on the front patio have burst forth in yellow splendor.

No wonder the sun face has a smile. It echoes mine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Calendar cat

I love this photo, and no it's not my dearly loved and departed Smoke. It's just a picture from my daily calendar.

A morning visitor

I can't help thinking doves are among nature's most stupid creatures.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Magpie 12 - Death

Yes, it is time once again for Magpie Tales . . that unmerciful excercise which Willow has willed upon us - to write something based on her photographic prompt. Well, so it is. Mine follows but if you wish to read more go to this place. You will find tales and poems of an exemplary detail. But now . . the game is on - to the prompt:


I was swimming in the clear blue water off the Turks and Caicos islands, in the Caribbean. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining golden in the sky. The water was turquoise blue. The fish gliding by me were radiant in their color . . red, orange, green, gold, purple . . blazing in the light. It was amazing.

I swam through the water as through oil, just oozing through the sea, through the light, through the schools of fish. I was happy, ecstatic even.

And then.

Something grabbed my ankle. I tried kicking it free but the grip intensified. I looked down and saw the tentacles wrapping around my lower leg. I panicked. I kicked and thrashed in the water. As I did, my breathing intensified. My head moved violently in the water and as it did, my mask came off. As I fought the grasp on my leg, I gasped and water flowed into my mouth and my throat and my lungs. I tried to cough and this only made it worse as my mouth opened and the salty sea water entered my body.

And then.

I slowly began to feel relief as my mind scattered and I became calm.

My hands clutched at the light in the sky.

And it was over.

April Fool (continued)

Are you kidding?

This was a view in Prescott, Arizona this afternoon (APRIL 29TH!!!) This is getting ridiculous.

The next four shots are between Prescott and Prescott Valley.

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.