Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Trouble in the Middle East

It began in Tunisia, where the government fell to protesters.

Then, on to Egypt, where Cairo is dissolving into chaos.  President Mubarak says he won't run again.  He's 82 years old.  But he says he'll stay in power until the next election, in September.  Many of his citizens say that's not good enough, he must leave immediately.  Today, pro-Mubarak supporters challenged the anti-Mubarak protesters and violence was the order of the day.  It continues tonight.

Around the region, the king of Jordan has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister.

The president of Yemen says neither he nor his son will run again.

Israel is, as the old expression goes, "on tenterhooks".

Iran is quiet but obviously watching carefully.

As I said to SWMBO today, it will be years before this is all sorted out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Y'know this gettin' older thing is a real pain.  Like this morning.  Suddenly I couldn't find a 4 by 6 inch index card on which are inscribed all of my User ID's and Passwords to access my various sites on the World Wide Web.  It's always in the same place, resting on top of my printer.  But not this morning.  So I spent about two hours tearing my den apart.  I emptied a waste basket, then another one, then another one.  Three separate rooms.  I went out to the garage and looked in the recycle bin.  I went through about half of the Sunday New York Times, thinking the card had slipped between the pages.  I went through several files in a couple of file drawers.  I accused SWMBO of stealing the card.  She helped me look for awhile and offered several worthless suggestions about where it could be.  I said "I give up", then I searched some more.  I got down on my hands and knees under my desk. (Wow, is it dusty down there!)  Then I looked everywhere I had looked before.  Nada.  Zip.  Then I asked Blackwell if he had taken it.  Blackwell is a cat, for cryin' out loud, and he was staring at me like I had completely lost my mind.  Which I nearly had.  That card had to be here somewhere.

Then I found it.  It was lying on the coffee table in the living room, underneath a Netflix envelope.  When I finished the movie I watched last night, I took the envelope and the disc to the other room for SWMBO to view later.  But I also picked up my index card at the same time, unknowingly, unwittingly.

I mean: I have the information written on the index card so I don't have to remember all of it.  But it doesn't help if I misplace the card and can't remember where it went, now does it?

Pam Peterson knows how I feel.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bob Schneider sings!

I had never heard of this guy until I saw him on Austin City Limits this week.  Now, I'm a fan.  He's one of those amazing musicians that continue to be turned out in Texas.  He doesn't look like he does in this video.  The hair is shorter but shaggier and he has a full beard.  In a brief interview after his performance he said he can't figure out why people pay money to come and listen to him sing songs he wrote in his bedroom.  He reportedly has a repertoire of 400 songs.  This one . . . performed on an earlier ACL show . . . reportedly is his trademark.  Get up on your feet and prepare to "shake your booty!"

This next one is even better.

Well would you look at this!

I've been poking a bit of fun at residents of other parts of the United States this winter.  Parts that seem to be covered in snow and cold weather.  But look what happened in my part of Arizona this morning.

Oh, I know.  It's not much.  Only a dusting.  But it certainly gave Blackwell an idea about how to spend the day.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Allow me to introduce a good, no, a very good friend of mine.  Her name is Lana.

Lana Elmore Cochrun is the full name.  And she is an artist.

I have known her for more decades than either of us would want to admit.  She spent the bulk of her life as an art teacher in Indiana, trying to inspire the youth of her area to indulge in their gifts and their talents.

Now, she lives in California, on the Central Coast, where she has had the opportunity to indulge herself, her talent, her gifts.  She has had great success and I believe she has a great future.

You can see her most recent show at the Windward Gallery here.  If you are in her area (Cambria) I would suggest you buy her work now.  It can only get better and more dear.

Congratulations, dear friend.

Cooking follow and The Ocean View Restaurant

My attempt at making Lemon Souffle Pancakes (from James McNair's Favorites) was a fair success this morning.  Pretty simple recipe, though you wouldn't have known it by the amount of dishes I had to clean up afterwards.  I topped them with the rest of the blueberry sauce from yesterday's Dutch babies and SWMBO fried up some hickory smoked bacon to accompany.  Cooking is fun but eating is better.

And now a story of life that a good friend has just e-mailed to me.  Men may appreciate it more than women but I think you'll all enjoy it.

A group of 15-year old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View Restaurant because they only had $6.00 between them, and Jannie Johnson, that cute girl in Social Studies, lives on that street, and they might see her, and they can ride their bikes there.

Ten years later, the group of 25-year-old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the beer was cheap, they had free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover, and there were lots of cute girls.

Ten years later, at 35 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the booze was good, it was right near the gym, and if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.

Ten years later, at 45 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the martinis were big, and the waitresses wore tight tops and tighter pants.

Ten years later, at 55 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, and fish is good for your cholesterol.

Ten years later, at 65 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the lighting was good, and they have an early bird special.

Ten years later, at 75 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the food was not too spicy, and the restaurant was handicapped accessible.

Ten years later, at 85 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they had never been there before.

(Thanks, Lori!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I'd like to have photos to show you but I have to master my camera and its intricacies first.

I go through one of these "spasms" from time to time.  I love reading about food, watching t.v. food shows, imagining all the recipes I could concoct or at least master. 

Well, as SWMBO pointed out tonight at the dinner table, cooking is mastered (or at least made competent) by doing it every day, for days and weeks and months at a time.  I have in the past taken on some recipe that was way beyond my talents, gotten frustrated by the results and said some version of "I'll never cook again!"

But then, at some point in the future, having watched Bobby Flay or Mario Batali or the sexy Cat Cora easily polish off a wonderful gourmet dish . . or having read some fabulous recipe in a magazine or a cookbook . . . the juices get stirring again. 

I have recently taken a look at one book in our (SWMBO says) "massive" cookbook collection.  It is "James McNair's Favorites" and I have fallen in love with the kitchen again.  This time I've decided to take it from the beginning, trying some of his simple recipes from the very front of the book, then working my way forward.  Thus I came to his second recipe - "Oven-Puffed Pancakes", which he says also are known as "Dutch babies".  They're very simple and my first attempt was successful.  I used the "standard" lemon juice and powdered sugar on them, then tried some "out of the bottle" pancake syrup.  They were o.k.  Today, I made them again, for SWMBO and I.  This time, I filled the cavity with a heated and sweetened blueberry syrup which was in the refrigerator and topped them with a bit of powdered sugar.  We both loved them.

Well, what can encourage a fledgling in the kitchen except success, right?  So this afternoon I tried one of Mark Bittmann's recipes for red pepper puree.  Again, success. 

And that led, of course, to something more complicated.  Chicken saltimbocca, which I've made before, and fettucini alfredo, which I've also made before. 

First was a salad and I found, to my despair, that the refrigerator held only a quarter of a dessicated head of iceberg lettuce for the greens.  Oh, there was some bok choy but I think that's for cooking and some romaine hearts, but I usually just tear one of those leaves off, dip it in some ranch dressing and munch it along with Friday night pizza.  So I experimented, chopping up what remained of the iceberg, adding some chopped radishes, green onions and orange peppers.  As I told SWMBO at the table, I guessed it what is called these days "a chopped salad."  It wasn't bad.

Then on to the entree.  I had some trouble with the chicken.  Ended up with one fairly large piece, one slightly smaller piece and a couple of little pieces.  The prosciutto may have come out of the refrigerator too soon as it tended to shred, rather than peel off nicely in a slice.  Then the basil leaves were smaller than I had expected so instead of two per piece of chicken, there were four or so and fastening them and the prosciutto with toothpicks became somewhat of a problem.  But I got it done, after a fashion.  (Kind of looked like a Civil War soldier sutured up on the battlefield by some guy whose previous experience was as a blacksmith.)

Then there was the pasta.  Damn!  One of my front burners just doesn't put out enough heat so I struggled getting the fettucini to a fair resemblance of al dente.  Then I (as I usually do) undercalculated the amount of alfredo sauce.  So, the pasta was a little tough and a little dry.

But. . . wonder of it all . . . the saltimbocca was wonderful.

So I am a moderate success.  And, as SWMBO was good to point out (as she cowered in the other room), I neither screamed in agony during the process nor yelled the F word once.

Tomorrow morning . . . McNair's lemon souffle pancakes.



After years of pleading the Corporate Office has confirmed that TJ's will open a store in Prescott this year.

Here is the story as reported in today's Daily Courier.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cool cellos

I have to thank my good friend, travelin' man Tom "Tombo" Check for bringing this video to my attention.  All I can say is what I said to him on hearing it: "wow"!

Pigeons . . . for pie?

When I looked out my back window this morning, I saw a pair, a couple, a brace, of pigeons sitting on the fence.  Innocently looking around, taking in a coolish but sunny morning, thinking about plans for the day.  Or perhaps, as I am wont to surmise, thinking about nothing because their brains are too small.  But they certainly are plump.

Perhaps, if one were inclined to shoot and eat them, perfect for a pigeon pie.

Which introduces British chef Simon Goodman.

Well, I'm sorry.  Not to my taste.  But it's up to you.  At least you now know how to do it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stay Around A Little Longer

Buddy Guy (on the left) is 74.  B.B. King (on the right) is 85.  They both still play and sing some remarkable blues.  Enjoy.

Experiments with morning sweet light

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Read It and Weep!

Here's what the national weather forecast map looks like for the United States this afternoon.

And here's what the thermometer was reading on the outside of our front window at about the same time.

Now I just ask "where would you rather live?"

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Grit

SWMBO and I went to the movies this afternoon to see True Grit.  That's the new Joel and Ethan Coen version of the great movie originally made by the late John Wayne.  Wayne won his only Oscar for playing the scruffy lawman Rooster Cogburn in 1969.  And he was great.

The new version of True Grit, while basically following the same story as in the original (which was based on a novel by Charles Portis) is perhaps a bit darker than the original.  And Rooster Cogburn is even scruffier than Wayne's version, as played by Jeff Bridges.

But he, too, is great in the role.  I was talking to another couple as we were leaving the theatre and we all agreed that while the stories were pretty much the same the two movies were different and the portrayals of Cogburn were different.  But both great performances.

The Coens are fine movie makers.  SWMBO thinks they're a little too violent but she loved "Fargo", as did virtually everyone I know.  I don't think she saw "No Country For Old Men" but I did and thought it was another great movie.

This kind of rambled.  Just go see "True Grit".  Either one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Football Follies

I've never prided myself on being that much of a fan of NFL football.  I much prefer NCAA college games.  But nevertheless that didn't stop me from making predictions about the two championship games today.  I predicted Green Bay would beat Chicago in the NFC and the New York Jets would beat Pittsburgh in the AFC.  I further predicted that the Jets would then go on to win the Super Bowl.

Looks like I'm going to be 33 percent when today is done.  Green Bay did indeed beat Chicago.  But at halftime, Pittsburgh is leading New York 24 to 3 and the Jets only got that field goal in the last 10 seconds of the half.

So it's looking like Green Bay will play Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl and, if so, of course the New York Jets will not be in the game and thus have no chance to win it.

All I've got to say is it's a good thing I don't bet on these games.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Silly Saturday

I have to thank my pal, Forrest Proper of the blog Mutterings of a Mad Bookseller for tipping me off to this little ditty.  Hope it brightens your day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just messin' around

Sunnny days are always good for photographing shadows in the backyard.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The King's Speech

SWMBO and I have just seen "The King's Speech", the story of King George VI and his struggle with his stammering.  Colin Firth should easily win the Oscar, as he already has won the Golden Globe, for Best Actor in an amazing performance.  But Geoffrey Rush also should have at least a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  Both were sensational in this enjoyable movie.

As a curious sidenote, just as we entered the theatre and were trying to adjust our eyes to the darkness, we encountered the BRD who was unexpectedly in attendance.  May I say that we all loved the movie.

Long live the King!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By the way . . .

I would be remiss if I failed to mention yet another new blog from an old friend of mine, one Frank Phillippi who writes from the environs of Virginia near to the power elite.  He is one who keeps a weather eye on those in power in Washington.  But his blog reveals another interest all together (or should that be altogether?  Oh, never mind.)

You may inspect his blog at Vinyl Stats.  Enjoy!

Trader Joe's and construction updates

Some good news to report on the long desired Trader Joe's location in our area today.  Prescott Valley Economic Development Director Greg Fister told a meeting of the town's Chamber of Commerce yesterday morning that he'd "bet his paycheck" that Trader Joe's will be coming to this area this year.  He said it's more likely that the store will be located in Prescott than Prescott Valley but we can live with that.  There's been a huge urge by the communities to have TJ's locate here with, up until now, no positive reaction.  Of course, Greg could be just optimistic but as tight as he is I doubt he'd risk a paycheck in such a cavalier fashion.  So we wait.  But the anxiety level has been raised a notch.

Up on the north side of town, construction work is continuing on the Highway 89-A overpass over Viewpoint Road.  Workers are taking advantage of the great weather recently to make some progress.