Thursday, April 7, 2011

40 and counting!

Take a look at this young clear-eyed couple.

Straight out of the Old West.

Or at least out of the Old West Picture Gallery. 

The (rather costumed and posed) photo was taken nearly 40 years ago of my wife and myself.  Yes, that is truly SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) . . the love of my life.

Let's take a closer look.

They look to be filled with hope and confidence as they head into the future. 

Today it is exactly 40 years since we were married.  We don't look much like that anymore.  And, as the oft-told story goes, ", what a ride!"  We've covered a lot of territory in the past 40 years, had some great and some not-so-great times.  Amazingly, we're still together and content to stay that way until the trip is over.

Some of my long-ago friends have said in the recent past "my God, I'm amazed you're still alive."  Considering some of my adventures I'm a little surprised at that myself.

But older age has brought less adventures, less risk-taking and perhaps even some common sense.  Most of that I owe to the beautiful gal who has stayed at my side all of these years.

Whaddaya say, girl?  Let's go for 50!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Home is where you like the weather!

I was reading my home town newspaper, the Mountrail County Promoter from Stanley, North Dakota, this morning.  The editor's column told of how they'd had some fresh snowfall up there on a couple of days this past week.  She said she loved the four seasons they experience, even with the severity of the winters, and she couldn't imagine how anyone could live where it was always the same year around.

Well, I left North Dakota back in 1969 and, other than a few visits, I've never been back.  I have lived in South Dakota, Indiana, Arizona, deep into Mexico, Texas and back to Arizona.  I note that I have lived since 1972 in either the Southwest or further south in Mexico.  (That allows for people who insist Texas is in the Southwest when, if you look on a map, it's actually in the South.)  But that's 39 years, compared with the 29 I lived in North Dakota.  And the three years when I lived in Indiana were, I have come to find out, unusually warm, mild winters.

And I love it.  I loved being able to take a swim on Christmas Day.  Here in Arizona, which has been my home for 33 years, the temperature never gets down to "North Dakota winter" cold.  I can remember 30 and 40 below.  I can remember snowstorms that covered cars parked in the streets and even one that buried a train.  I can remember, as a kid, ice-skating on the streets in my home town.  But not anymore.

And that time I lived in Texas we got out after less than two years, done in by year-round humidity.  And that wasn't even on the coast!

Guadalajara, Mexico and environs was our home for nearly five years and we loved the climate there.  Year-round temperatures averaged around 70 to 75 degrees.  When the rainy season came it frequently rained only at night and the days were sunny again.

The part of Arizona we live in now doesn't get the ultra-high temperatures of the low desert around Phoenix.  So we get a seasonal change, just not the severe changes I was used to in North Dakota.

But, that's just me.  I have heard people who live all over this country brag about their climate and say they wouldn't live anywhere else.  I guess it's just whatever you like.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I've been sort of watching the Ken Burns special "The Civil War" on PBS tonight.  Americans versus Americans.  Thousands, no, tens of thousands killed on both sides.  For what?  145 years later we are still inflamed in this country over the same issues.  No, not slavery.  State's rights.  The disagreement over whether the individual or the city or the state shall determine one's destiny or whether that destiny shall be decided by a federal government.  It is, apparently, a disagreement that shall never be settled.  The sides are about evenly divided and therefore there shall mathematically never be agreement.  Both sides are sure of their way, of their mind.  How can a nation, a people be so divided?  After decades of observing this indecision, I cannot understand it.  And I mourn  the separation of people and their minds.   It is the same in every country, it seems. 

No agreement. 

No peace.

No hope.

Just war.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Why I don't brag much about my cookin'

My wife, the famed SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed, for you newcomers), has left the cooking to me for several weeks.  I've had some successes, more than a few failures but I have learned to make whole wheat bread (in the bread machine) pretty good.


And that's a pretty big "but".  SWMBO has been cooking for 60 years and she does it instinctually, which is to say she doesn't look at recipes very often, she just cooks.  And it turns out fantastic, without any of that beauty queen business I have to go through in the kitchen.  I watch in amazement and think "how does she know how to do that?"  But as she says, she's been doing it for 60 years and things just stick after you've done them a trillion dozen times.

So she cooked tonight.  A pork roast, mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed apples, a salad.  Pretty basic.  Except what she tossed together in an hour or so would have taken me until the middle of next week.  And it still wouldn't have been as good.

So, I can brag a bit about my delicious meals.  But if I really want one, nothing is better than Mama's home cooking.  Thank you, dear one, for many, many, many good meals.

(Now if I could just get rid of this spare tire around my middle . . .)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

One more game, one more time

The Butler Bulldogs once again will play Monday night for the N.C.A.A. basketball men's national championship.  Butler is the first team from Indiana to reach the Final Four in consecutive years and today they defeated this year's Cinderella team, Virginia Commonwealth University.  So, after a heartbreaking loss last year, Butler will try again.

This is Blue Two II, the mascot bulldog of the team.  He looks ready.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black and White

My "all" black cat has a surprise for me when she likes to warm my bed for me at night.  As she turns onto her side, she reveals a bit of white underneath!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Color is everything!

How to make sure no one can miss your business.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A word of wisdom about cats

My friend, Tom, has blogged today about an incidence of vicious, bloodthirsty, killer cats.  You can read about it on his blog by clicking here.  Just scroll down past his commentary on elephant seals.  Or, better yet, read about the much larger and more threatening seals to get to a link about the sweet little house cat.  Then come back here.

Okay.  Done now?  Then to lead further credence to his story, I'll relate one of my own which occurred only yesterday.  I was sitting in an easy chair, watching a basketball game on television, when a large black cat landed in my lap.  My beloved Blackwell.  But he's gotten pretty fat and pretty heavy and a surprise is a surprise.  So, to tease him a bit, I picked him up and suspended him for a moment or two upside down.  Now, I can tell you, cats don't like to be upside down.  I don't know why.  Perhaps it is uncertainty about whether they will remain suspended or be dropped.  At any rate, he lashed out.  Not viciously.  Just looking for some element of "purchase", as my wife's father used to say.  He found it.  Here's the proof.

So it goes.  Never tease a creature that is much faster and has longer sharper claws than you do.

Jus' Lookin'

When the back door is opened to the outer world, Blackwell is the first to arrive . . to look and listen, to ponder on this world of chirping birds and barking dogs.

But like any good watch-cat, he is also aware of sounds behind him.  Take a look at these next two photos to see one of his ears turned on it's 180 degree axis to detect what may be creeping up on him from his rear.

Ah, that we could do the same.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A sick day

I have had a lousy 24 hours.  I don't know why.  It started last night with a pain in my chest.  Now, don't worry.  It wasn't "chest pain" as my cardiologist asks me about.  Though early in the morning, I began to wonder about that.  No, it was heartburn, I think.  Nothing I tried seemed to do anything to relieve it and I was awake most of the night.  SWMBO finally convinced me to drink a cup of tea this afternoon and that seemed to start my recovery.  I slept most of the day, off and on, but I still feel weak and weary tonight.  But definitely on the mend.  My loving and worrying wife also convinced me to dine on some egg drop soup and a fruit salad this evening and that, plus a shower I took a couple of hours ago, has me feeling much better.  The chest pain has gone away but my "love handles" are a bit sore from straining on the toilet.  (Yeah, I knew you'd want to know that.)  As Scarlett O'Hara said "tomorrow is another day" and I expect I shall be back in the pink by then.

Now then.  To a matter of some concern.  And I shall excuse you non-sports loving people at this time if you wish.  To the rest of you a report on my reaction to today's results in the NCAA basketball tournament.  I was amazed and thrilled once again at the success of the Butler University basketball team.  It was an exciting game today that ended with their victory over Florida in overtime.  And for the second year in a row this team, which last year was called "the Cinderella team" as it made it to the Championship game only to be finally defeated by Duke University, has won its way into the Final Four.  When tomorrow's games are done, there will be only four teams left in the tournament and Butler will be one of them.  The school is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I lived and worked for three years back in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  That explains my support of the team.

On the other hand, the Arizona Wildcats from the University of Arizona in Tucson went down to defeat a little while ago to the University of Connecticut.  Arizona had knocked Duke out of this year's tournament the other night so there was considerable hope that they, too, might advance to the Final Four.  But it was not be as they missed two shots in the closing seconds.  Either one of them would have resulted in a victory.  But that's basketball.  More to the point, it is truly March Madness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So long, Liz

Elizabeth Taylor died today.  She was 79.  In her final years, she was often confined to a wheelchair and her beauty had faded.

But that happens to all of us.  Let us remember her instead for the ravishing beauty she was most of her life.

And let me put one other lie to rest.  Despite my claims over many decades, she was neither my sister nor my cousin.  But I'll still miss her.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just a hint, weatherman!!!!!

The late, great Carl Perkins (with George Harrison alongside) doing some picking on The World is Waiting for the Sunrise (Sunshine!!!).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring? Hello? Hello? HELLO?

The spring equinox kicked in at 4:21 yesterday afternoon, Mountain Standard Time.  (We're rugged individualists here in Arizona - we don't go for that sissy Daylight Time stuff.)  But who forgot to tell the weatherman?

It was blowing like crazy yesterday afternoon and through the night.  The first full day of spring dawned like this.

By this afternoon it had turned to snow, even if it was melting once it hit the ground.

Even the patio lights seemed to be tearful.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A loony post!

What is that strange object???

Ahhh, it's just the moon striated by cloud layers.

Here you can see it rising over my town.  It's called a Super Moon because it's the closest it will be to Earth for the next 18 years.

A little later, in my backyard, the moon is a bit higher and framed by some mysterious shapes.

Not that mysterious, once I put some light on the shrubbery.

Ah, La Luna.  The moon.  A serene goddess, cloaked with mystery.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Color bursts

Seemingly overnight the flowering trees have been bursting into color in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Since I know how many of you wait with bated breath for the updates on our overpass, I rushed out this morning to snap the latest photo.

As you can see, the contractors and sturdy workmen have bridged the gap this past weekend and taken down the detour signs for the time being.  Progress is apace and in just a few . . well, let's say six or seven, . . . months more we shall have a completed project, no traffic diversions, no workmen and nothing else to report.

A sad day indeed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Introducing a new artist

A very good friend of mine, one Ed Stattman of Indianapolis, has a facile mind.  He has sent me several things for my blog, once he knew I had one.  Most of them were too obscene to publish here.  But today he has come through.  He didn't send it for my blog but only to amuse me.  Surprise, Ed, you've hit the big time. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the following is by a great artiste, Ed Stattman.

California prepares for The Big One


SACRAMENTO – Governor Brown advises:

If we have a big earthquake please

Pretend we all are Japanese.

Walk calmly to a public shelter.

Do not panic helter-skelter.

If all of us will follow suit,

We will not pillage, shoot or loot.

If darkness reigns for some brief time,

Let us not go committing crime.

Line up for gas without a din

Of honking; rather sit and grin.

Children, teens, fathers, mothers;

Be sure that you are kind to others

Who cannot buy what you afford.

So share with them and do not hoard.

There is no more for me to state.

Please join me as I meditate.

Fickle cats . . . and some feckin' laughs

Have you ever noticed . . when you want a nice face-on profile of one of your darlin' kitties, how they just refuse to pose for you?  There must be something about that camera lens.  They just won't look into it.

Blackwell looks off to the side.

Jazz looks to the other side.

And Muggles just turns his back.

Cats.  Can't live with 'em.  Can't live without 'em.

But now for something entirely different.  If you're Irish, you might be offended by the language.  Or not.  Anyway . . the following is for adults.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sleepy Sunday

It's just one of those days.  On a bed, Blackwell and Muggles indulge in some togetherness as they nap the day away.

In the other room, Jazz takes her rest though her open eyes evince a bit of wariness.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A slow Saturday

Ho-hum.  This Saturday has been lazy.  Nothing much going on.  So . . . it's a day to try making cinnamon rolls.  First the batter.  Built it in the bread machine.  That took about two hours.  Then rolling out the dough and topping it with butter and a mix of sugar and cinnamon.  Then rolling it up and cutting it and putting into a pan.  That took nearly another half hour.  Then letting it sit, covered, for another hour.  Finally, into the oven for 25 minutes.  Then top them with a glaze.

By this time, SWMBO was about to break down the non-existent door to the kitchen.  Which may explain why my photo is of a partially-eaten product.

Ah, the perils of the new cook.  Or baker, I guess.  I'm not sure it was worth three hours or more.  But the boss said they were good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Construction update

I know you've all been waiting for this - an update on the construction of the Highway 89-A overpass at Viewpoint Road in Prescott Valley.  Well, here it is.

Let me give you a closer look.

The crews are getting ready to lay girders above Viewpoint Road, maybe this weekend.  There are already warnings that traffic will be detoured at least through the weekend.

I noticed a huge black bin up on the side of the construction.  You can see it off to the right in the first photo. 

Here's a closer view.

Well now, I wondered, what else would you put in there?  Gold ingots?  Paper money?  Loose change?  Stock certificates?  But no, that bin is only for trash.  So watch yourself!

By the way, little old Prescott Valley - known by the snobs in Prescott by it's old name "Jackass Flats" - may have already passed the hot shots in population.  Word came out today that Prescott actually lost population in the year from 2009 to 2010 and P.V. was only a little more than 1,000 people behind it in population.  Prescott's population grew by 17.4 percent in the first ten years of the 21st Century to 39,843 in 2010.  In the same period, Prescott Valley grew by 65 percent to 38,822.  By this time, it may be bigger than Prescott.  It's been a lot of years of being put down by the big shots down the road but that may soon be a thing of the past.  Hurrah, I say.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


One of the great ones is gone.

David Broder, the longtime political reporter and columnist for the Washington Post, died at the age of 81 from complications of diabetes.

Broder was one of my idols in my days as a political reporter.  I used to watch him in his television appearances on Washington Week on the Public Broadcasting Service.  He always seemed calm and full of wisdom.  I read in the many tribute pieces appearing everywhere that he was the consumate reporter, spending many more hours than any other reporter knocking on doors and listening to the average voters across America.  He was not real good with technology, his colleagues say, coming late to computers and the Internet, preferring instead to use his manual typewriter.  Lots of young reporters today don't even know what a typewriter is, not to mention never having seen or used one.

All things come to an end.  Typewriters.  Hard-working political reporters.  Nowadays it is just too easy to put on some makeup and appear on television.

I think that's too bad.

So long David.  Some of us will miss you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tumbling Along

The wind is blowing and in my neighborhood the tumbleweeds are tumbling.  This pair almost kept up with the traffic.


What is it in us that demands change? 

Someone wiser than I once said "the only constant is change."  I remember learning that decades ago and using the expression ever since.

But is it dissatisfaction with our lot?

If it is winter, there will come a time when there is too much snow, too much cold.  If it is summer, it will soon be too much hot.  And we growl or whimper - "when will this damnable weather change?"

Generations ago people lived where they were born, pretty much their entire lives.  But . . with some exceptions . .  new generations seem to move around the country, even the world, as often as they change their clothing.  It would take me a long time to figure out how many homes I've inhabited in my 70 years but I do know that I have lived in two countries, five different states, and 15 communities.  Some of them more than once.

Maybe I'm the exception.  A friend of mine once told me he had taken to writing my address and telephone number down in pencil because it changed so often.

Well, so it goes.

This is written to explain why, if you've visited this blog before, the colors and perhaps some of the layout and my picture have changed since your last visit.  And undoubtedly it will change again in the future.  Only one thing has not changed.  The author.  Good old Catalyst.

Oh, one other thing.  I've thought about this for a long time and finally made the plunge.  You will now see my real name up there by my photo.

Now put your hands together for the late Harry Chapin.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cat habits

What are you going to do when you have a home with three resident cats and only one door that opens to a screen door?  Normally you just sit back and watch what happens.

When I opened the inside door this morning Jazz was the first to make it to the screened viewing position.

But that was short lived.  Blackwell, now sometimes known as The Big Cat, soon showed up hoping to take a spot next to her.  But Jazz is not big into togetherness.  When a snarl didn't scare him off, she left.

A little hostility doesn't faze the big one and he settled down into the place of dominance.

But that left Muggles, the oldest but most nervous of the three.  She crept up behind Blackwell, thankful to peer over his shoulder.

But that only lasted for a moment and she soon fled the room as well.  Blackwell settled in for a session of watching whatever moved outside the door while the other two pouted.

Cats.  Can't live with 'em.  Can't live without 'em.