Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roto-Rooter Work

I have to get up at an unconscionable time tomorrow morning: 5:15 a.m.  That's in order to get to the hospital in Prescott by 6:15 to begin the paperwork which will allow me to have an angiogram a little later.  I was telling Blackwell about this last night and he said "They're going to do . . . WHAT???"

I'm told it's nothing to worry about, though.  Of course that's what they always say when they're going to knock you out and start probing your body.  I DO like that idea of being knocked out, though.  I was talking to a nurse the other day who said she had to go in for some hand surgery a few years ago and they told her they could just put some kind of shoulder block in which would work as a local anesthetic.  She'd be awake but she wouldn't feel any pain.  She said she was terrified until she got to the hospital and a nurse there told her that it was her choice.  She said "KNOCK ME OUT!"  She said she didn't want to know anything about what they were doing to her.

With some reservations, that's pretty much how I feel.

So, with good results, I'm expecting to be home again sometime late tomorrow, hopefully the better for the experience.  If not, you may find one of these in my front yard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Several rains recently have done wonders for our bits of urban gardening.  For example, a vine in the back yard suddenly sprouted some flowers.

To my great surprise, it is a trumpet vine.  When we lived in Mexico, there would be thousands of blooms on them.  But the buds apparently exude something sweet and the ants love it.

Getting down to something to eat, there are cherry tomatoes by the dozens.

A good crop of Romas.  (That one down low, partly hidden, was red enough to pick last night and will probably be eaten tonight.

In another pot, some Thai chiles.  One small one ripe already.

Another pot holds some basil and parsley.

Marigolds are supposed to be a natural deterrent to bugs.

And the mint is running amok this year.

Meanwhile, out in front of the house a couple of hibiscus plants have gone into full bloom.

Come with me, deep into the center of this beautiful flower.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


There comes a time when a person's pets can take over their lives.  In our family we have often joked about whether one or another of us is about to become a "cat lady".  You know, the woman who has cats everywhere in her house and is usually dodging the health department.  The BRD has, once again, added to her menagerie with this so far unnamed 9 week old kitten.

She already had two cats and a dog but as she said there's nothing like having a new kitten in the house.

I was showing SWMBO the "baby pictures" and commented "she's crazy!"

SWMBO responded "well, we have three cats."

That shut me up.  I mean what can you say in light of that kind of feminine logic.

Monday, July 25, 2011


We did get our monsoon rain yesterday evening.  It was the first real pound-down rain of the summer so far.  It poured hard for probably 20 minutes or so before moving off.  The drainage ditch in front of our home was running full.  I went out after the rain stopped and moved some rocks and debris to the side so it would drain better. 

Later - supper.  A plate of cold shrimp I had cooked in the afternoon, good homemade cocktail sauce put together by SWMBO, some warm Brie and crackers, wine and this beautiful relish plate SWMBO created.

I have to admit none of the produce came from our garden this time.  The grocery stores provided all of it.  But it was all very tasty and perfect for a hot summer night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Nguyen Cao Ky is dead.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the former South Vietnamese premier died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was being treated for a respiratory problem.  He was 80 years old.

I met the former general once, though it was not in Vietnam, in spite of my "foreign correspondent style" leisure suit shown in this photo.

That's his wife du jour in the center.  He was married three times.  Anyway, it was in northern California where a refugee camp had been set up for hundreds of Vietnamese fleeing the communist victory in the war and takeover of the entire country.

Over the years, I've had numerous people view this picture and say "I didn't know you were in Vietnam."  I had to then explain the photo.

Nguyen Cao Ky was running a liquor store in Southern California shortly after these photos were taken.  He spent the rest of his life living in California and Vietnam.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This is a photograph of a man who might be a Hollywood actor, right?  Nice gentle flicker of a smile, eyes a bit wary.  Not wary enough, as it turned out.  This is John Dillinger, infamous bank robber and killer of the 1920's and 30's.  He led the FBI on a merry chase for a long time but they caught up with him coming out of the Biograph Theatre in Chicago and shot him down on the sidewalk.  Johnny was 31 years and one month old when it happened . . . 77 years ago today.

Another Johnny D portrayed Dillinger in the movie, Public Enemy.  That's Johnny Depp above with the same gentle smile but eyes that seem to bore through you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


First the important stuff.  Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew broke his ankle in last night's Diamondbacks game and is out for the season.  He was trying to score from second on a fly to left field and when he slid at home, his right foot got caught, twisted and snapped.  Oddly enough, on the very next play Milwaukee's center fielder,  Carlos Gomez, made a spectacular diving catch of a blooper, landed on his shoulder and broke his clavicle.  He's out of the lineup indefinitely.  Baseball ain't no sport for sissies, in spite of what the football fans say.

Now then.  My pal Danny Bananas sent me a link in an email to some spectacular aerial photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.  They're well worth a look and you can seen them here.

That's all for today, folks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Sometimes one's best posts are merely referrals to those of another blogger.  Such is the case today as I encourage you to read and view Lucy's post from Brittany about the whimsical work of scrap merchant artist Robert Coudray.

On another subject, I have just finished the late Frank Conroy's wonderful book on the life of a musician "Body and Soul."  It gets a bit deep sometimes when talking about the theory of particular compositions or styles but, all in all, it's a wonderful gripping read.  In tribute to it, I offer this video of one of the musicians mentioned frequently in the book, pianist Art Tatum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


My former colleague and long-time friend Tommy the C sent a short e-mail today, gigging me a bit about my lack of posts of late.  So . . . here's a compendium of my most original thoughts recently.

When Rupert Murdoch got pied this morning during a hearing before a Parliamentary committee in London, the only hero was . . no, not Rupert . . no, not James . . no, not the pie tosser (a supposed comedian) . . and no, certainly not the rather spineless questioners among the MPs;  no, the hero of the day was Rupert's wife, Wendy, who leaped up and slapped the pie tosser with a long, right arm.  One of the typically idiot MPs later complimented Wendy on her left cross.

 = = =

It's been hot across the nation this week.  But nothing out of the ordinary here in Arizona.  108 in Phoenix today.  About 85 up here.  We had a little rain today.  Ho hum.  Just normal.

= = =

My Diamondbacks have been on a bit of a run lately.  Until tonight.  Right now it's 11 to 3 in favor of Milwaukee in the 9th inning.  Might be a hill to high to climb.  Yup, it was.  Game over.

= = =

The Republican presidential field continues to grow.  Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is going to announce tomorrow.  Texas Governor . . oh, wait a sec . . . oh, yeah, Rick Perry.  I had to Google it to remember his name.  He's apparently thinking more and more about taking the bait.  And yet another group of Big Biz money men are trying to convince New Jersey Govenor Chris Christie to get in.  And Michelle Bachmann's people were roughing up a reporter trying to ask about her migraine headaches.  Does this sound like a crazy campaign to you?  Too?

= = =

So, yadda yadda yadda.  You see?  I really haven't had much to say lately.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This is a fairly common sight in my town.  You see, once upon a time this was a huge cattle ranch, owned by the Fain family.  Little by little the Fains either donated or sold the land so Prescott Valley could be established.  But not all of it.  So that's why you can frequently find cattle grazing within sight of town buildings and residences.

So far, it's an easy accomodation and everybody lives with it.

'Course there are these two who seem to be doing a line from the movie "Taxi Driver" - "Hey, are you lookin' at me?"

By the way, this was not an original idea.  Jarart/Judy did it first last month and better than I did.  You can see her post here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BLACKWELL . . . IS . . . BACK!

For those of you who have expressed concern about our Big Black Boy Cat, Blackwell, here's a photo I took on the patio this evening.

As you can see, he's back in the prime of life.  He had us pretty worried for awhile because he was acting just like our beloved Smoke was right before he left us.  But SWMBO began dosing him with some antibiotic the Humane Society had given us back when we had him neutered.  As it happened, he hadn't needed it back then.  But this time, it seemed like it was "what the doctor ordered."  He's back to eating and drinking as normal and has lots of energy.

Welcome back, Blackwell.

Monday, July 11, 2011


SWMBO and I went to an outdoor jazz concert the other night.  In the middle of the monsoon!  We had doubts about it but got there early enough to shelter under the roof of the amphitheatre.  It was an occasion because we knew the keyboard player, Joel Robin, from way back in the 70's.  We had never heard his wife, Delphine Cortez, but knew she was one of the premier jazz singers in Phoenix.  And how much can I say about the fabulous Margo Reed.  As I told her at intermission, we had seen her and her sister Francine the first time they sang publicly in Phoenix.  There was a jazz festival going on at a shopping center and these two girls, in their cutoff shorts and t-shirts came up from the audience and just took over the stage.  Margo told me the other night that the band was led by Keith Greko and "he didn't like performing with chick singers!"  But they were fabulous.  Margo later went on tour and became a very well known performer.  Later her sister Francine did the same thing, performing with Lyle Lovett's Large Band and leading her own group, as she was when we saw them in Guadalajara, Mexico during the Cervantes Festival.

At any rate, the concert the other night was a great experience.  Margo was as sassy as ever with all the style of a great singer.  Delphine, as I told Joel, just creates a symphony on stage and she's a great scat singer.

As for the band, Joel is better than I can ever remember him.  He does a number of arrangements as well.  Drummer Cleve Huff kept everything on time and showed some great skill as a soloist.  Saxaphonist Tony Vacca was a new find for us and he was spectacular, whether playing his solo riffs or doing back-and-forth with Delphine.

It was a great evening.  Now, gentle readers, go out and hear some live jazz!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Something is wrong with our big black boy cat, Blackwell.  He's only eating a bite or two and has cut down on his water intake.  He spends a lot of time under the bed.  We're worried as this was how Smoke behaved before we had to put him down.  But what can you do?

Meantime, I spotted our oldest cat, Muggles, in an uncharacteristic pose today cuddled up for a nap with a ceramic cat.

And a few feet away, Jazz has found yet another box that just  seems to suit her fine.

Friday, July 8, 2011


To the north . . .

To the south . . .

To the west . . .

Hmm, a little rain dripping out of that one.  Well maybe it will dampen down the radiation from that mushroom cloud to the northwest.

Gee.  Right over a fitness center, too.

O.K. Just kidding.  But it does have a somewhat familiar shape.

Meantime, where I live?  Blue skies.  No rain.  Heat.  Bah, humbug!
Update: About 3:30 this afternoon the rain finally came.  It's been raining steadily now for 15 or 20 minutes.  Hooray!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I should have told you this before but the summer heat has given me a bad case of lassitude.  But here it is.  The monsoon has arrived.  As I have written before,  that means a change in the direction of the wind.  And that brings us rain from, of all places, the Gulf of Mexico.  Up here the sky begins to darken and look something like this.

If we're lucky - - and I say lucky because our state has been dealing with a drought for years and years - - we may get some rain.  Here it's been relatively light so far.  Actually a long light rain would be the best because when it comes down really hard and severely it just tends to run off, cause flooding and actually doesn't do the land a lot of good.

So it's the good and the bad.  Or maybe we might stretch things a bit and call it the devil or the angel.

Incidentally, Bobby Vee (Robert Velline) was a young man from Fargo, North Dakota, and the first entertainer I ever saw "up close and personal" right before he became a star.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


So.  It's Wednesday.  Night.  A lot of people have been blogging about last night's dust storm in Phoenix.  So.  It's a dust storm.  We live in the desert.  In the monsoon season, as I've been trying to tell you guys, the wind changes direction and it blows.  Sometimes it picks up sand and dirt from the few open spaces we have left and it forms a huge cloud which is what we call a haboob.  It's an Arabic word.  But we got it and it's ours now.  So the dust blows in and nobody gets hurt.  Except, maybe, some of those newcomers from Chicago.  Other than that, the swimming pools get full of mud, the dust covers your cars, and it's gone.  In spite of the rather spectacular pictures, it's no big deal.  Life goes on.

O.K.  Enough with the dust storm.

Up here in the mountains, we don't get dust storms.  We get rain.  Sometimes a little.  Sometimes a lot.  Sometimes the dry washes around here get hit with a ton of water and sometimes some dumbass drives into it and gets swept away and, if he's not real lucky, he dies.  But that happens everywhere, folks.  If you're dumb enough to risk your life with weather phenomenons, you can lose your life.

I lived for many years in North Dakota.  They get blizzards there.  Sometimes people would try to drive through them.  (O.K.  Personal note here.  I drove through one for about 300 miles the night my son was born.  When I got there, he was perhaps 6 hours old.  So why did I do it?  Stupidity.)  Anyway, sometimes they get through, sometimes they don't.

I also lived in Indiana for awhile.  Occasionally they had tornadoes there.  I can remember one Easter Sunday when one came within, oh, maybe a mile, maybe a half mile of where we lived.  We got out, took our "stuff" and drove in an opposite direction.  Later, we drove to where the tornado had touched down and witnessed massive destruction.

So what am I trying to say here?  Don't be afraid of weather but don't tempt it either.  You get a big dust storm?  Stay in your house.  Close the windows.  It's only going to last for a short time and then you clean up the mess.  No big deal.

You hear me?  NO.  BIG.  DEAL.

Monday, July 4, 2011


How could I forget this.  Many is the time when I had to work in the t.v. newsroom on the July 4th holiday when suddenly our pal Steve Widmann would put a recording of this on and crank up the sound.  It was sensational.  And it still is.  No one ever did this song better than Brother Ray.  Just listen.  (And turn up the volume!)


Sunday, July 3, 2011


Our backyard tomato plants are coming along.  First a couple of cherry tomatoes.  They're about ready to pick.

But wait.  Here come the Romas.

Sure they're green now.  But they're big and beautiful and they, too, will turn red one of these days.  There isn't anything like a home grown tomato.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Blackwell has become used to our evening cocktail hours on the patio.  He was a little early yesterday.  He came in to the den about 3:30, sat down and stared at me.  He should know by now that we don't go out until the heat is off the day, at about 6 p.m.  But he waited patiently, until I had made a drink and headed toward the door.  Then his usually flaccid state accelerated and he sped past me to the door.

So we went outside.  We had a quick little bit of adventure when Blackwell apparently flushed a young mourning dove
somewhere near the tomato plants. I was across the yard and suddenly this dove came, fluttering along the ground but not making any elevation. Another dove, probably his mother, was right with the young one, maybe six inches above him, shepherding him along. Blackwell was as surprised as I was and stayed back, then made a lunge for the birds, then stopped again as they headed up the passageway between our house and our neighbor's. Then he suddenly made a rapid dash toward them but I accomplished two things at once by slapping my hands together and yelling "Blackwell, no!" The two birds lifted into the air and Blackwell made a 180 and came running back. I'm not sure whether it was fear or inexperience that, for a time, caused the young bird to not be able to lift off the ground. But he overcame it. Later we saw the two doves sitting side by side on a tree branch for the longest time. I think the fledgling learned a lesson.

A little later, I went into the house to replenish my glass. When I came out, Blackwell had taken my chair for his own and stayed there, with a satisfied and kingly expression.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It occurred to me today that my last three blog posts all had to do with water.  Two of them with way too much water.  I found that kind of interesting, considering that I live in one of the hottest, dryest states.

Yup!  Some people think of it as hell.  The rest of it call it Arizona.  I just checked the weather page and it says the current temperature is 95.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  'Course, that's over in Prescott, which is higher and cooler than where I live.  But in this range, what's a degree or two difference?  And we high desert dwellers do have one advantage.

Yes, the humidity is low here, only topping out at about 30 percent and dipping as low as single digits.  I have been to New York in the summer.  One time I was there in August and the temperature and the humidity were matching each other . . . in the high 90's for both.  As I was waiting on a curb for a light to change I was hit with a sudden cloudburst.  I just stood there getting soaking wet and enjoying it..

Nothing like that in the forecast for today but y'know what?  The longer range forecast says there's a "slight chance" of showers and thunderstorms starting on Saturday.  Maybe that monsoon prediction I was talking about awhile back will come true right on schedule.

We're ready for it.

Come to think of it, one of those Bud Lights wouldn't be bad right now either.

Monday, June 27, 2011

MAG 71

I know these are probably glass sculptures, most likely done by the artists at Dale Chihuly’s place up around Seattle. But, they look like undersea creatures to me. And that scares me.

I’ve done a wee bit of snorkeling and I loved when a school of fish would surround me and I could move my hand through them without ever touching any of them. They didn’t dart away but they somehow always avoided my hand.

But what panicked me were the gars, or needlefish, that streaked through beneath me, zig-zagging back and forth in a thrice. This picture kind of reminds me of those needlefish, long and narrow and deadly (?).

I never did enough snorkeling to be able to learn to go beneath the surface. I just paddled around up top, looking at what colorful spectacles were beneath me.

Once I went snorkeling with a friend down around Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico. My companion was more experienced than I was. He dove. I don’t know if he saw anything more than I did. But I do know that I lost sight of him and while I was dabbling around on the surface, he came up behind me and grabbed my foot. I nearly drowned! I was sure a Great White Shark had me in it’s jaws.

My pal (?) got a big laugh out of it. The bastard!

But he paid for our snorkeling expedition and for the beer so I guess it was okay in the end.

I do remember that we went out to this site in a boat and when we were done with our swimming we had to hoist ourselves up over the side into the boat. I couldn’t do it and he and the Mexican boat owner had to combine to drag me up over the side.

But, like I said, my pal paid for the beer. What our friends for?

However. I still shivver a bit when I look at this picture.

Magpie Tales is a little game played by participants each week.  Mistress Willow/Tess posts a picture and challenges any and all to write whatever based on it.  You can read more entries at Magpie Tales and even get into the game yourself.


To give you an idea of what has been capturing my interest for the past several days, here is a video of what Minot, North Dakota, looks like.

The boat ride and the video was provided by a crew from Minot Air Force Base.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


My working career started at the Minot Daily News in Minot, North Dakota, then moved to KCJB radio and KXMC-TV way back in the early 1960's.  I grew up only 55 miles away.  I have relatives living in Minot.  Now, the city is facing a catastrophic flood.  The last major flood was in 1969.  The spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers now says the city will face twice that amount of water in the next few days.  Much of the city, which lies in a valley formed by the Souris (Mouse) River will apparently be covered with water for about a week.  It sounds like the disaster that was New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina slammed into it.

My cousin, only a few months younger than I, has been evacuated from her home.  When I spoke to her, she was tearful when we talked about the force and scope of this flood.

It is a terrible, terrible flood and, as many of the news reporters are saying, Minot will be changed forever.

One of my former employers, KXMC-TV, has been broadcasting news reports live and continuously, 24 hours a day.  You can find them here.  I've been glued to it for most of the past couple of days.

I covered floods as a news reporter in North Dakota.  It's hard work and it's not a lot of fun.  If you're the type of person who prays, you might add the beleagured residents of Minot to your prayers.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Yes, it's the first day of summer.  The temperature where I live is supposed to soar into the 90's today and probably will hit 100 degrees tomorrow.  (World citizens, don't panic: that's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.)

The heat will be with us until the monsoon arrives with some cooling rain. 

So . . . what to do?  Well, here's a couple of guys with the perfect solution.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MAG 70

Once upon a time, long ago, I was watching some stupid program on television which featured interviews with "famous people."  The particular star being interviewed in her home this night was the actress Kirstie Alley.  As the interviewer walked around Ms. Alley's living room with her, she stopped at a mantel, covered in framed photos.

She pointed at one of them which showed a young couple dressed to the nines.  The interviewer said to Ms. Alley "Oh, this must be your parents on their wedding day."

Ms. Alley responded "No, the photo just came with the frame!"

I don't know why that television moment has stayed with me but it still amuses me and it was my first thought when I saw this photo put forth as impetus by Willow/Tess for this week's Magpie Tales.  You can read more of them by clicking here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


My dad has been gone for over 30 years.  But I can remember a lot about him.  For example, his pride in this big fish he brought back from a successful trip to Canada.

Spending most of his life in North Dakota, he had plenty of experience with a snow shovel.

Late in his life, he began spending the winters in Arizona.  He had his own home, a house trailer he bought in a court not far from us.  But in his mind he was never far from his longtime home.

This is the way I like to remember him.  Smiling, enjoying a good joke.

Yes, even after all these years, I miss him.

Happy father's day, Dad.  You done good!

Friday, June 17, 2011


When the heat of the summer comes upon us, strange things happen in the minds of my loved ones.

SWMBO, for example, has created a new cocktail.  She hasn't named it, that I know of, but I tend to think of it as Mexican Mafia Tiger's Blood.  It is constructed of lemonade, an Italian sparkling fruit drink called Blood Orange, and tequila.  Served over ice in a wine glass with a salted rim. 

The BRD, on the other hand, was photographed recently in . . . well, let me just show you.

It appears I'm not the only oddball in this family.