Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Last week I told you my nephew, Barry Taylor, and his wife, Amy, had come to Arizona for a five day backpacking trip into the remoter areas of the Grand Canyon.  What they didn't know when they left 80 degree weather in St. Paul, Minnesota, was that Arizona had been hit with a freakish early spring snowstorm.  But armed with reservations at the Canyon and the foolhardiness bravery of youth, they set out.

You will notice there is snow everywhere.  Quite a bit of snow covering a narrow trail leading to the depths.  No room for any false moves.

But as one descends into the Canyon the climate changes, the temperature rises and the snow melts.

I didn't say the footing got any safer or easier.  But these two have hiked in Bolivia.  They have hiked into canyons in Death Valley where there were no trails.  I asked how they didn't get lost.  Barry said "topo maps."  And they didn't get lost this time, in spite of this.

As one goes deeper, the walls open somewhat.

And then they were down at the bottom.

Barry and Amy might say "just another walk in the park."  But I'll bet they slept well in that 4-pound-tent.

Since I moved to Arizona 40 years ago I have thought of hiking the Canyon.  But I put it off too long and now I'll just have to live vicariously through the adventures of my nephew and niece.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Tiger Woods won his 72nd PGA tournament today . . the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  It's the 7th time he's won this tournament.  Today he battled Graeme McDowell in the final round and ended up at 13 under par with a five-stroke victory.

It's awfully good to have him back in top form once again.

Next stop?  The Masters in Augusta, Georgia, in two weeks.  Guess who the favorite will be.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Yes, I know you're stunned at the news but it's true.  Bush's consigliere has a heart.  Oh, it's not his.  I was sitting here quietly reading when SWMBO came in and said "Did you know Dick Cheney had a heart transplant today?" 

No, I didn't.  Curiously I had just read this morning that the old war criminal had canceled an appearance in Toronto because "Canada is too dangerous!"  Maybe for him, even with a new heart.  Apparently he had to be barricaded behind storm troopers in a hotel in Vancouver awhile back when he went there for a book signing.  It seems people in Canada have a lot less tolerance for Cheney than our leftists in the United States.

So . . I went to the Web and found a brief saying a spokeswoman stated Cheney had been waiting 20 months for a transplant and he did not know the identity of the donor.  He's recovering at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.  Just in case anyone wants to drive over and demonstrate in the street.

Friday, March 23, 2012


I have removed the "spam catcher" from this site.  This time you have my good friends Stafford Ray from Australia and Steve Glossin from Germany to thank.  When the "robot detector" isn't there, I get some guy, or machine, or algorithm, trying to put meaningless comments on my posts.  Since I have my blog set up to send me each comment by email when it comes in to the blog, I get them . . always from "Anonymous".  But it turns out they never make it onto my blog because the all-knowing and all-powerful Google intercepts and quarantines them.  So I guess the small problem I have of deleting the emails is worth a lot less than the grief some, if not all, of you gentle readers go through trying to decipher those mystery words.  So thanks, Ford and Steve, for gigging me to do it.  Come, read and comment, my friends, no more barriers.

Sheesh!  For just a second there I was sounding like John McCain.  That's not a good thing.

As I said recently, I've been slowly reading through a book my wife gave me for Christmas.  It's selected writings done for Rolling Stone magazine by the late Hunter S. Thompson.  This afternoon, while simultaneously watching Tiger Woods take over the lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, I was reading the section where the evil Richard Nixon finally gave up the ghost and resigned the presidency.  Thompson reports that a few weeks later he was wakened out of a dead (and no doubt drug and alcohol induced) sleep by a telephone call from Dick Tuck in Washington screaming that Gerald Ford had just pardoned the Trick.  Hunter said he went into panic mode because his story of Nixon's demise was due at the magazine in 24 hours and 15,000 words were already set in type.  The good doctor's version had Nixon sure to serve time in prison for his various crimes as President.  And now that was all excised by Gerry Ford.

Well, it's a good story as only Hunter could weave one.  As a true blue Nixon hater, I know I read it when it came out in the magazine but it did my heart good to peruse the words again.

A true blue Michigan State alumnus and fan who is a friend of mine was in Phoenix last night watching Louisville trash his team in the NCAA tournament, ending their year with only a Big 10 championship.  I was interested that he wrote bitterly on Facebook of Louisville's "aggressive style of smashmouth ball."  I was doubly interested because the New York Times this morning wrote how Louisville "beat the Spartans the way the Spartans beat other teams for years.  It bullied the perennial March bully, staggered the usual tournament tough guy..."  I guess a true fan can only see it one way.

Maybe that's why I prefer the gentler sports.  Golf.  Baseball.  Politics.

And by the way for those of you concerned about our godawful snow storm last weekend - it's all gone.  Actually it was pretty much all gone by Thursday as a high pressure system once again dipped into Arizona and the temperatures rose to the upper 60's.  Spring has returned.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I've been somewhat remiss in my blogging duties lately.  'Course when one starts thinking of it as a "duty" it may be time to rethink the whole process.  But I've done that before and I continue so . . what the hey.

Saturday was preparation and delivery of the BRD's Christmas present dinner.  Sunday was preparation and dining on SWMBO's wonderful dinner for Amy and the Bear.  (My nickname for Amy and Barry - see previous posts).  Monday was lunch with the two of them.  And then we collapsed.  Sort of.

I had a doctor appointment Monday morning.  Judy had one today.  We each have one tomorrow.  And so it goes.  As I have so often said "if we didn't have these doctor appointments we wouldn't have any social life at all."  Of course, this week that was negated.

So, other than that, I finished the Sunday New York Times Monday evening.  I finished an ebook by Gail Collins called "Scorpion Tongues" today.  It's about political gossip since the days of George Washington up through the Bush 2 presidency.  It convinces one that it's not really worse than ever.  It just keeps on, maliciously through the years.  It does make one wonder about politics, though.  Oh well it keeps it somewhat interesting.

I see today's news is dominated by a gaffe made by a Romney spokesman who said the general election campaign will be sort of like an Etch-a-Sketch, sorting everything out for a new start.  Of course, Gingrich and Santorum have happily posed with Etch-a-Sketch toys today, talking about how Romney will change his views once he gets the nomination.  And the Democrats have joined in the fun.

So I haven't missed a thing.

Football!  Now there's an amusing sport.  Denver won the sweepstakes and signed Peyton Manning.  Then they traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.  But then the Jets found out they'd have to pay Denver an additional 5 million bucks to cover Tebow's bonuses and the Jacksonville Jaguars leaped back into the competition.  (Tebow reportedly would prefer to play in Florida, where he is very popular from his college career.)  But then later came word that the Jets had made the deal and Tebow would indeed come to New York.  Where he'll have to deal with their reigning quarterback, Mark Sanchez, and his followers on the team.  Methinks Mr. Tebow will not have a happy, or probably long, career in the National Football League.

Which is not to avoid mentioning the problems incurred by the New Orleans Saints, who have had their head coach suspended for a year, their general manager for half a year and who have been fined huge amounts for their policy of paying bonuses for nasty hits on opposing team members.  Gawd, the more you hear the more you find disgusting in professional sports.

So.  Politics.  Sports.  Both dirty.  Both condemnable.

What's left?


Guess we'll leave that to the Republicans.  And to another day.

Monday, March 19, 2012


We have just had a long awaited visit from my nephew, Dr. Barry Taylor, and his wife, Amy Fredregill, of St. Paul, Minnesota.  I had not seen Barry in 24 years so there was a lot to catch up on.  Considering that he and Amy are about to celebrate their 5th anniversary, we had never met her before.

Barry had been at a medical conference in Las Vegas since Wednesday, Amy joined him there on Saturday.

They came to our home last night for a dinner, a lot of wine and hours of conversation.  Then we joined them for lunch today before sending them on their way.

"On their way" means to Tusayan, Arizona, just south of the Grand Canyon.  Tomorrow they will descend into the canyon for a 4 day backpacking trip.  When they go on one of these trips they choose the most remote areas they can find, where they're not likely to see another person for the entire time.  Considering that Northern Arizona has just been through a 48-hour winter storm that dumped about 13 inches on the south rim of the Canyon, we were a bit doubtful.  But they have tons of experience and they've done this particular trip before.  Plus the weather began clearing up today and will be warming up through the next several days.

We loved their visit and wish them well as they continue their adventurous life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Here's one for the files.  This is what it looked like in my neighborhood yesterday afternoon.

And . . for all of you folks who wish you could have just one more taste of winter . . here's what it looks like outside this morning.  In Arizona!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I wish I had pictures of it.  SWMBO presented her daughter with a special Christmas gift today - dinner for six at her house, giver not to be invited.

This goes way back to when the BRD was not nearly as gorgeous as she is now and was living with a guy in a small apartment in Phoenix.  We were all poorer then so the daughter was given a dinner for four, lasagna, salad, french bread, some kind of dessert.  It was all prepared and taken to her apartment.  All she had to do was heat it up and be a hostess extraordinaire.  She loved it but I had no idea how much she had appreciated it.

Last year at our Christmas Eve gathering at her house, she brought it up and told her Beau Jack about that great gift.  Well, said her mum, here's your first Christmas gift.  She presented her with a scroll that was the same gift only a bit advanced - a tossed salad with Cuties and Craisins, raspberry vinaigrette and toasted almonds; beef bourguinon over egg noodles; french baguette; and a dessert of chocolate crepes with a warm vanilla sauce and fresh raspberries.  It brought tears to the BRD's eyes so this year she did it again.

That was nearly three months ago and today was the day the BRD selected.  So we have returned after delivering all the food to the BRD's house ahead of her guests.

It's a great, personal gift and the way SWMBO cooks it's probably as good as it gets.  As SWMBO said when the BRD answered the door, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012


As the temperature hovers in the 60's, buds and tiny flowers are popping out on the trees.

But hold on.  Old Man Winter has (at least) one more shot.  A winter storm is due to hit the state this weekend with heavy snow in the forecast.

He likes to play these games most every year.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Newt Gingrich lost both the Alabama and Mississippi primary elections tonight.  That was supposed to be his territory.  But he LOST both states.  How much longer will we have to put up with this fat little spider.

This photo is not photoshopped.  It is an actual photo of (big) Newt dancing with his (####) wife the other night. 

The man may feel like he's big enough for the job of president.

We feel like he's too big.

Goodbye Newt.


Friday, March 9, 2012


Yes, after all these months and years, Trader Joe's has finally opened it's first store in our immediate area.

Only a couple of hours after the doors were opened, parked cars ringed the building.

SWMBO said she probably wouldn't go near the store for a week or so because it would be mobbed.  During the months since the store was announced there has been a running feud going on in the local paper.  On one side people like me who said they couldn't wait for the store to open.  On the other side the grumps who said it wouldn't be popular.  Guess which side won the argument today?

The employees wear Trader Joe's t-shirts or Hawaiian shirts.

I merely walked through the store, taking pictures.  I didn't even try to shop.  Not today.  But lots of people did.

A couple of doors down, a Five Guys hamburger shop appeared to be still under construction.

I asked a fellow bolting steel tables together when they would open.

"11 o'clock," he said.  That was less than an hour away.  He said at 8 o'clock this morning they didn't have any tables.

There's another shop - the House of Bread Bakery Cafe - in between Five Guys and TJ's but it looks like it's opening is a little ways away yet.

Meantime, adjacent to the Trader Joe's property more ground has been cleared and leveled in preparation for construction of another row of shops.  Sort of looks like the economy is recovering.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


SWMBO and I made our annual trip to Scottsdale today for the 2012 Celebration of Fine Art, a huge show with more than 100 artists displaying their work and demonstrating their techniques under huge white tents.  The show lasts three months and features some of the finest artists in the nation.  Unfortunately photography is not allowed so I can't show you any of the show.  I am happy to say that every one of the artists I spoke with said the show had been good for them.

Many of the artists have been showing here year after year.  One artist we spoke with today was back for his 19th consecutive year.  Apparently they return because sales are good, even in tight times.  It's a great show with many different styles of art.

Then it was time for lunch and we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Phoenix - Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.

The outdoor patio is beautifully designed and features water features and gorgeous spring blossoms.

Inside, lots of dark wood and skylights with a seafood theme.

There is the requisite lobster board above a tank of fresh water.

But getting down to our lunch.  We began with an assortment of six baked oysters.  Unfortunately we scarfed them all down before we remembered the camera so all you get is a photo of the aftermath.

But we did better with the entrees.  Mine was my favorite - blackened catfish with Cajun spices, red beans and rice.

SWMBO couldn't resist the Cajun Combo - blackened catfish and shrimp Creole over Dirty Rice.  She brought a large portion home for her evening dining.

A couple of glasses of wine - Australian Shiraz for her, Argentine Malbec for me - topped off the meal.

A terrific meal after which we paid a visit to a nearby Barnes and Noble bookstore.  Our local store closed at the end of the year so this was a treat.  We picked up a couple of iced Mochas for the road and headed for home.  A little over an hour later we were there.

A good day.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Some of us just don't take good care of their teeth.  I don't know why.  Maybe because of the dentists we had when we were kids.  Our dentist was my godfather.  He was a little short guy and my brother insists that he used to climb up in the chair, putting his knee in one's stomach to get the leverage to work on the patient's mouth.  My brother has lousy teeth.  Mine aren't as bad but they're nothing to write home about.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because I have an apparently abcessed tooth that's going to have to come out next Monday.  And, as my new dentist told me today, serious gum disease that will have to be treated.  Now, I don't mind going to the dentist.  Hell, I don't even mind having a root canal.  The last couple of them I had (years ago) were done after I'd been shot up with enough Novocaine to put a small country to sleep and I didn't feel a thing.

But the point of this is why do I, we, put ourselves through the agony of dentistry, if that's what it is.  Frankly, I think with the new dentists of today there's very little agony involved.  Maybe just mental.

I remember one time when my favorite uncle was in his late 70's.  He had always taken incredible care of his teeth, brushing after every meal, flossing (presumably), and keeping them clean and white.  But here he was, in his 70's, being told by his dentist that he needed a root canal.  Now, what the hell is the justice of that?

So, I'll go.  I'll get my tooth pulled.  I'll begin treatment for my peridontal disease.  I'll probably bitch and moan to my wife about how much this is costing.  And you know what? 

Some day I'll die.  Anyway.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Tanning is not good for the skin, say the medicos.  As does my wife.  We have known a number of people who were dedicated to their tans, only to end up with tiny melanomas late in their lives.

But.  I read awhile back about a man who lived in New York City and always had a lovely tan no matter the time of year.  Meeting an acquaintance on the street, he would be asked how his Florida vacation had gone.  Truth be told?  He never went to Florida.  His son revealed that he would spend 10 minutes a day in the sun, every day, and thus acquired his all-season color.

So I thought I'd try that.  For several weeks, I have spent 10 minutes a day facing directly into the sun, on the days when there was one.

This was how I looked today.  Not much different, I'd say, from my normal Norwegian pastiness though there is a bit of color beginning to show.

Here's (sort of) what I'm aiming for.

Probably a little less orange and a little more George Hamilton bronze than this.

SWMBO keeps telling me to put on lotion when I come inside and, variously, telling me I am crazy, not being conscious of my health, will be sorry someday, etc.

She seems convinced that I will turn out more like this:

She may be right but I like to think that living in Arizona, I will retreat from, as I call it, "the solarium" long before the temperature rises high enough to do that kind of damage.

But . . . time will tell.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bennett and Gaga

SWMBO and I watched Tony Bennett's "Duets" show on PBS last night.  The more I watched, the more I realized that Frank Sinatra's statement that Bennett was the world's greatest saloon singer was absolutely true.  The man swings, he's soulful, he's just great.  And he's 85 YEARS OLD!!!

There were many great performances with singers ranging from Andrea Bocelli to Willy Nelson but we both agreed that this one was our favorite. 

Blue hair and all . . . that gal knows how to swing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm gonna have to stop watching the news.  It just gets crazier every day.  Two examples.

Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who held a news conference to report that his investigation has shown that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is phony.

Sheesh!  Even Donald Trump gave up on that.  Why is a county sheriff in Arizona investigating the birth certificate of the President of the United States any way?  Because he's a publicity hog, that's why.

And then there's this cretin.

The increasingly disgusting Rush Limbaugh, who said that a young woman who was denied the right to testify before a Congressional committee is a "slut", a "whore" and a "prostitute".  The young woman in question wanted to testify that employers should be required to cover birth control pills in their company healthcare programs.  Limbaugh further suggested that such women should provide videos of their sexual activity in return.

This goes beyond the pale.

Joe Arpaio and Rush Limbaugh are creatures cut from the same diseased cloth.

I can't express strongly enough how much disgust I have for both of them.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Oh, they've done it again, those Republicans running for President, they've gotten under my skin.  Mittens Romney seems to do it virtually every time he opens his mouth but recently Rick "the former Senator from the 14th Century" Santorum did it to me. 

And surprisingly, it wasn't his comment that President Kennedy's speech about separation of church and state almost made him throw up. 

And it wasn't his comment that President Obama is a snob because he wants every young person to go to college.  (Santorum, by the way, has three college degrees.) 

It wasn't his critique of Romney's wealth.  (Santorum lives in a home in a rich suburb of Washington, D.C.)

No what got under my skin was a recent campaign appearance in which Santorum stated that when the Republicans nominate a moderate, they always lose.  And when they nominate a conservative, they always win.

Senator, does the name Dwight David Eisenhower mean anything to you?  He was a moderate Republican and he served two terms as President.

How about the name, Barry Goldwater?  He was known as Mr. Conservative when he ran for President in 1964.  He lost.

SWMBO said this morning something about Santorum just saying whatever comes to his mind.  I said it doesn't have anything to do with his (alleged) mind.  He just says these things without even thinking about them.

So enough with Santorum.

Since I brought up that 1964 Goldwater run, I thought I should tell you how I decided who to vote for - Barry or President Lyndon Johnson.  After a lot of reading about both men I came to three conclusions.  Goldwater was crazy and Johnson was a crook.  That's two.  Now, which to vote for?  I finally concluded that Congress could control a crazy president but not a crook.  I voted for Goldwater.

A decade or so later I lived in Arizona and covered Goldwater as a newsman many times.  I wrote about him for a national magazine.  I went to Washington to cover the "10th anniversary of his non-inaugural" in 1975.

Barry wasn't crazy but he certainly was unelectable as a Republican in 1964, so soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In his final years, Barry pissed off most of the Republican establishment in Arizona as he seemed to become more and more Libertarian.  Many people blame his second wife but I think Barry was always that way.

I don't think anyone will ever have fond memories of Rick Santorum.