Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012


We are home after a couple of days in the big city of Surprise, Arizona, a western suburb of Phoenix.  We attended a friend's retirement party, then celebrated SWMBO's (number deleted) birthday with a wonderful dinner at the Vogue Bistro.  It's a French restaurant with a celebrated female chef, Aurore . . from a variety of restaurants including the Four Seasons in Chicago.  A couple of marvelous and huge martinis preceded foie gras, Oysters Rockefeller, filets mignon, a nice bottle of red wine, and a complimentary creme brule for the birthday girl.  (She shared.)  An unforgettably good meal.

The next night's dinner, at an Italian restaurant, was forgettable.  'Nuff said.

We got home at noon today.  SWMBO is taking a much needed nap and I'm about to follow.  I may soon look like Muggles did the other day. 

As SWMBO would say, "that is a very domesticated cat!"

Friday, May 11, 2012


Among the smaller birds (as opposed to birds of prey like hawks and eagles) I don't think any is as brave as the robin.  All he needs is a little running water to practically come up and sit in your hand.

"Hmmm, are you sure this is safe?"

"Oh, that feels so nice.  My feet were getting very hot with all this hopping around."

"Okay, you got my profile.  Now how about a face-on portrait.  And while you're at it, how about my theme song!"

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This smooth lookin' car should be retired.  Why?  Because it's 65 years old!  It's a 1947 Ford.

When it was brand new, it probably sold for around $2,500.  Restored, with all original parts, it will cost a bit more.

The car is parked outside Empty Pockets Garage in Prescott Valley, Arizona, which advertises that they work on "street rods & customs."

Here's another one parked in front of the garage.

This one is a 1934 Ford.  But I wouldn't have had to tell you that.  All you'd have to do is get behind the proud owners' "set of wheels".

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Yesterday was a sad day.  First there was a crashing defeat for U.S. Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary.  He was defeated by a 20 percent margin by a Tea Party backed state treasurer.

When I first got to know Richard Lugar in 1969 he was the mayor of Indianapolis and he started it on a growth pattern that has made it a cosmopolitan Midwestern city.  Before Lugar's reign it used be called Indian-No-Place and the cornfield with lights.  Earlier this year it hosted a stellar celebration of the Super Bowl.

I covered Lugar for three years before leaving Indy.  I was super impressed by Lugar's intelligence and the genius that was Uni-Gov, extending the city limits to take in all of Marion County.  I can still see Lugar's wry smile and the twinkle in his eye when he was pleased by something a reporter had asked him.

Lugar went on to the U.S. Senate and has spent 36 years there.  He's white haired, 80 years old and heavier than he was in those golden days gone by.  But listening to him speak it was obvious that his health and his intelligence was just fine.  I think he could easily have done another six year term.  But the voters thought otherwise.  It was a rude way to treat a man who has done so much for Indiana, the nation and the world.

Closer to home, fire broke out in a barbecue restaurant that shared a building on Prescott's legendary Whiskey Row with a food store and with a long-time and well-loved saloon, the Bird Cage.  Firemen fought a great battle keeping the flames from spreading to the rest of the Row but when it was over the Bird Cage and the other two businesses were totally gutted.  Even at noon today, hundreds of people were standing across the street staring at the rubble.  Many seemed stunned.

Weekends used to see dozens of motorcycles coming and going and parked in front of the Bird Cage.  Many folks who didn't spend time there thought it was a biker bar.  And it was.  But there were also hippies and city leaders and businessmen.  And a lot of people who just loved good music.  A lot of bands have played at the Cage and a lot of people have danced on its miniscule dance floor.

But no more.

At least for now.

There's no good word yet on whether the building will be rebuilt though many people who have heard about the great fire of 1900, in which the entire Whiskey Row was burned to the ground and later rebuilt, are saying the Cage has to be rebuilt. 

We'll see.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


No macros today.  Just a couple of photos to show you how our roses have burst into bloom this week.  First the arbor covered with Fourth of July blossoms.

Then the pink roses against one of the walls.

The Fourth of July roses are the ones I had been calling Firecracker Roses ever since they had first been planted several years ago.  But Keith, aka Bricky from way down in southern New Zealand corrected me recently and the Google confirmed it.  So from now on, they are Fourth of July roses.

Now, as to the patio.  Let me thank all of you who responded to my plea for help and advice as to what to do with it.  While several of you suggested the multi-colored abstract SWMBO had thought of, in the finality of it we had to consider that we just live here.  The duplex belongs to the BRD and she wasn't keen on the idea of the reddish-brown being mixed up with green and blue and white.  So the artist, Stephen aka the Chubby Chatterbox, had the best suggestion and we are going to go with another coat of a similar color to what's already there.  It should give it the look we'll enjoy without becoming too much for future tenants, should we decide to move some day. 

One other thing: While I have used the word "we" generously, I can assure you (much to the continued laughter of Dana, the Bug) that I shall avoid at all costs being involved in anything other than possibly driving the gals to and from the paint store.

Monday, May 7, 2012


When we moved in here, the front patio was bare, grey concrete.  Neither SWMBO nor the BRD liked that so they tinted it with a sort of reddish-brown stain.  After a year or two it started looking kind of ugly.  So they bought some paint of the same shade and they painted it.  Voila!  A nice new patio.

That was some time ago and it's started looking bad again.  After some discussion the gals decided to take the paint off right down to the bare concrete.  So Judy has worked on it for 7 or 8 hours with a power washer.  The paint comes off . . . mostly.  But the stain is another matter.  So here's the current result.

Now most people would probably say (as I did), "Man, that looks terrible."  But then it started to grow on me.  I think it kind of looks like a patio in one of those old homes in Italy or Mexico.

SWMBO, being of an artistic nature, said she was thinking about getting some blue and green pigments and doing a sort of abstract earth-as-scene-from-outer-space patch job on it.  I think that's a pretty good idea but nothing has been decided yet.

What do you think?

(By the way, you will notice that this has been from the start and continues to be the gals' project.  I have studiously avoided getting anywhere near any manual labor on it.  But I'm always eager to give my opinion on their work.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012


These were the best I could do with my little point-and-shoot camera.  They're blurry but . . .

The next one was taken the night before last.

Nothing there that's going to appear in any photography magazines.  But, as you can tell, I have no shame.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


First, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is not Mexican independence day.  That is September 16th.

Cinco de Mayo marks a battle near Puebla in which a 4,000 man Mexican army defeated an 8,000 man French army.  The French army at the time was considered the best in the world.  Big day for Mexicans.  But a year later the French conquered the Mexicans and established Maximilian as the emperor of Mexico.

However, he didn't last long either.  Three years later the Mexicans, with increased support from the United States, overthrew and executed Maximilian and drove the French out of Mexico.

For some reason, Cinco de Mayo caught on as a day of celebration.  But except for the area around Puebla and beach resorts that cater to Americans, not in Mexico.  No, the holiday is celebrated widely in the United States, predominately by non-Mexicans.  Go figure.

So . . . what to do?  That's easy.  Margaritas, Dos Equis cerveza (beer), tacos, enchiladas, and perhaps some mariachi music!  Viva Mexico!

Friday, May 4, 2012


"Are you pointing that damnable camera at me again?"

"Oh great.  Then you have to hit me with that blinding light.  If I knew how, I'd growl!"


Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I was looking for something special to post for this May Day.  I couldn't find anything in my own life that seemed worthy.  I had a doctor appointment, I went to the library, I took a nap.  Not much there.

So I started looking around You Tube for a suitable video.  Nothing relating to May Day really got to me.  Then I thought of a video my (new) friend Ronaldo Stainforth had posted one day on Facebook.  I searched for awhile and finally found it so here it is.  The amazing Joss Stone.  Thanks again, Ronaldo.

(Oh, and turn up your sound.  Way up.)

Monday, April 30, 2012


SWMBO got this picture of Blackwell, peering out the back window this morning.

Jazz would jump clear up on the window sill to perch.

Muggles couldn't care less.

But Blackwell got past me yesterday evening, in spite of a glancing kick to his head.  He came to us from the outer world but after being neutered and, on more than one occasion, taking advantage of being let out with us by going over a six foot fence to "explore" . . we have successfully kept him in the house.  But last night, he escaped.  Spring hormones, maybe.  Well, he spent about an hour outside before he came home and was coaxed in the front door, partially by Jazz whining and snarling at him.

He wants to go out.  But we don't trust him.  He got horribly hurt when he was a kitten and lived outdoors and I (and my bank account) just don't want that again.  Granted, he is a much bigger cat now and probably could handle himself.  But, there are cars and occasionally coyotes and javelinas and skunks and so . . . he stays inside.

But we let him look.  And dream.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


That's how it looked a few days ago as rain showers moved in for a day.

Here's what it produced.

Those are called mock roses and they are the first to bloom.

The last three are called Firecracker Roses.

I think you can see why.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012


Jerome, Arizona, only about 15 miles from me geographically is a thousand light years from where I live in attitude.  It has been everything from a booming mining town with a population of 15,000 to a ghost town with a population of around 150.  Then the hippies came, finding cheap if not free housing.  Then artists.  Then retirees.

Currently Jerome is what many would call a tourist trap.  Dozens of art galleries and gift shops fill the town.  Real estate, which was dirt cheap when I first saw Jerome, is now expensive.  Because of underground blasting, the town on the side of a mountain lives on somewhat fragile ground.  If one buys an old house one finds it costs a lot to shore up the house with concrete.

But it's a great place with views to die for.  I love visiting it even on a Tuesday in April when the streets were jammed with tourists.

But, as I said at the beginning of this post, the town is thousands of light years from here, because of an apparent attitude of whimsy in the air.  Let me give you a couple of examples.

I have to give credit to my friend Judy, who takes and posts some amazing photographs at Prescott Area Daily Photo, including regular photos of these flamingos.  Whoever has adopted the roadside pink plastic birds decorates them regularly for holidays and special days.

Directly across the road is this mystery.

Some time in the distant past someone created this hillside parking space.  That old truck has been parked there behind iron bars for as long as I remember.  I don't know the story but perhaps someone who knows it will reveal the secret of the truck and it's owner.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


My birthday - Day Two.

I drove to Phoenix yesterday and went to an Arizona Diamondbacks game, courtesy of my old pal, Steve.  Unfortunately our team lost to the Philadelphia Phillies but we did get to see a great pitching performance by Cole Hamel and an ESPN-highlights play where a ball got away from the catcher and he apparently didn't realize the baserunner on first base was circling the bases.  When he did realize it, he threw him out at home as the runner was trying to score.

Anyway, not too many Dbacks highlights but apparently one was happening as I caught Steve grinning broadly.

Here's a short video of one of my favorite guys at the ballpark.  Turn your sound up.

This guy is famous for his loud chant "Ice cold lemonade, just like your grandma made!"  Unfortunately, I guess he hasn't worked out such a chant for cotton candy.

Meantime, outside, you get the feeling of the size of this parking garage and, in fact, all of the structures in downtown Phoenix.

That guy pictured in full swing on the poster is none other than the (now retired) hero of the Diamondbacks, Luis "Gonzo" Gonzalez.  Probably the most beloved former player.

Finally, as I was leaving the area, who should I run into but some of the Diamondbacks girls, who were gracious enough to pose for me.

With that, my day at the ballpark ended on a perfect note, even if my team did lose.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Yesterday, my beloved SWMBO took me to Jerome, to the historic Jerome Grand Hotel, to the Asylum restaurant to celebrate my birthday.  The building apparently once housed a mental asylum, thus the name of the restaurant.

It's got great ambiance, sitting in a majestic old building on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Verde Valley of Arizona.  The red rocks of Sedona are clearly visible in the distance.

But let's get a closer view.  Dirty martinis.

Then, since it was mid-day, from the lunch menu, we both chose hot pastrami sandwiches and french fries.

The pastrami was marvelous, just the way I like it.  Also swiss cheese and grilled bermuda onions with a dash of mayonnaise.  The sandwiches were delicious.

Not to mention the fries.  Apologies to one of my readers but there was no puddle of ketchup with these.  SWMBO had some but just salt on mine were very tasty.

An Argentine Malbec wine from Mendoza was the perfect accompaniment.  $8.00 a glass seemed like a bargain to me.

Then on to dessert.  For me a creme brule cheesecake with blackberries and lots of whipped cream.

For SWMBO, perhaps a mistake.  A Chocolate Mousse Cake, which was too rich for her although I liked it.

The Asylum covers their very nice tablecloths with white butcher paper and provides a jar of color crayons, then invites you to scrawl on the paper.  This is the work of SWMBO.

Over the years, we have gone out for a meal to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and holidays.  Invariable it seems that I am disappointed . . with the food, the service, the ambiance, or whatever.  This time everything was perfection.  As I said we had been to the Asylum before, several times.  But as I was leaving, I asked our excellent waiter, Dan, if there had been an ownership or management change in the past year.  He said absolutely not.

In which case, they have ironed out some changes, hired excellent people, inspired the kitchen and made this one of the truly fine restaurants of Northern Arizona.

The Asylum.  If you get to these parts, visit it.