Saturday, July 14, 2012



In nearby Prescott, it rained hard this morning, then came back in the late afternoon.  Good thing because that meant it didn't wash out the Hawaiian luau that was going on in downtown.  I'll have pictures of that tomorrow.

These pictures were taken this afternoon after the rains came back.

If you look closely at this second picture, you can see the rain coming down diagonally.

Meanwhile, when I got home I found it sprinkling lightly but nothing like the torrential downpour I drove through to get home.  The ferocious thunderstorms have slid by us for the most part.

But here's the cloud formation that brought that heavy rain.

So thanks to all of you who were concerned about us and offered to send us some of your rain.  We can still use it but I think the monsoon is going to take care of us for awhile.

Friday, July 13, 2012


See that little tinge of color up there at the top of my patio roof?

Take a closer look.

Those are a few blossoms on our Trumpet Vine.  There are quite a few more, tooting out their hope for some rain.

Just send us some damned rain!

Actually Prescott, which is just a few miles west of us, has had a couple of good rain storms in the past couple of days.  But the rains have been splitting and avoiding us here in Prescott Valley.

But . . it will come.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


It's looking more and more promising for some rain.  We've had a few sprinkles but that's all.  But this is what caused that low temperature I showed you in my last post.

Dagnab it, there's got to be some rain up there somewhere.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Oh I bet you've all been worried about me since my Monday post, right?  Well, I'm okay.  Except that I ran my foot into a leg of my bed this morning and split the end of my little toe open.  I'm so used to running into things that I didn't think anything of it.

UNTIL!  As I was walking around in the kitchen I suddenly looked down and saw spots of blood all over the floor.  Oh, hell!  But I put a bandaid on my toe, cleaned up the floor and SWMBO never knew anything about it.  Until I told her later.  So it goes in the life of the old and clumsy Catalyst.

But there's better news.  At late afternoon I passed an electronic sign and was amazed to see this.

Oh, not that, you idiot.  The next one.

Can you believe that?  Nearly 5 o'clock in the afternoon and only 73 degrees.  That's California coastal weather!  Amazing.

But even more amazing was the sight just a few hundred feet away that SWMBO called my attention to.

That my friends is a double century plant, rising perhaps 25 or 30 feet into the air.  Since they reportedly bloom only once in about 100 years, that's pretty darned amazing.

All hail the plant of the century!

Monday, July 9, 2012


I had my first, and hopefully last, cancer surgery today.  It was a squamos cell carcinoma about the size of a quarter on my upper right arm.  I have no idea what caused it except that I was always a fair-haired, fair-skinned boy who took no heed of the dangers from the sun's rays.  I burned my skin to a crisp more than once.  And perhaps this is how I paid for it.  I think this will be the only picture from this adventure.

It's not much.  Just my arm heavily bandaged and wrapped with an elastic bandage.  SWMBO tells me I will have a scar to brag about once it's healed . . probably about 5 inches long.  But I don't think I'll show that to you.  I'm not LBJ, after all.

The medical assistant shot me full of numbing stuff, about 6 hypos full, until my arm just felt like a piece of dead wood.  They had me lie on my left side, covered me with all kinds of paper stuff and the doctor began slicing.  At least I guess he did.  I felt nothing until late in the game when he hit an area that hadn't been numbed.  I said, loudly, "Ouch!  I felt that!"  He apologized and called a second assistant who emptied yet another hypo into me.  No more pain. 

I carried on a jocular (as only I can) conversation with the doctor throughout the surgery and told him how good my arm felt when he began doing the subcutaneous stitching.  It felt like it was becoming taut and muscular again.  Well, actually that "again" may be an overstatement since I've been a rather flabby guy for decades.

SWMBO . . . okay, my wife Judy . . . stayed in the room the entire time and said the doctor did some fine chain stitches.  At one point she asked him if he'd ever tried crocheting.  He said he didn't think he had the patience for that.  I then accused him of making a pun: patience - patients, get it?

Finally it was over and contrary to the doctor's warnings, I have had no pain or discomfort whatsoever.  This is about 6 hours after the surgery.  I'm happy and as the saying goes "cancer free."

Let's hear it for modern medicine.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Swabia is a mountainous region in southwestern Germany that borders both Switzerland and France.  It produced this.

That, hungry readers, is an onion, bacon and caraway tart.  Let's view it from the Oddball helicopter.

Actually Swabia only produced the recipe.  This particular tart was produced by SWMBO.  It is delicious.

It contains copious quantities of onions and bacon and caraway seeds.  And some butter.  And egg yolks.  And cream.

Is it any wonder that I obey a woman who can create this kind of culinary masterpiece?  Swabia, gastronomy, SWMBO . . . you have my heart.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The Rolling Stones are always good for some hip-shakin' music on a quiet Saturday.  But check out the stunning Lisa Fischer, trading riffs with Mick on this live version of Gimme Shelter.

By the way, think 11 and 22.  I just noticed this is my 1,122nd post here on Oddball.  Thanks for following along.

Friday, July 6, 2012


She's back!  Yes, once again SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) has been rankled and has risen to . . the pen.  Herewith, her recent epistle:


I'm fed up!  Why is everyone trying to improve on watermelon?  What's to improve?

The last straw was a recent potluck dinner party when one of the guests said, "You all are my guinea pigs tonight.  I tried a new salad recipe.  Hope you like it."

Well, I didn't.  Watermelon accompanied by garlic and olives and tomatoes, for God's sake!  Garlic, olives and tomatoes love each other but they get together and jump on watermelon and kick all the texture, flavor and beauty right out of it.

Today I received a new magazine in the mail and there it was: a recipe for tomato, cucumber and watermelon salad, with cilantro, scallions and cayenne!

Okay, folks.  I'm not a complete purist.  One of my favorites is a "Melon Salad" using equal amounts of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe with a bare hint of raspberry vinaigrette and fresh mint.

If you do much more than this, you kill the essence.  And don't even let me hear that you put some on the grill.

I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Long before electronic spam . . .

. . . long before Monty Python's spam . . .

. . . long before Spamarama,

    . . . long before Spamalot,

there was simply Spam, a spiced meat product invented by the Hormel company in Austin, Minnesota. 

It is a canned precooked meat product.  The name Spam came from a combination of the words "spiced" and "ham".  As of 2007, seven billion cans of Spam have been sold.  3.8 cans are consumed every second in the United States.  You can read a lot more about Spam here.

It is actually quite fascinating, including the surprising information that Spam is sold in many varieties of flavors . . like Spam Hot and Spicy, with Tabasco flavor added; Spam Oven Roasted Turkey; Spam with Bacon; Spam Garlic; and many others.

Spam is on the menu at McDonald's restaurants in Guam, Hawaii and Saipan, and on Burger King menus in Hawaii.  In fact, it is so popular in Hawaii it is sometimes referred to as The Hawaiian Steak.

All of which is to tell you that . . . wait for it . . . I like Spam.  SWMBO and, I'm sure, a lot of other people think I'm nuts.  She can't even stand the smell of it.  But I like it.

Take a big hamburger bun, slather some mayonaisse on the bottom half, some margarine on the top and insert a couple of slices of Spam.

Top the Spam with a slice of American cheese.

Top it with the other half of the bun, add some potato chips and . . voila!  A sandwich fit for a king.

Or a Viking.  (see previous Monty Python video)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Regular readers of this blog may recall that SWMBO decided our front patio looked like the dickens and needed some work.  If you hadn't heard about it or can't remember, here's a link to that story.

Well after the power washing, here is what she had left.

It stayed that way for quite a while as she contemplated it and discussed various ideas for what to do with it.  Then around the middle of May we went to Phoenix and stopped in at a house party.  The host and hostess have a lovely back yard, much of which was covered in a patio of the same hue as ours used to be.  SWMBO chatted with the hostess about it and got some tips on what to do.

When we came home she bought several cans of Rustoleum paint.  But by then it was too hot to work outside.  Finally she knew it wasn't going to get any cooler until the monsoon blew in and it would bring rain so it was "now or never".  So on a couple of mornings she rose at some obscenely early hour and worked on the patio.  Here is the result.

She wanted that sort of mottled look, not just solid reddish-brown like it was the first time.  I think it looks pretty darn good.  And I was warned more than once to stay away so my investment in sweat equity is ZERO!

Oh, and by the way, happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I'm a very light eater in the morning so this is fine with me.

A toasted and buttered English muffin, topped with Blackberry preserves.

Thank you, T.J.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Yesterday was the first of July . . another hot day in Arizona.  But a few clouds in the sky presage the upcoming monsoon season and some cooling rain.

Meantime, SWMBO fired up the grill yesterday evening and threw on an abundance of veggies.

You can't beat fire-grilled veggies.

Once the grilling was done, the vegetables joined a couple of slabs of oven roasted beef brisket and dinner was served.

Yes it was hot outside but it was worth it.  I kept the cook and myself supplied with drinks and cleaned up afterward, like a good boy.

I can hardly wait for leftovers tonight!

Friday, June 29, 2012


The world of sports (or sport, to put a Continental swing on it) has fathered some pretty weird stories but this is one of the strangest ones I've ever heard.  The television broadcast voice of my beloved Arizona Diamondbacks, Daron Sutton, has been suspended for about a week now for an undetermined reason . . . characterized as "insubordination".  But comes word today that the bone of contention between the brass hats and the broadcaster is his custom of wearing a suit when he announces the games.

Now I remember a former boss I had when I worked for a RADIO station who insisted his employees wear suits and ties.  Once in the early 70's when neck scarves were in vogue, I came in to work wearing one.  The boss turned red as he told me to go home and get a necktie on.  I was expecting that and pulled one out of my pocket as I said, "right here, boss."

Sutton and his color man on the broadcasts, former baseball star Mark Grace, usually are attired the same way.

Now, I don't know about you but I think they look pretty sharp.

But the team brasshats (there's another way to describe them by just taking the br off the front of that word) reportedly feel that Sutton and Grace should wear polo shirts with the team logo on them.  Which they do some times.

If the story is to be believed, "some times" isn't good enough for the bosses.  So . . . why wasn't Grace suspended, too?  Like I said, this is a very strange story.

Meantime, here's a picture of Sutton with his dad, Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton.  Both wearing suits.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) affirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care (OBAMACARE) act today.  That is, of course, the law offered by President Obama (POTUS).  About half of the citizens of the United States (COTUS) applauded, the other half - including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (LOONEYBIRD) of Minnesota were apoplectic.  (Hmm, I wonder if apoplexy is treatable under the new law.)  The noted Supreme Court expert (SCOTUS-EX), Jeffery Toobin, apologized for his earlier prediction that the law would be found unconstitutional and his criticism of the government's attorney.

The House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, (SMIRKER), who wears a snide expression on his face when he's announcing his totally political acts, said there would be a vote in the House on July 11th to repeal the law.  That is headed for failure, even if the radical Tea Party Republicans do vote to repeal.  It probably will not even be brought to a vote in the (thankfully) Democratic Senate.

The Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney (CLUELESS) misstated many aspects of the bill and said he would repeal it on his first day in office if (and today he did say "if") he's elected.

Meantime, some of the loudest opponents of this so called "socialized medicine" turn out to be folks who've been cashing in on Veterans Administration healthcare (socialized medicine) for decades.

As the comedian Yakov Smirnoff is fond of saying, "what a country!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I'll just bet you've missed the bird pictures, haven't you.  Well here's one of two.

This is a pair of Mourning Doves.  We seem to live in the midst of a covey (?) of them.  They are all over the place.  I sort of like them but then they don't perch right over my bedroom window.  SWMBO says their mournful but monotonous call drives her crazy.

Incidentally, note the spelling.  Some people refer to them as Morning Doves.  Uh-uh.  Not correct.  I don't know why they seem so mournful but I have described them previously as one of the stupidest birds around.  Maybe they know of their reputation and are expressing their unhappiness.  Whatever it is . . here is a video of one "cooing."

Like I said, I kind of like them.  But when you've heard that sad cry perhaps a couple of hundred times, it can get on the nerves.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


As some of you may have heard, it gets hot in Arizona in the summertime.  107 in Phoenix yesterday with 110 only a few days away.  It's not that hot where we live but as I've gotten older I've found that a high temperature in the 90's is too much for me.  All of this is by way of explaining the following picture.

The BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) and her Beau Jack were invited to a party at some friends' home yesterday beginning at 3 p.m.  That is nearly the hottest part of the day and for some unknowable reason the hosts have no air conditioning or even a swamp cooler.  So what do you do?  You go late (they went about 5 p.m.), wear minimal clothing, and try to stay outside.  This is what the BRD did at the annual Gin and Tonic Party.

She said she borrowed the hat from another guest for the photo.

Beau Jack also dressed, uh, minimally.

That's proof it was hot.  It's the first time I've ever seen that old cowboy in shorts and sandles!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I have to tell you . . . I can only understand a few words of this song but I admire the musicianship and the incredible energy.  Turn it up and put on your dancin' shoes.

When I used to want to hear some rockin' piano, I'd turn to Jerry Lee Lewis.  But after watching this I'd have to say ol' Elton could give The Killer a run for his money.

Oh . . and this is from a concert in Tokyo . . to explain the Japanese titles on the screen.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


We had a little taste (test) of the "good old days" last night.  When I turned on the t.v. to watch the evening news, the picture was wobbling in and out.  Same on the other t.v.  Then I noticed the lights were flickering.  As I noted yesterday, it was hot and this was about the time the working stiffs were coming home from work and cranking their a.c. down.  I suspected a brown out.  About 15 minutes later it became a black out as everything electric in the house ceased to function.  Our neighbor had told us there were police cars and a fire truck a few blocks away and she wondered it that had anything to do with it.  So I hopped in the car and drove to where the police had a street blocked off.  A big fire truck was standing by and a power company truck also was there.  Obviously something had gone wrong in an open field and one of the cops confirmed that whatever was going on there had caused the power outage. 

So when I got home, good ol' SWMBO had pulled a water purifier out of the fridge, loaded a bunch of ice cubes into an ice bucket and was mixing drinks with a warning not to open the refrigerator or the freezer until this all got sorted out.

We had our supper from a fast food joint out of the outage zone and sat out on the back patio remembering the days when we lived in Mexico and the power would sometimes go out for hours and hours.

But last night about 9:30, after a 3 hour outage, the electricity came back on solidly and all was well.  It took a little time for my computer modem to catch up but eventually everything was restored to normal again.  As I indicated yesterday, that air conditioning sure felt good when it started up again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Tomorrow is the first day of summer but the weather has already heated up here in Arizona.  It's in the mid to upper 90's here but we're in the mountains at over five thousand feet.  Down in the desert (not much of that left) of Phoenix and Tucson, it's approaching 110 daily.  Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Bring on the monsoon.  There already has been one haboob (dust storm) in Phoenix.  That usually means the summer rains are not far behind.

(By the way, I swiped the picture from the National Weather Service.  Thanks, guys and gals.)

Monday, June 18, 2012


I've just watched the new video of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".  I can remember watching the first version years ago as it played on PBS after coming over from the BBC.  In that one, Alec Guinness was remarkable playing the very understated George Smiley.  In the new one, Gary Oldman is equally remarkable playing that part.  The movie is a superb telling of a period during the Cold War when word came that there was a Russian mole high in the British Secret Service and the struggle to locate and identify that mole.  If he really existed.  If you can take the slow pace of a thinking man's spy thriller, this is a great movie which I highly recommend.

This is Alec Guinness as Smiley.

And this is Gary Oldman playing the same role.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


In spite of the growth of Prescott Valley, this is still farm and ranch country.  So one of the events at this year's P.V. Days celebration weekend is a tractor pull.  Here are some of the competitors.

John Deere and International Harvester.  Familiar names.  I'm not sure what this one was, other than older.

Of course all of that hard work conjures up an appetite.  And here's what's for sale to satisfy that.

I have had beef jerky but I don't think I ever tried "gourmet" beef jerky.  I wonder what has been added to it.

Friday, June 15, 2012


As I said the other day, I've been reading the four volume (so far) biography of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro.  But late today, in Volume Three, I read something that I believe needs repeating here today.  It concerns conversations between Johnson and Hubert Humphrey in 1951 and 1952, both men then United States Senators.  Johnson had taken Humphrey under his wing and these conversations occurred.

"...Johnson would, evening after evening, play variations on the same theme:  "Your speeches are accomplishing nothing," he would say.  Humphrey should learn to compromise.  "Otherwise, you'll suffer the fate of those crazies, those bomb-thrower types like Paul Douglas, Wayne Morse, Herbert Lehman.  You'll be ignored, and get nothing accomplished you want."  Humphrey, the man who had refused to compromise, not only came to believe this -- "Compromise is not a dirty word," he would say.  "The Constitution itself represents the first great national compromise" -- but to believe it with all the fervor of the convert, the convert who is the most enthusiastic of believers.  Not only, he was to say, was compromise not a dirty word; those who refuse to compromise are a threat; "the purveyors of perfection," as he came to call them, "are dangerous when they . . . move self righteously to dominate.  There are those who live by the strict rule that whatever they think right is necessarily right.  They will compromise on nothing. . . . These rigid minds, which arise on both the left and the right, leave no room for other points of view, for differing human needs. . . . Pragmatism is the better method."  The fact that some of his fellow liberal senators were to come to look upon him as, in his own words, one of the "unprincipled compromisers" bothered him for a while, he was to say;  "it doesn't bother me any more at all.  I felt it was important that we inch along even if we couldn't gallop along, at least that we trot a little bit."

Could that not be read on the floor of the House during a joint session of Congress, read at every Tea Party meeting, published on the front page of every newspaper, recited on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News until the message gets through?

No, I doubt it.   But at least I'll do my part.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Prescott Valley is about to have it's annual celebration, known as Prescott Valley Days!  It begins this evening and the carnival is set up and waiting for business.