Monday, February 11, 2013


Readers of a certain age or those of you who are fans of gangsters movies of the 30's or 40's will recognize the term "the hot seat".  It's a euphemism for the electric chair which ended the life of do-badders.

Let me now introduce you to "the cold seat".

It's not a place one would readily choose to sit.  Here's a slightly bigger view.

It shows you what happens when your lazy correspondent fails to take his deck chairs into shelter when he knows . . HE KNOWS . . that the weatherman is going to bring snow.

Today, the weather was moving away from us.

As the clouds and the rain or snow move to the north and east, over the Black Hills, over Mingus Mountain, still dropping more moisture, it leaves us with blue skies and a great view in the sky.

And, one of these days, I'll take my deck chairs in.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


First of all let me wish you all a happy new year.  No, I'm not late, this really is New Year's Day.  If you're Chinese.

And in case you're wondering, it's the year of the snake.

Now as you know, we're moving to the Phoenix area sometime soon (we hope) and I wanted to show you something wonderful.  We went desk shopping recently for a real desk instead of the door-and-computer-files I've been using for years and years.  Here's the present set-up.

Serviceable but ugly as sin.  SWMBO has hated it for years.  I have clung to it.  But then.  We found an oak desk at a thrift store, bought it and had it delivered to our garage.  It sat there for a few weeks until the weather warmed up a bit and then SWMBO went at it.  It had a couple of dents in the surface and I wanted more of a cherry look.  She filled the dents, sanded the surface, stripped it, stained it a couple or three times, she put a sealer on it and finally it is ready to go.  It's still in the garage, waiting for the movers to take it to it's new location.  But here's a preview shot of it.

I think she did a fantastic job on it and I can't wait to use it.

Now, if I can just find a back yard like this to go with it.

Thanks go to the following people for this post:  my friend Phil for alerting me to Chinese New Year, my beloved wife for making my new desk beautiful, and my friend Jerry for posting that dream-backyard-photo on Facebook.  How's that saying go . . . it takes a village . . .

Saturday, February 9, 2013


With apologies to you folks in the Northeast, here's what I found when I opened my eyes this morning.

I know, I know, it's nothing compared to the two feet or so you have in Boston but give me a break.  I live in ARIZONA!  What am I supposed to tell my friends and relatives in The Frozen North?

Well, a sight like that calls for something to lighten the mood and nothing does it better for me than the Elvis routine of the late, great Andy Kaufman.

By the way, SWMBO and I are planning a move to warmer climes soon, as I think you know.  We've been packing and packing boxes.  But cats can sense a change in their environment.  I think Blackwell was giving us a subtle message last night: don't forget me!

Friday, February 8, 2013


What is the Internet for anyway?

Why, to bring you stuff like this:

I checked out all of these hints for home safety and personal health on Snopes and all are for real!

1. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.
2. Men can avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink in their bathroom.

3. For high blood pressure sufferers, simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins.  Remember, it’s important to set a timer.
4. An old fashioned spring loaded mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
5. You need only two tools in life:  WD-40 & duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the wd-40.  If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
6. If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem.

And stuff like this:

And this:

See?  That's what the Internet is for!

Friday, February 1, 2013


Is it or isn't it?  You be the judge.


We have begun our search for a new home in Phoenix.  Moving is one of my least favorite things to do but you'd never know it from my record.  This will be the 31st and I'm hoping the final move of my life.

We are busy packing and labeling boxes.

As is obvious, we are book lovers.  We used to run a bookstore and we have hundreds of books.  Most but not all of them are packed into boxes now.  As they become packed for the movers our bookshelves are becoming empty.

Every time we have moved, we have said "Never again!  We must stop accumulating things!"

And, of course, by the next move we are inundated with more and more "stuff".  The late George Carlin had a wonderful routine about that.

I keep saying to SWMBO "but we're packing all our stuff and we don't have any place to go yet!"

She says "shut up and pack!"

We made an exploratory trip to Phoenix this week and drove all over town checking out areas we might like to live in.  The ones we really like, of course, are too expensive for us.  We contacted a realtor or two and learned from one of them that what we want is a property management person.  We think we've found one so, as SWMBO keeps telling me, "we will find a place to live."

One thing we have discovered is that there don't seem to be a lot of classified ads for homes in the newspaper anymore.  Apparently digital media has virtually eliminated that form of advertising.  Since that is a huge portion of any newspaper's income it is not surprising to see so many newspapers stopping publishing or cutting back and going to the Internet.

I said at the beginning of this that I had moved 30 times in my life.  You might be surprised to learn that we have lived where we are now for nearly 12 years and one previous home for about the same amount of time.  That tells you one of two things - either I've had a lot of short tenures in homes or I'm very, very old.

I think the first is true.  As to the second I'm feeling older every single day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


It's been raining all day here.  Not hard just fairly steady.  SWMBO heard this morning that Phoenix may get 3 inches out of this storm.  That's about half of its annual rainfall!

Take a look at the sky over Prescott Valley.

Dark.  Wet.  Leaves one with a sense of foreboding

Friday, January 25, 2013


I love singer/songwriters and I've just found a new one that has captured my heart once again.  Her name is Kat Edmonson and she has a burgeoning career.  Take a listen to her performing one of her own songs - Lucky.

Since her debut album hit the top 20 on Billboard's jazz charts, Kat found herself performing with Willy Nelson and Lyle Lovett.  Here's a great old number with Lyle on the Tonight Show.

Ms. Edmonson is a Houston girl who now makes her home in a town with a great music scene, Austin, Texas.  She has a new album
- "Way Down Low".  If you're an Austin City Limits fan you probably heard her sing the title song during her performance on the show this past Saturday night.

Enjoy and remember the name.  Kat Edmonson.  She's a winner!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Rain in my bailiwick today.  With all the packing going on here, that means the new car has to sit outside in the cold and the wet.

I can't tell whether it's crying or snarling.

But I guess we won't be using the sun roof today!

Looks like today's Gratuitous Critter isn't happy about it either.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Hmm, I wonder if that week we spent in California had an influence on SWMBO?  As I have noted, we are moving to Phoenix in the next month or two and yesterday she was out looking at furniture.  So what did she find to replace our small dining table and chairs?

This Mission style table and six chairs.  It also has two leaves which expands its length by another 19 inches.

I love the architecture of its style and the chairs are ultra-comfortable with backs that seem to echo the shape of a human back.

Kinda neat, isn't it?  

The construction sort of resembles the wings in today's Gratuitous Critters picture.  [Just when you thought (hoped) I'd run out of those pictures!]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Okay, I've bored you all enough.  This will be my final post on California.  For a while, anyway.  We had a great vacation there and marvel at the natural beauty.

We both love the ocean and this time we got our share of days at the coast, even though it was chilly.

Here's a man on the pier (me, actually) taking photos and a person on the beach below doing the same thing.

As Tom noted when we were in Morro Bay it's hard to stop taking pictures of the same scene even when you have 55 of them at home.  

But there's always video nowadays.  Here's a view of the crashing waves on Moonstone Beach.

Along with all of those ocean shots, we were also struck by how green the hills were approaching the coast.

Elevating the camera just a bit we can see Morro Rock shrouded in fog far off in the distance and the ocean, always the ocean.

Monday, January 21, 2013


When one goes to California one expects warm, sunny days.  So why did we go in mid-January when the coldest cold wave in years chilled the state?  SWMBO demonstrated one way to warm up.

You've already heard about Lana Cochrun's artistic talent.  But she has another talent:  baking bread.  Here's a fresh loaf of raisin bread just out of the oven.

This night it was a feast among friends at the Cochruns home.

One of the friends is Robert Brosseau, a concert violinist and studio musician in Los Angeles for over 20 years performing the music we hear behind many of our movies.  He's also a gourmet cook.  On this night he had brought a tarte tatin which was accompanied by an apple cheesecake SWMBO had brought from Arizona.

Robert decided to make some whipped cream for the desserts.

The desserts were good as were multiple bottles of wine.  I think the end of the evening is best expressed in this picture of our host, who looks exhausted.

The Professor

Tomorrow, as we wind down our visit to California, I'll show you some last scenic pictures.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I'm always surprised, it seems, by the variety of wildlife in our beautiful lands.  On our recent trip to California I took some photos of what I could.  You probably saw the elephant seals in yesterday's post.  But on a quieter beach, the dominant species seems to be sea gulls.

If they're not scrounging for food along the shore they seem to spend a lot of time perched and just watching.  And who could blame them with a view like this at the W.R. Hearst Memorial State Beach at San Simeon.

"All right Mr. Demille, I'm ready for my close-up."

In this same area a couple of crows were courting.  (They might have been ravens.  I can never seem to tell them apart.)

Away from the coast, SWMBO and I were amazed at the numbers of cows grazing on what seemed to us like very steep hillsides.  We wondered if a strong gust of wind might send them rolling down the slopes.  But they remain unconcerned and sure-footed.

Whenever something out of the ordinary occurs, the cows stop and stare . . as when a tourist photographer pauses to take pictures.  These cows graze just across a small road separating them from tennis courts where Tom and his friends play in the mornings.  Tom says the cattle make up the audience.

Now how could a cat lover like myself go anywhere without bringing back a photo of cats.  These are two of Tom and Lana's trio, Hemingway on the left, Luke on the right.  Hemingway is so named because like Ernest Hemingway's cats he has six toes on each foot.  Such an animal is known as a "polydactyl".

And finally there's the third cat.  I caught this picture of her staring inside the house but too early for feeding time.  What a face!  Her name is Joy though she doesn't look too joyful at the moment.

There's still more to our California tour but we'll continue with that tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


As you know from yesterday's post (if you read it), SWMBO and I have just returned from a visit with our friends, the Cochruns, on the central California coast.  While there they took us to view the birthing area of the elephant seals.

This may look like the seals' graveyard but I can assure you it is not. There are upwards of a thousand males, females and newborn babies along this sandy beach nearly directly across the highway from the Hearst Castle.

When the pups are born they first identify with their mothers by sounds.  You can hear them yelping in their high pitched voices, which I assume means they want more milk from their mothers.  And they get it.

There is considerable territoriality among the seals.  Occasionally a couple of females will get into a roaring session.

The male, having found a secluded spot, naps and naps and naps.  After all he's fathered as many as 40 pups in his harem.  By the way, the males can weigh as much as 5,000 pounds!

The pups are weaned after about four weeks as the mother abruptly leaves them, mates and heads out to sea once more.  The males swim north along the coast as far as the furthest Aleutian Islands.  The females have been tracked two-thirds of the way to Japan.

It is important that the pups gain up to 300 pounds by the time they become "weaners", as they are called then because it takes 8 to 10 weeks for it to learn to swim well enough to head north looking for food.

I was surprised, with their huge weight, how fast the animals can move.  Take a look at this female moving across the beach.

And one more video.  This one shows a male driving a competitor away.  Amazingly he backs right over a young pup but he seems not the worse for wear.

The area is protected by a volunteer non-profit organization, Friends of the Elephant Seal.  There is a wooden walkway with railings along a lengthy section of the beach for visitors from all over the world.  You can learn more and view a LiveCam of the activity on the beach by visiting their website at Friends of the Elephant Seal.