Friday, December 28, 2012


This dark threatening sky greeted me yesterday morning.

(By the way, I don't know why it has those sort of oil painting smears.  I didn't do anything to the pictures.)

At any rate, it lived up to its threat.  A little later as I came out of a store the air was filled with snow pellets, b.b. sized dry pellets.  I quickly learned that my fancy new car with all the bells and whistles does NOT have a rear window wiper.  But thankfully it does have a defroster.

The skies threatened most of the day and the temperature hung in the upper 30's/lower 40's.  I talked to one young woman at the pharmacy who said she had grown up here but she didn't like the cold, snowy weather.  "I wish it was summer again," she said.

I agree.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


SWMBO fixed a big brunch at about midday on Christmas.  Consequently when it came time to start dinner we both admitted we had no appetites.  So we put it off a day and had some Sloppy Joe sandwiches that night.

But yesterday we watched our intake through the day and we were ready.  SWMBO's creation was a stuffed pork loin roast.

It came out of the oven looking beautiful and it was even better once it was sliced.

I can attest to the fact that it was delicious, especially when accompanied by some roasted petite Brussels sprouts, pureed sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy (gravy not shown, sorry), salad and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Hmmm, only 363 days until Christmas again!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


SWMBO and I journeyed to the home of the BRD last night and enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve with her and Beau Jack.  The usual meal, steak and lobster, was delicious as always.  Some gift opening, more than a bit of liquid cheer and lots of laughter.  It was a very pleasant evening.

After that Christmas Day is slow and quiet here.

The yule log is burning warmly on my television screen.

Morning naps, brunch, probably more naps, drinks and dinner later. My kind of day.  Hope yours is pleasant, as well.

Monday, December 24, 2012


The BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) and her dog, Wrigley, are ready for Christmas.  

May all of your holidays be as merry as theirs.

Gratuitous Critter picture follows.

" . . . while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads . . ."

Sunday, December 23, 2012


As I've said many a time the thing I like best about the holidays is the food.  Here's a pre-Christmas meal SWMBO made last night.  ('Course, this is good any time of the year!)

Start with a couple of hamburger patties in a hot black iron skillet with some oil.

They brown up pretty fast.  Then top them with some Cheddar cheese.

A couple of minutes until the cheese begins to melt.  

Add them to a couple of big buns.

Some pre-caramelized onions have been waiting patiently.

Top the burgers with the onions and add a side of baked beans.

Salt and pepper potato chips from Trader Joe's make a delicious additive to your plate.

Warning!  This meal is not for vegetarians.  But if you have a semi-vegetarian you can always add some of Ronald Reagan's favorite vegetable.  (Also a favorite of my pal Tess.)

Ahhhh!  A meal fit for a king.  Or a queen.

And then . . . as the Gratuitous Critters would have it . . . perhaps a nap, eh?

"Ho hum!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Yesterday, I acquired two new hearing aids to assist my failing ears in my dotage.  One for each ear.

Let's see.  I have a partial to replace several teeth that were pulled years ago.  

I have a Pacemaker imbedded in my chest to keep my heart beating.  

I wear bifocal glasses in order to see.

I sleep with a C-pap mask over my face to combat sleep apnea.

I also have oxygen plugged into it, supposedly to keep me breathing I guess.

Yes folks these are the Golden Years.  (You have to have your weight in gold to pay for all these appliances of modern medicine.)

But my doctors tell me I'm in good health.

I think I'll have today's Gratuitous Critter look me over next time.

Friday, December 21, 2012


And . . .

And . . . our Gratuitous Critter pic of the day.

"Oh yeah?  You and what army?"

Thursday, December 20, 2012


. . . and I'll say it again.  I love the holidays because of the food!  Stuff gets made that doesn't seem to appear any other time of the year.  SWMBO got busy yesterday and made fruit breads.

Orange/cranberry/pecan and applesauce/wheat/raisin breads.

And the BRD sent over a loaf of bacon/cheese/onion bread to test our tongues for a savory taste.  It is very good (and almost gone!)

I told you I'd say it again: I love the holidays for the food!

Speaking of which, here's today's Gratuitous Critter picture.

"Share and share alike, fellas."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Just in case I hadn't mentioned it before, here in the Central Highlands of Arizona it can get cold.  We get occasional snow.  During our "dusting" the other day I found that Prescott, only 6 to 8 miles away but a thousand feet or more higher than here, had several inches and piles of it were stacked around town alongside the roads where it had been plowed off.

Very early this morning the temperature dipped to 14 degrees and there was a splash of rain and, once again, a very light dusting of snow.

I found just outside my front door today that some fallen leaves had gotten trapped in a wet spot that then froze.  Later when the temperature rose most of the leaves blew away.  But they left behind their footprints and one of their colleagues.

Cool, huh?  Well, actually, it was cold and it still is.  When I went out to retrieve the mail the temperature was only in the 30's and a bit of a brisk wind was making it chillier still.

O.K.  I've had enough winter.  Bring on the warmer temperatures!

p.s.  I can't help remembering a bit of doggerel from some radio program when I was a kid:  "Whether it's cold, or whether it's hot, we're gonna have weather, whether or not!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Yesterday, when SWMBO was doing some Christmas decorating my big black boy cat, Blackwell, decided to get into the act.  A half-empty box of tinsel was too much for him to avoid.

Monday, December 17, 2012


We had our first snowfall of the winter over the weekend.  While it snowed most of Saturday the temperature was too cold for much of it to stick.  It did, however, render the bird bath inoperable.

It was the snow on the bamboo in our back yard that attracted SWMBO's attention.

Even with all that moisture from the sky, the air apparently was so dry as to make the snow look like a dusting of sugar.

For today's Gratuitous Critter photo I am indebted to the BRD, who sent me over a clutch of bird photos.  This one seems to fit my snowy pictures.

"Aren't we a cool couple?"

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I've been hesitant to write anything about the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.  I think it's because so many people are running their mouths and I just want to say "shut your damned mouths."  Friday was a black day for American journalism, if it can even be called that anymore.  "Journalists", both print and television, first got the name of the assassin wrong, they said he left an automatic rifle in the trunk of his car when in fact (if even this can be believed) today they said it was used for most of the killings, they said his mother was a teacher at the school (apparently she had no connection to it), they said the principal had buzzed him in because she recognized him (also apparently not true), and on and on.

I've been reading the biography of Walter Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley.  Cronkite was a great believer in the old journalistic maxim - don't report it until you have two unimpeachable sources.  He was angry at Dan Rather when he screwed up in filing a special report on former President George W. Bush's attendance to duty during his short-lived National Guard career.  That mistake - using only one source (who turned out to be either mistaken or an intentional liar) spelled the end of Rather's career at CBS.

I don't know how the "media" got so much of yesterday's story wrong but I suspect it was because of the rush to get it on the air, ahead of the competition, which is huge these days of cable "news" channels.

The point is, we are being badly served by our alleged news reporters.

Then there's the gun control argument.  During past events of this type, I have been one of those in a hurry to demand stricter gun control laws.  But I seriously wonder, today, if they would do any good.  There are more guns than human beings in our blighted nation.  I suspect there was a rush by the people convinced that President Obama and the federal government are going to go from door to door removing all of their guns today to buy even more guns and ammunition.  There is no gun control law that can bring back all of those guns.

I think the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, which states "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" is complete and utter balderdash in the year 2012.  Why do we have police forces - city, state and federal - if not to provide the protections of a well regulated militia.  Why do we need every person on the street to be "packing heat?"

I was in a pharmacy the other day.  The person in front of me was an elderly man, not to good on his feet, hard of hearing, but he had some type of gun in a holster on his hip.  In the event of something terrible happening should I depend on him to restore order and protect me?  I think not.

I DO believe that our gun laws need to be strengthened to prevent people with mental disabilities from having guns.

I DO believe that anyone who sells guns, whether it be an employee of a licensed gun store or some guy at a gun show, should be required to have a background check done on their potential buyers.

I DO believe there is no place in this or any country for citizens to be able to buy automatic weapons, whether rifles or pistols.

So, the gun control debate will begin in Washington and around the nation.  As always I suspect it will lead to nothing.  And, were stricter laws passed, would they do any good?  There is still a massive amount of weaponry and ammunition already out there.  

And would stricter laws have eliminated the tragedy that happened yesterday.  Apparently not.  The assassin used guns that legally belonged to his mother.  That she purchased for self-protection.  And that cost her her own life.


Thursday, December 13, 2012


I've been having a lot of fun with my new car lately.  Today I got to use the windshield wipers for the first time because there was a light mist falling from the sky.

For those of you worried about the future . . .

For those of you worried about Santa . . .

For those of you worried about Arizona and it's notoriously loony governor, there is always Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic.  Hey!  This guy is a Pulitzer Prize winner!

For those of you worried about the BRD . . . (I don't know why anyone would worry about her!) . . .

She's the one on the far right.  Don't ask me what the boots and brooms were all about.  I think it was an excuse for "da girls" to get together and drink!

And for those who may have been worried about the reports that our good friend, DK, had turned 80 this year, worry no more.  The extremely good looking gal is on the right in this picture with her friend Melanie recently.

Oh, pshaw!  Just tell me I'm not full of the Christmas spirits . . er . . I meant to say "spirit".  Sure I did.

Speakin' of which, here's today's Gratuitous Critter picture.

"Jus' out here bayin' at the moon."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


SWMBO got her wish yesterday as we picked up our new car.

It is a brand new 2013 Nissan Altima and it has more bells and whistles than a spaceship.  Heated steering wheel, heated seats, XM radio, temperature controls that can be adjusted separately for the driver and front passenger seats.  SWMBO spent much of last evening reading the Quick Reference Guide.  I haven't begun yet other than to learn how to open the trunk.  Judging from the size of the manual that came with the car, it will be a learning experience that goes on and on.  It's our first new car since we bought a 1986 Volkswagen Quantum station wagon.  The best part so far?  That new car smell!

I'm about to take my first drive in it.  SWMBO drove it home yesterday and said she loved it.

Like today's Gratuitous Critter I'm a little bit in awe of it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Several lifetimes ago . . . actually it was in 1969, only 43 years ago . . . I moved from my native North Dakota to Indianapolis to take a job as a news reporter at a radio station.  A few months later a young man was hired.  We became colleagues and good friends in the only three years that we worked together.  Then I moved on to Phoenix, Arizona and found a job with a television station.  I spent 15 years there before, having come into some money, my wife and I moved to Mexico.  About five years later I moved to Austin, Texas and after a couple of years back to Arizona, where I've been ever since.

My friend spent all of his working career in Indianapolis, moving to a couple of televison stations, then running a company he founded doing independent television production, then back to yet another television station as the news director.  He retired (sort of) a few years ago and moved to California.

My friend is Tom Cochrun, who oversees his blog Tender Whispers.  No, wait, that's not it.  I'm really old now and I forget things.  It's called Light Breezes.  Well that could be Tender Whispers, couldn't it?

A few years ago (everything seems to happen "a few years ago" in my aged state) Tom sent me a package of letters I had written to him and his lovely and talented artist wife, Lana, beginning in 1972 and running up to 1987.  Then the fine and gentle art of letter writing was ruined by the advent of the Internet.  Long, thoughtful (Ha!  Who am I kidding?) letters were subsumed (fine word - subsumed) and replaced by short, inane emails.

But back to that packet of letters.  I have just finished a two-day reading of them and I was stunned by the verbosity, by the hubris, by the near-constantly changing moods, by the pie-in-the-sky dreams of freelance writing, of candle shops, of joint projects, of publications we would create, thus confounding those around us and spewing forth political dicta (fine word - dicta) that only we were wise enough to see.

Ah, youth.  But as Tom noted there was also wild, crazy, zany humor in these letters, overinflated talk of our use of booze and drugs (We were Hunter Thompson before Hunter Thompson was cool!), paranoia about what the government knew about us in the godawful Days of Nixon.  But always talk of love, of brotherhood.  It is rare in these days of movement around the country for two men, youngsters growing old, to maintain a friendship over 43 years.  But we have.  Over time we have gotten together for adventure (who can forget that Democrat Mini-Convention in 1974) and just for fun. As one friend of Tom's used to drawl:  "Beeee-zaaaahhhrrr!"

I shall maintain possession of these crazed documents for the time being.  As suggested by Tom when he sent them back to me "whoever lasts the longest should have the right of possession."  Thanks for hanging onto them, buddy!  (Actually he said something more like "If you die before I do, these had better come back to me!")

(Kinda sounds like a love story, don't it?)

Which brings me to today's Gratuitous Critter photo.

"Two old lions growing old but staying in touch"

Friday, December 7, 2012


This is one of the reasons I like living in Arizona.  I snapped this photo early this morning as I was running out to buy a paper.  It's December 7th, there is no snow and the sun is shining.

Of course there are others who don't agree with me.  An article the other day said the states has been in drought for 15 years now.  But this little town keeps growing (housing starts are up) and new businesses are opening and the constant question remains "How do people make a living here?"

Sort of hidden, there are several large employers here and I expect a lot of people work in them.  Their salaries apparently keep the service industry going as more and more restaurants (mostly fast food types) keep opening.

But back to the weather.  It's just past 11 a.m. now and the temperature is 46.  The high today is forecast at 64.  There's no snow.

And it's December 7th.

I hope you're happy wherever you are.

Oops, I've been letting you down recently without my Gratuitous Critter photos.  Let's see what we've got for today.

Ah, how about this one.

"Good to the last drop!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012


SWMBO bought a new bed yesterday.  The guys came and delivered it and set it up today.  When they left and she looked at it, she said "It's so high!"

Yes, it is.  With the rolling frame on the bottom, then the box spring, then the mattress . . . this sucker must sit nearly three feet off the floor.  I told her she'd need a stepladder to climb up into it.  But she said, other than the oxygen deprivation, it is comfortable.

Meantime, Blackwell was just trying to see if he'd fit under the behemoth.

Sweet dreams up there!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It's a sad day for jazz fans.  News came that the legendary pianist Dave Brubeck has died at the age of 91.  He was the leader of the Dave Brubeck Quartet for many years and that was how I first saw him.

I was a college student in North Dakota in the 1950's and learned that the Quartet was performing at a Minnesota college a little more than a hundred miles away.  I had to go see him.

I can still remember at one point during the concert, his saxaphone player Paul Desmond put down his horn and left the stage.  Then the bassist, Eugene Wright, left.  Then Brubeck stopped playing, turned around and leaned back against the piano as the drummer, Joe Morello, played a very lengthy solo.  Finally Brubeck turned around and began adding chords and the other two players returned and finished out the number.  Sure, it was a little bit schmaltzy but it was effective.  The crowd loved it.

Now the rest of the story, as someone used to say on the radio.

I was the co-editor of my college newspaper.  I managed to get backstage to meet the legend by telling one of the guards that I was "the editor of the newspaper" and wanted to interview Brubeck.  I was amazed when he showed me to the area where the Quartet was preparing for the concert.  And Brubeck graciously gave me an interview.

Once that was done he and Paul Desmond posed for a photo with me (in my very collegiate sweater vest) and my co-conspirator, Phil Perry.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to meet our idols and, yes, I did do an article based on the interview.

I attended at least two more Brubeck concerts over the years and always loved his music.  But that first time was a real treat.  Brubeck was a musical genius, I believe, and I'll miss him.  From a performance a few years after I originally saw the group, here's one of their most famous pieces from that era - "Take Five".

Monday, December 3, 2012


Remember the old Yellow Cabs?  Or the black British cabs?  All it took was a glance to know that was a taxi.  But nowadays?  Apparently they can be any color under the rainbow.

And while I'm at it, Taco Bell doesn't look the same anymore either!

(grump, grump, grump)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

SHEEEE . . . . IT!

Well, that didn't work so we're going to have to go back to the old system, folks.  I'm really sorry but there's just no other way that I know.

Some advice.  Take it slowly and just look at one letter at a time.  If that doesn't work, just put in anything and the tool will give you another word.  Sometimes the second or third one is easier than the first.

I apologize.  God knows I'm sorry but I just have to do this.

Stay with me.  Please.  I need you.


NO, WAIT!  I may have another solution.  This one requires me to approve comments.  I'll try that.  Hang in there.


Once again, I have been having trouble with spam to my account.  It's grown to dozens of comments a day.  I don't want to put the mystery word system back on the blog so I've attempted to put a filter in to catch and delete them.

It is designed to stop comments and email from an account named "Anonymous".  But I notice that some other commenters use that term.  So, please change your ID so your comments don't get blocked also.

Thanks and sorry for the hassle.


Steve Benson, the editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic, took a shot at the governor this morning.

I must agree.