Saturday, May 18, 2013


I'd like to start today's post with a musical selection.  Feel free to sing along.

Now what, you may ask, possessed me to play the national anthem of Canada today?  Well I'll tell you.

As you know we have fairly recently moved to Phoenix, Arizona from our previous home about 100 miles to the northwest.  We moved to a community that has homes both rented and lived in by their owners.  We're renters but one of our next door neighbors lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and only comes to this home half a dozen or so times a year for a week or two at a time.  The second time I met him we had a nice conversation which culminated in him giving me a key to his house and asking if I'd mind keeping an eye on it for him when he's back in Canada.  I was somewhat stunned but readily agreed to do that.  

He was heading back north that day and I've done walk-throughs a couple of times, just checking to make sure everything is all right.

He and his wife arrived back again yesterday and last evening invited us over for a "nightcap".  Well, sure.

So SWMBO and I went over and were surprised to be presented with gifts for watching over their property.

That is a nice jug of 100 percent pure Canadian maple syrup!  The lady of the house presented it in a familiar purple and gold bag which she described as Canadian wrapping paper.

Crown Royal Canadian whisky is a favorite of SWMBO so she was doubly pleased.

And there was MORE!

A bottle of red wine - a four grape blend of California wines.  Red wine is my favorite so I'll appreciate that.

So, to our new friends D and C, we say thank you!  Now, you may wish to play that sound clip again.  Or you can go on to the next little surprise.

That took place at our nearby grocery store this afternoon.  I stopped for a couple of things and was flabbergasted by a huge crowd just inside the door.  Then I recognized Arizona's newest sports star, Brittney Griner, at a table signing autographs.

The 22 year old woman was the first overall pick in the WNBA women's basketball draft this year, going to the Phoenix Mercury.  Brittney is 6 feet 8 inches tall.  With an arm span of 86 inches she was the first NCAA basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots in her college career.

Just last month she acknowledged that she was gay.  But judging by the throng of people lined up to get her autograph today that won't hurt her popularity in Phoenix.

I hope you're all having as good a weekend as I am.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


SWMBO had a doctor appointment in Chandler this morning.  I was the chauffer.  Afterwards we visited Mimi's Cafe . . .

. . . where we each enjoyed Eggs Benedict.

SWMBO said it felt special to have Eggs Benedict in a restaurant on a Thursday morning!

Then we came home and I dropped her to put her feet up and relax while I ran out to do some errands.

By the way, I WON THE POWERBALL last night!

Well . . . not the big one.  But I did get three numbers which earned me seven dollars.  I cashed my ticket, got one more set of numbers for the next game and pocketed a five-spot.  Now for that big one on Saturday night!  I definitely have a use for that half a billion dollars.  Well, I guess it's only around 350 million if you take a one-time cash payment.  But still.

While out and about I found a correct digital cable for my computer monitor today so I'm back in business, full screen.

And I stopped in at Arizona Mills . . a huge outlet mall in Tempe.  Here's an overhead view.

You can get an idea of the size of it if you compare it with the cars parked all around it or on the adjacent streets.  I went inside at Entry Seven, which is where a multiple screen theatre complex is located, right next to an IMAX theatre which advertises a six-story tall screen.  Just past the theatres is a huge food court with many restaurants AND a full-scale carousel.

If you're looking for a nice quiet meal, this is NOT the place.  But it's fun to watch the kids enjoying themselves at full volume.

There are at least 185 stores and many restaurants in the mall.  I only covered a very small part of it but the legs weren't having any more today.

And if you were wondering after yesterday's post, it's still hot today.  But the weatherman says tomorrow the mercury will peak at only 96 degrees and Saturday will be positively cool at 93!  If you're around Lake Tahoe, in California or Nevada, today, it's snowing!  Eat your heart out!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Yes, I've been missing.  Computer problems again.  After some difficulty and various try and fail, try and succeed, try and fail again, I think I have narrowed down my problems to a faulty digital cable running between my computer and my monitor.  So I'm using an analog cable right now which is less than perfect but it works.  My screen is narrowed by about an inch and a quarter on each side and the fonts are a little fuzzy but it works.  So here I am.

It has been warm here.  At a little after 5 p.m., it's 98 outside right now.  The high was 101 earlier.  It's been hovering right around 100 degrees every day for about a week.  And this is only May.  There will come a slight monsoon season sometime this summer, as I recall, but I can't tell you when.  And it may be more dust storms than actual rain.

So the heat is on and we put up with it.  It is still pleasant to sit out on the patio in the mornings and so I do.  We've had another problem with tiny red ants.  But our gardener says they don't damage the plants but SWMBO has been waging war with them with Spectracide, Triazicide and I have contributed Andron.  They seemed to be largely defeated this morning though there were still some wandering in confused circles.

A Gila woodpecker has been hammering away at our tallest palm tree and appears to have built a nest.  I can hear him (hell, the whole neighborhood can hear him) screaming from time to time.  I'm not sure if that's a call to a prospective mate or just frustration on his part.

And yesterday morning one of the several mockingbirds who seem to have taken possession of our neighborhood was going through his entire litany of song atop a neighbor's roof.  They have an amazing number of different calls and songs.  

Then there are sparrows and finches and the monotonous mourning doves.  And a starling or two and who knows what else.  Perhaps I'll name this residence Birdland!  I wonder what the birds would think if I began blasting out some Dizzy Gillespie tunes at them.  I wonder what our neighbors would think.  Perhaps that's not such a good idea.

Best leave the entertainment to the birds.

As mundane as this post is . . it's good to be back.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


I was out staring at the clouds the other evening as the sun set.

It may have been my cocktail but the more I looked, the more I saw.

If you look closely, and let your mind wander a bit, there's a face up there.  I swear it!

But then I saw this one, which really blew my mind.  It's a dead ringer for that drawing of a face with puffed out cheeks, blowing the clouds ahead of it, perhaps even blowing up some rain.

Am I crazy?

If you think I am, you've got to look at this video.  Just follow this link.  Enjoy and have a good weekend!

Friday, May 10, 2013


You are about to see something you've never seen before.  At least not if you've known me for less than 50 years and I suspect all of you fit in that category.  SWMBO and I were discussing my long hair the other night and joked a bit about getting a buzz cut.  I haven't had one of those since about 1958 or 1959, I'd say.  But yesterday I went to a barber shop (oh, excuse me, a tonsorial salon) and told my "stylist", Ruby, to take it off.  Here are the brutal results.

SWMBO's first comment was "your dad just came out of you!"  She also said "I didn't think you would cut it that short!"  She thinks it will look better when it's grown out a bit.

As for the rest of you, you may now voice your opinions.  But take it easy.  I'm a sensitive guy.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013


On July 22, 2010 I shot this video of a little urchin that kept visiting our house in Prescott Valley.  

He was a scrappy little rascal that I nicknamed "Blackie Detroit".  He constantly had open sores and scars from apparent fights with tougher foes in the neighborhood.  

Finally, we decided he wasn't going to go away so we took him in, took him to a veterinarian, got him "fixed" and made him an inside cat.  He thrived on the regular food in his dish.  He still has the urge to run outside through a carelessly opened door but most of the time he is content to spend most of his day sleeping.  And he has grown.

This picture was taken just the other day as he joined me for an afternoon siesta.

Oh, and somewhere along the way I changed his name to "Blackwell".  It seems to fit him better and, like a good friend to me, he recognizes his name and perks up his ears when he hears it.

Although he gives us fits from time to time he is a dearly loved member of our family.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I had to go into downtown Phoenix for a doctor visit yesterday.  Afterward I decided to explore my old stomping grounds of years ago and see what had changed.  What I found was EVERYTHING!

Where once only a high-rise building or two formed the downtown skyline, now there are dozens.

I had parked at the Arizona Center garage.  When I got down to ground level, this is what I found.

The Arizona Center is a huge area of businesses, shops and restaurants between Van Buren and Fillmore Streets and 3rd and 5th Streets.  I stopped for lunch at 1130 The Restaurant and ate on their cool, shaded patio.

It's a pleasant place to dine as you watch the passing crowds of office workers.  It's been awhile since I was in a metropolitan setting and I was fascinated by how many of the passing women were wearing quite high heels and how nearly all of the men had on neckties.  I couldn't tell you how many decades it's been since I had to wear a tie and they seem totally unreasonable in Phoenix' climate.

While a busy place with banks and power company offices and restaurants and shops of all kinds, much of the Center has been taken up with beautiful gardens.

There was even a fountain of artificial rapids to give a sense of cooling on the hot summer days.

And potted plants, including my beloved Hibiscus.

These were actually pink though my camera makes them look more red.

And some beautiful yellow ones.

I was struck by the old St. Mary's Basilica now surrounded and dwarfed by huge modern buildings.  Still, I like the contrast.

Then there was this ugly old building, reportedly being refurbished for a new occupant.  SWMBO said it looked like it belonged in a slum area of Cleveland or Detroit.

She didn't recognize it which was not surprising.  And she was amazed when I told her it was 1101 North Central, where I spent 13 years working in television during the 1970's and 1980's.  Here's what it looked like "back in the day".

The television station has moved to a building it shares with the Arizona Republic newspaper, both owned by the Gannet corporation.  The change in appearance brings a feeling of wistfulness.  But then much in Phoenix has changed since I landed there many years ago and most of it is for the better, I think.

So it goes for my visit to downtown.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

69 degrees South

SWMBO and I went to a performance yesterday by the Phantom Limb Company of "69 degrees South" at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.  It's a stunning presentation which refers to the Endurance Expedition to Antarctica of Ernest Shackleton in 1914.  His ship became trapped by pack ice and eventually sank.  The crew than began a seven month trek hauling lifeboats to reach the open sea and after another 7 days of rowing they reached Elephant Island.  

Shackleton, however, realized they had no hope of being discovered and resolved to travel 800 miles to a whaling station on South Georgia to get help.  He and five of his men made the journey in about three weeks and after three tries they returned to Elephant Island and rescued all of the other men.

The play is presented wordlessly by six characters who prowl the stage in costume and on stilts manipulating puppets to represent Shackleton and his men.

It is a stunning and somewhat puzzling performance accompanied by video images projected on a rear wall, glaciers rising from the stage, and a musical sound track performed by the Kronos Quartet.

The performers are excellent as they move around the stage, bending and weaving as they control the marionettes.

The New York-based Phantom Limb Company spent four years putting the show together, including a trip to Antarctica,  and collaborating with the Kronos Quartet on the sound track.  Additional music was provided by Skeleton Key.

If you want to challenge your brain . . you might try this avant-garde performance as it travels around the country.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Much has been made of Willie Nelson's 80th birthday recently and we join in the congratulations.  Willie, who is as well known for his marijuana habit as his singing, just keeps going.  At a concert in Florida after his birthday celebration in Abbott, Texas it was reported that someone tossed a hemp necklace to him as he came on stage.  He reportedly caught it in mid-air with a smile.  I don't know if the weed has kept Willie performing for all these years but a reviewer said he gave a rock solid performance for 90 minutes that night.

But today brings news of another legend of the music business.  Pete Seeger turns 94 today.  And he's still singing, recording and leading crowds through a rollicking performance of "This Land Is Your Land."

That's an early and a later picture of the great songwriter and performer.  You probably can't read the words printed on the face of his banjo.  It says "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."  Pete printed that after learning that his predecessor, Woody Guthrie, printed "This Machine kills Fascists" on the face of his guitar.

Pete was a member of the Weavers, a folk group from "way back". I saw him perform live a couple of times with Arlo Guthrie, the son of Woody.  If you get a chance to see them, it's a great show.

Happy birthday, Pete, and please keep on playing, singing and leading the rest of us to try harder.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


A small biology lesson today.  

Watch out for the sun.  (Fine advice from a guy who just moved to Phoenix, right?)

When I was a young lad of half Norwegian descent I loved the sun and would play outside until I was burned to a crisp.  I never really tanned all that well, I just got sunburned.  Or as Woody Allen says "I don't tan, I stroke!"

As I got older and older I continued to worship the sun, spending many, many days at the beach and usually ending up with yet another sunburn.

Now, finally, I'm paying the price for it.

Those red spots above my right eyebrow (that's the one on the left in this photo) are tracks from my new dermatologist's liquid nitrogen spray.  That's how they take care of minor skin cancers these days.  Freeze them to the point of pain with a very cold spray.

Then there are the others, which require more invasive treatment, like the squamous cell carcinoma my former dermatologist cut out of my upper arm awhile back.  It left a barely discernible scar but it's still a scar.

Now that I'm an Old Fart, I can say whatever I want.  Here is what I say.  Stop tanning.  Use the highest SPF factored sunscreen you can find.  Wear a broad-brimmed hat.  

Avoid.  The.  Sun.

You'll thank me someday.

Friday, April 26, 2013


For the last two nights in a row, SWMBO and I have been in the back yard watching the International Space Station pass over.  The first night it was for less than a minute but last night it lasted nearly three minutes.  It looks like a very high fast-moving airplane.  The space station is about 200 miles above the earth.  It takes only about 90 minutes to circle the entire globe so you can imagine it won't be visible long in any one area.

I learned a lot about the Space Station by going to this NASA web site.  For example, I learned that the station is currently being commanded by a Canadian, Chris Hadfield.  The rest of the crew includes two United States citizens and three from Russia.  The station has been in orbit for about 12 and a half years at this point.

The space station is larger than a five bedroom house and about the size of a football field.  Compact spaces but lots of room to rove around.  There are many other interesting facts in a video tour of the station conducted by a former commander, Suni Williams, accessible from the web page.

You can schedule email alerts to let you know in advance of a passing over your area.  Just click on the link for "Spot the Station".

The BRD was with us for the first night of viewing but I guess coming from the Star Trek generation it was no big deal for her.  I, on the other hand, was thrilled to watch it, especially last night as it moved across the sky and then just winked goodbye.

Oh and by the way, for those of you who may not have seen my thank you on Facebook, thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday Wednesday.  It was a great day and I am fortunate to have so many friends.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Okay, I know this is the post you've all been waiting for.  Catalyst/Bruce celebrating his #%rd birthday.  Today was the day so here we go.

SWMBO and I were accompanied by the irrepressible BRD to a nice restaurant where we were seated far away from the other patrons. I don't know why.  Well, maybe I do.  It was because of the antics of the BRD.

Y' can't take her anywhere.  And if it's your birthday she insists on singing.  Badly.

She insists on applause.

Or, at least, dessert.

That red velvet cupcake in the center was supposed to be my birthday cake but she devoured most of it.  But never mind.  The lemon cake on the left and the "loaded" carrot cake on the right were equally delicious.

SWMBO, in the meantime, was ordering wine . . . a very good Pinot Noir by Mirassou.

And, in spite of what I said earlier about the BRD, we all had a very good time.

So, happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, I'm only seventy-three, so happy birthday to me!  

And surrounded by much younger ladies that I love dearly!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


As I said yesterday, two of my nephews and their wives were coming to visit.  Just a day after a four-day hiking and camping trek into the Grand Canyon.  The organizers were Amy and Barry from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Amy is an excellent and pretty competitive cross country skier.  Barry is the cook extraordinaire and planner.  They go somewhere nearly every weekend to hike, camp, fish, ski or whatever.  They're a very active couple.

They had gone into the Canyon a year ago.  This time they brought Barry's older brother, Larry and his wife Debbie, from Minot, North Dakota.

I was just talking with SWMBO and noted it was interesting that all three men in that family do a bulk of the cooking.  Barry, Larry and their younger brother, Tim, all cook very capably.

By the way, I found that Larry likes his white wine!

Barry and Amy had to catch a plane back for the snowy north.  Here's a picture Barry sent of what greeted them at home.

Larry and Deb stayed over a night.  Great to see them after way too many years.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Happy Earth Day!

Two of my nephews and their wives are enroute to our house for a visit.  Here's where they've been for a few days.

This year Deb and Larry joined Amy and Barry for a backpacking trek into the Grand Canyon.  After several days camping in the depths, they emerged at the top yesterday.  Brave and sturdy folks!