Friday, June 14, 2013


Ahhhh.  What better way to beat the heat than to sit back and relax with a nice glass of  chilled White Zinfandel, eh?

But wait!  Let's take a closer look at the label on that bottle.

Alcohol-removed wine?  Well what's the point of that?  Wine is alcohol, right?  So if the alcohol has been removed . . . why drink it?

O.K.  Enough mystery.  Here's the answer.  We have a visitor coming in for an overnight.  She once had a great love for wine.  Too great, in fact.  So many years ago she stopped drinking alcohol.  But she still likes to join in when she's around we heathen who still imbibe.

Hence, a product invented especially for such occasions.  Non-alcoholic wine.  N.A. wine, for short.  

It satisfies the urge but doesn't create the damage.  And, for some reason, it eliminates the embarrassment of drinkers confronted with a non-drinker in a social setting.

Ergo, Fre wine, as in Free, as in alcohol-free.  Might be a good idea for any of us.

. . . . . .

And then there's sex.  My old buddy, Danny Bananas, just sent me these.  

There were others but these are the ones I felt comfortable with sharing.

You will please note that in this post, while veering close to the edge of propriety, I have not discussed religion or politics.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I'll bet you thought I was going to upload a video of Bobby McFerrin's hit song here, didn't you.


O.K.  O.K.  I know you've all got an ear worm going now with that McFerrin song playing constantly so I'm going to give it to you.  Sort of.  This is some guy named Elliot Jett doing his own take on the song.

Not bad, huh?

Yes, folks, you too can be a star, thanks to the Interwebs.

Have a nice evening.



                      worry . . .



Tuesday, June 11, 2013


SWMBO and I went shopping today for some posters for wall decor.  I had a large blank space over the desk in my den.  No more.

This takes me back to the period of my life from 1987 to 1991 when we lived in Mexico during my "first" retirement.  Mexico was a much safer place then and we loved the experience.  Full exposure: we spent most of our time with other expatriates from the United States and Canada.  So our command of Spanish languished in the lack of use.

We lived first of all in a tiny village on the north shore of Lake Chapala - Ajijic.  (Pronounced - ah-hee-heek.)  But in those early days we found we were traveling the 30 miles or so into the city of Guadalajara whenever we wanted to buy anything.  There were no supermarkets at Lakeside, as the area is called, at that time.  True, we did shop at the weekly street market for all kinds of fruits and vegetables at what we considered ridiculously low prices. And we bought some things at the local mercados and farmacias.  But for furniture and other things with which to furnish our home as well as groceries we had to make the trip to Guadalajara.

About the time we got our house furnished, the landlord came by and told us he was putting it up for sale so we'd have to show it to potential buyers.  With that we decided to move into the big city.  (Guadalajara with an estimated population of 4 to 6 million people is Mexico's second largest city.)

We found a place we moderately liked, signed rental papers, then went back after dark to take a last look before heading back to our home at the lake to begin packing.  In the darkness, before I could reach a light switch, SWMBO tumbled down a flight of stairs, landing on a marble floor resulting in multiple fractures in one arm.  We were new to this area and had no idea where a hospital might be located.  I helped my now disabled wife into our car and drove a few blocks until I found an ice cream store.  I went in and made the young employees know I needed to call for medical help.  A woman at the counter heard me and told me she was a doctor and asked where my wife was.  I took her to the car and she gave her a quick once-over, formed a collar out of some cardboard from the ice cream store for her neck, then said: "Follow me!"  We did and she led us directly to a nearby hospital, helped get us checked in to the emergency room where we were met by a grey-haired, smiling gentlemen who turned out to be an orthopedic surgeon.  When we asked us how we got there we turned to introduce him to our "good Samaritan".  She had left without us ever learning her name.  We told the doctor our story and he just smiled.

SWMBO (I don't know whether I've ever divulged her real name but it's not She Who Must Be Obeyed . . . it's Judy) spent a couple of nights in a hospital.  She was amazed that the doctor came in and rubbed her feet one day while he was asking her about her arm.  And when he found that we liked to dine out, he told us there were many good restaurants in the city and even suggested that we should come to his house for an evening once she had healed.  For her, it was a painful but heartwarming experience and she still raves about the care she received in the hospital.

As a result of her injury, I did most of the moving with some help from a couple of local guys I hired.

There are more stories to tell but that's enough for one day.  Suffice it to say that even though it seems to be a much more dangerous country now than it was then, I still have a warm spot in my heart for that sunny land beneath the border.

And I think my new poster warms the room that I spend 90% of my time in these days.  (Not that it really needs warmth in the way of heat these days.)

Monday, June 10, 2013


It's time to address the issue of the heat in the Great Sonoran Desert, specifically in Phoenix, Arizona, where I live.

I walked the three blocks to our mailbox today to mail a disc back to Netflix.  And I walked back.  So that's about six blocks.  It was 105 outside and I was warm when I got back to the sanctuary of fans and air conditioning in my house.  But it really wasn't that bad (he said).  

Now let me point out that the relative humidity at the time was (wait for it) . . . 4 percent.  That's FOUR PERCENT!  The big black grackles striding around in yards and streets were doing a lot of complaining but I wasn't.  I noticed several were near my front yard where the sprinkler had been running.  One of them let out a blood curdling scream as I stepped outside.  He must have thought I was going to scare them away from the moisture.

Phoenix gets an average annual rainfall of about 8 and a third inches.  That's annual, as in the whole year.  The wettest month is March with 1.07 inches of rain.  The dryest month?  You had to ask, didn't you.  This one.  June, which averages 9 one-hundredths of an inch.  That's why we're all waiting for July and August.  Nearly an inch falls in each of those two months when the curiously named Monsoon Season blows in.

Now most people think of the Monsoon as a drenched period of time when it rains constantly.  Actually that's not true here.  The monsoon means that the wind direction shifts from the southwest to the southeast.  That brings in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, apparently.  But it also can bring the mighty Haboobs, which are humongous dust storms. Actually the start of the monsoon season in Phoenix usually brings the dust storms first and later on the moisture.

The National Weather Service, in its infinite wisdom, decided back in 2008 that the monsoon season will start every year on June 15th and end on September 15th.  Never mind low pressure and high pressure systems.  Before that the local t.v. weathermen used to tell us that the season began when there were three consecutive days when the dew point reached 55 degrees or higher.  (Actually some of them probably still tell us that.  Take THAT, National Weather Service.)

Well so much for our science lesson for today.

I'm sure that many of you have been criticized for keeping cluttered, messy areas where you spend most of your time.  Yup.  Me too.  But I stopped all that (well most of it)  (O.K. some of it) when I posted a sign in my room.  As the old Catalyst's public service for today, I post a picture of it here for all of you to see.  I can't give you permission to print it for your room because I bought it at an art sale.  But what you do on your own time is between you and whatever you're calling your moral conscience these days.

Of course you could do the right thing and contact the artist at to purchase your own copy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Stuff I might never have seen if I didn't check Facebook now and then.

Friday, June 7, 2013


My thermometer.  Outside my front door.  At noon today.

Today's forecast high temperature: 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

But never fear, dear friends.  Sunday night the low temperature is forecast to be only 79. Positively chilly.

Of course there are some advantages to this weather.

That's the late and legendary Ann Miller singing and dancing a song from the movie "Kiss Me Kate."

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My neighbor, whose house I'm keeping an eye on while he's away, had his yard crew come this week and trim a palm tree or two in his back yard.  They piled the spent leaves in front of his house and left.  A day or two later I heard a terrific racket outside and went out to investigate.  It was a truck with a wood chipper behind it.  This crew was trimming some trees and disposing of the wood.  They were right next to the fallen palm tree branches but do you suppose they touched them?  Uh-uh.

So today was trash pickup day and I went out yesterday evening and put as many of the branches in his trash can as would fit and put it out to be picked up.  Thankfully, it was.  But that still left a bunch of branches on the ground.  So I went out this morning and piled them into his trash can to wait for next week's pickup.

For those of you unfamiliar with palm trees, the branches have many sharp barbs along the edges.

They are fierce and can hurt you.  So a pair of heavy gloves and carefulness is necessary to avoid being wounded.  I had both and wasn't.

Oh, and I've always heard that scorpions love to hide out among the leaves.  I kept a fairly close eye out for them but didn't see any.

It's all just life in the desert.

Oh and for those of you keeping track, it's 12:53 p.m. right now and the temperature is up to 106.

Enjoy YOUR Friday!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Our sweet little Muggles has her green eyes focused on you.


By the way, the space station passes over Phoenix again tonight:  June 5th, 8:51 p.m., passing from west-southwest to north-northeast, easily visible for about 6 minutes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


When our neighbor left for his home in Canada the other day he asked us if we'd like some shrimp and ribs.  He said his wife was worried about the food spoiling if there was a power outage.  Well, of course, being neighborly, what could I say but YES!

Last night SWMBO prepared a shrimp cocktail to take care of some of the seafood.

To accompany, some hummus and some homemade guacamole.  

I love friendly neighbors.

I love summer food.

I am a happy camper.

Monday, June 3, 2013


SWMBO and I just saw the Space Station pass over once again.  This was a long a clear sky for about 6 minutes.  I must be getting old.  I find this amazing and fascinating.  Years ago I was stunned to be able to see the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper.  We now live in an area of very lightened skies from all the ground light.  But we can still see the Space Station passing over us at a height of more than 200 miles.



Some of you may recall my mention in a recent post of when SWMBO and I took a couple of tasty sandwiches from local sandwich shop Duck and Decanter on an airplane.  Here's that mention from May 30th.

The sandwiches are so good we once stopped there on our way to the airport and got our own airline food for our trip to England.  When we opened the bags on the plane we were the envy of the place.  We each had picked a sandwich called The Whole Thing - imported ham, oven roasted turkey breast and Italian dry salami.  The smell of garlic filled the airplane cabin and had mouths watering everywhere. 

Anyway today I was reading the Prescott (Arizona) Daily Courier and was struck by this article written by Judy Bluhm.  Maybe we started something!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

In other news, I'm still waiting for my new computer to arrive.  (Tick-tick-tick)

UPDATE:  The new computer arrived shortly after I wrote this.  Looks good, runs great.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


The new stars get younger and younger.  Take, for instance, young Quinn Sullivan.

That was a few years ago.  Quinn is a teenager now, 13 or 14, he's gotten taller, his voice has deepened but he is still wailin' on that guitar.

The commenters say it all, comparing him to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck.  He has a sparkling future, not to mention a not bad present.  

Friday, May 31, 2013



Acting on an advertising supplement SWMBO received in the mail this week, we set out to explore Food City today.  This is a supermarket chain that tends to operate in and caters to areas with a large Hispanic population.  I was surprised to learn that the chain is part of the Basha's family of stores.  But SWMBO was struck by the low prices on produce.  Upon entering, it was like the supermercados we remembered from our days living in Mexico.  The produce was excellent and the prices were as low as my wife had hoped.  I was thrilled with the displays of spices in plastic bags at what I think are excellent prices.  SWMBO said the display on a rear wall of the store had everything any Mexican cook could want and there were many she had never heard of before.  So that was a great experience and one we will repeat.


I finally found a computer tech and he came to the house a couple of days ago and tried several fixes on my non-functioning PC.  He couldn't be sure of the problem but took the computer to his shop, promising a return this morning.  He said it appeared as if the video card needed to be replaced.  Today he was back and told me the bad news.  It's the motherboard that needs replacing.  There were a couple of swollen capacitors on it, probably because of their location next to the heat sink for the video card.  But he said fixing it would probably cost as much as buying a new computer.  Since I've had this one for 5 or 6 years or more, I asked him if he could build me one.  He said yes and that the price would be about $500.  Well that's probably cheaper than I would pay for one in a store so I told him to go ahead.  He said he'd probably have it done by Monday.  I like this guy, he appears to know what he's talking about and his shop is only a couple of blocks away so he'll be close if I have future problems.  So, actually that's kind of good and bad but I put it under the BAD heading.


The weather.  It's 98 outside right now and supposed to top 100 in the next few days.  SWMBO is worried about the coming utility bills but we will survive.  I asked her this morning how she liked Phoenix so far, other than the heat.  She said she loved it and so do I.

Weather through the Midwest has been and continues to be really ugly.  Much worse than here with tornadoes occuring through many states.

And finally, just to stay with the theme of this post and I'll let you pick where you want to place it - today is the 83rd birthday of the man whose movie inspired the theme: Clint Eastwood.

Oh, no, that's how he looked way back when, even before that iconic movie.

Here's "the man with no name" from the Spaghetti-western that resurrected his career.

And here's how he looks today.

He made some good, maybe even great, movies in his day but after his performance at last year's Republican National Convention, I think maybe his day is . . . over.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Well, I loved this one anyway.  Judy and I each had doctor appointments with a new general practitioner.  He gave each of us a thorough examination and took down our medical history.  We both liked him.  

So wait a minute you're saying.  We each went to a doctor and for that I love Thursday?

Well, noooooo.  It was what came after the doctor visits.  I asked Judy what she wanted to do next and she said "I want some lunch!  And nothing fancy, just someplace to get a sandwich."

So we started out, not having any idea what we were looking for when I had an inspiration.  "How about Duck and Decanter?", I said.

Duck and Decanter is an old and famous sandwich shop which was launched in central Phoenix the year I first came to town.  The sandwiches are so good we once stopped there on our way to the airport and got our own airline food for our trip to England.  When we opened the bags on the plane we were the envy of the place.  We each had picked a sandwich called The Whole Thing - imported ham, oven roasted turkey breast and Italian dry salami.  The smell of garlic filled the airplane cabin and had mouths watering everywhere.

So today we went to "the Duck", as it is affectionately known.  I had today's special, the best Reuben sandwich I've had in years.

Accompanied by some great potato salad and a Smith's Nut Brown Ale from England.  Yummers for sure!

Now you see why I Love Thursdays.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Once upon a time I tried to learn French.  I was a complete failure.  I was stumped by the Gallic way of spelling words with miles of vowels and consonants but only pronouncing a few of them.  What's up with that?

Then I moved to Mexico for five years and endeavored to learn Spanish.  I think it's a much easier language to learn, perhaps the easiest.  But I was living with mostly U.S. and Canadian ex-pats  and most of them didn't bother learning Spanish.  They just raised their voices as they continued speaking English, apparently surmising that volume would make them understood.

I had my vocabulary of a couple of hundred words which enabled me to fill my car with gasoline, order in restaurants and shop in grocery stores.  But if, for example, the water heater broke - I was lost again.  Once something did happen to our water system and a couple of big guys from the city were about to turn off our supply because we were "using too much".  I made them understand that they should wait a moment while I ran down the block to a neighborhood market and return with my Mexican friend who was fluent in both English and Spanish.

All of this confessional venting comes about because I was looking at the title of this post:  WEDNESDAY.  Now think about it.  Shouldn't that be spelled Whensday?  Or even Wensday?  That's how we pronounce it.  Not Wed-ness-day.

And don't even get me started on FEBRUARY!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Aha!  Whilst using SWMBO's laptop (yes, my pc is ailing again) I discovered the blog of one Natalie Darbeloff of London, England.  (Or U.K. if you prefer)  It is called Blaugustine and it reveals a woman of inventiveness - a writer and illustrator and general experimenter.  I shall add it to the blog roll on the right and invite you to investigate the workings of her mind.

Thank you, Lucy, revealing her to me.


Monday, May 27, 2013


Always remember "the boys".

I hung the flag at our new front entrance in Phoenix this morning.

Friday, May 24, 2013


SWMBO and I visited the Arizona Science Center yesterday afternoon specifically to see the traveling exhibit "DaVinci - the Genius."  It was well worth it.  

There were huge reproductions of pages from DaVinci's drawings - anatomical and mechanical.  His skill is an artist was unequaled.  But his creative mind must have been constantly busy.

Many of his ideas predicted inventions that would be made hundreds of years into the future.  This is a forerunner of today's helicopter.  Many of his ideas never worked in his lifetime but the science that was involved came into play and was developed much later.

And then there was one of his most famous paintings.

The Mona Lisa.  This, of course, is a reproduction.  We saw the real thing at the Louvre in Paris back in the 1980's.  I don't think we knew though that a photographer was given exclusive permission to photograph the painting, unframed, some years back and used today's technology, including infrared photography to determine the actual pigments and oils used by DaVinci to create the masterpiece.  Fascinating display with many different views of the Mona Lisa.

That took up much of the afternoon and since this is Arizona Restaurant Week featuring prix fixe meals at dozens of restaurants, we had made a reservation at one of our favorites - Tomaso's.  Dinner began with some crusty bread, garlic butter and/or a Balsamic Vinegar and Olive oil dip.

Accompanied, of course, by wine - an Argentine Malbec for the lady, a Tuscan blend for me.

Then - the appetizers.  Mine was an Italian pasta selection with an incredible parmesan cheese sauce.  SWMBO chose a delicious crab cake and a Portobello mushroom.  Mine disappeared before I remembered the camera and I've somehow lost a shot I took of hers.

But I DID get pictures of her humongous butterflied pork chop with pasta and my plate, which included lamb, petite filet and sausage over risotto.

She brought perhaps better than half of hers home.  I, typically, ate all of mine!

But there's more!  This was a three course dinner and desserts were the finishing touch, accompanied by tiny cups of espresso.

Mine was a foamy-stuffed profiterole drowned in chocolate with a couple of strawberry wedges on the side.  (And, by the way, I wasn't sloppy - the kitchen had painted the serving plate with chocolate!)

But just to prove that Mother Knows Best, SWMBO finished her meal with a delicious pistachio gelato.

Everything was delicious and it was a fantastic day!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I made Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms for our dinner last night.  They were pretty darned good.  The recipe comes from Gourmet but I found it at good old Smitten Kitchen's website.  You can find a link to Deb's webpage on the right side of my page and you'll find lots of great recipes there.

The BRD was here yesterday to hang two sun blinds on our patio for us.  We drafted her because she has similar blinds on her own patio that she hung herself.  She did a great job and the blinds should help keep the heat down in the house as the living room windows face southwest.  Hopefully it will help keep the electric bill down some, too.

Trust me, these 100 degree days can heat up the house, even with air conditioning.

And it's only May!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


There's some irony there in that line about "...the wind comes sweepin' down the plain..."