Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I had a big surprise yesterday.  I was sitting out on my patio in the morning when the phone rang.  It was my cousin, Bonnie, from Billings, Montana.  I said "where are you?"  She replied that they were about 20 miles out of Flagstaff, heading for Prescott.  She said "why don't you drive up and have lunch with us at the Palace Saloon."  

Now that's a little over a hundred miles from where I live now but, since they had come from Montana, I said "fine" and we agreed to meet at noon.

When I got there she was standing out front with a young woman I didn't recognize but was quickly introduced to Linda, her sister, another cousin of mine.

Then the doors to a car parked right in front opened and more people emerged.  This is Linda's husband, D.J.

Here is Bonnie and her husband, LaVerne.

But the biggest surprise was yet to come.  One more woman stepped out of the car and I asked Bonnie in wonder, "Is that your mother?"

It was.  Lil was married to my mother's brother.  I asked Bonnie how old she was and was told she is 91.  Now I ask you . . is this the face of a 91 year old woman?

It certainly doesn't look like it to me.  She is full of pep and ready to go.

The group had been through Wyoming and Colorado, taking in the sights, and were on their way to the Grand Canyon and then Monument Valley before going on to Bryce Canyon in Utah and then back to Montana.

They are great adventurers, those Montanans, and it was wonderful to see them all again, especially my ever-young Aunt Lil.

Oh, and Bonnie brought me some of those famous chocolate frosted chocolate cookies that I remembered from my mother's oven when I was a wee tot.

Oh, yes, I was.  Once upon a time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Some of our nearest neighbors.

The Sentinel.

Actually, it's just a bloody mourning dove . . . one of several, er, dozens, er, hundreds around us.

A honey-bunny.  One of at least two, probably many more, in our neighborhood.  This one was in our back yard this evening.

Ready for your close-up, bunny?

They may be pests but I think they're cute with their little cotton tails.  And we're not gardening so . . .

(By the way, Steve, my apologies for taking your blog title for my post title.  I promise not to do it again.)

Monday, April 15, 2013


Taken the other night from my back yard in Phoenix.  But I've doctored it a bit to darken the sky.

A smiley face moon?

An Arabian moon?

A rip in the fabric of space?


Just a new moon.

But at least one guy thinks it's important.  His name is Steve Judd and he's a self-taught astrologer living in Bath, England.

Gobbledegook, maybe, but with his delivery and accent, I could almost believe him.

Have a good month.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Our new Phoenix home is surrounded by plants.  We have big palm trees,

and smaller palm trees,

Bottlebrush shrubs,

and roses,

and mock roses,

and some I can't name yet.  Any help with the next two?

A couple of bougainvillea trees were badly burnt by a hard frost and had to be cut back this week.

But there's new growth and new color coming.

Then there are the potted plants SWMBO has planted on our patio.

A mix of petunias and cosmos.

All in all, I think Saint Frank approves.

Friday, April 12, 2013


SWMBO was complimentary about yesterday's post but said I had under-described her salad.  So she gave me the ingredients and instructions as follows:

Two Tablespoons dried cranberries (Craisins)
8 to 10 dried apricots, snipped into small pieces
2 Cutie tangerines, cut into small pieces

Mix together and add a Tablespoon of raspberry vinaigrette and let set for a half hour or more.

Slice cooked (preferably grilled) chicken breast.  (The marinating sauce and grilling was described in the previous post.)

Toss 4 cups of mixed greens with the fruit, adding more dressing if desired.

Divide onto two plates, top with sliced chicken and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

Lick lips, eat and enjoy.

And then there is this, from her own hand:

A few days after we moved to our new house I was awakened by an irritating tap, tap, tapping outside my bedroom window.

Bruce had told me a day or two earlier that he had seen a Gila woodpecker clinging to the side of the house.  It didn't take long to put two and two together.

Day after day, at the crack of dawn, this bird pecked at the house and alternately screeched.  It sounded like frustration to me.

We investigated and found a round hole about an inch wide, high under the eaves.

I surmised that the bird was trying to widen the hole so a nest could be built inside.  If you have ever tried to drive a nail through stucco you know how hard it is.  Frustrating.  So . . . we had to plug the hole.

Bruce insisted he would be the one to climb the eight foot ladder for the operation.  I made a ball of foil, got out the Gorilla Glue and a spray bottle of water (this glue is activated by water.)

Bruce climbed the ladder and I handed him each item while steadying the ladder.  He sprayed the hole with water, sprayed the foil with water, put glue around the edge of the hole and stuffed the foil ball into the hole.  Voila!

We speculated what might happen if the woodpecker arrived before the glue had set up completely.  Picturing a bird trying to get his beak unstuck was quite an image.  It has now been 24 hours and the tapping has stopped.  Success?

Or maybe the woodpecker died laughing at two old human beings who would go to such lengths to "foil" his plans.

(Editor's note:  This is a Gila woodpecker.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Miss Judy of Prescott Area Daily Photo reminded me this morning that I hadn't changed my blog banner since I moved.  So I did.  I hope you all like it.  It's a painted Mexican sun face which SWMBO mounted on our back yard wall, along with several more plebian models.

Which reminds me of a story.  Once we lived briefly in an apartment community in Prescott.  As soon as we moved in Judy put up a couple of the sun faces on the outer wall.  Almost immediately we got a notice from the HOA people that Sun GODS are not permitted in view in the community.  That was the first and only time we've ever heard of them being referred to as "gods".  We've always thought they were just "sun faces."

Here's a view of the rear of the house, barbecue grill and patio table ready for action.

Judy did a great meal on the grill last night.  First she marinated some skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce and Mrs. Dash spices.  Then she put them over low heat on the grill and also grilled some split lemons.  Later when she checked and noticed the lemons were browning too much she moved them to the rack above the chicken.  Later still she noticed they were dripping lemon juice down onto the chicken.  Yummm!  Later still she cooled the chicken down, sliced it and served it over a mixed green salad.  Wonderful!  (And she said she didn't want to cook anymore!)

We have a number of wildlife specimens around.  We've seen a couple of small bunnies.  I saw a long-eared jackrabbit one day.  There are doves, a couple of Gila woodpeckers, and a number of Mockingbirds with their wonderful songs.  Here's one of the latter.

We can hear the traffic on Baseline Road from where we live but we're trying to convince ourselves it's just the sound of the surf in our nearby ocean.  (We wish!)  

But so far we're enjoying our new life.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


We're finally getting settled, though there is still "stuff" in boxes in the garage.  But life is calming down somewhat.

Yesterday we drove into the heart of the city to have our visit with our new cardiologist, Dr. Ashish Sadhu.  I told him I was relieved that he had been born in the United States.  He commented that actually he was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. but he asked me why.  I said when I had booked the appointment I was worried that I might have difficulty understanding him through his accent.  He speaks English unaccented, probably better than me and, considering his birth nation, he didn't say "eh?" once that I noticed. My neighbor is from Alberta and he says it frequently.

Speaking of Canadians, here's something for them.

But I digress.  After several tests, meeting several people, giving blood a few times and getting a recommendation for a primary care doctor we were on our way.  The second doctor's office was only a few blocks away and we stopped there and registered as new patients.

Then it was on to a store where SWMBO was returning a couple of items that didn't meet her exacting standards and then buying several more items for the house.

Then on to a wonderful restaurant, Rokerij, for lunch.  Great place, wonderful ambience, delicious food and drinks.  At the same place is a companion restaurant, Richardson's, which serves New Mexican food as well as a basement bar, Dick's Hideaway, that also serves food from the kitchens above.

And finally back on the freeways to get home.  Total elapsed time - roughly four hours.  As I said to SWMBO "I love this city!"

About that photo above.  It's just one of several I swiped from Facebook postings today.  That's the great thing about the Internet - you can steal stuff from nearly everywhere!

One of the others is a picnic-ready bicycle.

Pretty slick way to go isn't it.  If you put a bottle of tequila in there, it might go pretty well with some juice from some of our lemons.

Yes, that is a lemon.  Not a grapefruit though it's nearly as big as one.

And finally (as my late friend, television anchorman Ray Thompson, used to say when he prepared to read his funny story to end his newscasts, here's a sign that indicates a whimsical way of saying "we don't have guard dogs but don't try to get in."

As I said before, thanks to the Internet and my Facebook friends for  finding all of the photos.  (Except the one of the lemons.  That's mine.)

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Today marks the anniversary of the day SWMBO and I were married.  42 years ago!  Here are some pictures of the changing couple over the years.

It wasn't really that long ago.  This picture just makes it look that way.

The disco days.  Or daze.  Who on earth could wear that much madras?

From an era of film cameras.  35 millimeter.  Looks like it could have been shot in Golden Gate Park during the Summer of Love.  But it was actually in Scottsdale some years later.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Waiting for a train.  To rob.

In Guadalajara, Mexico.  During our FIRST retirement.

Back in the U.S. of A.  Running our bookstore in Arizona.  BOOKENDS, by name.

Dagnab it!  The hair and the beard are showing the ages.

Just a few months ago.  Showing our elder years but still wearing the colors.

It's been an interesting and amazing 42 years.  From Indianapolis to Phoenix to Mexico to Texas to Arizona and now, finally, back to Phoenix, which we left 26 years ago.  But the Phoenix we returned to is vastly larger and different from the one in which we used to live.  And many of our friends have departed this Earth.  Meanwhile, we plug on, with our years and our aches and our pains.  Anniversary #43?  We're headed your way.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


The past two Fridays I have attended a luncheon for old and retired media, p.r. and sales types from the Golden Age of Broadcasting.  It has been an education.  I had no idea that in my 30's and 40's I was still so naive.  I have heard stories of former bosses who had a serious womanizing problem, a former boss who drank heavily with his high-paid news anchors, etc., and who nearly left them high and dry when he wouldn't bring them back for the late news until it was nearly too late.  Then the next day when the news director was trying to explain the lapses of judgement, he expressed complete ignorance.  Many tales of alcoholic unrestraint and chasing skirts, here and there.  It was "Mad Men" come to life!

I knew nothing about any of this.  Or nearly nothing.

One Big Boss who came to town when the local news anchors were going to emcee the grand opening of a movie made in our city and told the main anchor "Your pants are a bit wrinkled!"  This anchorman supposedly went to a Chinese laundry and stood in his underwear while his trousers were dry cleaned.

One thing the anchor didn't know but could have used.  The Big Boss traditionally drank his lunch and in the afternoon remembered nothing of what had gone on before.

Broadcasting . . radio or television . . was a crazed profession back in the day.  Many are the "performers" who were nothing short of drunks, grifters and what were called back then - "ladies men".  Some of them were homosexual or bisexual or what we used to say were "trysexual" - they'd try anything with anyone.

Those days are gone now.  Political Correctness is the law of the land now.  I suppose it's for the better but . . . I remember the "good old days".  Unfortunately those days were meant for men.  Women were an underclass.  The changes in gender fairness are better now.  

So it goes.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


The girls (SWMBO and the BRD) and I dined at the House at Secret Garden last night.  It's a wonderful restaurant co-owned by a mother and son, Pat and Dustin Christofolo.  Dustin is the chef and a fantastic one.  Unfortunately I took no photos so you'll just have to savor this in your mind.

We shared an appetizer of the house specialty - Sweet Potato Planks.  They are grilled rounds of sweet potato, topped with creme fraiche, scallions and pancetta wheels.  They are two-bite-sized and delicious.  We also shared a cheese tray of (our choices) Black Mesa Goat Cheese, Life in Provence Double Cream Brie, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese accompanied by grilled bread, dried cranberries, golden raisins, figs and salted almonds.  It sounds like a lot of food but it really wasn't.  

And we went on!  The girls each had Shrimp and Grits with bacon, baby carrots, corn and Serrano peppers for their entrees and I had (what do you suppose?) Lemon Chicken with smashed potatoes.  I had a taste of the grits because I am a notable opponent of them.  They were good and tasted more like risotto to me.

All of that and a bottle of wine made for some happy campers.

The restaurant is located in an old Spanish mansion under tall trees near to South Mountain.  It's a wonderful place with exquisite food.

And then when we got home, I found an email from my cousin Bonnie in Montana (she of bluegrass fame) with a picture of one of my favorite cookies from my childhood.  My mother used to make these.

They're chocolate cookies with chocolate frosting.  They may have been my start into a life of chocolate addiction.  Thanks for the picture, Cuz.  I haven't seen these in many years.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


My good friend, D-K, emailed this morning to let me know she was unable to access my blog because the last post she was able to read was days ago and she just knew I had been blogging since then.

Well I haven't and I told her we'd been too busy to even consider blogging.  But even I was surprised to learn it had been a week since my last post.

The BRD is paying her first visit to our new "crib" today.

So I figured I could take some time off and let you know what we've been doing lately.  We've been unpacking boxes and boxes and boxes.  It's a long and agonizing process though the house is coming together day by day.

But once the BRD arrived, things slowed.  We went to our new favorite Mexican fish taco restaurant for lunch.  Since coming home the gals have been on the couch catching up on each other.

By the way, two days ago . . . April Fools' Day . . . was the day when the BRD and her Beau Jack took a limousine and a bottle or two of champagne down to downtown Prescott to get a new marriage license for the sixth consecutive year.  (They've been together for nine years.)  They haven't been married yet and have no plans to.  But it's become an annual joke and a fun time for them and some of their friends.

What a couple of jokesters!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


We finally got our gas turned on today so we've both had our first showers since last Friday.  Wow!  Didn't know a shower could feel that good.

Each day a little progress is made.  Met one of our new neighbors at the mailboxes today.  He told me a couple of good keys to open the gates leading into this place.  Maybe I can get it programmed into the buttons on my rear view mirror like the garage door opener.

SWMBO received her first forwarded magazine since the move.

She was checking out my upper body after my shower and remarking on the number of bruises and scrapes I have all over my body.  I said "I'm sure glad we hired movers!"

Hooking up the Internet yesterday has made all the difference in my attitude.  Those smart phones are great but I can't stand the tiny keyboard on it.

Oh, I forgot to tell you.  I got my first smart phone last December and was complaining to the BRD about how I couldn't get email.  And I couldn't access that Suri-type woman who gives you directions to anywhere you want to go while you're in the process.  She said you should have all that and told me to check with Verizon, where I've had an account since December.  An incredibly young woman listened to my complaints, glanced at my phone and said that I didn't have my network turned on.  (Or something like that.)  She scrolled and poked for about a minute and then pointed out that I now have 4G up and running.  I don't really know what that is but I can now email from anywhere and the little tour guide has already guided me to several destinations without a hitch.

Sometimes us old guys just have to be led by the hand.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


The movers showed up at 8 a.m. Saturday, right on time.  A few minutes after 11, they left with a full truck and our home now empty.  Less than two hours later we showed up in Phoenix to find the truck waiting for us!  Amazingly, they had beaten us there somehow.  Several  hours later everything was unloaded and into our new home.  Staggering a bit, we looked around at a complete mess with unpacked boxes everywhere.  It's achieving some normality now but still a lot of it looks like this.

Here's our temporary breakfast area, currently serving as a sorting space.

SWMBO and I are aching from muscles that had atrophied over the years suddenly being forced into movement.  I won't show you the rest of the inside of the house at this time.  (SWMBO would kill me!)  But we have DIRECT TV hooked up to our aging television sets though we really haven't had time to enjoy it yet.  Some time, maybe today, we'll go buy a big flat screen t.v. for the living room.  It will be sandwiched by two book shelves.  SWMBO won't start shelving until she knows how big the screen is and how far to move the shelves out.  But she hates that.  Her theory is that a house is not a home until there are books shelved and showing.

So, here's a bit of the outside area.

We live in a golf course community and the golfers come right past our back yard.  That's part of the course in the center of the picture over our block wall and our neighbor's wrought iron fence.

We are happy to have a large shrub of mock roses.

One corner of the back yard has a large palm tree sandwiched by two citrus trees.  I think the one on the left is an orange tree and the other is a lemon tree.

Oh, yes it is.  Here's the proof.

The fruit on the tree is obviously from last year's crop as both trees are blooming and our evening cocktail hour on the patio is fragrant with the smell of the blossoms.

So we are now, once again, residents of Phoenix, Arizona.  Further updates will undoubtedly follow.