Monday, August 19, 2013


O.K.  So most of you know by now that I love cats.  Well in a period of intensive scientific research web surfing while bored this afternoon, I found a few cat pictures from the web that I like.

Like this one.

Or this one.

Anyone who has ever had a Christmas tree and a kitten in the same room must be familiar with a scene like this.

There are some pictures that are sort of intellectual.

By the way, you'll notice the spelling isn't all it could be.  It's difficult for those furry little creatures to type correctly all the time.

So there's just a sample of what's available via the World Wide Web. 

But wait!  How about THIS fearsome prospect?

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Stephen, of the Chubby Chatterbox, has been a great influence on me with his great story-telling and absolutely marvelous illustrations.  I've already got the story-telling down (though not as good as Stephen) so I decided to try my luck with the paintbrushes.  Here's my first attempt.

So what do you think?  

Still life with apples.  

Not too bad, is it?

I think I did well with the sheen of the fruit, and the light reflections.

Not to mention the thatch of the basket.


Can you give it a critique?

Oh, all right.

So I lied.

That's part of story-telling.

Here's the original, before it was dealt with in my PHOTO-editing software.

Yup, it's just a photograph.

Actually, I prefer one I took with a little less light on the subject.  It seems to bring out the deeper reds.

So, there's my "story" for today.

And apologies to Stephen, a REAL artist.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


For a change, the two feline members of our family were sharing the back of the couch without sparring or spitting.

SWMBO took the photos and walked around to get one face-on.

It was fairly dark in the room so a flash was called for, making the cats' eyes seem to be lit from within.  And Blackwell (in the rear here) really does have two eyes.  One of them is just hidden in this photo.

Both of the critters seem to be eyeing me in the kitchen and thinking "does this mean treats for me???"

Friday, August 16, 2013


And, without cropping, to give a sense of place.

Never fear.  It's only the setting sun reflecting from a cloud mass in the Western sky.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Tonight was the highlight of our year (half year, actually) back in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  We went to a concert at the beautiful Ikeda Theatre at the Mesa Arts Center.

The very modern theatre is a delight for the eyes, both inside and out.  Here's a view in the concert hall before the show.

The balconies along both sides are attractively constructed and gorgeously lit and the walls look like they've been constructed out of high-tech cardboard.  I'm sure they are great for the acoustics, which were incredible.

As for the concert, it was a wonderful evening of melody and lyrics performed by Lyle Lovett and His Large Band.  The musicianship was incredible.  Several members of the band were from the Phoenix area originally.  Others came from the great music venues of Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; and, of course, Texas.

We've been a fan of Lovett since we first heard his music when a fellow ex-pat brought us a tape when we were living in Guadalajara, Mexico, back in the 1980's.  Lyle performed several of our favorites including my all-time pick "If I Had a Boat".  And during the encores he did "North Dakota", which you may know is the state I hailed from many decades ago.

Signs and a public address announcement before the show warned that no photography was permitted in the concert hall.  However, as the show went on, I noticed more and more smart phones being used to take photographs and finally I chanced a shot with my camera.  It's not very good but it will give you an idea of the size of his Large Band.

Mr. Lovett, of course, is the pale-faced gent holding a guitar at the center of the photo.  Other accompanists included a pianist, a violinist/fiddler, a backup singer, a bassist, a drummer, a cellist, a mandoline/guitarist, a lead guitarist, and horns: tenor, alto and baritone saxophone and a trombone. Every one got their turn to solo and all were of the finest quality.

It was a great show and now I'm attempting to calm down so I can finally get some sleep.

Thanks, Lyle.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Once again today I went to a baseball game with my o-l-d buddy, Steve. Once again the Arizona Diamondbacks scored a walk-off victory.  This time in the bottom of the 14th inning.  That's three walk-offs in a row and a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, who did not appear pleased.  Steve, on the other hand, did appear pleased.

It's always nice when your buddy has a big smile on his face, even though this picture was taken before the victory.  I suspect even then, Steve knew about the joy to come.

I, on the other hand, grew weary after about 11 or 12 innings and said my goodbyes as Steve lingered on.

But as I got down to the main floor of the arena, I wondered if maybe I could inveigle my way into one of those MUCH-CLOSER-TO-THE-ACTION seats.  So I made my way to the lower floors.  I asked an usher if I could take one of the many empty seats.  He directed me to a row or two just below him.  I went down and took a seat.  

But then I began to notice all the empty seats far below where I sat.  I thought "why can't I take one of those."  I turned to look for "my" usher but he was distracted so I just stood and walked down many stairs until I was just 20 or so rows above the Diamondbacks dugout and there I took my seat.  Unchallenged.  Just another baseball fan.  The view was exemplary.

I turned and craned my neck several times to try and pick Steve out, way-way-way up in the "nosebleed" seats but I couldn't spot him.

So I turned my attention back to the game.

Well, there was that "Diamondback Girl" right in front of me.  Fancy that.  I sat through a couple of more innings but finally gave up, left the ballpark and headed for home.  On the way, I heard the victorious hit and run in the bottom of the 14th inning.  Great game.  Great team. 

Next time?  C'mon down, Steve.  I'll show you how.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


In our living room, a ceiling fan whirls constantly in this overheated summer to provide some additional cooling to prevent the air conditioning from running constantly.  It is where SWMBO and I gather to watch television or movies.  It doesn't bother me but SWMBO says the downdrafted air dries her eyes out and irritates them.  So about a week ago she came home from a shopping trip with this.

Let me assure you this is not a traditional color of any garment, visor or cap for her to wear.  I noted that it was "hideous", or words to that effect.  She answered that she knew that but she only got that color to keep me from swiping it.


But to continue.  A few days later came a post from my California tennis-playing friend, Tom, about a new shirt he had acquired.  Stand back from your screen, folks.  Here it is.

Tom noted that the color was unlike his normal colors of white or blue and he talked in this post and in this one about a certain amount of derision the shirt prompted from his playing partners.

But Tom, never one to take criticism lying down, handled himself well, I thought.

Incidentally, that visor SWMBO brought home looks even more glowing when a picture was taken with the flash on.

So never fear, Tom.  If my wife is right, at least no one will steal your shirt.

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

Last night and the night before were the supposed height of the meteor showers.  SWMBO went out around 2 o'clock Sunday night and saw two.  Last night we both went out around the same time and saw two more.  I may have seen a third just as we were getting up to head back into the house to bed but it was so fast I couldn't be sure.

Suffice it to say that there is so much ground light emanating from the Phoenix metropolitan area that a meteor search is somewhat groundless (to coin a phrase).  I read on Facebook that a former colleague of mine who lives in Prescott, the area we moved to Phoenix from in March, went out with his family last night and saw perhaps a hundred.  Much less population there, therefore much less ground light.  I wish I'd have been there.

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

I was out running around at mid-day yesterday and saw a sign for Tom's Barbecue.  Never one to miss some good Q I went in and had a brisket plate special with red beans and rice.  Excellent.  Tom's has five locations as well as operating a big pink food truck.  Don't know why I didn't get a picture of that.

Later I stopped in at the local NPR radio station, KJZZ, to visit an old friend, Al Macias, who is the managing editor there.  It was good to see him after all these years.  After a lengthy conversation about "the good old days" when we worked together at KPNX-TV in Phoenix, he gave me a tour of the station.  Quite plush and, as he noted, very quiet.  Not like our old noisy newsroom.  And everyone was so YOUNG!

Monday, August 12, 2013


Just to take some of the mystery out of it, I adjusted the photo and got this.

The Master of Darkness
My best pal


Saturday, August 10, 2013


As seen in a couple of random sky shots from the other night.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


If you want to get my attention, just fill a saute pan with some Italian sausage, peppers and onions.

Once the heat has gotten to them, shake on a little freshly ground pepper.

Gently saute them until the onions are translucent and the peppers are glistening.

Dish it up on a plate with a little pasta and some red sauce and a nice glass of red wine alongside.

And I'm in heaven.

How about you?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


When I was a kid, many many many many years ago, I loved to climb trees.  I had one favorite one which was easy to climb and had several spots where a young boy could lean back and rest among the leaves, spying on others walking by down on the ground without being detected.  I called it "The Big Tree" and it was my private, special playground.  I was reminded of it recently when I was watching a television program about the popularity of tree houses.  They have become luxury items for some people. One of them had twin beds, electricity, a bathroom, a completely functioning kitchen and a fireplace.  Imagine that!  A fireplace in a tree house!  Amazing.

One of my other favorite trees sat only about 20 feet from the front door of my home and I used a rope swing in it to sit and read.  

Later on I got interested in short wave and ham radio.  That meant stringing wire aerials so I spent a lot of time on roofs.  That became a sort of hobby for me, much to the dismay of my wife.  But she knew about it before she married me.  She took this picture of me in our "courting days."

There's something special about being up high and looking down that appeals to me.  Still I remember once I was hired to help a man paint our church.  But when I  got up to the scaffold, only about ten feet from the ground I was scared to death and couldn't do it.

Another memory comes of a time when SWMBO and I had been out with a couple of friends and we probably had too much to drink.  There was a lightning storm flaring in the sky to the south of us so I immediately climbed up on the roof to get a better view.  The other three refused to join me and kept telling me to come down.  But I didn't until I felt the need for a cigarette (this was in my smoking days) and no one would toss one up to me.

I've never fallen from a tree or a roof, never hurt myself but I'm afraid my climbing days are over.  There is a tree in our back yard that I have eyed a couple of times but it doesn't look like a good "climber".

If I could even get up to those cross branches I'm afraid they're too fragile and would break off, tossing me to the ground.  At my age that would not be pleasant.

Recently we hired a yard man and he asked me if I wanted the palm tree in the yard trimmed.  It had been awhile and there were a lot of dead fronds high up in the air.  At first I declined but he seemed to want to do it.  I asked him if he had a way to get up there and he said he did so I told him to go ahead.  Later I saw that he had strapped some kind of barbs around his ankles, tossed a loop of rope around the tree and up he had gone.  I wish I'd taken a photo but I didn't think of it at the time.  I just watched him, with a bit of nervousness, as he worked high up in the palm tree.

I also kind of envied him.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


This is something I love about living in Phoenix.  I woke this morning to skies that looked like this.

Yesterday at this time (10:30 a.m.) it was already 99 degrees outside. Today it's 79 and there are a few light sprinkles falling.  It feels wonderful after days and days of dryness and temperatures above 100.

The backyard flowers even seem to be smiling at the change in the weather.  Not that it will last.  A day or two from now the forecast calls for a high of 106 again.

I'm sure the guys loading this truck are happy about the change in temperature.  One of my neighbors, Jake Harrington, is loading up for a move to Arkansas.  Jake has been the outstanding golf coach at South Mountain Community College for several years.  His team just repeated as the national champions and one of his players, Jake Argento, was the junior college player of the year.

(Yes, they're both named Jake.)

Coach Harrington just landed an NCAA job coaching golf at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.  It's a big step for him but with his record I'm sure he'll do well.  I was talking to him last evening and he said he's lived in Phoenix since he was 3 and his wife since she was 12.  So they're leaving a lot behind.

- - - - - - - -

I'm still living in the glow of the concert we attended Sunday night by Madeleine Peyroux.  But we've got another great night to look forward to - a concert by Lyle Lovett and His Large Band in a little over a week.  He's long been a favorite of ours and I'm overjoyed that we'll finally get to see him in person.  Stand by for my review.

Monday, August 5, 2013


She has been referred to as the 90's Billy Holiday.  This 39 year old jazz singer and Parisian busker performed at the Musical Instrument Museum last night and SWMBO and I were lucky enough to have tickets to her show.

Peyroux was born in Athens, Georgia but soon moved to Hollywood, New York and, at the age of 13, Paris.  A couple of years later she was singing on the streets of the Latin Quarter and passing the hat.  A year later she was singing jazz standards and touring Europe as part of The Wandering Blues and Jazz Band.

She is an accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist.  At last night's performance she was backed by 8 musicians, three of them on loan from the Phoenix Philharmonic Orchestra.  With the strings for romantic songs and her piano-bass-drums-guitar backing for jazz, country and gentle rock-and-roll numbers it was a stellar concert.

She started off with covers of several songs by Ray Charles and moved on to some of her own as well as others by Serge Gainsbourg, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman and Warren Zevon.  All in all it was wonderful.

Peyroux sings equally well in French and English and boasts a fine vocal range.  If you get a chance to see and hear her, don't pass it up.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I showed you our lemon tree before on this blog.  Here's the new crop.

I wonder what a green lemon would taste like.  Never fear, I'm going to leave that discovery to my imagination.

Right next to the lemon tree, an orange tree is bearing fruit.

I'm not sure when the fruit will ripen although that one orange on the right appears to be starting to change color.  I can wait.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013


Who is that invader in my yard?

Can't see him, you say?  Look closer

Freezing in position does NOT make you invisible, bunny.  Within seconds of this he took off and went scampering away, faster than light.  

He's one of many who live in this golf course community.  Within a few weeks he will have tripled in size, mainly in his ears and rear legs and he won't be nearly as cute as this.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Judy's post today gave me an idea for my blog today.  She's part of an international combine of bloggers who post a daily picture from each of their areas.  From time to time they are given a subject suggestion for the day.  Today it was street lamps.

Since there is such a lamp directly in front of my residence, I decided to follow along and take a photograph of it.  But when I went out, I noticed the monsoon-cloudy-skies so I got two subjects for the price of one.  And two photographs.

The clouds in that second photograph really seem to be telegraphing some rain showers, don't they?  (He said with his fingers firmly crossed!)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This post, I frankly admit, was prompted by this post today by The Chubby Chatterbox.  Go ahead, click the link, read his post, then come back for the rest of mine.

I discovered that I began this blogging adventure on Halloween in 2008 with this post.  Fortunately that scary pirate did NOT succeed in becoming president.

This, I learned by checking my stats, is my 1,418th blog post.  But there were more, now lost to history.  I had blogged before, grew disenchanted and dumped all I had written.  They may be recoverable somewhere but right now I don't have the patience to search for them.  I find it amazing that I have written 1,417 posts prior to this.  What on earth can a person find to babble on about that much?  Of course, some posts contain only a video or a cartoon but most of them have some words flowing like a muddy river from my brain and fingertips.

As for this mutation of my blog, I discovered today that it has had 81,646 page views.  More than 50,000 of them came from readers in the United States.  Next was Germany followed by Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia and the Ukraine. Since I write only sparingly (a few words at a time) in other languages I must assume that those readers are English speakers.  (Given, of course, the old saw about the U.S. and the U.K. being two countries separated by a common language.)

Well, now, what interests these people, I wondered.  I learned that my most popular post was one called simply "LBJ", about the late President Lyndon Johnson, in June of last year.  It was a fairly short post with nothing really pithy in it but to date it has had 325 page views.  The second-most popular was titled "JACKIE", and I can suspect that many of the viewers of it may have been drawn thinking it was about Jacqueline Kennedy, given my occasional penchant for political punditry.  (The three P's.)  But in fact it was about Jackie Robinson and was not political at all.

So perhaps some people come by mistake.  Some stay, some leave never to return.  While I was researching this post I noticed several names in the comments section that have disappeared.  I've lost track of many of them. One, the legendary Granny J, passed from our midst in May of 2010, leaving a great hole in this world of blogdom, or bloggery, or whatever.

Of so many others I guess their disappearances are just the way of the Internet.  Some have gone on to other universes . . Twitter, Facebook, et al.  Somehow I miss them all.

Monday, July 29, 2013


The BRD is making a change in her life.  For 30-some years she has been making dental crowns of porcelain and gold and palladium.  Like her mother she has an artist's talent and designing new "mouthworks" for dentists was a perfect career for her.  But she has grown tired of the work and the industry has changed and she was ready for the second stage of her working life.

Her Beau Jack is a realtor of some 40 years standing and he convinced her to study for and test for her real estate license.  Not to sell homes, though that is something she could do, but to handle the endless paperwork that other realtors hate to do.  After some persuasion, she agreed to give it a try.

So she signed up for a series of classes that were conducted over 90 hours of long and intensive three-day weekends for several weeks.  After the first day she was despairing a bit.  The room was too small for all the students, the breaks were minimal and short, the bathrooms were too few and didn't always work.  But she continued on.  At the end of the grueling schedule came a test.  She aced it.

But that was only the beginning.  Now she had to take the state sanctioned tests to gain her license.  They are divided into one test for national rules and regulations and one for the Arizona state equivalent.  She studied and studied the massive amounts of paper she had already studied during the course.

Finally came the day for the tests.  She felt confident and, indeed, passed the national test with flying colors.  But not the state exam.  Her tester told her he had never had someone come as close without passing.  He said she was one percent below passing.  ONE PERCENT!

She came to our house that night.  (The test was conducted in Phoenix.) While disappointed, she was still confident.  She studied some more that night and again the next morning.  Then she went off confidently to take the state exam again.

When the phone call came, she told us she had failed once again, missing one more question than she had the first time.

But she said she would come back in two days, after more study, and try again.

This time Beau Jack came with her.  But he was not allowed to stay in the classroom or even the building.  He had to wait outside in a courtyard while she took the test.

Some time later, the BRD came out with a disappointed face.  She told Beau Jack "That's it.  I'm through.  I am never going to take that damned test again."

Beau Jack was consoling and saying "Now, now, don't say that.  You'll just have to study harder and put your mind in the right place.  You'll pass it next time."

She responded, "No, I'm never going to do that again."  Then she grinned and shouted at him "BECAUSE I PASSED IT!"

I would imagine there was laughter, a hug and probably a kiss and then Beau Jack said "wait a minute."  He went to the back of his car and came back with a chilled bottle of champagne and a stuffed teddy bear wearing a realtor's jacket.

She said "What would you have done with this if I hadn't passed?"

Beau Jack said "Hell, I've been carrying it around with me for three weeks!"

More laughter, probably more hugs and kisses, and on to a celebratory dinner before heading up the hill to home.

Congratulations, girl.  A job well done.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


The sky over Phoenix.  This afternoon.  Late.