Wednesday, July 3, 2013


SWMBO and I visited and joined the Phoenix Art Museum yesterday.  While there we saw a Gilbert Stuart painting of our first President, George Washington.  So Happy Birthday, George!

Wait a minute.  You say July 4th isn't your birthday?  O.K.  Forget it.

Oh, that's right.  July 4th is the day the Declaration of Independence was signed. Happy Independence Day, Americans!

Wait a minute.  You say we got that wrong, too? 

It was July 2nd, 1776 that the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution of independence from Great Britain.  The next day John Adams wrote to his wife telling her that July 2nd would be celebrated in the new country for years and years, marked with parades and fireworks and watermelon.  Well, okay, he didn't mention watermelon.

Turns out he was off by two days as it wasn't until July 4th that the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress. Happy 4th of July, everybody.

But wait.  It turns out that most historians believe the Declaration wasn't signed until August 2nd!  Happy August 2nd!

Oh, man, this is getting as complicated as some of my recent Diamondbacks baseball games.

Well here's some things we know for sure about July 4th.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died within hours of each other: on July 4th, 1826.  And another of our presidents, James Monroe, died on July 4th, 1831.  The only president that we know of that was BORN on July 4th was Calvin Coolidge, in 1872.

So, what are we celebrating today?

Oh, one other thing.  Remember George Washington?  History says that in 1778, he marked July 4th by issuing a double ration of rum for his troops.  Happy July 4th, George!

Monday, July 1, 2013


In memory of the 19 Prescott, Arizona firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell fire yesterday.

Sunday, June 30, 2013


SWMBO and I watched the movie "Quartet" last night.  Another winner, directed by Dustin Hoffman.  IMDB describes it as follows:  "At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents."

Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon are at their best in this over-the-top farce.  Many of the others in the cast are former musicians at a high level.  Be sure you stay tuned for the credits.

As for the solo, check out this bravura performance by Raul Midon on the David Letterman Show.  Midon has been blind from birth but he displays a great voice and amazing musicianship in this clip.

Midon was in concert at the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale last night.  Regrettably I missed the performance.  Next time!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


It's 115 at my house right now at 3:30 in the afternoon.  It got to 115.5, which is the same as 116, I guess.  Official temperature at the airport is 118.

But it's cool enough in the house with air conditioning and ceiling fans so I'm just leaning back and watching the Diamondbacks game from Atlanta on t.v.

Meantime, here's a hothouse flower for the rest of you.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I got up and tried a recipe for Crusty Bread this morning.  Turned out pretty good.

Cut a slice, put some margarine on it, punch it up with a fresh cuppa joe . . . breakfast fit for a king.

As promised, it is very crusty . . . but good.

Recipe: The night before, in a large bowl whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1-3/4 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast. Add 1-1/2 cups of water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover it with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours.

In the morning heat oven to 450 degrees. When heated place a covered Dutch oven in for 30 minutes.  While heating, pour your dough onto a heavily-floured surface, shape into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and let it set.

After 30 minute heating, drop the dough into the pot, cover it and bake it for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes uncovered.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

You're done!  Easy-peasy.  And yummers!

By the way, it's 11:30 a.m. right now and 109 degrees and rising!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


It's 1 p.m. here in Arizona and the temperature is already up to 106.  It's forecast to hit 113 today, 118 on Friday and Saturday and 117 on Sunday before dropping a bit next week.  By a week from tomorrow the forecast high is 102, which is going to feel absolutely chilly!  But as my realtor told me in an email this morning, if you can stand 3 months of miserable heat the rest of the year is bliss.  We're waiting for that!

In the meantime, here's one way to cool off.  Take a look at these photos I shot in the acquarium area of Butterfly Wonderland the other day.

This last one certainly makes me feel cooler.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Continuing from yesterday our tour of Butterfly Wonderland on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community I can now show you much more of the creatures we observed yesterday.

I'm using a small directory the museum (if I may call it that) provided to identify some of these.  The bottom one is, I believe, a Paper Kite.

I believe this is one of the many Blue Morphos in the atrium.  Doesn't look blue, you say?  That's because this is the underside.  The tops of the wings are a brilliant blue.

You can catch a glimpse of both sides here as this one was settling.

This one may be a Giant Owl, from what I can tell.  It's not, of course, an owl but that's the name given to this type of butterfly.

As you can see, they are in all colors, shapes and sizes.

Butterflies taste through their feet.  Here a large group of them have found a bowl of cut fruit put out for them.

And they're not above hitch-hiking a ride on their human visitors.  Here's the one that latched onto my flowery shirt and stayed with me throughout my tour of the aviary.  He had to be shaken off when we were leaving.

With his wings folded he may have been taking a nap.

Here's another I caught on a fellow visitor's back.

It seems to fit right in.  Obviously they seem to like these Hawaiian shirts.

Tomorrow I'll show you some of the non-butterfly wildlife at the Wonderland.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


SWMBO and I went to Butterfly Wonderland today.  

This is an attraction which features a 3-D movie about the migration of the Monarch butterflies to and from a forested spot in Mexico year after year; and an atrium full of living butterflies which fly around you, frequently landing on you.  Both experiences are incredible.  During the movie it feels like you could put out your hand and a butterfly would land on it.  In the atrium they do.  I had one land on the back of my arm and stay there all the time I was in the atrium.  When we prepared to leave, he had to be shaken loose from my shirt.  It must have been my colorful Hawaiian shirt that made him think it was a flowery forest.

Here are some of what we saw.

The atrium is kept quite humid, which makes it foggy at times and quite wet.

See those two blue butterflies in the center of the picture?  They are the stars of the show for me.  There are hundreds of them fluttering throughout the atrium.  It's hard to catch a photo of them because when they light they fold their wings and the underside is a plebian grey and brown.  But I got one good picture of one in an unfortunate way.  Apparently somehow this one had died and was lying on the paved path with his beautiful blue wings spread.

I think I'll have some more photos tomorrow if my "smart" phone can manage to send them to my computer.  

In the meantime, here's a question that has plagued me for years.  Why were they named butterflies and not flutterbys?

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I have stared at these pictures for two days.  The story eludes me except that I somehow know Sherlock Holmes and his aide-de-camp Dr. Watson are somehow involved.

Can you tell the story?

Saturday, June 22, 2013


SWMBO and I joined a friend for a night on the town last night.  We went to Scottsdale's Musical Instrument Museum to hear a concert by Iris DeMent.

SWMBO will hate it but here's a picture of us snapped by our friend after the show.

(the Old Folks released from the Home)

Iris DeMent is an acquired taste.  Her high, twangy voice is a reflection of her roots in a Pentecostal home in the Arkansas Delta.  She's the youngest of 14 children and is married to another favorite of mine from the old Prairie Home Companion radio shows, Greg Brown. Iris told last night how he charmed her music-loving mother by sitting on their couch and singing all the old Jimmy Rogers tunes.

Her first new album in 16 years is called "Sing the Delta" and here's the title song.

Like I said, Iris DeMent is an acquired taste: you either love her or you hate her.  I happen to love her and greatly enjoyed the concert in the acoustically perfect 300-seat theatre at the MIM.  Unfortunately the rest of the museum was closed but we plan to return and view all the exhibits one of these days.

Friday, June 21, 2013


The day that Albert Einstein feared has finally arrived.

A day at the beach

Cheering on your team

Having dinner out with friends

A romantic first date

Talking with your BFF

A visit to the museum

And they can vote!!!