Saturday, November 9, 2013


One of the first things we did when we moved back to Phoenix was join the Phoenix Art Museum.  Today we took advantage of our memberships to attend a Preview Day of the new Western art exhibition.

Photography was prohibited of the displayed artworks but they didn't say I couldn't photograph the invitation they mailed me.  So I did.  

The artists displayed a wide variety of works from watercolors to acrylics to charcoal sketches to sculpture.  Here's a photo (from the invitation, again) of a work that was tagged Museum Purchase.  I assume that means it is a permanent part of the Museum's collection.

Since SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I are both cat people, we heartily approved of this painting and the purchase.

There was one huge sculpture showing rattlesnakes writhing in a crevice of rock.  It was titled "Fracking" and was priced at $285,000! We didn't bring it home.

Outside on the patio tables and chairs were set up and free kettle corn and drinks (lemonade and iced tea) were being served while a quartet of musicians going by the name of "Ken Clemmer and the Back Porch Bandits" were entertaining.

I had to ask one of them to pose for a picture during a break because of his t-shirt.

Here's a tiny sample of their sound.

And here's a picture of just one of the many other listeners looking for a free handout.

Nice day at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Friday, November 8, 2013


In yesterday's post I told you about a noontime free concert my lovely spouse and I attended at the Mesa Arts Center.  But the excellent music wasn't the only thing I noticed.  There were quite a few ladies there wearing quite sporty footwear.  Like these.

But as I learned and you are soon to, the principle featured pair of shoes were these very high heels worn by Shawn Lawson.

Ms. Lawson, it turns out, is the Volunteers/Festivals Director for MCA.  And she has quite a story to tell.

These free noon concerts draw quite a crowd, you see, many of them senior gentlemen like myself.  And it turns out they have quite an eye for high heels and what it does for a lady's legs.  Shawn has an affinity for heels and soon, she told me, the men were taking notice and wondering what shoe she would wear each week.  And they gave her a nickname.  Spike!

She said now they're hurrying their wives along saying, "C'mon, let's go, we have to see what Spike is wearing this week!"

Ms. Lawson said this has given her one more thing to think about each week - which shoe to wear for the noon-time concert.  After all, there are all those Observant Old Men waiting anxiously.

That sounds a bit better than Dirty Old Men, doesn't it?

So . . . on to the Friday Funnies.

My friend, Diane, sent me a collection of photos of which I have chosen a handful of Cats That Are Not Good at Hide and Seek.

And a cartoon that may not be so funny after all.

And finally something else to ponder.

Keep smilin', folks, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


The Mesa Arts Center began its noontime fall concert series which it calls the Out to Lunch concerts today.  SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I drove over to see it.  The price was right.  It was free!

Today's entertainment was Latin jazz provided by Nuevo Nuance.

The Wells Fargo garden area provides a beautiful setting for the events.

Royal palms and mimosa trees work with the lines of the modernistic buildings and shade sails of the Arts Center.

Nuevo Nuance featured a percussionist on conga drums, an electric bass artist, a keyboard player, a man who doubled on violin (or fiddle) and also played a mean flugelhorn, and a long-time veteran of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra who played flute and piccolo.

Here's a sample of what we heard.

Pretty neat, huh?  Or maybe muy bueno would be a better way to describe it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I went out looking for inspiration yesterday.  

I didn't really find it.  But there were some changing colors in the trees, even here in the desert.

I know.

With all of these green lawns, it doesn't look much like a desert. Many areas and developments use what is called desert landscaping. Sand and rocks and gravel and cacti.  Low water usage.  It seems more reasonable to me.  

But not here.

This is what is called a golf course community.  The homes are all situated close to the golf course that forms the center of this patch of land.

It is beautiful and I'm told the water that keeps it so green is recycled some way so as not to use up the desert's weak supply.

Whenever I meet someone here they always ask "Do you golf?" After all, why else live in such a community.  And while I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota with a 9-hole golf course and I learned to play there, I haven't had a club in my hand for more than 40 years now. Why is too long a story.  Maybe some other time.

We just landed in this community because we liked the area and the house.  And we have a large green yard that does seem to require a lot of water.  So we live quietly and happily here.

Except for our water bill!

Monday, November 4, 2013


"The party's over, my friend."

The 2013 Luau party hosted by the BRD and her Beau Jack is over. I'm told it was attended by about 25 to 30 people and everyone had left for home by about 1 a.m.  

Here is the happy hostess with one of her friends.

Were you able to see it better you would note that the BRD is wearing a hat which features two palm trees with a hammock strung between them!  It was made by one of her guests.

The men, were attired in floral shirts for the occasion.  Here is Beau Jack (center) with two more of the guests.

I'm reminded of a trip SWMBO made back to the states from our home in Mexico back in 1988.  I was showing my brother and his family some pictures from South of the Border.  My nephew commented very seriously "It seems like there's a lot of facial hair down there!"

Yes there was.  In that, my first retirement, I think the freedom of escape from the normal work cycle in the Estado Unidos led many of we expatriates to abandon our razors.  Nowadays, beards and moustaches are more common up here.

But back to the BRD's party - their was way more than ample food and drink and everyone in her pictures has a big smile on their faces. It was pretty obvious that "a good time was had by all."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Today is All Souls' Day in Hispanic culture . . . when graves are cleaned and decorated and, in some places, picnics, music and drinking occupy the people left behind.

Here are a couple of somewhat typical shrines or ofrendas (offerings) as displayed at the main library in Phoenix recently.

And so El Dia de los Muertos, (the Day of the Dead) comes to a close.

Friday, November 1, 2013


So here's how I feel this morning.

Last night was our first Halloween in many years that we tried to ignore.  We went out to comida (early dinner) in the late afternoon, then returned home and turned out most of the lights to discourage trick-or-treaters.  That worked great for awhile.  Not once did our doorbell ring.

(Side comment: the worst thing about this strategy was that THERE IS NO LEFTOVER CANDY FOR ME IN THE HOUSE!!!  Whose idea was this anyway??!!!)

So I was walking down the hallway in the dark when I ran into a chair, making a loud crash followed by an unprintable yell from me.

A little later, walking down the same dark hallway but being more careful this time, I saw a red glow that came and went regularly from the front window of a house across the street.  Curious, I went and got my binoculars and tried to see the house through a narrow front window.  Too small.  So I opened the front door to step outside and saw something slip by me and dart outside.  BLACKWELL!

Now those of you who follow this blog regularly know that our Big Black Boy Cat is totally black except for a mostly-invisible smear of white on his belly.  You also know that he is an indoor cat who came to us some years ago as a feral lurker.  And you also know that he is a Damned Escape Artist!  He loves to dart out the door when one of his keepers is least expecting it and go out to explore the outdoors.

So there we are.  It's Halloween night.  Probably around 8 o'clock. Darker than sin outside and we're trying to lure a totally black cat back inside the house.  He crossed the street, meowing all the way as I kept saying "NO!" (which has worked before) and calling his name "Blackwell" (which probably struck fear into the hearts of our neighbors.)

I was barefoot so I went back into the house to don some sandals and notify SWMBO.  She muttered some vile epithet, also unprintable here, and came out to help in the effort.

Blackwell was staying fairly close, only venturing across the street a couple of times but staying out of reach.  Finally SWMBO suggested I open the garage door just a crack, enough for him to enter.  I did and we continued the pleading calls as the dark blur foraged the neighborhood.

Then he came up near the garage door but would not enter until a car came around the corner.  He darted inside and SWMBO and I tried to push the garage door down.  Unsuccessfully.  So I hurried around, went in the front door, out to the garage and asked SWMBO several times if he was still inside.  No answer.  Apparently she couldn't hear me.  So I took a deep breath and pushed the automatic garage door closer button.  The door closed but no sign of the blasted cat until I called his name.  Then he darted out from under the car and ran into the house.

Well!  That was 20 minutes of Halloween fun at our house.  SWMBO didn't speak to me much the rest of the night except to say she was very upset with me.  But she has recovered her humor this morning and came to my office to ask if Blackwell had apologized to me yet.

And so it goes.

That, by the way, is not one of our cats.  Nor is this next one, whose name is probably . . . Pussy.

Happy Friday, y'all.  I hope your Halloween night was better than mine.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


The days of autumn can be a bit cool, even in the Southwestern desert.  As I write this at 10 a.m. on Halloween it is 68 degrees F. outside.  The mercury descended to 48 earlier this morning.  It was chilly in the backyard after dark the other night as we watched the Space Shuttle fly over though clear skies.  I continue to be amazed.

With cooler weather comes an appetite for cool weather food.  I think the dish I made last night with potatoes, broccolini, eggs and Parmesan cheese qualifies.  The recipe came from Deb Perelman's blog Smitten Kitchen.  Here is a link to her post and the recipe.

As usual my frittata looked a bit different from hers.  Here's mine:

It wasn't bad but I should have cooked the potatoes a bit slower and longer to make them more tender.  And it could have used some more seasoning.  We have noticed this in a couple of her recipes before. Her palate seems to be perhaps more sensitive to spice and sweets than ours.  Some Mrs. Dash added to the recipe would have "kicked it up a notch."

But you know how it goes - - -

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Once upon a time, many years ago (actually it was 36 years ago - 1977!) your faithful scribe and his lovely SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) used to costume themselves for Halloween parties too.  (See yesterday's post)

This was our getup for a party at the BRD's house that Halloween.  Both costumes were made by the dark-haired lass in the photo.

That was probably our dressiest of Halloweens.  A few years later SWMBO only used her make-up skills with which to frighten the little trick-or-treaters who dared to ring our bell.

That alluring smile hid a darker side of the wretch.

As for me, I have to use the techniques of the computer to make myself fearsome.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Now, I KNOW it's Halloween season.

I had inklings of it because of the decorated homes around us.  (I remember when that was only done for Christmas.)  I had seen the occasional youngster trying out his or her costume.  I had noticed the plethora of candy being displayed in stores.  I had seen jack 'o' lanterns.  

But nothing spells Halloween to me more than the first pictures of the BRD (Beautiful Rich Daughter) and her Beau Jack in their party costumes and paint.  O.K.  Stand back from your screen.  Here it comes.

The costumes will change this weekend.  That's when the two of them host their own party but this year's is not a Halloween costume event. Well, not really.  But I can imagine there will be a number of party guests in Hawaiian shirts and flowered gowns looking to get leied at their Luau Party.

Monday, October 28, 2013


My grandson and his wife recently celebrated their first wedding annivesary.  WITH A TRIP TO IRELAND!  As SWMBO commented "that's what young people can do if they put off having a family!"  From all the pictures I've seen, they had a great time, even though they apparently rented a car and were seen driving on the wrong side of the road!

All of which gives me an excuse to post this picture of said grandson.

I particularly like this one because someone, presumably his wife, caught him without his characteristic smirk.  It's a thoughtful pose of a young man looking out to sea.  I could weave a whole story about an Irish lad imagining what his life might become in America.  But since this lad was born in Phoenix and grew up in Colorado I think I'll just leave well enough alone.

By the way, his name is Russell but born, as he was, with bright red hair I've always called him Rusty.  The red seems to have disappeared from the top of his head but still clings to his beard.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Yes, folks, there is a difference.

Macarons (pronounced: ma-ca-rones) are not the same cookie as macaroons (pronounced: ma-ca-roons.)

Macaroons have been a part of American cookie cookery for decades. They are made by folding shredded coconut into a base of egg whites and sugar whipped until very stiff.  The batter is then dropped onto a baking sheet by spoonsful and baked into a little haystack.  They may be dipped in chocolate once baked.

Macarons come to us from fine French patisseries.  It starts off the same way as macaroons with egg whites and sugar whipped until stiff. But then a combination of powdered sugar and almond flour (or finely ground almonds) is folded into it.  The resulting batter is then piped into exact circles and the tops of half of them gently smoothed with a finger dipped in water.  Once baked, the tops and bottoms are combined in a sandwich with a flavored buttercream inside.  By the way, the cookies are even more elegant if the dough is colored with food coloring to match the flavor of buttercream . . yellow for lemon, green for mint, etc.  SWMBO found that chilling the sandwich cookies helped to set up the buttercream a bit.

This was her first attempt and they're not perfect by French standards but they're pretty darned good and she learned a few things about making them.

They're a little crunchy, a little chewy and a lot delicious!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It was a bit early but the Mesa Arts Center hosted a big Day of the Dead fiesta today.

SWMBO declined to attend, given as she is to an aversion to all of the skulls and skeletons present at these events.  Plus she wanted part of a day with the kitchen to herself as she tackled her first macarons. She learned a few things but I can attest that they are delicious and seem properly both crunchy and chewy.

But back to the celebration.  In Mexico, it is a three-day celebration. On October 31st (All Hallows Eve) children make an alter to invite the spirits of dead children back for a visit.  On November 1st, all of the spirits come for a visit on All Spirits Day.  November 2nd is All Souls Day, when families of the departed go to cemeteries to decorate their ancestors' graves.  Marigolds, photos of the dead relatives, perhaps some of their favorite foods and drink are brought and it frequently develops into an hours-long picnic.

At today's early celebration, faces were painted like skulls and skeletons and many other types of skulls were everywhere.

Unlike the American Halloween the depictions of skulls and skeletons are not intended to frighten but to remember and celebrate the relatives who have gone on before us.

The Arts Center did a marvelous job of decorating it's buildings and grounds for the festival.

As at any Mexican celebration there is an abundance of color, beautiful costumes, music and dancing.

The youngest dancers gathered at the side of the stage to watch their mentors.

Here are a couple of videos of what they saw and heard.

As I turned to go, I was struck by the look of intense concentration on the face of this nina

 She seemed lost in a world of dreams as she watched the adults dancing, thinking perhaps of the day when she would be an adult and . . like them . . still dancing and bringing joy to the rest of us.