Wednesday, November 20, 2013


(Warning: I will be writing about nasty bugs and writhy reptiles today so if you have a psychopathic aversion you may not want to read further.)

Once upon a time, long long ago, I worked for a television station in Phoenix.  One of our news photographers, a big broad-shouldered guy, used to love to discover tarantulas when he was out on a story in the desert.  He would pick these big hairy creatures up, put them in a box and bring them back to show around the newsroom.  "Show around the newsroom" would usually mean: tap someone on the back and then hold the box right in front of their face as they turned around.  Shrieks and profanity would fill the air, depending on the victim of such a stunt.

At one time I shared an office with a weatherman, equally affected by these types of practical jokes.  He will remain nameless but those of you who knew him "back then" will probably recognize him by his habit of wearing t-shirts with the names of various charitable organizations on them to plug their latest do-gooderism on his weathercasts.  One day a friend of his stopped in to see him and offer a co-host for his nightly forecast, a damned boa constrictor. The weatherman and his guest enjoyed my ashen face and demonstrable fear as I sidled along the wall to get out of the office until guest and snake had left the property.  I have a horrible fear of snakes of any kind.

When SWMBO and I lived in Phoenix years ago a swarm of black widow spiders made their homes right outside our back door.  You rarely saw them in the daylight but at night you could turn them up by the dozens by shining a flashlight around the entrance.  Needless to say, once we discovered them, we didn't use that entrance to the house at nighttime.

When we moved to Mexico, we would find the occasional scorpion in a wash basin in the morning.  We learned to quickly do away with them.  A friend came to visit once and, sure enough, a scorpion was in his basin in the morning.  He came to us, somewhat white-faced, and said "there's a scorpion in my wash basin."  We reacted too nonchalantly, I see now, and went to crush the little bugger in a paper towel and toss him away.

Those Mexican scorpions were tiny and we have since learned that the smaller they are the more deadly they are.  SWMBO was stung by one in bed one night.  I got rid of the bug but her arm was both getting numb and hurting and we had to scramble to find out what to do next.  One of our books on Mexico advised holding the scorpions body on the spot where she had been stung to somehow take up the poison.  SWMBO did not take kindly to that cure and a call to a doctor resulted in her taking a dose of Benadryl and her experience with her mother resulted in her putting a baking soda poultice on the spot to coax out the venom. Both of those apparently worked as the effects soon went away.  Oh, and one of our books advised remaining calm!  Sure.

Safely back in the confines of the United States, I discovered a scorpion in our bathtub a couple of months ago.  I crushed him with something or other and then flushed him down the toilet.  I reported my wildlife adventure to SWMBO and she said, "Oh, great, now we'll have to keep an eye out for the other one.  They always travel in pairs, you know."  I didn't know but I'd been searching ever since with no luck.  We reasoned the other one had gotten away outside somehow.

That was until yesterday.  I was sorting through a large stack of LP record albums and, all of a sudden, a rather large scorpion scurried out.  I did my best to dispatch him and flushed his remains.  Then I reported this proudly to my shuddery wife.

Oh, I forgot one other story.  At one time we lived in a small apartment in a row of them in a rural area.  One night we heard a ruckus outside and I opened the front door to discover a pretty good-sized rattlesnake curled up between our door and our neighbor's door.  She had come home at night and found him.  Another neighbor, who used to wear a lot of camouflage clothing and carried a gun or two and liked to go out rough camping with another friend who also always wore a pistol strapped to his hip, came out with the friend from his apartment.  I assumed one or the other of them would shoot this dangerous invader who had been looking for a warm place to sleep on the sidewalk.  But no!  Armed to the teeth though they were, they used a couple of brooms to shuffle the snake down about 50 yards or so to the edge of a ravine where they escorted him off to the wilds to live on.  I couldn't believe it.

But then.  This entire post was prompted by one today by the Chubby Chatterbox (read it here) in which his wife discovered a spider that she described as large enough to saddle and ride directly above their front door.  CC was ordered to get rid of it and he says his first thought was to capture it painlessly and set it loose to spin its web in his front yard.

Quite obviously he must be a relative, at least philosophically, of my two snake handlers.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I was struck today by how many famous people are celebrating birthdays on the same day - November 19th.  These are just a few of them.

Broadcaster Larry King is 80.

Broadcaster and Writer Dick Cavett is 77.

The founder of CNN, Ted Turner, is 75.

Long-time broadcast newsman Garrick Utley is 74.

Fashion designer Calvin Klein is 71.

Actress Meg Ryan is 52.

Actress and Director Jodie Foster is 51.

All I can think is there must have been a lot of cold Februarys.

If today is your birthday, Happy Birthday!  You're in good company!

Monday, November 18, 2013


The feast began with my (un-photographed) Butternut Squash Soup.

It continued with mini-muffins.  Green chili muffins.  Apple walnut muffins.

 Then there was a fruit salad.

The Beautiful Rich Daughter and She Who Must Be Obeyed gazed at what came out of the oven.

It was a bacon-cheese-potato frittata.

After all that and multiple Bloody Mary's and Mimosas, came the crowning touch.

Lemon and chocolate macarons!

We were well fed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


This is one our cat Muggles' favorite positions, straddling the couch cushion with a leg or two on either side as if she knows something we don't: that there might be an earthquake at any minute.  As far as we know there never has been one but she's ready, anyway.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


There are two ways to enter or leave the property which houses our residence.  One of them involves crossing 4 speed bumps, the other way involves crossing 13 speed bumps.  Quite obviously we prefer the first route even though the second takes one through the resort area of the property and is much more beautiful.  I took that route this morning on an errand run and discovered this splendiferous front yard display of bougainvillea.

Beautifully landscaped with the prickly pear and small barrel cactus. And no grass to mow!

The flowering plant is at its peak right now and can be seen all over the city in several colors.  The two plants in our back yard are the same color.

The tiny white flowers are overwhelmed by the brightly colored bracts.

But with the colors, which can range between magenta, purple, white, yellow, orange, pink, and red, it is a glorious addition to our desert winters.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Enjoy your weekend, y'all.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


In spite of much clamour and fan worship, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt did NOT win the National League Most Valuable Player Award today.  He WAS second but he was far behind the eventual winner, someone named Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  But he was the highest ranked Diamondback so far.  Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez each finished third in their careers.  So it goes.

In other news, we went to Food City today and found green onions (scallions) at 3 bunches for a dollar.  Our nearest big market store sells them at about a dollar apiece.  Food City is a chain of grocery stores aimed at the Mexican community.  The announcements over the store loudspeaker are in very rapid (to my untrained ear) Spanish. The specials are Hispanic-oriented.  The selection of spices is beyond compare.  And the prices are great.  We are fortunate to have a couple of their stores nearby.

SWMBO is fixing us burgers right now as we take a break from a great movie "Ladies in Lavender", starring Judy Dench and Maggie Smith.  

This is a great Thursday night.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Now I like cheeseburgers.  No, I LOVE cheeseburgers, especially the kind SWMBO creates.  But this is ridiculous.

That sucker is 10 feet in diameter and weighs more than a ton (2,014 pounds).

It was created Sunday at the Black Bear Casino Resort near Carlton, Minnesota.

The big burger included 60 pounds of bacon, 40 pounds of cheese, 50 pounds of sliced onions, 50 pounds of lettuce and 40 pounds of pickles.

It took about four hours to cook and it was flipped with the use of a crane.

A Guinness Records representative was on hand to verify it as the biggest burger ever and said it tasted "really good."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A small variety today.  First, SWMBO's latest batch of macarons.

She is perfecting them.  These are chocolate sandwiches with a chocolate cream filling.

Not to make too much of a jump but the BRD is with her friend Suzy, in Santa Fe.  ROAD TRIP!

And you know how road trips wind up.  This time it was Maker's Mark Manhattans at Jinja Bar and Bistro!  Girls will be girls.

And then there's the photo I sent to my friend Scott (the bacon lover) in Dallas this morning.  

As he commented back, "just a little 'L' and 'T' and I'm ready to go!"

Monday, November 11, 2013


Here are some veterans from my family.

My uncle on my father's side, Zenas Howland Taylor.  Sergeant, U.S. Army, World War II.  He served in India and Burma, that I know of. The photo was taken in 1944.

The gravestone of my uncle on my mother's side, Conrad P. Hylland, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army.  He was a veteran of the Pacific War.  He died off Leyte Island in the Phillipines in March, 1945.

The most recent member of the family to go to war.  My grandson, Sergeant Russell Milburn, U.S. Army, Retired.  He is a veteran of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  He's shown with his wife, Kayla.

To these men and all of the veterans, on this Veterans Day, I thank you for your service.

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!