Tuesday, February 24, 2015


40 degrees outside. Sun is shining but it's a lying sun. It doesn't have any heat reaching the Earth. It's one of those winter suns that seems to shine brightly but leaves the air crystalline. I think it was warmer yesterday. I know the rain clouds blowing through left us with a moderately nice sunset. I have evidence.

Of course we're proud of our Arizona sunsets. But you know what? So is everyone else everywhere. Some places like Hawaii and along the California coast and, of course, on my beloved Pacific coast of Mexico, have nice ones every day.  Even without clouds the sight of the sun seemingly sinking into the ocean far away is a sight to behold. 

I can remember the first time we were at the beach in Mexico . . Mazatlan probably. We were having a drink at one of those beach bars when suddenly it got very quiet. The musicians stopped playing. The bartenders stopped mixing. The customers stopped drinking and talking. And everyone was staring out to sea. We turned and looked too. It was the sun, still blazing but sinking slowly . . well, no, actually rather quickly . . lower and lower into the sea.  Or so it seemed. The scientist in me knew it was the rotation of the earth and our spot in paradise turning gradually away from the sun. Anyway finally the sun blinked out. No, I didn't see the green flash of light that people say occurs. But it was quite a sight. And all over the beach people had gone silent as if in some chapel to mark this everyday end of the day.

Then everyone turned around and ordered another drink as the music and raucous conversation picked up again.

It was a nice moment.

The silent part, I mean.

One of those Mexican beach sunsets
Barra de Navidad, Jalisco
Sometime in the 1980's

Monday, February 23, 2015


I'm sure most of you will be happy to learn that my weather has changed.  The thermometer is riding in the 50's and it rained (lightly) last night and this morning. It wasn't enough to wake me. It came like Sandburg's fog.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

 Actually after the Oscars finally ended last night I slept better and longer than ever. But the rain left its tracks.

So I wore my gloves for my morning walk but made the mistake of wearing a big black cowboy hat instead of my Greek fisherman's cap. With the breeze blowing it was a struggle to keep it on.

But my al fresco visit was not without reward.  Our redbud tree is all budded out.

It's still pretty early but it won't be long (he said) before these many buds will turn into red blossoms.

And then they will disappear and the tree will be covered with green leaves providing a safe lurking space for the finches and other birds directly above our bird bath.

But right now they look nearly good enough to eat, don't they?

Sunday, February 22, 2015


As I told you yesterday, there are trees with white blossoms coming out too. They're not apple trees, though, but flowering cherry trees.

Regrettably it's all for show. No edible cherries appear on these showy specimens.  They're just bragging.

The blossoms are delicate, much more so when viewed close-up, rather than in those sprays seen from a distance.  But like the flowering plum blossoms I showed you yesterday, they are a Trojan Horse.  When I went on my walk this morning the temperature was in the low 50's and a brisk breeze left my bare hands cold and red. Oh I know what you're thinking, those of you in the snow and ice belts: "I could STAND some temperatures in the 50's!"

But here in the Banana Belt of Arizona, the 50's with a stiff breeze is downright frigid.  And the forecast says there's more on the way.

The weatherman says it won't get out of the 50's for at least the next ten days. And those clouds to the north are said to be bringing rain and snow to Flagstaff today. So bundle up, weather woosies, we're not out of the wintry woods yet.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I always think the wild plum trees are rushing the season but here they are . . .

It's February but it looks like April.  SWMBO and I were talking about them yesterday and noting that the blossoms seem to come out all at once just overnight.  We agreed that they just seem to POP into life and color.

The branches fill with clusters of the beautiful flowers and all of the trees seem to bloom at once, as if on some secret signal.  There are flowering cherry trees full of snow white blossoms, too, but these with their radiant red and pink glory are my favorites.

We've been enjoying teasingly Spring weather while most of the rest of the country is still dealing with winter.  But we stand warned by experience.  Brief snow storms in late March are not unknown here.

But for now we'll enjoy sunny days and the clouds of plum blossoms.

Friday, February 20, 2015


This is a special edition of the Friday Funnies, dedicated to you folks in the 90 percent of the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe who have been experiencing way too much snow and cold weather this winter.  Here in Arizona it was 71 yesterday and that's in the mile-high-lands. Which may explain this teensy bit of gloating.

O.K.  Gloating over.  Now let me pay tribute to the amazing sculptural talent of those of you in "snow country".

That one is fantastic but I think this next one is my favorite.

And, of course, the Catalyst would be remiss if he didn't include a cat!

I commend all of the snow sculptors for showing a sense of humor in the midst of a terribly snowy winter season.  Special thanks to my East Coast correspondent for sending me the pictures.  And to the rest of you - - let these folks be your inspiration and, like them, keep on laughing!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Hey fans!  It's BASEBALL SEASON!

Pitchers and catchers report today for the first day of Spring Training!  C'mon D-backs!

And speaking of baseball and the beloved Arizona Diamondbacks, here's a Throwback Thursday picture from only a few years ago of my good buddy, Baseball Steve, and I at the ball park in Phoenix, getting ready to run (walk) the bases.

In spite of our advanced years, we did make it all the way around.

(No contracts were offered.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I made the drive down to Mesa yesterday to attend the annual Stanley picnic.  It's a reunion of people who grew up in Stanley, North Dakota.  You wouldn't think there would be that many people from a town nobody's ever heard of to hold a picnic but it is a pretty good sized gathering.  I'd guess somewhere between 50 and a hundred folk were there. I linked up with my old buddy from kid-hood, Jim Burbidge.  

Jim is a retired (I assume) dentist who celebrated his 75th birthday a short time back and I have mine in sight.  As I told several people yesterday, every time I write that I can't believe it.  What happened to the years?

I also met one of my classmates that I haven't seen since we both graduated from high school way back in 1958.  And a number of other people I hadn't seen in years, no, decades.  When I called my brother up in North Dakota last night to tell him about all of HIS classmates I had met up with yesterday . . I said these gatherings are a good thing because people are dropping off this mortal coil at an increasingly alarming rate so it's good to see them while they're still alive and kicking.  And he told me about yet another funeral he had attended recently for one of our contemporaries.

By the way, I should thank Jim.  He's become a big fan of Oddball and was promoting it to some of our fellows yesterday.  At my age I can use all the fans I can get.

So, down and back and today it's off to visit a new doctor for a first visit.  No problems, just getting established.  After all, it's a good time of year to take stock.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Today, some photos to mark a few things.

First, the Westminster Dog Show.

Oh, yeah, and all that snow back in the East.

There are some creative folks sculpting their own versions of "snow men".

But for real creativity . . in the costume department . . one has to head down South, to N'awlins, where today is Fat Tuesday.  Happy Mardi Gras, everyone.

It won't be sober but at least have a safe day, revelers.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Happy Presidents' Day!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Some views from my trip to Jerome on Friday.  It's only about 20 miles away but worlds of difference.

Through a forest, up and over a mountain.

The narrow winding road then brings us to a legendary town perched on the other side of the mountain.

Some buildings have fared better than others.

In the restored Grand Hotel, sparkling wine glasses await new customers . . .

. . . amid stories of the past.

Outside a one-time bordello, later a reknowned restaurant and now a quirky gift shop, the House of Joy, mysteries linger.

In the post office, brass mailboxes line up on duty.

Outside a perky indication of modernity in the street.

And a stylish hat awaits its owner.

The views over the Verde Valley to the cliffs of the Red Rocks are amazing.

And heading for home, the rocky cliffs bear silent witness to all that has gone before.