Saturday, January 17, 2015


Many years ago, when I was a television news reporter and producer in Phoenix, I made the acquaintance of Jana Bommersbach.  Like me she was originally from North Dakota.  But she was a newspaper reporter.  Later she wrote for magazines, won nearly every award for her work known to modern ma. . . er . . . woman.  She has written the definitive book on the so-called trunk murderess, Winnie Ruth Judd.  She has been a teacher and a television commentator. Actually Jana has done damned near everything and been great at all of it.

So it was a treat to attend a lecture and book signing of hers at the Prescott Public Library the other night.

Jana was talking about her latest book and her first try at historical fiction.

She knocked it out of the park.  Cattle Kate is the story of another woman wronged, represented as a whore and a cattle rustler for over a hundred years.  But Jana put her investigative tools to work and wrote an entirely different story about Ella Watson, a homesteader in Wyoming in the 1800's whose presence and refusal to sell her land so angered a neighboring rancher that he and a handful of other men eventually lynched her and her husband.

Jana spoke for an hour in an impassioned delivery that kept a crowd of more than 60 people spellbound, interspersing her heroine's story with historical facts about some amazing women of the Old West.

After her bravura performance, she signed my personal copy of Cattle Kate in typical Jana-fashion.

Apparently it's my week for lectures.  This afternoon SWMBO and I attended a talk at the Phippen Museum about the legendary Kolb brothers of the Grand Canyon.  In the very early 20th century the two brothers from Pittsburgh built a photo studio at the head of the Bright Angel Trail just below the rim of the South Rim.  Eventually one of the brothers left for California but Emery Kolb stayed for the rest of his life, until he died in 1976 at the age of 95. After the very interesting talk by historian Phil Payne I spoke with him and told him I had done a television story on the brothers' photo studio and interviewed Emery shortly before his death.

All in all, it's been an interesting week.

Friday, January 16, 2015


The Friday Funnies kick off another weekend with the sorta sad tale of a homeless man.

Wise guys finish last.

Continuing right along, there's a common theme to this next bunch. I call it "Six Reasons Not To Mess With Mother Nature."

If that hasn't convinced you to stay safely inside the four walls of your house, take it from the obligatory cat picture.

And with that last comment purring in your ears, let me just add A BIG THANK YOU to my contributors this week.  You know who you are.  Have a great weekend, folks, and . . . keep laughing!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I can't be exactly sure where or when this photo was taken but I'm suspecting it was in Austin, Texas sometime between late October of 1991, when we returned from our sojourn in Mexico, and mid 1993, when we returned to Arizona.  Hint: the framed picture which is the one I posted just last week of our 20th anniversary.  That photo was taken on April 7th, 1991 and we left Mexico the following October.

Computer historians will note the age of that c.p.u. and monitor on the desk and the green letters on the screen.

And longtime fans of Oddball Observations may recognize our beloved Chulapay, the (sorta) Siamese cat who climbed up to be with his master (and under the warmth of that lamp!)

The brownish-blonde hair and the reddish-brown beard?  I remember them well. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


As I have said too many times to count, when it snows in my part of Arizona it never lasts very long.  Before a day or two the temperatures have risen, the skies have cleared and the snow is melted away.  Yesterday's snow barely had a chance to stick to the ground and today it's back to temperatures climbing into the 50's, sunshine and plenty of blue skies.

And speaking of changes, who would have thought . . years ago . . that a raspy-voiced British rock star would become a ballad singer? Who indeed?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


8:00 this morning in my neighborhood.  (Arizona foothills)

Monday, January 12, 2015


All right, folks, here it comes.  

The 7th and (to paraphrase what Tina and Amy said on the Golden Globes last night) the last photo of The Beard.  

It has reached a point where I don't feel further progress reports are necessary.

And just to satisfy all those thousands of you who have been begging me for a smile . . .

Kind of looks more like a grimace to me.

Like someone who has just eaten something he didn't like the taste of but is trying to make his hostess happy.

And for those of you without instant recall, here's how this whole thing started out.

Your very own Catalyst on December 1st, contemplating growing his beard out.

Thanks for watching!

Sunday, January 11, 2015


These three photos are all of the same plant in our back yard, lit by the sun to blazing glory.

As usual I forget the name of it but it's a dazzler.

And finally, the innermost view.

The last one reminds me of Br'er Rabbit's plaintive cry from that Uncle Remus book of my youth, "Oh, please, don't throw me in that briar patch!"

Saturday, January 10, 2015


A rainy day in my part of Arizona.

Just to put some music to it . . .


The leaves of summer, the snow of December, both now gone.

(I swear.  Some day I'm gonna read that feller Proust's books.)

One more thing gone.  The Arizona Cardinals great season.  For those of you who still have a team in the mix . . good luck this weekend.

I'll be waiting for baseball season to start.

Friday, January 9, 2015


It's been a tough week in the news but if we stop laughing who knows what would happen.  
So . . here are this week's Friday Funnies.

And with that box of cattage, I'll bring this week's moment of hilarity to an end.  Along with, of course, my usual thanks to contributors and theft victims alike.  Have a wonderful weekend, folks, and always remember to keep a smile on your face.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


April 7th, 1991
Our 20th Anniversary party
San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco, Mexico

(Now we're coming up on our 44th!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


After a day or two of snowy weather last week, the back yard looked like this.

But cold weather and snow never last very long in Arizona and today, with the temperature in the 50's for the second day in a row, most of the snow is gone.

Last week, the front yard looked like this.

And today . . .

Well, ahem.  The difference comes in the direction the house faces. The front yard lies to the north and is protected from the low-hanging winter sun by shade from the house.  The back yard is nearly fully exposed to the sunlight so the snow disappears there first.

All of which won't make a darned bit of difference next August.

Last week when we were having our snowy, cold days the rest of the country was enjoying mild weather.  Today it's just the opposite. Down here in the southwest corner of the country, it is usually warm and storms like last week's occur rarely.

Which made me think of something else that has irked me for a time. Take a look at this map of the United States.

Take a look at Texas.  How do people get away with saying that state is part of the Great Southwest?  To me, it looks like it's in the South, an area that more aptly should be named the Southeast.  And when I lived in Indiana, that part of the country was called the Midwest.  Who do they think they're kidding?  Indiana obviously resides in the eastern third of the country. Seems like they should say it's in the Middle East.  But then that could be confusing, too, (said the old grouch as he went off to bury himself in his maps.)

Monday, January 5, 2015


Now it's starting to look like a beard.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Here are a couple of the famous Victorian houses dating back to Prescott's early days.

This one was built by Henry Goldwater, an uncle of the late Senator Barry Goldwater.  He came to Prescott from Yuma, married a school teacher who raised money from the Carnegie's and local residents for the town's first library, ran a cigar store on Whiskey Row and worked with his brothers in their eponymous store just down the hill from this house.  He was also somewhat of an inventor but he moved on, to California.

The house is now a vacational rental.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


There are many ravens in this part of Arizona.  Many people mistake them for crows but there is a distinct difference.

This one was perched on a light fixture when I passed by.  He was so brazen as to stay there even as I stopped and took his picture from only a few feet away.

Inside the community center I showed the photo to the young lady working the desk and she told me it was one of a pair that apparently have roosted on the roof.  She said she had looked up ravens in a text and learned that they are generally monogamous and mate for life.  

That can mean around 20 years for ravens in the wild though the famous birds that live at the Tower of London have been known to live for 40 years.  I remember seeing them there and hearing that because of the lore that if they ever leave the British Empire will fall the ravens wings are clipped so they can't fly away.

Our ravens, with their loud calls, seem to have no inclination to leave.

No.  Nevermore.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Here it is, folks, your brand new 2015 edition of the long-running, sometimes funny Friday Funnies.  We begin a near year with a look back at the last one.

A New Year's Day hangover.

Hey!  Who left the cat out??!!!

Have a great weekend, a fantastic 2015 and keep chuckling!

(And thanks to contributors and to those from who I stole!)

Thursday, January 1, 2015


A friend sent me a couple of pictures that were taken in the Red Rocks near Sedona, Arizona yesterday or today.


In this dusty and creased photo from 1961(?) the young Lothario was putting the moves on a cute secretary at the YMCA in Minot, North Dakota.  Maybe the madras shirt put her off.  Or the Obama ears.  Suffice it to say that nothing worked.  Nice smile, though.

We had more snow during the night and this morning, at the start of 2015, a white winter wonderland greeted us.

But something . . probably a bunny . . had been snooping around in our front yard during the night.