Saturday, March 12, 2016


There's a place for peace and it's right here in Arizona.

Here among the red rocks and the green trees in West Sedona is the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.

It was created as a vision of Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo, the spiritual director of Kunzang Palyul Chöling, a Buddhist organization committed to compassionate outreach.

A large Stupa dominates the center of the site.

A sign says the Stupa represents the body of Buddha and requests that people not sit on it nor place objects on it.

Nearby a statue of the Buddha gazes over the quiet landcscape.

Visitors are invited to walk around the Stupa three times and many do.

You can see the size by the next photo with some visitors next to it.

It's a quiet spot where one can meditate while circling the Stupa or sitting under a canopy in a plastic chair.

I had a long conversation with a man from Illinois who knew a lot about Buddhism though he did not profess to be a Buddhist.

He told me of one visit he had made to a retreat for 10 days of silence and sitting.

He described it as "psychic surgery."  I liked that.

In these increasingly tumultous times, I think we could all use a little psychic surgery and a little peace.

This small park may be a good place to find it.

Friday, March 11, 2016


I was going to post today about my visit to the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.

But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Because today is Friday and we have no need for peace today.

Even though last night's GOP Presidential Debate was pretty civil, according to the participants and people who watched it.

I understand the Drudge Report called it "boring."

But enough about that.

Let's get on with the REAL humor.

Arrrrggghhh! That's a terrible thought.

So we'll quit now.

Gentle Readers, I want you to have an exceptionally splendid weekend.

Keep those cards and letters (and cartoons) coming and always remember to keep laughing.

Here, kitty-kitty.

(Oh, no, who let the cat out??!!!)

Thursday, March 10, 2016


I'm not sure when this photo was taken but I believe it was a couple of kitchens or more back.

I note my beard was still basically brownish-red except for the chin whiskers which were turning gray.

That t-shirt has long since gotten too small for me to wear and was discarded.

And I haven't worn that watch for many years.

But this photo demonstrates the Catalyst's first rule of Italian cooking: When you make lasagna, don't get none on ya'!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


This is my dog Blackwell.

I know.

You're thinking "that's not a dog, it's a cat".

And you'd be right.

Except SWMBO has said frequently "that cat follows you around like a dog."

And he does.

The other one doesn't like me coming near her except when she's relaxing on the bed and I come into the room.

Then she sets up a caterwauling until I sit down and give her a good pet.

When I stop, she voices a "quack" sound, like a duck.

But she (Muggles) is more my wife's cat then mine.

But Blackwell loves only me and wants to be where-ever I am.

If I'm at the computer he comes in, jumps up on the armchair and stays there as long as I remain in the room.

When I get up to go to another part of the house, he wakes up and follows me.

If I sit down in the recliner in the living room, he jumps into my lap.

If I go outside, he sits by the slider where he can watch me.

Or waits patiently by the front door until I come back in.

You may have noticed his two somewhat imperfect ears.

The right one has a notch in it which I suspect he got in a neighborhood brawl with another dog or cat when he was young.

He was a feral cat when we took him in and had been in some fierce scraps that left an open wound around his neck.

Then when I took him to the animal center to have him "fixed", the young lady who took him asked if he had been feral and would I like them to notch his ear to let people know that was so if he got away from us.

Anticipating a small notch as in the other ear I assented and then was shocked when I picked him up and saw that they had lopped off the tip of his left ear.

So my aging prizefighter has a rugged look.

Not picture perfect.

But he is loyal to me.

Like a dog.

My dog Blackwell.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


A couple of characters on the street in Puerto Vallarta.

Bearded Baseball Steve and I when he came to visit me at the coast.

I don't know why we are both leaning forward.

Maybe our photographer was a midget.

Monday, March 7, 2016


The house finches abound in our area and they love our bird bath.

Even the ever-vigilant yard cat doesn't frighten them off.

But one invader can knock them off their perch.

The one of a pair of damnable mourning doves that show up and even my waving and banging on the window won't drive him off.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning reportedly has told his team management that he is retiring and the formal announcement will come tomorrow.

He leaves as a champion, having won the 50th Super Bowl earlier this year.

Another passage today - Nancy Reagan died at the age of 94.

She was known for her love of the color red and for the adoring gazes she kept on her husband, the late President Ronald Reagan.

The years took a toll on Mrs. Reagan, as they do on all of us.

This photograph was taken on her 94th birthday, last July.

And finally, there's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who condemned Donald Trump as not fit for the job of President before he dropped out of the race and endorsed him.

So it goes.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


My neighbor Jenny's cherry tree is absolutely perfect right now.

And the redbud outside my window also has enlivened my view in the past couple of days.

Spring and Fall are the best times of year for trees to show their stuff.

Friday, March 4, 2016


After watching the Slime-a-Thon last night . . . that is, the latest Republican Presidential debate . . . and a long night's sleep, I'm up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for a new day.

Apparently a lot of people are saying "and a new country."

But let's ignore all that and get on with the business of the day - HUMOR!

And I mean it.

Thanks once again to my many contributors that make my work easier and allow me to say "Keep Laughing, Gentle Readers!"

Here, kitty-kitty.

(oh, no)

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Today I made my third trip to the Big Valley in the past approximate two weeks.

First was the trip to the Stanley, North Dakota picnic in Mesa.

Then Monday I went to Phoenix for some t.v. business and a tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Today it was Scottsdale, accompanied by SWMBO.

We made our annual visit to the Celebration of Fine Art, a very strictly juried show of about 100 artists from around the country.

The artists themselves are on hand for the two-month-long show and are happy to talk with attendees, as well as to sell their art if you're so inclined.

It is easily the finest art show I've ever attended.

From there we proceeded to The Vig at McCormick Ranch for lunch.

Judy had chosen it after seeing it featured on a local dining show on television.

We started with martinis from the beautiful bar with a mirror reflecting the stone walls next to our booth.

And then we chose our lunch from the appetizer section of the menu.

Believe it or not this plate of Nachos del Norte was an appetizer!

The plate of pork, refried beans, melted white cheddar cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, green onions, olives and sour cream over housemade tortilla chips easily filled both of us.

(Of course we had to accompany them with a couple of beers - a Guinness for milady and a Four Peaks Kiltlifter Scottish Ale for me.)

There is a wide wine selection at the Vig as well.

For dessert we chose one more item from the appetizer menu.

Oh, no, it wasn't only those scraps of arugula.

It was Medjol dates stuffed with goat cheese and smoked almonds, wrapped with bacon in a balsamic reduction sauce.

We loved the art show.

But lunch was beyond compare.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Tucked away in a 3+ acre area of Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix is Ro Ho En, the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix.

A caretaker told me it's one of the city's best kept secrets.

It's a serene area in the heart of a mega-city.

One can lose their cares and worries as the sidewalks take you in a winding fashion around a large koi pond, over bridges, through small forests, listening to only the sound of rushing water and birds singing.

The mini-park . . for that's what it is . . was built over a period of years as a joint project between leaders from Phoenix and Himeji, Japan . . which are sister cities.

Architects and builders from Himeji came to the desert clime of Phoenix to design and build the garden.

It took ten years as the joint delegations tested the soil, inspected foliage and found huge boulders to bring to the site.

The garden was opened in 2002.

And in case my duck-hunting pal from North Dakota is wondering . . yes there are many resident ducks here.

But he might want to avoid the ferocious Shachi, a mythical fish with the face of a tiger.

The monuments and sculptures were all donated by the city of Himeji.

Some are less fearsome than Shachi.

I spotted what I took to be a cormorant, sunning himself on a rock.

And the koi pond, which was originally stocked with the fish from Japan, is now home to many new generations.

When we lived in Mexico, Gentle Readers, we had a ficus plant . . a slender, spindly thing that grew from a pot.

This is what happens when you plant one in the ground in Phoenix where the climate allows it to grow year-round.

Now we come to the sad part of the story.

Both of the caretakers I met were quietly grieving about what has risen just adjacent to the garden to the south.

A huge multi-story condominium complex has been erected within feet of the border of the garden.

It's height eliminates the southern sun that used to shine down most of the day.

One day recently when there was a rare cold snap in Phoenix, the sprinklers had been going as usual and ICE formed on the walkways and grounds.

The caretakers, who love this calm space in an increasingly driven megalopolis, are saddened.

And so was I.

Ro Ho En. 

Ro is the Japanese word for heron, a bird symbol of Himeji.

Ho is the Japanese name for the mythical Phoenix bird, which rose from the ashes.

En is the Japanese word for Garden.

Visit if you are from Phoenix or visiting Phoenix.

It is worth your time.

It will calm you.