18 December 2010

Goin' Fishin'

Howdy, Billyjoe, how y’all doin’?…Saturday?…Fishin’?…with Jimbob? Wall, bring your beer and your ownself over here ‘n sit down so’s I kin tell y’all what really happened.

Twas last Saturday when me ‘n Jimbob went down to the crick with our fishin’ poles, can a worms, foldin’ chairs and cooler fulla ice ‘n beer that was so heavy we hadta stop ever little while to rest up and so we didn’t really get at the crick so early as we thunk we‘d a done when we stepped offen Jimbob’s porch at six o the clock thet morning’. See, here we were a walkin’ along the road a tryin’ to hold onta our poles, our can a worms, our foldin’ chairs and still carry thet thar cooler thet grew heavier each step. Jimbob finally thunk out our problem and declared we oughta put everthang atop the cooler ‘n then we’d a been able to hustle right along, so we done it, but we kept gittin’ out of step with each and the other and thangs kept a slidin’ off, so we took to countin’ out our steps just like them thar soljers done we seed one time on the RCA Telley Vision down at Mr. Grandin’s country store. It sure helped for a good bit, but it turned out the cooler was a mite heavier, so we stopped ever little while to rest and the little whiles kept gittin’ closer and closer to each and the other. The one thang thet saved us was thet Mr. Franklin, who usually drives to town of a Saturday for provisions and a beer or two with his ole buddies at the Ragged Bear saloon, right here where we’re a sittin’, came chuggin’ along in his pickup truck thet had seen better days twenty yars ago, seed us a struggling’ with our gear ‘n cooler ‘n ast if we didn’t think he could help us out by letting’ us ride in the back seein’ as how he was goin’ past the crick that thar morning’ but neither one of us could reckon why he was goin’ that direction because he always went to town for provisions ‘n a beer or two. Bein’ wore down ourselves, we allowed as how we’d be happy to hold down the back end of thet thar wore-out old pickup truck, so we quick-like threw our gear and cooler in the back ‘n then hauled our own selves in, ’n all the while Mr. Franklin kept thet truck a movin’ slow-like down the road. Now I don’t recommend you go right on out ‘n try to jump into a movin’ pickup truck jist to see how hard it is, but I’m a telling’ you it’s like tryin’ to jump onto a slow movin’ freight train which I know you’ve tried onct or twice in yer lifetime.

Here, Billyjoe, let me git a round….Barkeep, two more here….Thank ya kindly.

Now whar war I? Oh yeah. Well when we got right near the crick, Mr. Franklin slowed down thet old pickup a mite so’s me ‘n Jimbob could drop off our gear ‘n cooler ‘n then jump down our own selves, so we done it and were mighty glad to see we hadn’t lost any of our bait nor spilled anything outten the cooler. We knowed the spot we wanted to settle into to fish and were mighty happy to see it weren’t taken up by anyone else, so we set up our foldin’ chairs, rigged up our fishin’ poles, popped a top ‘n settled down to some fine relaxin’ in the shade. Twarn’t more’n two or three beers later when Jimbob had a bite ‘n scared the bejesus outta me the way he sprung up outta his chair and hollered out “I got one” only it wasn’t no keeper, so we settled in agin to relax. Wall, time went on her merry ole way ‘n me ‘n Jimbob caught a bunch a keepers ‘n swapped room in the cooler, beer fer fish. It was gittin’ on toward supper time when Jimbob declared it was ‘bout time to pack up and head fer home so we done started to do just that. The troubling’ part about the packin’ up was what should we do with thet thar cooler full of fresh caught fish in with all that ice when Jinbob declared thet we oughta let some of thet ice thet had melted down to just plain water out of the cooler so we took the top off and proceeded to tilt the cooler to let the water out when one or the other of us - Jimbob said it was me, but I knowed it was Jimbob - let go and the whole dad-blamed kit and kaboodle landed in the crick. Lucky for us we had sense enough to let go afore we-uns was swept along with the fish and the water and the ice into the crick. To make a long story short…

Well, Billyjoe, thank ya kindly for this‘n. I do ‘ppreciate it. My mouth was beginning to feel like a cotton boll. Be my pleasure to git the next one.

Now y’all’re probably wonderin’ what come next so I’ll try to git through it without pointing’ any more fingers at guilty parties. Turns out we didn’t need to keep any bait ‘cause we’d used all but one or two of them worms so we took pity on ‘em and let ‘em go in some grass down near where Jimbob - I mean - where the fish and ice and such were lost. Of course, the cooler bein’ empty wasn’t no problem to carry no more, so we could set off for home at a pretty good pace and I reckon Jimbob was mighty hungry ‘bout then ‘cause he started off mostly at a trot and kept a step or two ahead of me all the way so it was just blamed hard to keep up a conversation with me doin’ all the talkin’ and Jimbob just a hustling’ his ownself off towards home. Didn’t even say Howdy when we git to his house, so I just moseyed on home my ownself and had my supper. T’other day, I seed Jimbob comin’ down the road ‘n when he seed me he crosst over to keep from Howdyin’ me head-on like usual. Not very neighborly, I’d say, considerin’ we’d gone in halves on the bait ‘n the beer, even if Jimbob did catch most of the fish.

Now, can I buy y’all one for the road, Billyjoe?…My pleasure….Did y’all have a good weekend?

13 December 2010

Immigration - A World-wide Problem

The Arizona Republic is running a series on immigration around the world. You can read the articles at www.azcentral.com/immigration/immigration-index.html#. The problems are not local to the United States. I highly recommend the series.

11 December 2010

A week or so, Rick Watson posted on his blog - Life 101 - a photo of his snowy yard and mentioned that I had given he and Jilda a painting of the scene. So here's a look at it. I titled it "Jilda's Deer at Dawn". Can you see the deer?

06 December 2010


In his new book INFINITE QUEST, John Edward posits that the only reasons we do something are FEAR and LOVE. Looking back, I can see where fear has affected my decisions. Hopefully, yours are all in the love category.

03 December 2010

I Wonder

I wonder if the people living as the Ice Age was ending ever thought about global warming.

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

To all our family and friends, Happy Thanksgiving. And to everyone else out there, Happy Thanksgiving. We hope you are all having a good day, and that you have many, many nore.

19 November 2010

Facebook and Communicatimg

I was born in 1931 and grew up to participate in the growth of electronics devices and their spread into our daily lives. From manual typewriter to IBM Selectric to Apple IIe to IBM Pc. All the way through Windows to 7. The Internet and e-mail. And here we are now with iPods and iPhones and iPads and Kindle and Nook and who knows what’s next.

At the encouragement of my children, I opened an account on Facebook, just to see what all the fuss was about. Almost immediately, children and grandchildren wanted to be my “friend” which I became. That was it for a short while, until I started to figure out how to leave messages, look at their photos and comment on their postings. I really didn’t spend much time at it. Then I found that I could look at all the people they had listed as their friends, so I began collecting more and more friends; I’m up to 21 at last count. But the more I look at Facebook, the more I wonder about the art of communicating. Whatever happened to good old handwriting, where every word was spelled out? Where we waited anxiously for the Postman to deliver the notes and letters and cards? Where there was time enough in this world for all that to take place?

It seems that we are in such a rush these days to let everyone - well, just our Facebook “friends” - know that we just took a shower, or we’re going to the store, or Johnny looked at me funny do you think he really likes me. Why? Don’t we have time to sit down and compose a reasonably intelligent paragraph? LOL (whatever that means). And don’t get me started on the profanity I see from some of my descendants!

04 November 2010


I was watching a program about Michael Feinstein the other day. Michael has always loved the music of George and Ira Gershwin and in his twenties worked with Ira to catalog his musical archives. During one of Michael's visits to a musical historian/collector, I noticed a player piano in the background. That brought me back to 1942 when my parents rented a house at 17 Bly St. in Rochester, NY. The owners had left a player piano for us to use along with several rolls of music. I remember sitting on the bench and listening to "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" while the keys jumped up and down. There were other songs we played but that's the one I loved.

23 October 2010

Front Pages

If you'd like to know what news is on the front page of a newspaper in a city one of your relatives lives in, just go to: http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/ and you can find out. Because our family is spread out, I look at Rochester, NY; Hartford, Conn; Charlotte, NC; Melbourne, FL; Tampa, FL; Birmingham, AL; San Antonio, TX; and Las Vegas, NV. I also check on friends' locations in Naples, FL; Omaha, NE; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There are maps for countries all over the world. So read away!

20 October 2010


My first recollection of a train ride goes back to 1941. My father was in a hospital in Rochester, New York, which is where my grandmother (my mother’s mother) lived. I don’t remember how we got to Rochester, but I do remember taking the train back to Batavia, New York, where we lived. It’s only a 30 minute drive by car, so probably took less than that by train. When we arrived at Batavia, my mother had my brother and me wait outside a nearby diner while she went in to arrange a taxi ride home.

Several years later, we had moved to Rochester. It was during World War II and we didn’t own a car. My father wanted to visit his brother, Gene, in Corning, New York, so we boarded a Lehigh Valley train for the trip. The station was on Court Street, adjacent to the Genesee River; the building is now a restaurant. The first part of the trip took us along the Genesee River, then turned to the southeast through Rochester Junction. It was a beautiful ride through the hills and valleys. On one side was a slope down to a creek through some trees; opposite was looking at the side of the hill until we switched seats and could look up through the forest. I don‘t remember seeing any wildlife. I do remember the train didn‘t go very fast, which is great for sight-seeing. (I’ve tried to follow the route on Google Earth, but much of the track bed has disappeared.) Uncle Gene’s house was on Bridge Street, near the train station. We stayed overnight, and I remember the breakfast that Aunt Nellie fixed - pancakes with real maple syrup and home-made pork sausage. The smell and taste are right there with the visual recollection.

10 October 2010

Another Quotable

"Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self." Cyril Connolly, author

30 September 2010

My Plea to the Candidates

This is the letter I wrote that was published today in the Arizona Republic:
I, for one, am tired of all the negative campaigning that is going on all around us.
Where has the civility gone? I don't care how much of a villain each candidate claims their opponent is, I want to hear from each candidate just exactly what they stand for, not who they're against. We all know who they're against.
If we believe what they all say, the bottom line of their vitriol is that neither is worth voting for. Please, please, please, give us something positive to consider before we enter the voting booth.

28 September 2010


"The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can't help it." - Leo Rosten

15 September 2010


According to my Book-of-the-Day calendar, we should all read "The Cornbread Gospels" by Cresent Dragonwagon. Learn the difference between northern and southern cornbread, then try out some of the more than 200 recipes. Let me know which is your favorite. So have it, folks!

08 September 2010

Weather or Not

It rained this morning, about 14 hours after the weather forecaster on TV told us that our Monsoon was over for this year. By now, we know that that announcement is usually followed in a few days by some rain. And when they announce, around this time of year, that the Monsoon is still with us, that we won't see rain for another 3 or 4 months. They might as well throw up their hands and admit it's a toss-up. But I admire their perseverance.

29 August 2010


I've been reading "Letters of E. B. White" Revised Edition, revised and edited by Martha White, his granddaughter. Mr. White is one of my favorite writers, having written "Charlotte's Web", "Stuart Little" and "The Trumpet of the Swan" as well as compilations of his many essays from "The New Yorker" magazine. Mr. White was born in 1899. In January 1929, he wrote to his brother Stanley about writing. Here are some quotes from that letter:
"I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace. . . The rewards of such endeavor are not that I have acquired an audience or following as you suggest (fame of any kind being a Pyrrhic victory), but that sometimes in writing of myself - which is the only subject anyone knows intimately - I have occasionally had the exquisite thrill of putting my finger on a little capsule of truth, and heard it give the faint squeak of mortality under my pressure, an antic sound."
"One nice thing about either writing or drawing is that it is both a direct and an uncertain way of making a living. To write a piece and sell it to a magazine is as near a simple life as shining up a pushcart full of apples and vending them to passersby. It has a pleasing directness not found in the world of commerce and business, where every motion is by this time so far removed from the cause and the return, as to be almost beyond recognition."

I heartily recommend you pick out anything written by Mr. White and spend some time with it. It will be well worth your time.

21 August 2010

Art Stories - 3

Art class at Mt. View Park included drawing, so I bought some Prismacolor pencils and a pad of drawing paper and struck out on the path to find a suitable subject. At the library, I found a book of Andrew Wyeth's painting of a neighbor, Helga. This is a reproduction of one of his paintings in which she is fully clothed; most were nudes. As I remember it, Mr. Wyeth kept the paintings from his wife for quite a while; she did find them out and there was some talk of an affair, but I don't remember the details. Anyway, here is Helga as reproduced in colored pencil - done in 1992.

13 August 2010

Art Stories - 2

After moving to Arizona, I took lessons in ceramics and spent many happy hours decorating ceramic pieces for the family. One piece was entered in a ceramics show and won first place. The cost of shipping the pieces to the east coast became prohibitive, so I switched to some art classes sponsored by the City of Scottsdale. I puttered around with pencil and watercolor, looking for a comfortable medium. One day the instructor brought in some photos she had taken on a trip to Hawaii and one struck me. So I pulled out some magic markers and a small piece of watercolor paper and started scribbling. This was the result.

12 August 2010

Me and Xerox

I was thinking this morning of some of the odd tasks I was asked to perform during my tenure at Xerox Corporation. One day I was called into our Department head's office with my manager. Oh no, not the ax! No, not that. I was handed a round trip airline ticket to New York City - first class, of course - and a canister of film. The instructions were very specific: take yon canister to such-and-such a film developing company, ask for Mr. so-and-so to have the film developed. Oh yes, don't let the film leave your eyes. It is very confidential. Okay, chief!
So off to the Rochester airport, on to NYC and the film developing company and the gentleman-in-charge with film canister clasped tightly to my breast. Upon reciting the instructions, the gentleman-in-charge looked at me as though I was some escaped lunatic. After a second or so of consideration, (I informed him that I had brought cash payment) he took me to the bowels of the operation where I could follow the progress of the film right up to entry into the darkroom, where I was stopped short and told to wait until the film came out of the development solution. Well! That wasn't part of the deal as far as I was concerned. My protest fell on deaf ears, so I acquiesced and waited impatiently until the film came into view. I was asked to identify the strip of film and was able to determine that it contained one of our Engineering aides standing next to a piece of equipment. After paying the bill, I walked outside, firmly clutching the developed film, hailed a taxi and departed for airport, Rochester, and Xerox. Mission accomplished.
I later learned that the film was a demonstration of a new faster copier that we had developed (the Xerox 2400). The reason for the trip to NYC instead of using the local Kodak developing facilities is that we and Kodak had become competitors in the copy machine business and our management didn't want the film to wind up in our competitors hands.
Ah, those were the good old days!

07 August 2010

Today's Chuckle

From today's Arizona Republic, today's chuckle:
"Economists estimate that it costs around a quarter-million dollars to raise a child from birth to 18 years old. And for that investment, you get a lifetime supply of critiques on your parenting."

31 July 2010

July 31st Already?

What happened to July? It was a month ago that we were on our trip to Florida, so where did the time go? We had a great visit with our grandson, Jamie, and his family in San Antonio. Andrew is 12, Corbin is 7 and lovely Juliana is almost 4. We walked along the Riverwalk, ate in the Rainforest Cafe, spent time at his house, and ate some great food there. Then on to Birmingham to visit Linda and Roy; Roy cooked a delicious pasta dinner one night, then we went out for ribs the next night. In between, we drove up to Empire to meet Rick and Jilda, friends we made through Blogging. Such a nice couple, and they entertained us with a new song they'd composed, after Jilda's wonderful meal. We stopped in St. Augustine to wander around before heading south to Melbourne Beach for our granddaughter's wedding. Three of our five children were there and our granddaughter and her family came over from Tampa. The wedding was lovely, the bride and groom looked extremely happy and their parents beamed with pride. Our son, Mark, had a birthday party for me, and the big surprise was that my brother had flown down from Rochester, NY unbeknownst to most of us (there were 3 or 4 people in on the secret and did a good job of keeping it truly secret). We drove down to Naples to visit my old High School/College buddy, Smitty, but he wasn't feeling up to par so we cut it short. Then this old horse headed for the stable, and here we are, wondering where the time went. I'd rate this trip right up there with the best.

17 July 2010

After The Trip

It's been several days since we returned from our trip to the Southeast, and we had so many wonderful experiences that I've been at a loss to describe them. We visited family, including a great-granddaughter we hadn't met, new and old friends in Birmingham, attended a wedding in Melbourne, had a birthday party in Palm Bay with a surprise visit from my brother, saw a High School buddy in Naples, drove a lot. Almost too much to describe. So I'll go back in my mind and revisit it all and report it piecemeal - later. Maybe even some photos.

22 June 2010

Art Stories - 1

After I finish a piece of art, I file a copy in a book kept in my bookcase. And behind each finished piece is a story. I thought I’d share the stories with you, so here’s the first: 00001 - J G Brogden 1951

James Grey Brogden was a roommate of mine at Oklahoma A & M College. He and I shared an apartment with two of my high school buddies from Rochester, NY - Smitty and Kendig. Jim was an Oklahoman, having lived with his adopted parents in Turner Falls, just up the road from Ardmore. He was majoring in Economics and Geology, drove a car of what make and vintage I don’t recall, and owned a pistol which he usually carried in his car. One evening, he was sitting on the sofa in the living room studying his Economics book when I picked up a pad and pencil and sketched his likeness. He invited me to visit his parents one weekend, which I did. That particular weekend, an oil company had rented the area for a barbecue, so we helped neaten it up. My first encounter with a rattlesnake happened there; It was a young one - they’re said to be more lethal than an adult - but we dispatched it quickly and disposed of the evidence. We also met a scorpion, which looked to me like the crayfish we used up north for fish bait, but it was too agile for us and disappeared under a flagstone. The day before the barbecue, a pit was dug, fire started and sometime later, a steer and a goat were added to the pit, which was then covered over. Barbecue day found the place alive with people, waiting anxiously for the pit to be uncovered and the chef to serve up the meat. The beef was delicious, but the goat was too gristly for my taste. I lost track of Jim after the spring semester, but found recently that he had lived in Texas until his death in 1991.

19 June 2010

But It's A Wet Heat!

During our trip to Rochester last April, we were able to shut off the air conditioner once we reached Payson. For the up-coming trip to Florida for our granddaughter’s wedding, we will need air conditioning all the way there and back. I’ve been looking at temperatures for San Antonio, Birmingham and Palm Bay, since we’ll be visiting in those areas. It’s not so much the temperatures that bother me - after all, we’re in the 100’s in Scottsdale - it’s the humidity. For example, 9:30 a.m. and the temperature is 89, but it feels like 85. In San Antonio, it’s 86 and feels like 93; Birmingham is 87 and feels like 94; Palm Bay is 88 and feels like 94. So we expect to be uncomfortably warm and muggy. I certainly hope my anti-perspirant can hold up.

09 June 2010

06 June 2010

The Artist At Work

Here are some photos of a new piece I'm working on. The carving is done in reverse. I made a proof by hand using a rolling pin from the kitchen and some water soluble ink. The proof will be used to determine where more work needs to be done to sharper the image. The dark areas in the tulips and leaves will be carved away to leave a nice white area for some watercolors to be added. The end product will probably be note cards. When the proofs are dry, I'll publish one.

29 May 2010

The Knife Results

Thursday, the 20th, the doctor needed just one slice, then sewed me up and I was on the way. Then on the 27th, he took out the stitches and discharged me. So all is well. There are still some adhesive strips over the area, so I haven't had a good look yet, but I think he carved a slight valley across my temple. I hope that's it for a long while. Strange how bad habits in our youth (getting sunburned) catch up with us in our dotage.

19 May 2010

Under the Knife

Tomorrow morning I'll be at the doctor's office while he carves a canyon in my face. He'll be using Mohs micrographic surgery techniques. He'll take a slice of the cancer site, then study it under a microscope to see whether all the cancer cells have been excised. If not, back under the knife for a repeat until all the cancer has been excised. It could take a few minutes or a few hours. Hopefully, only a few minutes. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

16 May 2010

Fearless Freddie at 80

The surprise birthday party for Fred was a smashing success. All of the family who were able to walk, crawl, swim, bike, drive or fly, were there. Lots of stories were told about the good old days, some of which probably happened exactly as related. We look forward to the 90th.

15 May 2010

The Immigration Flap

If the people who were allowed to discuss the Arizona immigration law were only those who had actually read it, there would be a lot less noise.

12 May 2010

The Wild, Wild West

Grandma and I are back in the wild, wild west. Apparently, the rest of the world believes the media news that our new immigration law will result in innocent people being dragged off the street if they happen to look like anyone other than a caucasian. Well, as I understand it, the only time a person can be checked for legal status is if they are apprehended for some law infraction. And it isn't just the people from Latin America who are here illegally; the are illegals from all the continents. The light is shining on our neighbors from the south because of all the violence at our border. Recently, a rancher was murdered by someone who sneaked across the border; a border patrol was shot by someone who was trying to cross the border. The incidence of violence is increasing and the Arizona legislature, with support from over 60% of Americans according to a recent poll, is frustrated with the inaction by the Obama administration. By the way, that administration includes our former Governor, Janet Napolitano, who now heads the Homeland Security office. Wouldn't you think that she'd be in a position now to do something? After all, as Governor she did try to get the Bush administration to take stronger action. So now a bunch of cities are going to boycott Arizona. Well, I hope the citizens of Arizona vow to boycott those cities.

30 April 2010

A Three-Season Trip

We started out in Scottsdale, AZ in summer heat, drove slowly northeast through spring, and wound up in Rochester, NY in winter. We were in Lyons, NY last Tuesday doing some genealogical research and looked out the window to see snow swirling, covering the ground. Why did we make the trip at this time of year? Well, we wanted to surprise my brother for his 80th birthday - and we did! More later.

13 April 2010

Mind Over Matter

When they were young, my cousins Linda and Nancy hated to take cod liver oil from a spoon. They hated the taste. So their parents found a store that sold cod liver oil capsules and brought some home for the girls to try. Of course, they didn’t tell the girls what was in the capsules. It turned out that they loved them! What they would do is bite a small hole in the capsule and suck out all the cod liver oil. That was great fun to them. I don’t know how long their parents kept from telling them what was in the capsules, but they grew up to be healthy young ladies.

23 March 2010

The Knife Strikes - Again!

It seems as though I wasn't diligent enough in my younger days about using sunscreen. I need to go under the knife again for another basal cell carcinoma. The biopsy was positive, so it's in to see the knife wielder on Thursday.

19 February 2010


There has been much misinformation about the fates of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. To set the record straight, Denise Kiernan & Joseph D’Agnisi have written “SIGNING THEIR LIVES AWAY: The FAME and MISFORTUNE of the MEN WHO SIGNED The Declaration of Independence.” The book is organized by colony, beginning with New Hampshire and moving south to Georgia, so one is able to go quickly to a favorite colony. Information includes each signer’s birth and death date, age at signing and occupation(s). Some of the sub-headings under the names are: The Signer Who Fought for Freedom with His Slave, The Signer Who is Two Degrees From Kevin Bacon, The Signer Who Slept in Caves, The Six-fingered Signer and The Signer Who Started Out as an Indentured Servant. Do you know which signer was a cobbler? A cooper? Which one used part of a statue of King George III to make bullets? Also, why do we celebrate the signing on July 4th and not July 2nd or August 2nd? Well, just open the book and all the information is right there. An interesting read, recommended for the curious, as well as history buffs.

10 February 2010

Why Write?

Why write? Well, we know about our history because those before us wrote down their folklore, what they remembered of what they saw, and what they wished they would see. So I’ve tried to write down things as I remember them. Perhaps someone will read them and have some incident brought to mind that happened to them, and decide to write it down. Too often in this day and age of e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter and such, we have lost the ability or desire to record our thoughts and actions on paper. Thus, our descendants will not be able to understand the world in which we lived except through the words of other people and, perhaps, even other cultures. So write it down to let others know of your own personal folklore. Write about your parents, their lifestyle, how yours differs from theirs. Write about your plans and dreams for your descendants. Not very many of us have that “greatest novel of the century” within us, but we each have at least one story begging to be put down on paper. Right? Write!

09 February 2010


There was an obituary in the morning paper for a gentleman you’ve probably never heard of, but who has had a major impact on the way you view television - that is, the news on television. His name is Frank Magrid and he developed the concept called “Action News” which resulted in “co-anchors who chatted between stories, fast-paced graphics, sports tickers and live shots, and a heavy reliance on crime coverage and feel-good segments.” Now I have no quarrel with the man or his idea, however, I do have a quarrel with the way it has been implemented around here (here being the Valley of the Sun). Mostly, it has to do with the time wasted broadcasting meaningless videos to support a story. “Fast-paced graphics," indeed!

As an example, a driver loses control and the vehicle plunges into a building; simple enough, except while listening to a description of the accident, which drones on and on, we are shown videos of the rear of the vehicle, then a shot of a nearby undamaged shrub, then a group of police cars parked on some street, followed up by a tow truck. Good grief! Please stop it! Just tell me succinctly that the accident occurred, whether or not anyone was hurt, the extent of the damage, if traffic is impeded in the area, show me one picture of the scene, and then get on to the next story. And please, please, please use the past tense when describing something that has already happened.

One channel here has the annoying habit of announcing “Weather Alert” when there is a thunderstorm in Minnesota or the threat of a tornado in Oklahoma. “Weather Alert”! Give me a break. That’s like the boy who cried “Wolf” in Aesop’s Fables, or wherever. If it’s not local, why should I go on the alert?

Co-anchors? Who stumble over who has the next line? Who needs them? Certainly not me. Please, one or the other of you just tell me the news in plain English. No inside jokes, no “pleasant” banter, just the news.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of my request.

06 February 2010


In 1949, while a freshman at Oklahoma A & M College, I roomed with Nelson C., who was a smoker. I was eighteen at the time and it seemed to be the right thing to do, so I asked Nelson to teach me how to smoke. My brother had started a few years before, and my father also smoked, so it wasn’t a new and revolutionary idea in the family. I learned how to tap the pack before opening and how to light up, but instead of inhaling, I was taking a mouthful of smoke and trying to swallow it. Well, as you all may not know, that’s not how it goes. After a few fitful tries, I did manage to get the smoke inhaled, and continued the practice for the next eighteen years. At times, I was burning up two packs a day, between the frustrations of earning a living and the joys (and the few frustrations) of raising a family.
During the eighteen years, I had toyed off and on with the thought of quitting. There were some times when I switched to cigarillos and cheroots, even a pipe, but always migrated back to the beloved/damned ciggies. One thing that was always visible in my doctor’s office was an ash tray with pictures of a healthy lung and a smoker’s lung; when he and I talked about smoking, he suggested switching to a pipe, which he used. The idea was that one could never keep a pipe lit, so there was no danger of damage to one’s system; he always punctuated the point by trying to keep his pipe lit.
Toward the end of the eighteen years, I kept vacillating between quitting and not. It began to get on my nerves, so I finally said to myself: “Self, you’ve got to decide whether or not you’re going to quit; the indecision is making you a nervous wreck.” So the decision was reached to continue smoking. At least the pressure was gone. However, after another three months, I said, finally: “That’s it, self, we’re giving up the habit!” And into the trash went all the accoutrements. To this day, forty-some years later, I’ve been true to that declaration.

Re: Sick, Sick, Sick

The weekend that our great-grandson visited, we went down to the Garden Cafe on Saturday for breakfast. After we, ordered, Grandma just reminded me, the waitress said she had to go look for the cook as he was sick. So that could have been the source of the bug that hit us. So breathe easy, Gabe, it might not have come from you.

01 February 2010

Sick, Sick, Sick

Grandma and I are fighting colds and sore throats for almost a week now. We're so full of Zyrtek, Extra Strength Tylanol and Apple Cider Vinegar that it'll take a year to get it all out of our systems. And where oh where does all that mucous come from? Our sinuses are turning it out as though there's a world-wide shortage and they're going to overcome it on their own! We've been holed up here and haven't been out in days. Luckily, there is a food delivery service so we're not in any danger of starvation. If anyone has any good ideas about fighting colds, let us know.

22 January 2010


Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Django Reinhard, a jazz guitarist legend. If you've never heard him play, I recommend "Mano" for a start. Here's a good article about him: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5157547,00.html. I like his style and have 10 or 12 of his recordings on my iPod. Well worth the time to look up his records and listen. Enjoy!

19 January 2010

Mosaic Watercolors?

I've been playing around with magic markers lately and decided to try something a little different for me. In the library, I was browsing the Art section and a book on mosaic tile caught my eye. After looking through a few books, I decided to try to "paint" a mosaic tile design. So I hauled out my magic markers and tried this horse. It looked decent enough so I did another one with watercolor paints. I don't have a photo of it yet, but will try to remember to post it later.

06 January 2010

Ah, Winter

For my relatives and friends trying to survive the current cold spell:

A Middle English song celebrating summer starts:
Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Growep sed and blowep med ...

This piece was parodied in "Ancient Music" by American Poet, Ezra Pound (Lustra collection, 1913-1915):
Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damm you; Sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.