Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Small Western Town

Sometimes choosing a topic for a blog can be dangerous. I would like to write about my experience in a small town but am afraid that I might offend the current inhabitants. What to do? If I leave the name and state out of my narrative I might get away with writing without giving the name of the town away. If the locals recognize their home, then so be it.

My son was eleven and my daughter was a precocious one year old when my husband was offered a job managing a radio station in a small western town. I was most unhappy at this turn of events because we had moved to Phoenix about six months before. I loved the warm weather and to move to a place where blizzards occurred was not my idea of Paradise. I had been there - done that!

The owner of the radio station also owned a moving company so, for the first time, a van was to pack and ship our furniture to this small town. This was to be the only time in all of our many moves I got the red carpet treatment. (Even negative situations have their good side.) Since, for the first time in my life, I didn't have to pack, we left to visit my Mom before the moving van arrived.

My husband started his job and lived in a motel while he tried to find a place for us to live. Two weeks later he found the only available house and it was 15 miles out of town. Meanwhile, our furniture had been delivered and, since we didn't have a house, our possessions were stored in the back room of the radio station.
When the children and I arrived we had to move our furniture ourselves. I had forgotten to empty the garbage in my haste and it was neatly packed. Of course, the odor permeated the rest of the load and it didn't smell very sweet.

The house really wasn't too bad but the location was dreadful. There were only six houses in the area; four of them were inhabited by the families of the men who worked on the railroad. (Did I mention that between us and the highway a train went by two times a day?) The fourth house was one homesteaded by the parents of the current owners and the son lived there. (Did I mention that he was a known pyromaniac?) Across the highway was a Mercantile store that sold everything from bread to boots. The only other building was a bar. (There were lots of bars in this small town.)

A river ran behind the property and my son, Mark, loved to fish. He was delighted with this opportunity to cast his line in on a daily basis. While we were moving our furniture in Mark found his rod and reel and took off for the river. He returned shortly covered with mosquito bites. They had bitten through a fleece sweat shirt. The local joke was, that it only took two mosquitoes to carry off a full grown cow.

The wind was so fierce on an almost daily basis that my clothes blew off the line. My husband, Wayne, used to report the wind velocity along with the weather forecast. He would say "the wind blew at ? mph". The Mayor of the town called Wayne up one day to inform him that they didn't call a 45 mph wind- it was gusting at that rate. The Mayor said, "If a chain tied to a telephone pole stands straight out, that's when you call it a wind." The people there had a great sense of humor. Ha! Ha!

While waiting for us to arrive, Wayne had become friends with a bar owner named Essie. (The name has been changed to protect the innocent). She was built like a Mack truck and had
a head full of red hair, ala Clairol. Her language was salty, befitting her business, and she didn't need a bouncer as her reputation of being able to throw two drunks out on the street with her bare hands was legendary.

My son was a very talented clarinetist and his repertoire was very extensive. Wayne had been bragging to Essie about his gifted son and after we arrived she took us in the back room of the bar for a private performance. After Mark played a few numbers the customers started wandering back to hear the music. Essie told them in a loud commanding voice to "get the hell out of here - this is a private party."

Essie was right out of a Western movie. Matter of fact, the whole town was a throwback. There was a triangular shaped park in the middle of the town called the 'Square'. There were nine bars surrounding this triangle. The short time we were there they had two shootings in the bars. What fun; what excitement.
Kitty, where are you? It was Gunsmoke revisited.

I almost forgot, the town also had a legalized brothel.

The school had been built circa 1921 and a vote was due on a school bond. Wayne editorialized on the radio station about the need for a new school pointing out that it would only cost each homeowner a very small tax increase. The bond issue failed. Their money was supporting the bars instead.

The identifying feature of this town must be told as it explains a lot. Wayne was taken into houses where the owners showed him tunnels built between
the basements. It seems the town was on Al Capone's underground railroad and that was where they hid the 'hootch' when the Feds came.

Between the wind, mosquitoes, snow, pyromaniac, and lack of support of the schools I was ready to move when Wayne was offered a job in Tucson. The owner of the radio station offered half ownership to Wayne if he would just stay. Wayne wavered, but I told him I was not raising children in the wild west. He could stay if he wanted to, but I was out of there.

And that's the story, kiddies, of why I am now living in my favorite place on the planet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Arizona Spring

The lovely cactus blossoms don't last long. All of them were taken within a few hundred feet of my house. Who says we don't have four seasons here.

If you look closely or click to enlarge you will see a bee hovering over this Prickly Pear Cactus blossom.

Oleander Bush ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~Bougainvilla

Ocotillo Cactus ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Red Flags against a blue sky

Cose up of an Ocotillo bloom ~~~~~~~~~~~~Ornamental Grass in bloom
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Today my mind is a total blank. I guess my kids would say that's not an unusual occurrance. But it has left me with a vacuum and I can't think of a single thing to write about.

That said, I guess I will just write about the pros and cons of writing a blog as I see it.

When I first took on the task of blogging I wondered what in the world I would write about. I have not tried to post every day, but I have found enough miscellany to fill up some space
often enough (even if it were just a photo or two) to feel I had met the challenge. Alas, today I am discouraged about politics and don't want to think about it. Nothing more exciting than a trip to the dentist has gone on in my life and writing about that is out.

I have just explained the first problem with blogging. Finding a topic is not always easy and the thirsty blog is very demanding. It is saying, "Come on, Idiot, it's not so hard. There are a million subjects waiting to be explored."

The second problem is learning how to post. I still haven't figured out how to put the text where I want it when posting pictures. Every time I write a post something goes wrong and my patience level is short. My learning curve is even shorter. Fixing a problem sometimes takes me all afternoon. That is, if I can fix it at all.

That leads to the third problem. Blogging is very time consuming. I won't bore you with the things I am leaving undone to be a slave to my taskmaster, this hodgepodge.

It seems like my blog has a mind of it's own. I preview my carefully composed post and when I publish it, it is in an entirely different format. I have complained loud and long about that evil elf hiding in my computer. Blogspot seems to have a mind of its own about how my layout should look.

However ------- there is a good reason that I put up with this sometimes maddening chore. It is a wonderful way to make new Internet friends and I have made some wonderful ones. It's one big happy family and other bloggers have helped me in myriad ways with problems about my blog as well as other issues.

The second plus is that it allows me to spout off on things that interest me. The beautiful part of that is that anyone perusing my blog can 1) either argue with my points or 2) quit reading my post. In which case 1) I can debate the arguer's position or 2) I will never know that they think I am a raving lunatic and am, thus, not offended.

Anonymity is something that many bloggers achieve. Not me! I have been accused of being opinionated (Of course, I would disagree with that; I just have strong opinions.). Therefore, I am very open in my blog and I think anyone who reads it knows more about me than my closest friends. I am the kind of person who, if you talk to me fifteen minutes, know my life story. Well, since my life has been a very long one, I guess it might take a bit longer than fifteen minutes.

And there you have it. Why I still blog in spite of the frustrations. Wish me luck in thinking of a more interesting topic next time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just Wondering

Everyone is familiar with the old saw, "Money is the root of all evil." I firmly believe that this holds true for politicians. If they didn't have to raise enormous sums of money 12 months a year they might actually have time to read those bills they squabble about. With any luck, they might even vote for what's good for the country instead of what's good for their re-election campaign funds.

And that makes me wonder:

  • Why did Senator Robert Bennett, Utah Republican, put a hold on the nomination of the eminently qualified David Hayes, who has been approved by the Senate Committee? And why is Democrat Mary Landrieu aiding and abetting him?
I know the answer to this one; it is to blackmail Obama into canceling Interior Secretary Ken Salazar' s reversal of the Bush Administration's ruling allowing oil and gas leases next to the National Parks in Utah. Bennett wants those leases to be reinstated. (Generous contributions from the oil and gas industries might have something to do with it, hmmm? That 'root' rearing it's ugly head.)
  • Why has the Republican party become one of "No"? Not a single Republican voted for Obama's stimulus package. Why do they complain about not having bipartisanship when they threaten to stop every piece of legislation that the Democrats propose?
  • If the Republicans feel left out of the planning, why haven't they come up with a single workable plan that is better?
  • Why were there no rules imposed on the banks that got the stimulus bailout money?

  • Why did the politicians reverse the rules placed on the financial industries after the Great Depression?
  • Why do they never learn?
  • Why is Wall Street still calling the shots? (There's that 'root' again.)
  • Why are the politicians so afraid of the NRA that they will not pass sensible gun legislation? There were four times as many gun deaths by murder last year than were killed in the World Trade Center. Sadly, 3,000 of them were children.
  • Why can't we have legislation banning semi-automatic handguns?
  • Why are unlicensed gun dealers allowed to sell guns without a background check?
For a good analysis on this subject follow the link to Bob Herbert's editorial.

  • Why do I care?
And now a bit of news that the media don't talk about: A link to the article:

US and Russia Hold Nuclear Talks
  • Now why haven't we heard of this? I think this just might be a bit more important than news about Bo, cute though he is.
  • Why is common sense missing from the hallowed halls of Foggy Bottom?
Just wondering.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Irish In Me

When I was a child (Yes, kiddies, I did not come fully grown with wrinkles.) my grandmother paid to have our genealogy traced. Not surprisingly, the researcher discovered that we were related to Scotch royalty and that our heritage was a mixture of Scotch, Irish and English. Of course it was all nonsense and all it accomplished was enriching the 'so called' genealogist's pocket.

My younger sister is very active in tracing our family tree through the Mormon genealogy records and if there is royalty in our ancestry she hasn't found it. My maternal grandmother was, however, from the same branch of Spencer's as Lady Diana Spencer. I suppose that might count for a tad of royalty.

Nonetheless, I like to think of myself as having a wee bit of Irish in my blood along with the proven English. I have fair skin that freckles easily and my hair had enough red in it that my husband used to call me his little red head. Yes, I know that that combination can be found in many cultures and is not unique to Ireland, but, to me, it was proof that I had an Irish ancestor. Additionally, I believed it because I was told it was true by my grandmother. How could my dear grandmother be wrong? ~ ;-).

I am presenting an Irish bagpiper that a friend sent me in an e-mail. We Irish have to stick together

As a bagpiper, I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man who had no family or friends. The funeral was to be held at a new cemetery in the remote countryside and this man would be the first to be laid to rest there.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods area, I became lost and being a typical man, did not stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late. I saw the backhoe and the crew who were eating lunch but the hearse was nowhere in sight.

I apologized to the workers for my tardiness and stepped to the side of the open grave where I saw the vault lid already in place.

I assured the workers I would not hold them up for long but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around, still eating their lunch. I played out my heart and soul.

As I played the workers began to weep. I played and I played like I'd never played before, from Going Home and The Lord is My Shepherd to Flowers of the Forest. I closed the lengthy session with Amazing Grace and walked to my car.

As I was opening the door and taking off my coat, I overheard one of the workers saying to another, "Sweet Jeezuz, Mary'n Joseph, I never seen nothin' like that before and I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Serious Stuff The Torture Memos

Keith Olbermann makes the case for the prosecution of the Bush Administration's illegal acts. I fully agree with him.

An editorial in today's New York Times also agrees. Here are some quotes from the article:


Their [the ones who sanctioned torture] language is the precise bureaucratese They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect

Jay Bybee, now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These acts are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values. These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity.

It all played out with the blessing of the defense secretary, the attorney general, the intelligence director and, most likely, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Until Americans and their leaders fully understand the rules the Bush administration concocted to justify such abuses there is no hope of fixing a profoundly broken system of justice and ensuring that that these acts are never repeated.

Americans still know far too little about President Bush’s decision to illegally eavesdrop on Americans — a program that has since been given legal cover by the Congress.'

We do not think Mr. Obama will violate Americans’ rights as Mr. Bush did. But if Americans do not know the rules, they cannot judge whether this government or any one that follows is abiding by the rules.

We have never been comfortable with the “only following orders” excuse, especially because Americans still do not know what was actually done or who was giving the orders.

That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.

These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him.

Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.


I believe that the reason for Obama's desire to move on is because he doesn't want to take attention away from what he is trying to do now. While understandable, I think Keith lays out his case in a very logical way.


And finally, here is a link to the secret Bush memos on torture recently released by Obama.


And now to lighten up and relax from the serious. Maybe it's not sublime, but it is so cute.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Some friends who know that I broke my hip last November usually start their conversation with, "How are you doing?" I do not think their question is just rhetorical, but they really want to know. (Egoist that I am.)

So today I decided to post an update. To give you some idea of how I'm doing you would have to see me navigate. When I don't use my walker or cane I lurch along like a ruptured duck. I am searching for a descriptive word of my walking stance. Is it toddle, shuffle, or sway? It's probably a combination of all three. Oops - I think I have the word - it's waddle. Yeah, that's what I do.
(Toddling is cute if you are a year old; not so cute if you are 83. Waddling isn't cute at any age.)

A stranger watching me would wonder what that poor inebriated old granny had to drink. Especially so, since I am reaching out with one arm toward the nearest wall in the event that my head starts to go south.

If you can visualize that and think it's funny, picture me when I try to stand up from a chair of
average height. I think the best way to illustrate a visual image would be to imagine an upside down L. My upper body faces the floor while the nether regions try to stay planted on terra firma. I slowly, very slowly, shuffle my feet in a turn and follow with my bod which is, at the same time, slowly rising to a three quarter position. Eventually, my head and shoulders achieve an upright status. Well, sort of.

Oh the indignity of it all. The first time Rachel saw me do my contortions getting out of a chair she asked in a concerned voice, "Are you alright, Grandma?" I do see why she worried, having never seen such a performance before. I think I probably changed the poor girl's mind about becoming a doctor.

That's just the physical part of my recovery. Somehow, the surgeon must have decided to have a little fun while I was under his full control and drilled a hole into my brain where he removed half of my memory cells. I have been missing a lot of them since I got home.

The good news is: I haven't lost my appetite. I have only gained 8 pounds because I spend most of my time sitting at this frustrating keyboard. WhooHoo !!

Well, it's time to mount my walking horse and trek down the sidewalk to retrieve my mail. The neighbors look forward to that as it provides them with their evening entertainment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adieu, San Francisco - Episode IX

Recently there was some discussion on another blog about the dangers of posting photos of our grandchildren. I have given it much thought and I do not see any problems in posting my photos.M y granddaughter's last name is different than mine, they do not live in the same state and finding them from my blog would take a lot of research. I believe that a predator could find easier prey. My granddaughters are in much more danger from their own postings, but I know my daughter has carefully explained the dangers of the Internet to them and that they will not be foolish enough to meet with someone they chat with on line. With that in mind I am ending my California photos with one final posting of my two precious and much loved girls.

Sarah is engrossed in the picture puzzle I brought her.

This is Sarah after the Color Guard competition.

This is the happy team that won fourth place in the State competition on the following Saturday. Sarah is kneeling on the right.

Sarah also sings in the Choir and I took this picture after their concert.

Ciao, Rachel and adios to California. I have enjoyed the second trip and hope you liked my photo gallery.

Monday, April 13, 2009

San Francisco as seen from Coit Tower - Episdoe VIII

Take heart, you loyal followers of my Hodgepodge. The end is in sight. This is the final post of San Francisco and I only have one more to go to finish my trip photos. This is the final group of photos I took from the top of Coit Tower. First is another view of the skyline. I am so amazed that they build there monstrously high buildings when San Francisco is prone to massive Earthquakes. I don't care how the architects claim they are earthquake proof, I wouldn't want to be in one when the earth shakes.

This is a photo of Treasure Island. (Not the one in the RLS book, of course.)

I thought these sailboats lined up in a nice row.

I am sure this is Fisherman's Wharf. I have been there several times and it's a fun place to stroll, dine, and enjoy. This is the first time I have seen it from this vantage point.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

San Francisco and Coit Tower - Episode VII

This photo was taken from the car as we traveled the confusing streets to the tower. We spent most of the day there because there is very little parking around the tower and the line of cars waiting for someone to leave is lengthy. I wouldn't even attempt to visit in high tourist season. I think it took us over a half hour to reach the top. I read that San Francisco is considering stopping auto traffic to the tower and will institute public transportation. Buses that could unload a lot of tourists makes good sense.

Following are a few facts about the tower. [from Wikipedia.]


Coit Tower was built in Pioneer Park atop Telegraph Hill in 1933 at the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the City of San Francisco. Lillie bequeathed one-third of her estate to the City of San Francisco "to be expended in an appropriate manner for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city which I have always loved"

The art deco tower, 210 feet (64 m) of unpainted reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard with murals by 26 different artists and numerous



This statue of Christopher Columbus stands in the middle of the parking area.

These lovely flowers lined the ramp I used to get to the elevator.

A skyline scene from the tower. I was told the name of the Pyramid shaped tower, but you know my inability to drag information out of my memory cells. I think the cells that store memory died a few years ago. I am sure someone will be able to tell me the name.

You will recognize Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. I have more photos taken from the top of the tower, but they will have to wait for another post.

Reaching the top of the tower to take the scenes was a real test of strength. Of course, I am a stubborn mule and was determined to reach the viewing site or know the reason why. I'm probably a little loco also.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Arizona

Instead of Lilies, I am sending photos of a Hedgehog Cactus in bloom.

May your Easter feast be delicious and your eggs dyed with many colors.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sunol - Episode VI of My California Trip

One lovely day Gail drove me to the charming little village named Sunol. It sits at the mouth of a beautiful canyon. The flowers were in a box outside an antique store.

Along the way we saw happy cattle grazing.

And charming old buildings like this one with the floral fountain.

The road followed this lovely babbling brook.

A small waterfall was happily splashing it's foam in the brook.

Moss covered a rock wall.

Evidence of spring was viewed from the car's sun roof. (For best viewing results left click on image)

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Episode V, The Furry Critters

~~~~~~~~~ "Happy Passover" ~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~ "Happy Easter" ~~~~~~~~~

********* This is NOT the Easter Bunny *********

Before I move on to the other places I saw I want to show the pets I visited. Meet Shade, Sarah's cat. I think he is wondering what is on the other side of this door and is wishing that someone would let him out so he could investigate.

I am pleased to introduce Hans, Rachel's German Shepherd. He seems to be laughing at me.
He has a big blue ball that he holds in his mouth as he walks around hinting for someone to play with him.

Hans is in a more somber mode here. He is the protector of his girls and takes his job seriously.

Hans was unhappy because we were leaving and he had to stay home to do his job of watching the house. He's probably hoping that someone would come to the door and he could put the fear of God into them. That might be fun and break the monotony.

Shade decided to join the family this evening.

Gail has a two- story house. Sarah's bedroom is upstairs and Rachel's is downstairs. Shade and Hans have worked out an arrangement that suits them. Shade is King of the top level and Hans rules the lower domain.
The two get along but are very respectful of each other's territory.

Hans adopted me the minute I scratched his neck and was beside me every time I sat down.
Shade, on the other hand, was leery of me and only went far enough to sniff my hands to see if he would grant me permission to stay. He never did allow me to pet him. (Did I smell bad?)

The last night I was there Shade was halfway down the stairs and I put my hand up for him to smell one last time. After he gave me a thorough sniff test I dared trying to pet him one last time. He batted my hand with his claws out. I conceded defeat and quickly withdrew my hand. Hans did not approve of Shades actions, barked at him and chased him back upstairs. Gail and I had to laugh at Hans putting Shade in his place, literally and figuratively.

Tomorrow I will show photos I took when we went to Sunol. Thus endeth episode V of my California trip.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Still In Wine Country

To quote that anonymous wit, "Spring has sprung."

The Poppies are blooming and I took advantage of their bright glory to take a couple of photographs.

A close up through the fence resulted in this picture. Since I am no longer very mobile, I had to take most of my photos from the car.

What is the name of these yellow beauties? I do not have a clue but they are abundant.

The girl riding this beautiful horse was hard to catch because she was far away and moving right along. I did the best I could to rapidly focus the camera before she vanished.

I think I should title this series of photographs of my trips by Episodes. This will be Episode IV. Episode V will continue tomorrow.

A Re-run Issue

Since I am doing a continuation of one subject I decided to augment a previous post I wrote on humor. I recently got the following two jokes (?) by e-mail and it occurred to me that they illustrated a point I tried to make about types of humor.

The first photo is very unflattering to both women and I do not think the person who wrote it meant it to be a compliment to strong women. As I understood it, the intent was to portray Bill and Barack as weak men who were manipulated by domineering wives. Rush Limbaugh would probably laugh hysterically at it.

The last joke doesn't have a barb in it and I found it to be very funny. Good humor.



"Bill thought he was the President, too.”

How bad is the economy? It is definitely getting very bad.

Cats are so dramatic.

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